Before the Buteau budget cuts, takeout meals were a staple in our household. Partly because we could afford it and primarily because we were way too busy busting our behinds in order to be able to afford it. We’ve cut the takeout down to about once a week. Believe me, that’s a huge accomplishment. And, I’m thankful that I now have the time to cook again. Because, I love cooking! Anything from fancy gourmet meals to quick and easy (and budget friendly) dinners so I know what exactly my family is eating and I get to have a little fun in the kitchen. Tonight I made an old standby, throw together meal that skips a lot of homemade steps but has a homemade taste (except the chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting…that was from scratch!). Looking for a fast fix? Try this…

1.75-2lbs ground beef (or turkey for an extra lean meal)
1 box Macaroni (whole wheat if you like)
2 cans of “cheap spaghetti sauce” (I always have these on hand and doctor them up depending on time. Tonight I used Hunts Four Cheese)
Half a bag of Pepper Stir Fry (my ABSOLUTE favorite time-saving staple)
8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
Assorted herbs and spices too taste (Italian seasoning, I cheated and used garlic powder to make this quick)

Boil macaroni according to package directions minus a minute or two so its not mushy. At the same time, brown hamburg and add pepper mix. Cook thoroughly. Add seasonings, heat through. Drain macaroni an meat mixture, put back into Dutch oven, stir in sauce. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350• until bubbly and cheese is melted.

I threw a loaf of French bread in with it and then took it out and sliced it in half the long way. I mixed about 3 TBS butter, 1tsp garlic powder, 1tsp parsley in a small dish and warmed for 20 seconds then spread on the cut sides of the French Bread.

Add a tossed salad. Eat and enjoy!

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