I love cooking. There’s a primal pleasure in spending hours in the kitchen playing around with spices and ingredients and ending up with a completely satisfying meal. It’s why I really don’t mind spending half my weekend in the kitchen meal prepping for the week ahead. My office is right downtown, and it would be easy to do what so many of my coworkers do and run out to grab a quick lunch from one of the many restaurants surrounding us, but I’ve never really been tempted. First of all, even before I started thinking about financial independence, I could never see myself spending $10-15 a day on lunch. That’s up to $4,000 a year, just gone! Now that I’ve been brainwashed into thinking of all spending in terms of lost investment opportunities, over 20 years or working, I realize that it adds up to $136,000 that you basically (and literally) flushed down the toilet (assuming a low average of 5% interest).
However, even when I wasn’t thinking purely in terms of lost investments, I never minded cooking ahead for the simply fact that I love puttering around in the kitchen. I get that it’s not for everyone; however, hopefully the thought of that $136,000 hole in your future bank account is enough to make 3-4 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon worth it.
This week’s meal plan: a taco casserole (of sorts) and roasted chicken thighs with salad.
The casserole-thing was basically me looking in my fridge and freezer and seeing what I could use up. I fried some onions and bell peppers ($2) until soft, then added a pound of ground turkey ($4). Since this isn’t a cooking blog, I feel no need to apologize for the fact that my next step was realizing I had no taco seasoning left, so I just tossed in a random assortment of spices (cayenne, paprika, garlic, ground cumin, a random dutch meat spice mix, and a few others) until it tasted good but really strong. I then steamed half a large head of cauliflower ($1.50) and added that, as well as three cobs worth of corn ($2). Finally, I added about 6 heaping tablespoons of sour cream ($1) and about a cup of shredded cheddar ($1.50), then mixed everything together and threw it in the oven till it was hot and melty.
I had previously diced and roasted a large butternut squash ($2) with garlic, onion powder, and cumin, so had that on the side (I thought about tossing it all together, but squash wasn’t quite crispy enough to avoid turning into mashed-squash if mixed it too vigorously). We had that for supper tonight, and there are 8 portions of lunches left.
I then tried this recipe from Simply Recipes:
(I’m using her picture since I am very definitely not a food photographer and my attempts didn’t turn out near as photogenically). I grabbed 8 thighs from the freezer ($7.50), a cup of cashews (on sale for $3 at bulk barn, thankfully), and the rest of the ingredients from her list ($2-ish total), and followed the recipe pretty much to the letter. We’ll have these for 4 suppers this week along with salad ($4 for a big bag of chopped lettuce, plus chopped raw veggies from my fridge, so say $8.00 total). Homemade bread for breakfast equals 4 days of food for less than $40.00.
Haven’t tried the chicken yet, but the taco-veggie-thing was absolutely delicious and I doubt that I could find anything better for even three times the price if I tried.