Last Minute Meals

When B. and I first started budgeting, one of our biggest areas of problem spending was eating out.  We were spending a LOT of money eating out and we weren’t even spending it on nice places or good meals- just on Taco Bell and McDonalds and other quick food that tasted ok but felt crummy.  Generally, we would get busy, or stressed, or tired or hungry and eat out instead of cooking. Or the chicken wouldn’t be defrosted and then we had no idea what to do for dinner. Or I would forget to pick something up at the store. Basically, anytime that the meal plan fell apart due to time or circumstances, we would turn to fast food.

Enter the last minute meal.  To those of you skilled at grocery shopping, cooking and meal planning, this post is going to seem like a “no duh” concept.  For me, the idea of keeping ingredients on hand for fast, easy meals was a revolutionary concept (my father is probably shaking his head at this point- I should have definitely learned this from him).

Take tonight, for example. Just as I was about to walk out the door at work, the phone rang.  It wasn’t a call I could ignore until tomorrow. By the time I got to daycare to pick up F., we were running twenty minutes behind. Dinner (grilled shrimp) was going to take at least 20-30 minutes to make and I wasn’t even sure the shrimp was actually defrosted (ha, it wasn’t). For those of you with toddlers, you’re probably wincing along with me.  Meltdowns were imminent.  I strongly considered just swinging by those happy golden arches. Enter the last minute meal.

Because my father is amazing, I have a shelf in my basement stocked with homemade, canned soup (pictured below- be jealous. Be very jealous).  So tonight, I pulled out a jar of homemade soup, toasted up some bagels and cut up some melon.  Was it the most nutritious dinner? Probably not. But it was ready in 10 minutes and I can guarantee that it was more nutritious and tasted better than McDonalds. And it didn’t cost me anything more than I’d already spent on the food we had on hand.

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Yummy soup, canned by my very awesome father. Thank you Dad!!

You need to have a stash of last minute meals.  We’ve had weeks that ended up being so crazy busy that all we ate all week was last minute meals.  There are three key characteristics to planning good last minute meals:

  1. They can’t be perishable– Last minute meals only work because you can keep the ingredients on hand somewhat indefinitely.  Some frozen foods work as last-minute meals (see below) but refrigerated foods almost never do, since there’s no way to know when a last minute meal is going to be needed.
  2. They should take no more than fifteen minutes to make– The definition of last minute meals means that you’re in a time crunch.  These meals should not include meat that needs defrosting or pretty much anything that needs to bake in the oven.  That doesn’t exclude all frozen food though.  For example, we keep a bag of frozen ravioli in the freezer on a regular basis, because it takes only five minutes to cook.  And of course, a bag of chicken nuggets, because toddler.
  3. They should be something you regularly want to eat- So I’ll be honest- our bag of chicken nuggets has been in the freezer for a long time. I just don’t really like frozen chicken nuggets, so I almost never make them. Last minute meals are only effective if they’re actually something you want to eat.

Still need some inspiration? Here’s are some of our common last minute meals.  All with things we usually have on hand that take less than 15 minutes to make.

6 Last Minute Meals 

  • Ravioli with Alfredo sauce– I prefer ravioli to straight pasta with sauce because ravioli has some protein (cheese or meat stuffed).  So you get your protein without having to defrost any ground turkey.  And I use doctored up store Alfredo sauce. It’s shelf stable and…not the worst?
  • Breakfast for dinner- I always have eggs on hand (F is an egg fiend!), so some nights, I’ll just make eggs, toast and fruit/cut up veggies for dinner.
  • Soup– Soup, toast and fruits is a fast and easy meal. If you buy it from the store, look for a low-sodium variety.  If you make it yourself, use a pressure canner! (regular water bath canners don’t get hot enough to kill all the bacteria, so you can give yourself botulism. Use a pressure canner.  PLEASE use a pressure canner).  I don’t recommend making and freezing soup for last minute meals because the thawing process often takes longer than fifteen minutes.
  • Chicken nuggets and tater tots– These take about 15 minutes in the oven to heat up.  The best I can say for this meal is that it’s food and my toddler will eat it.
  • Semi-homemade pizza– I usually have a store-bought pizza crust and the makings for pizza on hand.  The mozzarella cheese and pepperoni both have a pretty long life in the refrigerator, so it’s not hard to keep them on hand (plus I use shredded mozzarella in a LOT of other things, so ti’s pretty much a staple around here).  The store-bought crust I get from Wally World cooks in 8 minutes.
  • Quesadillas– These are great for using up any random vegetables you might have laying around.  I mix that with a can of black beans, a little shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand, I always seem to have two-three bags of shredded cheese laying around) and bam- quesadillas. Tortillas have a pretty long shelf life, so they generally last for awhile.

