Everyone has recurring fixed expenses in their budget, especially first-time apartment dwellers learning to balance life costs. Among these costs, keeping track of food can be tricky. It’s tempting to save time and order delivery or takeout, but that’s always more expensive than using your groceries to make a home-cooked meal. Yes, food is a necessity, but if you’re not careful, you might spend way more than you need to. Avoid this trap with these four easy summer meals that fit your grocery budget.
How do I determine my grocery budget?
Set up your grocery budget by determining your fixed, necessary expenses and your savings goals. Use these numbers to determine how much you can allocate for food and commit to not exceeding the money you’ve set aside for this purpose.
1. Chicken Pasta Salad
Make a chicken pasta salad for a tasty, healthy meal that’s also super affordable. Cook fusilli pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water until the pasta is al dente, then drain the fusilli and transfer it to a large bowl.
Next, season chicken breasts with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until golden and cooked through, eight minutes per side. Cool the chicken for ten minutes, then cut into one-inch pieces.
While the chicken cooks, make your salad dressing in a medium bowl. Whisk together Italian seasoning, oil, garlic, vinegar, and mustard. Then, season your mixture with salt and pepper.
Finally, in the large bowl with the pasta, mix all remaining ingredients: crumbled feta, grape tomatoes, chopped dill, red onion, and bacon bits. Pour your homemade dressing over the salad, toss until coated, and serve.
2. Mediterranean Couscous
This budget-friendly, versatile, easy Mediterranean couscous recipe can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
To make two servings, combine one cup of couscous with one cup of boiling salted water. Stir, cover, and let the couscous sit for five minutes before fluffing with a fork. Add a tablespoon each of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add one-half teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili powder. Stir the couscous.
Mix in one-quarter cup toasted and chopped almonds, one-quarter cup raisins, half a sautéed onion, and half a sautéed red bell pepper. Top the recipe with two ounces of feta crumbles and some mint leaves.
3. Cheesy Spinach Pesto Flatbread
Make a quick and delicious cheesy spinach pesto flatbread meal to enjoy dinner without overspending. You can use flatbread, store-bought naan, or a pizza crust for this affordable recipe.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Spread pesto evenly over a flatbread. Sprinkle your flatbread evenly with mozzarella, add some spinach, then top with red pepper flakes.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling, which should take approximately 10 minutes. Remove your cheesy spinach pesto flatbread from the oven, cut into slices, and serve.
4. Tuna Melts with Avocado
Here’s a savory, inexpensive recipe for tuna melts with avocado. You can serve this meal with carrots or celery sticks and a bit of light ranch dressing as a dipping side.
Preheat the broiler to a high temperature. Combine the following six ingredients in a medium bowl and stir: 2.5 tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of thinly sliced shallots, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and a six-ounce can of drained and flaked white tuna.
Next, pour lemon juice in a small bowl. Peel, seed, and chop avocado. Add avocado to the lemon juice and toss. Add the avocado mixture and tomatoes to the tuna mixture; toss well to combine. Sprinkle cheese evenly over cut sides of bread, and broil for three minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Place bread slices cheese-side-up on a plate, divide tuna mixture evenly among bread slices, and serve.
What are your favorite affordable summer meals for sticking to your food budget? Share them in the comments!