Meat on a budget
A while ago there was a Food52 contest called Your Best Dirt Cheap Dinner, and there are some great recipes.
I am assuming that you live in an apartment with no stove top or oven? You can use your rice cooker more or less like a slow cooker (though you have less control over temperature.) When I lived in Japan years ago I had only a rice cooker and toaster oven. I knew people who made cakes in their rice cookers, though I was never that adventurous. You can cook ground meat and veggies in the rice cooker by leaving the top off and putting it on "cook." You can also use it to cook pasta. Here is a little article about it: http://www.nytimes.com...
However, I highly recommend just going to your local thrift store or ebay and looking for a cheap slow-cooker and oven. It won't cost much and your life will be so much easier if you can easily follow recipes for soup, chili, and pasta.
Obviously, with the panini maker you have a lot of options, but you will tire of sandwiches for dinner!
I do have an electric stove top and oven. Just no other cooking materials besides panini maker and rice cooker (no blender, food processor,etc.) We both work 50+ hours a week and don't want to spend much time or money. Just trying to stop eating out!
I use this recipe (or something similar) for an easy meal - sometimes with leftovers. ;)
Watch for pork roast to go on sale - sometimes it gets down to as little as $2 a pound (here in Chicago). A 2 lb roast is plenty for 2 people.
1/2 - 1 white onion
2+ cloves garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 TBL olive or canola oil
1/2 TBL dried herb (rosemary/sage/thyme)
1 TBL lemon juice (optional)
In a food processor (blender may work too), combine 1/2 to 1 whole medium white onion, as much garlic as you like (we often use "jar"lic for ease - a heaping TBL of it), some kosher salt (about a tsp or so), and fresh ground black pepper, 1 TBL of olive oil (canola works fine too), and 1/2 TBL of your favorite dried herb (rosemary works well, as does sage, or thyme) (sometimes I add about a TBL of lemon juice too - but that's optional).
Process/blend it all together into a paste.
Slit the fat side of the roast in 2 long shallow cuts. Pack the paste on all sides of the roast, including the bottom. Plop it in a roasting pan, fat-side up, and roast it at 400 to 450 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half (until the inside temp is 155 degrees). Let is rest for at least 10 minutes, then slice into as think of slices as you want and serve!
We often make a mushroom sauce to go with, as well as a side of wild rice or roasted broccoli.
This is a great one for a dinner party (just buy a larger roast and cook it a bit longer) as the roast sits cooking in the oven while you enjoy a glass of wine with your guests. It comes out great every time and is a crowd pleaser!
Leftovers are great as a sandwich!
Ah - missed the bit where you don't have a food processor or blender.
My paste recipe won't help you... but there are many ways to do a pork roast - and it is easy on the budget.
Hey Bek, What will make the biggest difference is making food ahead and freezing it. Rice, beans, lasagnas, stews, roasts, chili, pasta sauce. If you like fresh vegetables and salads prep them all at one time, like on a Sunday or Saturday, and wrap them in paper towels and zip-lock bags. They will be ready when you are. And the easily last a week.
Potatoes are easy to peel and fix right when you need them.
Make hamburgers ahead into patties and freeze them.
This tip comes from [email protected] Apron:
Cook up an entire bag of brown rice and freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions. I know you're willing to do this as you go but this is a cheap and convenient.
Also, I'm trying to cut down on plastic and have started freezing things in large cardboard to-go cups. Bonus #1 shop Costco or smart & final and it's cheaper then brand name zip bags, bonus #2 no worries about plastic contaminating our food, and bonus #3 were I live these cups can go in the compost.
Purchase your meats on sales and prep and freeze.
And here is another great link http://food52.com/blog...
Gretchen thanks, I don't have a blender but those are the exact kind of ingredients I'm looking for. Things that don't go bad quickly (jar-lic) and cheap but filling recipes.