skirt steak with buttered radishes + giveaway!

skirt steak with buttered radishes

Hi, friends. Today, let’s talk to one another, frankly, about money. Or rather how we worry about money in this economy; and let’s face it — most of us, in some way or another, have worried about money at some point especially since 2008. Am I right?

Money conversations are never fun and are almost always awkward. I’m not sure why, but in our culture, money conversations are considered bad form. We can talk about income disparity, socio-economics, income levels, but when the matter of personal income is concerned, the conversation pretty much stops.

But it would be unfair to write about food, eating well, shopping at farmers’ markets, seeking out the best ingredients, and not, implicitly, bring up money. No one’s going to give you a dozen eggs for free, never mind a dozen eggs from fancy hens with their own names. Ramps and fiddlehead ferns (the trendy darlings of spring) aren’t cheap. Go to the farmer’s market in mid-August and try to buy a few tomatoes – they’ll cost you.

skirt steak with buttered radishes

And I’m not saying they are unfairly priced, nor am I suggesting that we shouldn’t spend more money on food, but everyone has a different budget depending on cost of living, outstanding loans (student loans, anyone?), and various personal details. And while something might be fairly priced (a hand-stitched Birkin bag, for example), it doesn’t make any more affordable to someone like me.

For the moment, Andrew and I, while carefully watching our spending, shop our greenmarkets and local grocery stores, but we don’t have a set, hard budget for food. We try to be economical, try to fit in within certain price parameters, splurge on a few oysters from time to time, and treat ourselves to an occasional special bottle of wine. But we’re not trying to eat on a hard budget of x dollars a day, and we are very lucky that way. When we purchase our meat it’s either pasture-raised, organic, and always, always hormone-free. We’ve decided a long time ago, that we’d rather eat quality ingredients, than have more spending money on entertainment. But we are lucky to have the option of having a choice to do that. Many people don’t have that choice, and the challenge of providing a delicious, good-for-you, budget-conscious meal is a challenge especially when processed food, comparatively, might seem like such a bargain. And it’s a particular challenge if you’re thinking hormone/pesticide free, organic, local, and so on.

You can see how it’s easy to get preachy and seemingly judgemental about eating well.

My friend Caroline Wright, a wonderful food writer, who once lived in Brooklyn, and now calls Dallas home, wrote a book that’s as practical and thrifty as it is delicious, and appropriately titled it “Twenty Dollar, Twenty Minute Meals”. The recipes, intended for four people, are bright, delicious, and best of all – fast. Not only will your stomach thank you, but your wallet will too. And you’ll be able to cook and eat dinner in no time, which is of huge help especially on busy weeknights.

skirt steak with buttered radishes

I decided to make Caroline’s steak with buttered radishes, and while I was hoping to get radishes from my farmers’ market, since they’d be tastier, I realized that I was slightly pressed for time, and raided the crisper where we had a handful of radishes sitting around. Since thriftiness also means wasting less, I figured Caroline would approve of my decision. I used skirt steak because I had it on hand, so I had to adjust for the cooking time (slightly less than a London broil). Twenty minutes later, Andrew and I sat down to dinner of lovely steak, buttered radishes, and a brightly acidic herb sauce! I made a simple salad to go with our steak and radishes: a peppery arugula dressed with lemon zest, a few drops of lemon juice, and olive oil. I couldn’t resist doing some quick math in the back of my head, and I was a little over half of the twenty dollar budget (given that we were only two people and that I added a salad to our dinner).

And with a glass of wine, the whole meal, while simple, felt celebratory, which is to say that weeknight meals should be exactly that – festive and rewarding for a hard day’s work.

I’m doing a giveaway of a copy of Caroline’s “Twenty Dollar, Twenty Minute Meals”. All you have to do is leave a comment answering the following questoin: What is your knock-their-socks off meal that’s as inexpensive to put together as it delicious? Be sure to provide your email address (only I can see it), so I can contact you in case you win. Comments up until 11:59pm on May 12, will be considered for the giveaway. I’ll pick the winner at random, and get in touch with him or her about the prize, which Workman Publishing will ship to the winner. Good luck to you all, and I’m very curious about your budget-friendly stunner of a dish.

