My Week In Cheap Dinners

I really enjoy cooking dinner after a long day at work. I find it cathartic and take pleasure in cooking for my little family.

Now, I do watch my fair share of cooking shows and love being inspired by the gourmet recipes that come from Gordon Ramsay and the like. I’m certainly not a Michelin star chef, but I have an adventurous palate and a love for experimenting with different ingredients and flavour combinations. (And a kind husband who is willing to try my various concoctions.)

I thought I would share with you all what we had for dinner last week. These aren’t really recipes, per se. This is just what I whipped up each night with my latest Trader Joe’s haul.

All of these meals are extremely cost effective and store well in the refrigerator. Typically I’ll make a few extra portions so that my husband and I can bring the leftovers into work for lunch the following day. Two meals for the price of one!

What’s your favorite meal to cook up on a week night?

1. Pasta With Chicken Sausage And Simple Beurre Blanc Sauce

While I certainly use my fair share of store bought red sauces, I’ve recently been enjoying making my own white or beurre blanc sauce. Here’s how I make the sauce:

* Measurements are approximations

½ an onion, chopped fine

8 ounces white wine

½ of a lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon heavy cream

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the onion, white wine, and lemon juice in a saucepan over high heat and reduce to about 2 tablespoons.

Add the cream to the reduction. Once the liquid bubbles, reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, one cube at a time, whisking first while on the heat and then off the heat. Continue whisking butter into the reduction until the mixture has reached a rich sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Once I made the sauce I just added some browned tomato basil chicken sausage and cooked up some organic noodles from Trader Joe’s.


2. Apple And Onion Tart With Pumpkin Soup

I’m a BIG fan of puffed pastry. For this Tuesday night meal, I cooked up some sliced apple and a sweet onion (seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil). I spread a layer of cheese on the puffed pastry, topped it with the apple and onion mixture, and baked it for about fifteen minutes.

I paired the savory tart with a heat-and-serve pumpkin soup from Trader Joe’s. It was the perfect meal for a cool and rainy night in.

TOTAL COOK TIME: 20 minutes


3. Barbeque Pizza And Salad

I know I said I love cooking, I really do! But we all have those evenings when we are so hungry that we can’t even think about waiting more than ten minutes for a hot meal.

My husband really loves this BBQ pizza from Trader Joe’s so much so that it has become a staple amongst our Trader Joe’s purchases. If we do pizza, though, we always make sure to pair it with a big ‘ole salad to keep things at least a little bit nutritious.


4. Food Truck Thursday

Every Thursday, a fleet of food trucks descend upon the elementary school parking lot a block from our house. It has become a weekly tradition to treat ourselves to these restaurants on wheels.


5. Pasta With Meat Sauce And Apple Crisp

If you haven’t noticed, we are pasta people. Trader Joe’s has an awesome selection of red sauces — haven’t had a bad one yet! In order to add a bit more protein to the tomato sauce, I brown some ground beef (sometimes we do ground turkey) with a variety of Italian seasoning and add it to the sauce.

This past Friday, I paired the pasta with some sugar snap peas that I seasoned with some lemon, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.

For dessert, my husband was craving apple pie. I didn’t have the ingredients to whip up a pie, so we settled for a simple oatmeal and apple crisp.