How to make an awesome $10 Casserole that will feed you for 3 days!!
Are you cold, bored, broke, and lazy? Do you have a penchant for mid-century American cuisine? Do you live near a Safeway? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, it might might be time for you to…
MAKE A HUGE CASSEROLE FOR UNDER 10 BUCKS.
Last week, during the nuclear winter of ’13, I challenged myself to do just that and the results were delicious and oh-so cost effective. I walked into the Safeway on Geary and Webster with the following rules:
1. I had to spend under $10
2. I had to make enough casserole to eat for at least 3 days
I can safely say that I succeeded on both fronts. In fact, I documented the whole experience and will now share with you both my tactics and my recipe.
That’s right, read it and weep. I came in just 3 cents under my limit. To do so I had to do some outside the box thinking. First, in order to solve the bread crumb dilemma, I bought a single sandwich roll so I could tear it apart later. I went jalapeno cheddar. It was 69 cents. Also, things got awkward in the cheese department. I had the deli lady cut me down a $1.39 block of cheese, which was mildly humiliating. Regardless, I came in under budget, and so can you. Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need, along with their prices:
1 Bag Egg Noodles $1.69
1 Can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup $1.29
1 Can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup $1.29
1 Bulk Sandwich Roll $0.69
2 Italian Sausages (mild) $2.00
2 Carrots $0.36
1/5 lb. Baby Spinach $1.26
Embarrassing Portion of Bulk Cheddar Cheese $1.39
NOTE: ALL OF THIS PURCHASED WITH THE ADDED DISCOUNT OF SAFEWAY CARD. Don’t have one? Here’s a tip: If you go to most Safeways in the country and type in the local area code plus “867 – 5309” (from the 80’s song) it works. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
Bam. A veritable bounty of ingredients for less than the price of a fancy cocktail. In fact, the only thing more pleasant than the price tag is the ease with which the dish is prepared. Let’s get cookin’!
First off, cook the egg noodles al dente in boiling water with a little bit of salt. Drain and set aside for later. Also, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Next, slice up/rip the sandwich roll into little pieces and set them aside. You’re going to fry these suckers in a bit.
After that, remove sausage meat from casing and cook in a frying pan. As it cooks, continue to chop it up into ever-smaller pieces. As a side note, I like to use uncased sausage meat for pasta sauces too, since it’s cheap and essentially pre-seasoned.
Now toss those breadcrumbs in a frying pan with salt (garlic salt if possible) and fry ’em up nice and crispy. Afterward, set these aside on a paper towel.
Go ahead and cook down your spinach in the remaining olive oil from the breadcrumbs. Add a little bit of white vinegar for flavor.
Now the fun part. Put the egg noodles in a pyrex baking thing. Combine the Creams of Mushroom and Chicken soups, along with the sausage and the spinach. Next, grate the two carrots in there. Finally, grate the cheese, saving enough to top it off later. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Once everything is set to go, thoroughly mix the whole thing together. Don’t half-ass this step. A successful casserole is often judged on its consistency and the distribution of ingredients.
When all is said and done, sprinkle the mixture with the toasted breadcrumbs and grate the remaining amount of cheese over the top. Put the casserole in the oven (I don’t know which rack) and set the timer for 20 minutes.
While you wait, why not do the dishes? Your roommate will thank you. Another great thing about this meal is the minimal clean up (pictured above).
Ding! 20 minutes has flown by and you are now the proud parent of a tasty, hearty, moderately healthy casserole.
Pictured above is the damage done by one portion of this meal. Nothing more than a mild crater in the landscape of goodness you will graze on for the next several days. Enjoy!