grad school swag

NC woman trying to stay stylish, well-fed, and entertained on a grad school budget
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Dinner tonight: Honey-thyme cornbread (modified from this recipe because I rarely have any sage) topped with an arugula-and-random-herbs-in-my-pantry* salad, some goat cheese, and a poached egg. It sounds completely thrown together, which it kind of is, but it’s also completely delicious and cheap (except for the goat cheese, which is honestly the least necessary part). A bag of arugula costs $2 at Whole Foods of all places, a bag of cornmeal costs about $4, and the ingredients for everything else are/should be consistent pantry items. If they aren’t, I don’t know what to do for you.

*Seriously, the whole salad is:

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Dried tarragon
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper

It’s bomb.

Turkey-Lentil Meatballs

This is an extremely easy recipe, and mostly inexpensive but for the goat cheese ($8 for 5.2oz, and that was on sale). All the other things on the list are basically pantry items, and ricotta from the dairy section of your grocery store (usually found near sour cream) costs about $2.50. If you want to make this totally vegetarian, you can replace the ground turkey with another cup of lentils - I’m sure that’d be equally delicious. 

Adapted from this recipe from The Kitchn. 

  • 1 cup cooked french green lentils
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used Progresso’s Italian breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (I used Chavrie’s original)
  • 2 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. 
  2. Grind up the lentils in a food processor until they become mushy. (You might need to add some olive oil to help this along a little.) Put them in a large mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon. 
  3. Form 2-inch balls (about 1.5 tbsp) and place on the baking sheet. 
  4. Bake on the middle rack for 16-22 minutes, until the meatballs are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly. 
  5. If you like, you can make a quick yogurt sauce to go with them. I used greek yogurt, lemon juice, black pepper, and fresh cilantro on mine for dinner, but the meatballs are fine without them. Eat with some garlicky couscous. 

Mussels marinières. Cheap and delicious - the mussels were $3.99/lb at Whole Foods, the wine was $2.99 (also at Whole Foods), and the rest of the ingredients are basic pantry items. You get a lot of bang for your buck here. 

1.5lb mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

6 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 tsp dried thyme

2 cups white wine

3 tbsp butter

1) Combine garlic, onion, wine, thyme, 2 tbsp butter, and 4 tbsp parsley in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. 

2) Add mussels and cover pot. Cook until the shells open, 3-4 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Remove mussels from the sauce and place in bowls. 

3) Add remaining butter and parsley to the sauce. Heat until the butter melts. Pour over mussels and serve with crusty bread and a lemon.

(Taken with instagram)

Recipe from allrecipes.com

Various life events and personal decisions have left me borderline penniless for the week. As of Sunday, I had ~$25 of spending money, and I get paid on Friday. This week will be an exercise - I want to eat varied and delicious food every day, attend events/have a social life, and not overdraw my account. Game on. 

Sunday - $25.73

Breakfast - a bowl of Rice Krispies with turbinado sugar, for my sweet tooth 
Lunch - Met some friends at Tryst at the Phillips, where I got a small green bean salad and a slice of vegan blueberry pie. $8.75
Dinner - In honour of the Mad Men finale, homemade Italian potatoes au gratin (similar recipe here) and curry deviled eggs. The potatoes were from the Bloomingdale Farmers Market a week earlier. 


Monday - $16.98 

Breakfast - 2 cinnamon/brown sugar Pop Tarts. $2.39 (for the box)
Lunch - Leftovers from Sunday night.
Dinner - Free falafel, hummus, and pita at an economic lecture at Busboys and Poets.

Will be checking in daily to let you know my progress!

Tuesday - 14.59 

Breakfast - 2 Pop Tarts. It’s fine.

Lunch - Leftovers from Sunday night.

Dinner - Shrimp dumplings from Mandu. $3 during happy hour! Unfortunately, I had forgotten my wallet (actually the first time this has ever happened to me; I was panicked until I found it at home, under my bed, weirdly), so my friend picked up the bill. 

Other - Gojee iPhone app, $1.99. Gojee is a fantastic recipe website. You tell it what ingredients you have and what ingredients you want to use - for instance, radishes - and it pulls recipes from all over the internet to recommend. With giant, food porny pictures. You can also tell it what ingredients you don’t want to use, so it won’t pull recipes that include them. 

Wednesday - 12.60


Breakfast - Crab cake benedict with shredded leek hash browns at Founding Farmers. This would have been $14, but since it was a Wellesley Young Alum event, it was on the house. (Yeah buddy.)

Lunch - Leftover chicken curry dumplings from Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodles, and coconut sesame fried rice that I threw together for the dumplings Tuesday night. 

Dinner - “Spanish” roast chicken drumsticks with paprika, thyme, and lemon zest; thyme roast potatoes; a little spinach salad with black pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. (Similar recipe here.) The chicken cost $5.50 at Arcadia’s Mobile Market

Still goin strong!

Kale salad with lemon, garlic, and yogurt mint dressing. 

  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup of plain skim yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place the kale in a large bowl. Massage/knead it for a while, to break it down and make it easier to manage. 

In another bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and mint together. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add the dressing to the kale and toss until the kale is completely covered. 

Recipe from Gojee.

Decided to take a chance this weekend and make my first risotto. Anything bad you hear about cooking risotto is a huge exaggeration - it’s extremely simple, just a little time-intensive. Which, if you have a Sunday to kill, isn’t really a bad thing. 

I will say that using fresh ingredients really matters here, because there are so few ingredients. Using onion powder or bottled lemon juice would make a big negative impact. You’ve been warned.

I used this recipe - http://tastefoodblog.com/2011/04/24/lemon-risotto-with-mint-recipe/ - but switched in fresh mozzarella instead of parmesan cheese, because that’s how I roll. 

To make this risotto completely vegetarian, you can swap in a good vegetable broth. 

Provençal fried tilapia with lemon mashed potatoes.

Tilapia is usually pretty cheap - I got a pound of fillets for $4.99 - and pretty delicious. It stands up to this recipe’s intense flavouring really well. Also? Lemon mashed potatoes are my new obsession. 

Fish recipe here, mashed potatoes below: 

2 large Russett potatoes
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Large swig of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Peel and dice potatoes and place in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes with cold water, so that the water level is about an inch above the potatoes.

2) Cover and bring to a boil, then cook until potatoes are soft all the way through (20-25 minutes). 

3) Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Stir in heavy cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. 
 

(Taken with Instagram)