Eat on 30 Project – Day 5 {Polenta ai Funghi}

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Today was Day 5 of the Eat on 30 Project. We’re nearing the end of our challenge & that’s caused me to be a little pensive on the who, what & why of this challenge (if you need catching up click HERE plus it has the list of all of the other participants & you should see what they’re cooking up).

This week has made me think of food in a different way. In my normal life, I go shopping I find ingredients that strike my fancy & I buy them (granted I’m still looking for the best price possible, but I buy them). During this week I haven’t been able to do that. I’ve had cravings for certain foods, knowing I can’t buy them. I was in Tar-jay today to pick up a few items & I needed some more milk. I dreaded crossing over to the GROCERY section. It was AWFUL having to walk over there seeing all the food items that I couldn’t afford. I found myself walking quickly (& I walk fast to begin with). Looking at my phone doing everything to distract myself. CRAZY & then in the checkout line there was COCA COLA, oh how I miss you. It seems like such a little thing but at roughly $1.50 it’s just a luxury I can’t afford this week. Hard to believe that such a little thing could be a luxury, but indeed it is. Luxury has a whole new meaning to me.

Hopefully I’ve offered up some budget meal solutions during this week that people will try instead of opting for that over-processed food. Tonight’s dinner is a perfect example. It’s filling, hearty & inexpensive. POLENTA! I love it. It’s inexpensive & oh so versatile. You can serve it creamy, or thick or it can even be grilled. You can infuse it with flavors or serve it with sauces. Making it a perfect budget friendly option.

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Here’s today’s breakdown:
B’fast: Coffee, Pancakes, Chocolate Milk, Apple Juice
Breakfast Total: $1.25

Lunch: 2 school lunches, & leftovers for the big un’s FREE (Another observation: Leftovers are your friend)
Lunch Total: $3.85

Snacks: Apples, 1/2 can Pringles, Bananas, Dried Apricots
Snack Total: $2.50

Dinner: Polenta Ai Funghi {Polenta w/Mushrooms}
Polenta, Mushrooms (rest of carton), Onion, Oil/Butter/Salt/Pepper FREE, Wine FREE (was lucky enough to receive a sample), Red Pepper Flakes, Sweet Tea, Cornstarch
Dinner Total: $3.50

GRAND TOTAL $11.10

Do you have any snack solution tips (I know I could use some with my 3 little right after they finish something to eat utter, I’m HUNGRY ones?

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What you’ll need:
Polenta: 2 cups of cornmeal flour
2 tsp of kosher salt
Sauce: 1 onion – chopped
1 lb fresh mushrooms – sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
s/p
Cornstarch for thickening

What to do:
In a saucepan bring about a quart (4cups) of water to a rolling boil. Season with your salt. Using a whisk, slowly add in 2 cups of cornmeal flour. Whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low & simmer slowly for 50-60 minutes or until the Polenta reaches your desired consistency. Stir often using a wooden spoon. To make sauce: In a saute pan, add your oil & butter & heat over medium-high heat. Add your onions & sautee until they are nearing golden. Add your mushrooms. Season with salt/pepper & add red pepper flakes. Stir & cook until mushrooms have cooked out their liquid. When mushrooms are ready, add the wine and cook until it reduces. If your sauce is not thickening add a smidge of cornstarch & whisk in. Take off of heat and serve over Polenta. You can garnish with fresh herbs.

Buon Appetito!

19 Comments

  1. 1

    This looks AMAZING! Some friends are bringing back mushrooms straight from the farm in TN – about 3 pounds of them. I’m cooking with some of them for the soiree on Sunday but this would be a great easy (and inexpensive!) meal to continue the budget eating trend, which we plan on doing to a degree.

    xoxo

    - t*

  2. 2

    i love this dish,i eat it often in my childhood,it’s a tratitional in my region,to serve with garlic sauce…or funghi with cream and polenta…the best!thank you for remind me!

