$25 Grocery Challenge–Day 5–Nana’s Casserole



By Ed Nicholson

I’m currently in day five of the United  Way of Northwest  Arkansas/ Northwest Arkansas Food Bank $25 Grocery Challenge, in which participants are living on a food budget of $25 per person a week (what food stamp recipients receive).  

My grandmother, or as we called her, Nana (someday I’m gonna write a book called 1001 Names for Your Grandparents), raised five kids in dirt-poor northwest Arkansas back in the 30s and 40’s.  Like most other Depression and WWII-era moms, she had to make things stretch.

She had a hamburger casserole recipe (doesn’t every family have one) that ended up on our table quite often as I was growing up.  Now I know why.  It’s cheap, filling and nutritious.   With ingredients from Aldi, it’ll generate eight servings for $6.64. My wife, my daughter and I ate it for dinner last night, I ate it for lunch today, and there’s still a lot left. It re-heats in the microwave quite nicely.

Here goes:
375 degree oven.
In a buttered 12-in. casserole dish, layer:  5 small potatoes (we like red ones); 3 large  sliced carrots; 2 stalks thin-sliced celery; 1 can green peas (reserve liquid);  2 onions, thin-sliced. 1 pound browned hamburger meat;   Add liquid from peas, along with 1/2 c. water to 2 cans tomato soup and pour over the whole mess. Season to taste (garlic powder is cheap and tasty). 
Cook for 1 hr. 45 min.

I’d not eaten it in years and had forgotten how good it tastes.  Sometimes the best things in life are incredibly simple. But you gotta have a kitchen and the time, energy and ability to cook–things that might not be available to everyone on this budget.