Tips for creating one pot meals on a budget

    submitted by Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD,

    One pot meals are chock full of benefits. They’re budget-friendly, versatile, easy to make, and can be whipped up with just a few basic ingredients.

    In many cases, you can simply toss everything into one skillet, pan, or slow cooker, and dinner (breakfast or lunch), practically takes care of itself.

    Read on for a few tips for creating delicious one pot meals.

    Make it plant-based – Looking to go meatless? There are tons of great options at your fingertips. Located in the refrigerated case, tofu or tempeh are both affordable choices that are great mix-ins for dishes such as chili, soups or tacos. For other options, canned beans and bagged lentils are nutritious, plant-based proteins that can be found at low prices year round.

    Use dry and canned pantry staples – Stock up on plain dry grains, like rice, lentils, quinoa, barley, and pasta, as well as canned goods like assorted beans, green beans, and diced tomatoes. Mix in some vegetable broth and all of these staples make great bases for soups, stews, and casseroles. They also have long shelf lives and come at a minimal cost. When you find raw nuts and seeds on sale, snag those for later use as well. These can be blended and used to make soups creamier or to simply add some crunch to a one pot meal. A little goes a long way.

    Use frozen vegetables – A few bags of unflavored frozen vegetables can easily be combined with some broth, a protein, and some seasoning to create a savory and filling one pot meal. They’re also great for chunky vegetable soups. You should easily be able to find frozen vegetables like green peas, corn, and chopped spinach at budget-friendly prices. 

    Shop sales and in season – One pot meals can be flexible, meaning you can easily substitute different ingredients based on what you have on hand. A good tip for any kind of meal is to be aware of price fluctuations on produce during different months of the year. If you have a one pot meal in mind that calls for bell peppers, opt for the green variety to offset cost.  

    Buy In bulk – If you know that you’re a fan of using beans, lentils or rice in your one pot meals, don’t pass up great deals on bulk buys. Not only will you save money, you’ll always have the base ingredients for something healthy and delicious.