Skirt Steak with Buttered Radishes
Adapted from “Twenty Dollar, Twenty Minute Meals” by Caroline Wright

In the recipe, I instruct you to stir the vinegar in last. If you’re wondering why, it’s because vinegar makes greens go drab, color wise, the second you add it in. If you’re making this for a crowd (no doubt, your steak / amounts will be bigger), and even if you’re making this just for you and another person, it’s still lovely to have bright, verdant herbs next to the steak and radishes, instead of the dark brownish-green ones. Caroline’s original recipe is for 4 people, but I cut everything in half to make it for 2. I also changed the type of meat, swapping out london broil for a skirt steak (I’m not sure which cut is less expensive, but they’re both decent bargains).

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 radishes, halved or quartered, depending on size
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees F (246 degrees C; gas mark 9).

2. Let the steak come to room temperature. Thoroughly pat steak dry and generously season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet set over medium high heat, until almost smoking. Add the steak and brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness of steak. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the steak reaches the desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium-rare. Let the meat rest on a cutting board 10 minutes before carving.

3. While the steak rests, in a small bowl, combine fresh herbs, remaining olive oil, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

4. In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the butter until foaming, add the radishes and cook, stirring from time to time, until lightly browned and crisp-tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and remove to a platter.

5. Slice the steak and arrange it next to the radishes. Stir in the vinegar into the chopped herb mixture, and serve immediately alongside steak.

Serves 2


  • Molly

    Affordable, delicious meals is actually why Is started blogging. My husband was laid off and we survived, and I wanted to help other people who are in the same boat. There’s a Vietnamese cabbage dish on my blog — thanks Melissa Clark! — which costs pennies to make and is extraordinarily delicious. Topped with some roasted tofu and it’s a whole meal. Now, it may not necessarily be a fancy meal, but it’s cheap, tasty, and I love serving it. (

  • Meghan

    I make a cheater “cassoulet” by frying some bacon, then softening chopped onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms in the leftover bacon fat and mixing everything with a couple of cans of white beans. If I’m feeling really lazy, that’s enough, but usually it gets thrown in a baking dish with breadcrumbs and sausage on top. Sometimes, the breadcrumbs get mixed with garlic (fresh) and parsley (dried).

  • Lena

    Roasted chicken .. all you need to do is buy the chicken and then I just throw everything in the pantry at it and throw it all in the oven (olive oil, and whatever spices/herbs strike my fancy (read as “have on hand”)). It always comes out perfect. I’ll usually roast some brussels sprouts or potatoes (olive oil, salt, pepper, some dill if I have some laying around) and throw those in the oven as a side. So homey and delish. Always a winnner.

  • Gloria Goodwin Raheja

    Since this post is also about saving time, my suggestion is this. Make a jar of homemade Thai curry paste (green or red), following the recipes given in Nancie McDermott’s wonderful little cookbook, “Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking.” The paste is easy to make and it tastes a thousand times better than the stuff one can buy in the grocery store. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks, and during that time you can make delicious meals in less than twenty minutes, using ground pork or chicken, thinly sliced or diced pork or chicken, shrimp or catfish, or tofu as your protein, and broccoli, peppers, baby bok choy or other vegetables, served with jasmine rice. Here’s an example I devised using ground chicken, baby bok choy, and red bell peppers:

    Tbsp. vegetable oil
    3 Tbsp. red curry paste
    ½ lb. ground chicken
    2 ½ Tbsp. fish sauce
    2 Tbsp. water
    2 tsp. sugar
    1 red pepper, sliced
    2 or 3 heads of baby bok choy, cut into one-inch lengths

    In a wok or medium skillet, heat the oil over low heat until very warm but not too hot. Add the curry paste, which should sizzle gently as soon as it meets the oil, and press and stir it into the oil, until it is well blended, fragrant and shiny, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and stir-fry to coat it evenly with the curry paste, about 3 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.

