Category Archives: menu planning

cinco de mayo collage titles

Cinco de Mayo: Real Food Recipe Round-up

cinco de mayo collage titles

Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year. Perfect for a fun family dinner to celebrate all the fabulous tastes of Mexico! No need to go out; you can make it at home with real food ingredients and the recipes linked below!

Not a biggie holiday in Mexico, (and also NOT Mexican Independence Day) this day marks the Mexican army’s victory over a much bigger and more well-armed French army intent on claiming more territory for France.

In America, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and food. If you can’t travel to LA, Chicago or Houston where the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations occur, you can have fun making delicious Mexican-inspired food at home with your family!

Here’s a Round UP of some of our own Well Fed Family Mexican-inspired favorites followed by several more from some other fantastic blogs!

If you start it by Tuesday morning you can have delicious lacto-fermented salsa ready for dinner Thursday evening!

Make your own nourishing whole grain flour tortillas with our BREADS DVD

DIY Taco Seasoning is frugal and healthy. No more MSG!

Easy Guacamole your kids can make!

Taco Stew is a family favorite at our house.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Sauce brings a little California to your table.

Irish Nachos – just for fun, or for anyone who can’t eat corn chips!

Chipotle Spiced Meatloaf (with optional organ meats) for some major nutrient density.

Slow Cooker Mexican Corn and Potato Chowder from Don’t Waste the Crumbs is super frugal!

Nourishing Black Beans from Radiant Life

Mexican Rice from Modern Alternative Mama

Salsa Verde from Deep Roots at Home

No-rolling Required Sourdough Tortillas from Traditional Cooking School

Homemade Corn Tortillas from The Kitch’n (only two ingredients!)

Mexican Spinach Casserole from Cave Man Keto (because even people on ketogenic diets need to celebrate!)

Plantain Tortillas from Zenbelly Catering (for you grain-free/Paleo people!)

Slow-Cooker Carnitas from Paleo Foodie People

Paleo Coconut-Lime Tres Leches Cake from Bare Root Girl

And there you have it! Over a dozen real food recipes for your family’s feast!

What is your favorite Mexican food? Leave your answer in the comments!

Irish Nachos

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

irish nachos titlesI have to thank my friend, Meghan, for giving me the idea for this post. She is highly qualified to make these being both Irish (on her dad’s side) and Mexican (on her mom’s side).  There are enough recipes out there for the traditional Irish foods like corned beef and cabbage, or sausage and boxty (I did those last year). And since we are a No Artificial Colors blog having something faux-green is right out. I was captivated by this fun, light-hearted take on St. Patrick’s Day food since it uses lots of real food in a delicious, fun, family-friendly way.

The idea is simple yet brilliant. Make a big pan of oven-fries (the inspiration for my fries comes from Lidia’s Italy) and then top your fries with traditional nacho ingredients. To keep the Irish theme be sure to use plenty of Kerrygold butter and cheese. (We love Kerrygold, not because it’s Irish but because they pride themselves on using milk from grassfed cows.)  Be sure to use plenty of fresh cilantro and/or parsley on top because it is both green (can you wear cilantro instead of a shamrock if you don’t want to get pinched?) and it’s also really good for you. irish nachos potatoes title

Irish Nachos

for the potatoes

6 good sized organic Russet potatoes

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter

1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt such as Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt

preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, maybe more depending on how big your potatoes are. Thinner wedges get crispier. Thicker wedges are more like steak fries. Melt together the butter and olive oil. Toss the potatoes with butter mixture and sprinkle on the salt or seasoned salt and toss well. Place the wedges skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet or stoneware baking sheet or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It may take more than one pan to fit them all in. Cast iron or stoneware help the potatoes brown better. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning the potatoes over once or twice to help them cook. If you’re using two pans be sure to rotate pans during the cooking. While the potatoes are cooking assemble the rest of the ingredients for the topping so you will be ready as soon as the potatoes are done.

for the toppings

1 lb. grassfed ground beef (or make the Irish sausage recipe and use that to top your nachos)

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG! use my recipe to make your own)

8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded

3 green onions, thinly sliced

salsa (make your own probiotic salsa here)

sour cream (read the label, nothing but cream and cultures should be in it, we like Daisy)

chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Brown the ground beef. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and mix well. Assemble the remaining ingredients. Feel free to add any other nacho toppings you want like black olives, jalapenos, or bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon….

for the nachos

When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and turn on the broiler. While the broiler is heating up, spread the seasoned ground beef evenly over the potatoes. Evenly spread the shredded cheese over the ground beef. Slip the potatoes, beef and cheese back into the oven and broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining toppings. Serve at once.

