Budget cuts

My personal finances have made me feel a little bit like the governor of a cash strapped state. I have to keep slashing services to keep up with the loss in revenue. The truth is that even the job I wanted paid only a fraction more than what this job pays. So while I try and figure out my next move jobwise, I’ve had to figure out how to slash costs.

I have pretty much cut out any eating out, and have been exploring how to nutritiously, but cheaply, feed my family at home.

Cooking Lite has a feature called “Feed for 4 Less than $10.” One of my favorite recipes is below:

Gingery Pork Meatballs with Noodles


½ c of chopped fresh cilantro

¼ c dry breadcrumbs

¼ c finely chopped red onions

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 pound lean ground pork

1 large egg, lightly beaten


8 ounces uncooked wide rice noodles (I can never find these. I just use wide noodles)

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 cup red bell pepper stripes

1 cup julienne-cut snow peas

½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ cup thinly sliced green onions

  1. Place a foil lined jelly roll pan in over. Preheat to 450 (We just use a cookie sheet).
  2. Combine 8 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently just until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Divide pork mixture into 20 equal portions; shape each portion into a meatball. Arrange meatballs in a single layer on preheated pan. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until done.
  3. Cook noodles according to package direction; drain. Rinse noodles under cool water; drain. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add bell pepper, peas, salt and crushed red pepper, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add noodles and toss. Place 1 ¼ cups noodles mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 5 meatballs. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons green onions.

Like I said, I really like this dish. But Jen took issue with the idea that this meal costs less than $10. 00. In the magazine, they say it costs $2.06 a serving. I went to Peapod, and put all the ingredients in the shopping cart. The cost: $29.66.

I figure, they must be taking the cost of soy sauce which is $3.29, and then dividing it so that the recipe only counts the cost of a tablespoon. If you had the soy sauce, sesame seed oil and bread crumbs on hand, this might be a less than $10.00 recipe. If you have to buy all those things, not so much.

But it does yield a lot of servings for us. The baby isn’t eating food like this yet. Between Jen, Parker and me, we get a couple of meals out of it. I usually take leftovers to work. It definitely costs less than going to a restaurant for dinner, and then eating food at the cafeteria the next day.

Legal Note: the one thing I remember from my Intellectual Property class in law school is that recipes cannot be copyrighted. So don’t worry, it’s ok for me to snag this recipe and reprint it.



4 thoughts on “Budget cuts

  1. Looks like a good recipe. Can the meatballs be frozen?

    If you have the time to shop at Haymarket (Fridays and Saturdays), it’s a source for cheap produce at ridiculously low prices. It’s not a place to buy anything really perishable (avoid the salad greens at all costs), but it’s great for stuff like root vegetables, bell peppers, and citrus. (I shopped at Haymarket regularly – $10 worth of produce would last me more than a week.)

    A roast chicken gives you serious bang for your buck, if you’re willing to do the cooking:

    1. Roast the chicken – have roast chicken with sides.
    2. Strip all the leftover meat from the carcass – turn it into chicken salad for sandwiches.
    3. Boil the carcass with root vegetables to make stock – use it to make chicken noodle soup.

    If you’d like to talk recipe ideas, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. 🙂

    If you want to

  2. This sounded amazing so I made it tonight. I must have done something wrong because my meatballs were too salty (nextt time I might add brown sugar and cut the soysalt in half) and I felt like the noodles were missing a sauce. I probably missed a step somewhere. I had the oil, breadcrumbs and soysauce so it only cost $12!!

  3. Thank you Adele. Roast chicken is a good idea.

    I think that these meatballs would freeze just fine. I’ve never tried it, but I do refrigerate them and eat them throughout the week.

  4. Wild North West, I can’t believe you actually tried this! Full disclosure, I love this recipe but I am kind of addicted to salt. Jen likes a whole lot less salt, and she thinks this recipe is only tolerable. I am TOTALLY impressed that you made it for $12!

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