The weather outside is frightful — and your grocery bills likely are, too.
This year, grocery prices are anticipated to increase between 1% and 2%, according to data from the USDA. The jump in price is partially owed to rising costs at the farm level, which are prone to financial stress in the midst of the pandemic. Last September, Erik Hembre, assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told NBC News that if food price increases remain over the course of the next year the average household will spend about $400 more on groceries.
How can consumers keep their supermarket bills down? Coupons and money-saving apps are a great start, but so is meal planning and creating dishes that can provide tons of delicious nutrition, without sacrificing much time or money.
Potato Ginger Soup (Immune-Boosting Soup)
- Cost: $4 for 4 servings
- 1 lb. potatoes
- 2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
- 1 fresh green chile (optional)
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 4 cups of water
- Salt to taste
- Cooking oil
- Wash and soak the potato in cold water for 15 minutes. After soaking, cut the potatoes in large chunks. If you are using organic potatoes, it’s best to cook them with the skin, otherwise peel the potato before chopping.
- Meanwhile, peel and grate (or mince) fresh ginger. If using green chile, mince it as well. For the best result, you can use mortar and pestle to turn the ginger and chile into a paste.
- Heat some oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the ginger-chile paste, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring if necessary, so that the paste doesn’t stick to the pan.
- When you start feeling the smell of ginger, add chopped potatoes and mix thoroughly.
- Add water to the pan, stir the soup and cover with a lid. Cook the soup for about 20 minutes on medium heat, until potatoes are completely cooked. If necessary, add more water during the cooking process. Add salt to taste at the very end.
Submitted by: Anastasia Sharova, natural foods chef, founder of Happy Bellyfish Cooking School
Why It’s Great: “Potatoes are the best comfort food, and usually, even picky eaters love them,” Sharova said. “This recipe is very quick, simple and requires just a few ingredients. Turmeric and ginger don’t just add delicious flavours to the soup, but also make it a perfect warming immune-boosting meal for the colder time of the year.”
Creamy Vegetable Casserole (Oil-Free, Vegan)
- Cost: $1.20 per serving
- 1/4 or 1/2 cup raw cashews, ground
- 1 tsp. yellow miso paste
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. maple syrup, optional
- 1 medium-sized head cauliflower, broken into florets and stem removed
- 1 medium-sized head broccoli, broken into florets and stem chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and large diced
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- Make the sauce: Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy, for about 1 minute on high speed.
- Make the casserole: Preheat oven to 400º. Place all vegetables into a casserole dish or baking dish. Pour sauce over vegetables. Add 1 cup or more water as needed until vegetables are submerged. Place into preheated oven and bake uncovered until vegetables and tender, about 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
- Serve with biscuits or toasted bread, if desired.
Submitted by: Veronica Dailey, chef, host, Easy Vegan Meal Prep
Why It’s Great: “This budget meal is great for families because it is packed with healthy vegetables and beans, and is quick and easy to prepare,” Dailey said. “Simply blend the sauce, chop the vegetables and let the oven do the rest of the cooking for you. This dish is also great as leftovers, just reheat in the oven at 400º for 15 minutes in an oven-safe baking dish.”
Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet
- Cost: $11.22 (or so) for 6 servings
- 1 lb. ground lean turkey
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 2/3 cup diced onion
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
- 1 1/2 cups diced apples
- 1 1/2 cups sliced brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the ground turkey in the oil, salt and pepper until there is no pink.
- Add the onions and minced garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes to soften them. Scoop the turkey and onions into a bowl to set aside.
- Next, add the brussels sprouts, apples and sweet potatoes in the pan. Pour the chicken or vegetable broth and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes or until softened.
- Add the bowl of cooked turkey and onions back into the pan, mix well, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Submitted By: Monica Nedeff, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer
Why It’s Great: “This one-skillet meal is quick to make in 35 minutes with easy clean up since it’s done in one pan,” Nedeff said. “It’s a great healthy comfort meal full of lean protein from the turkey and fiber from the brussels sprouts, apples and sweet potatoes. Make a big batch for your family and use it in different ways for breakfast, lunch or dinner by making breakfast burritos, grain bowls for lunch or use it as a stuffed pepper filling alternative for dinner.”
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Cheezy Cashew Mac n’ Cheese
- Cost: $22 for at least 4 servings. Pro-tip: To make it cheaper, buy cashews and nutritional yeast in bulk.
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 3/4 cups unsalted roasted cashews
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. mustard or 1 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric (for color)
- Salt and paprika, to taste (I use Trader Joe’s “South African Smoke Seasoning Blend”)
- Red chili pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 boxes Banza pasta or pasta of choice, cooked
- Add the coconut milk and cashews to a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth. You may need to use your tamper to blend.
- Bend in the yeast, vinegar, mustard and a pinch of salt, smoked paprika and chili flakes. Add more spices to your liking.
- Combine the cheese sauce and cooked pasta in a saucepan, and heat until hot. Serve with more spice to taste.
Submitted By: Sadie Radinsky, teen chef and author of “Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends with Food”
Why It’s Great: “This grain-free and vegan mac and cheese alternative is a great way to give your family a decadent and cheesy dinner without breaking the bank and staying healthy at the same time,” Radinsky said. “It’s full of protein thanks to the cashews and chickpea-based Banza pasta (if you use it!) and may finally break your family’s addiction to Kraft Mac & Cheese.”