Irish Nachos
 
Author:
Cuisine: Irish and Mexican
 
A fun spin on nachos to make your St. Patrick's Day, or any day, more festive!
Ingredients
  • 6 good sized organic russet potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt like Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG)
  • 8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • other nacho toppings as desired
Instructions
  1. To make the potatoes preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, thinner wedges make crispier fries.
  3. Melt together the butter and olive oil and toss with the potatoes along with the salt.
  4. Place the potatoes skin-side down in a large cast iron or stoneware baking pan, or a parchment-lined baking sheet using more than one pan if needed to fit the potatoes in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes turning once or twice to help brown evenly.
  6. While potatoes are cooking assemble the remaining ingredients for the toppings.
  7. Brown the ground beef and season with taco seasoning and/or more salt if needed.
  8. When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and preheat the broiler.
  9. While broiler is heating top the potatoes with the ground beef and the shredded cheese.
  10. Return potatoes to the oven and broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
  11. Remove from the oven and top with remaining nacho toppings and serve at once.

 Tell us how you like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at your house. Leaves us a comment here and don’t forget to pin this recipe to use again – there’s no rule saying you can’t have these anytime!

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Fa La La Lasagne

lasagne slice with titlesIt was Christmas Potluck time at the martial arts school where my son takes Kung Fu. He really wanted to go, but I was too busy to cook anything for him to take, plus I wasn’t even going to go myself.  I told him he could go if he would make something himself to take. I didn’t think it was fair to send a bottomless pit teenage boy to scarf up everybody else’s food without bringing anything to share! He chose lasagne even after I told him the sauce takes a half hour to simmer and then it still has to bake almost an hour. He loves lasagne.

Being a homeschool mom I grabbed the teaching moment. I handed him the recipe and told him to look and see what we already had and then make a shopping list. Then I took him to Publix and made him shop. He’s 16 and the time when he is out on his own is drawing nearer and nearer no matter how much I don’t want it to come. I want him to be self-sufficient so I’ve taught him how to sort laundry and use the washing machine. I’ve had him with me in the kitchen since he was big enough to pull up a stool and stand next to me at the counter. He’s been cooking independently since he was six. He’s learning to drive, to balance a checkbook and manage a savings account. He can operate the vacuum, wash dishes, and clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, run the string trimmer and build a compost pile. Planning a menu, grocery shopping and cooking from scratch to share with others is something else grownups need to be able to do. He jumped into the project happily.

lasagne and leo with captionShopping, prepping the ingredients and making the sauce were all easy, he only needed a little help when it came to actual assembly of the layers. One of my tricks is to only cook the lasagne noodles halfway so they are pliable but they don’t fall apart when you pick them up. They continue to cook inside the casserole during baking so you don’t end up with crunchy pasta. It also takes a little experience knowing how much to use in each layer so you don’t end up with something leftover when it’s all finished, or run out of something before you’re done.

So here’s the recipe for my lasagne. I’ve been making it since I was 16. I’m glad to pass the torch along to my son. I have fond memories of making this lasagne and sharing it with my own friends and family; I hope he will build some memories sharing meals with his own friends and family, too.

Lasagne

Ingredients

1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tblsp olive oil, divided use
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 cups filtered water
1 Tblsp chopped parsley
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz lasagne noodles
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz mozarella, shredded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparation

In a large, heavy pan brown the ground beef and onion in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lasagne noodles for about half the time as directed adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep them from sticking together. Drain.

In a 9×13 casserole pan spread 1 cup of the sauce. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan – ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
yield: 8 servings

Lasagne
 
Author:
Recipe type: casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8 squares
 
Making lasagne from scratch is a great activity for teens to do with each other or with the family.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 6oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 oz lasagne noodles
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large heavy pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion.
  3. Add the dice tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning.
  4. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Cook the lasagne noodles for half the time as directed, adding the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together.
  6. Drain the pasta.
  7. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan.
  8. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan - ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.
  10. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

lasagne resized watermark

Do you have teens? How are you preparing them for living on their own? Do they like to cook? Share your stories with us here or come leave a reply on Facebook.

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

Turkey Curry Recipe

curry with turkey titles resized

As I write this it is the Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend. The dishwasher is running, the kitchen is cleaned up, I’ve already made bone broth from the turkey carcass and put five quarts of it in the deep freeze. I’m thankful for my parents who volunteered to make the drive from Alabama to Orlando on a holiday weekend – if you’ve ever tried to drive Florida’s turnpike this time of year you know what a big deal that is! But it was nice to have all the grandparents around the table this year (my husband’s dad, who lives in the area, was also with us) so my kids were very blessed.

Now that the big meal is over we still have an entire gallon ziploc bag of turkey leftover even after two meals of leftovers plus a couple of turkey salad sandwiches for the travelers. My daughter pleaded “no more soup!” (we’ve eaten a lot of soup lately trying to keep everyone from catching the latest virus making the rounds). So I pulled out my recipe for turkey curry – it uses up a pound of the leftovers plus it’s a way to sneak more bone broth into everyone without actually eating more soup. Plus, the flavors of curry are a nice detour away from the typical holiday flavors. By the way, this goes great with leftover cranberry sauce, too!  If you’re reading this and it’s not after a major turkey-filled holiday you could substitute leftover cooked chicken for the turkey.

