Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is a great way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers, plus the leftovers are great so it’s the perfect meal prep!

The post Turkey and Wild Rice Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Have you eaten all of your Thanksgiving leftovers yet?? If not, here’s an amazing soup that you can make with that leftover turkey, and any leftover vegetables you may have laying around from all that Thanksgiving prep a few days ago. This Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is rich, flavorful, and just packed with goodies. Plus, it’s one of those soups that tastes even better the next day, so make a pot of this and you’ll be eating GOOD for the next few days!

Overhead view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup on a wood surface.

What’s in Turkey and WIld RIce Soup

This recipe is actually based on the filling for my chicken pot pie recipe, but I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead and made it a little thinner to be more soup-like.

It starts with a basic medley of vegetables (onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and mushrooms) sautéed until tender, then we add a combination of butter and flour that will help thicken the soup and give it body. Next, we add vegetable broth, herbs, and the wild rice blend, and simmer until the rice is tender. Finally, we add in the cooked chopped turkey, heat through, then add a dose of cream for a rich finish. 👌 Perfect!

Do I Have to Use Turkey?

This recipe is quite flexible, so if you want to make it any other time of the year other than after Thanksgiving, simply swap out the cooked turkey with some chopped rotisserie chicken! Still super delish and hearty!

Overhead view of turkey and wild rice soup in the pot with a ladle.

What Kind of Rice to Use

For this soup, you’ll want to use a wild rice blend. While you can use wild rice by itself, I find that using a blend of different rices adds more texture and color to the bowl and the rice blends tend to be more affordable than wild rice by itself. I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend, but you can sometimes find generic store versions of this, depending on where you shop (last year ALDI had some). And, since rice is shelf stable, you can save the leftovers to use in other recipes, rather than worrying about it going to waste.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerate this soup just after cooking so that it cools quickly. Even better yet, divide it into single servings for faster cooling and easier serving and reheating later. Chill completely in the refrigerator overnight, then, if desired, transfer it to the freezer for longer storage. The soup can be reheated in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over medium-low, stirring often, until hot.

Close up side view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup.
Overhead view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup.
Print

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is a great way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers, plus the leftovers are great so it's the perfect meal prep!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.94 recipe / $2.24 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 1.75 cups each
Calories 472kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 carrots $0.29
  • 3 ribs celery $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided $0.48
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.79
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.06
  • 1/2 cup wild rice blend $1.20
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 cups vegetable broth $0.47
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey $3.11
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.55
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02

Instructions

  • Dice the onion, slice the carrots and celery, and mince the garlic. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to a large soup pot with 1 Tbsp butter and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.
  • While the vegetables are sautéing, slice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the pot and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft.
  • Add the flour and remaining 4 Tbsp butter to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Add the wild rice, thyme, sage, pepper, and broth to the pot. Stir until all of the flour and butter mixture has dissolved off the vegetables and the bottom of the pot.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the soup up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the soup simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rice is tender.
  • Once the rice is tender, add the chopped turkey. Stir to combine and heat through.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, then taste the soup and season with about ½ tsp salt, or to your liking. Enjoy hot with bread for dipping!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.75cups | Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Sodium: 1451mg | Fiber: 4g
Close up of a ladle full of turkey and wild rice soup over the pot.

How to Make Turkey and wild rice soup – Step by Step Photos

Carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the soup pot.

Dice one yellow onion, slice 2 carrots, slice 3 ribs of celery, and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to a large soup pot with 1 Tbsp butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot.

While the vegetables are sautéing, slice 8 oz. mushrooms. Add them to the pot and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened.

Butter and flour added to the pot.

Add 4 Tbsp butter and ¼ cup flour to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more. The flour and butter will form a paste that will coat the vegetables, that is okay.

Wild rice blend and herbs added to the pot.

Add ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp rubbed sage, ¼ tsp pepper, and ½ cup wild rice blend to the pot.

Vegetable broth being poured into the pot.

Add 4 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine and dissolve all of the flour and butter off of the vegetables and the bottom of the pot.

Simmered soup in the pot.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the soup to come to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the wild rice is tender.

Chopped turkey being poured into the pot.

Once the rice is tender, add 2 cups of chopped cooked turkey (or chicken) and stir to combine. Allow the turkey to heat through in the soup.

Cream being stirred into the soup.

Finally, to make the soup extra lush, stir in a ⅓ cup heavy cream.

Finished soup in the pot with a spoon.

Taste the soup and add salt to your liking (I added ½ tsp). Keep in mind that adding a little salt really helps the different flavors pop!

Finished pot of turkey and wild rice soup seen from above.

Serve the Turkey and Wild Rice Soup hot with some hearty bread for dipping!

The post Turkey and Wild Rice Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Dollar Store Dinners – Spam Stir Fry Noodles

This quick Spam stir fry is a dollar store dinner that only requires a few simple ingredients: ramen noodles, frozen vegetables, and luncheon meat.

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Spam Stir Fry Noodles appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I know Spam is a polarizing ingredient, but the whole idea behind this Dollar Store Dinners series is making the most of what’s available, and there isn’t a whole lot to work with, food-wise, in a dollar store. So today I’m taking advantage of one of the few meat products at the dollar store: canned luncheon meat, or a generic version of Spam. This Spam Stir Fry may not be for everyone, but it’s a quick and easy meal that you can make with just a handful of ingredients, and sometimes that’s enough to be thankful for!

Dollar Store Dinners

Welcome to the Dollar Store Dinners series on Budget Bytes. We’re making quick and simple meals using only ingredients found at the dollar store. While the availability of ingredients will vary from store to store, hopefully these easy recipes will give you some inspiration for when money is tight and access to groceries is limited!

Overhead view of a plate full of spam stir fry with a fork.

What’s in This Meal?

This is a super quick and easy stir fry with noodles that is made simply with a can of luncheon meat, a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables, and a pack of ramen noodles. It’s simple, filling, and inexpensive!

Here’s what I bought at the dollar store for this recipe:

  • Luncheon meat $1.25
  • Frozen stir fry vegetables $1.25
  • Instant ramen noodles (pack of 6) $1.25
  • Cooking oil $1.25

Total: $5.00

And there’s plenty of leftover ramen noodles and cooking oil to use in other recipes!

Dollar store stir fry ingredients.
(Ignore the fact that the luncheon meat is open. I almost forgot to take this photo and accidentally opened it first)

What is Luncheon Meat?

Luncheon meat is a term used for processed, cooked, ready to eat meat that is available fresh, like deli meat, or canned, like Spam. Luncheon meat is usually either sliced or chopped and can be served cold or cooked and added to other recipes. Luncheon meat does tend to be high in fat, sodium, and nitrates, which are added to keep costs low and to increase the shelf life of the meat.

