12 Meals that are Easy, Cheap, and Healthy

One of my big challenges as a law student on a budget is to find recipes that fit all of these criteria. I’ve included 12 of my boyfriend and my staples. This gives a nice two week rotation since we usually end up cooking about 6 times a week. I would love to know if anyone else has other ideas.

Note: We cook with a lot of green pepper because they are cheap and local here in CA. You might want to substitute whatever fits that description in your area. These recipes generally feed 2 people generously. Also, I usually sauté in olive oil but some sort of broth or white wine also works if you are really trying to cut out fats.

  1. White Beans and Tomatoes – You need: Crock-pot, Olive oil, onion, garlic, 3 6” stalks of fresh rosemary, large can of diced tomatoes, and 2 cans of white/northern beans. Sauté chopped onions in olive oil in the crock-pot on the high setting for about 15 minutes. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and let it cook on low in the crock-pot for however long you want. Nothing in this recipe needs cooking so its just a matter of the longer it cooks together the more flavor it will have. I live in Northern California and rosemary is a ubiquitous landscaping plant here so I have an endless free supply. I think it is prolific in other parts of the country too. You might add a little cumin or Tabasco sauce too. Serve with brown bread and a little parmesan cheese.
  2. Black Bean Salad You need: 1 can black beans, 1 can corn or frozen corn, 1 lime, ~2T fresh chopped cilantro, a fresh veggie (I like green pepper or tomato or avocado if you want to splurge). Add all ingredients to a tuper-wear and juice the lime. You might also add some chili powder or tobasco. Let it marinate together for at least 30 minutes. Eat with corn chips.
  3. Pasta You need: whole wheat pasta, jar of marinara sauce (I like Classicos selections), chopped frozen broccoli, parmesan cheese. I like to mix all these ingredients together but you could eat broccoli as a side dish.
  4. Ramen Stir Fry You need: 2 pack ramen noodles, green pepper, onion, 3 eggs, 2T roasted peanuts, stir-fry seasoning. Soak the ramen noodles in warm water while you prep other ingredients. Sauté onion and green pepper. Add 3 eggs and scramble in the same pan as onion and green pepper but keeping the egg somewhat separate. Add the noodles and seasoning. I like to season with a sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, a little sesame oil, a little brown sugar, and quite a bit of lime juice.
  5. Burritos You need: Green pepper, onion, can of black beans, tortillas, cheese and salsa. Sautee green pepper and onion. Add black beans and season with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice. Serve on flour tortillas with cheese (I think grating is worth it) and salsa.
  6. Fried Rice You need: Rice, frozen peas, 2 eggs, onion, garlic, soy sauce, and ginger. I like to make rice ahead of time on the weekend and eat it several times. I usually cook rice in chicken bouillon for flavor. So sauté onion and add frozen peas to defrost. Scramble eggs in same pan. Add rice, ginger, and garlic. Add soy sauce and some sesame oil to taste.
  7. Curry Mushroom Chicken  – You need: Cooked chicken breast or fake chicken (I like Quorn), frozen chopped broccoli, cream of mushroom soup, lemon juice, curry powder, shredded cheddar cheese. Defrost frozen items in microwave. Add a scoop of mushroom soup, ½ T of curry powder, some lemon juice and shredded cheddar to the bowl and microwave again. You could eat with brown rice.
  8. Baked potato â€“ Baked potatoes are great because you can put so many things on top of them. Some of the thing I like to put on are Morningstar crumbles (fake hamburger meat), sautéed mushrooms (season with Worcestershire), broccoli, salsa, shredded cheese, or black beans.
  9. Salmon Cakes â€“ You need: 1 can pink salmon, 1 can white/northern beans, lemon juice, dill or thyme, minced garlic, 1 egg. Mix all ingredients together mashing beans and salmon. Make into patties and fry in olive oil. Serve on brown bread and add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if you like.
  10. Veggie Burgers â€“ Buy a pack of frozen veggie burgers (Morning star veggie burgers will usually go on sale for about $.75/patty.) serve on wheat toast (b/c I don’t like to buy special buns) with thinly sliced cheese and mustard.
  11. Hot dogs â€“ Depending on whether cheap or healthy is more important to me at the time, I will buy veggie hot dogs (healthy) or turkey hot dogs (cheap). We like eating them on whole wheat sandwich bread with sauerkraut and mustard. We usually have a can of baked beans on the side.
  12. Heuvos Rancheros â€“ You need: 4 eggs, flour tortillas, black beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. Scramble eggs. Warm tortillas in the microwave. Warm black beans sprinkled with lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder in the microwave. Top tortillas with beans, egg, shredded cheese, and salsa.