Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Gabriella shows you how to ditch the takeout menu and make Mexican food at home.
Mexican food is delicious.
But you already know this. You know that nothing beats a margarita (on the rocks, with salt) in one hand and grilled street corn in the other. You know that some days you'd be okay eating a burrito for every meal. You know that a good salsa is only worth its salt if your eyes start tearing up a few bites in.
Still, more often than not, when you want Mexican food, you head to a restaurant. And those margaritas add up quick. But here's some good news: You can make your favorites at home with inexpensive staples you already have on hand.
It's corn season. It's everywhere, it's affordable, and it's the best it's going to taste all year. Street corn is a non-negotiable: serve it on the cob or deconstructed as a salad. And it's easy enough to make your own Corn Tortilla Chips -- double the recipe, only fry half of them, and use the rest as whole tortillas in enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas. For breakfast, pair leftover tortillas with eggs and call it migas.
Everyone's favorite cheap staple is the star of Mexican cooking. Gena's Vegan Enchiladas make for a nutritious and filling main dish that tastes just as good the next day. The prime way to get rid of fridge scraps? Pair them with rice and beans and wrap them in a burrito -- and never worry about the filling falling out again. Borrachos -- "drunken" beans -- are another great side, and you can easily omit the bacon to save money.
Ripening Summer Produce
Summer's tomatoes are practically begging to be made into Cooked Green Salsa Verde -- or throw in some pineapple for a milder Grilled Tomatillo and Pineapple Salsa. And remember the last time you paid $12 for tableside guacamole? This is better.
Use the money that you saved making your dinner and splurge on a few extras. For starters, you're going to want a drink or two -- a classic margarita can't be beat, but a Michelada isn't half bad either.
No need to skip dessert tonight: if you've got time, invest it in making churros. If you don't, leave a pot of Coconut Cajeta & Chocolate Fondue to warm up on the stove. (Go ahead, dip your homemade tortilla chips in there.) For something cool that'll take you through the rest of summer, look no further than these Frozen Bananas Dipped in Mexican Chocolate Ganache.
Tell us: What are your favorite Mexican foods to make at home?
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).Order now