    • 2.1

      Grazie mille Alison! Oooh you’re right a garlic sauce would be dee-lish! So many was to enjoy Polenta. What region are you from? Io quando ero piu’ giovane abitavo in Friuli…A presto

  3. 3

    your dish looks great! snack idea? quesadilla’s are always filling and I saw the other day where someone had made a fruit one…sounded good.

  4. 4

    Now this is a luxury food. No complaints from the peanut gallery here – I could eat polenta dishes like this all the time. Cola? You can keep it.

    • 4.1

      Thanks so much Linda! It’s so good, no? I know, Coke isnt the best thing in the world for me. BUT I have to admit I do crave it every now & again!

  5. 5

    I love comfort food like this polenta dish.

    As for easy, inexpensive snack ideas for the hungry kids, I would suggest popcorn. It’s filling and quite inexpensive if you pop it the traditional way over the stove as opposed to the microwave kind which can be costly.

    Danielle’s suggestion of quesadillas is a popular one at my house, too. My girls also love whole grain crackers and cheese served with sliced apples, pears or even melon… which isn’t necessarily inexpensive, but definitely healthful.

    • 5.1

      Ciao Christine! Yes, we’ve been enjoying popcorn this week. My kids love it. I buy the biggest box I can find. Thanks for the suggestions : )

  6. 6

    It is sad you can’t buy your favorite expensive ingredients, but you’re saving so much money during this challenge that you can splurge when it’s over! I’ve been waiting for a polenta recipe from you. I’m curious what you think of authentic polenta– is made with just water or with creamy milk and cheese? Or both? Does it depend on the sauce or topping it’s paired with?

    • 6.1

      Ciao Tina! So glad you like Polenta as well. As with every Italian recipe it’s definitely going to depend on the region (& even the family) & def yes what you’re topping it with would be a consideration. I have made Polenta both ways. During this challenge I went with the water method to save money but I also love the other versions as well. : )

  7. 7

    I love polenta. I always make extra, pour it on a plate and allow it to stiffen before serving it. It stores well in the fridge for a few days (if well sealed), and is a great lunch-box stuffer to serve any leftover sauce (the spicier the better).

    Cheap snacks:
    Recook the polenta so that it becomes crisp. Use it like toast and add whatever spread, sauce or condiment you’ve got. If you slice it thin you can make polenta crackers (dry them out in the oven). They’re not as crunchy as crackers, but they work with almost any sauce/condiment and they’ll stretch out your polenta nicely.

    If you make tacos or fajitas, try making your own corn tortillas. They can be pan-fried into crisp chips, then cut into strips (or triangles). Spice them as they cook and you don’t really need to have salsa to go with them. They also taste great when used as a salad topper.

    Seasonal fruit is great. Apples are cheap here right now. When we grow tired of eating them plain, I core them and stuff them with cinnamon, butter, oatmeal and a bit of water. Bake until smooshy.

    Homemade baked apple oatmeal is another great treat.

    Good luck with the challenge!

    • 7.1

      Thanks for all those suggestions Ketherian! I LOVE Polenta too! Grilled is one of my favorite was to eat it (not that I turn down any other versions LOL)

  8. 8

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

    • 8.1

      Thanks for asking Polprav! Yes, you can post with credit & a link back! Thanks a bunch!

  9. 9

    I love polenta!I often make a big batch & eat on that for several days. I really like it leftover, sliced & fried & served w/ sausages & tomatoes. I have got to try a sauce of sauteed mushrooms now. Thanks

    • 9.1

      Thanks Boot! I love it too! So tasty & oh so many ways to enjoy it! Let me know how you like it with the sauce!

  10. 10
    anonymousinindy /

    reading about how you wanted to buy a $1.50 coke and couldn’t because of the price reminds me of when i lived stealing groceries on the street to survive.

    i think all people should be forced to live in abject poverty for a period of time to appreciate what they have.

    think paris hilton without an early release.

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