In the last few months since we’ve embarked on the task of seriously slashing our grocery budget, we’ve eaten a lot of tacos.
Not only are they quick and easy to make, but we all love them and don’t mind eating them weekly, so they end up on the menu again and again. There are so many different combinations of fillings that are delicious (ground beef, potatoes, beans, pork, chicken, grilled vegetables, shrimp…) and almost any random leftover ingredients can be used in some form, which also really helps us to reduce our food waste. We’ve now run out of the ground beef in our freezer, but a large part of the quarter cow we purchased back in July ended up in some form of tacos or chili.
When we get busy during the week, we don’t want to have to spend a lot of time cooking a meal, so tacos are perfect for those nights. Many times we’ve been saved from returning to our old standby of going out to eat or ordering take out by having a simple dinner of street tacos. The pork (or ground beef) freezes well once it’s been cooked up and seasoned, so I’ve started to make additional portions at one time and sticking the leftovers in the freezer. That way, on nights we really don’t want to cook, we can pull the pre cooked taco meet out and be ready for dinner in less time than it would take to decide on and order dinner.
We also grew green onions in large pots for the first time this year, so all summer and fall we were able to cut fresh ones from the front yard to put in our various different tacos. This coming spring, I plan to double or triple the amount I plant because they also go in our other favorite go to dinner. There is little I enjoy more than “grocery shopping” in our garden, both for the satisfaction of growing our own food but also for the realization of the cost/environmental impact we are able to avoid by doing so.
If you don’t think you have a “green thumb,” know that I didn’t either. My initial gardening experiments went horribly wrong, but it has gotten much easier over the years, and green onions are a very simple plant to grow (and they need very little soil, so you can grow them in a small pot in your house if you don’t have a yard to garden).
Homemade Pork Street Tacos
(Serves 4 at 74¢/serving*)
- 1LB boneless pork loin, diced 99¢
- 1TBSP olive oil 5¢ (buy in bulk)
- 2TBSP homemade taco seasoning 10¢
- 16 corn tortillas 96¢
- 1 lime, cut into quarters 49¢
- Bunch of green onions, finely diced $1.29 (or free from the garden)
- One onion, diced 50¢ (or free from the garden)
- Sour cream, as desired 35¢
- Hot sauce, as desired 25¢
*This works out to $1.25/serving if you are paying for all ingredients on this list. Conversely, if you make your own tortillas, this can be cut down to 66¢/serving.
- Heat olive oil in pan at medium-high heat. Add diced pork loin and brown on all sides. Think crispy on the outside.
- Turn down to medium heat and add onion. Cook until the onions are slightly browned as well.
- Turn heat down to low and mix in taco seasoning. Let flavors combine for 10 minutes.
- Turn oven to 250 degrees to warm tortillas.
- Top tortillas with pork, green onion, sour cream, lime juice, and hot sauce. Serve.
Other options for toppings include tomatoes, cheese, salsa, rice, lettuce, guacamole or anything else that sounds good to you. Again, the beauty of street tacos is that they can contain any number of different ingredients and still taste delicious. I recently used up some leftover red potatoes mixed in with some ground beef and cheese and they made fantastic taco – and it meant I could stretch a small amount of meat into another full meal for the four of us.
Since our roommate switched back to day shift a number of months ago, we all end up eating together at least a few nights a week. It cuts down on the days we each need to cook, and it is cheaper for all of us as it saves money to cook in larger quantities.
Growing up, my parents cooked us a lot of tacos for dinner, but the more standard American ground beef / flour tortillas / cheese / salsa variety. I recently cooked this pork version for them and they have fallen in love with tacos all over again. They have since made this meal a couple times a month, including when they have friends over for dinner. It’s a very simple meal, but very satisfying, and easy to scale up for a crowd without having to worry about breaking your budget.
What is your favorite way to eat tacos? Any other combinations I missed that are particularly tasty?