Turkey Curry

Ingredients

3-4 Tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil

1 large apple (peeled or unpeeled, it’s your call), diced

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 Tablespoon curry powder *

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (or less if you don’t like spicy)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder OR tapioca starch OR non-GMO cornstarch

2 cups homemade turkey stock (or use chicken stock), divided use

4-6 cups chopped leftover turkey (or chicken)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

3 cups hot cooked basmati rice

Toppings and garnishes:

choose your favorites to sprinkle over the top of the curry-

raisins, diced tomatoes, diced bell pepper, chopped cucumber, parsley, cilantro, pineapple, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, papaya, mango, chutney or even leftover cranberry sauce

curry condiments labled resized

Preparation

Melt the butter or oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple and onion to the pan and saute about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent, don’t brown them. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Then add the curry powder, salt and red pepper and stir well. Stir in the coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups of the broth, reduce the heat and simmer another five minutes. Add the chopped turkey. Combine the arrowroot (or other thickener) with the remaining 1/2 cup of stock. Pour the mixture into the pan along with the lemon juice if desired, and stir constantly until the curry begins to thicken slightly. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve over the hot cooked rice and top with your favorite condiments.

*curry powders vary wildly in their flavor and spiciness. Most curry powders contain turmeric, coriander, fenugreek and cumin; but they can also contain many other spices including ginger, cayenne pepper, fennel and even saffron. It’s fun to experiment with different curry powders, but read the ingredient list and don’t buy any that include MSG. Good curry powders are salt-free so you can adjust the salt in the recipe to your own taste.

Turkey Curry
 
Author:
Recipe type: curry
 
A nice change of pace to use up Thanksgiving leftovers.
Ingredients
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil (or a mixture)
  • 1 large apple, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (or less if you don't like spicy)
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder OR tapioca starch OR non-GMO cornstarch
  • 2 cups homemade turkey broth (or chicken broth), divided
  • 4-6 cups chopped cooked turkey (or chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional
  • 3 cups hot cooked basmati rice
  • A selection of condiments for topping the curry, choose from:
  • raisins, diced tomato, diced bell pepper, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, mango, papaya, pineapple, chutney or even cranberry sauce
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the apple and onion and saute for about 10 minutes until the onion is tender, but not browned.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Add the curry powder, salt and red pepper and stir well.
  5. Add the coconut milk and 1½ cups of the broth. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ive minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the turkey to the pan and stir.
  7. Combine the remaining ½ cup of broth with the arrowroot powder and then pour this mixture into the pan, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice if desired.
  9. Serve over the hot cooked rice and top with your choice of condiments.
  10. Leftovers are even tastier the next day.

What is your favorite way to use up holiday leftovers? Tell us about it in the comments section or come over to Facebook and start a conversation there.

This blog is for informational purposes. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family’s blog with your purchases.

The High Cost of the Value Meal

value meal titles

A few weeks ago I shared the picture below on the Well Fed Family Facebook page. It received a lot of comments ranging from those who were disgusted to those who really wanted to know how it was possible to eat well when you didn’t have a lot of money.

too poor to be healthyWhen I mentioned that I had once blogged about how if someone was willing to just cook for themselves they could eat organic potatoes and grassfed beef burgers for less than the price of a fast food meal. Several people asked if I’d repost the article. So here it is, updated with current prices and including some recipes. I’m also going to post more budget-friendly recipes here on Well Fed Family that are healthier and cheaper than eating off the $1 Menu.

The High Cost of the Value Meal

It’s been 10 years since filmmaker Morgan Spurlock released his documentary Super Size Me where he eats 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, exclusively from McDonald’s. It’s doubtful anyone really thinks they are getting a healthy meal this way, however we still choose it all too often, eyes wide open to the detriment to our health and our children’s health. Why? Because often we perceive these foods to be inexpensive, a good value for the money and time spent. Some go so far as to say they cannot afford any other kind of food; that they are victims of the food industry. I’m here to show you nothing could be further from the truth.

Is a value meal really as cheap as it seems?

Let’s look at two common meals from two familiar fast food chains. Then we’ll compare costs with what we’d spend if we prepared these meals at home. I’m using restaurant prices from Fast Food Prices and grocery prices from my own personal grocery receipts from stores here in the metro-Orlando area where I live.

 

chickfila 1Meal 1:
Chick-fila original 8 count nuggets plus waffle fries and a sweet tea:
Items purchased individually total $6.59, purchased as a meal combo $5.95

The Chick-fila chicken nuggets are a favorite with most of the little kids I know. It’s the same chicken recipe as the original chicken sandwich, but cut into finger food sized pieces. Reading the actual ingredients might shock a few playgroup moms to discover they are seasoned with mostly MSG (monosodium glutamate – a known neurotoxin ) and sugar plus over 15 other ingredients. By the way, if you order the sandwich instead of the nuggets you might want to know there’s no actual butter on the “buttered bun” and the pickle chips contain 9 more ingredients in addition to cucumbers including two chemical preservatives and two petroleum-based artificial colors.

