Meals on a budget

September 14, 2008 7:09:43 AM PDT
Recipes for meals on a budget: Tacos

1 pound ground dark meat turkey
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package taco seasoning
1 star anise (optional)
1 cup shredded 2 % reduced fat cheddar cheese
3-4 large romaine lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
1 8-ounce container reduced-fat sour cream
1 12-count package corn taco shells or 1 package of soft whole grain flour tortillas
1 8-ounce jarred salsa


Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the turkey, carrot, and celery, and cook 10- 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until meat begins to brown and the vegetables soften. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. Continue to cook an additional 1-2 minutes until the spices become fragrant. Add 3/4 cup of water. Reduce to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes until turkey is no longer pink in the center and a thick sauce forms.

Meanwhile, place corn tortillas in oven or toaster oven heated to 350 F 15-20 minutes or until warm. Assemble tacos by spooning in 2 tablespoons meat, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. Serve with sour cream tableside.

Turkey Bolognese

Serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 yellow onion, peeled quartered
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
3 broccoli stalks, peeled and cut into thirds
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound ground turkey
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups low-sodium, fat-free beef broth
1 bay leaf (optional)
1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound whole grain pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta to package directions and drain. Set aside.

In a mini-chopped or food processor, chop garlic and onions. Set aside. In the same processor chop the carrots, broccoli stalks, and celery. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions. Cook 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the carrots, broccoli stalks, and celery cook an additional 5-6 minutes until the carrots soften then add the tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes stirring continuously until the tomato paste becomes fragrant.

Heat another large skillet over high. Add the remaining oil. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet and brown 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the meat to the skillet with the veggies. Add the broth, and bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and cook 15-20 until the meat is cooked through and the sauce reduces by half. Add a little water if the mixture becomes too thick. Off the heat slowly stir in the cream cheese. Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve tableside with Parmesan.

Tomato Soup

Everyone loves soup and sandwich - but making it yourself can be inexpensive and a lot healthier. Make a low-cal tomato soup 1-2-3 with canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and a spoonful of sour cream - you can even make this in a blender. Homemade tomato soup doesn¹t have all that corn syrup, preservative and sodium that comes in the pre-made canned soup - it's also 1/4 the price.

Serves 4, each 1 1/2 cups of soup


1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 26-ounce (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups water
1/4 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 8 ounce chicken breast, cooked and cubed


Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the celery, carrot, and onion. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomato paste and turn the heat down to medium. Cook an addition 1-2 minutes until the paste become fragrant and begins to brown.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 to 15 minutes until the soup begins to thicken. Add the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree. Top with chicken and serve immediately.

Mac and Cheese

An American classic that hits the waistline and hips pretty hard! My version softens the blow of cheese by mixing in reduced-fat cream cheese and 2% cheddar.

Serves 4


3 cups whole grain pasta cooked (that's 1 1/2 cup uncooked)
1 1/2 cups 2% cheddar (about 8 oz), grated
1/4 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese
1/2 cup non-fat, skim milk
1/4 cup reduced-fat Parmesan
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 6-ounce chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
non-stick cooking spray


Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium, cook 1-2 minutes stirring constantly until mixture resembles a thick paste.

Stir in the milk and cook 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in the Parmesan, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, paprika, and pepper. Mix until cheese is smooth and melted. Stir in the macaroni and chicken. Serve with a salad or steamed broccoli.


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