“Eating on a budget” has a doleful sound of better days, calling up images of overcooked pasta, ill-flavored beans and mounds of dry rice.
It needs renaming. Dining Exploits, perhaps. What about: Around the World in 30 Meals. Or Eating: The Adventure.
Make your child the Indiana Jones of the dinner table. You can start with Meatless Monday, the international campaign to encourage people to give up meat at least one day a week – for health more than budgetary considerations.
Meals based around vegetables have the added benefit of being less expensive than meat or fish – and can be every bit as delicious.
Consider, for instance, a spicy lentil dal or hot potato kugel. These kinds of dishes make a nurturing, tasty meal at the end of a long day. They also offer a great accompaniment to a children’s story with Indian or Jewish themes.
One of the most time-honored ways of stretching the family dollar has been a pot of soup. Soup warms the body and comforts the mind. Studies indicate that it produces greater feelings of satiety than other types of food.
A few years ago, a friend introduced me to this West African soup, which has become a favorite in my household. Serve it with crusty bread and salad.
After eating, let the dishes sit and follow up with a reading of a West African folktale. The Fire Children by Eric Maddern (2006, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) comes to mind. You’ll have a travel adventure without leaving home.
Sara Solovitch is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.
African Peanut Soup With Sweet Potato
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 green peppers
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- 2/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
- salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Cook onions and peppers until lightly browned and tender. Add in the garlic, ginger, cumin and cinnamon, mixing to coat with oil and prevent burning.
Stir in sweet potatoes and tomatoes, and continue to cook about five minutes.
Add stock, salt and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Stir in peanut butter until well-blended. Heat thoroughly and garnish with cilantro to serve.