    Add the red pepper and stir fry for one minute. Then add the bok choy, and stir fry for thirty seconds. Then add the fish sauce, water, and sugar. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

    And here’s the recipe for the red curry paste, from McDermott’s cookbook. It takes a bit of time to make it, but once you have your curry paste you can make so many wonderful meals in a snap.

    ½ cup small dried red chilies
    10 whole peppercorns
    1 Tbsp. whole coriander seeds
    1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    4 stalks fresh lemongrass
    1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro root, or stems and leaves
    1 Tbsp. grated peeled fresh galangal or fresh ginger
    1 tsp. lime zest
    2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
    ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallot
    1 tsp. shrimp paste
    1 tsp. salt

    Stem the chilies and shake out and discard most of the seeds. Chop coarsely and place in small bowl. Add warm water and cover and soak for 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the coriander seeds in a small skillet and dry-fry over medium heat until slightly darkened and fragrant. Shake the pan to prevent burning. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl and toast the cumin seeds in the same way. Combine the roasted cooled seeds with the peppercorns and grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Set aside.

    Trim the lemongrass stalks. Cut away and discard the grassy tops and the bottom hard portion, leaving a stalk about 3 inches in length. Remove and discard the tough outer leaves. Slice each stalk very thinly and put them in the Cuisinart. Drain the chilies and reserve the soaking water. Add the chilies and all the other ingredients and process until a paste forms, adding a little of the water as necessary to process.

    When the paste is fairly smooth, transfer it to a small glass jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.

  • Victoria S.

    Anything prepared in individual crocks in the oven…it is such a flexible meal and it always seems that an individual container makes it that much special. My usual scenario: ground beef, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and some zucchini (which I absolutely love in anything). Potatoes (added right in), or rice (cooked separately) make for a heartier meal. :)

  • Elise

    Cast iron chicken! No butter, no oil, no lemon, no rosemary – just generously (and i mean, generously) salt the outside of the chicken, butterfly it, and arrange it breast side up in a cast iron skillet (make sure optimum surface area is touching the pan). The more salt on the outside, the crispier the skin and the more the meat retains moisture. We serve it with a raw kale salad (raw kale marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and parmesan cheese) and roasted potatoes sprinkled with paprika.

  • Beth

    Flank steak, marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, and grilled served with a salad of romaine, feta, red onion with dressing (10 ounce jar of seedless raspberry polaner all fruit, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 C olive oil)!

  • Terry Taylor

    I spent about half of the year traveling in a motorhome with my husband. We do have a full kitchen with a dishwasher, but still cook in a small work space with limited pantry storage. The fun part of travel is eating/cooking with/learning about regional foods – but it’s not fun trying to find a specific ingredient in an unfamiliar community/grocer.

    This recipe is inexpensive, fast and the ingredients are readily available. Even better, it requires just one pot and a colander.


    Spaghetti with Pepper. Four ingredients: spaghetti, black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese and a splash of olive oil. One pot and a strainer/colander.

    My version of spaghetti cacio e pepe does not require making a cheese sauce which makes the pot so much easier to clean. And though the four ingredients sound easy and every-day, this dish just isn’t good unless you crack the pepper and grate the best-quality Pecorino Romano you can find.

    1 lb. spaghetti pasta
    1 Tablespoon freshly-cracked black pepper (or more)
    2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
    4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Boil pasta, according to package directions or until al dente. Meanwhile, grind black pepper corns to a medium grind. Grate Pecorino Romano cheese on the finest blade on your grater. Just before draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water. Drain pasta in colander. Heat olive oil in cooking pot for a few seconds and remove from heat. Place the drained pasta back into the cooking pot with the olive oil and reserved water. Toss in the freshly cracked black pepper. Stir to coat. Serve immediately, sprinkled very generously with the grated cheese.

    Serves four or more.

  • Margaret

    I like to do risotto, I always have arborio rice and bouillon on hand, and I can play with the extras depending on what I have or what I feel like spending – frozen shrimp or scallops, mushrooms, veggies … it’s great as a main course and I add a simple salad to serve alongside.

