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12 Meals that are Easy, Cheap, and Healthy

Written by Brett McKay

This is a guest post by Erica, a 1L at UC Davis.  If you’re interested in writing a guest post at The Frugal Law Student, Contact me. Thanks, for the great post Erica!

One of my big challenges as a law student on a budget is to find recipes that fit all of these criteria. I’ve included 12 of my boyfriend and my staples. This gives a nice two week rotation since we usually end up cooking about 6 times a week. I would love to know if anyone else has other ideas.

Note: We cook with a lot of green pepper because they are cheap and local here in CA. You might want to substitute whatever fits that description in your area. These recipes generally feed 2 people generously. Also, I usually sauté in olive oil but some sort of broth or white wine also works if you are really trying to cut out fats.

  1. White Beans and Tomatoes You need: Crock-pot, Olive oil, onion, garlic, 3 6” stalks of fresh rosemary, large can of diced tomatoes, and 2 cans of white/northern beans. Sauté chopped onions in olive oil in the crock-pot on the high setting for about 15 minutes. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and let it cook on low in the crock-pot for however long you want. Nothing in this recipe needs cooking so its just a matter of the longer it cooks together the more flavor it will have. I live in Northern California and rosemary is a ubiquitous landscaping plant here so I have an endless free supply. I think it is prolific in other parts of the country too. You might add a little cumin or Tabasco sauce too. Serve with brown bread and a little parmesan cheese.
  2. Black Bean Salad – You need: 1 can black beans, 1 can corn or frozen corn, 1 lime, ~2T fresh chopped cilantro, a fresh veggie (I like green pepper or tomato or avocado if you want to splurge). Add all ingredients to a tuper-wear and juice the lime. You might also add some chili powder or tobasco. Let it marinate together for at least 30 minutes. Eat with corn chips.
  3. Pasta – You need: whole wheat pasta, jar of marinara sauce (I like Classico’s selections), chopped frozen broccoli, parmesan cheese. I like to mix all these ingredients together but you could eat broccoli as a side dish.
  4. Ramen Stir Fry – You need: 2 pack ramen noodles, green pepper, onion, 3 eggs, 2T roasted peanuts, stir-fry seasoning. Soak the ramen noodles in warm water while you prep other ingredients. Sauté onion and green pepper. Add 3 eggs and scramble in the same pan as onion and green pepper but keeping the egg somewhat separate. Add the noodles and seasoning. I like to season with a sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, a little sesame oil, a little brown sugar, and quite a bit of lime juice.
  5. Burritos – You need: Green pepper, onion, can of black beans, tortilla’s, cheese and salsa. Sauté green pepper and onion. Add black beans and season with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice. Serve on flour tortilla’s with cheese (I think grating is worth it) and salsa.
  6. Fried Rice – You need: Rice, frozen peas, 2 eggs, onion, garlic, soy sauce, and ginger. I like to make rice ahead of time on the weekend and eat it several times. I usually cook rice in chicken bouillon for flavor. So sauté onion and add frozen peas to defrost. Scramble eggs in same pan. Add rice, ginger, and garlic. Add soy sauce and some sesame oil to taste.
  7. Curry Mushroom “Chicken” You need: Cooked chicken breast or fake chicken (I like Quorn), frozen chopped broccoli, cream of mushroom soup, lemon juice, curry powder, shredded cheddar cheese. Defrost frozen items in microwave. Add a scoop of mushroom soup, ½ T of curry powder, some lemon juice and shredded cheddar to the bowl and microwave again. You could eat with brown rice.
  8. Baked potato – Baked potatoes are great because you can put so many things on top of them. Some of the thing I like to put on are Morningstar crumbles (fake hamburger meat), sautéed mushrooms (season with Worcestershire), broccoli, salsa, shredded cheese, or black beans.
  9. Salmon Cakes – You need: 1 can pink salmon, 1 can white/northern beans, lemon juice, dill or thyme, minced garlic, 1 egg. Mix all ingredients together mashing beans and salmon. Make into patties and fry in olive oil. Serve on brown bread and add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if you like.
  10. Veggie Burgers – Buy a pack of frozen veggie burgers (Morning star veggie burgers will usually go on sale for about $.75/patty.) serve on wheat toast (b/c I don’t like to buy special buns) with thinly sliced cheese and mustard.
  11. Hot dogs – Depending on whether cheap or healthy is more important to me at the time, I will buy veggie hot dogs (healthy) or turkey hot dogs (cheap). We like eating them on whole wheat sandwich bread with sauerkraut and mustard. We usually have a can of baked beans on the side.
  12. Heuvos Rancheros You need: 4 eggs, flour tortillas, black beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. Scramble eggs. Warm tortillas in the microwave. Warm black beans sprinkled with lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder in the microwave. Top tortillas with beans, egg, shredded cheese, and salsa.

