5 Easy, Cheap, Delish Dinners

    This semester is my first time having my very own kitchen and needing to make my own meals. I was super excited, as I was really over my dining hall. When I got to school, however, and made my first trip to the grocery store, I panicked. It seemed super overwhelming and expensive and simply, scary. On my fifth week of school, however, I feel I can confidently say I have made a lot of progress and have been cheffing up cheap and yummy meals. The key, my friends, is planning. I have been grocery shopping on Sunday, cooking on Monday for dinners Monday-Thursday. Here are five of the meals I have cheffed up.

 

  1. BBQ Chicken

 

BBQ chicken actually could not be any easier. I bought two chicken breasts (Organic from Trader Joes is only $6!) and cut them in half, so I would have four dinners. You don’t even need to marinate or anything. I literally dumped BBQ sauce on chicken, salt and peppered, and wha-la! Throughout the week put it on salad or had with roasted veggies (which you could also put into salad with it--delish). Between buying veggies, chicken, rice, and of course the sauce I ended up spending around $20, which amounts to $5 per night!

 

  1. Fajita Bowls

I have been trying to eat less meat (better for the planet and a little better for your wallet) but don’t want to eat a ton of pasta. Fajita bowls are a great way to cut out meat but still have a fresh and filling meal. I made a box of Mexican style rice and a can of beans rather than buying meat (SO cheap). I sauteed bell peppers and onions in just olive oil, chili powder and salt/pepper. I threw some salsa and guac (or just an avocado) on top and dinner was served. SO simple, and cost effective--a can of beans and a box of rice costs maybe $3 total.

 

  1. Tacos

    Super similar to Fajita Bowls, I made tacos with almost all the same ingredients but rather than rice/beans I bought turkey meat. To cook the meat I just used olive oil, chili powder, salt/pepper, and garlic. I added the garlic last which was a little tricky because I didn’t want to burn it but I didn’t cook it long enough--you live and you learn. You could add cheese and sour cream to jazz it up but to keep it a little more healthy I didn’t. I also didn’t have them as tacos I had them as a bowl but a tortilla really would’ve jazzed it up, I must say. You could also switch up what you put in them/how you eat them throughout the week so it doesn’t feel boring!

 

  1. Turkey Burgers

    This was one of my favorite meals I have made. I made my paddies simply by using turkey meat, diced onions, salt, pepper and a little bit of olive oil and baking them. A pound of turkey meat made seven (small) paddies so I froze three for weekend nights down the road. I got really delicious buns that had a bunch of seeds and grain to jazz it up. I made sriracha mayo (just mayo, with sriracha), caramelized onions, sliced up half an avocado and tomatoes, and put cheddar cheese on my paddies and threw some lettuce on top. I ate it as an open faced sandwich after night one because it was so messy I felt like I wasn’t getting all of the components, and also the bun was kind of bulky so I felt like I only needed half of it because it was overpowering the whole thing. I literally LOVED this sandwich and it was easy!

 

  1. Chicken and Broccoli Greek Salads

    I made these salads to mimic my favorite salad from a place in my hometown. I marinated my two chicken breasts in Greek dressing overnight and baked them the next day. Then I roasted broccoli in just olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I just used greens, tomatoes, cukes, feta, and some left over rice pilaf I had laying around. These salads were super easy to throw together once I had all of the veggies cut up to use throughout the week. Light and super filling!! Just as good as the one from home if I do say so myself.

 

As I write these meals down I do feel like it sounds like a lot of ingredients, and therefore a lot of spending. However, it is surprising how reasonable it is to make these meals. When comparing it to buying a frozen dinner, which would last one night, it boils out to being the same cost if not less. I have really enjoyed cooking for myself so far. These meals are nothing fancy or unique, but they are classic go-tos--if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! No need to get too fancy with the spices, olive oil salt and pepp on everything and you are absolutely golden.