I can’t remember the last time that I spent my own money on food. Not only does this classify me as a spoiled bougie bitch but it has also ruined me for the future. I aimlessly walk down the aisles of a store putting organic veggies in my basket, along with handcrafted kombucha, Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, and ooh some handcrafted almond milk… all this expensive shit that I don’t need. Because I am not paying (thanks mom and dad) I don’t pay attention to the price tags and I am stupidly wasting money by being ignorant and annoyingly selective.
Now, as I am about a week away from leaving for college, I am rethinking my lavish lifestyle and starting to think about saving, buying with an efficient budget while still eating well. A lot of kids going to college have a meal plan with enough swipes to last a lifetime, but some of you starving students have a kitchen (or kitchenette) and need to mom yourselves for once and cook to survive the busy life ahead.
Using five of my favorite healthy and well balanced foods I have created five different recipes that can guide you through the week. The first ingredients that I thought of when conjuring ideas for an article were chickpeas, black beans, spinach, farro, and broccoli.
Ok, I kind of lied, depending on what you already have in the kitchen you might need to buy a little more than five ingredients, but hey! if you have a stacked kitchen you are ready to go. You will need to buy a huge ass can of chickpeas and black beans but lucky for you there are 29 oz cans that are below $5! So you will need one or two cans of each depending on how much you want to make, how much you are willing to eat and etc. In addition you will need to buy one big box of fresh spinach, but you can also buy a can of spinach if you want to do it that way and lastly a bag of farro, a grain similar to quinoa that is probably my favorite grain, and will allow for a more filling meal.
In addition to these ingredients you will need some spices, herbs and other little things that you may already have. These ingredients are there to make the plain, boring food taste a ton better but they are also optional so if your on a strict budget don’t feel the need to get every last thing.
- big can of chickpeas
- big can of black beans
- bag of farro
- large head of broccoli
- large bag or box of fresh spinach
- olive oil
- chili powder
- red pepper flakes
- pine nuts
- firm tofu
- sesame oil (for optional dressing)
- rice wine vinegar (for optional dressing)
- soy sauce (for optional dressing)
- maple syrup (for optional dressing)
- sesame seeds (for optional dressing)
Grain bowls are all the rage. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing but they are also good for you, affordable and will keep you full until your next meal. For this grain bowl we will be using farro as the base and then adding in huge scoops of roasted turmeric chickpeas, cumin baked black beans, broccoli with garlic and red pepper flakes and finally lime spinach with roasted pine nuts.
Roasted Turmeric Chickpeas
- Add 1/2 to a cup (or so) of chickpeas to skillet with some olive oil, stir these around until they become slightly crisp and golden. Add in a teaspoon(ish) of turmeric and a big pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add more oil if needed, continue to pan roast until desired level of roast. I usually leave my chickpeas in the pan for a while because I like when they dry out and get crunchy and hard but if you want them softer or even just warmed that okay too!
Cumin Baked Black Beans
- Add 1/2 a cup to a cup of black beans into a pan on medium high heat. Slowly stir them until they break down a little and the sauce begins to bubble. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of chili powder if you want some additional heat
Pan-Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes
- Wash and dry your head of broccoli. Next, cut bite-size florets (fancy name for little bit size trees) and and throw them into a bowl. Drizzle the pieces with a little olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Mince two cloves of garlic into small but coarse pieces. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan at medium-low heat and add garlic and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, stir and pan fry until the garlic is golden in color. Add the cut broccoli into the pan and cook until its soft or until slightly browned.
Lime Spinach with Roast Pine Nuts
- Throw 1/4 cup of pine nuts into a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Every couple of minutes toss the nuts so that they don’t burn. Wait until the nuts are golden in color and become fragrant. Take out the nuts and put them into a small bowl and move on to the spinach. Drizzle the pan with olive oil and allow it to heat up on medium low heat. Add two handfuls of spinach to the pan and stir occasionally. Next juice half of a lime and pour it into the pan and stir until the extra lime juice has evaporated off.
- Cook the farro according to the instructions. Make sure to add enough salt to make the farro taste good!!
- This is super easy!! Add farro to the bottom of a bowl, as much or as little as you would like. Then add scoops of each veggie around the top making sure to add enough to fill you up and keep you full until the next meal. You can add any toppings that you want (avocado, fried egg, hot sauce) or just keep it as is.
Spinach salad sounds super plain and boring, but paired with this amazing sesame ginger dressing and roast veggies it becomes amazing!Popeye was definitely on to something here. Spinach is a super food loaded with tons of nutrients in a low calorie package. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard are important for skin and hair, bone health, and provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals, so eat up!!
Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Combine 4 0z olive oil, 2 Oz sesame oil, 2 Oz rice wine vinegar, 1 oz apple cider vin, 2 oz maple syrup (or any sweetener you dig), 2 oz ginger juice, 2 garlic cloves, sesame seeds to taste. Add the mixture a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. If you don’t want to/ can’t use a blender or food processor, mince the garlic and stir until combined.
- Roast 1/4 cup black beans and a 1/4 cup chickpeas in skillet, add in some turmeric, cumin or chili powder for some extra flavor if you want and cook until a little bit dry and heated through. Use leftover broccoli from the farro bowl recipe, either hot or cold (I like mine heated up for this salad. Next, add a couple handfuls of spinach into a bowl, add the roast chickpeas and black beans and then the broccoli. Drizzle in some of the dressing and plate your masterpiece. Sprinkle with cooked or raw farro (raw will give a nice crunch) to make a more fulfilling meal.
Black Bean Hummus
What isn’t there to like about hummus, especially homemade hummus. However, for this recipe you will need a blender or food processor so I hope you convinced your parents to buy you that nutri-bullet so you can make those smoothies in the morning that you will rarely end up making. This might seem like a light meal, some veggies or chips dipped in hummus, but I promise you it is very filling and will keep you full all day.
- Add 1/4 cup of chickpeas and 1/4 cup of black beans into your food processor with the juice of half a lemon, two teaspoons of tahini, pinch of salt and pepper, a clove of garlic and a splash of olive oil. Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth, add some more olive oil if necessary (this will make it light and creamy). Also feel free to add a little splash of water to thin the hummus. Add extra of anything you think it is lacking, I usually add extra lemon juice and tahini and sometimes even a dash of cayenne to give it a little extra kick.
- Cut up carrots, celery, broccoli and anything else your heart desires. Throw some pita chips into the mix if you want (the Stacy’s brand sea salt pita chips are the champions in my mind) and begin chowing down.
This is one of my favorite go to vegan meals. It is fun to make, simple and very cheap. It is basically some mashed up tofu mixed with different vegetables topped with any kind of seasonings or sauces that you want. Soy is a really good filling alternative to meat, or in this case scrambled eggs. This is an especially good meal because tofu is a great source of protein, contains all eight essential amino acids, and is an excellent source of iron and calcium and several other minerals. So lets get scambling.
- Start by removing the excess moisture from your block of firm tofu by patting the block with a paper towel. On medium heat drizzle a little olive oil into a cast-iron skillet. Using your hands, break up the block of tofu into mixed size crumbles, similar to those in the picture above. Next take a teaspoon of turmeric and mix it in, I usually add extra here because turmeric is awesome and has really great properties. You can add some chili powder, paprika or any other spice you like in addition to salt and pepper to taste. Add in 1/4 cup of both chickpeas and black beans and stir every minute or so until tofu has dried out a little and the chickpeas and beans have warmed all the way through. Add a handful of spinach and let the leaves cook. Plate and add some farro as a side to create a killer meal, top with hot sauce if you like some extra heat, I always drown mine in the green tabasco sauce.
Baller Veggie Omelette
Omelettes = boring right? Well actually kind of. But hey, they are cheap easy to make and really freaking good for you. They are loaded with all those essential omega 3s and this one contains almost all of those essential food groups that your elementary school health teacher always pestered you about. This omelette is loaded with broccoli, spinach and cheese and comes with a side of farro, black bean and chickpea salad(?) what could be better, well a lot of things but work with me.
- Crack four eggs into a bowl and add salt and pepper and if you’re feeling it a splash of milk. Using a fork or whisk, mix up all that good good until pale yellow in color. Pour into a cast-iron skillet that has been properly oiled up with olive oil or some other neutral oil. Occasionally use a fork and lift the egg to ensure even cooking. Wait for a couple of minutes for the egg to firm up. Sprinkle in a handful of cheese (cheddar jack is by far the best!!!) and then 1/4 cup of our garlic, red pepper flake broccoli and a big handful of spinach leaves. Fold up the omelette and be super careful in doing so because I am a mess and always end up screwing it up here, but no big deal if you do it will still taste awesome. Take it out of the pan when it is golden on the outside and not to watery on the inside.
Farro, bean, chickpea salad
- Mix together equal parts farro, beans and chickpeas and add some green salsa, lemon juice or chili powder if you want to season it. Microwave the combination for 30-45 seconds until hot. Boom done.
Enjoy your cheap meals, feel free to meal prep and make all the components ahead of time if you have a crazy busy week ahead of you, it might make for a less stressful week.