Luncheon Meat Vs. Spam

The type of luncheon meat used in this recipe is canned luncheon meat, similar to Spam, but a generic version. After comparing the ingredient list on the luncheon meat I purchased at the dollar store to the ingredient list on a can of Spam, I would definitely recommend the brand name Spam for this recipe if you have it available. But again, this series is all about using what you’ve got! And in this case, it’s generic canned luncheon meat.

Alternate Options

So look, if Spam isn’t your jam (I swear I didn’t plan that rhyme), you’ve got other options! Try using plain ground pork, chicken, or beef instead. Or, cube up some tofu and fry it up in the skillet first. The beauty of a stir fry is that you can put just about anything in them and they still taste great.

Not into ramen noodles? No problem! This stir fry would be great over a bed of rice, too. If you’re not using the ramen you’ll need a little something to season up the dish, in lieu of the seasoning packet from the ramen. You can make a really quick and easy sauce by combining ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup chili garlic sauce (or sriracha), and ¼ cup brown sugar.

Spam stir fry noodles in a skillet, being lifted by tongs.
Overhead view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles with a fork.
Print

Spam Stir Fry Noodles

This quick Spam stir fry is a dollar store dinner that only requires a few simple ingredients: ramen noodles, frozen vegetables, and luncheon meat.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $2.50 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 669kcal

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. luncheon meat $1.25
  • 12 oz. frozen stir fry vegetables $1.25
  • 3 oz. package instant ramen $1.25
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $1.25

Instructions

  • Slice the luncheon meat into strips.
  • Add about a tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the sliced luncheon meat and fry until brown and crispy.
  • Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the ramen noodles. Add the noodles (without the seasoning packet) and boil for about 3 minutes, or just until tender. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
  • Once the luncheon meat is crispy, turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high and add the frozen vegetables. Continue to stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.
  • Add the drained noodles and about half of the ramen seasoning packet to the skillet. Toss until everything is combined and coated in seasoning. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Serve hot.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

The price calculation for Dollar Store Dinners includes the total package cost of the ingredients, rather than the cost for the portion used. The prices listed above reflect a six-pack of instant ramen and an entire bottle of cooking oil.
The nutrition facts below reflect the entire seasoning packet for the ramen, while we only used about half.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 669kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 41g | Sodium: 2345mg | Fiber: 8g
Side view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles being lifted by a fork.

How to Make Spam Stir Fry Noodles – Step by Step Photos

Dollar store stir fry ingredients.

You only need a few ingredients for this meal: canned luncheon meat (like Spam), a packet of instant ramen, a bag of frozen vegetables, and a little cooking oil to help the Spam crisp up (you might not even need this if your luncheon meat is high enough fat and you’re using a non-stick skillet).

Spam being cut into pieces.

Slice one 7 oz. can of luncheon meat into pieces.

Fried luncheon meat in a skillet.

Add a little oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Add the sliced luncheon meat to the skillet and fry until browned and crispy (3-5 minutes).

Boiled ramen noodles in a pot, drained.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the ramen noodles, without the seasoning packet, and boil until tender (about 3 minutes). Drain the noodles.

Frozen vegetables added to the skillet.

Turn the heat in the skillet up to medium-high and add one 12oz. bag of frozen stir fry vegetables. Stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.

Noodles and seasoning added to the skillet.

Add the cooked and drained noodles to the skillet along with about half of the seasoning packet from the ramen noodles.

Finished Spam stir fry noodles in the skillet.

Toss the noodles together with the meat, vegetables, and seasoning. Taste and add more seasoning to your liking. Since the luncheon meat is pretty salty, I only used about half of the seasoning packet total.

Overhead view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles with a fork.

Serve the easy Spam stir fry and enjoy!

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Spam Stir Fry Noodles appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Butternut Squash Curry

This butternut squash curry is easy, inexpensive and so deliciously warm, cozy, and filling. It’s the perfect vegetarian comfort meal!

The post Butternut Squash Curry appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I snagged a few really big butternut squashes on sale the other day, chopped them up, and stashed most of them in my freezer for later. One of the first things I made with my butternut squash haul was this delicious and super easy butternut squash curry! It’s warm, cozy, filling, and most of all, budget-friendly!

Overhead view of a skillet full of butternut squash curry.

What’s in Butternut Squash Curry

This simple curry starts with a trio of aromatics, including onion, garlic, and ginger. We layer in some curry powder and cumin, and finally build the sauce with some diced tomatoes and water. The butternut squash is then simmered into the flavorful sauce until tender and then creamy coconut milk is added to give the curry body. The curry is then finished off with some fresh spinach for color and texture. So easy, so pretty, and SO delicious!

How to Serve Butternut Squash Curry

The creamy curry sauce is the star of the show in this dish, so you definitely want to serve this curry with some type of bread or rice to make sure all of those delicious flavors get soaked up and enjoyed. You could serve the curry in a bowl with some naan bread for dipping, or spoon it over a bed of rice like we have it pictured here.

How to Store Leftovers

Divide the curry into single portions after cooking, then chill in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. This curry can be frozen, although you may want to give it a good stir after thawing and reheating. You can thaw the curry in the refrigerator overnight, or microwave straight from the freezer on the defrost setting, stirring occasionally, until reheated.

What Else Can I Add?

Curries are great because they’re so flexible. You can toss in just about anything you might have on hand. If you don’t have butternut squash, you can substitute the same amount of sweet potatoes. If you want to bulk up this curry, you can add in a mix of frozen vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots, cauliflower), or even a drained can of chickpeas.

Overhead view of a bowl of butternut squash curry with rice.
Close up overhead view of butternut squash curry in a bowl with rice.
Print

Butternut Squash Curry

This butternut squash curry is easy, inexpensive and so deliciously warm, cozy, and filling. It's the perfect vegetarian comfort meal!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Total Cost $7.23 recipe / $1.81 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 433kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. butternut squash (about 4 cups diced) $1.78
  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder $0.30
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1 15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes $1.09
  • 1/2 cup water $0.00
  • 1 13.5oz can full-fat coconut milk $2.29
  • 2 oz. fresh spinach $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02

Instructions

  • Peel and dice the butternut squash into ½-inch pieces. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for a few minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder and cumin and sauté for one minute more.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and water to the skillet. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the diced butternut squash and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet and let the squash simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, or just until fork-tender.
  • Add the coconut milk to the skillet, stir to combine, and heat through.
  • Once the sauce is hot again, add the fresh spinach. Stir to combine and allow the spinach to wilt in the hot sauce. Season the curry to taste with salt, then enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 30g | Sodium: 494mg | Fiber: 9g
Overhead view of a skillet full of butternut squash curry with a spatula.

How to Make Butternut squash curry – Step by Step Photos

Butternut squash sliced and cubed on a cutting board.
Peel and dice about 2 pounds of butternut squash into ½-inch pieces (about 4 cups). If you need help figuring out how to dice butternut squash, check out our tutorial on how to peel and cut butternut squash.
Diced onion, minced garlic, and grated ginger on a cutting board.

