Easy Chicken Quesadillas

Hey!

HPIM0031

This recipe was born on one of those days where I was like, I want nothing to do with cooking, but I am STARVING and feed me now. I keep a lot of seemingly random things in my freezer, including chicken breasts, pre-sauteed peppers and onions, tortillas… you see where this was going, right?!

Rather than being a true recipe post, this is more of an example of how doing some pre-work and keeping your freezer well stocked will save you the money and hassle of having to eat out. I recently bought a flat of chicken breasts at Costco and my dad helped me out by barbecuing each and every one of them for me! Since I was at my parents place, they freeze wrapped them for me, but a simple freezer bag will do the trick as well.

I defrosted a pre-cooked chicken breast, a pre-sauteed package of peppers and onions, and pulled out four tortillas.HPIM0015HPIM0018

I sliced my defrosted chicken breast (it was barbecued with Montreal chicken spice) so that it would be easier to distribute along my quesadillas.

HPIM0019HPIM0021

When it came time to assemble, I started with a bed of shredded tex-mex cheese, then chicken, then the peppers and onions mix, and lastly more cheese topped off with my other tortilla.

HPIM0024HPIM0026

I popped my tortilla “sandwich” into a non-stick pan (ungreased) on medium heat and flipped them when my peeks at the bottom showed a brown spotting like below.

HPIM0030

I then cut each quesadilla into fours and ate them with salsa to dip them in! I hope this post gives you a good idea of how pre-cooking some key items and keeping a well-stocked freezer can really save you time and money on those days where you’re starving and/or don’t want to cook.

HPIM0035

 

I also wanted to quickly say thank you to everyone that takes the time to read these posts, comment, like my Instagram pictures, share my Facebook posts… it means the world to me and so do you!

Have a great Monday!

Affordable Fitness Wear

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of athletic wear. Most days, I go straight from business clothes to athletic wear, or my onesie. The point being, I own quite a bit of workout wear and it ranges from expensive (looking at you, LuluLemon) to super affordable! This post is a bit of a roundup of my favorite accessible and affordable workout wear- Old Navy, Joe Fresh and Walmart. Everything is linked.

All of these outfits are appropriate for hitting the trails, running some stairs or popping by the gym and cooling down after the fact. You’ll note that most outfits have a jacket or sweater- this is because I personally like to get outdoors when it’s cool at night.

Joe Fresh

Joe Fresh

While this option is the most expensive, I had to include it because of these super on-trend mesh insert leggings. Oftentimes I find going affordable is synonymous with plain basics, but this outfit proves that it doesn’t have to be! Plus, this is the only outfit with four items, keep that in mind.

1.Mesh Active Legging  2. Active Tank 3. Hooded Pullover 4. Active Stripe Cropped Tank

 

Walmart Athletic Works

Walmart

Walmart wins for ultimate affordability this time! Plus, it is the only option for a sports bra in this post that has adjustable straps. Double win! This windbreaker is awesome because if you want some coverage for a chance of showers or mad wind, you have it, but it’s unlined and light color so if it’s sunny out still you aren’t melting.

1.Medium Impact Bra 2. Performance Legging 3. Windbreaker

 

Old Navy

Old Navy

Coming in a mere 55 cents more expensive than Walmart, Old Navy is a great choice not only for their selection, sizing and quality, but because they have a massive 30% off sale online only right now! Shipping is free on all orders over $50, and returns are free so it’s a great option if you’re in the market for some workout wear!

1.Perforated Running Shorts 2. Maximum Support Sports Bra 3. “All Day Long” Tank

 

 

Where is your favorite place to get affordable workout wear?

Beet Salad

20160516_173303

Anyone who follows me on Instagram probably remembers this little snap of a salad I whipped up the other day, which was just too delicious to not share. This isn’t a cheap dinner, but it sure was delicious. For a less hungry person, this could serve two, but I kept it as a single serving on price since that’s how I ate it.

Beets and Greens Salad

$3.23 per serving

~1 Large Beet- $0.57

~1/3 of a large container of mixed greens – $1.46

~1/8 of a large container of feta- $0.88

1/3 of a can of cannellini beans- $0.32

Pantry Staples for dressing- olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper (remember to salt and pepper liberally since the beans etc are a very blank slate. Go harder on the pepper and lighter on the salt due to the feta.)

20160516_172521

Start off by washing your lettuce and using it as the base of your salad in a large bowl. Rinse your beans and place them on ~1/3 of the lettuce. Next, crumble your feta up the center. After that, slice up your beets and put them on the remaining 1/3.

