How to Make Healthy Fast Meals on $1 or Less a Day

Some of the cheapest wholesome recipes that I have picked up come from the Amish and from college students seeking to stretch their budgets. The Amish (so their menus indicate) look for healthy, fast and cheap ways to feed their brood. Their results are original and delicious.The average college student looks to cut her cents.

Healthy Fast  Cooking Tips From the Amish

The best of Amish cooking is that it is mostly a one-bowl affair. Pour, sieve, stir and taste. Done in 15 minutes or less. And – depending on your family size and on the state that you live in – the ingredients may cost you two or less dollars a day.

As regards their baking: Healthy, simple, and lip-smackingly delicious!

Amish recipes that I have seen show that the Amish use a lot of peanut butter – homemade with minimal sugar – for their baking. Molasses, nuts and dates too. Most  of their cookies and cakes are rolled together from 3-4 ingredients. All from your kitchen cupboard and most costing cents.

Oh and by the way, my favorite Cookbook from Amish kitchens: candies, beverages and snacks”  told me to make grape juice by draining the grapes through my fruit press. It also told me to pull the taffy of ˜Grandma’s molasses’ with a partner, and to set raisins for beer in the sun for 3 hours.

The Amish stir, whisk, beat  by hand. Do it their way and you’ll get plenty of exercise.

Healthy Fast  Cooking Tips From College Students

I’m thinking of a typical college student who likes to eat yet needs to stretch his wallet. Since I’m in the same situation, I’ve gathered ideas from cooking books written for this segment.

Here goes:

Potatoes Roasted, cooked, mashed (dithered in butter/ marge-like butter, olive oil, herbs (consider garlic, some salt,  sauted diced onion).

Vegetables Your choice – raw, roasted, basted, baked, simmered – again with herbs, or sliced or diced for soup. When raw, you may want to mix with fruit (apples, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, cranberries, raisins, or nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, peanuts) for different tastes. Talking of soups, you can make delicious Russian soups from cabbage, onion , tomato sauces and seasoning; or the French delight of onions sauteed with butter, sliced tomatoes and cheese added. The Italian bean soup (beans, diced carrots, celery, onion and parsley); pureed spinach, broccoli/ cauliflower soup; or diced onion/ leek soup. There’s also the simple Hungarian chicken soup of sauteed green pepper, chicken with tomato, peas and some noodles added at the end.

Different herbs and oils transform boring meals to culinary affairs: Think of peanut oil, sesame, or almond. And  how about oregano, marjoram, the pungent-smelling rosemary, and the frolicking basil? And of course, garlic, parsley or seasoned salt? Straight from the soil and fresh.

Fruit –  Boiled then simmered with cinnamon, allspice, tsp of sugar, maybe lemon if you want. Or baked (such as baked apples) grilled or boiled. Try rhubarb for a twist. The Polish variation is dried fruit boiled with cinnamon stick/ bay leaf lemon and slightly sweetened. Delicious!.

Grains   The Italian innovation: Macaroni, spaghetti, fussilini, angel hair. Try its variations (tossed with olive oil and seasoning; simmered with tomato sauce (no need to use  marinara). A fast meat-based affair is ground meat sauteed in tomato sauce, pasta added; the whole cooked for approximately 15-30 minutes.

Other grains include simmered, cooked or roasted rice, couscous, kasha, buckwheat, grits and so forth  (again with vegetables and seasoning). All healthy, cheap, fast and, when seasoned, delicious.

Fish –  Boiled, broiled, steamed, roasted, baked – all with seasoning, herbs, and, if you want, olive oil. You may want to stir with carrots, parsley, peas, tomatoes, or sliced lemon. You can also wrap in parchment paper or bake in glass bakeware for a different taste. A Middle-Eastern version is to roll trout in flour, red pepper, pepper and salt. Prick holes in skin before grilling.

Of course, there’s lots of cooking categories that I’ve left out. There’s beans and tofu, poultry, meat, and the whole baking niche too.

I hope that what I’ve included has given you some idea of how we can stretch our meals for two dollars or less. Healthy, tasty, simple – and all under one hour.

The Thrifty Extra

  • How about buying  a bread machine?  Makes bread or rolls cheaper, fresher, tastier, healthier than buying them.
  • A slow-cooker takes simple ingredients a long way and transforms them into a healthy, stomach-rubbing pleasure.
  • A pressure cooker retains the vitamins and speeds your cooking.
  • Join the Amish and dig your own vegetable plot. Some grow tobacco, too, while you’re at it.



About Author

Leah Zitter

Leah Zitter is a mother of twins and an adolescent. She is a professional writer and researcher who has a background in counseling, journalism, logic, education, and sociology and is completing her PhD on scientific research. She has lectured in various countries and moderated two radio shows. She writes for national and international newspapers, journals, companies, and entrepreneurs. Leah specializes in helping people see how their identity affects their work, health, and success. She uses her research skills to help freelancers find hidden online jobs.

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