September Blog Posts
One-pot Family Meals: Serve 6 for under $13!
Family meals nourish the spirit, mind, and health of all family members. So, to celebrate #FamilyMealsMonth I've pulled together some of my favorite family meals that are easy to prepare. They’ll appeal to both your loved one's taste buds and your wallet.
As you read this, my oldest is off to college and I now have an empty seat at my family table—if there is an upside, it would be fewer dishes to wash! No matter how many loved ones you have around your table, these one-pot meals will guarantee that you, too, will be doing fewer dishes this month.
We’re covering three categories of one-pot meals today. First, meet the workhorse of fall and winter – the slow cooker.
When I was growing up, slow cookers only made one thing: pot roast. Fortunately, the internet expanded our slow cooker world significantly (and deliciously)!
These days, my favorite recipes usually involve a 1-2lb pack of on-sale chicken (breasts, tenderloins, or thighs) and a sauce I've purchased on sale. On days when I want dinner to be ready when I get home, I pull out my slow cooker, toss in the chicken and drizzle on the sauce before I head out to work. Here are some of my favorite sauces – you can swap out chicken for your favorite protein (tofu, beef or pork):
Chicken + salsa (Serves 6)To make quesadillas, serve with sour cream.
$7.57 ($1.26 per serving) ------------------------------------------------
Chicken + tomato sauce (Serves 6)Make "Chicken Cacciatore" with sliced peppers and onions over pasta.
$8.58 ($1.43 per serving) ------------------------------------------------
Chicken + BBQ sauce (Serves 6)To make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, shred chicken and serve with a side salad.
$8.54 ($1.49 per serving) ------------------------------------------------
Chicken + hot wing sauce (Serves 6)For sliders, serve with carrot sticks
$8.21 ($1.37 per serving) ------------------------------------------------
Chicken + tikka masala simmer sauce (Serves 6)Try it with basmati rice and cauliflower!
$10.54 ($1.76 per serving) ------------------------------------------------
This Chicken Tikka Masala is one of our favorites – the best part is that if we ordered carry-out, it would have been double the price for half the food (and none of the veggies).
If you are a bit more ambitious and want to make an actual recipe, I have some great options from Savory below. Just remember to swap out name brands for store brands whenever you can for greater savings!
Next, the original one pot: the skillet. My grandmother always used her cast-iron skillet to make cornbread and hearty family meals so of course when I got an amazing cast-iron skillet as a gift, the first thing I made was cornbread. Then, I made Shepherd's Pie. While it isn't my grandma's recipe, I think she would approve!
Shepherd's Pie (Serves 6)Inspired by Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 (1.2 lb) package meatloaf mix (ground pork, veal, and beef)
- 1 (16 oz) bag of frozen peas and carrots, thawed
- 2 (16 oz) bag of frozen cauliflower
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Place the cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl with ¼ cup water. Cover tightly with microwaveable plastic wrap and steam in the microwave 5–7 minutes or until tender.
- Drain bowl and put cauliflower into a food processor with butter and milk. Purée until smooth, about 1 min, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat your oven’s broiler. Sauté onions in an 8-inch or 10-inch skillet with olive oil on medium-high for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic and cook 1 min.
- Add meatloaf mix to skillet and cook until meat is browned, using a spatula to break up meat. Once browned, remove from heat. Tilt pan and use a spoon to remove around half of the excess liquid from the meat.
- Add peas and carrots and cook on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Season skillet with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and spread cauliflower purée over mixture.
- Place skillet in broiler and broil until cauliflower topping is golden, 3–5 min. It’s a balanced meal, but you could add bread if you were inclined!
Total Cost $12.76 (cost per serving $2.13)
Finally, the new kid on the block – the Instant Pot.
Okay, it's really just a new name for a pressure cooker, right? This fast one-pot meal-maker has been around forever but the rebranding of it has made it a recent superstar in the kitchen. This fast way to slow-cook can make fast meals even faster. Now, 30-minute meals can be whipped up in 15 minutes – what's not to love? Try this pork chop Instant Pot recipe I adapted from a customer in my 6 Weeks to Wellness class!
Tenderloin Medallions with Sour Cream Sauce (Serves 6)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into slim wedges
- 2 pork tenderloins (about 2lbs total), cut into 1 inch medallions
- 1 cup low sodium beef stock
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup low fat sour cream
- salt + pepper, to taste
- Set Instant Pot to sauté setting; sauté onions in butter for 5 minutes or until tender.
- Push cooked onions to one side and add pork medallions; cook until just browned.
- Turn off Instant Pot and add beef stock and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the fond (browned bits) from the bottom of the instant pot.
- Close instant pot and seal valve. Pressure cook mix for 8 minutes then do a natural pressure release for 5 minutes before opening. Remove chops from instant pot and cover to keep warm.
- Set instant pot to sauté and simmer sauce for a few minutes. Add cornstarch to thicken and cook until desired thickness.
- Turn off Instant pot and stir in sour cream. Serve sauce over chops with egg noodles or mashed potatoes and a vegetable of your choice.
