I know it’s not the ideal picture of health. Some people think red meat is unhealthy. (I am not convinced.) Many think that potatoes are one of the lesser quality vegetables. (Maybe so, but I still like ’em.) Lots of health-conscious people think that soy (including soy sauce, of course) is NOT a health food and should be avoided. (I haven’t studied it in depth myself, but all of the people I trust who know more about it than I do think that. So, I try to avoid it as much as possible. But there’s definitely soy sauce in this recipe.) And boxed macaroni and cheese wouldn’t rank on anyone’s health-radar. Not even the organic boxed version I bought. (But steak and boxed macaroni and cheese is a nostalgic pairing for me. It was one of the “fancy” meals I remember from growing up. Besides, we have boxed macaroni and cheese probably two times per year, if that.)
This meal was not only fun for us, it was reasonably quick to put together despite its fancy feel. And since I got the meat on sale at Earth Fare, it was surprisingly affordable.
Here’s what we had and the approximate price breakdown:
- London Broil ($8.00) When I first made my menu plan I had another meat dish on the menu. But when I got to the meat department, I saw that the cut my plan called for was something like $9.99 per pound and the London Broil was just $4.99. I got a pound and a half of beef that had been raised without antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or animal by-products in the feed for just $7.98.
- Marinade-Turned-Sauce ($.50) It’s just 3 cloves of garlic, a bit of leftover fresh ginger, dried thyme and shoyu (a healthier version of soy sauce). All stuff I had already, but I’ll guess it was about 50 cents worth.
- Mashed Potatoes ($2.50) I got a 5 pound bag of organic russet potatoes for $3.97 and used a little less than half of it for this meal. Add in the couple of tablespoons of butter and almond milk and it probably cost in the neighborhood of $2.50.
- Macaroni and Cheese ($2.25) Organic, but not necessarily healthy.
- Steamed Asparagus ($1.00) Used half of a bunch. This is one of the least contaminated conventional crops, so I didn’t go organic.
- Sauteed Portabella and Onions ($1.75) I didn’t get the best deal on portabellas. Sam’s has the best price, but I wasn’t able to make it over there this week. I used one portabella from a non-organic pack of two from Kroger. I’ll use the other one plus the unopened pack of two for my stuffed portabella meal later this week.
So, for 16 bucks, we had a fun, fancy meal with leftovers for tomorrow too. There are a bunch of mashed potatoes and 4 good slices of meat left. I just got a good tip for how to use leftover mashed potatoes from an article recommended by my friend Leigh Ann, 50 Ways to Never Waste Food Again. So, I’ll be forming them into patty shapes and cooking them in butter tomorrow to see if they really make for a “pretty good ‘mock hashbrown.'” The slices of meat will be tasty over a big green salad tomorrow.
And now, for my final notes on how to pull this meal together effectively. I was impressed by how nicely the whole thing came together and figured I should write it down as best as I can remember it so that next time I can benefit from the happy coincidence I experienced tonight. There are probably more efficient ways to get it all done, but this was approximately how it happened tonight:
1. Made the marinade and let the meat sit in it for about a half hour.
- 6 Tablespoons shoyu or soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
2. While the meat was marinading, I got my pots ready. One for boiling potatoes, one for boiling pasta, one for steaming asparagus and one pan for sauteeing portabellas.
3. Started boiling the water for the potatoes.
4. Peeled and cut the potatoes. By the time I was done, the water was ready. Boiled potatoes 10-15 minutes, until they broke apart when I stabbed them with a fork.
5. While the potatoes were working, I started the water for the pasta.
6. While I was waiting for the pasta water to boil, I had Madeline cut up the portabellas. I made the cheese sauce, cut onions, and cut the bottoms off of the asparagus.
7. Plugged in the Foreman Grill.
8. Added the pasta to the boiling water.
9. Started the mushrooms by throwing them into the saute pan along with the onions and about a tablespoon of butter over medium-0r-so heat.
10. Started cooking the meat.
11. Dumped the potatoes into a colander, saving the boiling water to steam the asparagus. (I thought this was particularly clever of me!) I turned on the burner for the asparagus. It didn’t take long to boil with the already-hot water in there.
12. Mashed the potatoes, some almond milk and butter with a potato masher and kept them warm.
13. Drained the pasta and added the cheese mix and kept them warm too.
14. Flipped the meat.
15. Placed the mushroom saute on our plates.
16. Put the leftover marinade into the now-empty-mushroom-saute pan without cleaning it first. The flavor of the mushrooms and onions was welcome! Simmered it for about 5 minutes so that I could use it as a sauce.
17. Pulled the asparagus off of the heat.
18. Checked the meat. Thought it was done and turned off the grill and pulled it off. Let it rest a bit only to find out when I cut into it that it was still a bit too underdone for us. (But always better underdone than overdone.) Placed the slices quickly on the still-kinda-warm grill to remove some of the moo-ishness in the center.
19. Threw silverware, cloth napkins and water on the table.
20. Placed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and asparagus on our plates along with the mushrooms. Fanned the meat over the potatoes and drizzled some of the sauce over the top.
20. Called desperately for the family to join me in a hurry to enjoy the beauty that was our dinner.
Where do you stand on the vegetarian vs. meat-eater issue? Do you think potatoes are a healthy vegetable? What about soy? Do you think $16 is a good deal for this kind of meal? And does anyone else on the planet over the age of 25 like boxed macaroni and cheese or am I the only one?