  • Teresa

    Bagna Cauda over roasted whatever vegetable was on special. There’s 4 ingredients, little prep time, and it has more flavor than anyone would expect

  • Carly

    My summer go-to dish is from Bon Appetit quite a few years ago… ‘Seared Mahi-Mahi with Green Gazpacho’, which is the most delicious, refreshing, super-quick dish! I never use mahi-mahi (for a trifecta of price-availability-environmental reasons), but pick up whichever white fish is on special at the market that day. From there is a quick food process (or blend) of cucumber, green onions, cilantro, and a couple serrano chiles (or whichever chile you’re partial to/can find) – less than $4 all together – with some olive oil and white balsamic, items I always have in the pantry. Five or ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt, pepper, and cumin, and sear each side until the fish is opaque in the middle. Top with tomatoes – whatever’s in season, cheapest, etc – and dinner is done!

    I’ve paired the dish with some oven-roasted potatoes before, for extended family who can’t imagine dinner without some sort of starch.

    Here’s the link, which is worth a gander for the photo – how refreshing does that look?!

  • Anne V

    Surprisingly? My whole family loves this roasted vegetable recipe and my older son has actually prepared it at friends’ houses. It happens to be vegetarian, but could be a hearty side-dish:

    Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa

    (no quantities given, prepare as much as seems good to you)

    1 recipe Quinoa – I use 2 Cups quinoa and a little less than 4 Cups of boiling water. If you have a favorite broth on hand, use it instead of the water

    Peel and cube a combination of butternut squash and beets. I try to find a squash that is about 1.5 lbs, and a bunch of 4 or 5 good sized beets.

    After they are cubed, toss the squash separately from the beets in a little olive oil. Chopped fresh rosemary is good added here as well.

    Arrange the squash on one cookie sheet and the beets on another. Roast them in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender. If you like roasted onions, you may add some chopped onions to either or both pans when there is 10-15 minutes left.

    Spoon cooked quinoa onto a serving platter. Top with roasted vegetables, then with cubed feta cheese. You can drizzle a little balsamic vinaigrette over or perhaps a lemon vinaigrette.

  • Kathleen

    Being a student, price and time are everything. My dorm doesn’t have a huge kitchen, so I have to be creative. However for a yummy treat, core apples, place cored apple in a lined cake pan, and fill hole with brown sugar and cinnamon, douse with apple vinegar, then place generous pat of butter on top. Bake on low until butter and sugar have melted and apple is tender. You can slice the apple and add it to cooked oatmeal, with honey, and cinnamon and a cold glass of milk for breakfast! Way better than cold pizza!

  • Neena

    When the wallet and refrigerator look bare, I love to throw together a pad thai for my family. I always have peanuts/PB and sriracha and soy sauce and dried noodles hanging out in the pantry, and basil grows like a weed in my backyard, and I buy limes by the metric ton (practically) so there are always several rolling around in my crisper drawer, and I’m lucky to live near Asian markets where it’s cheap and quick to pick up a small bag of bean sprouts and shrimp if I have a few extra bucks, otherwise a block of tofu if it’s the very tail end of the month. Pad thai is such a flavorful and abundant meal and costs only a few dollars to put together in a hurry.

  • Lindsay-Jean

    Seasonal variations of Smitten Kitchen’s Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley salad!

  • sara

    Roasted chicken! :)
    Also – this steak looks amazing and gives me a great idea of what to do with radishes next time we get them in our slow cooker!

  • sara

    Haha, I don’t know where I came up with ‘slow cooker’ at the end of that sentence…clearly should read “CSA.” :-D

  • Alice

    I love to use bananas that didn’t get eaten and make some homemade banana bread. It’s simple yet wonderful.

  • Suzanne

    Pasta, blue cheese, and baby spinach. Boil the pasta, drain all but a few spoonfuls of water, then throw the other two ingredients in (chopping optional) and stir. Season with salt and pepper. If you buy grocery store brands, you can do it for four people in $10 and 10 minutes, and it works with any soft cheese and quick cooking vegetable in season.

