Let’s face it, eating out is easy, convenient, most times unhealthy, but you hope very tasty! It also can be VERY EXPENSIVE. Costly not only to your wallet, but also to your health. But I’m not here to talk about your health…well, not intentionally. However, your health is a by-product of your daily food intake. And most everyone knows that your health can add to your cost of living down the road. Taking the time to do some weekly meal planning not only saves you money, but also provides health benefits.
I want to share one of my favorite recipes that is filled with flavor and is flexible enough to fit most any budget. Stuffed Mexican Bell Peppers. I like to make this on Sunday afternoons to provide myself lunch for each day of the upcoming week. There are many versions of this meal. You can make it more Italian using an Italian sausage and marinara mixture, or you can make a vegetarian version swapping rice for the ground turkey. Another way to cut the cost is to use green bell peppers instead of the colored variety of red, yellow, or orange. Green bell peppers tend to be half the cost of the others. Personally, I prefer red, yellow, and orange due to the slightly sweeter taste. During the Spring and Summer months, the cost is more affordable too at around $0.98 each.
See below how I calculate this recipe at $2.20 per serving. I tend to buy the largest size bell peppers I can find so I end up making 5 instead of 6. If you can make 6, then your cost goes down to around $1.83 per bell pepper. You will be surprised at how filling just one stuffed pepper is as well as being very flavorful and good to your waistline.
The following prices are summer prices from my local HEB with HEB brand foods when possible. Therefore, prices will vary due to different times of the year and location. Spice costs are estimates.
Stuffed Mexican Bell Peppers
•1 lb ground turkey, browned and drained – $2.97
•1 cup corn, frozen or canned and drained – $0.49
•1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained – $0.36
•1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis, drained (HEB brand not avail) – $0.98
•1 Tbsp Chili Powder – $0.10
•1 Tbsp Cumin – $0.10
•½ – 1 Tbsp Garlic Salt – $0.10
•5-6 medium sized bell peppers (any color) – $4.90
•Shredded cheese of choice (optional) – $0.49
•½ – 1 cup Salsa (amount is preference) – $0.50
Total Cost for 5 peppers = $10.99 – this equates to $2.20 per stuffed bell pepper
Not only is this recipe frugal, it’s also healthy. One bell pepper provides 1 to 1 ½ servings of vegetables (bell pepper, corn, and black beans) and also a serving of healthy protein. Should you exchange the turkey for quinoa, it’s even healthier and lower in cost. Win – win!!
Let’s recap: You can eat a healthy lunch for 5 days for under $11 total. I’m guessing you would spend that or a little more on average to eat out just one time. That’s a savings of over $40 a week, $160 a month.
What a great savings incentive! If you normally eat out every day, try incorporating some simple meal planning. Maybe start with one or two days a week and work your way to everyday. Then every day that you bring a meal to work, move $11 (or amount you spend on average) over to a savings account. You could try this for 30 days, or better yet, a year! I’m all about 30 day challenges!!
See recipe directions below.
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Combine your corn, beans, Rotel and seasonings in pan with browned ground turkey. Mix everything together well.
3.Rinse bell pepper and cuts tops off and clean out seeds from the insides.
4.Scoop meat filling into each pepper and pack tightly.
5.Pour a little salsa in bottom of each muffin section or bottom of baking dish.
6.Place filled peppers into muffin tin/glass baking dish.
7.Bake for about 20 minutes.
8.Add shredded cheese (optional) to top of pepper and bake 10-20 minutes more – depending on how cooked you prefer your peppers.
9.Serve with a little salsa on top.
Side note: Chop up pepper tops and use in to other meals that week such as salads or spaghetti. You can also store in the freezer to use later in other recipes such as soups, scrambled eggs or egg muffins.
Please feel free to share your lunch meal ideas! I love trying new recipes!!