Cooks Corner: Cut costs but not the flavor

Published 1:07 am Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By Staff
With the cost of everything going up, everyone is looking for a way to cut costs wherever possible. Although grocery prices continue to rise, there are ways to cut your food costs.
Most cooks have a Crock Pot or slow cooker of some sort in the kitchen or pantry. Usually, though, the hard part is remembering to use it and to use it for more than soups and stews in the fall and winter.
By using a slow cooker, less expensive and usually tougher cuts of meat can result in a delicious meal.
For example, if you put a roast in a Crock Pot and cook it for several hours, it has no choice but to be tender. By adding seasonings enjoyed by your family, you can turn a fairly inexpensive chuck roast into a tender meal for the entire family.
This first recipe is one that would work well with any type of roast. The seasonings, of course, are adjustable to your family's tastes.
Slow-Cooked Pot Roast
2 pounds boneless beef roast
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, quartered
16 baby carrots
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the roast in the oil for 15 minutes, or until all sides are well browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Place the onion, carrots, garlic and parsley in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and pour the soup over the roast and the vegetables. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, stirring once. Transfer roast to a serving platter and place the vegetables around it. Pour the roast gravy from the slow cooker into a gravy boat.
My husband doesn't like to cook ribs on the grill because they take too long to cook to get tender. For some reason, we don't like to boil or pre-cook ribs before getting them to the grill. If you like ribs, but don't have the time to cook them low and slow as they require, this next recipe may be a good alternative for you. The spices and seasonings included in this recipe will create a sweet and tangy sauce as they cook.
Slow-Cooker Ribs
4 pounds pork spareribs
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Season ribs with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, brown ribs on all sides. Place half of the onion, green pepper, and celery in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place half of the ribs on top the vegetables, then repeat layering with the remaining vegetables and ribs. In a medium bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour mixture over the top of the ribs. Cover, and cook on High for 1 hour. Reduce to Low, and cook for another 8 to 9 hours.
I've never been much on round steak because it tends to be tough no matter how you cook it. I have certainly tried some though, but without much success in getting it tender. But I was trying to fry or broil it and it just never works for me. It is a less expensive cut of meat than any other steak you'll find in the butcher case. I think it may be worth giving a try prepared this way.
Yummy Round Steak
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 onion, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds boneless round steak
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup water
Place the potatoes, onion, and carrots in slow cooker. Cut steak into six pieces, then place the meat on top of vegetables. In a mixing bowl, combine the soup mix, soup, and water; pour over beef. Cover, and cook on Low for 7 to 10 hours.
I hope that you enjoy some of these recipes that may help you stretch your food costs.
I realize that the recipes in this column today are good for a family of four or more.
With many families consisting of only two or maybe three, there may be a need to cut down on the amount of food you prepare or at least come up with a way to preserve it for future use.
Next week I plan to explore the world of cooking for two or three and ways to freeze or otherwise preserve leftovers for future meals.
Get your thinking caps on and pass along your ideas to our readers. Now more than ever we need to help each other conserve our resources, save money and keep our families satisfied.
If you have any budget-cutting ideas, please pass them along to me so that I can let your ideas benefit as many cooks as possible. You can give me a call at 867-4876 or pass things along to me by e-mail at
Until next week, happy cooking.