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5 Meals Your Broke A** Can Make For Under $5

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by Kate Brunotts

Listen, I love the holidays as much as anyone else, but there’s no denying that with them comes the “season’s greetings” of a lighter wallet.

Those artisan cat socks you got for your great Aunt Jackie are expensive, and I totally understand being fed up with ramen. 

No you can’t have a gift receipt, Jackie. I starved for these!

Luckily, there’s plenty of meals you can make at home without breaking the bank. It may not be as convenient or fun as eating out, but these meals are sure to keep you full, and most importantly, taste great. 

As a general disclaimer, I based all of my pricing on my neighborhood Brooklyn Wegmans. Note that some of these recipes require seasoning or cooking olive oil that isn’t factored into the cost.

Ooey-Gooey Quesadillas

If you’re like me, you’re a sucker for anything with a bunch of cheese. Quesadillas do just the trick and cost only $3.78-4.47. These ingredients will last you a couple of meals making this choice extra thrifty. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Soft-Flour Tortillas ($1.49)
  • Mexican Fancy Shredded Cheese ($2.29)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 can of Black Beans ($0.69)

Simply spray a cooking oil of your choice on a hot skillet or pan and place a single tortilla down. Cover the tortilla with cheese and drained/washed beans and place another tortilla on top of the mixture. Flip over the Quesadilla and remove from heat once the cheese is melted to your liking.

If you’re feeling extra lazy, you can replicate the process in the microwave, though you won’t get the crispiness of the pan-cooked tortilla. 

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

I wanted to make sure I included some options for you vegan and celiac-sensitive eaters out there. These roasted vegetables are extremely easy to create and are heart-healthy as well! Feel free to mix and match with vegetables of your choice. Any should work, though the more watery/juicy the vegetable is, the better. The total cost is $4.88.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Red Bell pepper ($1.50)
  • 1 Bag of Whole Carrots ($1.29)
  • 1 Broccoli Crown ($0.75)
  • 1 Red Onion ($.90) 
  • 1 Roma Plum Tomato ($0.44)

Set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut vegetables according to preference and place in a large mixing bowl. Coat in olive oil and seasonings and mix with hands to make sure oil and seasoning are evenly distributed. 

Place veggies on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked to taste- Luckily, all of these veggies can be consumed raw, so there’s no way to cook them incorrectly! 

Banana Granola Bowl

Pricey hipster acai and granola bowls are all the rage right now, but you can make one from home at a fraction of the cost, weighing in at just $4.73 for multiple servings. These are great for breakfast or anytime you need a protein-fueled meal. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Box of Generic Granola Bars ($2.00)
  • 32 Oz Plain Nonfat Yogurt ($2.49)
  • 2 Bananas ($0.24)

Break apart granola bars and crumble into your yogurt. Place fruit on top. Feel free to experiment with other fruit combinations. Depending on the day, I may stir a bit of honey into my bowl. 

Cheesy Buttered Noodles

So this one goes over by about by a whopping 24 cents (Total cost is $5.24), but the full batch should last you a couple of meals. This is my personal go-to when I have no idea what I want to make, but I know I want something comforting and tasty. Feel free to swap out the butter with olive oil. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 container of spreadable butter ($1.99)
  • Sharp Cheddar (or your choice) Shredded cheese ($2.29) 
  • Pasta (also your choice) ($0.99) 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix in 1 Tbsp of butter and about a cup of shredded cheese into pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Avocado Toast

Another creation for all you trendy eaters out there! Turns out, this highly coveted commodity only comes out to be $3.98-$ 4.58. I like to have a sunny-side-up egg or two on the side, but that’s optional. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Ripe Avocado ($1.49)
  • OPTIONAL ½ Dozen Eggs ($0.60)
  • 1 Loaf of Whole Wheat Bread ($2.49)

Toast your bread and cook eggs according to preference. Slice and spread avocado on top of toast, add salt/pepper and your favorite seasonings to the top of your toast. I personally like Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on my toasts. 

And there you have it! 5 easy meals that are not only delicious but able to fit comfortably within your budget. Enjoy your happy tummy and wallet. 

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