Cheap Eats. Meals on a Budget.

I haven’t been economizing on just makeup lately but also food. This past month I’ve been all about grilled sandwiches. Chicken, veg, whatever. As long as it’s between bread, it’s all good. I love me some carbs!

My tried and true veggie burger recipe is still the same one by Working Class Foodies. I keep trying different recipes that I find on Pinterest but there’s something about this particular recipe that’s tasty in its simplicity. I’ll change things up every once in awhile, like I did this time by subbing in quinoa instead of rice and adding shredded basil, but the base of black beans, onions, corn, carrots, peppers, and the cooking method remains the same. The patty on its own is vegan but of course I went ahead and added some cheese and bacon to it. Ha! But generally when I make veggie burgers I do keep it vegan. I was just in a cheesy, bacon-y mood that day.

Tip for cheap groceries: try to shop at your non-chain local grocery stores. These days a lot of smaller grocery stores try to recoup their losses by selling fruits and veg at a discount at the end of the day. They constantly get in new shipments of produce but since shelf space is limited, they can either throw things out at a loss or sell the leftovers at a discount. The grocery stores near me bag up perfectly fine, blemish-free fruits and veg in bags for $1 each. In the photos above, I managed to score a bag of 5 zucchinis in a bag for $1, 2 heads of iceberg lettuce for $1, 2 lbs of spinach for $1, 2 big bags of Chinese broccoli for $1 each, 2 cartons of strawberries which were bagged together for $1, and a bag of 2 dragonfruit for $1. That’s a huge haul of fruit and vegetables for only $7. I was the most excited about the dragonfruit because those usually cost $3.99/lb and they’re quite water-heavy. In case you’ve never tried dragronfruit, they taste like a really mild kiwi and are honestly kind of bland in my opinion but they look so cool.

The $29 a week food stamp grocery challenge that Gwyneth Paltrow totally failed a couple of years ago? Pfft. Easy. You just need to know how and where to shop.

I love Popeye’s but the closest restaurant is miles away, so for those days when I crave fried chicken I like to go to ShopRite for their fried chicken. I’ve tried the fried chicken from all of the local supermarkets in my area and I like ShopRite’s the most. Some places aren’t crunchy enough, some are too soggy, greasy or lacking in salt but theirs is always hot, crunchy and well seasoned. Plus, their chicken tends to go on sale quite often and is the cheapest as well. Their 8-pc dark meat mix of thighs and drumsticks only costs $4.99 and is totally worth it. I usually buy 2 cases at a time.

Of course, not all supermarket fried chicken is created equal. How good the chicken is totally depends on your specific store and who prepares it. Shop around and you may find a supermarket fried chicken that you end up loving too.

If you have a Walmart Neighborhood Market in your area that sells groceries, check out their fridge area. My local store likes to take the leftover rotisserie chickens that didn’t sell the night before from the hot foods area, move them to the fridge and sell them for 50% off the next day. A hot rotisseries chicken normally costs $4.98 which is a great price but $2.49 for a whole cooked chicken is even better. Like the fried chicken, I like to buy 2 of the cold rotisserie chickens at a time. One to eat right away in a sandwich or as an ingredient in another dish, and one to keep in the freezer for another day.

Of course you can slice the chicken and eat it as is but I like to shred the meat up and use them in sandwiches. Below, I made an open faced sandwich with some French bread lightly dressed with Italian dressing, sliced tomatoes, shredded chicken, and mozzarella. I quickly broiled that in the oven to melt the cheese than tossed a heck ton of shredded basil and a dash of red pepper flakes all over top. Quick, simple and delicious.

Another cheap and easy meal using the rotisserie chicken is a chicken salad. I used some of that basil again (it was cheap. $1.99 for a huge bunch) with some chopped McIntosh apples ($0.59/lb), chopped chicken breast, green bell peppers and plenty of mayo. The salad’s good on its own but also tasty between two slices of bread or in between a pita.

One of my new favorite ways of using the rotisserie chicken is shredded and tossed with some taco seasoning. I put that between two slices of bread with some lightly mashed sliced avocado, chopped green bell peppers and cheese, then I butter the bread and grill it up in a pan. Yum! It’s like a chicken taco sandwich.

The sandwich is great even without the avocado but I prefer it with it for the creamy richness.

And if you don’t have chicken, sliced turkey with tomato is another great substitution.

Last but not least, try the Target Market Pantry brand of breaded chicken patties. $4.99 for a bag of 10 patties is a pretty good deal in my opinion and I always keep a bag on hand in the freezer for a quick meal.

Another thing I’ve been loving is roti paratha, a type of rich, flaky pancake. You can usually find it in the freezer aisle in Indian and Asian grocery stores. A pack of 5-6 pancakes is approximately $1-$3 depending on the brand, so they’re super cheap. It’s usually eaten with dishes like curry which is how I typically eat it too but lately I’ve been using it for sandwiches for something a bit different. In the photo above, I put the Target chicken patty (I cut one patty in half and put the pieces side by side in the pancake), some cheese and Romaine lettuce in a folded up roti paratha. A tasty and filling meal.