On Sunday night, the DoD announced that commissaries will reopen the following day, despite the shutdown. So on Monday morning, I did what any sane military spouse would do – I braved the commissary after dropping the little guy off at preschool. My cupboards were looking like poor Mrs. Hubbard’s and since eating tuna fish straight from the can is considered gauche around these parts, I had no choice but to put on my game face and maneuver a cart in the commissary on opening day. Thankfully, the crowds were nonexistent and the store was fairly well-stocked. I didn’t purchase any meat though – I totally gave the ‘packaged on’ dates my best side-eye.
Because we live in one of the most expensive areas in the nation and it is pretty much a given that my husband is not going to receive his mid-month paycheck on time, we figure it is best for our wallets if we avoid going out to eat until this whole mess is finally figured out. I love food. And I love to cook. But I also love to eat food cooked by other people. And since we were averaging eating out at least two meals a week, it seems like the fiscally responsible thing to do. Just because Congress can’t get their act together doesn’t mean we can’t!
So last night, we had slow-cooked taco soup with blue corn tortilla chips and fresh avocado for dinner. Because we’re classy, we ate it in front of the television at 8:00pm after putting the little ones to bed. We enjoyed the meal while watching a DVR’ed episode of Jeopardy and sipping on rum & cokes. All of the ingredients for the soup were purchased at the commissary (sans 93% lean ground beef; see side-eye reference). The blue corn tortilla chips and avocado hail from Trader Joe’s. The recipe couldn’t be more simple – just throw everything but the cilantro into your slow cooker of choice and let it do what it’s paid to do. That’s it. There are a million different taco soup recipes, this one just happens to be mine.
Slow-Cooked Taco Soup Recipe
- 1/2 pound of cooked lean ground beef or ground turkey ( shredded chicken works too)
- 1 can of steamed diced tomatoes, drained (you can also use two fresh tomatoes). When purchasing canned tomatoes, make sure that the process to remove the tomato skin utilizes steam and steam only. Some brands incorporate unnecessary chemicals. If you can use tomatoes you’ve canned yourself – even better. Right now, I can’t. Because I have a ridiculously black thumb.
- 1 can of black beans, drained.
- Corn. I used a handful of frozen corn but you can also use 1 can of corn, drained.
- 1 diced onion.
- 1 diced green pepper.
- 1 diced jalapeño.
- 2 cans of chicken broth (low-sodium).
- 3 cups of tomato/vegetable juice (I used V8 low-sodium).
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced.
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put all of the ingredients above in the slow-cooker for 5-6 hours on high or 8 -12 hours on low (to be honest, cooking longer will not do any damage to the soup).
- Top with fresh cilantro, sour cream, and cheese, if desired
- Serve with tortilla chips and fresh avocado.
We’ll see how the whole not eating out for the rest of October works for us. I have a couple of recipe experiments I’d like to try – if anything comes out super tasty, I’ll be sure to share. Those of you in the same boat, what are you doing to save money during the government shutdown?