This month I took the challenge given to me by the registered dietitians at Recipe Redux to share a recipe that is under $3.00 per serving! I am excited to share with you what I have created for this challenge! After the holidays, many of us realize that we have over done it on our monthly budget and come January, it’s time to really watch our pocketbooks! One question that often I hear as a registered dietitian nutritionist is “Is it possible to eat healthy when you are on a budget?” In fact, a few people may go on to say to me “It costs more to eat healthy”. I don’t necessarily agree with this and I am going to share several tips and ideas where you can eat healthy without spending lots of money!
I have to share a little disclaimer, my husband and I are the king and queen of knowing how to save money at the grocery store without being coupon clippers! In fact, most foods that we eat don’t even have a coupon since we eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t even have a food label. This started from day one for us as a married couple when we decided to get married while we were still in college education and in order to eat, we had to learn how to do it without a lot of money. Even today, there are definitely times that we tighten the purse strings in order to make ends meet! And it turns out that we even can eat healthier than usual!
There are several research studies out there showing mixed results whether eating healthy costs more or less. And most of the studies that have found that if eating healthy foods costs less and for those studies who found it may cost more it amounted to a few more cents a day. And the money that we will save down the road in health care costs and sick days is much more than what someone would save eating cheap, unhealthy food choices.
Here are my tips and recipe ideas to help you save some green! In addition to saving money, your body will be healthier too!
- Eat Less Processed Foods. The packaging and the additional middle men & marketing add to the cost of foods. For example: Buying dried beans or grains instead of packaged and cooking them yourself saves lots of money. You can cook ahead on the stove or crock pot the night before while you watch a movie! Here are a few tips on cooking your beans You can also cook bulk, whole grains ahead too! Each whole grain takes a different time to cook and how much water it needs. Here is a great guideline from Oldways Whole Grain Council.
- Plan & Cook Ahead. Fixing meals at home and eating together at the table not only can save money but builds family connections. Each week, my family takes a few minutes to make a menu of what we will eat for the week, make a list and go to the store. We don’t end of not throwing food away because there is a plan to eat it and we end up saving money!
- Buy in Bulk & Cook in Bulk. And I don’t mean buying 10 pounds of salt at a time at the discount store, I am thinking about buying food in the bulk bins where food is loose and it can be poured into bags or containers without the cost of expensive packaging. You can purchase grains, beans, flour, spices, peanut butter, honey and other things in bulk.
- Purchase Seasonal When Available. If you have had a chance to read the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog, you will know that I like to focus on seasonal food grown where I live. When food is readily available, it may also be more economical to purchase than if it travels across the United States or from another country.
- Eat Appropriate Portion Sizes. My husband and I also save money when we are more careful with our portion sizes. And it is an easy way to drop a few pounds, cook less and spend less!
- Grow A Little Of Your Own. Even if you live in an apartment, if you have a window, you can grow some herbs. If you have a patio or balcony, you can grow some greens, potatoes or carrots in a flower pot. In the summer, you can even grow some tomatoes.
Beans, Greens & Grains!
Here are some variations of economical meal ideas that you can change up so you can include this meal once a week or more! I hope that you enjoy these simple but delicious menu ideas!
Meal Saving Template:
- Beans: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, lentils & many other options
- Whole Grains: Quinoa, Millet, Brown Rice, Wheat berry, Buckwheat, Corn/Grits
- Greens: Kale, Chard, Collards, Arugula, Lettuce, Spinach
- Other Seasonals: Red or Green Cabbage, Carrots, Radishes, Onions, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers
- Spice It Up: Use some herbs and spices to add flavor! A little bit goes a long way!
Here are Four Menu I that I have put together using the template:
- Black Beans, Rice with Lettuce, Salsa, coriander, cumin, garlic and onion with corn tortillas
- White beans, Kale, Quinoa, With pickled shredded Cabbage, red onions and carrots with Rosemary & Thyme.
- Garbanzo, Cilantro Greens, chopped red onion, Canned tomatoes and Rice
- Lentils with wheatberries/tabouli, Pickled Radish, Sweet Potatoes, Dollop of Yogurt with Parsley and Mint,
Garbanzo Tomato Curry
Garbanzo beans, tomatoes & rice make this a great dish for a food budget! The total cost per servings can be slightly more or slightly less depending on where you shop but I determined that this filling dish costs an estimated at $1.56 for each serving and $6.25 for the entire meal for a family of four or for a single person to each on for much of the week! When calculating the recipe, When I used a partial head of garlic, half of a lemon or tablespoons of cilantro, I calculate the cost of the portion that I used. When I plan my menus, I plan another meal using what I have left. If you are unable to find cardamon pods, use a pinch of fresh or skip it altogether. I buy the pods and ground from bulk. Be careful home much you scoop out, it is an expensive spice but I love it’s flavor! I purchased my spices in bulk and that way, you can buy just about what you need for the recipe, without spending a lot of money. This is a great recipe to make ahead and reheat because the flavors get better with time!
Makes 4 servings
2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (each can $1.00 each so $2.00 for recipe)
1 can diced tomatoes ($1.00)
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped (save 2 tablespoons aside for garnish) ($.25)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced ($.25)
1 tablespoon olive oil ($.25)
1 cup of brown rice ($.25)
2 cups water to cook rice and additional 1/2 cup for curry
4 tablespoon cilantro ($.25)
1/2 lemon ($.50)
4 tablespoon to add as garnish if desired ($.50)
Curry Spice Mixture: (approximately $1.00)
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cardamon pods
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger or 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried turmeric or could use 1 tablespoon freshly grated turmeric root
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix cardamon, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne together before making recipe because it will be added in the beginning.
Brown rice will take approximately 40 minutes to cook. To make rice, heat water in a medium saucepan, add 2 cups water and rice. Heat to boiling. Cover and turn down to low and simmer for about 35 minutes and water is absorbed. Leave lid on and allow to continue to steam. Ocassionally, rice needs additional cooking time so I will add a little more water and allow it to simmer until the grains of rice have softened.
To make curry, heat large stockpot and add olive oil. Saute chopped onions until they begin to get soft and add the spice mixture and let it brown slightly. Add the tomatoes, garbanzos and add an additional 1/2 cup water water and allow to simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. It is even better if simmered about an hour. To serve, dish up rice in bowls and add curry mixture on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped red onions.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I love to help my clients learn to live healthier and longer lives! In addition, I have lots of great ideas for flavorful recipes and menu ideas that can save money too! If you are new to the vine ripe food blog, welcome and please sign up to stay in touch and see what I will be eating next! If you have been reading what’s for supper, thank you and bring a friend next time too! You can find out more about some of the things that I do here!