  • Annie

    My favorite inexpensive but delicious dish is chipotle sweet potato & black bean tacos (or enchiladas)! It’s also easy – and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. yum…

  • Dee

    My budget meal is whole wheat pasta with sauteed fresh vegetables–the possibilities are endless!

  • Elizabeth

    Nothing beats simple tomato sauce, pasta, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. It’s budget friendly perfection!

  • Bethany Kocher

    Penne with vodka sauce…. the most expensive part is the proscuto and always delivers on flavor.

  • Lydia W.

    I like to impress people with homemade pizza. I throw the dough together the night before (usually the only thing I don’t already have on hand is fresh yeast) and blend up a simple red sauce with canned whole tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic. I make them individual-sized and let people top them however they want. My favorite is mozzarella and basil or goat cheese, red pepper, and arugula.

  • Kristin

    I’ve got to echo some other posts and say homemade pizza and roasted vegetables. Homemade pizza dough costs next to nothing and we tend to top ours with whatever we already have on hand. And a collection of cheap root vegetables can become a show-stopper when roasted with fresh herbs.

    I have to chime in with my two cents on something you said, too. I disagree that farmers markets are necessarily expensive – you can find tons of delicious, in-season food at my local farmers market for very little money. Besides the regular low prices, some things are sold in bulk (this winter there were 50 lb bags of potatoes for $8-10!) and there are tables of “seconds” (onions that won’t keep, $1 bushels of soft tomatoes just right for sauce). In my experience, the farmers market is full of bargains!

  • melissa

    there’s a jamie oliver recipe for spaghetti bolognese that we make often for guests, because it’s easy and pretty inexpensive, even using the grass-fed, organic ground beef. plus, it is amazingly delicious!

  • Jessica

    I’ll be third here to say that homemade pizza is my budget friendly meal for a group. It’s easy and makes leftovers for us the next day!

  • Mariah

    I tends to eat inexpensive ingredients that require lots of time (homemade pizza dough, dried bean-based meals, stews, etc.).

    However, my absolute favorite quick-and-cheap meal is a simple miso-noodle soup. It’s a great catch-all for whatever ingredients I have lying around.

    In the most basic iteration, it’s broth, miso paste, soy sauce, soba noodles, dried kombu, and tofu– it costs about 20 cents per serving!

    That said, if I have dried mushrooms, I throw those in. Microplaned ginger root, spinach, whole cloves of garlic, chives (as a garnish), tuna, a hard-boiled egg, sesame oil, or mirin also make it awesome.

    You can also substitute out or omit basically any of the ingredients. It’s a really filling dish on its own, but also works well in small portions as a side.

  • Gabriela

    Frequently when I’m feeding others, I tend to splurge on nice ingredients- particularly fancy cheeses. But because I eat meatless most of the time, its still pretty inexpensive. I find that homemade pasta is a super cheap (though somewhat time consuming) way to impress. I use the recipe from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook- 2 cups flour, 3 large eggs. Mix by hand or in a food processor until it comes together (can add a little water or more egg if you need to). Cook up a nice tomato sauce, or add some roasted seasonal vegetables, and you have a lovely meal.

  • jacquie

    beans(cooked from dry) over a barley and rice combo with seasonal fresh veggies or salad and a little bit of homemade bread. followed by seasonal fruits, topped w/ seasonal fruit (or from freezer) and a sprinkling of homemade granola.

  • Eileen

    Hooray for thrifty cooking! These radishes especially sound great. I love radishes roasted, but have never tried them on the stovetop–clearly I need to get on that.

    I love a lot of the cheapest vegetables best–cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, for instance–but I think my real cheap food love is dried beans. Soak them and boil them and you have the cheapest & best source of protein ever. And then you can make chili! And pasta fagioli! And hummus! And all kinds of other things. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • Tamar

    We like to do mujaddara, just rice, lentils, and carmelized onions, with a side of yogurt. We use the recipe from Not Derby Pie. Lots of other lentil dishes too, they are hard to beat for cheap, filling, and yummy.

  • Meagan

    You know, I’m still trying to find that ONE. I guess for now it is carnitas…cheap, easy and EVERYONE LOVES CARNITAS! Thank you for the giveaway :)

  • lia

    build your own taco night! ground turkey with spices and lots of onion. guacamole with lots of cilantro. beans. and when people are tired of building tacos. add the toppings to salad. healthy and delicious.