So there you have it. Like I said before- none of these meals are going to win any nutrition awards, but they’re definitely cheaper and probably healthier than eating out.  What are some of your favorite last minute meals?

 

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Money Monday: Five Reasons You Need to Get Comfortable Talking About Money

The New York Times published an article on Sunday entitled “What the Rich Won’t Tell You,” in which a sociology professor at the New School documents conversations she had with New York’s working rich. Those families, currently wroth millions, who work. Though her article talks broadly about how the working rich don’t consider themselves to be rich, what stuck out most to me was the reluctance of people to talk to her about money at all.  Some women were afraid that if their husbands found out they had disclosed their salary, they would be mad.  Others confessed that they had never talked about money and spending before at all, even with their spouse.  Still others called the researcher, hours after their interviews, making certain that any published works would be completely anonymous.

Reading this article got me thinking about the most important foundation for winning with money- and that’s getting really comfortable talking about money. It’s shocking to me, sometimes, how uncomfortable our culture is not talking about money.  Sure, we talk about getting good deals and saving money and things we do that obviously cost money, but we never out and out say, yeah, I totally went to Disney and guess what, it was well over $1000 per person. But talking about money, comfortably, is the first step toward being able to control what your money does for you.

Anyway, here are five reasons (and I’m sure there are more) why getting comfortable talking about money is the most important thing you can do for your financial future.

1. Financial problems are a leading cause of relationship stress– 35% of respondents in research conducted by SunTrust Bank in 2015 said that finances were the primary source of stress in their relationship.   1 in 5 Americans have spent $500 without telling their partner and 6% have a secret credit card or bank account (study here).  If you and your partner are not on the same page financially, you cannot win with money. You know how you get on the same page? You talk about it.  It doesn’t have to be face to face.  One of the bloggers I admire, The Frugal Girl, has talked many times about the monthly finance e-mail she sends to her husband. But you have to talk about it. If you aren’t both on the same page about your financial priorities and where your money is going to get spent, neither of you will ever be able to agree to and stick with a budget.

2. Teaching kids about money means talking about money– Growing up, my parents never really talked about money.  My dad loved (and still loves) to get a good deal (and I never, to this day, buy anything full price), but money wasn’t a common discussion in my house growing up. When I went to college, I knew how to balance a checkbook and I knew not how to overdraw my checking out (through the school of hard knocks, mind you).  Things I have learned since then: how to make a budget, how to track your spending, how to invest for retirement, and most importantly, how interest works. The last one, I think B. and I unfortunately both learned a little later than we would have liked. But my point is that by talking about money constantly and consistently, our children will hopefully enter the world knowing a lot more about saving and budgeting and interest by the time they have to make those financial decisions.

3. Finding your tribe means talking about money– I started this blog with the intention of keeping myself accountable.  But what I discovered was that by breaking the ice and talking openly about finances, I’ve found other friends who want to talk about money with me! I’ve had numerous discussion about Dave Ramsey with an old friend from grad school and budget discussions (complete with numbers!) with one of my closest friends since middle school.  This was support I didn’t have before starting this blog. Talking openly about money will help you find your support network, your tribe, your people.

4. Talking about money reduces its stigma– This blog is simultaneously the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. Before I started this blog, I would never have told anyone how much money we owed in student loan debt.  B. and I were, for a long time, so ashamed of the amount of debt we carried and I never, ever wanted to share with people just how much money we paid on our loans each month.  But now? I’ll tell any stranger on the street how much we owe.  The second I publicized just how much we owe, all that stigma went away.  I’m sure there are people out there reading this who look on us in judgement, but I wholly believe that they are the minority.  Instead, we’ve found support, understanding and some great money-saving tips from our friends and family.  Plus, now that ya’ll know how much we owe, we can’t hide it if we aren’t paying as much as we can!

