Friday, July 18, 2014

Vegetarian Zucchini and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

IGA has cabbage for 59 cents a pound and corn three ears for $1.00. Prices are good through Sunday, July 20.

Marsh has pork chops for $1.69 per pound, good through Wednesday, July 22.

Kroger has bacon twelve ounces for $1.99, or $2.67 per pound. Nectarines, peaches, and red and black plums are all 99 cents a pound. Tomatoes on the vine are 88 cents a pound. Whole medium pineapples are 99 cents each. Prices are good through next Wednesday, July 22.

Aldi has blueberries for 99 cents a pint and strawberries for 99 cents a pound. Watermelon are $2.49 each. Ground turkey is $1.69 per pound. Prices are good through Tuesday, July 22.

Produce, meat and dairy are “half off” if you exchange your food stamps for Market Bucks. Up to $18.00 of food stamp benefits can be exchanged for up to $36 of Market Bucks, which are good dollar for dollar for produce, meat, dairy, and some plants. Get your Market Bucks inside City Hall.

I don't usually do anything vegetarian, but there’s nothing inspiring in the grocery ads again this week, and zucchini is out in full force at the Farmers Market and at the Hub, so I’m going to stick with zucchini this week. I’ll still give you recipes and menus that stay at or under $1.50 per person for a full meal, but I’ll build them around zucchini instead of meat. And they still won’t rely on bread or rice or potatoes or pasta or noodles or beans other “fillers” of that sort. Don’t forget to check out all the zucchini and summer squash recipes already posted, too.

Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian dish that uses eggplant instead of meat. You can do the same thing with zucchini, too, as in this recipe for ZUCCHINI PARMESAN. The zucchini is breaded, but it’s baked instead of fried, which makes it a lot easier and less messy. And less time spent over a hot stove, too! The flavor of the marinara sauce is critical to this recipe, so either use a good (and therefore more expensive) sauce or doctor up a cheap sauce with an onion and garlic sautéed in oil and added to the sauce. You might need to add some Italian Herbs, too. Assuming you use a can of Hunt’s pasta sauce ($1.00 a can several places), an onion and two cloves of garlic to make the sauce, and you make your own breadcrumbs, a batch of this will run about $5.75. The recipe says it makes six servings, though, so each serving would cost just under $1.00, and my usual four servings would run about $4.00. That leaves room in the budget for a big salad of lettuce and fresh tomatoes with a simple vinaigrette dressing and some fresh fruit for dessert. Say a mixture of fresh pineapple and fresh strawberries.
An article appeared at (the online branch of The Philadelphia Enquirer) with the title “The Zucchini Wars. Has Your Kitchen Been Overrun by the Summer Squash? Don’t Despair. Here Are 50 Ways to Bring the Vegetable Invasion Under Control.” I think the author must have been being paid by the word. Anyway, the idea behind the 50 ways is to grate the zucchini and sauté it in butter with some onion and garlic, and then use the “BZM(BASIC ZUCCHINI MIXTURE) in 50 different ways. The author says that you need the onion and garlic even if you’re going to put the zucchini in something like a cake, because otherwise the zucchini slurps up all of the flavor of the other ingredients and doesn’t leave any flavor for you. He swears that you won’t taste the onion or garlic in zucchini cake or zucchini bread. Don’t know about that. I haven’t tried them. But it is OK for the onion and garlic to come through in ZUCCHINI MINESTRONE. A batch of the BZM will run about $2.00, so each cup of the BZM will run about 25 cents. A batch of the Minestrone will cost about $4.00 and will make four really big servings. Serve it with Deviled Eggs (use your own recipe) and some fresh fruit. How about combining blueberries and peaches this time? Don’t forget to save the liquid that you drain from the zucchini and add it to soups, stews and so forth when you need some liquid, or cook your rice or pasta in it.

Finally, GRILLED ZUCCHINI PIZZAS. I’m giving you the basic recipe – just pizza sauce and cheese – but you could add other toppings. A few slices of pepperoni, some chopped green pepper or onion, sausage, olives, whatever. Left plain, a batch will cost about $3.00 and will make 8 to 12 slices, depending on the size of your zucchini. You use slices of zucchini as the base of the pizzas, you see, instead of the usual pizza crust. Serve with a big salad and fresh fruit. I have no idea where I got the recipe or I’d tell you and give them credit.

Budget Lunches - Lunch for under $1.00 per person

(To keep my menus under the average food stamp benefit received in Indiana of about $4.15 per person per day, I figure $1.00 for breakfast, $1.25 for lunch, and $1.50 for supper. However, things don't always work out as planned - a meal costs more than you budget for, or you have to buy a big jar of something and you don't use it all up that month. That's where my Budge Lunches and Budget Breakfasts come in. Each week I give either a breakfast or lunch recipe (or menu, if applicable) that costs no more than 50 cents for breakfast or $1.00 for lunch. That gives you a little bit of wiggle room for those unexpected costs.)

This week I'm giving a lunch menu. COTTAGE CHEESE ZUCCHINI PANCAKES are similar to Potato Pancakes or Latkes, but with grated zucchini instead of grated potatoes. Actually, they use BZM, or BASIC ZUCCHINI MIXTURE, which is a make-ahead mixture of slightly cooked and drained grated zucchini. A batch of pancakes costs about $1.70 and makes four servings of three to four pancakes each. Top with applesauce and serve with COLESLAW or top with half a cup each of whipped cream and strawberries or blueberries per person. Either way, lunch will be less than $1.00 per person. To make it even cheaper, use YOGURT instead of the whipped cream, and bring the cost down to about 75 cents per person.


Mary Anne

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