Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Ditch the Takeout: Budget-Friendly Meals You’ll Love to Make

Many of these recipes rely on staples that you can keep in your pantry all month long. I like to grab a few reliable items like black beans, lentils, pasta, rice, and sometimes a fancier grain as a treat (lately, I’m obsessed with farro) as I grocery shop throughout the month so I always have the building blocks of a meal on hand.

Frozen fruit and veggies are also total lifesavers, and contrary to what you may have heard, they can have just as much — and sometimes even more — nutritional value as fresh.To stock up on spices, I like to check my local ethnic grocery stores. They often carry huge containers half the price of a tiny jar at the supermarket. And if you have a Grocery Outlet in your area, that can be another great place to find deals on literally anything. Like, I’ve even found cheap avocados there.

Here’s what people swear by to get through those times when there’s a little too much month at the end of their money:
1. “Pantry ‘chili’: cans of beans, diced tomatoes, corn, tomato paste, and green chilis if I have ’em. Saute onions in cumin and chili powder, then add beans, then the rest of it. Simmer for a bit, but usually tastes better next day.””Such a great option and a satisfying meal! If you really need to make it last, this is great served over rice.

You can also make a casserole bake by using a box of Jiffy cornbread mix (mix according to box instructions and pour beans in the bottom of the baking dish, top with mix, and bake. It will take longer to bake than plain mix due to the water content of the chili beans, but it’s so yummy).”

If it helps to check out a recipe, this one looks very similar to the pantry chili my mom used to make every Halloween night.
2. “My absolute cheapest meal is mujadara. Well-browned onions, lentils, rice, salt, and pepper. It’s so much more than it sounds.”
“I legit make this for dinner even if I’m not struggling. I like to make a cucumber and tomato salad to mix in with Greek yogurt.””I like it with fresh spinach in a pita!”As someone who can never get enough caramelized onions, I think I need to make this recipe tonight.

3. “Peanut noodles! Ingredients are peanut butter, soy sauce, and pasta, plus some things to jazz it up if you’ve got them. For the sauce, mix roughly equal parts of PB, soy sauce, and water, adjusting the ratio to taste. If I have them, I add red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and ground ginger, a few drops of sesame oil, and sesame seeds, but it’s also decent without. You just put it on cooked pasta and voila! I like it with steamed frozen broccoli. In an ideal world, you’d have spaghetti, fettucine, or linguine for the pasta, but any shape is fine.”4. “Oatmeal. So filling. Add some linseeds (aka flax seeds) for fiber, omega3, and a bit more chewiness.”5. “Savory pancakes — you can put anything in ‘em and/or anything on ‘em.”BRB, dreaming about these savory Parmesan pancakes with a fried egg on top.

6. “White rice + black beans is my favorite cheap/healthy meal. Add some tomatoes and cilantro, and avocado if you can afford it, drizzle lemon or lime juice and you have a super filling and delicious meal for super cheap (except the avocados, lol).”7. “Lentil and carrot soup. So tasty and good for you, but extremely cheap.”This lentil and carrot soup is simple and nutritious. A little hack I’ve learned recently is to add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking a lentil soup for a subtly tangy kick.

8. “Canned tuna mixed with mayo on toast. Served with a pickle spear.”9. “My fave one is egg and chips. It’s fried eggs and English style chips, but you can do fries; it doesn’t matter. My English mom used to make it growing up so it’s super comforting, and it’s delicious and cheap.”10. “I try to keep chicken thighs in my freezer. Boneless and skinless, just for convenience. Take two of em, cook two cups of rice, fry the chicken with a yellow onion, and mix the whole thing with a can of mushroom soup. This is all stuff I usually have on hand, and it’ll last me several days, highly recommend! It’d be good without the chicken, too, imo; very tasty sort of porridge.”

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