Today I am going to give you a recipe that is easy to make but also nutritious and a great bang for the buck. Several months ago, