Mennonite Seven Layer Dinner: #90 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

I learned to make this after enjoying it at my husband’s grandmother’s house. The seven layers are potatoes, onions, carrots, rice, peas, sausages, and tomato soup, with some salt and pepper for seasoning. It smells amazing in the oven and is a very comforting winter casserole for all ages.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($10 total for 10 servings)

3-5 medium potatoes, thinly sliced – $0.90
1 onion, thinly sliced – $0.50
2-3 carrots, thinly sliced – $0.46
1/2 cup uncooked white rice – $0.18
2 cups peas, frozen – $1.00
1 pound chicken breakfast sausage – $3.99
1 32 oz. carton creamy tomato soup – $2.69
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Rub some olive oil around a deep casserole dish. Layer the potatoes, onions and carrots in the dish with a bit of salt and pepper. Add a layer of rice and then peas, then a bit more salt and pepper.

2. Arrange the sausages over top. Pour the tomato soup evenly over the casserole.

3. Cover and bake at 350°F for 1 hour, then turn the sausages over and bake for 1 more hour, until vegetables are tender and rice is cooked. Scoop all the way down to grab all the layers when serving!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Monday Pie: #75 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Monday pie is a simple British weeknight dinner to throw together, and this casserole lasted us for three dinners. You could also freeze leftovers for weekday lunches – we always have extra thermoses handy in case everyone wants to take hot lunch to school. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($11 total for a full 9×13″ casserole)

1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 lb ground beef – $5.99
2 tbsp flour – $0.02
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.20
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce – $0.67
1 (15 oz) can baked beans – $1.49
1 1/2 cups frozen peas – $0.75
2 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced – $0.36
1/2 cup grated gouda or cheddar cheese – $0.97
1 cup water – free
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the onion for about 8 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the ground beef and Worcestershire sauce, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink. Mix in the flour, tomato sauce, and baked beans, then simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

2. Stir in the frozen peas and pour into a 9×13″ casserole pan that’s been rubbed all over with a bit of olive oil. Cover with the thinly sliced potatoes, followed by the grated cheese. We have some non-cheese people in our family so we left part of the potatoes cheese-less.

3. Cover with foil and bake at 375F for 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese. Cool for a few minutes, then scoop out portions onto plates and enjoy!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 1 = wowzers (beef)
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Cheesy Cauliflower: #71 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

In Britain this dish is called “cauliflower cheese”, and wherever you are it’s a tasty way to get your veggies. I also like cauliflower steamed with lemon. But even the kids at our table who aren’t super keen on dairy or cauliflower will gobble this down. It’s a nice side dish for whatever else you’re having for dinner, or you can just have it on its own too.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($6 total)

1 head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces – $2.49
2 cups milk – $0.75
4 tbsp flour – $0.04
4 tbsp butter – $0.62
1 cup grated gouda or cheddar cheese – $1.95

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the cauliflower pieces in and cook for 5 minutes, then drain. Rub some oil or butter around a glass casserole dish and put the cauliflower in it.

2. In a medium pot over medium heat, mix the milk, flour, and butter. Whisk constantly and quickly while the sauce comes to a boil. Keep whisking for 2 more minutes until it gets thick, being sure not to burn the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in most of the grated cheese, then pour the sauce over the cauliflower in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Optionally, add breadcrumbs here too for a crispy topping.

3. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes until it’s bubbly and browned on top. Cool for 5 minutes, then scoop and serve hot.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

British Shepherd’s Pie: #42 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

I had nannies from England when I was little, and some of the things they taught us were traditional British recipes. Shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak, bangers and mash, Yorkshire pudding – all the classics. We all love a good shepherd’s pie here. I cook up a big casserole every few weeks and it lasts for 2-3 dinners.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($10.50 total)

6 large potatoes – $1.08
¼ cup milk – $0.09
3 tbsp butter – $0.47
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1/2 chopped onion – $0.25
10 diced baby carrots – $0.46
4 cloves minced garlic – $0.15
1 lb ground lamb/beef/pork – $4.99
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour – $0.02
1 cup chicken broth – $0.50
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.10
1 tsp oregano – $0.28
1-2 cups frozen corn – $0.50-$1.00
1-2 cups frozen peas – $0.50-$1.00

Directions

1. Prepare the potatoes: Peel and chop the potatoes into small pieces. Cover with water in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until you can stick a fork easily through the potatoes. Drain the potatoes, then mash them straight in the pot, adding the milk, butter, salt and pepper. Keep mashing until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare the meat filling: Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until they begin to brown a bit, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, then the meat, salt and pepper and stir until browned and cooked through, about. 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour in and stir to coat, then cook for another minute. Add the chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and oregano, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit.

3. Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture, then spread evenly into an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with a smooth layer of mashed potatoes, creating a seal around the edges to prevent the mixture from bubbling up. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 1 = wowzers (beef)
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Stuffed Peppers: #30 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

This is a fun, complete meal where you get to eat the container too. The comforting, savory meat and rice filling blends nicely with the soft, roasted pepper. Our kids prefer the sweetness of yellow, orange, or red peppers over green ones. Easy to whip up in under an hour.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($17.50 total)

2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tsp chili powder – $0.56
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.10
1 lb ground beef, pork, or chicken – $3.99
4 tomatoes, blended – $1.75
1 cup kale or spinach – $0.50
1 cup cooked rice – $0.12
6 bell peppers, tops cut off, seeds removed – $9.98
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add in the chili powder and Worcestershire sauce and stir until combined.

Add in the ground meat (chicken in this case) and salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until meat is cooked through. Add kale/spinach here too.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Stir in the blended tomatoes, and taste for seasonings, then spoon the mixture into the peppers until it is all packed in. Stand them upright in a glass baking dish that has been coated with some olive oil.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes. Cover with foil if starting to get too brown on top. Optional: top with grated mozzarella while they’re still hot from the oven for a melted cheese topping.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

German Cabbage Rolls: #26 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

If you’re looking for comfort food in Germany or Russia, you might come across this dish of cabbage, beef, rice, onions, and tomato. I know it from the Mennonite tradition in Canada, as the first dish Tim’s grandmother made for me. It is also fantastic as leftovers, so I make a big tray and it lasts for at least 3 dinners.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($15 total)

1 large savoy cabbage – $3.69
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 cup rice – $0.50
2 cups water – free
1 lb organic ground beef or chicken – $5.99
3 eggs – $0.87
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.20
2 tsp salt – $0.10
Pepper to taste
1 carton creamy tomato soup (946 mL) – $2.69

Directions

1. Dig out the core of the savoy cabbage carefully with a sharp knife, then pull off the leaves. Bring a large pot of water with some salt to a boil and boil the cabbage leaves for 5 minutes to soften, then cool off in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. 

In a pan, cook the chopped onion in the olive oil for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. In a separate pot, cook the rice with the water by bringing it to a boil and then turning off the heat to let it sit and soak up the water.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, onions, and rice until well combined.

Take a leaf of softened cabbage and put a scoop (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on the size of the cabbage leaf) of meat filling at the base of the leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll it up and away from you to form a neat little bundle.

3. Repeat until you run out of meat filling, arrange the cabbage rolls tightly in a casserole dish, then pour the tomato soup over the whole thing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325F for 2 hours. Serve warm or freeze for future enjoyment!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Sesame Chicken with Soba Noodles: #24 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

“Chicken and sobas, please!” is the frequent answer to “What do you guys want for dinner?” at our house. It’s a spin on a baked chicken dish I had at a retreat once, mixed with a yummy warm soba noodle salad and a side of veggies. Today’s veggies are the British treat of cauliflower cheese.  

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($16 total)

2 lb chicken breast – $6.54
1/4 cup canola oil – $0.37
1/4 cup soy sauce – $0.40
1 tbsp bourbon – $0.30
2 tbsp honey – $0.28
2 tsp garlic powder – $0.56
2 tsp ginger – $0.56
2 tbsp sesame seeds – $0.16
1 8 oz package soba noodles – $2.99
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil – $1.60
6 tbsp soy sauce – $0.60
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar – $0.81
2 tbsp maple syrup – $0.48

Directions

1. Marinate the chicken in the mix of canola oil, soy sauce, bourbon, honey, garlic powder, ginger, and sesame seeds, cover in foil, and let sit for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Leave foil on chicken and bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the chicken breasts over with a fork, and bake for another 20 minutes without foil. Then turn the chicken breasts over one more time and bake for a final 20 minutes. They should be fully cooked at this point and nicely soaked in juices. Feel free to cut into one if you want to make sure there’s no raw pink inside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water if desired, and add the soba noodles. Cook according to package directions (usually about 4 minutes). While it’s cooking, combine the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup in a small bowl.

3. Drain the noodles and mix in the sauce, then put everything on the table and dig in!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!