When I was working in Makati, I did my best to wake up as early as I could to cook my baon (packed lunch). Aside from it saved me money it gave me free rein with how the dish would look, taste and fare in quantity i.e. will I cook just for myself or will it be good for sharing within a small group (sentiments outlined here).
One of the dishes I adored was this meatball (100% beef of course!) dish in my “home made” spicy tomato sauce. Simple and yummy.
For the meatballs:
Salt and pepper
For the home made tomato sauce:
Sat and pepper (sugar, optional)
Add on – potato (wedges)
Mix all the meatball ingredients. One tip is to test how the meat tastes by frying a small amount of meatball. Adjust taste to your own liking. Fry all the meatballs made then set to room temperature.
Cut your potato (or potatoes) into wedges and fry. While hot, season with some salt and pepper.
For the sauce, saute onion and garlic. Then add the tomato and the basil. Dust some paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir. Add some water and bring to a boil/reduce. Season with salt and pepper (optional: sugar for umami).
Once the tomato has wilted and the sauce has thickened a bit, add the meatballs and potatoes.
Simmer for some 5-10 minutes then serve.
This is absolutely good for sharing! If you had enough of all the meatball boredom, I suggest you have this served. Oh, and you can top it with some grated cheese too. How good is that?
~Photo taken using my now missing Olympus point and shoot digital camera.
I can not live without my dose of protein. I miss my meat badly.
I miss my veggies too though not as much as I long for protein but there sure is a huge gap if I lack one or the other.
My combo meal is meat + vegetable + carbohydrates (bread and/or rice though of course I prefer the latter more).
The other day, I had a healthy and filling lunch which I would like to share here:
Mix all the ingredients of the meatballs and fry them in a hot pan. As for the veggies, bring water to a boil, add salt, drop the carrots first, then the chayote then the string beans.
Once the veggies colors are vibrant/cooked, put butter. Sprinkle cayenne pepper on top.
As for the meatballs, of course your recipe may be different from mine but for this recipe those are what I used.
I swear by the taste and how filling my lunch was. OMG.
My kind of thing! By the way, did I mention that of course, this is a very affordable dish? If you have pantry ingredients (say the veggies are just in your crisper and you have butter too!) then this sure is a big hit.
One of my go to dishes when I am running out of both budget (yes I have serious budget issues not because I am poor in handling finances but for other reasons) and time is a jazzed up scrambled egg.
It is huge in servings (I usually use two eggs) and you can be as creative as you want!
For this entry, I used:
Saute the onion and tuna first (by the way, please drain excess oil in the can). Once the tuna is almost dried up, include your black olives. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
After three minutes you can add the egg and if you have a non stick pan (I do not have it so the finished product looks a bit crazy) you may include the cheese cubes before flipping so it looks like an egg wrap.
Serve with rice or bread.
As for me, it’s with rice:
Other suggested ingredients for a fancy scrambled egg are ham and bacon bits, ground meat, mushroom and bell peppers. Wow my mouth is watering at 1:22 AM!
I hope you try this dish. Filling, easy to prepare and delicious! (and it’s a complete meal depending on what you will add so it’s also nutritious).
I love preparing my packed lunch for work for these reasons. Oh well, let me rephrase that. Here are the reasons why you should prepare your packed lunch for work or school:
You get to control the portion (therefore you can manage to share too!).
You have a say on what to eat, how it should taste (spicy? a bit sweet? pepper-y? herb-y?) and how to prepare it.
You save money.
It’s home cooked food (not your fast food stuff that is loaded with whatever stuff to ensure longevity) and home cooked food rocks.
You get really creative in the kitchen.
If you are a complete health freak (calories, eh?), your dish can be insanely balanced!
Today I will share three pasta dishes that helped me get through a very, very, very broke stage of my working life (payroll disputes, anyone?).
With the help of some pantry ingredients, I sure made something wonderful out of these ingredients. Happy wallet, happy tummy.
