Back in the day before we had any kids, a dinner splurge might be a really nice piece of fish, and a nice bottle of wine to go with it. These days, a dinner splurge is homemade baked chicken nuggets. Kids, how they change you.
This dinner is a splurge for several reasons. One: we try to eat most of our meat in some kind of combination, like stir fry, or fried rice, or soup. This drastically cuts down the amount of meat we eat, which in turn cuts down our grocery bill. (Theoretically cuts down our grocery bill. I do suspect we eat more cheese because we eat less meat, and thus we end up spending nearly as much, but that’s a different story.)
And two: we try to eat less meat for health reasons. I don’t think we’ll ever be vegetarians (and, as clearly seen by our cheese consumption, never ever vegan!), but we are committed omnivores, with an emphasis on food that grows, was grown well, and was grown as locally as possible (this was easier in the Bay Area, I admit!). That means that on average 3 dinners a week are meatless, and the meals where we do have meat, meat is not the focus.
But every once in awhile, you just need a good chicken nugget. And I mean good, not mechanically separated. I’ve not really enjoyed processed chicken nuggets in years (and being gluten free means I’ve not had the opportunity to eat many, anyway), but Jamie Oliver closed that door permanently for me.
We have had at least one person in the house eating gluten free for 6 1/2 years now, but being gluten free doesn’t exempt you from bad processed food, either. There are gluten-free chicken nuggets out there for sale that also use mechanically separated chicken. Years ago, though, I was just poor, so I learned how to make my own.
And that is the longest intro to the point of this post: we had chicken nuggets for dinner tonight. Or, more specifically, Baked Chicken Party Bites, a recipe I created for Kids With Food Allergies when Perpetual Motion Boy was little and living with multiple food allergies, all of which he outgrew. It’s a little bit processed, as I use Rice Chex for the breading. But Rice Chex are not too bad (and gluten free!), and make a nice crumb for the nuggets.
I cut the children off after 10 nuggets, and then hid in the kitchen to sneak a few more myself. My favorite way to eat them is with honey. Creative Thinker likes ketchup. PMB likes honey. I think Miss Imagination ate a few with honey, but ate most plain, and Carl had 7 different sauce choices going on tonight. I also made some quick mashed potatoes (they actually were local potatoes, from BackYard Produce through Purple-Porch Co-Op ), and some perfectly steamed broccoli (from Martin’s, not at all local at this time of year). Oh, and the chicken was from Miller Amish Country Poultry. There would be a picture of this tasty meal, but I ate them too quickly for that.
I don’t keep track of individual meal prices, but just for kicks, this meal for our family of five cost less than $14, with enough leftover chicken to feed the kids another meal (or to make several lunches). And I feel good about feeding it to my kids.
May it be noted that for all of my foodie idealism, so far I still let Perpetual Motion Boy eat processed chicken meals for lunch at school. Lunch is free, and it’s convenient to not pack every once in awhile. I’ve not shown him that video, quite yet. Maybe soon. Or maybe I’ll just keep him full of healthy good food for all of the other meals, so 3 meals a week of processed food isn’t going to ruin him completely.