Inspired by my friend Deb’s blog, I went shopping this week with budget and health in mind. Like Deb in her previous single-occupancy life, I often think nothing of going out to the store to shop for food for one meal and dropping between $40-$70. Mind you, these meals tend to be for 10+ people as Colin and I love dinner parties with friends, so it’s not that much, but I wanted to be more conscious of my day-to-day grocery spending this week. There’s a new farmer’s market, Newflower, that opened in town, and I’ve not yet made it there b/c I am in the habit of hitting the local Albertson’s ( a southern chain grocery store) for convenience. It is nearby and I know where everything is. Often times I KNOW I am going to pay more for sub par produce, but I shrug it off as the cost of convenience.
Today, however, I made the extra drive (really only 5-10 min) to check out this new market that has been claiming fresh, local produce at lower prices. I was very impressed with both the produce and meat sections as both provided really great items for sale. There were scattered items that were more pricey, but I did feel there was a large variety of stuff at a great discount. 88 cent red, yellow, orange bell peppers. $3.99/lb lamb shoulder chops. 88 cents/lb ripe plums, etc. Overall, the veggie selection was SO much better than Albertson’s in terms of variety and quality. My total bill for a very healthy helping of fresh veggies, some lamb shoulder chops, chicken thighs, and various breads, salsas, pastas, eggs came to $39 for enough food for my brother and me for a week.
I started tonight with the lamb and wanted to make a healthy, tasty meal for my roomie and my brother so we could all catch up on our weekends. I’ve never cooked lamb before, but I think starting simple is best, so below you will find a very simple, but satisfying and healthy meal that is easy to make!
- 3 lamb shoulder chops, about 1/2 lb or less each
- olive oil
- garlic salt
- herbes de provence
- 3 – 5 fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 lb green beans
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 small vidalia onion
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 TB balsamic vinegar
- 3-5 sweet basil leaves
- 1 TB minced garlic
- some chicken broth (organic, low sodium if possible)
- Marinate the lamb – place the lamb chops on a plate. Swirl some olive oil on them. Dash garlic salt, pepper, herbes de provence across the chops and rub in using your fingers. Flip over and do the same on the other side. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to marinate about 1/2 hr. Go work out or do something else productive. 😉
- Remove the lambchops from the fridge and let them come to room temp.
- Slice the onions. Heat 1 TB butter in a pan and swirl around so it coats the bottom. Add the onions and a dash of salt. Stir fry til they are golden on the edges. Add balsamic vinegar and continue cooking til wilted. Keep it on low heat.
- Prepare rest of veggies – while the onions are cooking, wash and chop off the ends of the green beans. You can also chop them in half across the length if you like more bite size manageable pieces. Slice the bell pepper. Set both aside.
- Once onions are wilted down with a good caramelization, remove from heat and set on a plate. Deglaze the pan with some chicken broth and discard the broth and deglazed bits.
- Bring the pan (non-stick) up to high heat and swirl around some olive oil. Add 1/2 TB minced garlic and cook quickly (about 1min). Add 2-3 lamb chops to pan. Cook about 3 min and flip over to cook another 3 – 4 min for medium lamb chops. If you poke the lamb chop after you’ve flipped it and still see blood, it’s not quite done. Give it another minute or two. Cook these babies in batches if needed. I cooked 2 first and then 1. The finished chops sat on a plate resting while i cooked the remaining one.
- Deglaze the pan again with some more chicken broth if needed. Keeping heat on high, add more olive oil and garlic, then add green beans and bell peppers. Add a dash of salt, pepper and stir fry about 1 min. Add back the caramelized onions and stir fry until green beans are evenly a bright crisp green. do not overcook unless you like softer greenbeans!
- To serve, place some of the veggie mix on a plate. Rest the lamb chop against the veggies. Slice up some fresh mint and garnish the lamb chop.
This was a great meal with lots of good flavors and healthy ingredients. Do NOT miss the mint on the lamb! It’s such a great marriage of flavors! I really prefer the fresh mint to the mint jelly I’ve often been served with lamb dishes. I event went back and chopped up more mint for my dish! My PPM was $5 (lamb) + .45 (green beans) + .88 ( bell pepper) + .75 onion + .5o mint and basil + ~ $1 negligable condiments = $8.58/3 meals = $2.86 PPM! Awesome! Thanks, Deb, for the inspiration. It was nice to see how cheap it truly is to eat well with out sacrificing too much wallet or healthiness!