The “base” of all pasta dish is the pasta of course. I found this pasta sitting on the counter (my aunt sent us some stock from the US so yeah, this pack must be put to good use!).
First pasta dish: Pasta in Meaty Red Sauce
Not in photo: Ground Beef
Cost of this dish:
Onion – 10 PhP
Carrot – 15 PhP
(Garlic – pantry)
Ground Beef – 22 PhP
Tomato Sauce – 12 PhP
Total: 59 PhP or roughly 1.28 USD
By the way, this dish could feed two people! I was not able to finish this serving because it’s a lot. Blame it on the hearty meat sauce.
As for the procedure, all you have to do is saute the onion and once translucent drop the garlic. Once the garlic starts to be golden brown (not burnt okay?) add the ground beef. Cook well. Put the tomato sauce and a bit of pasta water. Whilst reducing you may add the shredded carrots. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar. Reduce to your desired consistency. Serve on top of the cooked linguine.
Something worth mentioning: the smell of the reduction drove my two cousins crazy (we are neighbors) that one of them tracked where the smell was coming from and bam! Found me cooking this baby.
Second Dish: Pasta with Smoked Longganisa (Filipino sausage)
My go-to pasta dish! This pasta dish is super easy to prepare and super inexpensive! If you have some left over longganisa in the fridge or a pack of pasta at home (like me!) then wow, you found a treasure!
Longganisa is such a joy to work with. I do not really like this delicacy as viand (especially the round, little ones in pork casing) but I like it when I put it in fried rice and in pasta…like this one!
Cost of this dish:
Smoked longganisa slices (from your local grocery meat section) – 25 PhP
(Garlic – pantry)
(Chili flakes – pantry)
Total: 25 PhP or roughly 0.55 USD
Saute the garlic and once it starts to be golden brown, add the smoked longganisa. Cook for five to ten minutes, add pasta, adjust taste with salt, pepper and as for me, I added my ever favorite chili flakes for that extra spice. You may add Italian seasoning too if you want! Too bad my little jar of Italian seasoning expired weeks ago so the left over I had to throw away too — bye good friend, you have been spectacular.
Third Dish: Pasta with Spanish Style Sardines
This is no bullshit, in your face, quickie, taste overload pasta!
This damn thing gets snubbed at home so I am going to make it the best supporting actress of my dish haha.
My apologies — was not able to take a photo of the Spanish style sardines (in can) and the several cloves of garlic used (yup, not a whole garlic, just maybe three to four cloves of finely chopped garlic).
Cost of this dish:
My apologies again, I forgot the price of the sardines! Kick me on the shin! Well let us peg it at 30 PhP, I know it’s less than that but let us put it at that. By the way, its brand name is “Family Spnish Style sardines” to those who are curious.
(Garlic – pantry)
Eden cheese slice, individually packed – 12 PhP
Total: 42 PhP or roughly 0.92 USD
Easy peasy. Saute garlic until golden brown (again, not burnt! LOL) then, add the sardines, cook for some five minutes, add the olives, cook for two more minutes, toss in the pasta. As for me, I did not add anymore seasoning, I just served it as it is, anyhow, I will be putting cheese which will add saltiness to the pasta dish. Oh! You may add some herbs or chili flakes if you want! And garlic bread on the side too.
Roughly, for three days I only spent 101 PhP or 2.20 USD and on a fine payday my lunch would range anywhere between 200 to 400 PhP see the difference. I know there is some effort involved but don’t you think a little effort in this world of instant everything (instant celebrity, instant millionaire, instant boyfriend, instant noodles) is worth the shot?
Come to think of it, you shell out some 200 PhP for a plate of pasta that you can replicate at home — this is luxury especially if done everyday or most of the time especially if you are paying your bills with a meager income. If you have more than enough, cooking your meal is not a bad idea at all, still a win-win situation, yes? See above reasons why you should, at least at some point, prepare your packed lunch.
There you have it, my super yummy and super affordable pasta dishes! Go grab your kitchen tools and cook!