I have a confession to make. I haven’t gone to the store in over a month. I have sent my husband to get milk and creamer but nothing else has been bought. I started my January like I always do, not wanting to spend money. Don’t we all get sick of all that shopping and dealing with people during the holidays? I know that I do. I love people, don’t get me wrong. I am as extroverted as they come. Even I have my limits, especially with all the holiday demands on my time, and more importantly, my cash flow.
So my resolution was to stay out of the stores and to use up what we have. I call this time, “Clean out the freezer month.” It involves more than just cleaning out the freezer. We have a pantry stacked full of food, as well. In fact, we have food all over our house after the holidays. Frozen leftovers. Cans of vegetables. Canned soups, salsas, green beans, fruits, butters, and pickled items from my garden. I have lots of baking goods from my mass cookie baking over the holidays. I always go overboard and buy too much stuff around the holidays.
Plus we own a granite business and people give us stuff. Lots of stuff. It’s this big push to give lots of stuff and get lots of stuff.
And you know what? I just love it!!
Just look at this food. This is after a month of not grocery shopping. I just feel guilty spending money on food when we have so much.
But here’s the catch. There’s always a catch isn’t there? It’s our busy day, basketball this evening. I usually make sandwiches of some sort because we don’t have time for a sit down dinner. We eat on the go tonight.
Today, I looked in my fridge and nothing. Nothing came to me. I didn’t feel like making bread and didn’t have any bread. I didn’t have any wraps, or chips. Nothing. I had a few vegetables that I cook with, like carrots and celery, cream cheese, salsa, corn tortillas, 2 yogurts, a couple dollops of sour cream, pickles (lots), eggs and some swiss cheese. A lot of items in my pantry too but nothing that a kid could easily eat on the run.
Then it hit me. Corn tortillas. Salsa. Cream Cheese. YES! We are having homemade nachos for dinner and they will be somewhat healthy. The tortillas are whole grain. My own salsa is organic and homegrown. The frying is the worst part but the best part.
So I went to work.
My cream cheese was cold, of course, so I had to soften it. I put the pint of salsa, one block of cream cheese, cut into smaller pieces, and those few dollops of sour cream. I microwaved the mixture for about 3 minutes total, but in 30 second intervals.
It was a little bland for our liking. We like flavorful food around here. So I started digging through my spices and came across a packet of seasoning that is used to make dips. It was perfect. If you don’t have that, you could use taco seasoning and that would be really good. That was my first idea. Just a couple of tablespoons. You could also add chili powder, garlic and onion powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, be creative.
If you don’t have salsa, look around, you might have other ingredients that are salsa-ish. For example, canned tomatoes, dehydrated onions and garlic, and cumin, would give this a really nice flavor as well.
So for the chips. I love to fry. So many people are afraid to fry things. I know this because that use to be me. Once you figure out how things work, frying is super easy. I prefer to fry in peanut oil but it’s too expensive for my budget. So, good ole canola oil is what I use.
I know this seems like a lot of work, but these chips cook extremely fast. Also, remember, the other half of this dinner was made in the microwave in a matter of minutes. If you really don’t want to fry, skip this part and buy some whole grain chips instead.
Frugally speaking, you are much better off buying the tortillas and frying them yourself. So much cheaper. I had these for another meal I made a week ago, Tako No Mo, Asian Chicken Tacos. As we know, I am not one to waste.
You know what else is yummy with this dip?
Make sure you use a deep pan if you are frying on your stove top, like I am today. I love to use my iron skillet/dutch oven for frying. It gives the best heat, that is even and easy to maintain. This is not a requirement though. Any deep pan will work.
Now a few tips on saving money with frying. Don’t throw that oil away when you are done. The only time I do that is if I am frying fish or seafood of some sorts. I don’t know if you even need to do it for that but I do. Reusing your oil does not only save you money, but also, used oil is easier to fry with. It has already been heated to extreme heats and therefore has the coloring of cooked oil. What does that mean for you? Browning. It adds the perfect color and texture to your fried foods.
You want to get your oil very hot. If you don’t, whatever you are frying will be logged down with grease. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and your fried food was covered in grease and disgusting? That is because they are not frying in oil that is hot enough.
While your oil is heating, you can use this time to cut the tortillas in the desired pieces. This is also a good time to prepare your draining surface. I used a cookie sheet and paper towels. I use a slotted spoon to scoop up my fried chips.
You will need to cut slits in the tortillas, prior to frying, to help with the puffing up. I cut them all at once, while I have them stacked together. Just run a sharp knife through the whole stack.
When you think the oil is hot enough, try one chip as a tester chip. If it immediately bubbles up and floats to the top, you are good to go.
If you are a beginner, just fry a couple chips at a time so you are not overwhelmed.
I made a video of my fried chips so you can see how quickly they are done.
When the chips are draining, you want to add some salt to taste. When they are cooled enough to touch, they are ready to eat. At first, the chips will be soft but will harden as they cool. If you have any helpers, this is a good time to round them up. They can be salting while you are frying and taking the chips out of the fryer.
For fun, I put the chips in small brown lunch bags. I cut the top off to make it easier to get his hands into.
I packed it all up with those yogurts, a drink and some canned pineapple chunks. My little guy really enjoyed this meal. Eating can be fun and frugal at the same time. And I got to be creative and avoid the store. It’s a win for everyone today.