I used to do my own taxes, but in the last few years, with the complications of kids in and out of college and so on, I (gratefully) handed everything over to a professional. I've just dropped off everything with her for last year's taxes--and immediately resolved to get our spending under control. Starting with grocery shopping. My idea of shopping within a budget is typically to ask the budget to look the other way. (After all, it doesn't want me to go without good bread and wine, does it?) Is it any wonder that now I'm afraid I'll be digging through the couch cushions to pay our taxes when I should have been saving money all along?
Staying within a grocery budget is a good exercise anytime of year, of course. This dinner recipe from the EatingWell Test Kitchen for no-chop stovetop Sausage & Peppers Baked Ziti helpfully watches the budget (and the clock) for you: it costs less than $10 to serve a family of four (less than $2.50 per serving!) and is ready in just 30 minutes. It proves that when you play up pasta at the center of a meal instead of meat, you naturally save money. There is a modest amount of turkey sausage in this recipe--enough that everyone will feel satisfied, not at all deprived.
There are just a few ingredients to pick up at the store, including a convenient bag of frozen pepper and onion mix that means there's no chopping and not much prep to do beyond boiling the pasta. A great comfort food recipe like this helps me keep my resolution to shop smart and eat (well) within my means.
Sausage & Peppers Baked Ziti
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Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
This healthy baked ziti recipe doesn't require any chopping and is made on the stovetop, so it is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. Using whole-wheat pasta adds fiber; opt for penne if whole-wheat ziti is hard to find.
8 ounces whole-wheat penne or ziti
1 16-ounce bag frozen pepper and onion mix (not thawed)
6 ounces turkey sausage (2 large links), crumbled
2 8-ounce cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add frozen vegetables and sausage; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid from the vegetables has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
4. Stir tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano and salt into the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in cottage cheese and the pasta. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Top with shredded cheese.
5. Place the skillet under the broiler to brown the cheese, 1 to 2 minutes.
Per serving: 430 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 48 mg cholesterol; 61 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 28 g protein; 11 g fiber; 708 mg sodium; 835 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (85% daily value), Vitamin A (44% dv), Magnesium (32% dv), Calcium (27% dv), Zinc (25% dv), Iron & Potassium (24% dv).
What's your best no-chop recipe?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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