The waffle fries are made with potatoes but also include GMO canola oil, TBHQ, anti-foaming agents plus a little dextrose (sugar) and some color enhancers. All total it looks like about 8 ingredients not counting the salt.

Thankfully the sweet tea is simply water, sugar and tea. whew!

Cost breakdown for Chick-fila meal:
4oz of chicken nuggets for $3.25 is $13/lb.
4 oz of waffle fries for $1.65 is $6.60/lb.
15 oz of sweet tea for $1.69 is $14.36 per gallon

Mcdonalds 1Meal 2:
McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, medium fry, medium soft drink:
Items purchased individually total $7.17 or purchased as a combo meal $6.39

The Quarter Pounder with cheese is a McDonald’s staple. I have to say the burger itself isn’t bad – 100% beef, salt and black pepper. The bun, however, has the usual suspects in any factory-produced bread, things like GMO soybean oil, yoga mats, and several other chemical conditioners and preservatives. The burger toppings add more chemical preservatives, plus a hearty serving of high fructose GMO corn syrup in the ketchup.

The fries are worse here than at Chick-fila with three kinds of GMO industrially processed oils including trans-fat filled hydrogenated soybean oil, plus the usual chemical preservatives and anti-foaming agents. Interestingly these fries are vegetarian, but they contain “natural beef flavor” made from hydrolyzed wheat (a hidden source of msg) and milk.

trivia mcdonalds fries

As for soft drink ingredients… Do I really need to tell you what’s in these? Do yourself a favor and just order water.

Cost breakdown for the McDonald’s meal:
Quarter pounder with cheese is $3.89 which is $15.56/lb
4oz fry is $1.79 or $7.16/lb
21oz soft drink is $1.49 or $9.07/gallon

Here’s the “I told you so” part:

Making chicken nuggets or hamburgers isn’t rocket science. If you can follow the directions on a box of Easy Mac, you have the cooking skills to make these things at home.

Easy Nuggets or Chicken filet:
Cut your boneless/skinless chicken breast into whatever size/shape you want, stick it in a ziplock bag along with ½ cup flour, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp black pepper and shake it up. Fry the chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat with some melted butter until it’s brown all over and done on the inside – about 8-10 minutes per side. Voila! Chicken nuggets!

Fries are super easy as well if you make them in the oven. Use one large potato for each person being served. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 8-12 wedges. Toss with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 475 degrees in a cast iron skillet for best browning and crunch, or just use any baking pan or stoneware pan. It takes about 20-30 minutes. If you want to kick up the flavor of your fries then crush a clove of garlic into a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the fries come out of the oven drizzle this garlic oil over the hot fries with a little more salt. Wow!

Sweet tea: Bring 1 quart of filtered water to a boil. Add two teabags and allow to steep for ten minutes. Sweeten to taste and serve over ice.

Hamburgers: Use 1 pound of ground chuck to make four burgers. Each burger will be ¼ pound pre-cooked weight. Mix 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tsp of black pepper into a pound of ground chuck. (preferably grassfed or antibiotic-free) weigh out ¼ lb of the ground beef mixture and use your hands to shape it into a pattie. My mom likes to use the plastic lid from a quart yogurt container to help make the right size and shape to fit a bun. Grill or pan fry on medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side until done to your liking.

Make your own buns with just flour, water, egg and yeast following this recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Soft drinks: like I said earlier, don’t even go there. Drink water. Learn to make kombucha or water kefir. Make your own lemonade if you want.

Ok, so what’s the bottom line on our homemade chicken sandwich meal?

Conventional boneless/skinless chicken breast is $5.49/lb. I like to buy the non-GMO verified/antibiotic-free chicken which is about $7/lb for breast meat or $5.50/lb for thighs (which I think taste better.) However if you have a little skill with a knife you can buy bone-in chicken and remove the bones yourself. This saves you money and gives you the side benefit of having bones leftover to make homemade broth (instead of buying those expensive cans of broth – more money saving!) Boning your own chicken saves you another $2-$3 per pound.

Organic russet potatoes are $1.79/lb
Tea bags are about $4 for 100.

Cost breakdown for homemade chicken nugget meal for one serving:

$1.75 for chicken meat
.45 for potatoes
.08 for teabags
$2.24 is the grand total.

This leaves you between $4-$6 less than the purchase price at the fast food restaurant. This leaves plenty of change with which to buy the extra ingredients to make it from scratch and still have some leftover money to put in the savings account. (You only use a fraction of the flour, salt or olive oil so the per-serving amount cost from those ingredients is still very small.)

