For a low cost and easy meal, consider making a grilled cheese sandwich.
Mike Simons says that this is "a great trucker comfort food!"
Most of the photos we've ever seen of this entree feature American cheese on white bread, but there are many variations.
Simply select one that tastes good to you.
There are many types of cheese, including American, Blue, Brick, Brie, Camembert, Caraway, Cheddar, Cheshire, Colby, Cream cheese, Edam, Feta, Fontina, Gjetost, Goat, Gouda, Gruyere, Limburger, Mexican, Monterey, Mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, Parmesan, pasteurized process, Port de salut, Provolone, Ricotta, Romano, Roquefort and Swiss.
Their flavors and smells range widely from mild to strong, sharp or pungent.
Their textures range from very soft to firm.
You may find that some (like Ricotta) don't lend themselves well to being put between two pieces of bread and toasted or grilled.
Bear in mind that there are also differences in the amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat in various cheeses. For more information, you may wish to view a Nutrition Comparison of Cheeses.
When you're at the grocery store, you may see a display of sliced cheeses. Be aware that there are differences in processed cheese.
Some products may be actual cheese, while others may be a "cheese food" or "cheese food product." You may wish to do more research on the variations before buying.(1)(2)
For making a grilled cheese sandwich, we prefer to use sliced American cheese.
Furthermore, we have found that the "store brand" of sliced cheese that is available in stores where we shop tastes just as good as the name brand.
For us, the goal of this sandwich is where the bread is moderately toasted on the outside and the cheese is warm and somewhat gooey on the inside.
You may use whatever type of bread you choose. This is a matter of taste, texture and nutrition.
We prefer a multi-grain bread (such as 7- or 12-grain) over regular white or whole wheat.
You probably know that there are different shapes of bread. Some are sort of square while others are more like an elongated loaf.
We have found that the sliced cheese we like fits very well on a square slice of bread.
A longer piece of bread may be able to accommodate an extra slice of cheese, folded in half. If you're watching your calories, be aware of this.
When Vicki was growing up, her family did not have an electric skillet.
Her mom made non-buttered grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato slices by toasting them in the oven.
You, too, may choose to brown the bread in a toaster oven.
In our truck, we prefer to use the electric skillet to pan grill the sandwiches which we have lightly buttered.
We heat the skillet to around 300°F and keep turning the sandwiches every so often until they are the right doneness for us.
It was only after Mike and Vicki were married that Vicki learned a method for making grilled cheese sandwiches that involved buttering the bread and pan grilling them.
To keep the bread from being too greasy, just make sure that you lightly apply butter.
We have found that spray butter works best. When we were homeless, we did not invest in spray butter any more.
These are grilled cheese sandwiches made in an electric skillet using 'square' wheat bread.
Preparing grilled cheese sandwiches on 'elongated' multi-grain bread. See how much room is left over on the edges of the bread from the square cheese slice.
While Mike holds the bread for a grilled cheese sandwich, Vicki sprays it with spray butter. This slice will go butter side down directly on the electric skillet.
Once the butter-side-down slice is in the electric skillet, Vicki sprays the top slice of bread to make sure that both sides of the grilled cheese sandwich have the opportunity to become golden brown.
Both of the grilled cheese sandwiches have been buttered on both sides and are being pan grilled.
The pair of grilled cheese sandwiches are browning nicely in the electric skillet.
The browned grilled cheese sandwiches are served with fruit for a delicious meal.
After taking a couple of bites, Vicki shows how well the cheese melted on her grilled cheese sandwich.
Here's a close-up of the grilled cheese sandwich after a couple of bites have been taken. Notice how well the American cheese slices melted while the bread was browning.
It is possible that you might be able to use a convection oven to toast or grill your sandwich.
However, if you use one like a Jet Stream Oven, be aware that you'll need to anchor the pieces to keep them from flying around inside the oven while it's browning the sandwiches. Vicki used the extra rack to anchor the sandwiches in place in our Jet Stream Oven.
The cost of this meal depends on what kind of bread and how many slices of cheese are used.
In the photo at the top, you'll see that we grilled three sandwiches. In all of the other photos where multiple sandwiches are shown, we grilled two.
|The cost of each sandwich:|
|Bread||$0.3125 ($2.50/loaf with 16 slices; 2 slices)|
|Sliced cheese||$0.3150 ($3.78/24 slice pack; 2 slices)|
|Total cost per sandwich||$0.68|
Add in the fruit at about $0.50 for each piece, and you can have a nice meal for less than $1.25.
Try to meet that price in a truck stop or even a vending machine.
One alternative (especially if it's hot outside) is to eat a cheese sandwich without buttering or grilling it.
The nutrition aspect is about the same.
In the winter, you can fix one of these sandwiches and serve it with a hot soup, stew or vegetable.
For some reason, tomatoes seem to go extremely well with cheese, so some people like serving tomato soup with this entree. Yum!
Money saving tip: When it comes to fixing an easy meal, you'd be hard pressed to find one that fills the combination of being more frugal, more nutritious and more comforting all at the same time than a cheese sandwich, especially a grilled cheese sandwich.
Consider your ingredients carefully so that you can maximize your nutrition.
Depending on the bread, the less expensive it is, the less nutritious it may be.