5. Talking about finances and frugality keeps it top of mind– Ever since starting this blog, I find myself thinking through my spending more carefully.  Before, if I was over on groceries, oh well, no big deal. But now, since I’ve started openly declaring for all of the interwebs how much I’m going to spend in a month, I feel like I need to stick to that.  Writing about frugality and finances keeps me thinking about finances. It keeps me motivated to update the budget. It pushes me to try new things in an effort to save money.  Talking about money with ya’ll keeps me energized and motivated on this journey.

So there you have it.  Five reasons why you need to start talking about money.  What’s your biggest barrier to talking about money?

September Budget

Oy vey! I am not doing well at keeping up with things around here. It’s already September 7th and I’m just getting around to posting my budget for the month. Accountability fail. *sigh* Oh well. Here it is!

Yucky yucky debt

  • $143,464
  • Planned payments: $1215
  • Planned overpayment: at least $2800

It’s going to be tight- but I think it’ll work out.  September is a 5-Friday month, meaning five grocery trips instead of four and five daycare payments (blech). So things are a little tighter this month.

Necessities

  • Rent: $1300
  • Utilities: $280-  our gas/electric budget billing went up yet again. This is a constant struggle, because our house has extremely variable temperatures depending on location. The HVAC is inappropriately sized for the house, so I often have to set the thermostat higher/lower than I’d like in order to reach something approaching comfort. Or use space heaters. It’s a lose/lose either way.
  • Phone: $51
  • Groceries: $500- This is going to be tight, because I usually budget this much for a four week month and this month has five Fridays. We’ll see how I do!
  • Gas: $200- I haven’t been using this much, but I’m thinking about going to visit some of Brian’s family in September, which would require a little more gas.
  • Daycare: $1245- Five week month= five daycare payments.
  • B. Cash: $500

Other Items

  • Netflix: $11 – Good old Netflix. So much cheaper than cable.
  • Restaurants: $100
  • Pet care: $20- I anticipate having to replace one medication, but thankfully, the vet trips are done for awhile.
  • Clothing: $150- Higher this month because F. needs boots, hats and coats for winter. It’s starting to get cold in the air so I’m starting to think about getting our fall clothing rounded up. I need some a few new items as well, to replace some that gave out at the end of last winter.
  • Sports & Entertainment: $100- Gymnastics class and a tickets to a super fun nature event this month.
  • Miscellaneous: $200
  • Hair Care/Cosmetics: $100- Higher this month as well.  When my sister was in town, the two of us went to get pedicures, sans children.  I regret nothing. 🙂
  • Her money: $100
  • Doctor: $50- Now that I budgeted for it, I won’t need it this month. Right? Right?! (Please please please let my child stay healthy…)
  • Maid: $200
  • Lawn Service: $75
  • Thank you present for my mother: $75- Mom very nicely watched F. while I was in Chicago last month and also watched my (very annoying) dog for a week while my sister and brother-in-law were visiting. So I got her a Starbucks gift card as a thank-you.
  • Soccer: $90 – Daycare is offering an 8 week soccer lesson, so I signed F. up. Lord knows she needs every opportunity to run, plus this way she’ll get some extra outside time during the week.  Win/win and a bargain at $90.

Total Planned Expenses

  • $5157
  • Percent of total income: 55%

High, but not bad. We’ll see how the end of the month shakes out. Maybe I’ll make my goal of spending less than I’d planned…

Monthly Budget Roundup- August

It’s the last day of the month, so time to go through the budget I posted at the beginning of the month and see how I did! For this post, you’ll get to see the amount I budgeted in black and the final amount I spent in red or green (depending on whether it’s over or under budget).

Yucky yucky debt

  • Planned: $1300 + $2000 at the end of the month
  • Actual: $1242 + $3000

This makes me happy because, as you’ll see below, August has been a no good, very bad budget month.  I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to make my $4000/month goal and was feeling pretty down on myself, given the state of our budget this month.  But you know what? It’s a new month. September is a new opportunity to try again (and for anyone starting out, please know that even after six years, we still have bad budgeting months over here!)

