January isn’t just the first month of the year it may also be the poorest. Many people have been spending far too much on Christmas gifts and holidays so it’s not for nothing that this month is all about turning every penny and stone. I have personally never understood why people spend so much money on Christmas and New Years Eve. I mean it should all be about togethernes and spending time with the ones you love. Pampering your family with gifts you can’t afford is not the way to go! Unfortunately it’s easy to get caught in the “gift-giving-trap” with the media telling us all about how hip that shirt is or how popular you will get if you have that latest gadget or how much your kids will love you if you just give them that new smart phone. The pocket isn’t as deep as we want it to be…
Regardless of if you’re affected by blue January, want to save money for a trip or if you’re one of those who is unfortunate with such a low income that every month is a struggle… Do not fear! You can cook and enjoy great food to a low cost. Here come some tips of have to be frugal whit food.
Leftovers. Leftovers is one of my favorite meals – you can make so much out of what’s left in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Don’t through it away; instead see it as an opportunity to be creative. I heard someone saying nextovers; I really like that word! Take what you have and make it into something new! Almost everything can be transformed into a yummy soup, pasta or wrap. Sometimes I appreciate the leftovers more than the meal that I started off with. Roasted veggies can be transformed into a nice wrap or quesadilla, just ad some cheese and a nice salsa or yoghurt sauce and you’re good to go. Wilted root vegetables can be made into a creamy soup and yesterdays stew can be transformed into a pasta gratin.
Canned, dried and frozen food. Canned, dried and frozen food will stay fresh for years and is an extremely affordable alternative. Canned and frozen veggies are also picked when in season so all the flavors will be kept and if cooked correctly you can end up with something superb. Pasta, tinned tomatoes, corn, dried legumes, frozen spinach, frozen raspberries… the list is long. This is things that last a long time and can be bought in bulk and is therefor very inexpensive.
Seasonal. Eat fruits and veggies that’s in season. This will save you lots of money but also give you a lot of pleasure when it comes to flavors; because everything tastes better when in season. Do not even think about buying that package of strawberries in the middle of the winter – it will taste bland and it will make a deep hole in your pocket.
Root veggies. Carrots, potatoes, beets, onions, sweet potatoes and all the other root veggies out there is extremely affordable and can be consumed all year around because of their long shelf life. And while you’re at it don’t forget to use the peel and stalks if they’re fresh. Potato peels are for example full of nutritions. And by maintaining the peel you don’t have to through away 20 % the veggie which otherwise end up in the bin.
I cooked up this super easy, super tasty corn soup made out of tinned corn. Simplicity and cheapness at it’s best! This is my contribution to “Månadens Gröna”, the cooking challenge which in January is all about affordable vegetarian cooking.
To make the soup even more filling serve it with a nice cheese and jalapeño quesadilla, it’ll be the perfect match with the Mexican vibes in the soup.
Corn Chowder and Cheesy Jalapeño Quesadillas – 4 servings
Hearty, tasty and cheap… Need I say more? This is the perfect food a cold winters day or any other day.
800 + 200 g corn, canned or frozen
400 g yellow onion (2-3 pieces)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. whole cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper, or more if preferred
150 g cream
150 g milk
750 g water
1 veggie stock cube
½-1 tsp red wine vinegar
4 flour tortillas
Oven: 250 °C
Soup. Drain the corn if it comes from a can. Put 800 g on a tray together with some roughly sliced onion and 4 whole garlic cloves. Add salt, cayenne, black pepper and freshly bashed cumin. At the same time make a smaller tray with 200 g of corn some salt and a dash of cayenne. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely colored. Don’t forget to give the corn mixture a stir every now and then to get and even roasting. Leave the small tray in the oven, but turn it off just so it will maintain the warmth without getting any more color. Transfer the corn on the big tray over to a pot and add milk, cream, water vinegar and a stock cube. Mix with a stick blender until nice and creamy. If you prefer a completely smooth soup you can pass it through a sieve to get ride of the small pieces of corn peel that’s left. Or simply skip this step if you like your chowder more rustic. Put the pan on the stove and warm through. Adjust the seasoning if needed or add more cayenne if you like it hot.
Tortilla. Take whatever cheese you have at home and place it onto a tortilla (sliced or grated, it doesn’t matter). Finely shop some jalapeños and put it on top of the cheese, add just a small amount of cheese over the chilies and finish off with another tortilla. Fry in a dry skillet on medium heat until nicely golden. Cut into wedges.
Serve the chowder piping hot with the roasted corn and maybe some jalapeños on top. Add a dollop of creme fraiche for a cooling effect. Dip the tortilla in the soup or just eat it as a nice side condiment.