The Frugal Law Student Month In Review- January 2008

Written by Brett McKay

Wow. January went by fast. Classes started three weeks ago and I think I’m finally back into the swing of things. I’ve got full schedule this semester. I’m taking Evidence, Civil Procedure II, Advanced Torts, Estate Law, and Legal Drafting. Plus I’ll have some law review responsibilities thrown in there.

FLS welcomed new a contributor, Tony Marrone, last month. He’s cranked out some great material for the site. Tony’s also writing at Wise Bread, so make sure to check him out there as well.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about my new project, The Art of Manliness. We’ve had very successful first month. We were fortunate enough to get a post on the Digg front page which brought in TONS of traffic. There’s already 559 subscribers at the site. It took me about year to get that many on FLS. Hopefully it can keep up its momentum.

Stats

FLS had 24,592 visitors during January. That’s down from the 26,000 we had in December, but in December FLS was lucky enough to have 10 Ways to Be an Excellent House Guest featured in Lifehacker. That brought in lots of traffic.

RSS subscriptions are up to 894. We peaked at 904 during January. Just one hundred more and we’ll have 1,000. Thank you to all my loyal readers who subscribe and have shared FLS with others.

Popular Posts

  1. 12 Meals That Are Cheap, Easy, and Healthy.
  2. 180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Life Around 180 Degrees.
  3. Frugal Experiment: Brushing Teeth With Baking Soda.
  4. Free Groceries (or, A Step in the Right Direction)
  5. Everything I Need to Know About Personal Finance I Learned From Carlton Banks

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The Best of Frugal Law Student 2007

Written by Brett McKay

It’s been an amazing year at The Frugal Law Student. It has grown considerably. At the beginning of the year, FLS had maybe 50 subscribers. Now it’s sitting at 744. Daily traffic averaged about 50 a day; now FLS is averaging 500. FLS has even gotten some main stream media press in the Tulsa World and the ABA Journal! I never imagined that this little hobby of mine would have gotten so big when I started it last year.

And I owe a large part of FLS’s success to my readers. Thank you for reading my blog, submitting ideas, and passing along the word to others. You all keep me motivated to keep producing killer content.

And now, for a review of this spectacular year at The FLS, I present “The Best of Frugal Law Student 2007.” Enjoy!

January

Is Netflix worth it?
Save $ 375: Fill Out Your Bar Exam Application Early
Stop the Junk Mail and Phone Solicitors
25 Ways to Cook an Egg
Personal FinanceTips From Tijuana

February

This Semester… I’m Going to Improve My Writing
Tightwads and Spendthrifts Are Both Screwy, in Different Ways
New GTD Law School Productivity Forms
Google Talk as GTD Capture System
How Eating Out Can Kill You and Your Budget

March

How to Get Rich Quick Meaningfully
GTD and Your Finances: The Weekly Money Review
11 Free Video Games That Will Develop Your Business & Personal Finance Skills
Summary of MTV True Life: I’m In Debt
Free Magazines For The Rest of Your Life

April

5 Things You Should Never Buy New
What Does It Mean to Be Frugal When You’re Wealthy?
Battle of the Sexes: Who Spends More?
Do This, Retire Rich
“Super Suppers:” Not So Super

May

180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Financial Life Around 180 Degrees
Massive Personal Finance Resource List
Who Are The Joneses and Why Are We Keeping Up With Them?
Increase Your Buying Pleasure With Tantric Shopping
5 Financial Pitfalls of Part Time Law School

June

10 Ways to Make Money And Save Money On Facebook
Frugal Experiment: Brushing Teeth With Baking Soda
When To Go With The Brand Name and When To Go Generic
Better Than Netflix
What Do All Those Expiration Dates on Food Mean?