  • Rent: $1300                     $1300
  • Utilities: $260                  $265
  • Cell Phone: $50               $40
  • Groceries: $600               $559
  • Gas: $200                          $95
  • Car insurance: $350       $310
  • Daycare: $980                  $983
  • Vet: $300                           $283
  • B.: $500                             $498

Other Expenses

  • Maid: $250                       $269
  • Lawn Care: $150             $111
  • Clothing: $100                 $86
  • Gymnastics: $48              $48
  • Restaurants: $100           $65
  • Netflix: $11                       $11
  • Hair/Cosmetics: $50        $70
  • Fun money: $100             $72
  • Miscellaneous: $200        $223
  • Charity: $65                       $64
  • Vacation: $300                   $217
  • Mattress: $0                       $298
  • Plane ticket:  $0                 $200
  • Ring repair: $0                   $164
  • B. Travel Card: $0             $424
  • Doctor: $0                           $75

 

Sigh. This has been a bad month.  For those of you that don’t want to do the math, not only was I over in five of my planned budget categories, I also spent $1161 that were never in my budget to begin with. Oof. So- what’s been going on that caused this??

First, a few things that were outside of my control. In my early morning daze, I accidentally dropped about half of F’s pills down the sink, so I ended up having to replace those at full cost (only $13, but still…).  Also, she got sick and needed meds/Tylenol/Pedialite, all of which are not cheap.  And finally, we got a bill for labs that were done back in APRIL (thank you very much for that super prompt bill…) that was due before the end of the month. Though these things were outside my control, budgeting for them is not, so next month I will budget doctor money even though I don’t anticipate spending it. Lesson learned.

Second, due to continued incompetence in the military (SO SHOCKING…), B’s government travel card, which he uses to book required travel while deployed, was in danger of being suspended because whoever was responsible for paying it wasn’t doing so. Due to, I’m told, “technical errors.” So we ended up paying it because we’ve worked hard for a good credit score and don’t want it ruined because of someone else’s incompetence. We’ll eventually get this money back, but for right now, I’m real pissed about it. This isn’t the first time that bureaucratic incompetence by the military has cost us money.

Third, the plane ticket (which was really just a $200 change fee).  I had bought a ticket last month to go see my sister after Chicago, but due to a series of random events, my sister actually ended up being at my house instead of her house, so going to visit her when she wasn’t there would have been sort of worthless. So I paid $200 to change my flight to come home instead.

The other unplanned expenditures were my choice.  I needed to get my wedding/engagement rings re-sized and I did not realize how much that was going to cost. I thought I could fold the cost into my miscellaneous budget, but it ended up costing about as much as my entire miscellaneous budget.  Also, F. finally asked for a big girl bed, but I draw the line at used mattresses. We went to a local furniture store, but it was so expensive (nearly $1000), I just couldn’t do it. But! I found a great mattress online at Sam’s Club, and it was delivered to our door in less than a week.  I was planning on saving this expense until September, but it just so happens that my sister and brother-in-law are down here this week. I ordered the mattress early so I could take advantage of the free help to get it set up. And she’s so happy in it!!

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F. in her big girl bed. She looks so small! And so grown up…*sniff* Also, take note of the lovely Goodwill bedding 😉

Anyway. That’s my month. Hopefully next month will be a little less full of budget surprises.

Final Spending Tally

  • Planned spending: $5914
  • Actual spending: $6730

Sigh. Oh well. August was definitely kind of a bust, budgetwise.

Tune back in tomorrow to see what September’s budget looks like!

Money Mondays: Why We Don’t Do Dave Ramsey “Correctly”

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Are you gazelle focused? Source: Pixabay

The other day, Dave Ramsey’s team posted the following article about living like you’re on baby step one forever.  The idea is that once debt is paid off and your emergency fund is fully funded, there’s no reason to keep living with “gazelle intensity.”

Dave’s definition of gazelle intensity is, at times, quite rigid. You’ll know you’re “gazelle intense” when you’re:

  • Living on beans and rice
  • Driving a busted up, beaten down car because it still runs
  • Selling everything you can do without to raise capital
  • Forgoing all luxuries, up to and including new clothes, dinners out, meat and internet

This article really got me thinking about the way B. and I approach budgeting- I don’t think Dave would ever look at our budget and agree that we are “gazelle intense.” Because the truth is, we aren’t.  I look at our budget each month and I see a lot of opportunities to cut costs. For example, we could:

  • Replace meat-based meals with bean-based meals
  • Eat more junk (no kidding- it is way cheaper in the short run to eat pre-processed food than it is to eat healthy food, including fresh fruits and veggies)- $200 (ish)
  • Get rid of the house cleaner -$200
  • Get rid of the lawn service- $150
  • Get rid of our restaurant budget- $100
  • Dump our individual spending money -$200

See? Right there, off the top of my head, I came up with $850 a month that we could cut from our budget, which averages out to about $10,000 per year. Now, let’s do a little bit of math.

