Easy cheap dinner ideas for heavy swells

Being an adult is very expensive these days. Perhaps you are unemployed, paying off student loans, squabbling over childcare costs or setting aside money for a new car or vacation in Tuscany. Whatever the reason, many of us are looking for ways to save money, and with food prices still rising, it’s not always easy. But it’s not just a magazine catchphrase, you can really eat well and spend less. In short, do what you can to tidy up your pantry, reduce food waste and aim for mostly vegetarian food or make recipes that “stretch” a piece of meat.

Here are a few recipes in New York Times Cooking that are based on affordable staples, are mostly vegetarian and will give you the biggest, tastiest bang for your buck.

Chili, this wonderful combination of flavors and textures, is the absolute irresistible meal. First, enjoy it as intended, then serve your leftovers atop baked potatoes, a tray of nachos, or a hot dog, or try it Cincinnati-style, over spaghetti, for a real dose of comfort. You can use pretty much any ground beef — turkey, chicken, beef, a vegetarian alternative — in Eric Kim’s Chipotle-flavored chili, and throw in a can or two of beans to make it last for multiple meals.

Raw zucchini is a little-known summer delight. Here, Ali Slagl crushes them, encouraging the lime and salt to season the vegetables all the way through. It is then sprinkled with roasted chickpeas, groundnuts seasoned with lemon peel, and citrusy spices like coriander. Serve with whole grains, tortillas, pita, yogurt, feta or other crumbled cheese, a green salad, or a hard-boiled egg.

Recipe: Mashed zucchini with chickpeas and peanuts

Here, Roy Choy transforms pre-packaged dried ramen noodles with butter, a slice of American cheese, chopped green onions, and eggs for a rich, filling, and perfectly flavorful spin on the classic bedroom. One reader wrote: “Never eat instant ramen any other way.” I totally agree.

Ali Slagl’s comforting version of stuffed shells, the classic Italian-American baked pasta, lends itself well to interpretation. Add crumbled or browned Italian sausage, chopped spinach, or fresh or dried herbs to the ricotta filling. To save time, use your favorite store-bought marinara sauce.

Recipe: stuffed shells

Arroz mamposteao, or cooked Puerto Rican rice, beans, and sofrito, is a lovely way to use up leftovers because the dish actually tastes best when made with aged rice and prepared beans. So make a double batch of rice to fry on Monday night, leave some of your Sunday cereal aside and use it all to perfection.

Recipe: Arrows Mambostudio

Clever Sarah DiGregorio at the classic school cafeteria calls for the addition of white beans so she uses less meat, yet happily retains the delicious nostalgic taste. This recipe also comes together in a jiffy – 20 minutes, from start to finish.

Recipes: Smoked white bean and beef sloppy joe

Peppers are at their peak now, and this vibrant recipe from Lidey Heuck makes excellent use of them. Use any ground beef you like, fried vegetables and leftover rice or other cooked grains for the filling, then top with mozzarella cheese and bake until it bubbles.

In this 25-minute recipe from Ali Slagl, fresh tomatoes and cold butter come together to make a glossy pink sauce that tastes like summer days. (Whatever you do, don’t use out-of-season tomatoes.) Leftovers make a great room-temperature pasta salad.

Recipe: Tomato Butter Pasta

Unrefined coconut oil is the magic ingredient in this super-fast supper from Genevieve Ko. Using it to brown leftover rice, cook eggs and stir-fry bok choy and green beans imparts subtle tropical flavor to the entire dish. Sure, unrefined coconut oil can be a little pricey, but it’s a pantry staple that can be used in nearly every cooking and baking recipe in place of vegetable or canola oil.

This hearty dish from Romel Bruno is inspired by the hamburger skillet that became popular in the 1970s when beef prices were high and families wanted to extend a pound of meat. (Sounds familiar?) This version calls for Italian pork sausage and kale, but feel free to use turkey, chicken, or vegetarian sausage and any greens you like.

Recipe: Mac Cheesy Stovetop with Sausage and Kale

Skip through drive, create – and customize! These mini vegan burritos are home made. Kay Chun calls for making your own stir-fry by marinating caramelized onions, paprika, garlic, and smoked paprika in place of traditional pork broth, but there’s no shame in using canned canned beans instead. Hot Reader Tip: Make a double batch of burritos, wrap them in tin foil and freeze them for your very tired future of cooking.

Recipe: Bean and cheese burritos

Not only is Colo Henry’s popular take on the classic Italian soup, it’s also a great way to use up any vegetables in the fridge. If you grind up a Parm crust in your freezer, throw it in while it boils for a more flavorful broth.

Recipe: Pasta e Ceci (Italian chickpea and pasta broth)

This hearty recipe from Yewande Komolafe is inspired by “tomato eggs,” a popular dish in Lagos, Nigeria, and across West Africa, where eggs are cooked in a tomato and spiced vegetable stew. Yams or bananas are traditionally used, but here, a strong yellow banana is ideal because it retains its shape while absorbing the flavors of other ingredients.

We know it’s the middle of summer, and we know some of you will protest, “Who wants to eat hot soup in 90-degree weather?” But sometimes there is a passionate appeal, and there is nothing you can do but give in to it. Eric Kim’s magical combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese comes together in 30 minutes, when you want a warm, comforting meal without the fuss.

Recipe: Quick tomato soup with grilled cheese

In this quick dish from Ali Slagel, soy sauce, turmeric, and cumin provide loads of flavor, while burning tofu over high heat creates crisp, compact edges and tender, grainy centers. Don’t be afraid to experiment: Experiment with different seasonings and add veggies, beans or cheese for a complete meal, and serve it with toast, tortillas, salad or potatoes.

Recipe: Tofu scramble

Let’s be honest. Eating an old tuna salad sandwich may sound like a kid whose mom forgot to go to the grocery store. But! Add a little special seasoning – celery, red onion, fresh (or dried) herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice – then add the potato chips, as does here J. .

When in doubt, quesadilla it. (Yes, we used it as a verb here.) This recipe from Melissa Clark shows us how to make the perfect quesadilla, one with crisp, mesh edges and a molten center. Top with a fried egg, or add leftover roasted beans, meat or vegetables. One word of caution: a non-stick pan is essential for this technique to avoid cheese sticking to the pan.

Recipe: Crispy Quesadilla

Finally. baked potatoes; On its own, with a sprinkle of melted butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, it’s a humble ode to perfection, but it’s also the perfect conduit for leftover chili, masala, beans, dal, grilled vegetables…you name it. Our favorite reader tip: “As my grandmother in Oklahoma taught me, rub the skin with bacon fat and salt. Try it.”

Recipe: baked potato

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