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Hearty Winter Soup
- Cost: $15 or less for 6 servings
- 2 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
- ½ head of coarsely chopped cabbage
- 1 cup of chopped carrots
- 1 lb. sliced turkey bratwurst
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. dried rosemary
- ½ tsp. ground white pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
- Start with placing the vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and cabbage) in the slow cooker.
- Place turkey bratwurst on top of them.
- Pour the chicken broth and wine over the vegetables.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary over all this.
- Cook these ingredients on slow heat for 5 to 6 hours.
- Check if it is properly cooked by trying to pierce a fork through sweet potatoes. If the fork smooth pierces through it, your soup is ready.
Submitted by: Vicky Cano, chef and recipe developer at MealFan
Why It’s Great: “A hearty winter soup can be one of the best budget-friendly recipes for the cold winter days and colder nights,” Cano said. “It tastes so light and enriched. What makes it even better is that it is enriched with nutrients and doesn’t cost you much.”
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- Cost: $20 for 4 servings with some leftovers; cheaper for those preferring a vegetarian version.
- 1 lb. ground pork, beef or turkey (leave out for a vegetarian version)
- 3 cloves garlic (smash/chop)
- 1 large yellow or white onion (dice into small pieces)
- 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and diced into large pieces)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 can cannellini beans (drain/rinse)
- 2 can black beans (drain/rinse)
- 2 can kidney beans(drain/rinse)
- 1 tbsp. granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp. granulated onion
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 4-6 cans of light beer for the adults or 1 box chicken stock for non-drinkers
- salt and pepper
- In a Dutch oven or stockpot, brown the ground meat. When almost cooked through, add granulated garlic and onion. Cook until onion is translucent.
- Add in sweet potatoes, diced tomatoes and beans, then mix in spices.
- Add in beer or chicken stock and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 2 1/2-3 hours until it thickens.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Submitted By: Norma Whitt, executive chef, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
Why It’s Great: “It’s an easy, nutritious one-stop-shop dish that any level of cook can make,” Whitt said. “And for those preferring the vegetarian option, the sweet potatoes are still a great source of vitamins and nutrients.”
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Yummy Lentil Stew
- Cost: $7.45 for 6 servings
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk sliced
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic or 2 tsp. fresh
- 1½ tsp. cumin ground
- ½ tsp. thyme dried
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup dried green lentils rinsed
- 2 medium yellow potatoes peeled and diced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can whole peeled tomatoes pureed (about 1 and 2/3 cups)
- Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil into the pot of your pressure cooker. Let it heat up about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 chopped yellow onion, 2 peeled and chopped carrots, and 1 sliced celery stalk. Cook until soft.
- Add 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic (or 2 teaspoons of fresh minced garlic), 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir.
- Add 1 cup of rinsed green lentils, and 3 medium peeled and diced yellow potatoes. Stir. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, and 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (pureed). Stir.
- Place the pressure cooker lid on top, making sure valve is set to seal. Pressure cook on HI for 15 minutes, then let it naturally release (which should take about 30 minutes). Carefully remove lid.
- Stir and add any more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Submitted By: Taylor Harrison, owner of Tidbits by Taylor blog
Why It’s Great: “This recipe is great for families because it makes a large portion, is easy to make and chock-full of hearty, frugal ingredients,” Harrison said. “Full of green lentils, and nutritious vegetables, this stew feels like a warm hug on a cold day.”
Rocket Potatoes (aka Rakott Krumpli)
- Cost: Under $7.00 for up to 6 servings. Up to $15 if you add in sour cream and sausage.
- 4 medium to large potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, butternut squash and zucchini
- 2 white onions, chopped and sauteed (feel free to experiment with the size, anything from chopped to great big slices)
- 6 eggs hard-boiled
- Salt/pepper to taste, paprika for taste and to add color
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil
- Paprika to taste
- Sour cream to serve on top
- Sour cream
- Butter and cheese of your choice
- Chickpeas. (If you want to add some more fiber and protein, feel free to roast some chickpeas and then layer in the middle.
Hungarian sausage, or csabai, cut thick which some people layer as well.
- Sauté onions in olive oil.
- Cook the potatoes till they’re soft (Quick tip: You can also microwave them for about 5 minutes to cut down on cooking time).
- Cook the eggs until they’re hard-boiled.
- Add butter, cheese or olive oil.
- Add in paprika for color, to taste.
- Cook the parts that need cooking, then layer and bake.
- Top with grated cheddar cheese for a more Americanized version of this traditionally Hungarian dish.
Submitted By: Rachel Weingarten, brand strategist, author and food blogger
Why It’s Great: “It’s filling, looks beautiful, tastes amazing, and is really easy to prepare,” Weingarten said. “If you cut out the butter and sour cream, you have a manageable amount of carbs, and if you substitute squash for some of the potatoes, you have loads of veggies and lots of protein in the eggs and even more if you add chickpeas. I also serve on a bed of baby spinach or micro-greens which adds a really nice contrast. You can create a vegan version by using an egg substitute. You can cook the potatoes and eggs and saute the onions and then layer in advance, bake halfway, and then heat up a few days later.”
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