I had a big event happen in my life this summer: my children moved out. That’s right, I am officially an empty nester.
As a result, many things around the house have changed. For one thing, I am amazed at how much my utility bills have decreased. But needless to say, my biggest adjustment has been in my grocery shopping and cooking. I’m no longer cooking for a family of three and trying to please all palates. Instead, I find myself cooking for one most of the time now.
On top of this, my children are in the process of learning to prepare their own meals and have found themselves struggling with how to eat healthy on a budget. So, I thought that I would introduce a new topic on my blog for Tightwad Tuesday that will give some ideas for simple, healthy and budget friendly recipes for 1.
For my first series of posts, I’m going to show you how I turned a store-bought rotisserie chicken into a work-week’s worth of meals for one person. As a bonus, two of the meals will make leftovers for the weekend and/or lunches. Here’s the meal plan:
- Meal 1: pieces of rotisserie chicken breast with roasted root vegetables (serves 1)
- Meal 2: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 1)
- Meal 3: Black and Blue Chicken Tostadas (serves 2)
- Prep for additional meals: Homemade Chicken Stock (yields 22 cups)
- Meal 4: Budget Roasted Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup (serves 6)
- Meal 5: Chicken and Black Bean Chili (serves 4)
For my groceries, I went to my local store and purchased organic produce where I could. I also purchased a natural, free-range rotisserie chicken from the deli. While going natural can be slightly more expensive, I find the food more flavorful and it’s just better for your body in the long term. So I consider the extra expense an investment in me — the best kind of investment!
I spent a total of $35.75 on the following ingredients:
- 1 natural rotisserie chicken – $7.99
- 1 bunch of organic celery – $2.70
- 1 lb. bag of organic whole carrots – $0.79
- 3 lb. bag of organic sweet potatoes – $3.99
- 1 red onion – $0.69
- 16 oz. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt – $2.79
- blue cheese – $3.29
- Frank’s red hot sauce – $3.79
- 1 head butter lettuce – $1.29
- 1 1/2 lbs. bulk dried black beans – $1.49
- 1 lb. bulk dried red kidney beans – $1.19
- 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added – $0.79
- corn tortillas – $1.29
- 1 sweet onion – $0.69
- 1 bunch organic Italian parsley – $1.49
- 1 avocado – $1.49
I should note that I will also be using some fresh herbs and spices throughout my recipes. Growing your own herbs is an excellent way to save money and add lots of flavor to dishes. Many herbs can be grown in containers, which are perfect for apartment living. If you aren’t growing your own herbs, look for them in bulk bins in the produce section of your natural foods grocery store. These are typically organically grown and significantly less expensive than buying the packaged variety at the big box grocery stores. Just as an example, when my thyme was flowering and I couldn’t pick any from the garden, I bought a good handful at my local natural foods store for just $0.19.
The same can be said for spices. I buy all of my spices in bulk rather than in containers because the price difference is huge, sometimes as much as 3000% higher for those little bottles vs. buying spices in bulk. For example, I recently purchased 8 dried, organic bay leaves for just $0.22 in bulk, while the bottle on the shelf (with about the same amount of leaves in it) was $4.99. Additionally, the bonus of buying spices in bulk is that you can purchase smaller amounts for what you need at that moment in time, so your unused amounts won’t go stale in the jar. Just be sure to label everything when you buy it so that you know what it is later!
For my first meal, I simply sliced off a 4 oz. section of the rotisserie chicken and at it with a quick side of roasted root vegetables. I peeled and sliced 1 sweet potato and 1/2 of the red onion, tossed it with a bit of olive oil, salt and dried thyme, then roasted everything up. It’s an easy side for a quick weeknight meal.
Tune in next week when I will show you how to make Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps!
- Serves: 1
- Calories: 281.3
- Fat: 14.6
- Saturated fat: 2.1
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1.7
- Carbohydrates: 37.2
- Sugar: 1.0
- Sodium: 239.3
- Fiber: 5.4
- Protein: 2.9
- Cholesterol: 0.0
- 1 sweet potato, about 5" long, peeled and sliced in ⅛" rounds
- ½ red onion, peeled and sliced into ¼" wide half-circles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- In a medium bowl, toss the potato and onion slices with the oil, salt and thyme.
- Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browned. Serve immediately.