Tasty $10 din­ners to try tonight

$10 din­ners to try tonight

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Amy Ryan For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Tight­en­ing your belt af­ter Tax Day? Stretch your bud­get with healthy $10 din­ners your fam­ily will love like black bean chili.

“It’s a one-pot meal,” said Ashvini Mashru of Well­ness Nu­tri­tion Con­cepts in Malvern, who serves chili with a side salad and whole-grain roll. “It is very healthy. It has fiber and an­tiox­i­dants.”

The reg­is­tered di­eti­tian nu­tri­tion­ist buys dried beans in bulk, soaks them overnight and makes “enough (chili) to last three to four days for lunches and din­ner.” She even mixes beans with ground beef to cre­ate a “half veg­gie burger.”

“Beans are very cheap,” Mashru ex­plained. “Eggs are the next cheap­est source of pro­tein.”

An­other “easy, fam­i­lyfriendly” recipe: baked riga­toni.

“You can com­bine it with a nice salad — fresh sea­sonal greens that you got from a farm­ers’ mar­ket,” she said. “Kale, chard, col­lard greens, spinach, broc­coli – they are very in­ex­pen­sive, and you can buy them in bulk.”

What­ever you choose, “I al­ways rec­om­mend shop­ping on the week­end and mak­ing a plan,” Mashru stressed.

“One of the best ways to save money is uti­liz­ing ev­ery­thing you bring into the kitchen,” agreed chef Libby Mills of West Ch­ester, spokesper­son for the Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics. “Come up with a game plan to use what you’ve got and think about what you want to pur­chase at the store.”

Cash in by shop­ping sales, eat­ing sea­son­ally and freez­ing ex­tras.

“Veg­eta­bles you can blanch and put in the freezer. The meat can go right in the freezer,” said Mills, also a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian nu­tri­tion­ist. “Other items that add a lot of value to meals, but aren’t too ex­pen­sive are al­ba­core tuna and canned chicken.”

When buy­ing fresh, “you can al­ways save money on chicken if you pur­chase it on the bone rather than off,” she re­minded.

Save those bones (and veg­gie scraps) for home­made chicken stock.

“Noth­ing should go to waste,” Mills said. “Keep a run­ning stock bag in the freezer.”

And when it comes to recipes, she too likes eggs.

“One of my fa­vorite dishes would be to make an egg casse­role,” Mills de­scribed. “It makes a great break­fast. It makes a great din­ner.”

Baked Riga­toni IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 (16-ounce) box riga­toni or penne pasta (I rec­om­mend buy­ing whole grain) 1 pound lean ground beef 1 (28-ounce) can plum toma­toes 1 onion, chopped Gar­lic, to taste Cook beef in a large non­stick skil­let over medi­umhigh heat un­til browned; stir to crum­ble. Drain well. Com­bine beef, cooked riga­toni, toma­toes, onion and gar­lic to taste. Bake at 350 de­grees for 20 min­utes or un­til thor­oughly heated. If you have some around the house, you can add moz­zarella or Parme­san cheese

on top. Ap­prox­i­mate cost: $9.81 RECIPE COURTESY OF WELL­NESS NU­TRI­TION CON­CEPTS

Black Bean Chili IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

1 onion, chopped Gar­lic, to taste 1 bell pep­per, seeded and chopped 1 (15.5-ounce) can low­sodium black beans 1 (14.5-ounce can) chicken broth 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed toma­toes ½ pound ground turkey


Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add first three in­gre­di­ents and turkey; cook for 6 min­utes or un­til turkey is done, stir­ring fre­quently to crum­ble. Rinse and drain the canned beans. Stir in beans, toma­toes and half of the can of chicken broth; bring to a boil. Re­duce heat and sim­mer 30 min­utes. Ap­prox­i­mate cost: $9.45 RECIPE COURTESY OF WELL­NESS NU­TRI­TION CON­CEPTS

Half Veg­gie Burger IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

3 cups cooked lentils or beans 1 cup finely chopped bell pep­per or other veg­etable 1 pound ground beef or other

ground meat 1 egg (op­tional) Salt and pep­per, to taste 8 whole-wheat buns


Roughly mash the lentils with the back of a large spoon. Mix the lentils, bell pep­per and ground beef with your hands in a large bowl. If you’re grilling, add an egg to keep the pat­ties from crum­bling. Sea­son with salt and pep­per and form into eight pat­ties. Place a large skil­let over medium-high heat and add the pat­ties. Sear them un­til they’re dark brown on one side, about 5 min­utes, then flip and do the same on the other side. Serve on toasted buns with your fa­vorite condi­ments and fresh veg­eta­bles. Serves eight. Ap­prox­i­mate cost: $10. RECIPE COURTESY OF WELL­NESS NU­TRI­TION CON­CEPTS

Sal­mon Cakes over Lemony Greens

Sal­mon cakes are so easy. Try using canned chicken or tuna. Canned sal­mon is a great way to get omega-3 fats which are im­por­tant for our brain health as well as re­duc­ing any in­flam­ma­tion caused by stress. For $9.13, it’s good for our wal­lets too! (If using 6 cups of let­tuce, it would cost $9.68.)


