Budget Meal: Baked Chicken Parmesan

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Servings: 4
Cost per meal: $9.47
Cost per serving: $2.37
Prep time: 15 minutes
Estimated calories: 300

I absolutely love Italian food, but often find at Italian restaurants the portions are too big and the food is prepared in the least healthy way possible. That’s why for this week’s budget meal, I decided to adapt Skinnytaste’s Baked Chicken Parmesan because I wanted to lighten up one of my favorite Italian dishes – and do it on a budget. The result is a great week night meal you and your roommates can easily make – or you can freeze the leftovers for when you’re on the go and have a great alternative to those sodium-loaded frozen dinners.

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Budget Meal: Chicken Fajitas

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Servings: 1-3
Cost per meal: $9.75
Cost per serving: $3.25
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Estimated Calories: 465

These chicken fajitas are one of my go-to meals during the week because I love Mexican food, but I don’t always have the time to go out to eat and can’t always afford fajitas when I do make it out since they seem to be one of the pricier items at most Mexican restaurants. The best part about this recipe is that I threw it together on a whim one night and so it’s easy to add in any other vegetables, other meats, or toppings you like to keep it interesting. This recipe is also great because it’s easy to make a single serving for yourself or make enough for some friends, too.

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Budget Meal: Shrimp Pad Thai

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Servings: 5
Cost per meal: $9.77
Cost per serving: $1.96
Prep time: 40 minutes
Estimated Calories: 256

Pad thai is a restaurant favorite but with this simple and inexpensive recipe you can customize it however you like! It also has significantly lower sodium than restaurant or pre-made versions of pad thai. The original recipe from Big Girls Small Kitchen was adapted by doubling the recipe and adding shrimp for protein. I bought the shrimp, rice noodle, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and bean sprouts at a small independent Asian supermarket. Prices are significantly lower and there is much more variety at local ethnic supermarkets compared to mainstream grocery stores.

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Budget Meal: Shamrock Egg Bake with Turkey Sausage

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Servings: 9
Cost per meal: $9.57
Cost per serving: $1.06
Prep time: 60 minutes
Estimated Calories: 301

Brunch is a fantastic meal for college students, it’s always a social activity and will double as breakfast and lunch! I named this casserole the Shamrock Egg Bake with Turkey Sausage because of it’s green and gold color, and it’s perfect for spring time! Unlike most breakfast casseroles this one does not need to be prepared a day ahead for the bread to absorb the egg. You can also serve this as a “breakfast for dinner” meal and refrigerate the leftovers! I adapted the original recipe from Taste of Home by adding turkey sausage for additional protein to make this a complete meal.

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Budget Meal: Pasta with Turkey and Fresh Tomato Sauce

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Servings: 6
Cost per meal: $9.17
Cost per serving: $1.53
Prep time: 30 minutes
Estimated Calories: 400 

This pasta dish is a quick meal for almost any night of the week. It also gives you a lot of food, so the leftovers will last you for awhile! For all of you vegetarians out there- this is a really easy dish to make meatless (see the Martha Stewart recipe where this is adapted from) without losing much of the meal.

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Budget Meal: Turkey Zucchini Burgers

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Servings: 5
Cost per meal: $9.47
Cost per serving: $1.90
Prep time: 30 minutes
Estimated Calories: 250 

If you’re anything like my friends and me, you realize cooking for yourself in college is hard- especially after a long day of classes. It’s on those kinds of days where we’re too lazy to cook that we end up at our favorite burger joint around the corner from our apartment. Although these trendy burger joints are all the rage here in Charlottesville, they certainly aren’t the most economical or healthy option in town.

That’s why I decided to adapt Skinnytaste’s Turkey Zucchini Burgers for this week’s budget meal. Since my apartment complex doesn’t allow outdoor grills, I made mine on a flat skillet on the stove and they turned out wonderfully. So regardless of whether you make them on a traditional grill, a skillet like I did, or a George Foreman grill, they’re a great alternative to that $10 burger you’re craving.

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Budget Meal: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

 

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Servings: 8
Cost per serving: $0.93
Cost per meal: $7.44
Prep time: 10 minutes
Estimated calories per serving: 200

It’s been pretty cold here in Charlottesville recently, so I’ve been craving comfort food. This recipe has been on my “to-cook” list for quite awhile. It’s so easy to make, especially if you have a busy day ahead of you. You can throw everything in the crock pot before you leave for class and dinner will be ready to go once you get home!

I took down the spice level by a few notches, but if you’re feeling brave, you can head over to Skinnytaste (where this recipe’s been adapted from) to give the full-spice version a try.

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