Bottom line on the Quarter Pounder meal?
Grassfed beef prices are high, but going down as the demand for this healthy meat increases. Right now I can get it for $7/lb from my grocery store. (I also have access to bulk beef and can get ¼ of a whole cow for about $6/lb. meaning steaks, roasts and ground beef are all the same price. This doesn’t have bearing for this argument unless you have a deep freeze, but the fact remains that you can get good prices on this kind of high quality meat if you know how.) Regular feedlot grocery store ground beef costs even less, and is still better for you than meats processed with nitrites, msg or preservatives. I’m sticking with grassfed beef because it proves my point just fine for this argument. This means our quarter pound burger is about $1.75.

Cheese: if you own a knife you can make your own cheese slices. Buying pre-sliced cheese is a waste of money and usually you can get much higher quality cheese if you buy it in a chunk. A good grocery store brand is Cabot. 8oz for about $3 means .38cents for a 1oz slice. (btw you can get Cabot for about half that price if you have a Sam’s or Costco membership. The big warehouse membership stores often have high quality cheese, even raw cheese, for very reasonable prices.)

Soda – remember, we aren’t drinking this, but for comparison’s sake you can purchase a 2 liter of soda for $2 or less. 2 liters = roughly 64 oz. That’s about 3 cents per ounce making your grocery store soda roughly 48 cents per 16oz glass.

Cost breakdown for the hamburger meal for one serving:

burger 1.75
cheese .38
soda .48
fries .45
$3.06 is the grand total.

Making it at home saves you between $3-$4, that’s plenty of cash leftover to more than supply funds for pickles and ketchup.

Feeding a Family of four?
Using the prices on our example meals you would spend $25.56 for McDonald’s or $23.80 for Chick-fila. Food for thought – feeding a family of four from Chipotle is $26.60 even if you ordered the most expensive thing on the menu for everyone, but it is quite a bit healthier with all of the vegetables, beans and quality meat choices. Feeding this family homemade organic/antibiotic-free versions of the fast food meals would cost between $8.96-$12.24. Now tell me you don’t have enough money to eat healthy.

determination to eat well quoteSave even more money by preparing Taco Stew, Rosemary Garlic Grilled Chicken, Cheesey Parmesan Fish, or Creamy Turkey and Brown Rice Soup for your family.

Here at Well Fed Family we post recipes all the time. Frequently they are very budget friendly, because that’s how we eat in our own homes, too! Subscribe to our newsletter (use the link at the upper right of this page) and we’ll send you more recipes and tips for healthy living each month, plus you get a bonus free e-book on how to make your own homemade ice cream! Follow us on Facebook or Pinterest for even more recipes and ideas.

This blog is for informational purposes. Some links may be monetized. Thanks for supporting Well Fed Family!

 

Plantain Pancakes (GF/DF)

plantain pancakes title

So I was driving from Orlando up to Georgia to pick up my kids after a weekend with their grandparents, and I was listening to a podcast with Chris Kresser (functional and integrative practitioner and author of Your Personal Paleo Code).  His co-host was asking him what was for breakfast that morning. Chris started describing these plantain waffles he’d eaten and I just started salivating – I love plantains, green or ripe, and they also happen to be a really good carb for just about anyone – so I decided I would look for that recipe when I got home.  I bought two nicely mottled-brown plantains at the store and then checked out Bing for the recipe.  I was pretty bummed when all I could find were recipes using plantain flour instead of just ripe plantains. But that didn’t stop me for long, because after all of the GAPS cooking, gluten-free cooking and Paleo cooking I’ve been doing lately I can pretty much make a pancake out of anything; maybe not a waffle, but definitely a pancake.

plantain vs banana

plantain vs. banana

If you’ve never had a plantain, they are similar in appearance to a banana, but a good bit larger. When you cook them green they taste a lot like potato. When you wait until they are nearly black all over and kind of squishy you can bake them or slice and fry them in butter or ghee for a sweet, warm, caramelized tropical treat.

For the pancakes I peeled the riper of the two plantains and cut it into chunks and stuck it in the blender.  I added two Lake Meadow eggs, a 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk, aluminum-free baking soda, sea salt and a little coconut flour and blended it all up until it was smooth.  A little coconut oil on the hot griddle and it was time to see if it worked.

plantain pancake cooking on griddle

the bubbles will tell you when it’s time to flip it over

One thing about non-traditional pancakes is they are sometimes tricky to flip. I waited for the classic signs of pancake flipping readiness….little bubbles that form all over the batter then pop and stay popped.  After one fail (still tasty, but not really a good pancake shape) I discovered I needed to be swift and confident making the metal spatula scoop and flip in one quick movement.  A few seconds to finish the other side and then onto the plate.  I used a 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and got about 8 pancakes. Slathered with some Kerrygold butter they didn’t need anything else in my opinion.  My husband enjoyed a little raw honey on the one I saved for him. These are good hot or cold. I could see them used as a wrap for some nut butter and jam, or maybe with a little sliced ham.  I enjoyed them stacked on a plate hot off the griddle.