Prepare the aromatics. Dice on yellow onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and grate about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger.

Sautéed aromatics in a skillet, spices being added.

Heat a large skillet over medium, then add 2 Tbsp olive oil along with the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté over medium for a few minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add 1 Tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp ground cumin, and continue to sauté for about one minute more.

Diced tomatoes being poured into the skillet.

Add one 15oz. can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and ½ cup water to the skillet. Stir to combine and dissolve the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Butternut squash added to the skillet.

Add the diced butternut squash and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet and let the squash simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, or just until fork-tender. Don’t overcook the squash or it will begin to break down into a mash as you finish the dish.

Coconut milk being poured into the skillet.

Once the squash is tender, add one 13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to heat through.

Fresh spinach added to the curry.

Once the sauce is hot again, add about 2 oz. fresh spinach (two big handfuls) and stir to combine. Allow the spinach to wilt in the hot sauce.

Finished curry in the skillet with a spatula.

Season the curry with salt, starting with ¼ tsp and adding more to your liking. I used ½ tsp total. Keep in mind that salt doesn’t just make things taste salty, it actually helps other flavors pop and allows your tongue to detect and distinguish flavors.

Close up overhead view of butternut squash curry in a bowl with rice.

Serve the curry with bread for dipping or over a bed of rice and enjoy!

The post Butternut Squash Curry appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sushi Bowls

Homemade Sushi Bowls are a fast, easy, and inexpensive alternative to eating out. Get your sushi fix without spending a fortune!

The post Sushi Bowls appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Confession: I’ve been spending way too much on sushi lately. But I don’t have the skill to make beautifully rolled sushi at home. So when that sushi craving hits, I just whip up an easy sushi bowl instead. It’s got all of the components of California roll piled into a bowl instead. They’re not fancy, for sure, but they’ll crush that sushi craving without leaving you $30 in the hole.

Close up overhead view of a sushi bowl with sriracha mayo.

What is in a Sushi Bowl?

I kept this sushi bowl as simple as possible to keep the price low and to make it easy to prepare, but they’re very customizable! My sushi bowls had seasoned sushi rice, a few crunchy vegetables (carrot and cucumber), nori (seaweed), and crab stick. You can jazz these sushi bowls up and make them fancier as your budget allows.

Here are some other fun ingredients to add to sushi bowls:

For Best Results, use short grain rice

Using short grain rice is really important for getting that classic sushi flavor and texture. Those little grains have a high starch content and a very different texture than long grain white rice. Packaged “sushi rice” carries a hefty price tag at regular grocery stores and can be quite expensive, so I suggest checking bulk bins, or better yet making a special trip to an Asian grocer.

Another option is to use Calrose rice, which is fairly common in U.S. grocery stores. Calrose is a medium grain starchy rice grown in California that still works really well for sushi bowls.

What is Imitation Crab?

Imitation crab is what you’ll find in California rolls and a lot of other Americanized sushi. It’s real white fish that has been shaped and flavored to resemble crab meat, but at a much lower price. You can usually find it in stick form, chunks, or flaked. It’s pretty tasty, IMHO, and very affordable!

Close up side view of a sushi bowl.

Seaweed options

Adding a bit of nori (dried seaweed) really goes a long way toward making this bowl taste like real sushi. Luckily, “nori snacks” have become really popular the last few years. They are just smaller single-serving-sized packages of nori rather than the larger packs you’d typically use to roll a lot of sushi. I sliced up a few small squares of nori snack for each bowl and, boom! Done.

How to Store Sushi Bowls

These sushi bowls work really well for meal prep and stay good in the refrigerator for about four days. You definitely want to cool the rice as quickly as possible after cooking and before packing your sushi bowls so that the warm rice doesn’t wilt the vegetables. So after seasoning the rice, spread it out on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish then refrigerate until cooled before packing the sushi bowls into meal prep containers.

Overhead view of a sushi bowl being eaten with chopsticks.
Completed sushi bowl from above on a dark background.
Print

Sushi Bowls

Sushi Bowls are a fast, easy, and inexpensive alternative to your favorite sushi bar. Get your sushi fix without spending a fortune. 
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Asian
Total Cost $8.82 recipe / $2.21 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 642kcal

Ingredients

SUSHI RICE

  • 2 cups short grain white rice $1.36
  • 2 cups water $0.00
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar $0.27
  • 2 Tbsp sugar $0.02
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05

TOPPINGS

  • 8 oz imitation crab $2.99
  • 1 carrot $0.19
  • 1 cucumber $0.59
  • 1 avocado $1.50
  • 1 pack nori snack $1.15
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds $0.18

SRIRACHA MAYO (optional)

  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha $0.22

Instructions

  • Place the uncooked short grain rice in a medium sauce pot. Rinse the rice well and drain off as much water as possible.
  • Add 2 cups of fresh water, place a lid on the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice rest, undisturbed and with the lid in place, for 10 additional minutes.
  • To prepare the sushi rice dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. If needed, microwave for 15-30 seconds to help the sugar dissolve.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the toppings. Shred or chop the imitation crab, shred or julienne the carrot, slice the avocado, slice the cucumber, and break the nori snacks into smaller pieces. Stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl.
  • When the rice is finished cooking, sprinkle about 1/4 of the vinegar dressing over the rice, then gently fold or stir the rice to combine. Repeat the process until all of the vinegar dressing has been incorporated into the rice.
  • To build your sushi bowls, place about 1 cup of the seasoned sushi rice in a bowl, then top with crab stick, carrot, cucumber, avocado, a few pieces of nori, a pinch of sesame seeds, and a drizzle of the sriracha mayo.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1Bowl | Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 20g | Sodium: 1185mg | Fiber: 8g

How to Make Sushi Bowls – Step by Step Photos

Rice being poured into a sauce pot.

Place 2 cups of the uncooked rice in a medium sauce pot. Rinse the rice well and drain off as much of the excess water as possible. Add 2 cups fresh water, place a lid on the pot, then bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes (make sure it’s simmering the whole time). After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice rest, lid in place, for an additional five minutes. 

Rice vinegar, sugar, and salt being stirred in a small bowl, the bottle of vinegar on the side.

While the rice is cooking, mix up the rice seasoning. This seasoning gives the rice its characteristic sushi flavor and glossy appearance. Combine 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp white sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. If needed, microwave the mixture for 15-30 seconds to help dissolve the sugar.

Seasoning being drizzled over the rice in the pot.

Sprinkle about 1/4 of the vinegar seasoning over the rice. Gently fold or stir the rice to distribute the dressing. Repeat this process until all of the dressing has been incorporated and the rice appears slightly glossy. Make sure not gently fold, rather than stir, the rice to prevent it from becoming mushy.