July

Personal Finance Advice From Kanye West: “If you aint no punk holla ‘We Want Prenup!’”
How To Make Your Credit Score Suck
The Best Personal Finance Advice I’ve Ever Received
Why Personal Finance Books Suck
Symptoms of a Frivolous Purchase

August

Is Your Personal Finance Physique Out Of Balance?
Make Your Resume Pop With These Resume Writing Tips
Personal Finance Books That Inspire Personal Finance Bloggers
Should Professional Students Use Welfare?
Make Yourself Stick With These First Impression Tips

September

12 Meals that are Easy, Cheap, and Healthy
12 Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding
The Frugal Law Student’s Free Soundtrack For Maximum Productivity
Save over $1440 A Year By Brown Bagging It
Do It Yourself Pottery Barn Halloween Countdown Calendar

October

10 Personal Finance Blogs You NEED To Subscribe To
4 Things To Do When You Don’t Want To Do Anything
The Ultimate Tipping Guide
Hack Your Pocket Moleskine Into A Wallet
13 Ways To Kill A Cold Without Killing Your Budget

November

10 Ways To Be An Excellent House Guest
27 Holiday Gifts for Law Students That Are Under $25
10 Ways to Look Hot Without Breaking the Bank
The Garage Sale Without a Garage: Declutter Your Life & Make Money on eBay
Getting Clean Done: Effortless House Cleaning For Busy People

December

Free Classic Christmas Cartoons in the Public Domain
When Mind Hacks Won’t Work: Brute Force Memorization
Redefine Organization As Search
Are Coupons Worth Your Time?
No More Excuses! 3 Tactics To Start the Saving Habit

The Frugal Law Student Month In Review- November 2007

Written by Brett McKay

November was a brutal month for me in school. My law review article consumed most of time during the month, so I wasn’t able to post as often as I usually do. Let’s see how the Frugal Law Student did this past month.

News

The Frugal Law Student got quite a bit of press this November. The big news is that FLS was named one of the top 100 law blogs by the ABA Journal! They’re now taking votes on which blog is the best in its category. If you haven’t voted, please take second and do so by clicking here. I’d really appreciate it! Anybody can vote, so tell your friends to vote as well! (It’s just one click. No registration is necessary.)

The other bit of press FLS got this past month was in the Tulsa World. Check out the article about the site here.

Stats

FLS had 16,627 visitors during November. That’s down from the 27,000 we had in October, but October was an unusually good month for FLS with social media sites like Digg and Stumbleupon.

RSS subscriptions are up to 675. Thank you to all my loyal readers who subscribe!

Popular Posts

  1. 12 Meals That Are Cheap, Easy, and Healthy. Long time FLS reader Erica wrote this post back in September and it’s consistently in the top 5 each month. Lots of great ideas here.
  2. Do It Yourself Pottery Barn Halloween Countdown Calendar. My sister Shannon wrote this back in September. I’m surprised that this was number 2 during the month of November seeing how Halloween was in October. Perhaps people are taking the idea to make a Christmas Countdown Calendar. Definitely give it a look.
  3. The Garage Sale Without a Garage: Declutter Your Life and Make Money on Ebay. This was a fun post to write. If you feel like you’re being bogged down by clutter, here’s a step by step plan to clear it out and make some money in the process.
  4. 180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Life Around 180 Degrees. I wrote this post back in May and its still one of my more popular ones.
  5. Frugal Experiment: Brushing Teeth With Baking Soda. While brushing your teeth makes your teeth with baking soda makes your teeth feel squeaky clean, it leaves your breath smelling like poo.

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The Frugal Law Student Month In Review- October 2007

Written by Brett McKay

October was a super busy month for me. With law review and job interviews thrown on top of my already busy law school schedule, I didn’t have much time for blogging. However, I did manage to write some posts that brought in a lot of traffic.

The Frugal Law Student saw a record number of visitors this month- 23,408 visits. That’s up from 8,466 in September. Why the huge increase? There are several reasons. First, many of you submitted some of my posts to Stumbleupon and Digg which brought in lots of traffic. Second, some of my posts went semi-viral and were linked on different sites thanks to some big time bloggers, like JD from Get Rich Slowly, linking to me. Finally, one of my posts was included in the Principle Financial Group’s monthly client newsletter. Those three things combined brought the traffic. So, thanks to all of you who Dugg or Stumbled my posts or linked to my articles! I really appreciate it.

RSS subscriptions also rose. As of this writing, there are 614 RSS subscribers. Thanks to all my loyal readers who subscribe. Seriously, you all keep me motivated to come up with new content each and everyday.