20160516_172309

Your next step is to build your vinaigrette. Start with a healthy squeeze of dijon mustard, then a good splash of lemon juice, then top with roughly 1/3 of olive oil. When I make this salad this size as a meal, I aim for about 2 ounces of dressing total. The good news is, if you undershoot it, you can just make more since you’re in charge of the dressing. 20160516_172604

When you’re done making that dijon vinaigrette, pour it on top of your salad and dig in! (Maybe with a bib on… beets stain!)

 

What’s your favorite meal salad?

Easy Pantry Setup

Why I'm not...

This post should really be called “Why I’m not buying groceries for 35 days”, but that felt a little wordy. But, it’s true, I’m setting out for 35 days of not buying groceries and I’m pretty excited about it.

The month of June is  bit of a big one in my world. Not just because it’s my mum and dad’s birthdays (yay), and probably the month my sister moves into her brand new house (double yay), but because I’m kinda bleeding out the money this month. To the tune of approximately $4600.

Yeah, let’s all just take a moment to pick our jaws up off the floor. My broke little heart hurts a bit even admitting that! But, I have a $2100 bill that I’ve owed for a bit now that I wrote a check for today, about $200 upcoming to pay registration and car maintenance fees, and then my property taxes, which are approximated at $2200. Adulting is hard, yea?

So, from now and for the month of June I’m just not buying any food. Not because it’s anywhere close in terms of cost, but because that will ease the cash flow a bit. The only reason I’m able to do this is because I have a well stocked pantry and freezer that I upkeep (when something is running low, I replace it). My mum helped me out a ton with the initial stock, not just in how to choose what I needed, but also monetarily, which I’m amazingly grateful for. Since that initial stockup, I’ve tweaked things to my taste and budget, and the list is below!

List

What’s your pantry must-have? Wish me luck for the next 35 or so days! I’ll follow up on the 30th of June with how the process actually went and how much I spent (because we all know it’s not going to go off without a hitch).

Lentils with Israeli Cous Cous and Mushroom Ragout

Hi!

Today’s post is a freezer meal stockup or family sized recipe that is cheap and cheerful- my two favorite things! Cooking with beans and lentils allows me to skip on expensive meat, and instead load up on healthful vegetables. Sometimes I make the choice to eat meat free and have the nice produce I want. This option actually only uses one fresh ingredient- mushrooms. These could easily be swapped out for rehydrated dried or canned if you are looking to save even more.

The most common comment I get when people talk about lentils is usually a combination of “those take forever to cook” or “aren’t those hard to cook?” My answer is the crockpot we all love- seven hours on low while you sleep, and those lentils are cooked. I boil mine because I tend to do a bunch of food prep all at once and one little lentil pot isn’t going to hurt me, but either way all you need to do is put in however much lentils you want, 3x’s that amount in water, pop the lid on and ignore it.

 

Lentils with Israeli Cous Cous and Mushroom Ragout

Serves 6-8 meals for $5.81 (or ~$0.83 per person)

2 cups lentils- $1.32

1.5 cups cous cous (if you can’t get ptitim, or can’t find any marked as Israeli or Jerusalem cous cous, get medium cous cous, I used a mix my mum had given me some of ) – $0.59

1 can whole tomatoes- $1.17

~10 mushrooms- $1.48

1/4 bag frozen kale- $1.25

Pantry staples: garlic, red chili flakes, dried basil, dried thyme, a parmesan rind if you have it, olive oil or butter, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

Method:

HPIM0043 (2).JPGStart by getting out a large frying pan, a bowl to cook your cous cous in and whatever you’re using to cook your lentils in (pot vs. crock pot).

HPIM0036

HPIM0038

Your next step is to get those lentils on to cook. I rinse mine until the water runs clear in a fine colander. Sometimes you’ll hear recipes that say to cook the lentils in stock or whatever all else, but to me, that’s a waste of money. It doesn’t add a ton of flavor (I’ve tried it). Save your money! I use Click brown lentils- they’re just the kind my mum uses for soup and I like them.

HPIM0037

Take your 2 cups of rinsed lentils and put them in a pot with five to six cups of water. You’ll need a decently big pot for this as lentils do puff up a bit. Crank up the heat until your lentil pot is boiling, then turn down to a simmer and cover with the lid. They’ll need about 20-30 minutes simmering.

HPIM0005

Moving on to your ragout, put garlic, chili flakes and your basil and thyme in the fry pan and get to warming them and softening the garlic. While that’s happening, rough chop your mushrooms and then pop them in the pan to get cooked as well.