Prepped sushi bowl toppings.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the sushi bowl toppings. Shred one carrot (use a large-holed cheese grater), chop one cucumber, slice one avocado and chop or break up 8oz. of imitation crab into small pieces.

Imitation crab and nori snacks.

Imitation crab is basically just white fish that has been shaped and flavored to resemble crab. You can usually find this in the seafood department or frozen seafood department of the grocery store. Nori snacks can usually be found in the International aisle of larger grocery stores. They’re usually around $2 per pack and contain several squares each!

Sriracha mayo being stirred in a small bowl.

Prepare a little sriracha mayo to go on the sushi bowls… Simply stir together 4 Tbsp mayo and 2 Tbsp sriracha. NOM.

Sriracha mayo being drizzled over the sushi bowl.

Finally build your sushi bowls by adding about 1 cup of the seasoned sushi rice, then topping with some of imitation crab, sliced avocado, shredded carrot, sliced cucumbers, a few pieces of nori, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and a delicious drizzle of sriracha mayo.

Completed sushi bowl from above on a dark background.

Seriously, SO GOOD.

Close up of a bite of sushi bowl being held by chopsticks.

Bonus: sushi bowls are a little harder to pick up with chopsticks than rolled sushi, so you can’t inhale them quite as quickly. Take time and savor that flavor. ;)

The post Sushi Bowls appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Dollar Store Dinners – Bean Quesadillas

These easy bean quesadillas and a side of Spanish rice are made using only ingredients from the dollar store for an easy and affordable meal

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Bean Quesadillas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m really excited about this Dollar Store Dinner. When I tell you I GOBBLED this down while taking the photographs, that would be an understatement. 😅 Quesadillas are one of my favorite easy meals, so I was really excited to see the ingredients needed to make these awesome Bean Quesadillas at the dollar store. I added a side of seasoned rice pilaf that I fancied up with a can of Rotel, and dinner was done! Seven ingredients, $8.75 total, four servings. 🙌

Dollar Store Dinners

Welcome to the new Dollar Store Dinners series on Budget Bytes. We’re making quick and simple meals using only ingredients found at the dollar store. While the availability of ingredients will vary from store to store, hopefully, these easy recipes will give you some inspiration for when money is tight and access to groceries is limited!

Overhead view of bean quesadillas on a plate with Spanish RIce.

What’s in This Meal?

This meal consists of really simple bean quesadillas that are filled with a mix of beans, vegetables, cheese, and a little seasoning, then cooked until crispy in a skillet. I added a packet of Spanish rice as a side dish and incorporated a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chiles) to make the rice a little more interesting.

Here’s what we bought at the dollar store:

  • Flour tortillas $1.25
  • Santa Fe Blend frozen vegetables (corn, black beans, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onions) $1.25
  • Canned pinto beans $1.25
  • Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chiles) $1.25
  • Cheddar cheese $1.25
  • Spanish rice mix $1.25
  • Bayou Blend seasoning $1.25

Total: $8.75

Dollar store ingredients for quesadillas and Spanish rice.

And we still had a couple of leftover tortillas and tons of seasoning blend to use in future meals!

What Kind of Seasoning to Use for Quesadillas

Normally I would have bought a taco seasoning packet for quesadillas, but the seasoning packets are only enough for one recipe and they are the same price as this huge bottle of Bayou Blend seasoning. While the Bayou Blend isn’t southwest flavored, it has a wonderfully smoky-spicy flavor that I think still goes great with the beans, cheese, and vegetables. So it was definitely a better bang for my buck (or buck twenty-five). If you do use taco seasoning instead, you may need to add a little salt to the quesadilla filling if your taco seasoning does not contain salt.

What Else Can I Add?

If you have access to more ingredients I’d definitely add some sour cream and/or salsa for dipping! And maybe some green onions to top the Spanish rice. You could also dice up some cooked chicken and add that into the quesadilla filling.

No Dollar store, No Problem.

This recipe was crafted using the limited ingredients available at a dollar store for those who only have access to groceries this way, but you can make the same or similar recipes using ingredients from regular grocery stores, and oftentimes for a lower price. This meal was actually inspired by two of our other recipes: Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas and Tomato Rice. So you can check those out if you want a more “from scratch” approach.

Close up view of stacked quesadillas held in hands..
Side view of a plate full of bean quesadillas and Spanish rice.
Print

Bean Quesadillas and Spanish Rice

These easy bean quesadillas and a side of Spanish rice are made using only ingredients from the dollar store for an easy and affordable meal
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Southwest
Total Cost $8.75 recipe / $2.19 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 2 quesadillas and 1 cup rice
Calories 599kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. Santa Fe Blend frozen vegetables $1.25
  • 1 15oz. can pinto beans $1.25
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese $1.25
  • 1.5 tsp Bayou Blend seasoning* $1.25
  • 8 flour tortillas $1.25
  • 1 5.6oz. pkg Spanish rice $1.25
  • 1 10oz. can Rotel (diced tomatoes with chiles) $1.25

Instructions

  • Thaw the frozen vegetables and drain them well. Rinse and drain the pinto beans. Shred the cheddar cheese.
  • Add the thawed vegetables, pinto beans, shredded cheese, and 1.5 tsp seasoning blend to a large bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning or salt to your liking. Set the quesadilla filling aside.
  • Drain the liquid from the can of Rotel into a liquid measuring cup, then add water until you have 2 cups liquid total (or the recommended amount on the package of rice).
  • Add the rice packet, drained tomatoes, and measured liquid to a saucepot. Stir to combine. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 7 minutes (or follow the instructions on the packet). After 7 minutes, turn the heat off and set the rice aside.
  • While the rice is cooking, divide the quesadilla filling between 8 tortillas (a scant ½ cup each), spreading it over one half of the tortilla, then folding it closed.
  • Cook the filled quesadillas in a skillet over medium heat until the cheese is melted on the inside and the tortillas are crispy on the outside (I do not use oil, but you can if you prefer).
  • Slice the quesadillas in half or into thirds. Fluff the Spanish rice. Serve the quesadillas and rice together and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*You can use taco seasoning instead, but you may need to add salt if your taco seasoning does not contain any.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 599kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 1347mg | Fiber: 13g
Side view of a plate full of bean quesadillas and Spanish rice.

How to Make Bean Quesadillas – Step by Step Photos

Dollar store ingredients for quesadillas and Spanish rice.

Here are the items we bought at the dollar store to make this meal: flour tortillas, Santa Fe blend frozen vegetables, pinto beans, Rotel, cheddar cheese, Bayou Blend seasoning, and a Spanish rice packet.

Thawed Santa Fe vegetables in a bowl.