Popular Posts

  1. Hack Your Pocket Moleskine Into A Wallet. This was this month’s most popular post. It got Stumbled a ton and was included on several sites.
  2. 180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Life Around 180 Degrees.  I wrote this post back in May and its still one of my more popular ones. 180 Money Saving Tips was picked up by Principal Financial in their monthly e-newsletter to clients.
  3. Do It Yourself Pottery Barn Halloween Countdown Calendar.  My sister Shannon wrote this great how-to guide. Several other craft related blogs picked it up. JD from Get Rich Slowly was kind enough to include it in his weekly link round up at the beginning of the month.
  4. 13 Ways To Kill a Cold Without Killing Your Budget. Cold season is upon us which probably made this post so popular this month.
  5. 12 Meals That Are Easy, Cheap, And Healthy. This was a guest post written by FLS reader Erica. Lots of great ideas for quick frugal meals.

Calling All Guest Bloggers

With law school exams just a month a way, my focus will be turning more to studying. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for The Frugal Law Student, contact me. You can write about anything dealing with law school, personal finance, frugality, or productivity. If you’re a new blogger, guest blogging is a great way to get exposure to new readers.

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27 Ways To Save Money On Food

Written by Brett McKay


One of the easiest ways to reduce your budget is reducing your food costs. Last week, I asked my awesome readers what they do to save money on food. The response I got was amazing! Frugal Law Student readers came up with 27 creative and frugal ways to save money on food. I’ve compiled all their ideas in to this post. I’ve put the name of the reader who contributed the idea next to the tip they provided. If they have a blog, I’ve included a link to it. (Make sure to check their blogs out!) Thank you to all my readers who contributed! Stay tuned for next week’s “Ask the Reader” question of the week!

1. I keep a spreadsheet of all my expenses, listed by day and category, so that’s a huge motivator to curb my eating out. A bag of groceries or a single meal at the same price? When I do go out for meals, I choose the “value menu” items at most fast-food places, the lunch special, or just a larger appetizer at sit-down restaurants. [Emily]

2. One of the best ideas for students is to get involved with campus organizations. I get a free dinner at least once a week from my various organizations’ meetings. (Free food is one of main points we use when trying to recruit members for the Student Alumni Association.) [Emily]
3. Buying in bulk when items are on sale is also helpful, though it takes some strategy. Sometimes I hold off on buying a $2-$3 jar of spaghetti sauce because I know that eventually (in a week or two), some brand will be 2-for-1 at about $1.94. [Emily]

4. Some of my staples are pasta (buy one, get one free boxes of $0.69 spaghetti), tortilla chips ($1 big bags) and hot sauce (under $2 huge bottle has lasted me over four months…and I use it a lottt), tortillas ($0.98 for 36 small ones), cereal (whichever brand is around $2/box that week), frozen veggies ($1/bag), and 3lb. bags of apples ($2 on sale). Of course I add more than this, but these are the “classic” items I always have on hand. [Emily]

5. And of course, I do save those ketchup packets (it would take me a year to use a bottle; I don’t use it often), Taco Bell sauce packets, sugar/Spelenda packets, etc…just a few here and there are great for items that I don’t use frequently enough to justify buying a larger quantity. [Emily]

6. I have found that making a menu for a week or two before going grocery shopping keeps me from spending too much. It means that I am only buying what I need instead of just replacing something that I may not use till next month! [Shawna]

7. Get a wok and a rice cooker. Put away all other cookware. Buy a large bag of your favorite rice and make it every day. Shop for veggies, fresh and in season. Be realistic about serving size and you’ll find it’s pretty cheap to eat healthfully. Add meat but not too much. Americans eat too much protein anyway. Make sure to take your vitamins. We exist happily as a family of 3 on $60-$75 a week with one good splurge, like crab or lobster. [Jasi]

8. People often think Ramen noodles are just for broke people but I happen to love them. I also just take the noodles sometimes and throw them into a stir fry which is awesome.
For a treat, I will make chicken ramen noodles as a side dish and throw in a few frozen shrimp from Sam’s club. It makes it a little more sophisticated. [chitown]

9. Getting extra napkins from fast food places is also a good idea so you don’t have to waste paper towels or buy napkins. I also use cloth hand towels when I am eating which I can just wash. Better for the environment too. [chitown]

10. For those of us trying to go with a healthy lifestyle (hey, save $ on health care costs at least), a big saver is a CSA membership. Frequently, farms near cities will make a once a week dropoff to people who pre-pay, and this gives you fresh, local, frequently organic fruit and veggies at a bargain price (provided, of course, that it’s a decent growing season). Moreover, the one I joined (Jug Bay in MD, which serves the DC region) gives you money off for “sweat equity” if you volunteer to help out at the farm. [Tawnya]