  • Dawn-Renée

    I do a play on a Bobby Flay recipe with the lowly pork butt and a quick kimchi…and the beauty of the recipe is that the pork butt doesn’t have to be cooked low and slow! Delish!

  • Maria

    homemade spaghetti and meatballs! quick to pull together, super cheap yet delish. plus then I have extra meatballs for freezing and eating later!

  • Daniella

    My budget-friendly meal is stir-fry. I try to keep a couple of bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer, and whenever I get chicken breasts or thighs or something and there are a little leftover, I freeze them. Like last night, when I ran into a timing issue, all you have to do is take out enough meat scraps the morning of, dice fine, cook in your choice of sauce (mine is a teriyaki/mustard blend, heavier on the mustard, warmed with olive oil), then dump the vegetables in on top. Picky-eater acceptable, within fifteen minutes.

  • Cara

    Peanut noodles! Really excited about this book – and thanks for talking about money + ingredients today!

  • Rachel

    dried beans cooked with onion/celery/parsley/dried chile pepper, simmered with their broth to sauteed onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, canned tomato and a chipotle en adobo, and a bit of corn in the summer.. served with tortillas, lime wedges, cilantro, maybe cheese or a bit of avocado if its on hand. usually alongside a slaw, and some fruit, perhaps with grilled meat if my father invites me over :)

  • Melissa Lavrinc Smith

    What an awesome post! Just the comments are incredible! I cook a bag of pasta (organic, whole grain, or gluten free), either toss in a bag of organic frozen broccoli at the end or roast it at a super high temp with a bit of salt and olive oil, and then toss it with shaved or shredded parm, walnuts, and chili flakes, and more salt. If I have a bit of homemade chicken stock I’ll add that too. It makes great leftovers and is great at all temps.

  • Dana

    There’s a restaurant in LA that makes a pasta dish called Pasta Mama or something similar. Basically, it’s whole grain pasta, scrambled eggs (or poached is yum too), with whatever veg, cheese, meat you want to add. A favorite of ours is carmelized onion and garlic, broccoli, asparagus, chicken or veg sausage, fresh Parmesan shavings, and scrambled eggs. i top it with crushed spicy pepper or hot sauce. I use whatever I need to finish from the farmers market. So yummy, cheap, and can be very healthy!

  • T.R.

    My lasagna. Simple and easy. It’s a basic recipe that can be adjusted to fit vegetarians and vegans. Beef, pork or turkey.

  • Elle

    As a student (soon to be Real Person… eep!) I can definitely relate to this post. Thankfully, I also have a handy arsenal of fairly inexpensive meals! Some favorites include: peanut noodles (spaghetti {soba if I have the spare money}, stir fried broccoli & tempeh, and sauce made from peanut butter, vinegar, sriracha, soy sauce, and water to thin), sweet potato black bean burritos, pasta with whatever vegetables I have and tomato sauce, curried roasted cauliflower (a personal favorite!), or often just potato salad (boiled potatoes, white vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, and any fresh herbs I have) and whatever vegetables I have lying around for a green salad.

    A lot of my cooking apparently involves just throwing together whatever vegetables I have on hand! I also sometimes just do a big fry up with potatoes and vegetables plus a fried egg and some cheese (perhaps not super healthy, but it’s not horrible either!). Either way, it allows me to buy whatever vegetables are on sale and then use them in “template” recipes. I usually have one or two special dishes/items I want when I shop, and the rest I fill in from what’s available.

