Home > Food Stamp Challenge, Live Well for Less > Burning Dinner One Garlic Toast at a Time

Burning Dinner One Garlic Toast at a Time

June 22nd, 2007


This evening my home is filled with that distinct aroma of burnt garlic bread. Without thinking, I was going to toss all of it in the trash, but my husband reminded me of the fact that it might not be an option for someone trying to stretch their grocery budget as far as they could. So, we salvaged the best pieces (the ones in the picture) and scraped the rest. Inside I felt defeated. The garlic toasts were the one thing that I was really looking forward to for dinner and they were ruined all because in keeping in step with this challenge and my commitment to abandon all of the “luxury” items in my kitchen I chose not to use my timer. Thankful this was not a dire mistake, but it did made me realize how important it would be to pay attention to what I was doing. In a real case scenario, one burnt meal could easily send someone to bed hungry especially if the item could not be salvaged and nothing else afforded. Almost as bad, would probably be the need to scrub a pot or pan so it would be fit for something more then the trash. I know I have planned and thought this menu out well enough that we should not feel hungry, but after tonight I am reminded of what a slippery slope poverty can be. I will definitely have to be more careful!

The inspiration for tonight’s dinner comes from something that we eat from time to time especially in the winter when it is too cold to go out and shop and we are rummaging through our pantry for dinner. It is quick, easy, nutritious, and until I crunched the numbers today, I really had no idea how inexpensive it was. The 15 minute prep time might be pushing it, because of the time it takes to boil water for pasta. However if you consider the fact that it will provide effortless leftovers for 2 more nights, I think you will agree, it is a perfect choice for this menu.
Recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Kidney Beans, Red Sauce, and Garlic Toasts

(Serves 6 or 2 or People for 2 nights with leftovers that can easily be frozen for a meal in the future)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove

2. Gather together 1 onion, 1 green bell pepper, 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1 box of whole wheat pasta, the large can of Delmonte Garlic and Herb Chunky Spaghetti Sauce, 1 can of kidney beans, 2 Tablespoons of butter, and some of the French bread. (By slicing the French bread into rounds as soon as you get home from the grocery store and storing it in a plastic bag in the freezer you will be able to extend its shelf life and make it more convenient to use.)

3. Chop up the garlic, onion, and green bell pepper and set aside. Be sure to reserve and set aside some of the garlic for the bread.

4. Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a med size pot over medium to medium high heat.

5. Toss in the garlic and coat with the butter until fragrant.

6. Add the onions and green pepper tossing them well with the garlic. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to low for 2 minutes. This will help soften the vegetables without the additional use of more butter.

7. Remove the lid from the pot and add the tomato sauce. Add a little bit of water to the can to swish out any remaining sauce. Do not worry about the addition of water as it will evaporate as the sauce simmers and not effect the recipe. Mix well and return cover to pot.

8. Hopefully at this point, the water for pasta is now at a full rolling boil and the pasta may be added to the pot. (Do not cover pasta pot with a lid as it will cause the pasta water to boil over. Trust me, this is not fun!) *Pasta will take approximately 10 minutes to cook.

9. Because canned goods contain a high amount of sodium I prefer to wash my beans in a strainer under cold water. If you like, you may avoid this step. Add them to the sauce at this point, mix well, and lower the heat if the sauce seems too bubbly.

10. As you wait on the pasta and sauce, lightly butter the French bread rounds, top them with the remaining garlic, and place them on a baking sheet or tin.

11. Set the oven to broil.

12. Drain the pasta, and toss it with the sauce while it is still hot.

13. Place the garlic toast under the broiler and stand there like a hawk or they will burn. Have a trivet, pot holder, or folded up dry towel ready because as soon as they smell yummy they are done. Leaving them in any longer will cause them to scorch!

*To make this recipe even more affordable and shave off some of the prep time, replace the garlic, onion, and green pepper with a can of diced tomatoes ($.48). Omit steps 3 -6, combine the sauce, tomatoes, and kidney beans in the medium pot and bring it to a low boil over medium low heat. However, you may still wish to chop up some garlic for the bread.

Total Cost for this meal = $3.93 (Roughly $.66 for dinner per person covering a total of 6 meals)

Food Stamp Challenge, Live Well for Less , ,

  1. June 22nd, 2007 at 19:44 | #1

    I have mixed feelings about this sort of challenge. I used to be eligible for food stamps and did not avail myself of them because of pride.
    Every time I see something like this on the internet, it’s someone from the middle class actually trying to solve the problem. For the poor, its just life.

