“When you are hungry and tired, how do you make real food, like really fast?” asked my son Jeff. He was packing, going back to college and heading towards his car. He’s a Senior this year so we are hoping (no we’re praying) this is the last round. With the rising tuition rates, the money we send him never seems to go as far as it did the year before. He works part time to “fill in the cracks,” he says. But I worry that he doesn’t prioritize his money to eat well. Okay, “well” is relative. But, I’m the Mom and it’s my job to worry, and I wonder why hunger hasn’t affected his budgeting skills. Ah, it’s pizza and beer, you say? Yep.
So with his guitar in hand and a surfboard under his arm, I shoved a list of meal ideas in his pocket. My goal? Meals made for less than $5.oo each*, with real food, he can make in less time than a pizza delivery or the time it takes to prepare a box of macaroni and cheese.
*Cost is based on buying food at conventional supermarket.
Here are 10 meals you can make with REAL FOOD, REAL FAST!
- Whole Wheat Pasta with Seasoned Tomatoes. While your spaghetti is boiling, open a can of stewed tomatoes with Italian seasoning. Serve the seasoned tomatoes over the pasta with Parmesan cheese. Note: the canned tomatoes are cheaper than a jar of pasta sauce. Cost: $1. 80
- Egg and Cheese Sandwich. For step by step, click here. Eggs are one of the most economical protein sources you can buy. Cost: < $1.00 per sandwich.
- Chili and Cheese topped potato. Microwave one large brown russet potato for about 8 minutes or until soft and steamy. Top with a can of chili and sprinkle with cheese. Cost: $2.30
- Fresh Bean Burritos. Spread hot refried beans on a large whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, chopped tomato and salsa. Fold and eat. Cost: $2.25
- Taco Salad. Top fresh green lettuce with drained black beans, chopped tomato, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado and crushed tortilla chips. Top with dressing or salsa. Cost: $4.35
- Meatball Sliders. Defrost a handful of frozen turkey meatballs, place one meatball on a bread roll cut in half, top with a spoonful of pasta sauce and a small piece of cheese. Cost: $1.00 per slider
- Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. Click here if you need instructions. Pretty easy. Cost: $2.00
- Ham, Cheese and Apple Quesadilla. Click here for a loaded quesadilla recipe. Add sliced apple for a sweet and crunchy addition. Cost: $2.50
- Sauteed Chicken Breast Strips with Frozen Veggies. Sauté one chicken breast, cut into strips, in a couple tablespoons of Italian salad dressing. The dressing contains the oil and seasoning to keep it moist while cooking and adds flavor. Microwave a bag of steamable frozen veggies and a bag of frozen rice. Serve together. Cost: $ 3.75
- Omelet in a Cup. Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. You’ll love this easy egg meal for lunch or dinner, too. Cost: $1.00
Need Breakfast ideas too? Check out our Beat the Clock Breakfast ideas.