Thaw the 12 oz. bag of frozen vegetables first so you can drain off the excess water. You don’t want soggy quesadillas! I just microwaved mine for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, until they were fully thawed, then drained them really well.

Beans, cheese, and seasoning added to the vegetables.

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of pinto beans. Shred 4oz. cheddar cheese. Add the beans, cheese, and 1.5 tsp Bayou seasoning (or taco seasoning – you may need salt if your taco seasoning doesn’t contain any).

quesadilla filling in the bowl.

Stir everything together, then taste the filling and adjust the seasoning or salt to your liking. Set the quesadilla filling aside.

Rotel tomatoes being drained into a measuring cup.

It’s time to start cooking the Spanish rice. The directions on the packet said to add 2 cups of water, but I wanted to add Rotel tomatoes to the mix. So I drained the juices from the can into a measuring cup, then added enough water until it reached the 2 cups of liquid suggested on the packet.

Spanish rice mix and Rotel in a pot, water being poured in the side.

Add the contents of the Spanish rice packet into a saucepot. Add the drained tomatoes and 2 cups of liquid (juices from the Rotel + water). Stir everything to combine, place a lid on top, then bring it up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn it down to medium-low and simmer for about 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, turn the heat off and set it aside.

Tortillas being filled with quesadilla mix.

While the rice is cooking, fill the quesadillas. I had just under 4 cups of the filling, so I filled 8 tortillas with a scant ½ cup of the filling. Spread the filling over one side, then fold them closed.

Cooked quesadillas in the skillet.

Cook the quesadillas in a skillet over medium heat until the cheese is melted on the inside and the tortilla is brown and crispy on the outside. I did not use oil in the skillet, but you can if you prefer a more fried effect.

Quesadillas being sliced.

Slice the quesadillas into two or three pieces each. I like to use a pizza cutter for this, but a large knife works well, too!

Fluffed Spanish rice in the pot.

Fluff the Spanish rice with a fork.

Plated quesadillas and Spanish rice.

Serve your cheesy bean quesadillas and Spanish rice and enjoy!

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Bean Quesadillas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

Pollo Guisado is a hearty Puerto Rican chicken stew that’s packed with flavor, easy to make, and ready to devour in a little under an hour.

The post Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Warm your bones and fill your belly with Pollo Guisado, a hearty Puerto Rican chicken stew that’s packed with flavor, easy to make, and ready to devour in about an hour. Granted, we eat this year-round on my little island, where it rarely dips below 70 degrees. But it’s especially delightful when the weather turns chilly and you’re looking for a hearty meal to make you feel all sorts of toasty.

Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a yellow bowl with a spoon in it.

What Is Pollo Guisado?

Pollo Guisado (pronounced puh-yuh gee-sah-duh) is a Puerto Rican stew made up of braised chicken, potatoes, carrots, and olives in a tomato-based broth. Like most savory dishes from the island, its deep flavor comes from sofrito, a blend of peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro. The unctious chicken, briny olives, and subtle sweetness of the carrots make a truly perfect bite.

CAN I SUBSTITUTE THE CHicken?

While this is a chicken stew, feel free to use any protein that benefits from a long braise. You can substitute chicken with chuck roast, top round, or even steak. Using these cuts will lengthen your cooking time by thirty or so minutes. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use a vegetable-based broth and substitute the chicken with mushrooms. Brown them, just as you would the chicken, which helps them release moisture and develop big flavors.

Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a white Dutch oven with a ladle above it.

What To Do If Your Broth Won’t Thicken

If you find your broth to be entirely too watery at the end of the cook, here are a few tips to help you thicken it.

  • Uncover the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allowing the steam to escape will reduce the broth and thicken it.
  • Break up some of the potatoes. The starches will naturally thicken the broth.
  • If all else fails, use a cornstarch slurry. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water. Add it to the stew, then bring the stew to a boil for 1 minute while continuously stirring.

What To Serve With POllO GuiSAdo

On the island, this stew is traditionally served over white rice. But feel free to break with tradition and serve it with:

Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a white Dutch oven with a spoon in it.
Side shot of Guisado de Pollo in a yellow bowl with a spoon in it.
Print

Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)

Warm your bones and fill your belly with Pollo Guisado, a hearty Puerto Rican chicken stew packed with flavor that's easy to make and ready to devour in under an hour.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Puerto Rican
Total Cost ($9.37 recipe / $2.34 serving)
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 2 cup servings
Calories 470kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Dry the chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into 2-inch cubes. Season with Adobo.
  • Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once it has warmed, add the chicken in one layer and brown.
  • Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Add the onion to the pot, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the sofrito and tomato sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly.
  • Add the sazón, bay leaves, oregano, olives, potatoes, carrots, and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Take the stew off the heat, sample it, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*A packet of sazón contains about 1.5 teaspoons of sazón. If you cannot source sazón use:
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground annatto
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 470kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 843mg | Fiber: 6g
Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a white Dutch oven with a spoon in it.

How to Make Pollo Guisado – Step by Step Photos

Dry the 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. Then dice them into 2-inch cubes. Finally, season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of adobo. (Helpful hint: freeze the chicken thighs for about 15 minutes to make them easier to dice.)

Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the pre-heated Dutch oven. Once it has warmed, add the diced chicken in one layer. Do not crowd the pot. Brown in batches if necessary. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. 

Next, add the diced yellow onion to the pot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add the 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the 1/2 cup of sofrito and 8 ounces of tomato sauce to the pot.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thick and bubbly. If you run a spoon through it, the sauce should remain divided.

Add the packet of sazón, 2 teaspoons of oregano, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup of diced potatoes, 1 cup of sliced carrots, 1/4 cup of manzanilla olives, and 3 cups of chicken stock into the pot.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the chicken back into the pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. If the stew hasn’t thickened, break a few of the potatoes apart with a fork, and keep the stew simmering with the lid off until it thickens.

Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a white Dutch oven with a spoon in it.

When it is off the heat, sample the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cilantro (optional) and serve with white rice (optional). As we say in Puerto Rico, buen provecho!

Overhead shot of Guisado de Pollo in a white Dutch oven with a spoon in it.

The post Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Dollar Store Dinners – Sausage and Rice

This Sausage and Rice skillet is an easy and filling meal that you can make with ingredients found at the dollar store.

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Sausage and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I hit the jackpot at the dollar store this week! They were more well-stocked than the last time I visited, so I was able to brainstorm several quick dollar store dinners to keep us going for the next few weeks. This week we made this super quick Sausage and Rice, which is a simplified version of my Cajun Sausage and Rice recipe. And the Cajun Sausage and Rice is a simplified version of jambalaya, so I guess you could say that this dollar store sausage and rice recipe is kind of like jambalaya’s third cousin, twice removed. 😆

Dollar Store Dinners

Welcome to the new Dollar Store Dinners series on Budget Bytes. We’re making quick and simple meals using only ingredients found at the dollar store. While the availability of ingredients will vary from store to store, hopefully, these easy recipes will give you some inspiration for when money is tight and access to groceries is limited!

