Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cheap, Easy Taco Recipe

UPDATE: Click on photos to see them in color.

Every Saturday night is Mexican night. We generally alternate between tacos and quesadillas. Occasionally, we switch tacos to nachos, since I make them essentially the same way.
First, the soft taco shells.
2 cups whole white wheat flour ($0.32)
3/4 teaspoons salt ($0.03, if that)
1/4 cup shortening ($0.25, softened butter, but you can use whatever)
1/2 cups water ($0)
Now, I use whole white wheat because my husband and I are more accustomed to white flour tacos than whole red wheat flour, and this gives less of a wheaty flavor. I use King Arthur brand flour because they have pledged not to use genetically modified wheat. It's also the cheapest whole wheat at $3.16 for 5 lbs.

Mix all ingredients together. Next, how many tacos do you want? We use 10, which is enough for my husband to take leftovers for lunch at work. So I make 10 balls out of the dough. I use my kitchen scale, because I'm anally retentive, but it is not necessary. The dough comes to about 16 oz, so my scale reads close to two oz. each.

Next, roll the dough. If it doesn't roll easily, add a little more water to the mix until it does roll easily. It doesn't need to be a perfect circle, just symmetrical. The circle will come with time.
Then the frying. I don't use fat on the pan because it makes the taco shell crisp, almost like a chip, and it is less flexible and may crack when you fold it. I cook over a medium high heat, maybe 30 seconds on each side. Bubbles will appear when it is time to flip. You don't want to leave it too long, or it will crisp up, which is how I make nachos.

Once you've got your stack of tacos, you can start frying the meat. I'm using my Walmart ground beef from a sale a few weeks back, $1.30 per pound. I wish I knew that sale was coming because my freezer was pretty full of my previous "deal" of $1.38 per pound beef, but I made room for more.

I bought bulk taco seasoning long ago. I compared it to the taco bell packets, which were $0.50 at the time, so that's what I will price mine at. I'm looking for a good homemade taco seasoning replacement, but have yet to find one to my liking. My husband liked the last one, so I'm using it in his snack burritos, but I'm still using the bulk seasoning.

I also add peppers and onions. I get frozen chopped rainbow peppers and onions from the Dollar Tree for $1.00 per pound. I thought it would be all onion, but I gave it a try anyway. It's about half and half, so I keep it on hand. I'm using 2 oz, for $0.13.

I fry all of this together and divide it into the tacos.

I add a half slice of cheese to each taco, before I put the meat on so it melts, which is $0.42. After the meat, I add a spoon full of GV hot salsa, for maybe another $0.40.

If you have fresh tomatoes or lettuce from your garden, that makes a great addition as well.

There are a lot of things you can add to tacos to make them more expensive: sour cream, store bought fresh lettuce and tomatoes, even peppers, guacamole, olives, and assorted cheeses. These will not increase the taste of the food in proportion to how they increase cost.


Terri said...

I've been making virtually the same meal most of the summer! The only main difference is that I use shredded cheddar cheese which has been on sale buy one, get one free most of the summer at my local grocery store. Sometimes, I make chicken tacos using the meat I've removed from chicken leg quarters. I get the leg quarters when they're on sale for about $0.90 a pound. When I do that, I use the bones to make chicken stock, which gets turned into black bean soup.

Crystal Tillman said...

I made the taco shells, with red wheat, last night,and they're delicious! They taste a lot better than any of the store bought one's I've tried.

Thanks for the recipe! :)

LivingSoAbundantly said...

I'm all about using what you have, and that is an awesome way to make a fun dinner for a great price! Thanks for sharing!!!

I also wanted to say that I've used your milkshake recipe, and that was really good. I never even thought you could make a milkshake without ice you opened my eyes to a whole new world! Much thanks! =)

Polka Dot Mommy said...

I just add salsa to the meat as its frying in place of taco seasonings... I do this because many packet seasonings have gluten in them, which we have to avoid for part of our family. You make homemade salsa, so it seems this might be a cost effective option. We also like to steam some rice and add it in with the salsa and meat... more bulk, more fiber, very little cost!

Mandy said...

I love your tortilla recipe. I have used it at least 4 times now. They always come out so good! I will never buy packaged again

Jenny said...

I just found your blog via Frugal Hacks. Great recipe for tortillas! :-) I also wanted to mention that I use paprika, cumin & Lawry's seasoned salt to season my taco meat and we like it better than any store bought mix. But I'm a "that looks about right" kind of cook, so no recipe. :-) I do buy the cumin in bulk, which works well cost-wise for us.

Marie said...

I'm going to try to make tortillas, but I want them to be relatively soft so they can be wrapped. I hope this type recipe will work (course I think I will also need to steam them a bit).

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