A few years ago I was contracted for an unusual teaching job. There was this twelve year old who was interested in swordplay and his mother also wanted me to teach him to cook, so I was hired for both. I’m not going to comment much on the exact situation, as I doubt I could do it diplomatically. I will say, however, that I wish the mother had pushed her son a little harder to keep at it. He enjoyed it once we got going but convincing this kid that cooking was worth his time was an exercise in patience and stoicism. The funny thing is I recognize the exact personality trait that would have had to be overcome. I have taught kids in the past who lacked motivation to take initiative for themselves but once pushed they almost universally enjoy themselves. Some kids at that age need to be pushed and most parents seem to realize this.
Anyway, time to get to the point. Cooking is something that I consider to be an essential life skill. I knew the basics of cooking before I left the nest and always did at least a little when first living on my own. Due to lack of knowledge and a limited budget I too often fell back on cheap packaged meals. When you start buying the cheaper knock-off version of Kraft Dinner, it’s time to admit you have a problem.
That leads me to this post which will hopefully be the first of a series: good meals that can be made for approximately five dollars. Meals that are at least somewhat healthy and provide some variety. Of course some ingredients will be assumed to have been bought in bulk before hand. Also in some cases the recipe as a whole will be less than five dollars and sometimes it will be slightly more. In the latter instance the recipe should be sufficient to last several days.
Chicken Pot Pie is a filling, stick to your ribs kind of meal. Good British food. I’ll be using a standard home made pie shell, instead of the more usual puff pastry to keep things nice and simple.
Pie Shell Ingredients:
It’s worth mentioning that I have, over many tries and countless experiments figured out a signature pie dough recipe. This is not that recipe, rather it is an easier and cheaper method. It’s often called a 3-2-1 dough. Also, never buy pie shells. They are overly expensive and taste just awful. After all, a pie is only as good as its crust.
300g Flour: 40¢ based off the cost of a 10kg bag of flour.
200g Hard Margarine: Butter is better by far but this amount of margarine is about $1.
100g Ice Cold Water: “Let no man be denied fresh water.” -Cicero. Water is basically free.
1 tsp salt: Less than a penny? Salt is pretty much a non-cost ingredient.
Shell Cost: $1.40
Combine the salt and flour then with your fingers rub in the butter/margarine until the butter chunks are about the size of walnuts. Add the water and mix the absolute minimum amount it takes for the dough to form. Chill for half an hour.
1 Package Ground Chicken: $1.50
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup: 75¢
1 Cup of Frozen Vegetables: About $1.00
Spices: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, or whatever else you want. I’m going to say this doesn’t have a cost. You should have spices, dammit. Go buy spices.
Filling Cost: $3.25
Cook the chicken until browned and mix in the spices. Add the veg and soup and cook until the soup is heated through. Put the filling in a baking dish and cover with your rolled out pie shell. Slash vents in the top of the pie shell to allow steam to escape and bake at 400° for about 20 min or the until pie shell is golden brown.
Total Cost: $4.65
This is good for a few meals and guests, should you invite them over, wont likely spot the secret ingredient is a canned soup.