One of the most practical tips I’ve heard for frugal cooking is “fill your oven.” If you’re setting the oven to a particular temperature to cook one thing, slide in a couple of other things that will cook at the same heat. It doesn’t require any extra fuel, so it saves some money that way; plus it might get you ahead on another meal—also potentially a money- and time-saver.
This, like many other frugal practices, requires a bit of forethought and lateral thinking. I often remember it when I’m firing up the oven to bake a cake or a loaf of bread or something else that only uses one rack. Of course, by then it’s usually too late, and I don’t have the ingredients, the time, or a good reason to cook something else.
So I was quite pleased that I managed it for once this weekend. I had been planning to try my hand at a pot roast for the first time; normally I would have done this in my slow cooker, but since I am still bereft of my beloved appliances, that option was out and a long slow cook in the oven was in. Then, with that in the back of my mind, I read something that reminded me of these slow-roasted tomatoes, so I picked up a bagful of romas along with the chuck roast. And while I was at it, I picked up some
pears to tuck in to the last available corner. About an hour’s worth of prep all together, and I had not only that night’s dinner in the oven, but the start of two more dishes, all amenable to cooking at the same low temperature. And I got to take the rest of the afternoon off. All sorts of efficient. Anjou
Slow-roasted spiced pears
I’ve been having these for breakfast, along with some blueberries and Greek yogurt, but I think they’d be equally good for dessert with some ice cream or a nice plain cake. (Or both.)
Preheat the oven to 275F/135C. Peel, core, and chop the pears, and toss with 2-3 Tbsp of the cinnamon sugar, until all the pieces are evenly coated. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until soft but still holding their shape. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
* I use this basic recipe for cinnamon sugar, and then spice it up with a mixture of what I have on hand—nutmeg, ground ginger, and cardamom are all great additions.