1 (15-ounce) can of sal­mon 1 egg ¼ cup chopped onion ¼ cup finely chopped cel­ery ½ cup bread­crumbs (See note) 1 ta­ble­spoon oil 4 cups greens, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces 1 ap­ple, washed and cut into chunks


Drain the canned sal­mon, re­serv­ing the liq­uid. In a medium mix­ing bowl, break apart the sal­mon chunks with a fork. Re­move any large bones. Stir in the egg, onion and cel­ery. Stir in enough bread­crumbs to re­duce the stick­i­ness enough to eas­ily form pat­ties. In a large skil­let, heat the oil over medium heat. Spread the oil across the skil­let sur­face using a spat­ula and place the pat­ties onto the oiled sur­face. Cook each side 4 to 7 min­utes un­til browned. Serve warm over bed of greens that have been dressed with lemon vinai­grette and chunks of ap­ple. Serves four. 1½ ta­ble­spoons lemon 3 ta­ble­spoons olive oil In a large bowl, whisk to­gether lemon juice and olive oil. Toss 4 to 6 cups of greens (one head of ro­maine let­tuce) with the dress­ing. Plate and top with a sal­mon cake and a twist of freshly ground black pep­per.

Note: Freeze the heels of bread in a freezer-grade plastic bag. When ready to make bread­crumbs, dry out the bread and pulse in a food pro­ces­sor. Dried bread chunks can also be grated to make bread­crumbs. RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF LIBBY MILLS

Mediter­ranean Hash

In one pan, all the Mediter­ranean fla­vors I love come to­gether in min­utes. The sunny-side up pre­sen­ta­tion of pro­tein on a col­or­ful back­drop of fiber and plenty of veg­eta­bles make my Mediter­ranean Hash the per­fect fuel to start to my day.


1 tea­spoon olive oil 1 clove fresh gar­lic, minced or 1⁄8 tea­spoon gar­lic pow­der ½ cup chick­peas, rinsed and drained ¼ cup red pep­pers, diced ¼ cup wa­ter-packed canned artichokes, drained and chopped 1 ta­ble­spoon bal­samic vine­gar 1 cup fresh baby spinach ¼ cup grape toma­toes, halved 1 scal­lion, chopped Salt and freshly cracked pep­per to taste 1 egg ¼ tea­spoon fresh dill, chopped or 1⁄8 tea­spoon dried dill


Over medium heat, warm a medium sauté pan. Heat the olive oil and add the gar­lic. Stir­ring, cook the gar­lic 30 sec­onds be­fore mix­ing in the chick­peas, pep­per and artichokes. Cook for 3 to 5 min­utes un­til ev­ery­thing is hot. In­cor­po­rate the bal­samic vine­gar, spinach, toma­toes, scal­lions and dill. Lightly sea­son with salt and pep­per as de­sired. Im­me­di­ately make a well in the cen­ter of the hash. Spray the bot­tom of the pan with olive oil and add the raw egg be­ing care­ful not to break the yolk. Im­me­di­ately cover and re­duce the heat to medi­um­low. Cook an­other 2 min­utes al­low­ing the spinach to wilt and the egg to cook. (I cook my egg 3 to 4 min­utes be­cause I like my eggs cooked solid.) Serve the hash with the egg on top. Top with a few sprigs of fresh dill. Ap­prox­i­mate cost if using the fresh dill, but elim­i­nat­ing the red bell pep­per: $2.32 per serv­ing. As din­ner for four the to­tal cost is $9.28.

Vari­a­tion: Add a few red pep­per flakes when sautéing the gar­lic. RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF LIBBY MILLS


Can’t find whole-wheat riga­toni? Sub­sti­tute penne in this easy and sat­is­fy­ing baked pasta dish.


Save big by pur­chas­ing dried beans in bulk.


Buy­ing greens and other pro­duce in bulk can help cut costs.


Eggs are an­other in­ex­pen­sive pro­tein.


Shop CSAs and farm­ers’ mar­kets for sea­sonal pro­duce.


Save on sea­sonal pro­duce at lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­kets.


Ashvini Mashru rec­om­mends “shop­ping on the week­end and mak­ing a plan.”

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