5 Budget-Friendly Weeknight Meals
These easy weeknight meals are a delicious way to save.
The other day I heard my mother-in-law, who was visiting, yell at some corporate bigwig on the evening news to "Give us our money back!" Like many of us, she's thinking about her finances these days. Eating at home more often is one easy way to cut costs. But by how much? We started calculating the price tag for recipes in EatingWell a couple of months ago. It turns out that eating healthfully at home can be pretty affordable compared with going out. And we're not talking about converting to a strict beans-and-rice diet every night of the week. We've even included New York steak and wild Alaskan salmon in this lineup of weeknight meals and they all come in at $4.50 or less a serving-a fraction of what they would cost in a restaurant.
These meals are so affordable, in part, for the same reason that they're so good for you: we don't overdo it on meat. Eating less meat or even vegetarian meals occasionally is healthy. When we include meat or fish in our recipes, we recommend a reasonable-size portion of 3 to 4 ounces per serving. That may seem small if you're used to plate-size porterhouse steaks, but we promise that these recipes won't leave you hungry. We make sure they also include plenty of whole grains, veggies, fruit and flavor. Besides the New York steak (on kebabs with potatoes and peppers) and the salmon (with a spicy red pepper sauce and grilled zucchini) we've also got a pizza topped with arugula and fresh tomatoes, huevos rancheros with green salsa and oven-fried fish-and chips. I definitely can't fix the stock market for my mother-in-law. But I can offer these five recipes as a personal financial stimulus plan that's both tasty and healthful.
Huevos Rancheros Verdes-Huevos rancheros or "ranch eggs" is a classic Mexican dish that is great for a quick dinner. Traditionally, it's made with a red tomato-based sauce. Here we use tart and tangy green salsa instead. Serve with: brown rice and slices of avocado.
Steak & Potato Kebabs with Creamy Cilantro Sauce-Steak kebabs get a Southwestern spin with poblano peppers and a creamy sauce spiked with cilantro, chile powder, cumin and vinegar. The potatoes are partially cooked in the microwave before putting them on the grill so they're done at the same time as faster-cooking steak, peppers and onions. Serve with: Green salad and Spanish rice.
Grilled Salmon & Zucchini with Red Pepper Sauce-Jazz up simply grilled salmon and summer vegetables with a zesty sauce based on the classic Spanish romesco. Made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and almonds, this sauce is a great match for any seafood, poultry or vegetables. Using smoked paprika brings out the flavors from the grill. Serve with: Grilled baguette.
Arugula & Prosciutto Pizza-Sautéed onions, prosciutto and fontina cheese flavor this white pizza. Topping the hot-out-of-the-oven pizza with fresh greens and diced tomatoes gives it a delicious, summery twist. We use store-bought pizza dough to keep it quick. Serve with: Crunchy vegetables and your favorite dip.
Oven-Fried Fish & Chips-Fish and chips are traditionally sold wrapped in paper to soak up all the grease-not a good sign. To cut the calories in half and reduce the fat, we coat the delicate fish in a crispy cornflake crust and then bake it along with sliced potatoes. Serve with: Coleslaw and malt vinegar or lemon wedges.See More HealthyBudget-Friendly Recipes and Menus.