Quick & Nutritious Budget Meals
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Quick and Nutritious Budget Meals

Posted by ICS Canada

Woman sitting at a table eating dinner

Don’t forget to save room for...

Studying! Did you think we were going to say dessert? You’ve got goals to reach and one of the best ways to get there is to find more time to work on them. With all the things you have going on in your average day, wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal chef to handle all of your meals? But yikes, that sounds pretty pricey. What if there was a way to have inexpensive meals at-the-ready so you could get more out of your day and focus on your studies? We’ve planned ahead so you don’t have to. Here are seven dinner recipes, one for each day of the week, to help you and your family get solid nutrition for little money in a small amount of time.

Food for thought for one full week:

1. Meatless Monday - Chickpea Salad Sandwich and Tomato Soup
Did you know eating less meat helps the environment? Well, it can also help your budget, too! Eating vegetarian doesn’t need to be complicated, and sometimes a soup and sandwich is just right. Major bonus: Chickpeas are a protein powerhouse!

What you’ll need:

  • 15 oz canned chickpeas
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 4 slices of wheat bread
  • 1 can of your favorite tomato soup
  1. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and add them to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until texture appears flaked, almost like tuna salad.
  2. Finely chop your onion, celery, shredded carrots, pepper, and pickles.
  3. Add your chopped vegetables to the bowl with your chickpeas, then add mayo, dijon, yellow mustard, dill, salt, and pepper. Stir well to coat.
  4. Pile high on whole wheat and serve with warmed tomato soup. Yum!

2. Taco Tuesday - Turkey and Black Bean Tacos
Beans are a money-saving, super nutritious food and can help the more expensive things, like meat, go a longer way. They’re also great on their own, and you can save more money by skipping the turkey and doubling up on beans with this recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 package corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 1 package of mexican shredded cheese
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • Your favorite hot sauce


  1. Brown the turkey in a pan on medium to high heat until cooked.
  2. Reduce to low heat. In the same pan, stir in taco seasoning, corn, and black beans.
  3. Remove from heat. On individual plates, lay out the tortillas and add a scoop of the turkey taco filling to each one (about a third of the size of the tortilla shell).
  4. Top tacos with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, iceberg lettuce, and your favorite hot sauce.

3. One-pot Wednesday - Mediterranean Pasta
If you can boil pasta, you can make a meal — and the entire dinner costs around $7! Want to save a bit more? Skip the tuna altogether.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can of light tuna packed in water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz fettuccine or linguine
  • 8 oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium sliced onion
  • 4 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • Grated parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Add four cups of chicken or vegetable broth and salt to a large pot. Break the pasta in half and add it to the pot along with the canned tomatoes (with juices), olive oil, frozen spinach, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Make sure the ingredients are submerged under the liquid, place a lid on top of the pot, and then turn the heat on to high. Allow the pot to come up to a full boil over high heat, then remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Allow the pot to continue to boil over medium heat, without a lid, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir the pot every few minutes as it cooks to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom, but avoid over stirring which can cause the pasta to become sticky.
  4. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan, stir in the drained tuna, and drizzle with olive oil just before serving. Mangia!

4. Thanksgiving Thursday - Turkey and Stuffing Roll-ups
Thanksgiving dinner is everyone’s favorite, so why not try this easy version! Bring the flavor to your table every week with a quick recipe that’s so fast, you may not realize you cooked at all!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of sliced deli turkey, sliced not too thin
  • 1 package of Stove Top or your favorite stuffing brand
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 sweet potatoes (or one for each member of your family)
  • 2 cans of sweet corn
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the sweet potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 5-10 minutes — five minutes to cook one sweet potato in the microwave, and add two minutes for each additional potato — rotating them halfway through. You are done microwaving your sweet potatoes when a fork spears into them easily.
  2. While your sweet potatoes cook, prepare your stuffing by the instructions on the box. To save calories, use less butter or margarine than the recipe suggests.
  3. In another pot, add your drained corn on medium heat with a tsp of butter until warm. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  4. Double up your turkey slices and spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce over them. Lay them out, and a spoonful of stuffing (about a third of the size of the turkey) to the top of the slice. Roll the turkey slice over the stuffing and continue to roll until the stuffing is wrapped.
  5. Add a scoop of corn, a sweet potato, and your turkey and stuffing roll-ups onto a dinner plate. Add butter to your sweet potatoes or leave them plain for a more nutritious option. Enjoy!

5. Foodie Friday - Crock Pot Chicken Coconut Curry
Let’s start the weekend with a little excitement! Curry is flavorful, delicious, and  you can set and forget it at the start of your day. If you can’t find some of the spices at your local grocery store, don’t forget you can order them online! Want to really save money? Swap the chicken for chickpeas.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 14-ounce can Thai coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Massaman curry paste (or red curry paste and 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • 12 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh or dried ginger
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, plus more for topping
  • 1 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cans of sweet corn
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping


  1. Whisk 1/2 cup water, the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, ginger and lime zest in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Smash the lemongrass stalk with the flat side of a knife or a meat mallet and tie in a knot. Add the lemongrass, peanuts and potatoes to the slow cooker. Top with the chicken thighs and gently press to submerge in the liquid. Cover and cook on low, 7 hours.
  2. Uncover the slow cooker and skim off some of the fat. Stir in the lime juice; season with salt. Break up the chicken into smaller chunks. Let stand 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly; discard the lemongrass.
  3. Serve the curry with rice. Top with peanuts and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

6. Sleep-in Saturday - Spinach and Mozzarella Quiche
Breakfast all day? Yes, please. Eggs are about as nutritious and affordable as they come, and spinach is a super food that actually tastes good (sorry kale). Kick this recipe up to the next cheaper, lower-calorie level: Skip the pie crust and bake as a frittata.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 premade pie shells
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  • A hearty pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle onion mixture, spinach, and mozzarella over bottom of pie shell. Beat eggs and milk together, season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Gently pour into crust.
  3. Bake quiche for 40 to 45 minutes, until set and nicely browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

7. Skillet Sunday - Lemon Pepper Chicken and Rice
Sunday is a great day for some cheap and easy comfort food, and all you need is one skillet to make it happen.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2 cups frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups uncooked instant rice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat in oil for 3-4 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add the celery, onions and peppers; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in beans and mushrooms until heated through.
  2. Stir in the broth, water, garlic and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes or until rice is tender; fluff with a fork. To serve, top rice mixture with chicken breasts.

Now that you’ve got your meals planned for the week, you can focus on bigger and better things like earning an education and getting closer to your career goals. Here’s to a full mind and belly! Happy studying!

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