Overhead view of a sausage and rice skillet with hot sauce on the side.

What’s in This Meal?

This super simple meal is cooked all in one pot for maximum flavor and minimum cleanup. It starts with smoked sausage and a mix of frozen vegetables (onion, bell pepper, and celery), then we add rice, chicken broth, and a little creole seasoning. Everything is simmered together until the rice is tender, then topped it off with a couple of dashes of hot sauce, plus a little more creole seasoning to taste. Simple, yet good!

Here’s what we bought at the dollar store:

  • Smoked sausage $1.25
  • Frozen seasoning blend $1.25
  • Vegetable oil $1.25
  • Long grain white rice. $1.25
  • Chicken bouillon $1.25
  • Creole seasoning $1.25
  • Hot sauce $1.25

Total $8.75

And we have plenty of leftover oil, rice, bouillon, Creole seasoning, and hot sauce to use in other recipes!

Dollar store ingredients.

What Kind of Sausage To Use

Since we got all of the ingredients for this dish at the dollar store, there was no room to be choosy about what type of sausage to use. Luckily they had a package of “smoked sausage” that I snatched up immediately. This sausage looked exactly like the “hot dogs” on the shelf next to them, so I’m pretty sure the only difference was the addition of smoke flavoring. If all you had available was hot dogs, I’m sure this would still make a tasty meal!

But if you do have access to a variety of sausage, definitely go for a smoked pork or beef sausage, like andouille or kielbasa.

What Kind of Seasoning to Use

A lot of the flavor in this dish comes from the smoked sausage and chicken broth. I also added some creole seasoning, but if your dollar store doesn’t have that there are other options. Try adding some salt-free all-purpose seasoning (like Mrs. Dash), taco seasoning, or even steak seasoning. Just be aware of the salt content of your seasoning so you don’t over salt the dish.

What else can I add?

If you want to bump up this recipe a bit, try adding a drained can of kidney beans, or maybe a can of diced tomatoes (reduce the broth by the amount of liquid in the can of tomatoes). And I’m a “cheese makes everything better” type of person, so if I had some cheddar I’d throw that on top and let it melt, too. :P

See my full “grocery store” version of this recipe here: Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet.

close up side view of a plate full of sausage and rice.
Overhead view of sausage and rice in the skillet.
Print

Sausage and Rice

This Sausage and Rice skillet is an easy and filling meal that you can make with ingredients found at the dollar store.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.75 recipe / $2.19 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 1.25 cup each
Calories 436kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. smoked sausage $1.25
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $1.25
  • 10 oz. frozen seasoning mix (celery, onion, bell pepper, parsley) $1.25
  • 1 cup long grain white rice $1.25
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth (made with bouillon) $1.25
  • 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning $1.25
  • hot sauce to taste $1.25

Instructions

  • Slice the smoked sausage into ½-inch thick rounds.
  • Add the cooking oil to a deep skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add the smoked sausage and continue to cook until the sausage has browned (3-5 minutes).
  • Add the frozen seasoning mix to the skillet and continue to cook and stir over medium heat until the vegetables are heated through.
  • Add the rice, Creole seasoning, and chicken broth to the skillet, then stir until everything is combined.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the broth come up to a boil. When it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes (do not lift the lid, do not stir).
  • After simmering for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the skillet rest with the lid in place for an additional five minutes.
  • Finally, lift the lid, fluff the rice, and add more Creole seasoing and hot sauce to taste. Serve and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

The prices listed for this recipe are the purchase price for the full container of the ingredients used.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cups | Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 813mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make Sausage and Rice – Step by Step Photos

Dollar store ingredients.

Here are all of the ingredients we used: smoked sausage, frozen seasoning blend (onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley), vegetable oil, white rice, chicken bouillon, Creole seasoning, and hot sauce.

sliced sausage on a cutting board.

Slice 8 oz. of smoked sausage.

Browned sausage in a skillet.

Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or any cooking oil) in a deep skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced sausage and cook until browned.

seasoning mix added to the skillet with the sausage.

Add the frozen celery, bell pepper, onion, and parsley mix (called “seasoning mix) and sauté until heated through.

Rice, broth, and seasoning added to the skillet.

Add one cup of rice, ½ tsp of Creole seasoning, and 1.5 cups chicken broth (made with the bouillon). You don’t want to add too much Creole seasoning here because it contains salt and you don’t want to over-salt the dish.

Sausage and rice ready to be simmered.

Stir everything together until evenly combined. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.

Simmered sausage and rice.

When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes (do not remove the lid or stir it). After simmering for 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest with the lid in place for an additional five minutes.

Hot sauce being sprinkled over the sausage and rice.

Fluff the rice with a fork, then season to your liking with extra Creole seasoning and hot sauce.

Overhead view of a plate full of sausage and rice.

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Sausage and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

If you’re looking for a knock-out recipe that takes minutes to put together, this mouthwatering Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is it!

The post Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is one of those recipes you make when you have time for absolutely nothing but still want to indulge in a savory ooey-gooey delight that’ll make every person at your table say “Wow.” Plus, it’s a sheet pan meal that takes minutes to put together. What’s not to love?

Overhead shot of a hand touching sausage stuffed spaghetti squash with a black fork in it.

What Is Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti Squash is the coolest cousin in the gourd family. It has a canary yellow exterior and is shaped like a smoother version of one of those giant dragon eggs someone’s always cradling on House Of The Dragon. (Or a football. Take your pick.) When cooked, its flesh separates into strands the thickness of angel hair.

DOES IT REALLY TASTE LIKE SPaghetti?

No. It does not. It has a neutral flavor and a mildly crunchy texture that smooths out the longer you cook it. But it does look like spaghetti, with strands that vary in length depending on how you slice it. If you go with rounds, you’ll get beautiful long pieces that you can twirl around a fork. I always cut it lengthwise because it’s faster. Even though it gives me shorter strands, I get more ways to work with it because you can stuff it with almost anything.

Side shot of Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with a fork in it.

How To Cut SPaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash can be a beast to work with unless you soften it a little first with a spin on your microwave turntable. Pierce its skin a few times with a fork and nuke it for five minutes before you try to slice it. It will make it so much easier. It’s always a good idea to stabilize it by resting it on a dish towel before you make that first cut. Leave the steak knife in the drawer and bust out your sharpest chef’s knife. Check out our full tutorial on How To Roast Spaghetti Squash.

Do I Have To Use Italian Sausage?

The beauty of spaghetti squash is its mild flavor, which makes it a blank canvas that pairs perfectly with almost anything. Beth and I are kind of obsessed with Italian sausage and melted mozzarella, but feel free to try your favorite combinations.