11. Don’t drink soft drinks or bottled water! You CAN exist on tap water. You don’t need to buy those crazy filters either. We drink lots of water and then we have a 6-pack of beer on the weekend (2 per night for one person, or 1.5 beers for two people). Also, if you go out to eat – don’t drink any alcohol or soft drinks in the restaurant – drink water. You can usually buy a whole bottle of wine for the cost of a glass at a restaurant. [K-Lo]

12. Find a farmer’s market or weekend produce stand and ask the sellers if you can have their leftover produce, whatever won’t keep until the next time they sell. I get literally tons of food every year this way. We eat it fresh and can a lot of it for later use (salsas, jams, pickled asparagus, etc.) I share it with friends and neighbors and others via freecycle. It takes a lot of work, as I have to sort out and compost the rotting/ stuff, but generally most of it is quite edible. The produce sellers are relieved they don’t have to haul it away and throw it out. [Marcia]

13. Make a list and don’t buy anything that isn’t on it. [FinanceandFat]

14. Go to the websites of your local grocery stores and check out the ads, I typically do this on Sunday and make my big shopping trip on Monday. Find the store that has the best deals on the items like and plan your meals for the week heavily using the items on sale. [FinanceandFat]

15. If food that can be stored a long time without going bad is on sale stock up! [FinanceandFat]

16. Don’t go shopping too often. The longer you can go before hitting the store, the less you’ll spend. [Emily]

17. Eat vegetarian meals fairly frequently (we started with once a week and have worked our way up). [Emily]

18. Take the time to do prep work instead of buying convenience. It saves a ton of money, especially if you have one spouse who’s home more than the other. Dried beans instead of canned, whole vegetables instead of frozen stir-fry mixes, etc. [Emily]

19. Try to have a cart full of ingredients, instead of a cart full of ready to eat food. Then, I take the time to bake muffins, bread, make granola, etc. instead of buying the packaged versions. It adds up really quickly, especially considering I can buy 25 lbs of flour on sale for less than $5 and 25 lbs of sugar for $8. [Emily]

20. Go veggie, without necessarily going soy (many meat imitation soy products are very expensive for what you get). Use canned beans and vegetables and buy non-perishables in bulk. (Curried chickpeas and rice? Still the best, cheapest, most nutritious meal I know. [strange bird]

21. Also, ethnic markets. Cheapest and most variety. [strange bird]22. If you eat meat, get the “value pack” of 5-10 lbs and split it into smaller portions. I usually wait until the meat has a “reduced for quick sale” sticker, then freeze it the moment I get it home. [Bety B]
23. When you cook, make two extra portions and freeze them. If you have something that’s easy to fix when you don’t feel like cooking, you’re less likely to order pizza. [Bety B]

24. If you have an off-brand grocery store (like Aldi) near you, give it a try. The food is very inexpensive, and most of it is the same quality as the name-brand stuff. [Bety B]

25. I’ve spent the last few months putting together a “price book” in excel, nothing fancy just a basic list. What I found is that it doesn’t save money as much as make me aware of what food costs. Just noticed that the price of the milk took a huge jump, as well as other things were more expensive than what I though (fruit in particular). As well I realized that I tend to buy the same things every week. [rob in madrid]

26. You’ve got to become comfortable with cooking, or at least preparing, meals. Buying the staples of a meal is the absolute best way in my opinion to save money on food. Choose things that can be used in a variety of ways: Rice (steamed rice plain, with stir fry, chicken, fried), meats (frozen lean chicken breast can be used in a lot of different ways and keeps for a while), vegetables (frozen and canned keep more than fresh and can be used in a lot of ways as well), and last but certainly not least pasta. It’s filling, versatile (hot with pasta sauce, cold in salads), lasts for a while, and whole wheat pasta is pretty cheap. [Jake]

27. I don’t often find that things go unused or that I don’t like things– of course, I chose a coop that grows a lot of things I like, most of them have lists on their websites– I even got a watermelon last week, which was pretty cool. Of course, sometimes I get things that I need to google uses for (like epazote, which it turns out is amazing with beans– who knew?), and some weeks I don’t cook a few days in a row and then have to cook to feed my freezer. Luckily , this usually means that during the winter, when veggies aren’t delivered and I’m feeling lethargic, there are healthy meals in the freezer and I don’t have to get takeout. [Jake]