Everyone should have New Year’s frugal resolutions. Mine are simple, double my liquid savings, hit my 401K savings goals and get my partner to eat more vegetables.
Like, I said, mine are simple.
My first two goals are child’s play compared to the third. My partner is right up there with any savvy, vegetal-suspicious four-year-old when it comes to greens. You just cannot give the man anything approaching green without a battle unless it is drenched in my special cheese sauce (recipe below). Even so, I’ve managed to come up with a few brand new recipes to get more veggies into his meat-centric diet because let’s face it, meat is really expensive, excessively hard on the planet’s resources, bad for your health and again, expensive. The more veggies I can get him to eat the better for his health, our budget and the planet.
Keep in mind that root vegetables are incredibly cheap for the most part. Carrots, potatoes and broccoli are the standards but think outside of the veggie box and try turnips, parsnips, celery root, beets, Brussel sprouts and more. All of these tends to be very reasonably priced year round and can provide much needed variety. 2020 is supposed to be the year of cauliflower in the foodie world when many of us frugal types have been relying on this old stand-by floweret for decades. Instead of butter or iceberg lettuce try swapping out these standby greens for Swiss chard, spinach, even the (dreaded) kale. Sorry, some of us just can’t get past the chewy, weed-like texture of kale unless it is very finely shredded.
Meanwhile, make it a resolution to add at least three new veggies to your meal repertoire in 2020.
Save Your Veggies Cheese Sauce
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour (gluten free is ok here)
3 cups low fat milk
2 cups grated cheese; any combination of cheddar, Fontana, Monterey jack, or other melting cheese will do
salt and pepper to taste
Method: Melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour to form a paste. Let cook out on medium-low for a few minutes to get rid of that raw flour taste. Meanwhile, warm the milk either in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove until very warm but not scalding. This is important as cold milk will create lumps in the sauce. Gently whisk in the hot milk and stir for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the shredded cheese and stir until well combined. If too thick, add a bit more hot milk. Season to taste. Can be kept in the fridge for a few days and reheated briefly in the microwave. This sauce goes over just about any vegetable. Picky toddler tested and approved by the way.
Carrots Any One Will Love
6 medium carrots, any color, washed, and cut into 1/2 inch coins (peeling is optional but I normally don’t bother)
1/4 cup butter or margarine and 1/4 cool quality olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Method: Sauté over medium heat the carrots in the butter and olive oil. You can speed up this process by microwaving the cut carrots for a few minutes in a bit of water. Keep the carrots crisp. While the carrots are sautéing, mix the brown sugar and maple syrup with the cayenne pepper. When carrots are nearly done, pour the mixed syrup over the carrots and continuing cooking, taking care to keep the carrots crisp. Serve immediately.
*Time saving tip: If you run the carrots whole through the shredder of your food processor you can sauté them in a minute or less.
Six Minute Brussel Sprouts
1 pound Brussel Sprouts root ends cut off but kept whole
Pomegranate molasses, about 1/3 cup
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
Microwave the whole Brussel Sprouts for a few minutes until you can easily poke a knife through one, about five minutes in a bit of water. When done, drain the water (should not be more than a half an inch in the bottom of the microwave proof dish). Top with butter/margarine and drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and season to taste. Best topped with flaked sea salt.
*Time saving tip: Wash and cut the root ends off of your sprouts when you buy them and wrap in a slightly damp paper towel and place inside a plastic, zipper top bag in the veggie bin of your fridge. Use within a week.
Cauliflower Gratin in a Snap
One medium head of cauliflower broken into bite-sized flowerets (make sure they are all about the size of walnuts for this particular application)
1 -2 cups Save your Veggies Cheese Sauce (recipe above)
Toasted bread crumbs made from your frozen bread stash and mixed with a teaspoon each of: salt, pepper, dried garlic, onion powder and Italian seasoning
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
Microwave flowerets in about a half inch of water until tender, 8-10 minutes, drain.
Place the cooked flowerets in a shallow dish and top with the cheese sauce and toasted breadcrumbs. Drizzle with melted butter and bake in a 350-F preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
*Time saving tip: Assemble the day before up to layering with the cheese sauce. Top with toasted bread crumbs and melted butter right before baking.