Ree Drummond’s ‘Big Bad Budget Battle’ Episode 1 Recap: Shortcut Meals

The Pioneer Woman star Ree Drummond presented episode 1 of Food Network’s Big Bad Budget Battle. Here’s what happened on the show.

Ree Drummond’s ‘Big Bad Budget Battle’

Ree Drummond with Maria Shriver and Hoda Kotb on the Today show.
The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, Maria Shriver, and Hoda Kotb | Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

During the show’s opening, Drummond talks about the inspiration behind the show. She says people are looking for ways to save money in the kitchen. This show will give home cooks tips on how to do that with Drummond’s superhero shortcuts. She says this competition “proves that everyday, affordable ingredients can make mouthwatering food.”

During Big Bad Budget Battle Episode 1, three home cooks compete to make the most delicious yet budget-friendly meals. The contestants this week are high school teacher Brandi Barnett, special education teacher Asa Glass, and 3-D printer salesman Josh Alvarez.

At the beginning of the competition, Drummond instructs the contestants to explore their kitchens and look at their equipment to see what they have. Their pantries are stocked with items most home cooks have in their kitchen.  

Drummond is about to send the group on a shopping trip. “Any good home cook knows you need to know what you’ve got on hand before you go to the supermarket,” she says.

The budget battle

The contestants will have two rounds of cooking during which they will prepare meals with a real budget, a real clock, and “real-life situations,” according to Drummond. During each round, the meals are tasted and ranked by a panel of judges.

Much to the contestants’ delight, there are no eliminations. However, the person who wins the first round earns an advantage that could help them win the second round. Drummond announced that whoever wins round 2 will get a year’s worth of groceries.

Drummond told the group she believes it’s OK to use shortcuts when making meals. “As home cooks, we don’t always have a lot of time to get our meals on the table,” says Drummond. “I like to encourage cooks not to feel guilty about using low-cost, time-saving items like frozen veggies, bottled dressings and sauces, maybe some frozen proteins, because those can also be the foundation of some delicious meals.”

Cooking challenge: Signature shortcut dish

Drummond’s first challenge focuses on using short-cut items. She challenged the contestants to make their signature shortcut dish. The dish must use at least one shortcut ingredient in a dish they make their own.

The challenging part is that the contestants only receive $20. The $20 must last for both rounds, and they’re only allowed to go shopping once. They also only have 20 minutes to make their signature dish. “I do want you to buy enough versatile ingredients for two meals,” says Drummond.

The contestants plan budget-friendly meals

A van is sent to pick up the contestants, who are taken to Flavortown Market, the supermarket featured in Guy Fieri’s Food Network show Guy’s Grocery Games.

Asa decides to make chicken tikka masala. His shortcut is to purchase premade chicken. He says he can save money by using the chicken for the next round. He also purchases instant rice. Drummond once said purchasing premade chicken is a good way not only to cut cooking time but also stretch your meals.

Josh makes picadillo, which is a Cuban dish. He says he knows he can make this in 20 minutes. Brandi decides to make chicken tortilla soup. Like Asa, Josh and Brandi use instant rice for their shortcut ingredient. Brandi also uses premade chicken. Find out who won the battle when you watch the premiere episode.

Big Bad Budget Battle airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on Food Network.

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