|Fridge and pantry. You can't make this shit up.|
First, the beans. These serve as my basic carbohydrates. They provide the energy in the food and are dirt cheap. I usually stick with lentils (unlike their legume brethren, they don't require soaking). Lentils cost about $1.50 per pound and cook up in 15 minutes. A one pound batch will last me 5 days or so.
Second, the greens. I buy two 2lb bags of frozen broccoli each week and usually only need to pick up one bag every other week (I also buy groceries assuming I'll be too lazy to get them the next week). To keep things interesting, I alternate kale, spinach and fresh broccoli to supplement the monotony of the frozen regime. Frozen broccoli can be steamed (microwave in a minute and a half or steam them stove top if you're wearing an aluminum hat and fear the microwave) for quick preparation and added to whatever you eat.
Third, the protein. Sadly, meat is expensive. Luckily, eggs are almost as cheap as lentils. I eat 3 eggs (only 2 yolks) for breakfast each day and will frequently stir fry them for use as a dinner food. The other protein I buy is canned fish. Either tuna or (if you're an old man like me) sardines. These can again be added to a stirfry for dinner or used to create my pseudo tuna salad.
Lastly, you've got seasonings and dressings. Now, when I say dressings I don't mean ranch (as a server, ranch is my arch enemy). I mean things that jazz up the base ingredients listed above in slight ways that keep it interesting. If I finally grow tired of my lentil, kale, and eggs breakfast, I'll pick up some salsa. A teaspoon of salsa with your eggs can be a game changer. While salsa tends to be a bit expensive for my likes, garlic and onion are not. Both of these can be used in the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals I've referenced above.
And that's it! Using these basic building blocks, I craft most of my meals. I'm human (last I checked) and still like the occasional chinese or pizza binge. Sticking to my basic meal plans though allow me to eat a lot, in a nutritious manner and dirt cheap.
Here are the meal idea's simplified for those lacking imagination:
|Black beans and tomato variation.|
1 cup beans (this works well varying with black beans or pintos)
1 cup greens (lately it's been kale, but when that runs out it's back to broccoli)
3 Eggs (only 2 yolks, I'm an advocate for fat but not a nut-job)
In an oil coated pan, start with the beans. They're pre-cooked so 2-3 minutes just to warm them up is all you need. Add the greens, again they just need some warm up time. Once everything is brought to temperature I drop the 2 eggs and 1 white on top of it all. Cover to steam the eggs to a nice over-easy texture and you're done! Adding a dash of water before covering will speed up the process but might overcook your eggs. I usually season this with onions (added with the beans), garlic and a ton of black pepper. Salsa or hot sauce like to join the party pretty often as well.
|Fresh chive and tomato variation.|
1 cup lentils
1 cup broccoli (steamed or fresh)
1 can tuna/sardines
1/4 cup chopped onion
enough garlic to kill a man (in this case, usually 2-3 cloves)
more black pepper than you think is reasonable (starting to see a trend?)
Mustard to taste
Mix it all up and eat it! You can substitute mayo for the mustard if that's more your thing.
It's self explanatory, seriously- the theory is in it's name.