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Friday, July 3, 2009

Frugal Family Fun Fajitas

While cooking at home is frugal in general, Mexican cuisine lends itself particularly well to those who are looking to eat exciting food on a budget. One of the great things about Mexican food, aside from its thrift, is its versatility; once you have the basic framework of a meal you can supplement it with almost anything you have leftover in the fridge. Even better, if times are lean, it won’t be terribly compromised if you leave the extras out. I think that the key to imparting a “fajita flavor” is squeezing the lime over the chicken. Something about the saltiness and tang of a lime really brightens up the fajita flavor. Another way to easily improve your fajitas is to use a lot of onions. The caramelized onions might just be my favorite part of fajitas and I’ll snack on any extras I have left over at the end of the night. Fajitas can be the centerpiece of your meal but don’t forget the all-important side dishes. Once you’ve added beans, rice, and perhaps chips and salsa you’ve got a restaurant worthy Mexican meal for well under four bucks per person. So, frugal readers, tell me about your forays into the land of frugal fajitas (or any other frugal food for that matter)!

Making Fajitas: The Frugal Scholar Blog from SLF on Vimeo.


Suzy said...

Hey that was neat! What were those precooked veggies cooked in? Looked like a brown sauce in there with them...and boy I was cringing with those dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce! That girl's tough LOL!

Would you ask him to do a video for gumbo next?! :-) oh, and a stir-fry..I can't seem to get my act together with stir-fry and it's either too soggy or burned..

Duchesse said...

Fajitas are one of our favourite family meals. They do mean a lot of prep work for the cook: guacamole, pico de gallo, grilled peppers and onion, and the chicken- as well as getting out the cheese, limes, etc. But the build your is fun!

Stir fries are a matter of timing, knowing what takes various times to cook, using higher heat than you might be used to.

Suzy said...

yep my timing is all wrong on stir-fries! heck these fajitas almost got away from me today LOL! Just finished eating 'em and they were GOOD! that lime did the trick! :-) I've never added fact I'd pretty much given up on fixing fajitas from raw chicken breasts and had started buying the precooked stuff! Now I think I'll spend either today or tomorrow(I'm off work til Monday) cooking up the remainder of this big package of boneless skinless chicken breasts then freeze in baggies to heat up when I'm in a hurry. The prepping did take a while with the onion but boy they were close to being the best part - I love cooked onion with it turns kinda brown and tastes SO good! I was in a hurry since I didn't plan ahead and was starving(!) and Randall's is kinda pricey and no way I was paying 2 bucks for an avocado when the dancing iguana brand already smooshed was buy 1 get 1 free. I took that, some cilantro(had to buy this since the herb I was growing didn't survive..sigh), a jalapeno that survived my container gardening efforts and a yellow bell pepper that almost didn't survive..oh and a couple dollops of fat free sour cream and grape tomatoes from my 'garden' that survived and mixed that up together. I also found some no salt tony what's-his-name cajun seasoning(good thing I need low sodium 'cause they were out of the regular stuff or had it hidden somewhere else!) went together pretty fast overall I think and they were fun to make! And even more gratifying is they were actually good taste-wise!

One woman I used to live near would make a paste for her fajitas and just about anything using a tortilla - she'd peel avocado, dice jalapeno and add cilantro and whirl in a blender(I hate cleaning the blender so no-go for me!) but it tasted really nice and if I were making for a crowd I'd consider doing that(not likely to happen though!)

I also remember a coworker back when I first started working talking about how 'frugal' fajitas were. He worked for a guy in college who had a bar that did fajitas and he said one person ordering iced tea would practically pay for the entire container and he'd buy the toughest cuts of beef and slice diagonally and marinate and make beef fajitas. He said business was booming and he made a huge profit from fajitas and tea.

might have to go buy some more limes to do the rest of this package...

Frugal Scholar said...

@Suzy--The precooked peppers had been frozen for a while, so what looked like sauce, was just red and green pepper juice. I guess red and green make brown, as I discovered in school. the hot sauce is NOT tabasco, so it's not SUPER hot. Gumbo will be in the works!

@Duchesse--Ours were kind of slacker fajitas. We did not have avocadoes, for instance. And we used some stuff we had already cooked and frozen. Sadly, our cilantro goes to seed as soon as it appears. We forgot to pick and freeze.

@Suzy encore--Yes, it is a great time-saver to make extra and freeze. We do it all the time. Then, when our children come home, we beg them to eat the stuff in the freezer!

SLF said...

@all: Thanks for the kind words!

@ Duchesse: I agree with you wholeheartedly; the key to stir-fry is in high heat. The nice thing about fajitas is that they're good dressed up (as in your case) or dressed down (as in my case). Yours sure do sound good though and I LOVE fresh guacamole.

@Suzy: As Frugal Scholar pointed out, we used Louisiana Hot Sauce which has a lot more flavor but less heat than Tabasco. Tabasco is actually one of my LEAST favorite brands of hot sauce in spite of it's national recognition. I'm glad to hear that your foray into fajita land went well! The onions are by far my favorite part. I hadn't thought of pre-cooking a bunch of fajita seasoned chicken and then freezing it but that's a good idea! It means you only have to prep once and then, if in a hurry, just reheat and serve.

Once again, thanks to everyone for the comments.

--Frugal Son