What do you make for dinner when you are trying to stay on a tight budget? For me, frozen chicken nuggets and french fries just won’t cut it. (Well, sometimes in emergencies.) And only rarely do we make that trip to McDonalds for the coveted kids happy meals and whatever random combos for us in order to have dinner on the cheap. No, I actually like the challenge of making something awesome out of meat and produce that is affordable but delectable when you combine it the right way.
Such is the case with beef stew. You just can’t go wrong with a steaming bowl of thick, rich stew with tender chucks of beef, carrots, celery and onion. The only drawback to making this dish is the time it takes to cook it. But, when it’s done, beef stew is a dish that my kids gobble up and my husband finishes with a satisfied smile on his face.
Here is what I put in it:
– 1 pound of beef stew chunks
– About four cups of water (or 2 1/2 cups water and 1 beer)
– 1 stalk of celery cut into small chunks
– Two carrots cut into small slices
– 2 potatoes peeled and cubed
– 3 cloves of minced garlic
– 1 small red onion cut in half and sliced into thin slices
– 1/2 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/4 cup of flour
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– Seasoned salt
– Black pepper
Prepare veggies and garlic ahead of time (save preparation of the potatoes until right before water is added to stew so they don’t turn brown). Heat oil in a cast iron dutch oven on the stovetop. Add the garlic powder, seasoned salt and black pepper to the flour. Using tongs, coat the meat in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Place the meat in the hot oil and cook on one side until golden brown. Flip and brown on the other side.
Add onions and garlic to the pan and stir, scraping up the brown bits from the pan. Add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Add water and reduce heat to medium/low, place lid on top and cook for about an hour and a half, stirring periodically.
Add carrots, celery and peeled and cubed potatoes and cook for 20 minutes more. You might want to add a bit more water before continuing to cook since the potatoes will thicken the stew. Add regular salt to taste.
I usually cool the meat and cut into small pieces for the kids and serve the veggies on the side. Talk about a wholesome, one-pot meal for the whole family. And cheap too. Definitely less than $10 for the whole dinner!