Total Cost with Noodles + Green Beans: $12.87 (Per serving cost $2.15)
Note: This recipe is also super easy to make as a one skillet recipe!
Here's to families large and small, with a one-pot meal to feed them all! Happy #FamilyMealsMonth! Share a picture of your family meal and tag it #NutritionMadeEasy and #TheLittleThingsAreGiant.
Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check the prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her series “Healthy on a Budget,” she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), I thought it would be fun to shed some light on the immense influence of Hispanic and Latinx food and flavors on our everyday cuisine.
What’s the difference between Hispanic and Latinx, you ask? Great question! I admit that while I have traveled to many Spanish-speaking countries, lived in Central America, dance salsa and bachata, AND have a best friend who is Argentine-American, I had to research it myself.
Essentially, Hispanic refers to anyone who speaks Spanish or is descended from Spanish-speaking populations while Latinx refers to those who are from or descended from a place in Latin America. Latin America is made up of most of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Hispanic and Latinx tend to be used interchangeably, but they’re not always. A Brazilian person is Latinx, but not Hispanic, since they speak Portuguese. And a Spaniard is Hispanic, but not Latinx, because they’re from Spain. That’s it!
Now, let’s get to the foodie fun! Most of us are extremely familiar with Tex-Mex or Mexican food (they’re different!) and probably enjoy it very often.
From mole and guacamole to tacos and tamales, Mexican dishes have become an American staple—and influenced Tex-Mex dishes you may be even more familiar with, like nachos, burritos, fajitas, and chips and salsa.
Tex-Mex cuisine is influenced by Mexican but differs when it comes to spices, like cumin—which is actually Indian—and ingredients like beef, yellow cheese or “queso,” wheat flour, and black beans. Mexican cuisine is much lighter on starches and meats, and any cheese is likely to be one of a few white cheeses like queso fresco, Oaxaca, and Cotija—many of which Giant carries in the cheese aisle!
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on beverages from our southern neighbors. Did you know that Corona Extra and Modelo Especial are among the top 10 best-selling beers in the country? Don’t forget to pick some up for your next Taco Tuesday 😊 Thank you, Mexico!
Let’s travel south to El Salvador next. If you haven’t experienced a warm stuffed pupusa with a side of repollo (cabbage salad), you’re missing out! Pupusas are thick flat cornmeal pockets filled with various savory yummies—imagine a small pancake. My favorite is cheese and loroco, a small edible flower bud that adds a lovely flavor. Other varieties include pork, beans, or a mixture. They are divine, easy to make, and a perfect comfort food as the weather cools off. Just be sure to enjoy that cabbage salad and maybe throw some other veggies into your meal.
Plantains are popular all over the region, too. And I’m not talking chips. Found fresh in our produce section, plantains are part of the banana family but are longer and have thicker skins. They are also higher in starch and lower in sugar than bananas. Fully ripe plantains (those that are brown!) are typically fried to perfection to make plátanos maduros. In El Salvador, they’re often served with refried beans and sour or sweet cream.
Just thinking about the natural sweetness and texture is making my mouth water! If you’re not up for making it from scratch, Goya’s got you. Look for pre-fried plantains in the freezer section! They even have a baked version, which the nutritionist in me is thrilled about. Fix them up Salvadoran-style or pair them with your favorite protein and veggies to add some international flair to your meal. Thank me later.
While we’re looking at plantains, let’s head to the islands for a look at how the unripe green ones are prepared. In many Caribbean islands as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Colombia, green plantains are sliced, fried, then pounded and fried again to create tostones (one of many names they’re called). Yes, they’re fried twice. It’s no wonder they’re heavenly! These raw green plantains yield a starchy potato-like flavor so they’re often served with meat, cheese, beans or seafood depending on the region. Once again, Goya has frozen tostones if you’re curious about them in place of potatoes or your usual grain of choice!
Nutrition talk for a second: All foods can fit into a healthy eating pattern. I always say there are no bad foods, just bad portions and frequencies. As long as fried ones like these (or twice-fried, but who’s counting?) are only enjoyed on occasion, you’re golden.
Stay tuned for the next International Foodie story, where we’ll continue to travel and savor more tastes of Hispanic and Latinx cuisine. Until then, eat well and try something new!
Min is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is all about adventures through traveling and exploring off the beaten path. She has a passion for cuisines of the world and their beneficial ingredients. In her series “International Foodie,” she takes you on culinary journeys through distant lands and shows how you can create some of those special experiences right here at home.
A Dietitian's Guide to Oktoberfest-Thu
Oktoberfest—not exactly where you would think to find a nutritionist but hey, we’re foodies too! For those who may not know, Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival held in Munich, Germany and is notorious for their beer, pretzels, and gingerbread Lebkuchen hearts. Coincidentally, last year, my husband and I were (un)fortunate enough to be stuck in Germany during Oktoberfest, so we got to experience it firsthand!
The parades and costumes were terrific but the food...THE FOOD was the highlight of the festival. There were vegetarian and vegan options too. The organic pumpkin spread on wood oven bread was my fav! There was also endless beer (and non-alcoholic drinks available too). Plus, I couldn't say I was in Germany without eating an original Weisn pretzel!