  • SueJ

    I have two favorites for their affordable-ness and impressiveness when in a $ pinch and I still want to entertain, Homemade pizza on the grill. Lots of people have mentioned pizza so I won’t go into details here. But grilling it is the knock your socks off factor. My other is Grilled Vegetable Israeli Pearl Couscous. (with or without added meat/tofu) Choose whatever vegetables make you happy. I like to always include mushrooms, red pepper, sweet onion, and zucchini. But you can get fancy with spring onions, asparagus and assorted squashes and mushrooms. Cut up vegetables into nice sized cooking pieces, considering how you will cut them down and if you will cut them down before “plattering”. Marinate for a few hours if you have time, or at least get them all really coated with olive oil if you are doing it last minute. Toss in any fresh herbs you have laying around. For couscous, 1 cup pearl couscous to 1.5 cups stock or water. One or two garlic cloves and olive oil. To prepare: Heat Grill and start couscous. For couscous lightly coat the bottom of a big pan (that has a lid) with olive oil. peel and smash garlic and gently get the garlic golden making the oil fragrant. Once golden add the couscous and gently toast in the oil. Once it has golden spots add the stock or water. I like chicken stock, but vegetable stock is great too if doing a veg. version. Water works just fine if you are out of stock. Bring to a quick boil and cover. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 12-14 minutes stirring once or twice until liquid is gone. In the meantime get your veg on the grill. Cook all veg at varying times until each variety is done. I toss in a big bow to catch any juices, while the other things finish cooking. Check couscous. I serve this two different ways. I either cut all the veg into bite sized pieces and stir into couscous. Be sure to include any juices from the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season generously and sprinkle with a big handful or thyme or basil. OR I do a company version. Company version might include grilling off a small pork tenderloin, steak or seitan to top the mixed together veg and couscous… or I just leave all the grilled vegetables in larger pieces and toss those together with fresh herbs and s & p. Then I dress the couscous with olive oil, season with salt and pepper toss with fresh herbs, [basil or thyme are really good], then spread the couscous out on a platter topping with the vegetables. I have made this for 2 or as many as 16, just changing quantities to suit. Very affordable and very tasty. Nice with a cold beer or a glass of wine and a peppery salad. Also good with ice tea and lemon thyme if you have it in the garden like I do.

  • Molly

    Simple oven-“fried” chicken drumsticks. It’s a really simple, cheap recipe that my mom always made when we were growing up, and it’s one that my boyfriend and I kept on coming back to this winter.

  • Hannah

    I find that eating on a budget doesn’t have to equal lesser quality ingredients. The key is preparing from whole foods rather than processed anything. One of our favorites is roasted chicken with olives. Add a salad or some pasta and its still affordable.

    If I’m entertaining chili tends to be easy. I had a baked potato bar for a party a while back and made a pot of chili to go along with it. We fed over 30 people with less than $100 and everyone was fully impressed at the spread.

  • Emily

    My money saving meal is homemade yogurt and homemade granola at breakfast. You can make big batches for little cost and it impresses people that you made something they would normally buy.

  • Kira

    I read this as I’m eating a leek and potato soup I made last night! It cost less than $3 per person and is proving to be a hearty meal for lunch. Can’t wait to use this to get rid of the radishes I have left in my fridge. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Ms. Morgan Leigh

    I agree with the previous comment about stir-fry. If you go to the store and only buy what’s on sale or cheap at the farmer’s market it’s like nothing.

    I also would like to throw a bone to the San Marzano + 1 onion + butter recipe. The San Marzano tomatoes are expensive but I stock up when they go on sale so the recipe is pretty cheap.

  • BYC

    As a student, chili is my go-to for quick entertaining and a delicious, cheap, filling meal. I usually make it vegetarian with a base of veggies and beans, but can add meat if desired, and then to make it extra-special I’ll add in a random ingredient or two based on what I have around. One day it might be peanut butter from an almost-finished jar, another day it might be some sweet potatoes I have lying around. I’ve made really unique but delicious dishes this way! I love that I can make a big batch to store for the rest of the week in the fridge/freezer.

  • Jason Sandeman

    My favorite? Cappelini d’Angelo Aglio e olio con peppericino. It is quite simply cappalini tossed with garlic and chilies that are sweated in olive oil, deglazed with a splash of white wine, then finished off with a shaving of parmesan cheese.
    All this for under 10$. And, to die for. Toss in a spinach salad with balsamic and olive oil, and we are game!

  • Brittany F.

