How Planning Meals Can Help Us Save Money and Time during Quarantine
These days when trips to the groceries are not convenient and leisurely anymore, and when we are uncertain up until when our budget will last before our next pay, our mission as cooks is to manage our budget and food supply well. We must make these goods last for a week or longer if we can. If you’re like us who would hate to eat canned food or the same dishes every day, a little bit of regular meal planning can help. The following tips have helped us at Mama Sita’s Kitchen. Read on and see what will work best for you:
- Know the available fresh food suppliers available to us during this time. These are vendors of vegetables and fruits. Get the vegetables in season because they are usually less expensive than those that aren’t. Veggies in season normally look the freshest in the shops and have more abundant supply. If you buy more than enough fresh ingredients for the recipes you have in mind, don’t let them spoil.Wash, blanch, portion, and freeze vegetables. Many vegetables freeze well.
- Get inspiration from your favorite recipe sources—ahem, Mama Sita’s Recipes—food sites, social pages of your food icons, cookbooks. Select the most nutritious recipes, the recipes that your family loves, those you can prepare realistically with your current set of cooking skills, and those that use the fresh ingredients that you have. Soups and stews are the best to cook these days because they are nourishing, combining proteins and vegetables in a one-pot dish. They also freeze well. We have a number of healthy soup and stew recipes on our Youtube channel Mama Sita’s Recipes that could inspire you like Vegetable Kare-Kare and Tinolang Manok (Chicken in Ginger Broth).
- Shortlist your selection of recipes. A list of three recipes is not bad. List all the ingredients needed in the recipes and review to make sure nothing is missed. Make sure you have these ingredients in your pantry, or, write them down under your to-buy list. It might also be worth buying extra of the condiments you use regularly. At Mama Sita’s Kitchen our essentials include Sinigang Paste, Caldereta Mix (because there are lot of recipes you can cook with this spice blend—check out msita.com), Tocino Mix (because it’s a favorite breakfast and anytime comfort food and can last forever in the freezer), and Oyster Sauce.
- Keep a food calendar. Schedule the recipes you are cooking. Once cooked, portion the recipes. Estimate your family’s food consumption and appetite to get the ideal portion size. Freeze extra food portions and serve only those that you can eat for one meal.
We’re not lecturing further! But here’s a delicious make-ahead complete dish that freezes well.
Stay safe and sane!
Pastel de Pollo
(Chicken Stew with Pastry Crust)
For the filling: (Filling for a 9 ½ x 6 x 2 inches ovenproof dish)
|2 tbsp||cooking oil||30 mL|
|1 cup||finely chopped onions||150 g|
|23 oz||boneless chicken meat||650 g|
|23 oz||boneless chicken meat, cut into 1-inch cubes||650 g|
|1 pouch||Mama Sita’s Caldereta Mix, dissolved in:||50 g|
|1/4 cup||water||60 mL|
|2 pieces||large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, fried||250 g|
|2 pieces||carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes||250 g|
|1 1/2 cups||mushrooms, cut in quarters||150 g|
|1/2 cup||grated cheese||80 g|
|1 cup||cream||250 mL|
For the pie crust:
|1 1/3 cups||all-purpose flour, sifted||225 g|
|4 tbsp||ice cold water||60 mL|
|1 piece||egg yolk, beaten|
You will also need the following:
- An oven
- An oven-proof dish
- Plastic wrap
- 2 knives or pastry blender
- A fork
- Pastry brush
Make the filling:
- Saute onions until soft. Add the chicken and cook until its edges turn brown.
- Add in Mama Sita’s Caldereta Mix and water. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender.
- Add potatoes, carrots, cheese and mushrooms. Stir over low heat until the cheese has melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream.
Make the crust:
- Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
- With two knives or pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it becomes sandy.
- Slowly add in the water, one tablespoon at a time.
- Gather the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 mins.
- Roll out to the size of the oven-proof baking dish.
Assemble the pastel:
- Pour chicken mixture into the baking dish.
- Cover with dough.
- Seal the edges by pressing with a fork or pinching the dough.
- Using a fork, prick the dough all over to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush with beaten egg yolk.
- Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve.