Delicious Budget Friendly Weeknight Meals

Tom Kha GaiI have been so excited to be writing for Austin Woman the past few months! It is seriously so much fun coming up with recipes and getting to take gorgeous photos! There is always some sort of challenge for me like cooking with all CSA or farmers market vegetables or keeping things super simple with a blender soup. For the month of June, I had to get three recipes, with two servings each, all for under $20! I have to admit, I used to be on a tight budget in grad school so I knew a thing or two about stretching a dollar. I am happy to report that these recipes are all super tasty, easy to make and best of all they are great for one person to make and take leftovers for lunch the next day or great for two roommates or a couple! Be sure to  tag me if you make these recipes!

This piece originally appeared in the June 2016 Issue of Austin Woman

Whether you’re trying to save a little more money or waste a little less food, planning meals for the week saves a lot of time and hassle. Cooking at home by using the same ingredients in different ways not only prevents taste-bud boredom, it also spares you several hundred calories per week to spend instead on the extra little treats we all love, like chocolate or wine.  For less than $20, you can make six meals for the week with three different recipes that each take less than 30 minutes to prepare and total less than 330 calories.

1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, $2.35
1 bunch cilantro, $0.38
1 bunch green onions, $0.38
1 bunch lemongrass, $0.98
1/2 pound sweet potatoes, $0.45
2 limes, $0.30
1 lemon, $.25
1 small shallot, $0.18
Rotisserie chicken, $6.99
1/4 pound bulgur wheat, $0.54
1 6-ounce container fish sauce, $2.43
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk, $1.50
1 14-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth, $0.58
1 8-ounce jar garlic chili sauce, $2.00
Total: $19.39 plus 0.58 tax = 19.89

Did You Know?

Tax is only charged on prepared food items, such as rotisserie chicken. All non-prepared food items, like cilantro and chicken broth, are not taxed and offer a great way to save a little extra money.

Save While You Shop

In order to save money on shopping trips, only get what you need. Write down about how much you plan to eat each week, including the meals you’ll actually be home for. If an item is not a staple or something you use regularly, take advantage of this cost-effective option for everything from spices and nuts to flour and rice. The bulk aisle allows you to measure exactly how much you need instead of buying an ingredient in a 12-ounce jar when you only need a teaspoon of it.

Kitchen Staples

Keep these key ingredients stored in your kitchen pantry at all times. They are necessary for these recipes and will come in handy for many more. They include:
• olive oil
• salt
• pepper
• brown sugar


Serves two | Prep time: 10 minutes | cook time: 15 minutes  | Nutrition (per serving): 314 calories; 22 grams of protein

1 rotisserie chicken breast, skin removed and shredded
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 14-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1/4 pound baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
Cilantro for garnish


1. Toss shredded chicken with fish sauce and set aside.
2. In a pot, combine the chicken broth, brown sugar, lemongrass, lime zest and chili sauce, then cook over medium heat for about three minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another five minutes.
4. Add the chicken and mushrooms, and stir until the mushrooms are tender, about five more minutes.
5. Stir in the lime juice and serve garnished with cilantro.


Baby Bella and Bulgur SaladBABY BELLA AND BULGUR SALAD

Serves two | Prep time: five minutes | cook time: 20 minutes | nutrition (per serving): 164 calories; 7 grams of fat

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablesoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a small pot, boil the bulgur wheat with 1 1/2 cups water on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
2. In a separate pan, saute the mushrooms and shallots with the olive oil for about five minutes or until tender.
3. Plate the bulgur wheat with the mushrooms and lemon juice.
4. Top with the green onion and salt and pepper, to taste.

Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl


Serves two | Prep time: five minutes | cook time: 10 minutes | nutrition (per serving): 327 calories; 21 grams of protein

1 sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
Leftover bulgar wheat (see the recipe for Baby Bella and Bulgar Salad)
Lime wedges, green onion and cilantro for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Dice the sweet potato and sauté it in a pan with the olive oil, turning frequently so it doesn’t burn, for about 10 minutes or until tender.
2. Add the sweet potato to a bowl with the shredded chicken, chili sauce and any leftover bulgar wheat.
3. Garnish with the lime wedges, green onion and cilantro. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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