    So guess what? Use the timer, throw out the burnt bread, and buy some meat! If you really want to eat poor, you have to eat boom and bust style; eat a lot of stuff when you have the money and then starve for several days when the money runs out. Forget about healthy and stick with calories. Junk food is your friend if you are starving and only have a dollar. Those cheap, sugary fruit pies at the gas station are hard to beat for calorie per price.

    You can get enough calories to not be hungry, I think. Rice, beans, bake your own bread; flour isn’t that expensive. Cooking is something the average American poor person can do if they want to. Sometimes they do, often they don’t because many don’t have the knowledge.

    Something inside of me cringes when it sounds like part of the challenge is to be hungry. Hunger was the teacher; those of us who could got off the boom and bust cycle and learned how to plan ahead. We bought timers, crock pots, etc… Wal-mart is our friend.

    One last thing. When I made beans, for instance, I tended to buy a pound of beans, and use them all. For something like spaghetti sauce, the recipe was based around the size of the can. I always made a lot and had leftovers, and I think those that were actually trying did too. I still have trouble cooking specifically for two. Of course, I could eat leftovers all week with out batting an eye too, but I think it also has something to do with comfort. Cooking large is psychologically reassuring and having something available in the fridge is too.

  2. June 23rd, 2007 at 10:22 | #2

    August, first of all thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. I’ll admit, this one particular post might not best reflect the depth of my intentions. However, would it surprise you to hear that I too had/have mixed emotions on The Food Stamp Challenge? I respect the fact that it brings awareness to a problem, but I too cringe at times when it seems more like a “weekend adventure” for the rich. I suspect that is because for you, myself, and the many other Americans in this country that have gone hungry and know how ugly the face of poverty can be, we can not help but feel very passionate about this issue even when we sometimes would like to forget how intimate with it, we once were to begin with…

    Your thoughts on how hunger can be a great motivator really made me think and you do have a point. It definitely motivated both myself and others I knew who managed to break free of its grip. However, there were many who were left behind in “the old neighborhood.” Others who were so beaten down by many other factors and influences that poverty has on an individual, on a family, and on a community that they just never found their way out. It is in remembering those old faces, friends, and my own plight that I have been inspired to offer a grocery list, menu, and healthy recipes that can provide somewhat of a healthy solution for someone searching for it both now and in the future. If it ends up being a lifeline to just one person who one day happens to stumble upon in through an internet search, it will be worth the time and thought it took to pull it together… However, it is not my intention to stop at that, as there is far more with in my own community that I wish to do. For me this is only the beginning….

  3. Joanie (EJ)
    June 23rd, 2007 at 21:18 | #3

    I have found this series to very helpful. For me it has brought much thoughtful insight into how it is possible for one to eat in a relatively healthy manner, on a very tight budget and in a reasonable amount of time. I have found this to be very practical, particularly if we are considering that there may be children in the household. I don’t think boom and bust is good idea for feeding children.

  4. June 24th, 2007 at 15:42 | #4

    EJ, I could not agree with you more. A boom and bust mentality can be very detrimental when there are children involved. Yet, it is common in many poverty level income households in America. Even the homes where there is enough to eat, a closer look will often show that very little of it is nutritious as the most affordable foods are often the ones that are by far the most over processed and riddled with cheap fillers.

    I think it is easy to toss out suggestions like using dried beans, baking your own bread, and making meals from scratch, but I don’t think this reflects the average household. Truly, I think there is a much greater need for quick and healthy solutions that will actually work for families that are struggling to make ends meet then many of us realize.

    I hope that this series will help fill a gap and aid a family that happens to find it in search of a solution. But I also hope that it will also inspire others to rethink the Food Stamp Challenge and do what they can to help create a recipe or meal plan using the same criteria.

  5. Hopeful
    June 24th, 2007 at 16:45 | #5

    I’ve been on food stamps in the past with 2 adults and 4 children in the family and we never ate so good. If you have any knowledge of bulk buying and nutrition, and a few things in the basic pantry like spices already available, the options are many. Also, if you’re eligible for food stamps, the kids are also eligible for free breakfast and lunch at school, even during the summer in my community, and if the children are small, there’s WIC which provides the more expensive items like milk, cheese and juice for free.

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