Saturday, December 13, 2008

Budget Meals Don't Have to Sacrifice Flavor

A few weeks ago a friend asked me to post some budget friendly meals on my blog. The subject seemed to come up again and again in conversations I had, so I pitched a story about it to my dear sweet editor Gwenn Friss at the Cape Cod Times.

Gwenn loved the idea and the story ran this week along with photos of a meal I made from a recipe given to me by Kim Concra, a Nutrition and Food Safely Specialist at the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.

This is one of the simplest dinner recipes I’ve ever made and it was so delicious I’m making it again this week. The photo above follows the Cooperative Extension recipe exactly, and the ingredients only cost $6.63 for a meal that fed four people with leftovers for my lunch the next day. That’s $1.33 a serving.

The point of the article was how to create inexpensive, but tasty meals. I have to confess that I added Kalamata olives after I took the photo, because they go so well with the feta cheese and I simply love them. Also, when I make this again, I will sauté up some onions, garlic and peppers because they add a lot of bang for the buck.

My recipe reflects the changes I plan to make, but I promise it is still an inexpensive and very fast dinner that is tasty enough that I will be making it again and again, especially on those nights when I just need a quick and easy dinner.

If you’re looking for more budget friendly tips, you can read the article here.

The Recipe:

Greek Pasta with Tomatoes & White Beans
Adapted from a recipe courtesy from Cape Cod Cooperative Extension

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 ounce) bag fresh spinach, chopped (about 8 cups)
4 cups hot cooked penne (about 1/2 pound uncooked tubular shaped pasta
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely crumbles feta cheese
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted


Sauté onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil in a large pan over medium low heat until tender, about five minutes. Add tomatoes and beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add spinach and olives; cook two minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring occasionally. Place 1 cup cooked pasta on each of four plates; top each serving with 1 1/4 cup sauce and 2 tablespoons feta cheese.

For a printable recipe click here


Meg said...

What a flavorful meal! YUM!

NKP said...

I do love feta! I think people would be surprised at how inexpensive it is to cook at home. With some building up of the staples and pantry items and a little imagination, eating at home is healthier and cheaper that eating out. I love the message you are sending.
Yum. :)

Esi said...

This is great!! Good, fresh flavors CAN be had on a budget.

priscilla joy said...

MMm. these looks good. Perfect looking dinner!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Love the dinner--nice job. It would cost more here but it would still be an economical meal and I am a huge fan of feta too. Great job!

Dharm said...

That certainly looks yummy! Its interesting how feta is cheap in the US but blooming expensive here in Malaysia. Guess that applies all over the world though - different pricing for different items! :)

vanillasugarblog said...

Cheap, but wow, oh so good for you too. There is a good amount of healthy protein in here.
I love feta. There is a Greek recipe (remind me to email it to you) with feta and tasty.

Thistlemoon said...

I so agree, inexpensive does not mean devoid of taste! This sounds great!

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

Very timely with the worries about the economy. You are right you don't have to sacrifice taste to budget your meals. Good for you and you make it look so easy and delicious.

Alicia Foodycat said...

So important at the moment! I think a lot of people have lost the art of home cooking and don't realise that it can be cheap AND healthy AND absolutely delicious. Anyway, you had me at feta and pasta.

Leslie said...

quick...simple and fast!!! Oh kinda dinner!!!

Daniel said...

Hi Laurie,
Just stumbled onto your blog for the very first time today and I'm really enjoying catching up.

Thanks for sharing this recipe... this is EXACTLY the kind of recipe I try to bring to my readers. More evidence that anyone can cook great food at home for next to nothing.

Keep up the great work!

Casual Kitchen