Eat me, I’m cheap: recipes on a budget

Photo Credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

Photo Credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

Melody Cherchian

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With a new semester and another round of tuition hikes, we all know the importance of surviving on a tight budget.  And what’s even more important is eating on that budget while still staying healthy.

While fast food combos are pretty quick for on-the-go students, they definitely start taking a toll on your body. And microwave meals are cheap, but with the amount of sodium and cholesterol they contain, why waste your money?

Instead, try grocery shopping for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein from inexpensive grocery stores. A great place to start is, believe it or not, are 99 cents only stores. Their fresh produce section has a wide range of fruits, grains, organic greens, and vegetables for, yes, only 99 cents!

Another great way to save is by buying in bulk at Costco. Stick to fruits and vegetables that are in season. They’re a lot cheaper at this time of year. Buy strawberries in summer, broccoli in winter, and carrots all year round. If you can’t find them fresh, frozen is also a good choice.

Enjoying a delicious and healthy meal doesn’t have to be expensive. So start indulging without emptying out your wallet.

Here are two recipes using 99 cents store produce – and a few extra ingredients from your pantry – to help you get started.

Spinach Artichoke Pizza:

INGREDIENTS
3 pita bread
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup water
6 cups of organic spinach
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper for taste
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place pita bread on baking sheet.
Boil water in a large skillet over medium heat. Once water is boiling, simmer down and stir in spinach stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread pesto evenly over the each piece of pita, top with the spinach, marinated artichokes, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Veggie Tostadas

INGREDIENTS
1 can diced tomatoes, preferably with jalapeños
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 roughly sliced green bell peppers
8 corn tortillas
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 avocado, pitted
1/4 cup prepared salsa
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or any kind you like)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Add sliced bell peppers to a heated pan. Cook until skin is blackened but still crispy. Add tomatoes and the juice to bell peppers over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray. Bake, turning once, until crisped and lightly brown, about 10 minutes.
Mash avocado in a bowl. Stir in salsa, sour cream and cilantro until combined.
To assemble tostadas, spread each crisped tortilla with some of the avocado mixture. Top with the vegetable mixture, lettuce and cheese