Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, spoiled me. I was able to get whatever type of food I wanted delivered to my door, satisfying any craving at just about any time. Moving away from such a convenient city has forced me to be resourceful. Takeout options are limited where I am now, and it doesn’t help that I’m on a budget. What’s a frugal foodie to do? Why, expand my DIY takeout arsenal and cook those hard-to-find foods with ingredients from the local grocery store, of course! Here are some yummy choices that are quick and easy to prepare. They are also customizable, so use what you have to make healthy, delicious, fast meals on the cheap. No trips to specialty markets here. Ready, set, cook!
The trifecta of a California roll, miso soup and crisp green salad with ginger dressing makes me weak in the knees. Unfortunately, sushi ‘round these parts isn’t cheap, and I have no idea how to roll my own. Luckily, Lea’s Cooking blessed me with the recipe for lazy sushi. Season some sushi rice, and throw it in a bowl or on a plate. Pile on your favorite toppings, and sushi is served. Crab, tuna, avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon: the world is your oyster.
Have five minutes to spare? Great, then you can make this flavorful miso soup from A Spicy Perspective. No miso? No problem! I used a bit of sesame oil and some fish sauce to deepen the flavor of the vegetable broth base, and I still got that umami flavor that makes miso so comforting and tasty. Go slow with this: sesame oil and fish sauce are both potent ingredients, so add just a touch at first and taste before continuing. Remember, it’s always easier to add seasoning than it is to remove it. Vegans, try tamari or soy sauce instead.
No sushi spread is complete without a green salad draped in ginger dressing, and with this recipe from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary, it’s crazy easy to make your own. Helpful hint: if you want it a bit sweeter, add ketchup to taste. Saltier? Add a bit more soy sauce. Kick the nutrition up a notch by making a salad with powerhouse greens like Swiss chard or spinach.
Every time I order Thai food, I look for coconut sticky rice with mango on the menu and gladly eat it for dinner, dessert classification be damned! Making it at home always seemed like a process, especially since traditional recipes call for ingredients that I wouldn’t be able to pick up on a routine shopping trip. Fork In It to the rescue! Thanks to this recipe, I had sweet, rich rice studded with ripe, juicy mangos on my dinner table in no time flat. I’ll also let you in on a secret: though the recipe calls for jasmine rice, if you happen to have a bag of sushi rice around, say, after making that lazy sushi, use it instead for a truly beautiful sticky texture. Paired with Martha Stewart’s Chicken Satay Skewers, this is a meal that will knock your sweet-and-salty cravings right out.
If noodles are more your bag, Daphne Oz of The Chew has you covered with this genius Pad Thai recipe that uses pantry ingredients for a healthy, no-fuss meal.
There is not much better in winter than a big bowl of dal served with chewy, fluffy naan. It’s warm, nourishing and oh so tasty. British nutrition stars and sister act Hemsley + Hemsley have created a luscious lentil concoction that is super healthy and perfectly balances sweet butternut squash and coconut with spicy ginger and garlic for a stew that will appeal to everyone. Dal calls for full-bodied, inexpensive ingredients such as lentils and onions, so whether you use super nutritious bone broth or plain old water, you will get bold flavors that will feed an army for around $10. Freeze half the batch for later or halve the recipe if you have a small household. Also, good ole full fat canned coconut milk is a great substitute for a bar of creamed coconut.
Now, for the naan. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much never have yeast at home. It’s one of those ingredients I don’t really think about when I’m at the grocery store. I do, however, usually have a container of yogurt hanging out in the fridge, so I was super psyched when I came across Playful Cooking’s instant naan. In the time my dal was cooking, I was able to make this quick bread. It tastes divine sprinkled with a hint of sea salt.
Try whipping up these full-flavored dishes in your kitchen today, and tell us how it goes!