Tomato Chicken Stew with Israeli Couscous

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All right, we’re getting down to the wire here.  I’m clearly already over-budget for the month, and so trying to keep the shopping as skimpy as possible for these last few days of August.  Spending last weekend in the woods certainly helped — after a super cheap trip to Grocery Outlet ($37, two people, five meals!), we spent a lazy Saturday along the Salmon River eating pepper-egg-provolone-pesto wraps, fresh plums and carrots, TastyBites Indian meals, spicy chicken sausages, and jalapeno-watermelon cocktails.  Not too shabby.

So cooking this week, I’m really trying to just use what I’ve already got on hand.  Which never really takes too much effort, given what an apocalyptic-ready stockpile I have in my pantry, but it’s the fresh veggies that always provide a challenge.

Fortunately for me, I had some serious peppers on hand — still a ton of jalapenos from my last Fubonn run.

And also some leftover bell peppers from camping (one of the few fresh vegetables I’ll pack, even when backpacking.  So sturdy, hearty, and refreshing, with very little waste to pack out!).

So these got sauteed with a small yellow onion while I browned some chicken I had in the freezer…

And once those were all softened, I added some homemade chicken stock to make things a little richer.

In contemplating what grain would go along with this the best, I was itching for something in between rice and pasta.  Which, scanning my pantry shelves, inevitably led me to…

Israeli couscous.  I really think this is just plain old pasta in a novel shape, but it does the trick.  And, while you can totally cook it separately, in a dish like this, I figure why not just throw it directly into the skillet and turn it into a one-pot meal??

So once some liquid had melted off of my chicken stock brick, I added 1 cup of Israeli couscous, and enough V8 juice to submerge all the ingredients, to turn this into a nice tomato sauce.

I covered this all to let the couscous absorb most of the broth, after adding some salt, pepper, and green herbs (in the family of Italian seasoning).

20 minutes later, this dish was ready for the final ingredient — the remainder of my bag of fresh spinach.

I did also make a pit-stop at Fred Meyer the other night, after a 4.5-hour Ikea marathon (I think Jesse and I may have set a historic precedent for being the first couple to emerge form 4+ hours at Ikea together, not fighting or crying), to get some crucial ingredients to get me through the rest of my week: some fresh salad veggies and a roasted chicken.

Between this for lunches and dinners, a visit from my dad taking us out to the Sunshine Tavern for dinner last night, and some yogurt, cottage cheese, and fruit that I still had in my fridge for breakfasts, I can make it to Saturday, no problem.  And then the month resets and I can get back on track with my budget!  Jesse officially moves in in October: last month of single livin’!

This Week’s Groceries

Fred Meyer 8/28

  • Mixed greens: $2.28
  • Radish bunch: $0.50
  • Cucumber: $0.50
  • Red onion: $0.65
  • Roasted chicken: $6.99 Truth be told, this is one of my favorite “take-out” meals.  Some shredded roasted chicken atop mixed greens and crunchy vegetables, some blue cheese crumbles or whatever other cheese I have in my drawer, flax or sunflower seeds, and a yummy dressing.  It’s perfect post-workout, or when I’m craving a satisfying, fresh-tasting meal and want to skip right over the gluten altogether.  I prefer when I can dip into my stash of home-roasted chicken that I keep in my freezer, but in a pinch, a whole roasted and seasoned chicken from Freddy’s for seven bucks is a pretty sweet deal.

TOTAL: $10.92

REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: -$57.21 — Yikes!  This leaves me with only about $100 to spend in September…



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