Mariel here. There are several grocery stores within a five-block radius of my apartment – not to mention CVS and Duane Reade, which have become mini grocers in their own rights. But like everything else in NYC, the prices at the local Gristedes and D’Agostino are pretty insane. My mom tells me that when she was shopping for our family of five in the 80’s, she budgeted for about $10 per bag of food (in an email to me she expanded saying, “and it was REAL food – chicken, meat, fruits and veggies…the whole shebang including cleaning supplies”). Today, I’d say I spend about $25 for every shopper I tote home and I’m always left wondering what I actually bought. My brother and I were joking over dinner last night that we can’t seem to run an errand without automatically spending $40. While most of us feel like we bleed cash, in Manhattan, it feels more like a gushing hemorrhage. When I first started really learning how to cook, I was truly baffled by how much it cost to make a meal. The sticker shock was almost too much to bear and I urged my mom to include prices on every recipe, that way newbies like me would know what they’re in for before whipping out a credit card. We’ve received plenty of feedback letting us know that this feature is greatly appreciated – even if it is a pain in the a$$ to calculate costs. I suppose this was all just a long way of saying that the following recipe was a product of the sale shelf. My grocer was offering a special on cannellinis, chicken sausage and fresh spinach, so, using this soup as my muse, I cobbled together a low-maintenance but super tasty weeknight dinner for less than $5. I’ve calculated the cost based on current prices (not the stingy sale prices I paid), but you’ll find that recipes don’t come much easier than this one. Plus, it’s easy to double or triple it if you’re cooking for a big brood. Happy Fat Tuesday!
White Beans, Sausage and Fresh Baby Spinach Serves 4
Ingredients: 2 19-oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – $2.00 10-oz bag of fresh spinach – $1.99 2/3-cup of white wine – stock 4 sausage links (chicken, pork or turkey), sliced about a 1/4-inch-thick – $3.59 I large sweet onion, chopped roughly – $0.89 2 cloves of garlic, minced – stock 1 Tablespoon olive oil – stock Salt & pepper, to taste – stock Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $8.47 Cost per serving: $2.11 Directions: 1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet (preferably not non-stick) over med-high heat. Once the oil is hot, saute the onions and garlic until they start to turn golden and caramelize – this takes about 10 minutes, but stir very frequently to prevent burning (turn down the heat as necessary). Splash with half of the white wine. 2. Reduce heat to medium, push the onions/garlic to the side and brown the sausages on both sides, this takes about 3-4 minutes per side. Add the cannellini beans to the skillet, then add the spinach and splash everything with the remaining half of wine. Toss together until spinach wilts, about 1 minute, then season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot.