These days, our wallets are really getting a workout — and not for the better. With the rising cost of food, you may find yourself among the 51 percent of Americans who report they are cutting back on food costs and purchasing fewer non-essential grocery items.
But, just because you need or want to cut back on grocery costs doesn't mean you have to cut back on enjoyment or taste — it just means you have to get a little creative by cooking from home with budget-friendly ingredients. Think cheaper proteins, vegetarian options, and lots of all-in-one meals (bonus: less clean up!).
These five fall recipes are all $5 or less a serving and are super easy to prepare at home — no fancy kitchen appliances or tools needed!
Get ready to dig in and learn to make the most of your meals this fall — without breaking the bank.
Lemon and Lentil Soup
One bite of this lemon and lentil soup and you'll wonder why you haven't been cooking with lentils your whole life. So flavorful, protein-packed, and nutritious — and it's ready in less than an hour!
- 2 cup lentils (any variety)
- 16 cups water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 4 carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 2 bay leaf
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- Place lentils and 6 cups water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain.
- Return empty saucepan to stove and heat oil. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add drained lentils, bay leaves, and 10 cups water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
- Season well with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste. Just before serving, stir in the spinach, allowing it to wilt.
- Ladle the soup into 4 bowls, top with yogurt (if desired) and serve with extra lemon.
- To make this meal last even longer, double the recipe and store half in the freezer for another day.
- If you don't have fresh lemon juice, bottled lemon juice will work too.
- No spinach? You can also add baby kale or another green of your choosing or skip the greens all together.
One Pot Spaghetti with Tomato, Spinach, and Feta
- 1 lb fettuccine, dried
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Place all ingredients into a deep pot (or Dutch oven) except for the feta cheese. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium, continuing to cook for 10 minutes more or until the pasta is al dente and all of the liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce.
- Add crumbled feta to the pan and stir.
- You can substitute spaghetti for fettuccine.
- No feta? Use shredded or fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, or parmesan.
- For added protein, add a can of rinsed, drained chickpeas.
The Best Vegetable Soup
This hearty vegetable soup comes together quickly and it's great for using up all those veggies in your veggie bin before they go bad. If fresh vegetables aren't available you can use canned or frozen. This is another great recipe that's easy to double and save for leftovers!
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
- 1 (11.5 oz) can tomato juice
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large potato, diced
- 1 cup chopped, fresh green beans
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Combine tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato juice, carrots, celery, potato, green beans, corn, and water in a large stockpot. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer until vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes).
- Substitute any veggies you like in this dish. Other vegetables that go great in this budget-friendly soup include zucchini, yellow squash, shelled edamame, and peas.
- Finish this soup with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese for a little extra salty goodness.
- This soup can be frozen in an airtight container for up to five months.
Perfect Fall Chili
Nothing says fall like cozying up to a fire with a bowl of warm, comforting chili. This recipe for perfect fall chili uses simple pantry ingredients and comes together in a flash. Plus, it can be adapted for your slow cooker so you can fix it before work and have it waiting for you when you get home.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey or beef
- 1 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1 15 oz can kidney or navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Add the garlic and onions to large pot with the olive oil and cook over medium heat until they are soft and transparent. Next, add the ground meat and cook until just browned.
- Add beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and all seasonings to the pot, stirring until combined. Put a lid on the pot and allow the chili to simmer over for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally. (The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will blend together.)
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite toppings.
- For a meatless meal, simply substitute another can of rinsed, drained beans (any kind) instead of the meat.
- To make this chili in the slow cooker, first brown the meat with the garlic and onions. Then, add all remaining ingredients to your slow cooker, stir, put the lid on and allow it to cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-4.
- Great toppings to add to this perfect fall chili include sour cream, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese.
Harvest Apple Salad
Use up those delicious, crisp fall apples in this harvest apple salad. Chock full of nutritious greens, juicy, crunchy apples, and tons of other flavorful ingredients, this is a budget-friendly salad you'll want to put on rotation all fall long.
- 1 10 oz container of spinach, baby kale, or mixed greens
- 2 small apples (any variety), cored and thinly sliced
- ½ small red onion, sliced thin
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
- ½ cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
- 5 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp garlic (minced)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Add all the vinaigrette ingredients to a bowl and whisk, or add to a Mason jar and shake to combine.
- Add the greens to a bowl, top with apple slices, onion, dried fruit, nuts and goat cheese.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
- No apples? This salad is delicious with sliced pears, strawberries, or other berries too.
- If you don't want to make the dressing, any of your favorite olive-oil-based dressings will work well with this salad too.
- Substitute feta or blue cheese for goat cheese.
If your fall grocery budget is smaller than you'd like due to some other unforeseen financial circumstances, we can help you get your fall finances in order. Check `n Go has the money you need, even for those with bad credit. Apply online or in-store today!*