For example, you can make this a vegan meal with vegan cheese and sausage. Or lean Latin with it, and try chorizo with manchego or a smoky cheddar. The magic is that you don’t need to use any spices. Not even salt. The sausage is already chock full of spices and will flavor the squash as its fat renders in the cavity. The cheeses provide all the salt you need. Beth and I couldn’t score our favorite spicy Italian sausage, so we opted for sweet and added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the mix. That’s, of course, completely optional.

Side shot of Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with a fork in it.
Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash with a black fork next to it.
Print

Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

If you're looking for a knock-out recipe that takes minutes to put together, this mouthwatering Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is it!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($5.38 recipe / $1.35 serving)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 quarters
Calories 355kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash (1.5 lbs.) $1.19
  • 1/2 lb. Italian ground sausage (sweet or spicy) $3.00
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella $0.63
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese $0.50
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil $0.06

Instructions

  • Set a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 400°F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half, from tip to end. Scoop out the seeds in its central cavity. Brush each half with the cooking oil.
  • Divide the pound of sausage equally between the two spaghetti squash halves.
  • Roast for 30 minutes or until the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Remove from the oven, but keep your oven on.*
  • Use two forks to separate the sausage into small chunks and to separate the squash into strands. Mix it all together.
  • Combine the cheeses.
  • Divide the cheese mixture equally between the halves and roast for another 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and begins to caramelize. Enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*As long as sausage reaches 160°F,  it’s perfectly safe to eat. However, only the surface of the sausage will brown.  I know some people are squeamish about pale sausage. So, if you prefer super well-done, very browned sausage, put it in a pan for a few minutes until it starts to develop color, then stuff the squash with it. Don’t waste the rendered fat. Add that to the squash as well.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25squash | Calories: 355kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 26g | Sodium: 653mg | Fiber: 4g
Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash with a black fork in it.

How to Make Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of a hand holding a spaghetti squash half and brushing oil on it.

Set a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 400°F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half, from tip to end. Scoop out the seeds in its central cavity. Reserve the seeds if you wish, and roast them later. Brush each squash half with the half tablespoon of olive oil.

Overhead shot of spaghetti squash stuffed with sausage.

Divide the pound of sausage equally between the two spaghetti squash halves.

Overhead shot of baked stuffed spaghetti squash.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Remove from the oven, but keep your oven on.

Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash with sausage mixed with the squash.

Use two forks to separate the sausage into small chunks and to separate the squash into strands. Mix it all together.

Overhead shot of cheese mix in a bowl.

Combine the cup of mozzarella with the quarter cup of Parmesan. We added 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes because all we could find was sweet Italian sausage, and we love a little kick. This is completely optional and has not been calculated into the recipe cost.

Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash on a sheet pan.

Top the squash with the cheese. Divide the cheese mixture equally between both squash halves.

Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash on a sheet pan.

Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and has started to caramelize. Buen provecho! (That’s Spanish for: have the best time eating. And trust me, you will!)

Overhead shot of stuffed spaghetti squash with a black fork next to it

What To Serve With Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Pair your spaghetti squash with these delicious sides:

The post Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Dollar Store Dinners – Pea Soup

This pea soup with seasoned flatbread is a simple and comforting meal that you can make using ingredients from the dollar store.

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Pea Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This super simple and cozy pea soup with seasoned flatbread is a simple meal that you can make with minimal ingredients when your budget is tight. We used canned peas to keep the recipe quick and an all-purpose steak seasoning blend to add lots of flavor without needing to buy several herbs and spices. And, as always, I’ve got some variations and ideas for extra add-ins below if you have more ingredients and want to take it to the next level!

Dollar Store Dinners

Welcome to the new Dollar Store Dinners series on Budget Bytes. We’re making quick and simple meals using only ingredients found at the dollar store. While the availability of ingredients will vary from store to store, hopefully, these easy recipes will give you some inspiration for when money is tight and access to groceries is limited!

Overhead view of a bowl of split pea soup with flatbread and a spoon dipping into the center.

What’s In This Meal?

I based this pea soup on our favorite Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup which is made by combining blended canned beans with broth and herbs to make an incredibly simple yet delicious soup. This time around, we started off by browning some bacon for extra flavor, then puréed peas and chicken broth, and seasoned it up with a bold steak seasoning (garlic, onion, pepper, parika, and other spices).

We then used the extra bacon fat to brush our flatbread (aka pizza crust), then topped it with a little more steak seasoning and baked it until crispy. The delicious “flatbread” was perfect for dipping into the cozy soup!

Here’s what we bought:

  • 3 cans of peas ($1.25 each) $3.75
  • 1 quart chicken broth $1.25
  • 3 oz. bacon $1.25
  • 1 ultra-thin pizza crust $1.25
  • 1 container steakhouse seasoning $1.25

Total: $8.75

dollar store grocery haul.

Can I use Frozen Peas?

If you have access to frozen peas, definitely use those in place of canned peas. You’ll need about 4-5 cups of thawed peas to replace the three cans. Frozen peas will have a fresher, sweeter flavor and a brighter color than canned peas.

No Dollar Store, No problem

If you don’t have a dollar store in your area, don’t fret. This will still be an incredibly budget-friendly recipe, even when the ingredients are purchased at a traditional grocery store. In fact, in some cases, the prices will be even better at a traditional grocery store than at a dollar store. Canned peas, for instance, are usually around $0.80-$0.90 at our local grocery, but are $1.25 at the dollar store. Why is this? Dollar stores do not specialize in food, so their prices can sometimes be a bit higher.

What Else Can I Add?

If you have access to more ingredients, here are a few things that can take this pea soup to the next level:

  • Onion, garlic, carrot, and celery: dice each and sauté in the bacon fat after removing the cooked bacon from the pot.
  • Ham: make it extra hearty by adding some diced ham to your soup.
  • Extra herbs: if you have a stocked spice cabinet, try adding some oregano and thyme to your soup, or extra black pepper.
  • Potato: add a diced potato and simmer until the potatoes are soft to make this soup extra filling.
  • Add shredded cheese to your flatbread before baking for an extra delicious cheesy flatbread.
A spoon dipping into a bowl of pea soup with flatbread on the side.
Print

Pea Soup with Seasoned Flatbread

This pea soup with seasoned flatbread is a simple and comforting meal that you can make using ingredients from the dollar store.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.75 recipe / $2.19 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 1.25 cups each
Calories 342kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 15oz. cans peas $3.75
  • 3 cups chicken broth $1.25
  • 3 oz. bacon $1.25
  • 1 thin pizza crust $1.25
  • 1.75 tsp steak seasoning, divided $1.25

