For the past 25 years my husband and I have followed a budget. Every December I review all the spending categories for the year and make recommendations for the upcoming year. And we really make every effort to stay within the budget. So what does this have to do with food or my blog? Well, today is the last day of the month and I have a whopping $1.17 left in my food budget for dinner. Now, I'm usually very creative when it comes to stretching money for meals. I normally can prepare a really healthy and nutritious dinner for about $10-12 per day, but $1 is not going to get me far at the grocery store. Unless of course the grocery store is located in my kitchen pantry.
So here's a sampling of what is in my pantry. Beans: Kidney, Garbanzo, Black, Cannellini, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, and Yellow Split Peas; Grains: Barley, Wheat Berries, Quinoa, Wild Rice, Brown Basmati, and Arborio Rice; Pasta: Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Linguine, Penne, Fideo and Orzo; Dried Fruit: Cranberries, Currants and Apricots; Nuts: Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds and Pistachios. It's amazing actually--we could probably go almost two weeks without spending hardly any money for food. I would just need to pick up a few leafy greens and some vegetables and we'd be all set! And for tonight's dinner I didn't spend a penny so I have surplus for next month!
1 cup hulless barley
3/4 cup dried pink or red kidney beans, or 1 can rinsed and drained
1/4 cup red onion, finely sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2-3 cups kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
2 tbsp minced parsley
2 tbsp raw walnuts, chopped (optional)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt (less or more to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
Note: Look for hulless barley in the bulk section of the grocery store. Unlike pearl barley, it contains the bran and the germ so it is considered a whole grain and is more nutritious.
- In a medium saute pan, cover beans with a lot of water, bring to a boil and cook on medium low for about one hour until tender, drain beans and chill until ready to use.
- In a medium saute pan, cover barley with a lot of water, add a 1/2 tsp salt, bring to a boil and simmer for one hour until grains start to open and have increased in size. Drain and chill until ready to use.
- Remove stems from kale and tear into bit size pieces. Steam kale for about 1 minute until lightly soft and bright green.
- In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, mustard and oil together.
- In a large bowl, add all ingredients and toss with balsamic vinaigrette. I prefer my vinaigrette to be more acidic, usually 3:1 ratio of vinegar to oil, but you can add more oil if you prefer.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and chill for about 30 minutes to let flavors combine.