Cooking from scratch is a learned skill that anyone can benefit from. Not only will it save you money in your food budget but you also cut out a lot of the pronounceable ingredients that processed food often consists of. I try to make as much food from scratch and freeze what we won’t consume within the week.
On the meal plan for today we had pulled pork, which is a great way to get your feet wet using your slow cooker. I used the weekend after Easter to stock up on a ton of meat. I’ve never seen ham and pork shoulder for less than a dollar per pound! I stuffed my pork shoulder into the slow cooker only to find that the lid wouldn’t fit (note to self, buy bigger slow cooker). My 7lb hunk of meat stuck pretty far out of the top. To solve this I covered the top of my slow cooker in aluminum foil and covered with a table cloth that was folded up (to keep the heat in). I left for work pleading with the universe that I would not come home to a mess.
To make pulled pork you need (1) pork shoulder or pork butt of any size (hopefully that fits in your slow cooker) and 1 to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. You can make your own sauce if you have ketchup, brown sugar and spices on hand. Today I opted for the low maintenance method of squeezing in some Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ sauce. Set your slow cooker on HIGH and then wait 8+ hours. My table cloth trick worked and I came home from work to find some tender meat.
There are many methods for shredding pulled pork. I normally set myself up with a bowl for meat and a bowl for trash. Pull out chunks of meat with a fork and put them on a cutting board. Using the back of the fork press down on the meat and slide your fork away pulling apart all of the meat fibers. The extra fat, bone and cartilage goes in the trash pile. Once you have finished shredding all of your meat pour the excess liquid in your slow cooker through a strainer and add to the meat. Give your creation a taste and add more BBQ sauce if needed. Voila! If you are not going to eat all of the meat this week, pop some of it in the freezer for later.
If you’ve never cooked with lentils, now is a good time to start. Lentils have a high nutritional value and are super tasty. You can get a pound of dried lentils in the bean section of your supermarket.
I start with a base of chopped veggies to add flavor (and extra vitamins) to my dish. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add in (1) chopped onion and (1) chopped garlic clove (I’m a minimalist. I don’t need a garlic press!). Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add (2) chopped carrots and (2) chopped celery stalks. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring the pot. Add (1) cup of dried lentils, you can use any color. Add (3) cups of water and bring to a boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
I’ll eat left over lentils for lunch. Google tells me that one cup of cooked lentils has 18g of protein. That’ll keep you full! What are some of your favorite made from scratch meals?