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Taco Soup & Packing Tape

June 24th, 2007

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My husband and I are in the process of moving, so it is fair to say that this is a pretty hectic time around our house. Our walls are lined with boxes filled with our personal belongings, all of them carefully wrapped and cataloged on one of my infamous lists. Looking at the remaining mess, I am convinced there is something very disturbing about seeing much of what you have accumulated in this world reduced to stacks of ugly brown boxes. Right now I am exhausted and it feels as if my entire weekend has been spent trying to pry packing tape off the roll without reducing it to useless shreds. Having quick and easy meals to rely on this weekend turned out to be a very helpful thing…

Saturday morning we woke up to the same breakfast of eggs, with cheese, salsa, toast and juice. Lunch was a predictable but reliable half of a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich with half of a banana each. Snacks of trail mix and 8 oz glasses of milk were successful in maintaining our energy level and we have yet to be hungry. Bored maybe, but definitely not hungry… Dinner last night was leftover pasta with beans and red sauce. I wish we would have had some grated mozzarella cheese to melt over the top of it, but that luxury was just not affordable this week. One thing is certain; a Food Stamp budget of only $3.00 per day only affords the necessities and definitely no extras. Even then, you have to spend it carefully to keep from going hungry especially if you wish to eat healthy and do not have the extra time and energy it takes to prepare healthy meals or elements of meals from scratch.

For almost that reason alone, I am really excited about sharing the recipe I created for tonight’s dinner of Taco Soup. Quick, easy, and definitely not fussy, but oh man was it surprisingly good. It was so, good that I think this is a recipe we will definitely refer to and use again in the near future. Ready in less then 15 minutes, it was a filling meal that will give us leftovers that we will actually be happy to see tomorrow.

*Just before serving this, we decided to use some of the cheddar cheese we had grated for our breakfasts to top this soup. I am really glad we did because I just don’t think it would have been the same with out it.

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

1. Gather together 5 cloves of garlic, 1/2 of an onion, 2 Tablespoons of butter, the can of Wal-mart’s Great Value brand Chili Ready Tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, 1 bullion cube, 1 pound of frozen corn (exactly 1/2 of the bag), Texas Pete Hot Sauce and several slices of frozen French bread.

2. Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a large pot over medium heat.

3. Meanwhile chop up all of the garlic and onion. Be sure to reserve some of the garlic for making garlic toasts.

4. Toss the garlic and onion in the pot and stir into the melted butter till well coated. Lower the heat to medium low and place cover on the top of the pot for 1-2 minutes. Once again, this will help steam the onions and garlic in their own juices minimizing the use of more fat.

5. Add the tomatoes to the pot and fill the tomato can with water to rinse out the remaining traces of sauce and to measure out water for the soup. Mix well. (I used two tomato cans of water, but you can easily use more to stretch this soup a bit further.)

6. Rinse the black beans under cold water if desired. This will help reduce the amount of salt in the recipe and help give the soup a better flavor.

7. Add bullion cube and corn to the pot. Mix well, place lid on pot, and turn heat up to high.

8. Meanwhile turn on broiler and butter bread rounds. Top with remaining garlic and broil in the oven for approximately 1-2 minutes or until they just begin to smell really good. Be sure to keep a close eye on them as they can burn with in a matter of seconds.

9. As soon as soup begins to boil, turn off heat, adjust flavor with Texas Pete Hot Sauce and serve with the garlic toasts.

Total Cost for this meal = $2.79 (Roughly $.47 for dinner per person each day)

The Food Stamp Challenge in the news and on the web:

How Did Food Stamp Challengers Fare? (NewsOK.com)

Cost Tops Content in Meal from Food Stamps (Union-Tribune)

Lawmakers Learn Food Stamps Can’t Buy Healthy Diet (Enid News/Oklahoma)

Taking The Food Stamp Challenge (Open Source)

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