Budget friendly cooking

Last night I made this recipe for sausage stuffed shells. I can't even begin to tell you how cheap this meal was, combined with Thursdays meal I will barely be spending a thing!

First, I bought every thing to make a quick marinara sauce.
1- 29 oz can crushed tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano flavor
2- 15 oz cans diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano flavor
1- 15 oz can tomato sauce
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce basil, garlic, oregano flavor
1- 6 oz can tomato paste
1- Large white onion finely diced
5- cloves garlic diced
2- tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

All of this cost me about $3.00 if I include buying garlic, which I already had. 1 jar of good tomato sauce can run upwards of $3.00 and doesn't even make a third of what I made last night. To make the sauce heat oil over low in large pot (I like ceramic pots for sauces). Add onions and sauté on low until they turn translucent. Add in garlic and stir. Add in all sauce but tomato paste, stir to combine and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove lid, stir in tomato paste, cover and continue simmering for about 10 more minutes. Check seasoning at this point.

Now you have a marinara! If you happen to be a vegetarian YOU ARE DONE! If not, then you need to add some meat! Last nights recipe simply for tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. I was able to use this base for both the meat version and the vegetarian version. Last nights meal cost me a total (with the sausage) of about $8.00. This made a big enough portion for my dinner and lunch, my husbands dinner and lunch and a portion for a child, or another lunch in the freezer.

Thursday I will add some ground beef to half of the sauce and make two lasagnas, one vegetarian and one meat. The total cost for that meal will be again about $8.00 if I buy the expensive low fat ground beef. It will again make both my husband and my dinner and two lunches plus a little more for freezing.

Total, both of these meals plus 2 days of lunches and two extra frozen meals cost $16.00, plus the $3.00 in sauce making it $19.00. For an additional $2.00 per meal you could easily double the size by buying more meat and a few extra cans of tomatoes. In fact if you spent the two dollars more you could make this serve upwards of 8 dinners plus left overs for each meal, lasagna and stuffed shells or make it big enough for either a weeks worth of meals or a whole shit ton of frozen food.

I prefer using a base marinara instead of going straight for a meat sauce. This way I can change the meat. Having more then one pasta a week is one thing but having two ground beef pastas is pretty lame. My husband will appreciate the variation from sausage to ground beef. You could even throw in some left over shredded chicken and I bet the shells would have tasted rocking that way!

Thursday I will make the lasagna and post pictures of it here for you to see, the two meals I got.

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