This semester is the first time I’m regularly cooking for one. While this gives me the freedom to buy what I want, I quickly learned how expensive and time consuming it can be. As a busy college student, I don’t always have the money to make extravagant dishes or the time to make healthy meals every night. Slowly, I have developed a routine to meal-prep healthy and cheap meals to eat throughout the week.
In my current system, I typically buy my ingredients on Sunday to make the “staple” part of the meal. Then, the rest of the week is just about reheating that portion and assembling the rest. Plus, I try to change up the meal slightly each day, so it doesn’t get to repetitive by the end of the week. It has really cut down on time, and by buying cheap and make sure no food is wasted, it saves money too. Here are few of my favorite recipes for easy ways to eat quick meals. While I eat these for one throughout the week, they could also make a cheap and easy meal for a larger family on one night.
Note: I personally do not eat ground beef, so all of the following recipes include ground turkey. However, feel free to replace with ground beef or whatever protein of your choosing.
Simple One-Pot Chili
Ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey, 2 cans (unsalted) kidney beans, 1 can (unsalted) black beans, 1 can RoTel, 1 packet Chili seasoning, salt & pepper to taste
Extras: Sour cream, cheese, fries, tortilla chips, spaghetti, bread
In a pot on medium heat, brown ground turkey. Once complete, drain the grease and add your drained cans of kidney and black beans. Add in the can of RoTel, undrained. Stir in seasoning packet as directed on instructions and add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add garlic powder, but this isn’t necessary. Once it has reached a simmer, turn onto low heat and let simmer until thick. This usually takes me around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once complete, I like to combine with cheese and sour cream for a warm bowl of chili. The following days, I will make chili cheese fries, chili over spaghetti, chili cheese nachos, and “sloppy joe” style on a bun. This gives me variation in the meal while still using up all the ingredients. Don’t worry if you don’t finish your cheese or sour cream, they will be used in the following recipe.
Ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey, 1 can (unsalted) black beans, 1 can corn, 1 can RoTel, 1 packet Taco seasoning
Extras: Sour cream, cheese, rice, tortilla chips, fajita-style tortillas, lettuce, peppers and onions
In a skillet on medium heat, brown ground turkey. Drain grease when complete and combine your drained can of black beans and corn. Add undrained can of RoTel. Add seasoning packet per instructions.
Once you have your main protein covered, you can also get creative with this. Make burritos one night and nachos the next. Use staples like cheese, sour cream, and lettuce to complete the dishes. Fry up peppers and onions for a make-shift fajita night. You could also cook up some rice to make burrito bowls. Taco salads are also a yummy way to end the week.
Ingredients: Peppers, onions, eggs (I prefer local), tortillas, cheese, turkey bacon
Okay I will admit, this one is a little more difficult to meal prep. However, I like to make breakfast week after the previous two because you can use so many leftovers. Make breakfast burritos with the leftover peppers, onions, sour cream, and cheese by just frying up some bacon and eggs. Make a breakfast hash with the leftover beans and fries or potatoes and add whatever ingredients you have. This week usually is just about consolidating whatever odds and ends I have from previous weeks while still making hearty and delicious meals. Enjoy!!