HPIM0045.JPG

While those cook down, put on a kettle with 2 cups of water- you need a 1:1 ratio of cous cous to boiling water, so we’re hoping to end up with 1.5 cups of boiling water for our 1.5 cups of cous cous. Put your cous cous in a bowl, pour the boiling water (measure it) in overtop and then cover the cous cous to cook. Fluff it up in ten minutes and it’s ready.

HPIM0042 (2).JPG

Back to your ragout. Open a tin of whole tomatoes and crush them in a bowl with your hands- then add them to your ragout, with their juice. The sauce will cook to a thicker consistency, don’t worry, just keep the heat decently high. At this point, I like to add a parmesan rind. These are commonly regarded as trash but any Italian nonna would smack you for throwing them out- you can add them to soups, sauces and ragouts to add depth of flavor and a slight saltiness without adding salt. We’ll remove it at the end.

HPIM0046.JPG

When your ragout is almost done, add 1/4 of a bag of frozen kale (spinach is nice, too if you don’t have access to frozen kale or it’s a bit rich for your budget).

HPIM0048.JPG

To assemble your meal, mix your cous cous and lentils together, then top with mushroom ragout. If you have it available, a sprinkle of parmesan is perfect!

I hope this gives you an idea of an easy freezer meal you can whip up this weekend to have for when you don’t feel like cooking! This is also nice if you have guests that are vegetarian or vegan- make sure you leave out the parm and are using oil instead of butter, and you’re good to go!

Dill Pesto Chicken Burger

Hey guys!

I thought it was only fitting after my easy tatziki recipe to give you something to eat it with! Even better, I thought it would be great to make that something incorporate the awesome dill pesto I made recently!

This is a great way to make a batch of burgers to keep in the freezer for a night where it’s just too busy (or too hot, or too whatever) to cook. I will usually pull out a half cup of frozen rice and eat this with some tatziki and cut vegetables.

Dill Pesto Chicken Burger

$10.36 or $0.65 per burger

2 pounds of ground chicken- $4

~150grams of bread crumbs- $1.25

1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese- $3.38

2 eggs- $0.45

Dill pesto- $1.28

Start off by putting everything in a bowl (yup, everything!). Season liberally with pepper, less liberally with salt (because of the parmesan).  Set out a tray or 2-3 plates to put your formed patties on, and put a pan (or three, if you’re me) on the stove with about half a tablespoon of olive oil in it.

20160512_184438

Now, make sure your hands are very clean, because you need to get your hands in that bowl and mix everything fully together. It should feel like you could make a snowball with your meat mix- if it’s too sloppy, you need to add more bread crumbs.

20160512_185643

Once all of your patties are formed, pop them into a hot pan. Don’t peek at them for a solid minute, you want to form a crust that will make sure your burgers stay in tact when you flip them.

20160512_185907

Once you have waited that time and peeked at the underside of your burgers to see them turning brown, flip them carefully.

20160512_190455HPIM0061

Once all of your burgers are flipped, get your meat thermometer ready. It is extremely important to check your ground chicken burgers for safe cooking temperature- not just to avoid food borne illness, but also to preserve the deliciousness of your burger by not overcooking them! You need an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for ground poultry. If you ever need a safe cooking temperature, the Government of Canada has your back.

HPIM0062

Once you’ve hit the magical 165 degrees, you can take those babies off and either eat them, or cool them and pop them in the freezer for the next time you need a quick meal!

Easy Tatziki

Do you remember this post where I said I eat my chicken and rice with fresh, home made tatziki? Here’s a reminder:

20160317_173309

What I didn’t tell you in that post is how I make my own tatziki for a lot more of an affordable price than purchasing it in the store. My favorite store bought tatziki is definitely the President’s Choice Traditional Tatziki, but it is $5.89 for about 1.5 cups (484grams). In this post I’m going to show you how I make the same amount at home in about 5 minutes, for only $2.

 

Easy Tatziki

$2, or $0.40 a serving

1/3 of a container of 0% greek yogurt: $1.27

2 cloves of garlic: $0.17

1/3 of a long english cucumber: $0.48

A few sprigs of dill (optional, but recommended): $0.07

 

Start off by putting about a third of your container of greek yogurt into a mixing bowl. Wash up your dill.

20160512_221733

Next, tear your dill into small pieces, and then grate your cloves of garlic and cucumber into the bowl above it. Don’t worry about there being quite a bit of cucumber juice. This will water the mix down so that it is easy to dip veggies, flatbread or chicken in!

20160512_222050

Once everything is in the bowl, give it a good stir around! It’s really that easy and is like getting your tatziki 65% off, every time!

20160512_222456

 

Do you have a favorite cost saving kitchen hack? I’d love to hear about it!