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The summer squash, better known as zucchini, is notoriously easy to grow; So easy to grow, in fact, that there is a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8th). This is so you can get rid of your extra bounty and help your neighbors at the same time!
While the zucchini may be a kind of joke for gardeners and their unsuspecting neighbors, easy food is no joke for us Frugalites! I did some research and found some surprising uses for zucchini. In fact, it is possible to live on zucchini for a week and some staples from your pantry. While I don’t think any dietician would recommend this as a long-term diet, it could make for a frugal week on your budget.
If you don’t grow zucchini yourself (my three plants on one mound are producing an astonishing TWO medium zukes per DAY right now), you might know a gardener willing to share some. If you don’t, you could post on a local buy and sell group and see what you can find. Local community gardens or farmers at markets may also have some bounty to share.
If you have any doubts about the health benefits of this humble summer squash, do not fear.
It is rich in an astonishing number of vitamins and minerals: “potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron.”
What is also cool about the zuke is that it is low in both carbs and calories. Three-quarters of a pound of zucchini only has around 11g of carbs and only 60 calories. With that happy thought in mind, let’s see what we can eat on our creative zucchini adventure this week!
Zucchini for Breakfast
I have several suggestions for how to eat your zucchini for breakfast. Do you like your breakfast on the run? How about grabbing a healthy zucchini muffin as you head out the door? If you tend to like spice, you could make it up with some dried fruits like raisins and cranberries. If you prefer a savory breakfast with more protein, you could go for a tasty zucchini frittata muffin on the go.
If you are a smoothie drinker in the morning, then you can start your day the zucchini way. Put two cups of chopped zucchini in your blender, and add another two cups of chopped fruit of any kind or a mixture of fruits. Add approximately ½ cup of any liquid you like (fruit juice, almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, or kefir) These smoothie suggestions were inspired by this recipe, where she also throws in a bit of lime juice.
Another option is to add thinly sliced zucchini to your oatmeal, blanching the zucchini in boiling water first before adding the oatmeal. With some cinnamon and maybe some raisins, you will think you’re eating apple cinnamon oatmeal!
Zucchini for Lunch
If you need to pack your lunch, a tasty zucchini salad could be the way to go. A traditional salad would be lettuce-based, with raw zucchini and other vegetables added to the mix. However, there is a way to make a tasty salad where zucchini is the base. If you cut your zucchini into matchsticks first and lightly blanched them for 2-3 minutes, they are delicious with a basic olive oil dressing.
Some fresh basil or mint, or balsamic vinegar are all that are required for flavoring. Chill before eating. For a complete lunch, add a chopped egg and some bread on the side. For more details, check out The Single Vegan cookbook by Leah Leneman. You may not be single. You may not be vegan. If you want to be frugal with your eating and use vegetables creatively, this is a great cookbook to get you started!
Tabikh is a simple Egyptian meal where you cook some vegetables in tomato juice instead of water. Green beans and/or zucchini are good choices. This makes a sauce which you serve on rice. Other flavorings can be added, such as sauteed onions, if desired. If you are packing your lunch, this could easily be reheated on the go or eaten cold in the summer. For more details, check out the More with Less Cookbook, one of the books I use to save money.
Do you prefer a gluten-free diet? You could grill a medium zucchini lengthwise or slices of a larger zucchini width-wise and use these are bread substitutes for a tasty sandwich.
Zucchini for Supper
The Single Vegan cookbook by Leah Leneman has a recipe for cashew and vegetable curry. I actually QUADRUPLE the recipe and live on it for around five days. It takes two medium zucchinis to make that amount, and the recipe is delicious. In the hot summer evenings I return from the barn, I eat this cold served on cold rice, like a salad. I find it quite refreshing that way! I am providing a link to something fairly similar if you want to give it a try.
This same cookbook has a recipe for a lovely sounding zucchini and tomato flan (sautee onion and add zucchini and cook until soft); add spices and top a lightly baked flan crust with the mixture, and return to the oven. I hope this is giving you an idea of how creative The Single Vegan cookbook is just with this one vegetable!
During summer squash season, I love making zucchini pizza. I saute onion, garlic, zucchini, some sliced beet, turnips greens, or kale, and add anything else I have on hand. I make a simple biscuit crust for my pizzas that doesn’t require any kneading or rising. If you are actually single, this will leave you with leftovers for lunch.
“Zucchini Helper” is another option. A basic skillet supper can be created with a base of 4 cups of thinly sliced zucchini and sliced onion. Sautee and add mushrooms (if on hand in your pantry, canned, or fresh) and a can of tomatoes in juice. Spice as desired, and add meat if available (or canned beans). This will produce 4-5 servings. Do you like to cook with more details? The More with Less cookbook has a great recipe for this.
Want something super simple? Grate up some of that great zucchini and make an omelet. For extra protein, add in some bacon or ham if you have it on hand.
Quite frankly, I was amazed at the variety of desserts that people slip this veggie into. For the record, I am not claiming that any of these are healthy. Here is a double chocolate zucchini muffin recipe that looked good to me. And here is an astounding list of no less than 20 zucchini-based desserts.
Fill Up on Zucchini, and Your Budget will be Teeny
With some creativity, living on zucchini for a week can be delicious, healthy, and frugal. Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!