Budget friendly recipes
Here are a few recipes that won’t expand your waistline or blow your budget.
For Breakfast: Erica’s Strata
Approximate cost: $7.25
I love a hearty breakfast, and a strata fits the bill every time. Plus, you make it ahead of time. A strata is like a type of bread pudding cooked with eggs, bread, and often a bit of cheese. Don’t be afraid to make this dish your own by using the veggies and cheeses you have available in your fridge. It’s completely adaptable. I like to amp mine up with just a little bit of cheese to keep the fat in check and load it with any veggies I’ve got on hand. I named this dish after incorporating a few of the ingredients my friend Erica likes, and truthfully, just couldn’t resist the name.
4 bread slices, cut or torn into cubes (leftover, slightly stale bread is great for this)
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup ham, diced
½ cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, bottom ends trimmed
1 cup sliced mushrooms (Optional: Cook briefly in a sauté pan until just browned and liquid has been released for more flavor)
1 cup milk
6 large eggs
½ teaspoon mustard, dry (or 1 teaspoon prepared mustard)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Spray an 8-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the bread cubes, cheddar cheese, ham, asparagus, and mushrooms into the pan and toss well to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and cover with foil. Place covered pan in the fridge, and allow the milk mixture to soak in at least one hour or up to overnight.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove foil from strata and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes (it will deflate a bit coming out of the oven), then serve.
For Lunch: Potato-Leek Soup
Approximate cost: $6.50
This is a recipe I’ve been making since I finished culinary school in 1995. It’s my teenage son’s absolute favorite, and he’ll slurp down the whole pot if I let him. Add in a salad or rolls to round it out a bit.
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium leeks (they look like green onions on steroids), white part only, washed & sliced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (bonus points if you make it yourself)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
Optional: ½ cup whole milk
Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks to pan and sauté gently, stirring occasionally, until wilted but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken broth to the pan, and then add potatoes. Bring to a boil, and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return soup to the pan and, if necessary, add more chicken broth to achieve the consistency you like. Add the milk, being careful NOT to bring to a boil (this will cause the milk to separate). Season to taste with salt and pepper. (If calories aren’t a major concern, substitute half-and-half or heavy cream for the milk for extra creaminess.)
For Dinner: Turkey Chili
Approximate cost: $12
Forget ground turkey, we’re using turkey thighs in this recipe, which will make our chili richer and tastier while keeping the price down. Turkey thighs are readily available in the meat section at your grocery store.
1 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 4-ounce can green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-15 oz can yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
1-15 ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-3 turkey thighs, bone-in, skin removed, and discarded
4 cups prepared rice, preferably brown
Using a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, add all ingredients except for the turkey thighs into the cooker and stir to combine. Place the skinned turkey thighs into the mixture and submerge. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set on low for 6-7 hours, or high for 3-4 hours, or until the meat pulls easily from the bone. Do not remove the lid during the cooking process, no matter how delicious it smells (each time the lid is removed during cooking, it adds 20-30 minutes to the cooking cycle).
Remove the thighs to a cutting board and remove the bones. Using two forks, shred the meat and return to the cooker, along with any accumulated juices, stirring well to combine. Serve chili over rice.