Crock Pot to the Rescue!

Vegetarian “Cabbage Roll” Soup

A slow cooker is an essential money-saving tool, because it helps you avoid the “Holy crap!  What should I eat for dinner?” scenario.  Sure, you can come home at 8:30 pm, starving and exhausted, and order Chinese food, but wouldn’t you rather come home to a nice, hot pot of already-cooked soup?  It does require a teeny bit of planning ahead (prep work in the morning or on the night before), but it’s not exactly hard to chop some veggies and throw them in a pot and plug it in.

I’ve been super busy grading papers the last couple of weeks, which is why I haven’t been posting here (even though I’d rather be doing this).  For Wednesday night dinner with my BFF, I was wanting to make this recipe for cabbage rolls:

http://www.food.com/recipe/moms-vegetarian-cabbage-rolls-444678

…but I woke up on Wednesday morning and realized that I didn’t have time for all of that steaming, stuffing, and baking.  Not to worry, I realized that I could throw all of the ingredients in the Crock Pot and come home to a lovely soup after class:

I started with a beautiful Savoy cabbage from the Farmer’s Market, some old celery, carrots, and mushrooms from my fridge, an onion, a 28-oz can of chunky tomato sauce (diced or crushed tomatoes would be fine too), some fake ground beef (Smart Ground by LightLife),  and 4 cups of that lovely homemade broth from my freezer.  If you don’t have homemade broth, use veggie bouillon cubes.  I also ended up adding a couple cups of water to cover the veggies (one of those things you should eyeball).

I sauteed the onions and celery in a little bit of oil, then added the Smart Ground and let it brown a little bit, stirring occasionally:

By the way, I like to use the “Mexican Style” Smart Ground; it has a better flavor than the original. While that was cooking, I chopped my veggies.

Next, EVERYTHING IN THE CROCK POT!

Don’t forget to plug in your Crock Pot!  I only say that because it’s happened to me before, and it was SO sad!  Anyway, next I set it to cook on high.  When I came home 7 hours later, the apartment smelled wonderful.  It was another cold night, too, so this ended up being the perfect thing with a side of good, crusty bread.

I might not ever form cabbage into rolls again!

Cabbage: $1.50

Celery: about $0.25 worth

Carrots: about $0.25 worth

Mushrooms: about $0.75

Onion: $0.58

Tomato sauce: $2.99

Smart Ground: $3.99 (PS: I don’t use a whole lot of fake meat products, because they are processed and a little bit expensive, but they’re convenient sometimes and a LOT healthier than meat.  In fact, I used to eat Smart Ground sometimes before I was vegetarian because it has 0 grams of fat, only 70 calories, and 9g of protein per serving).

Grand total: $10.31

The leftovers made great lunches.  It came to about 8 servings, which means it was about:

$1.29/serving!

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