Plantain Pancakes (GF/DF)
 
Author:
 
Naturally sweet these pancakes are high in protein, good fats and good carbs.
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, preferably from pasture raised hens
  • 1 Tblsp coconut flour
  • coconut oil or butter for the griddle
  • any toppings such as butter, fresh berries, or raw honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat a griddle on medium-high heat.
  2. Peel the plantain, cut into chunks and place in a blender.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients into the blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
  4. Grease the griddle with a little coconut oil and pour the batter onto the hot griddle using approximately ¼ cup batter or less per pancake.
  5. Cook until bubbles appear on the batter that do not disappear when they pop.
  6. Quickly turn the pancakes over to finish cooking the other side, about 1 minute or less.
  7. Serve hot or cold with desired toppings.

 

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Save Money and Eat Well While Traveling

fort barrancas flag and cannon with titlesI’ve been working hard trying to restore my health – building my adrenals, healing my digestion, trying new exercises – and I didn’t want to wreck everything when we went on vacation. So I started planning ’cause that’s just what you have to do when you eat real food.  I mean really, I make a menu plan every week anyhow, so why not make one for traveling too? It keeps me on budget and keeps the family eating healthier food instead of last minute junk.

The plan was to be able to eat our own breakfast and lunch each day and eat out only for dinner.  I organized the meals, purchased the groceries and prepared some of the food ahead of time. I also had a special piece of equipment – a portable electric stove burner! This gadget is way cool, and I only just learned such a thing existed just a year or two ago. We bought one to electric stove burneruse for our Sunday School classroom kitchen, and then a friend of mine told me she bought one recently and used it to cook dinner in her hotel room for her daughter who is on a ketogenic diet for epilepsy. Brilliant! So we added the stove burner to the packing list along with our smallest cast iron skillet that just exactly fit the burner eye.  That meant we could have a hot breakfast every morning!

The days leading up to our trip made me feel like Ma Ingalls getting ready to go cross-country in her covered wagon.  The Ingalls family didn’t travel by interstate with exits leading to chain restaurants and fast-food drive thrus. But this also made me realize how crazy it is that if we wanted to be sure we were eating real food, even in this 21st century time of amazing technology, we still couldn’t count on finding it while on the road; and so we had to pack it with us just like the pioneers over a century ago. So I cooked and baked and planned and looked forward to a week of family fun without worrying about getting stomach aches, mood swings and depressed immune systems.

Breakfasts every day were pretty much the same – bacon, eggs and muffins, although I did use some Paleo vegetable pancakes to make myself a kind of breakfast sandwich that was super good – I heated up two of the pancakes in some of the bacon grease and filled them with a slice of bacon, a fried egg and some cheese slices – so delicious and way healthier than the fast food version!

Lunches were sandwiches for the kids, but hubby and I often split an avocado and topped it avocadoswith chicken salad or tuna. Everyone enjoyed fruit on the side and no one even asked me about dessert. (I think we are finally getting rid of the sweet tooth cravings, at least with the kids) In times past I would have made a couple dozen cookies or some other homemade sweet treat, but it wasn’t on the radar for this trip and I never got them made. Nobody seemed to care. In the evenings after our restaurant dinner, we occasionally stopped at a Publix and picked up a container of Talenti Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup gelato to take back to the hotel where we split it four ways, so we did get a little something special every now and then. :)

We spent our vacation in Florida’s panhandle so we were fortunate to get some terrific seafood for dinner! I tweeted two of the restaurants we liked the best – partly because the food was good, but also partly because they were able to cater to my need to be gluten free right now. (btw I’ve done a blog article for GNOWFGLINS about why I’m gluten free that is coming out in mid-September, I will try to link to it from here when it is published.)

Anymore we always travel with a cooler of some kind. I keep one like this in my car all the time just in case I need it. For the trip we took a larger hard-side cooler. We knew we would have access to ice every night at the hotel, but you can also get coolers that plug into your car and have their own refrigeration system.  I also packed a plastic storage bin with pantry items and the cooking equipment.

Foods I prepared ahead:

Chicken salad from a whole chicken, sandwich bread, two dozen GF muffins, and some Paleo-style pancakes/breads for myself (zucchini pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, coconut flatbread, sweet potato flatbread)

In the cooler:

A half-gallon of raw milk, kombucha, bacon, eggs, butter, mayonnaise, organic peanut butter, apples, raspberries, peaches, grapes broth, sliced nitrite-free ham, cheese, cut up carrots and celery, lemons, beet kvass, fermented pickles, lettuce, and yogurt.

In the storage bin:

The stove burner, skillet, knives, can opener, cheese slicer, kitchen shears, canned tuna, canned salmon, bananas, olive oil, non-GMO chips, muffins, avocadoes, sandwich bread, paper goods, and cutting board.

