Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Catherine Lamb shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: How to make a filling, dare we say exciting meal that will only put you back five dollars.
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Five dollars: the amount of money you impulse-spent on an underwhelming lavender latté; the amount of money you probably paid in shipping and handling for your last online shopping endeavor; the amount of money you spent on two subway rides or parking downtown.
And also, the amount of money that, when paired with a little strategy and some discerning recipe selection, is all you need to cook a wholesome, guest-worthy meal.
Today, let's tighten the purse strings and explore meals that, if you don't already have all of the ingredients already, will cost you five bucks and the gas to the grocery store.
A few tips for sticking to your purchasing limit:
Make the most of pantry staples, especially canned ones. When you're in need of cheap protein, canned beans and fish are waiting in the wings to do some heavy lifting.
Carbs are a budget chef's friend. This is not the time to shy away from rice and noodles. You might not want to throw a tablespoon of butter on spaghetti and call it a night, but remember that carbohydrates are cheap and versatile building blocks for your weeknight meals. Let's embrace them together.
Turn to un-trendy vegetables that stretch well—no microgreens or leeks, which, while wonderful, will eat up your budget before you can say "locally grown." Stick with brawny, humble vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, and sweet potatoes. When in doubt, go for the brassicas.
Avoid expensive meat, nuts, and cheese. You can even call it a vegan night and leave it at that.
You think making a meal out of five dollars is tough? Try spending only $1.50 a day—visit Live Below the Line to learn more about their campaign to end world poverty.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).