Slow Cooker Chuck Roast Stew: Trying to Eat Cheap, A Month of Dinners Day 30

I didn't post dinner #29 because it was Thanksgiving dinner all over again--we reheated and re-enjoyed the leftovers that our Thursday hosts graciously packed up for us to take home.

This is the last day of my "Month of Dinners" series, exploring how to cut food costs while still keeping our family meals as tasty and healthy as I can. As I mentioned in my mid-stream review, "It's All About the Seasonal," I'll write more about trying to eat cheap as the types of available foods change with the seasons.

Looking back, I see that 13 of my homemade meals cost less than $10. (That includes the $12 chili that we ate for 2 nights.) None of the at-home meals were over $14 (that was the turnip-crab soup). Factors that made a meal expensive were 1. meat and 2. multiple ingredients (like the whole-wheat mac & cheese on day 2 and the bowtie soup on day 22). However meat didn't always put a meal over the $10 mark--the turkey tacos on Day 12, the beef stroganoff on day 13, and the turkey-bacon quiche on day 28 were all under 10 bucks. There were 6 nights where I ate a shared meal or potluck or was treated by others for some reason, so those are hard to calculate. That's not exactly "frugal," it's more like "blessed." Of course we try to host and treat others, too, we just didn't happen to do so in the last 30 days.

So here's tonight's meal--slow cooker chuck roast stew. One big thing I like about slow cookers is that they can take a cheap (and usually tough) cut of meat and render it like buttah over the course of 8+ hours. So chicken thighs will melt in your mouth just like the juiciest breast, and tougher beef cuts like a chuck roast turn out as fork tender as a prime filet mignon. (Of course another thing I like about my slow cooker is the "fix it and forget it" aspect--you've already done 3/4 of your dinner dishes before dinner is even served, and you can come home from work and just relax until you're ready to spoon up your meal.)

The smallest chuck roast at the store was a monster that was over 3 pounds and cost 3.99 a pound. I cut the roast in half and froze half of it, and cut the fatty bits out of the rest. (Put those trimmings in my freezer-stock-bag to add a bit of oomph to the usual combination of carrot tops and onion skins.) So that's $6.50 worth of meat. Then I added 2 potatoes, 1 red onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 parsnip and 5 carrots, plus a bay leaf, a small can of chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of thyme, and about 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze the pan. All told I'd say that's another $6.50 for the rest of the ingredients. So $13 total, with a bit of leftovers besides. Here it is with the festive angel chimes I broke out this weekend.


Joie de vivre said...

I love this idea. Congratulation on your month of "cheapness". Everything looks so good though I bet it felt anything but cheap. :)

ValleyWriter said...

Mmmm... this looks delish. And since it has meat, I can actually try it out on the hubby - yay!

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks Joie de vivre--looking back it was a lot of fun to explore my cheapness this way, I learned a lot and am glad to get some feedback. Valleywriter, I know you can work that slow cooker! :)