We managed to eat up nearly everything, I planned it out well enough that we only came home with a few eggs, some cheese and one muffin.  No one got sick and no one went hungry!  No one at any of the hotels said anything about cooking in the room. So I’m glad to have one more tool to use when we travel to keep our family well fed!

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Thai Chicken Burgers with Lime Mayo and Snow Pea Slaw

thai chicken burgers with titleTo say my daughter loves this menu would be an understatement. Whenever she sees me meal planning she begs me to include these burgers. When she noticed me pulling out the recipe to blog she asked hopefully, “Can we have these tonight?” And I agree they are delicious. We’ve served them to company because even though it’s casual fare it’s still enough of a flavor carnival in your mouth you feel special just eating it.

A couple of notes about the ingredients:  Sriracha sauce is a very spicy Thai sauce made from hot chili peppers, vinegar and garlic. It’s easy enough to find in most grocery stores BUT it’s important to read the labels because most of them have chemical preservatives in them – don’t ask me why because there’s nothing in hot chilis, vinegar, garlic and salt that needs extra chemicals! So anyhow, look for a sauce without preservatives. Lee Kum Kee makes one and so does Shark Brand.  The red curry paste is another ingredient that needs label reading. Red curry paste should be just a mixture of flavorful herbs and spices including lemongrass, galangal, Kaffir lime, and chilies. But sometimes you will find msg or chemical preservatives, too. I like Thai Kitchen’s red curry paste, but I’ve read good things about Mae Ploy brand and both of those have good ingredients.

To get this all on the table at the same time here’s the order I do things:  First I mix up the Lime Mayo sauce and refrigerate it, then I mix up the slaw with the dressing and let it marinate. Then I like to get the burgers all mixed up and shaped into patties on a tray. The burgers will absorb all the flavorful ingredients as they sit. Lastly I slice up the sweet potatoes and get them into the oven so they will be done when the burgers are grilled. If you don’t want to heat the kitchen at all you can actually make the sweet potato fries on the grill, too, but you’ll need to get them started before the burgers since they take a little longer. Once the potatoes are going I grill the burgers. Poultry burgers must be fully-cooked, no medium or rare with these guys! I use an instant-read thermometer to check that they are done. A minimum of 165 degrees is recommended.

Lime Mayo

3/4 cup safflower mayonnaise (or homemade)

zest and juice of one lime

2 Tablespoons of Sriracha sauce (use less if you don’t like it hot)

Snow Pea Slaw

1 cup julienned snow peas

1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

1 cup julienned bell peppers, use orange, red, or yellow for the prettiest salad

1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon raw honey

Thai Chicken Burgers

2 pounds ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey or a mixture of both)

3 scallions, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons raw honey

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon red curry paste

6 cloves garlic, pressed

Sweet Potato Fries

1 medium sweet potato per person

coconut oil

sea salt

For the Lime Mayo sauce:  Combine everything in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Slaw: Combine the vegetables, stir in the remaining ingredients and toss well to coat with the dressing. Set aside.

For the burgers: Combine the ground chicken, scallions, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, curry paste and garlic mixing well in a large bowl. Divide the mixture into eight 4oz patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4-5 minutes per side. Burgers are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the sweet potato fries: Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise into wedges about 3/4″ thick, at least 8 wedges per potato. Toss the slices with melted coconut oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. You can roast them in a cast iron or stoneware baking pan at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, or you can grill the wedges on a medium-high grill for about 12 minutes per side. If they begin to burn on the outside before they are tender in the middle, move them away from the direct heat and allow them to continue cooking.

Thai Chicken Burgers with Lime Mayo and Snow Pea Slaw
 
Author:
Recipe type: menu
Cuisine: Thai-inspired
 
Thai flavors infuse the slaw, dressing and burgers for an explosion of flavor
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup safflower mayo
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 1 cup julienne sliced snow peas
  • 1 cup julienne sliced orange, red or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup thinly slice red cabbage
  • 1½ Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 lbs ground chicken or turkey
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red curry paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • sweet potatoes
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt
Instructions
  1. For the sauce: Combine the mayo, zest and juice, and Sriracha sauce in a bowl, set aside.
  2. For the slaw: Combine the snow peas, peppers, and cabbage in a bowl.
  3. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce and honey and toss well to combine making sure the dressing coats the vegetables.
  4. For the burgers: Combine the chicken with the green onoins, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, curry paste and garlic in a large bowl.
  5. Use your hands to mix the meat and seasonings well.
  6. Shape into eight patties, 4oz each.
  7. Grill over medium-high heat until burgers reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. For sweet potatoes: Slice potatoes lengthwise into ½" wedges, about 8 wedges per potato.
  9. Use one medium potato per person.
  10. Coat the slices with melted coconut oil and sea salt.
  11. Roast the potatoes in a 425 degree oven, or grill them over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes.

