Wednesday, January 28, 2009

7 Meals for 7 Dollars

Judging by the title of this post, you’re probably expecting me to offer advice on how to make 7 meals for $7 EACH. Not so. Today I’m going to show you how to make 7 meals for $7 TOTAL. To be precise, we will make all 7 meals based on the price of the main ingredient – a $7 ham. The remaining ingredients will not be figured into the cost, as most are pantry staples, and should only add to the total cost slightly (…ok, ok…if you want full disclosure: “7 Meals for $10”???...or perhaps we could call it “7 Meals from a $7 Ham”). Anyway…on with the meals.

The Main Ingredient: I purchased my ham last week from Aldi’s. It’s a 6.5 pound bone-in butt portion ham which was priced at $1.19/lb. This was the first ham I have ever bought from Aldi’s, but after receiving several recommendations over the holidays, I decided to give it a try. (As a side note, tune in next week for my upcoming post “Why I Love Aldi’s” to learn how to get double your money back with their satisfaction guarantee.)

  • Meal #1: This one won’t be a shocker. The first meal is…ham. The Aldi’s ham came “Ready to Cook” which means you do have to bake it first (as opposed to “Ready to Eat” hams). For our first meal, I simply baked the ham, and served it sliced with mashed potatoes and corn on the side.

After the ham cools, slice the bigger portions into thin slices and package up for later use in sandwiches. Trim the remaining ham from the bone and dice into cubes for later use.

  • Meal #2: Hot Ham & Cheese Melts – Grab some bread, layer thin slices of ham between two thick slices of cheese, then slather the outside of the bread with margarine, and grill in a frying pan over medium heat until the bread is brown and toasty and the cheese is melted. Slice diagonally for extra flair. Add a side of fruit salad for a balanced meal.

  • Meal #3: Ham & Scalloped Potatoes – I make this in the microwave. Layer sliced potatoes, cubed ham, and onions in a glass dish. In a separate glass measuring bowl, microwave milk, butter, and flour, and then pour mixture over potatoes and ham. Microwave until potatoes are tender. Serve with a lettuce salad. (Leave a comment if you’d like the detailed recipe.)

  • Meal #4: Ham & Cheese Omelets – A great way to add extra flavor to eggs is to toss in some ham and cheese. To make the perfect 3 egg omelet, use a small frying pan and melt a bit of butter in it. Then add the eggs. The trick is to delicately keep the eggs loose by wiggling it in the melted butter just after it sets flat. Then you can easily add the toppings, and fold one end over the other without the omelet sticking to the pan. Serve with a side of toast.

  • Meal #5 & #6: Luncheon Ham Sandwiches – We had enough ham slices left over to make 4 thick sandwiches to pack for lunch, which lasts the two of us for two days worth of lunches. Throw in an apple, and we’re all set. (At this point, if you only have odds and ends left of the ham, you can finely dice what’s left and mix it with a bit of mayo for ham salad sandwiches.)

  • Meal #7: By now, all that is left is the ham bone. So what do we do with it? Make soup! Clean out the fridge, boil up the ham bone in some water, and toss in whatever you have on hand – potatoes, veggies, beans, spices.

We had had enough of ham by meal #7, so we tossed the bone, rather than making soup. However, keep in mind that ham (and even the bone) freezes well. You could easily spread these meals out over several weeks by simply freezing the ham slices or cubes for use later. For more ideas on freezing food, check out my "Frozen Assets Series" by clicking HERE.

One final note: Each meal is based on two servings. Despite our best efforts to get the Diva boys to try ham, they refused to eat it. R.E.F.U.S.E.D. Even when we called it pink bacon (they love bacon). Even when we gave them ketchup for dipping. Even when we tried to hide it in their sandwiches. Even when we bribed them with ice cream.
So, for a family of four ham eaters, you would likely need to buy a bigger ham.

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