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Faithful readers will recall that my husband and I tested and now continue to enjoy the most popular meal kit delivery service.

 

 

Since first writing about that (Dinner-in-a-Box is Not at All What I Thought) I’ve gotten the most interesting feedback. But first, a quick review:

From the meal kit delivery services available at that time, I selected Home Chef because 1) our zip code is in its delivery area—nearly 98% of the country is, 2) it is the cheapest and 3) I predicted it would be the most family-friendly. Turns out I nailed it.

Home Chef meals are absolutely delicious and use normal, fresh food—not exotic fare or ingredients we’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

A Home Chef meal kit includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant-quality meals for 2, 4 or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen, eliminating recipe searches and food shopping by sending everything required for that meal—perfectly portioned and ready to go.

Seriously, Home Chef is like having your own personal shopper and sous chef. Read more

Her letter was long. Page after page she went on about every aspect of her miserable life.

In between the accounts of her husband’s unemployment and her high blood pressure, this woman managed to weave each and every detail of their broken down cars, leaking roof, busted faucets, ungrateful children, delinquent taxes, nosy neighbors, empty retirement account and unpaid bills.

I’m telling you, by the time I reached the word that for me spelled relief (Sincerely), I was nearly worn out.

Couple-Jumping with Joy above their circumstances

My immediate reaction was a sympathetic, “Oh, you poor thing!” I mean really, the way she carried on I was nearly convinced she was enduring troubles and pressures way beyond the legal limit. Her situation as she described it did appear to be without solution.

Read more

A popular restaurant  Hugo’s, in West Hollywood, Calif., has been critically acclaimed for one of its menu items, Pasta Mama.

The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a bit odd. Pasta with eggs? I couldn’t imagine what would prompt people to drive many miles to get Pasta Mama. But they do, insisting, it’s the best pasta they’ve ever eaten.

A plate of gourmet pasta from Hugo's Restaurant, West Hollywood, Calif.

 

I had to try it, and as you might imagine, I love it. I would describe it to you here, but it’s indescribable—indescribably delicious, that is.

But I don’t drive to Hugo’s to pay $14 (plus tax and tip) for this dish. Instead, I make it myself, from scratch, following my copycat recipe. What a wonderful, simply satisfying dinner—or breakfast—entree.

Pasta Mama takes all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and feeds two for a total cost of about $1.50.


RELATED: Simple Tips to Stretch the Food Budget 


At that price, you have little to lose if you try it and don’t like it, and chances are really good that you’ll love it.

In fact, I won’t be surprised to hear that you’ve added Pasta Mama to your family’s list of favorite meals. Serve it once a week and your grocery budget will love you.

 

A plate of gourmet-quality Pasta Mama from Hugo's Restaurant, West Hollywood, Calif.
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Pasta Mama

People drive for many miles to enjoy Pasta Mama at Hugo's, the famed restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif. Here is a quick, easy and super cheap way you can save the trip and make it yourself in under 20 minutes.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 5 oz pasta dry or fresh, like fettuccini or spaghetti
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 tbsp hot water or pasta water
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions (or use any kind of leftover pasta).
  • While pasta is cooking, mix seasonings together in a small bowl and beat the eggs in another bowl. Set both aside.
  • Pour oil (or melt butter) in a 10-inch saute pan. Add minced garlic and the entire amount of seasoning mix (should be 1 teaspoon total).
  • Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add parsley; add hot pasta right out of the cooking water along with one tablespoon of hot water. (If you are using leftover pasta, make sure it is hot!)
  • Add the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly, tossing it in the pan using tongs.
  • Add Parmesan. Toss and allow to cook for an additional 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Notes

Pasta Mama has as many variations as you can imagine. To make it Pasta Papa, add any vegetables you would put in an omelet—other cheeses, sausage, bacon, chicken; adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!

 

MORE: Soups to Soothe the Soul and The Budget


Question: Is there a dish you make at home that’s a dead ringer for a popular, pricey restaurant dish? Oh, please share!

PREVIOUSLY: This is the Best Car Trash Can Ever


Original 2-13-2015; Updated 3-29-2019

For months, I’d been hearing a lot about a new way to get dinner on the table. Every few weeks, another one of these meal kit delivery services would contact me with an offer to give it a try.

Seriously? Who in their right mind would trust seafood, meat, and produce from some unknown assembly plant, piled onto a loading dock then moved into the back of an unrefrigerated FedEx truck for who knows how long and until some delivery guy drops it on the porch?

The whole idea sounded ridiculously expensive, if not just plain gross. I didn’t need to test the obvious so I did what comes all too naturally for me: I jumped to conclusions. Turns out I was way off base and so wrong. Today I’m here to come clean and set the record straight.

Read more

Ever wonder why you never have enough money to save? I’m talking about consistent, regular deposits out of every paycheck that go straight into a savings account. Maybe it’s time to consider that you’re handing over your savings to local restaurants, drive-thrus, diners and coffee shops. Think about it.

What if you didn’t eat out so often? What if you were strategic in buying basic ingredients and then cooking great meals at home? What if you had all of that money tucked away in a savings account rather than the coffers of local eating joints?

No matter your lifestyle, I am confident that with the right strategies, you really can reduce the amount of money you’re spending on food.

More time than money

If yours is a single-income household struggling to survive in a two-income world, keeping food on the table and the bills paid can be quite a challenge. The good news is that time is on your side. The one not working outside the home has the time—it takes time to carry out the best strategies—to keep the cost at rock bottom without sacrificing quality. Read more