    I think my knock your socks off meal that is super delicious yet inexpensive would be my homemade baked macaroni and cheese. It is really easy to make and it is very inexpensive!! I could eat it everyday if I could :)

  • Susan

    If no vegetarians are attending, I make either Perla Myers’ poulet Tropiezienne (lots of herbs!) or David Lebovitz’s roast chicken with carmelized shallots. Easy & fresh. If veggies are attending, I often make a pasta puttanesca. With all of these, I serve the freshest of all possible salads, good bread, olives & nuts, cheese, & fruit. A dessert (sometimes a purchased cake or pastries). Wine. Everyone is happy. :)

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Sarah

    For a quick, cheap meal that most of my friends haven’t eaten before I usually make this african peanut kale stew. It is delicious, unexpected and if you serve it over quinoa then it is suitable for almost all of my friends who have dietary restrictions (no dairy, no gluten, no meat!)!

    African Pineapple Peanut Stew

    Yield: 4 servings

    West African -inspired, this is a rich and very fresh-tasting stew, eclectic and surprising in its combination of ingredients. If you have a few extra leaves of kale, put them in; this stew can absorb lots of greens. Serve on rice, millet, or couscous, topped with crushed peanuts and chopped scallions.

    1 cup chopped onions
    2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 bunch kale or Swiss chard (4 cups sliced)
    2 cups undrained canned crushed pineapple (20-ounce can)
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1 tablespoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    salt to taste
    crushed skinless peanuts
    chopped scallions

    In a covered saucepan, saute’ the onions and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. While the onions saute’, wash the kale or Swiss chard. Remove and discard the large stems and any blemished leaves. Stack the leaves on a cutting surface and slice crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices.

    Add the pineapple and its juice to the onions and bring to a simmer. Stir in the kale or chard, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until just tender. Mix in the peanut butter, Tabasco, and cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste, and serve.

  • Vicki

    I think one of my favorite budget conscious meals is brisket. It’s easy to get here in Texas, tastes great, and costs under $2/lb. And the biggest bonus… all of my kids will eat it. I just throw it in the slow cooker with some Claude sauce in the morning and it’s ready to eat at dinner time. Easy peasy. Plus the leftovers make great sandwiches, tortilla soup, and even chili!

  • Charlotte

    I have a couple – turkey chili with cornbread is one – feeds lots for not much and bento pork tacos with broccoli slaw, or a dish which has sliced boiled eggs covered in a cheesy mushroom spinach sauce (broiled quickly to brown) served with roasted potatoes.

  • Molly

    Yum! That sounds delicious. Yes, it’s hard to cook healthy, delicious meals on a budget, but it’s not impossible!

  • Tracie

    Pasta or risotto are my budget go-to’s. a favorite is my grandmother’s rigatoni. Bonus: super easy. Brown a beef brisket (i buy organic, grass-fed beef when I can) and throw it in the crockpot with a diced onion, a few garlic cloves, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and a few shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, paprika. Cook it on low all day until the meat falls apart, then shred the meat into the sauce and serve over wide rigatoni noodles with Parmesan grated on top. My dad also has made this with pork shoulder, very good. It is a unique sauce and is always a hit since it is so different than a typical tomato sauce….plus, dinner is basically done before your guests arrive!

  • Rose

    My thrifty goto is always tacos. Beans refried, and stretched with onions and peppers, and a sautée of whatever greens, mushrooms, or other veg is in the fridge. Yum!

  • Carolsue

    I love making Rigatoni with Sausage, peppers and onions. Very easy and very good! Add a salad and it’s done!

  • Diane Whitman

    Boil water for pasta, take shrimp out of freezer, thaw in bowl with running water, dry on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a little sugar, sauté in hot pan with olive oil, add salt to water, drop the pasta, sauté any veg-cherry tomatoes? greens? until cooked, add red pepper flakes, fresh garlic, cooked drained pasta and shrimp, a little pasta cooking water to loosen. Top with parsley or basil, grated lemon peel.

    2 lbs. of frozen Costco shrimp 31 to the pound size is about $16.00. Add a salad and you can serve 4-6 people really well, cheaply and quick anytime!