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF Drain the canned peas and add them to a blender with 2 cups of chicken broth. Purée until smooth. Add more chicken broth until the peas reach a thick soup consistency, or your desired consistency. We used 3 cups of broth total.
  • Cut the bacon into smaller pieces, then add them to a soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot.
  • Brush some of the bacon fat from the pot over the surface of the pizza crust. Season the pizza crust with an additional ¼ tsp steak seasoning.
  • Pour the puréed peas into the soup pot. Heat and stir over medium, using a wooden spoon or whisk to help dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Season the soup with steak seasoning, starting with 1 tsp and adding more to your liking. Make sure to taste as you go because steak seasoning often contains salt and you want to avoid over-salting the soup.
  • While the soup is heating, bake the pizza crust for about 5 minutes or until browned and crispy. Tear or cut the bread into pieces for serving.
  • Serve the soup in a bowl, topped with the browned bacon, and a couple pieces of the flatbread for dipping.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*I included the full purchase price for all ingredients rather than just the portion used. You will have leftover chicken broth and steak seasoning to use in other recipes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 1492mg | Fiber: 11g

How to Make Pea Soup – Step by Step Photos

Puréed peas and broth in a blender.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Drain three 15oz. cans of peas, then add them to a blender along with 2 cups of chicken broth. Purée until smooth. Add more broth until the peas reach a thick soup consistency. We used 3 cups of chicken broth in total.

Browned bacon in a soup pot.

Cut 3 oz. bacon into smaller pieces, then add to a soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot.

Bacon fat being brushed over the pizza crust.

Brush the extra bacon fat from the pot over the surface of one thin pizza crust. Sprinkle about ¼ tsp steak seasoning over the flatbread.

Pea soup being poured from the blender into the pot.

Pour the puréed peas and chicken broth into the pot. Stir and heat over medium, using a wooden spoon or whisk to help dissolve the browned bits of bacon off the bottom of the pot.

Steak seasoning being added to the soup.

Add a teaspoon of steak seasoning to the soup. Stir to combine and heat through. Taste the soup and add more seasoning if desired. We used 1.5 teaspoons in total. Make sure to taste as you add the seasoning, as it does contain salt and you don’t want to over-salt the soup.

Baked flatbread torn into pieces.

While the soup is heating, transfer the seasoned flatbread to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Tear or cut the flatbread into pieces for serving.

finished soup being stirred.

Once the soup is hot and seasoned to your liking, it’s ready to serve!

Served split pea soup with flatbread and topped with bacon.

Serve the soup in a bowl, top with the crumbled bacon, and the seasoned flatbread on the side.

The post Dollar Store Dinners – Pea Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup

This Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup is a medley of colors, flavors, and textures all in a hearty and inexpensive bowl. It’s vegan, too!

The post Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m so all about the hearty soups and stews this time of year and I’ve been kind of obsessed lately with using coconut to make savory soups and stews creamy. This Creamy Lentil and Vegetable Soup started out as a lentil mushroom soup, but then I decided to toss in the extra veggies I had in my fridge. The end result was a super cozy bowl full of colors, flavors, and textures that made all of my Autumn cottage-core dreams come true. 🥰

Close up overhead view of a bowl of creamy lentil vegetable soup with bread on the side.

What Kind oF lentils to Use

I used quick-cooking brown (or green, depending on where you are) lentils for this recipe. If you’re unsure of the type of lentil you have, check the cooking instructions on the package. You’ll want a variety that cooks with about 20 minutes of simmering with no soaking required.

I don’t suggest using red or yellow lentils for this recipe because they break down very quickly when cooked and you’ll end up with a texture closer to mashed potatoes than soup in the end.

Coconut Alternatives

I used full-fat coconut milk (the kind in a can, not the kind meant for use as a dairy milk alternative) for this soup because it’s an easy way to make soups ultra-rich and creamy without using dairy. If you’re not trying to avoid dairy you can simply use a splash or two of heavy cream. OR, if you want to make this a simply brothy soup, just skip the cream all together!

What to Serve with Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup

This creamy, cozy soup is just begging for some good bread for dipping. Whip up a batch of some homemade no-knead bread or soda bread and you’ll be in heaven.

How to Store

To store this soup, first divide it into single-serving portions to facilitate quicker cooling. Store the soup in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or once chilled, transfer to the freezer for longer storage (up to three months). You can reheat the soup in the microwave or in a sauce pot over medium-low heat, stirring often.

Overhead view of a pot of creamy lentil vegetable soup
Close up side view of a bowl of creamy lentil vegetable soup.
Print

Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup

This Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup is a medley of colors, flavors, and textures all in a hearty and inexpensive bowl. It's vegan, too! 
Course Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine American
Total Cost $9.19 recipe / $2.30 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 522kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. mushrooms $3.98
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 3 carrots $0.57
  • 3 ribs celery $0.55
  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary $0.05
  • 1 cup brown lentils $0.61
  • 3 cups vegetable broth $0.39
  • 1 13.5oz. can full-fat coconut milk $2.29
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt or debris, then slice them into thick slices.
  • Add the mushrooms to a large soup pot or Dutch oven along with the cooking oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until the mushrooms have released all of their water and it has evaporated out of the pot.
  • Meanwhile, dice the carrots, celery, and onion, and mince the garlic. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to the soup pot along with the thyme, sage, and rosemary. Continue to sauté the vegetables until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the lentils and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir to combine, then place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Allow the soup to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
  • Once the lentils are tender, add the coconut milk, stir to combine, and let it simmer for another five minutes.
  • Finally, taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. We used about ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Enjoy the soup hot with bread for dipping!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 31g | Sodium: 1076mg | Fiber: 20g
Close up side view of a bowl of creamy lentil vegetable soup.

How to Make Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup – Step by Step Photos

Sliced mushrooms in a soup pot.

Rinse 16oz. mushrooms to remove any dirt or debris, then cut them into thick slices. Add the sliced mushrooms to a large soup pot along with 2 Tbsp cooking oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Sautéed mushrooms in the pot.

Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they’ve released all of their water and the water has evaporated from the bottom of the pot.

Chopped vegetables added to the pot.

While the mushrooms are sautéing, dice three carrots, dice three ribs of celery, dice one yellow onion, and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the pot along with ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp rubbed sage, and ½ tsp rosemary.

Sautéed vegetables and herbs in the pot.

Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

Lentils in the pot and vegetable broth being poured in.

Add one cup of uncooked brown lentils to the pot along with three cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

Simmered soup in the pot.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high to bring the soup up to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the soup simmer over medium-low for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Coconut milk being poured into the soup.

Add one 13.5oz. can of full-fat coconut milk to the soup and stir to combine. Let the soup simmer for an additional five minutes.

Finished soup in the pot with a spoon.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Remember, adding a bit of salt helps amplify the flavors in the soup. I added about ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Overhead view of a bowl of creamy lentil vegetable soup with a piece of bread.

Serve your delicious creamy lentil vegetable soup hot with some hearty bread for dipping!

The post Creamy Lentil Vegetable Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.