I’ve been enjoying taco soup this week. I don’t like to cook, so I’ve created an assortment of dinners that are quick and easy. I use the microwave as much as possible. The frugal and healthy sides of me don’t allow me to eat in restaurants on a regular basis. The frugal side of me is much stronger than the side that doesn’t like to cook. Dinner is definitely my most expensive meal of the day.
Several years ago, I discovered rice/pasta side dishes that are frequently on sale for $0.88. They’re microwavable (not in the bag). I mix in and/or cook some kind of meat then cook a vegetable in the microwave. Voila! Cheap, easy, & relatively healthy! They normally last me 3-4 meals.
Here are three of my favorite examples:
- Cook sausage on the stove; cook a package of red beans & rice in the microwave; mix together; cook a can of green beans in the microwave (total cost: about $2.72 which is $0.91 per meal)
- Mix a can of chicken breast with a package of fettuccini alfredo and cook in the microwave; cook a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave (total cost: about $3.54 which is $0.89 per meal)
- Cook a package of pasta or rice in the microwave; bake frozen fish in the toaster oven; cook a bag of frozen spinach or brussels sprouts in the microwave (total cost: about $2.92 which is $0.73 per meal)
Taco soup might be one of my more expensive dinners, but it is so good. It also requires a large pot and the stove, but it’s still easy. It usually lasts me five meals. If I cook rice, it will last another couple of meals. Everyone who tries it loves it, so here’s the recipe!
- Cooked meat of your choice (I use a can of chicken breast – store brand 6-pack (12.5 oz each), $9.98)
- Taco seasoning (individual package or a couple of servings from the multi-serve containers) (individual, $0.50)
- 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (i.e. Rotel) (store brand, $0.69)
- Can of black beans (no salt added) (store brand, $0.65)
- Can of pinto beans (store brand, $0.65)
- Can of corn (not creamy; no salt added) (store brand, $0.59)
- 1 package (or portion of multi-serve container) of powdered ranch dressing (not dip) mix (package of 4, $5.29)
- Cheese (normally use 4 oz per monthly soup – 8 oz store brand brick, $0.99)
- Sour cream (normally use 8 oz per monthly soup – 16 oz store brand, $0.79)
- Corn chips (store brand, $0.79)
- Optional long grain white rice (3-pound store brand, which is 30 servings, $1.29 – cook 1 cup for 4 servings)
Combine meat, taco seasoning, tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and ranch dressing in a large pot. Cover with water. When I rinse the cans, I put water in the pot instead of the sink. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If cooking rice, I cook it in the microwave. When time is almost done, I shred some cheese.
In an individual bowl, put in some rice. Add soup. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips. Stir. I like crispy corn chips, so I put one in my mouth per bite of soup instead of mixing them in.
Updates: Prices have increased, and I stopped making taco soup since it’s considerably more expensive than my other dinners. I stopped buying frozen fish, spinach, and brussels sprouts due to price. Since the sausage I buy is already cooked, I stopped browning it on the stove. I just thaw it and cook the cut pieces with the red beans & rice. I previously used a package (16 oz) of sausage, but I reduced to half a package to help both my wallet and stomach.