15 Healthy and Cheap 5-Minute Dinners
Trying to keep nutrition in the forefront when things get hectic can be challenging, but these 15 healthy and cheap five-minute dinners can help. (See also: 6 Tips for Making Cheaper, Faster, Better Meals)
1. Black Bean Tacos
I’m a huge fan of black bean recipes in general, and for a quick, healthy dinner on a busy night, these meatless tacos are tough to beat. Simply put one can of drained and rinsed black beans, an eight-ounce can of tomato sauce, and the desired amount of taco seasoning into a frying pan and heat through. Serve with soft tortillas, chopped veggie toppings, and a bit of sour cream or guacamole. This an easy, inexpensive transition recipe for those new to a plant-based diet. (Note: If black beans aren’t your thing, you can still keep tacos quick by choosing a meatless filling such as vegan burger crumbles.)
2. Nori Wraps
If you’re not in the mood to make sushi or want a low-carb meal that still includes sea produce, then you might want to consider whipping up some nori wraps. Nori is seaweed that comes in sheets, and it's available affordably at Asian groceries. You can use it in place of tortillas to create these raw nori rolls featured on the Vegetarian Times web site, or these seaweed wraps from the people at The Vegan Spork.
3. Vegetarian Chili Dogs
The cool thing about preparing meatless meals is that many of them can come together quite quickly, because you don’t need to wait as long for things to safely cook all the way through. A fun one to try if you are cooking for kids is vegetarian chili dogs. Toast some rolls, slap some veggie dogs on the Foreman grill, and heat up some canned vegetarian chili on the stove. Add a few chopped onions as an extra topping, and you’ll be in business.
4. Polenta Rounds With Black-Eyed Peas and Collards
Purchase pre-chopped collards and sauté them with a drained can of black-eyed peas, a bit of olive oil, and some chopped ginger. Serve with grilled polenta rounds sliced from a prepared tube available at your local grocery store. This is a five-minute meal that helps you consume your required cruciferous vegetables, includes a fair amount of protein, and looks colorful on the dinner plate.
5. Leftover Rice With Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir Fry
If instant rice isn’t your thing, you can make up a large batch of regular rice at the beginning of the week in order to have easily reheated leftovers throughout the week. In fact, once-a-week cooking setups are a great inside tip for having healthy food available fast for several days in a row. On a busy evening you can speed things up even further by using one of my favorite convenience foods, snow peas. They cook up quickly with shrimp and make a simple meal you can feel confident serving to company.
6. Mushroom-Topped Veggie Burgers With Low-Fat Chips and Salsa
If you’re trying to eat vegan on the cheap and easy, picking up some veggie burgers at Aldi can speed up family dinner prep immensely. Slap a few cooked mushrooms on the top, and serve in a toasted bun along with low-fat tortilla chips and salsa.
7. Mediterranean Cocktail Sandwiches With Veggie Sticks
For a simple summer meal, try making cocktail sandwiches using small rolls, sliced bulk mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, and a spread of olive oil and zatyr. The flavor blend is tasty, the sandwiches go together quickly, and the best part is that this meal requires no cooking whatsoever.
8. Miso Soup
Hey, it’s good for more than quick lunches at work. For those who want something hot in a hurry, miso soup brings a light, fast break to the hunger pains many of us find prevalent after a long day at the office.
9. Dinner Salads
This is another one with no cooking required, unless you want a hot item in the mix. Even then, some shrimp on a skewer takes five minutes tops on the grill. So chop up some greens, tomatoes, and other veggies; choose your salad add-ins; and decide which of your homemade salad dressing recipes you’re planning on preparing tonight.
10. DIY Italian Sandwich Night
Try putting together a submarine sandwich buffet for dinner in the middle of the week. It takes minutes to prepare, lets everyone choose what they feel like eating, and has a big fun factor. Try ingredients like sliced green peppers, thinly sliced turkey, banana peppers, tomato slices, and even fresh baby spinach leaves and sprouts. Italian salad dressing, salt and pepper, and even a shaker full of Italian seasoning are great too.
11. Thai Chicken Flatbread Pizza
If you’ve got yourself some basic flatbread, there’s no need to go through the stress of making a pizza crust from scratch. For that matter, a prepared crust could work well too. Take some leftover chopped chicken, sliced scallions, and an alternative pizza sauce like spicy peanut to create a quick dinner pizza that will take five minutes or less in the toaster oven.
12. Burrito Bowls
This is another one you can whip up with some leftover rice. My husband and I love the vegetarian burrito bowls at Chipotle Grill and try to recreate them at home when we can. It’s a great way to jazz up beans and rice, and it takes minimal time to assemble. The canned black or pinto beans can be drained, rinsed, and microwaved while frozen mixed peppers take less than two minutes to heat up. If you want, heat up the rice and beans together in order to save on prep time.
If your family loves using tortillas to create tasty, quick meals, then quesadillas are probably a safe bet to serve on any given night. Use various fillings to keep things creative, such as frozen spinach, chorizo, leftover turkey, and even shrimp.
14. Peanut Lime Coleslaw With Grilled Pineapple Steaks
I use the peanut-lime coleslaw featured in my cabbage recipes article and pair it with grilled pineapple steaks for an easy dinner that falls together fast. You can serve this meal with sangria, margaritas, iced tea, or even your favorite microbrew.
15. Angel Hair Pasta
Angel hair takes roughly two minutes to boil, and it can be served with pesto, marinara, or any other sauce you choose Personally, I don’t like to choose too heavy a sauce for angel hair because the strands are so delicate, and I feel heavier sauces overpower this particular type of pasta.
Mealtime doesn’t have to make you crazy. Having a plan and a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator will go a long way towards maintaining your sanity as well as your bottom line.