A huge part of cutting expenses, is meal planning. I’m a dietitian, and I still hate planning my own weekly meals. What a DRAG. Where’s the spontaneity, where’s the variety?
That being said… I’m good at it, I’m a good cook, and it saves a ton of money. Besides… without it, we would eat a bag of chips or bulk candy or pizza for dinner. If I don’t have a plan in place, that’s Joe’s plan!!
We spent our day off last Wednesday sitting in the Kia dealership, waiting for Joe’s oil change and thinking up a meal plan.
It was sexy as hell.
There are two challenges when it comes to shared meals.
- Joe is vegetarian, and I’m not.
- I can’t eat gluten, and Joe can.
He made the decision early on, before he even moved in, not to eat gluten here. He will eat it at work, or sometimes when we eat out (if you can eat tempura, enjoy that tempura). I eat meat, but I don’t add it to our shared meals, of course, and I don’t tend to keep any at home. There is shrimp in the freezer, and I have some deli meats for sandwiches. That’s about it.
So while it’s hard to think of meals sometimes that are both gluten-free AND vegetarian, it’s not impossible. It often just takes both of our brains.
So on Thursday I embarked upon “meatless Shepherd’s Pie”, which seems slightly blasphemous to me, but it’s cheap, filling, and plenty healthy.
I soaked some black beans all day, and started boiling them in veggie broth.
Then I added about 1/2 lb of minced button mushrooms.
Once the beans were fully cooked, I drained the broth and lined the bottom of a 9″ x 13″(?) glass dish with the mushroom/bean meat-replacing mixture.
Then I layered frozen corn on top, with smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
Then I layered Wednesday night’s mashed potatoes (salt, butter, plain yoghurt, chives) on top of that.
*Side note: when you and the love of your life make mashed potatoes together for the first time, and he/she likes them exactly the way you like them… MAGIC.
Then I popped it all in the oven (covered in foil) at 350F for…. a while. Until it smelled good, or until Joe got home. Whichever. Probably the latter.
I would love to have weighed out the potatoes and beans before I embarked upon this tasty journey, so I could cost the whole batch and see exactly HOW cheap it was… but… 1 or 1.5 cups dried black beans, 1/2 lb mushrooms, maybe 1.5 cups frozen corn, 4-5 potatoes-worth of mashed potatoes? All cheap. All delicious!
Of course, we also added grated old cheddar after it was ready, and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.
I mean, you always need cheese.