At our current spending, we’re hoping to pay roughly $40,000 on student loans this year. It’s an ambitious goal, to be sure, but I think we can do it. With roughly $150,000 in loans, paying $40,000/year means we’ll be debt-free in just under four years- 45 months, to be exact.  Paying $50,000/year means we’ll be debt free in three years- 36 months. That’s a nine month difference.  Less than a year.

Honestly? That extra nine months just isn’t worth the lifestyle change to us at this point.  I want to be out of debt more than I’ve wanted anything in my whole life, but not enough to give up living my life for the next three years. No matter what our budget picture looks like, the reality is that we’re in this for the long haul. If cutting our budget to the bone for six months would allow us to pay off all our debt, I think we could do it.  I could sustain that lifestyle for six months.  But 36 months? It’s really really hard to make the decision to live that way when you don’t need to live that way to survive. I just don’t have it in me.

I approach budgeting the same way I approach dieting- with an eye to what is sustainable long-term. Back when I first started trying to seriously lose weight after giving birth, I decided to cut my calorie intake down to 1400(ish) calories a day (which all the calorie calculators said was appropriate). I. Was. Starving. Two days in, I was cramming every cookie I could find in my mouth. Next, I tried a really complicated program where you track your food macros each day (I have friends who swear by this diet). Again, one week in, I gave up because tracking my food every day and trying to adjust was so freaking complicated. Netiher of these approaches ended up being a sustainabel lifestlye change, which is what I really needed. I wasn’t going to be able to follow either for the rest of my life, but what I needed was a diet plan that was sustainable.

I take the same philosophy to budgeting. We could get “gazelle instense” but I’d be burnt out long before that intensity produced any signficant payoff for us. And just like dieting, I’m afraid that my burnt out response would be a disporortiante spending spree.

Instead, I try to take frugality and budgeting in moderation. Because realistically, paying off debt for three+ years is the equivalent of a lifestyle change, not a fad diet. Walking to Starbucks with a co-worker once a week or so makes me happy.  Going out to eat occasionally is a nice break. Eating good food is a long-term investment in my health. Our lifestyle right now is sustainable, and I’m confident that once we reach our goal, our lifestyle won’t change that much (B. may beg to differ- he’s more  of a “stuff” person than I am).  To me, that’s success. Is our system perfect? Not at all. Is there room for improvement? Always. But our system is sustainable for us and for now, that’s good enough for me.

So if Dave Ramsey is intimidating to you, and the prospect of living off beans and rice for the next three years is overwhelming, just know that it is possible to find a sustainable balance that includes room for a few luxuries as well as room for money toward debt. A sustainable budget should never be an all or nothing proposition.

A note on these posts. A lot of the themes of money Monday posts are going to touch on some variation of spending choice and money not equaling happiness. I just want to point out that money doesn’t bring more happiness after a certain point. Choosing which luxuries to indulge in only matters after a certain point. There are many many people who are unable to meet their basic needs (food, shelter, clothing and health care) and I think that while budgeting is arguably more important in that situation, the reality is that conversations about spending choices are pretty moot. B. and I have definitely had our leaner times (i.e. new baby and one income plus piles of student loan debt) and are incredibly grateful for the relatively privileged financial situation we’re in now. If you’re there and you’re struggling- I feel you. I really do.  

Frugal Friday

I’m back with this week’s frugal Friday post! I had a bunch of posts almost ready to go this week, but alas, a sick kiddo (strep throat) put the kabosh on that. Anyway, here’s my weekly round-up of frugal wins and fails. How did you do?

Frugal Wins

  1. I rescued bananas about to go bad– Since I’m home with a sick kiddo today, we made some banana bread out of some bananas that were about too bad even for banana bread. But now, instead of yucky mushy bananas, we have awesome, delicious banana bread.
  2. No eating out- I brought my lunch to work every day this week and F. and I ate at home every day this week.
  3. I turned leftover hard-boiled eggs into egg salad– I hard-boiled some eggs for breakfast this week, but ended up having three left over. I’m pretty sick of eating hard-boiled eggs, so I turned them into egg salad instead. It’s like having a whole new meal! (two actually).
  4. I didn’t buy a new dresser for F. – F. has decided that she’s ready for a big girl bed, so I purchased a new twin mattress for her (I draw the line at used mattresses. Bed bugs are way more expensive than a mattress).  However, now that it’s here, I can already tell that her large, long, flat dresser isn’t going to fit in her room well alongside that bed.  So I’ve been looking all over for a dresser with a smaller footprint that I don’t need to bolt to the wall (because uh, not handy. Plus her room is covered in wood paneling). I haven’t found anything on Craigslist, but F. and I may hit up a few thrift stores tomorrow if she’s feeling better.  I’m currently resisting the urge to go buy one at Walmart.

