Friday, September 24, 2010

Grad School Casserole

The intoxicating thing about blogging about domestic issues is that one can make one's life sound as perfect as possible.  I figure this is what happened to Martha Stewart:  one day she was telling the neighbor how to repot African violets, and the next thing she knew she had a multimedia empire that required her to put little gingham hats on her Mason jars of home canning and tie them with rafia bows.

My friends, I promise you:  my Mason jars will never wear gingham hats.

Anyway, yesterday was one of those less-than-perfect days.  After a week of nearly no sleep and multiple client deadlines, I managed to get one of the worst allergy attacks ever.  I could hardly see or breathe for the majority of the day.  By the time I got home from the "second shift" job, I was pretty much ready to either call out for expensive, fatty junk or commit to making a dinner out of tortilla chips eaten over the sink.

Enter Grad School Casserole.

Developed back in the day that this was an economical meal or 5 for a graduate student, this is the go-to meal for complete melt-down days.  It is not healthy.  It is not even as cheap as lovingly sauteing veggies from the garden.  But it tastes like comfort food, is prepared from stuff you can easily keep on hand (because Heaven knows none of it will ever spoil with the preservative content), and it resembles a meal enough to keep body and soul together.

Grad School Casserole
1 Box Kraft Deluxe Mac n Cheese ($1.67)
1 Package Hot Dogs* ($3.99)
1 cup Kroger stuffing mix ($1.79 per box; 3 cups per box = 60 cents)

Prepare mac.  Cut up hot dogs.  Put in casserole dish, top with stuffing, and cover the dish.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until hot dogs are hot.

* I buy Hebrew National, a more expensive brand, because at least the kosher butchering process makes the company slow down during the meat production process, which means a cleaner overall product.  This is particularly important when you are buying what is functionally spiced leftover meat bits shoved in a tube.

Drink a lot of water, because you've just had your sodium for the week.  But, this casserole tastes like your favorite hot dogs and mac lunch from when you were a kid, and it keeps the family together long enough to live to fight another day.

The Analysis

Fast:  About 25 minutes, including prep and baking.  This is the point of this dish.

Cheap:  At $6.26, I've certainly made cheaper meals.  But it makes about five servings, and it is cheaper than the pizza I was about to order. 

Good:  Comfort food for those bad days and lunches the next.  If you want to reheat this one for lunch, you may want to add a splash of milk to keep it from drying out.
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  1. That first paragraph was hilarious. I love how you analyze the fast/cheap/good aspects at the end, staying true to your blog's purpose. I got here from The Frugal Girl and am noting your URL so I can come back and visit again.