Cheap Meals for Large Families
It is Sunday morning and I am pondering what I am going to have for brunch. Egg whites with veggies or stuffed English muffin French toast with a side of well-done bacon? Then I think about my family. What kinds of cheap meals can I make for large families?
Every now and again, it is absolutely normal to want to splurge on food that is not 100% healthy without feeling guilty. After all, we managed just fine before nutritionists, doctors and food police were telling us what we could and could not consume.
Having Fun With Cooking
I love to cook and eat, and being somewhat of a foodie I have collected recipes from everywhere I have traveled. My philosophy has always been if it sounds good, or it is something local people eat, try it!
So, here are a few of those wonderful cheap meals for large families I have picked up along the way.
Moroccan Beef and Vegetables
This is one of the greatest cheap meals for large families. On a trip to Morocco, our group spent two nights tenting in the Sahara. The tour operators brought in a chef to give us a cooking lesson on how to use a tagine to prepare dinner.
Tagine is actually the name of a North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow earthenware-cooking dish with a tall, conical lid with a hole on top. The hole allows steam to escape and the moisture then runs down the sides of the tagine and back into the meat.
While the chef cooked this recipe in the tagine, I make it in my slow cooker and it works just as well.
- 3 lbs of stew beef, cubed
- 3 tbsp of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of ground red pepper
- 3 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
- 1/4 cup of golden raisins
- of dates, pitted
- of prunes, pitted
- 1 can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
- 2 tsp of honey
Mix flour, cumin, cinnamon, salt and red pepper in a slow cooker. Add beef, sweet potatoes, raisins, dates and prunes, then toss to coat evenly.
Mix the honey with the tomatoes and pour on top. Cover and cook on low for eight to nine hours or on high for four to six hours, or until beef and potatoes are tender.
Season with salt as needed. Serve over couscous and top with almonds and parsley. Serves six to eight.
Miss Shirley McDowell’s Bread Pudding
There was a wonderful restaurant, The Beef Inn, in Pikesville, MD, owned by my good friends Michael and Ansela Dopkin. Their cook, Miss Shirley, created this yummy bread pudding recipe. After Miss Shirley’s death, the Dopkin family named one of their restaurants after her and each year on her birthday they hand out one of her special recipes.
- 10 slices of white bread, cut in cubes
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of raisins
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup pf white sugar
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 3 cups of scalded milk
- 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter a baking dish. Combine bread cubes, butter, cinnamon and raisins. Then, mix well and place in baking dish.
Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add milk, mix well and pour over bread cubes. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Harrods Crab and Truffle Risotto
I love going to London, not only for the wonderful theatre, but also for Harrods restaurants. Here’s a recipe from Harrods.
- 1 tsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of butter, plus extra to finish the risotto
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/3 cups of Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup of Italian white wine
- 4 cups of hot vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 tsp of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 3.5oz of brown crab meat
- 3.5oz of white crab meat
- Basil leaves to garnish
- 1/4 of a small black truffle
Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the onion. Sauté over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes until softened.
Stir in the rice and cook for one to two minutes. Pour in the wine and stir. Add a soup ladle of the stock to the pan and stir. When all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle. Continue until all the stock has been absorbed. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes. When adding the last of the stock, season to taste.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, brown crab and half the white crab meat. Top with a couple of pats of chilled butter and stir. Ladle into bowls and spoon over the remaining crab meat. Then, garnish it with basil leaves and finely grate the black truffle over the top. This serves four.
Dwight’s Favorite Fudge
This next recipe is one that I found in my mom’s recipe file. Her mother, who received it from Mamie Eisenhower, handed it down to her.
- 4 1/2 cups of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
- 2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 pint of marshmallow cream
- 12oz of semi-sweet chocolate
- 12oz of German sweet chocolate
Over medium heat in a heavy saucepan bring the sugar, salt, butter and evaporated milk to a boil. Boil for six minutes, stirring occasionally.
While that is cooking, put the pecans, marshmallow cream and chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the boiled syrup mixture over the chocolate mixture. Beat until the chocolate is completely melted.
Spray a pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour fudge into pan. Let harden at room temperature before cutting into squares.
French Toast Bread Pudding
And finally, for a Sunday brunch this recipe cannot be beat, but of course, that is only my opinion. I have not the foggiest idea where I came across this recipe, so just prepare and enjoy.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 12 slices of white bread or English muffin bread
- 8 large eggs
- 5 cups of half and half
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 12 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray eight ramekin dishes with non-stick cooking spray. Cut the bread into cubes.
Combine the eggs, half and half, maple syrup, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until well mixed. Add the bread cubes and stir until they’re well soaked.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins. Let sit for 10 minutes. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and cover the entire thing with aluminum foil. Cut a few slits in the foil so the steam can escape.
Place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the tops are browned and the custard is set. Let cool slightly and serve with warmed syrup. This serves eight.
I serve this with fresh fruit on the side.
Bon appetit! I hope you enjoy these cheap meals for large families. I am off to enjoy my French toast brunch now!