Frugal Fails

  1. I didn’t check my insurance coverage closely– I didn’t check to see whether CVS was covered under our Tricare insurance- Turns  out, it isn’t.  I went to pick up F.’s antibiotic last night (with her, hello parenting solo) and found out at the counter that they don’t have a contract with Tricare.  F’s prescription was $11 without insurance and $0 with insurance.  But honestly? I would’ve paid at least double that if it meant not dragging my poor, sick kiddo to another store (after a 2.5 hour doctor visit for a simple throat swab). Frugality has it’s place, but not at the expense of my family’s well-being. I’m profoundly grateful to be able to choose between the two when needed- I know not everyone has that luxury.
  2. I paid for two damaged library books– F. is usually really good with her library books, but somehow managed to destroy two of the last six we checked out. One was already kind of breaking when we got it (not going to make that mistake again) but the other was fine and F. tore a strip off the binding. So, like good library patrons, we turned them in, apologized, and paid the $30 fine. UGH. Plus, F. lost the privilege of taking her library books in bed with her.
  3. Starbucks. Sigh. It was only once, at least? No? Ok. Still a fail.

 

Recipe: Chicken Shawarma Hummus Bowl

One of the main ways that B. and I save money is that we bring our lunches to work pretty much every day. I’m notoriously bad at estimating leftovers, so we actually plan specific food that is for lunch for the week (so we aren’t stuck with no leftovers and thus no lunches).

As such, I’m always on the hunt for food for lunch taht is healthy, cheap and delicious (a very elusive trifecta). I’m pretty good at healthy and cheap (lettuce, veggies and a can of chickpeas fits the bill), but delicious is always a little hit or miss.

When I was in Chicago, I had this amazing thing: a chicken shawarma hummus bowl. It was basically the innards of a chicken shawarma wrap in a bowl that was….wait for it…lined with a thick layer of hummus. Oh. my. goodness. It was amazing. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

So I decided to try and replicate it here at home this week and I have to say, it wasn’t exactly the same, but this recipe is pretty darn good and I have been thoroughly enjoying this dish. Plus, it wasn’t expensive. Also, super filling. And healthy. THE TRIFECTA! Ahem. I might be a little too excited about this.  Plus, it looks pretty. See?

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My delicious shawarma bowl. Sorry for the bad work light. Fluorescent lights do not make pretty pictures.

Anyway, here’s the recipe. I’ve included a rough cost estimate at the end.

Liz’s Knock-Off Chicken Shawarma Hummus Bowl

  • 1/2 cup Chicken Shawarma (from this recipe)
  • 1 cup Mediterranean cabbage salad
  • (Slice 1 head purple cabbage.  Mix together 1/2 c. olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp good Dijon mustard, a spoonful of minced garlic (yes, I’m sorry, I’m one of those cooks) and a little bit of salt/pepper. Combine with cabbage. Done). 
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hummus
    • I used prepared hummus, but it would be really easy to make your own. 

How much it cost
Ok. Now for the financial breakdown. This only includes things I had to buy- I already had lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, mustard, and all the shawarma spices on hand.

  • 1 lb. chicken breast: $1.99
  • 1 lb. chicken thighs: $1.96
  • Roma tomatoes: $1.14
  • Cucumber (1): $.52
  • Red onion (1): $.78
  • Hummus: $4.48
  • Red cabbage: $2.10

Total per meal: $2.60 

SO CHEAP! And delicious 🙂 I probably could have brought the cost down even more by using frozen chicken, substituting green cabbage for red and making my own hummus (chickpeas are so incredibly cheap).  But even without all that, lunch for the whole week came about to just over $12. For the cost of 1.5 lunches in the cafeteria downstairs, I got five. I call that a win.

Seriously. Make this recipe. It’s SO GOOD.