 

snow peas, red cabbage and peppers make colorful slaw

colorful snow pea slaw

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

red white blue potato flag title image

Hot sunshine on the back of my neck. The smell of peaches and cantaloup in the fruit bowl on the table. Fragrant gardenia blossoms in a vase. Watermelon, baked beans, grilled hamburgers and my mom’s homemade potato salad. The sound of the diving board followed by a splash.  All of these mean summer to me. And when it comes to that potato salad no one makes it better than mom!

red white blue potato close up

Whenever we gather for family cookouts we always need potato salad. Make a big bowl full and hope for leftovers for lunch the next day. Bring it to your next summer gathering because it’s easy and tastes even better when you make it ahead of time.

red white blue potato line

I love the look of the multi-colored potatoes in this recipe, but if you can’t find them you can use new potatoes of any color. Red Finn and Red Thumb are two varieties that actually have rosy colored flesh. Purple Peruvian has a striking blue flesh all the way through that intensifies when cooked. Yukon Gold is creamy colored. The standard red-skinned potatoes are also delicious.

red white blue potato salad horizontal

*a note about mayonnaise: the very best mayo to use is a homemade (and fermented) one such as this recipe or this one.  If you aren’t making your own then please read the labels on the store brands and buy one made from safflower, sunflower, coconut or maybe grapeseed oil. Just avoid the ones made with GMO soy, corn and canola.

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad
 
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: American
 
Grammy (my mom) makes the best potato salad. Simple to make and great for cookouts and potluck.
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs new potatoes or fingerling potatoes, multi-colored
  • 3 eggs, preferably from pasture-raised hens
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 green onions, or half of a sweet onion
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • ½ - ¾ cup mayonnaise, plus more as needed
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Scrub the potatoes, cutting large potatoes in half, and place them in a pot and cover with filtered water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are just tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
  3. In a separate smaller pan, cover the eggs with cool water and bring to a boil, cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the cooked potatoes into a colander and allow them to cool until able to be handled.
  5. Drain the boiled eggs and peel the shells off.
  6. Finely chop the celery and green onions (or sweet onion) and place into a large bowl.
  7. When the potatoes and eggs are cool enough to touch, chop the potatoes into bite-size chunks and place them in the bowl.
  8. Sprinkle sea salt over the chopped potatoes.
  9. Chop the eggs and put them in the bowl with the potatoes and vegetables sprinkling again with the sea salt.
  10. Crumble the dried dill over the top of the potatoes and eggs.
  11. Gently toss to mix the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables, but do NOT add the mustard or mayonnaise yet.
  12. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until time to serve.
  13. Just before serving time stir in the mayonnaise, mustard and additional salt plus freshly ground pepper, tasting to adjust for enough salt.
  14. Some people like creamy potato salad, others like it more dry, so add mayonnaise to your taste.

  red white blue potato salad square

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Follow Recipes or Cook Without Them?

*Amy shares her thoughts on the idea of cooking without recipes. 

Lamb burgers may be a new Well Fed Family Cousins Camp tradition.  I say “may” because this is only our second year to have them.  But I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope we have them next year!  Judging by the way the kids gobbled them up, arguing over the last few on the platter, I’m pretty sure they would agree.  These burgers were tender, juicy, and full of flavors that made us feel like we were eating somewhere in the Mediterranean.  Right here at the lakehouse in Alabama.

The side dishes were well planned, keeping with the flavor of the burgers:  yogurt-cucumber sauce (Tzatziki), raw vegetables with hummus (homemade of course!), roasted asparagus, Well Fed Family Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad, and roasted potatoes that were specially seasoned with rosemary, parsley, and garlic.  I love it when all the items on a menu go together.  It makes the meal feel complete.  Sometimes it’s difficult coming up with sides, but that’s the beauty of starting with plain vegetables and adding your own herbs and spices:  you can create any dish you want, any time you want.  You might call it customizing your meal.

I’d love to share the recipe for the lamb burgers, but there isn’t one.  Lee is one of those kinds of people who love to cook without recipes.  She chose a few fresh herbs based on the flavor she was aiming for, finely chopped them with garlic, added salt, and mixed it all into the ground lamb.  Lee customizes most of her meals.  When she wants to cook something new, she may start with a recipe the first time and use it as  a jumping point for future attempts as she tweaks it here and there, adjusting it to her family’s tastes.  This involves a lot of trial and error, and may result in a few disappointing dishes sometimes, but it also brings about a knowledge and skill of cooking that only comes with experience.  Food Freedom is a very pleasant result.

If you are a recipe-follower like me, don’t despair.  Time in the kitchen nurtures a familiarity and skill that will lay the foundation for confident cooking and ultimately your own Food Freedom.  If you are just starting your exodus from the Standard American Diet, don’t let these non-recipe free spirits intimidate you!  I am sure that there will still be recipes in the Promised Land of Food Freedom.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on Lee to write down the recipe for the lamb burgers.

lamb burger plate

lamb burger with tzatziki sauce, fresh vegetables, rosemary oven fries, roasted asparagus, and Moroccan Quinoa Chickpea salad

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