Don't let the title of this post fool you – I'm not making light of this challenge. I'm not saying that surviving on this amount of money – foodwise – is easy. It's not. More so than the challenges of a restrictive budget is the fact that in order to eat in a healthy way, it requires a good bit of planning.
I had many errands to run on Thursday for my shoot on Friday…and all of the destinations were food related. Gourmet shops. Farmers market. Ugh. So, in an effort to stave off hunger and temptation, I came home to eat lunch before heading back out. I didn't want to give in to another drive through and spending money when I had great food potential waiting at home.
I came home and threw together this dish that I had been thinking about since my initial trip to the market: a meaty tasting but mostly vegetarian version of Shepard's Pie. The recipe follows but I can safely say this is one of my favorite things I've cooked in a while – challenge or no.
In the evening, I stopped by El Taco while running errands to get a healthy dose of friendship and creative inspiration from Michael and Jake. They were worried I was starving to death – something I can safely say is not the case – and gave me yummies. I didn't full on eat but I didn't have much of an appetite when I got home. With my stop at the market last night on the way home, I now have a little over $4 left in my budget to get me through till Monday.
Check in on the others taking part in this week's challenge:
Mostly Veggie Shepard's Pie – makes two individual 6 oz. ramekins
– Preheat oven to 400. In a medium pot of boiling water, flash peas until heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain peas but save water in another pot and return to a boil on the stove. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 8 minutes depending on size of dice. Drain and return to pot. Add parsley to the potatoes and mash. Set aside until ready to assemble.
– In a saute pan, cook pancetta until cooked but not crispy. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add in mushrooms, lentils and drained peas and heat through until mushrooms are just starting to cook. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
– To assemble, evenly spoon mixture between 2 6 ounce ramekins, leaving room at the top for your layer of potatoes. Top each ramekin of mixture with a 1 inch layer of mashed potatoes. Place in oven and bake until the topping begins to brown – this took about 8 minutes in my oven. Serve immediately.
Total cost of this meal – which made two servings – was $1.45 or $.72 per serving.