List: 7 Budget Meals
Between vet bills, travel expenses, home repairs and just being living, breathing people, it’s been an expensive year in the Russell household. I don’t doubt that we’re like a lot of 20- and 30-somethings—making decentish money but never seeming to have much of it in the bank.
Food, of course, is always a large expense. It’s funny how your eating habits change when you’re no longer single. I’ve always been a “scrounger,” and when I was 23 and living on my own, I subsisted off of whatever was in the pantry: Amy’s Kitchen frozen meals, canned soup, quinoa & eggs, whatever. In college I’d straight up slather hummus on iceberg lettuce leaves and call it a day. But Ed is a bit of a more sophisticated eater than I am, and he prefers proper meals. Nowadays, scrounging is really only something I do when I’m working from home or when Ed’s out of town.
Whenever we make an effort to do our grocery shopping, we generally spend less on food. But about one week a month, we have stuff going on and for whatever reason just can’t (or won’t) find the time. On those weeks, we rely heavily on Postmates. We’re Postmates Plus members, meaning that we pay a flat fee of $10 a month to receive free delivery fees at any restaurant as long as we spend at least $20. As convenient as it may be, the problem with Postmates is that (1) some restaurants jack up their prices and (2) it’s way too tempting to order greasy Chinese food and fried ravioli.
So this week, I’m going to make a major effort to be more conscience of our food prices. No meals involving fancy cheeses, no recipes that require an abundance of ingredients and no wasting food we already bought when we’re too tired to cook.
Anyone else trying to cut down on food costs? If so, check out seven of my all-time favorite Budget Bites below.
THAI CURRY NAAN PIZZA
This recipe features nine ingredients, but I guarantee it will only set you back about $15 total (for two people). With prep time, expect it to take you about 30 minutes to put together. Use this as a jumping off point for creating all sorts of naan pizzas!
GREEN VEGGIE GOAT CHEESE PASTA
The great thing about goat cheese is that a little of it goes a long way—no need to buy a huge amount. Combine it with lentil pasta, green veggies, lemon juice and a bit of spices and you’re in business!
1 lb. black bean or lentil pasta
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed & cut into 1 in. pieces
¼ c. olive oil
1 T. finely grated lemon peel
2 t. tarragon
5 oz. log soft goat cheese
Fresh juice from one lemon
1/2 t. each of oregano & rosemary
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
1) Cook pasta until it’s almost tender, about three minutes shy of what the package suggests. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about two or three minutes. Drain together.
2) Meanwhile, cook the peas and roast the broccoli in the oven with oregano, rosemary, olive oil and garlic.
3) In a bowl, combine additional olive oil, lemon peel, tarragon, lemon juice and goat cheese. Add hot pasta and asparagus + peas. Toss and season generously with salt and pepper. Top with broccoli.
SOUTHWEST BREAKFAST BAKE
Another easy way to save money during the week, of course, is by eating leftovers. This is labeled as a “breakfast” bake, but it’s honestly delicious any time of day. You might even consider making in on the weekend and eating off of it for lunch during the week. It includes cheap ingredients, like canned beans and tortillas, and only takes 35 minutes to cook.
CHILI CHEESE JACKET POTATOES
One of the easiest and most filling meals on the planet is a stuffed baked potato. This one is loaded with vegetarian chili, five different veggies and low-fat cheese. For two people, I think you could score this meal at $10-$15.
Red and green onions, diced
Red and green bell peppers, diced
Low-fat mozzarella cheese
Low-fat sour cream
Potatoes (sweet potato or regular)
2 cans vegetarian chili
1) Wash potatoes and bake in oven until they have a crispy skin. Slice in half, allow to cool and add butter.
2) Add chili, red onion, green peas and bell peppers to potato and mix well with the stuffing.
3) Top with cheese, green onion and additional ingredients like sour cream, barbeque sauce, sriracha and/or salsa.
ROASTED GARLIC FRITTATA
Egg-based dishes are really great (and filling) when you’re trying to save some money. The most expensive item in this dish is probably the broccolini, but you could easily sub it out for regular broccoli or even asparagus if you prefer. Italian spices, onion, bell pepper and 12 garlic cloves round out this recipe.
BLACK BEAN, AVOCADO & PICKLED CARROT TACOS
This recipe is a result of my aforementioned scrounging. The tacos pack a variety of textures, are both spicy and creamy and are surprisingly filling (I was perfectly full after eating two).
1 can black beans
Spices, like cumin, chili powder & garlic powder
1 package OH SNAP! Carrot Cuties
Low-fat sour cream
Hot sauce of your choice
1) Drain the black beans, slice your avocado and chop the carrots into little cubes (you’ll probably only use half the packet).
2) Lay your tortillas onto a plate. Spread a bit of sour cream on each tortilla. Add a small handful of black beans and sprinkle on spices. Add three slices of avocado and a small handful of chopped carrots. Drizzle with hot sauce of your choice and top with cilantro.
EGGS, BEANS & TOAST
A British classic! This is seriously good any time of day. Dress it up by adding avocado or roasted potatoes, or keep it simple and just as presented. I understand this recipe isn’t for everyone, but it’s hella cheap and if you’re a bean lover like me then you’ll be all over it.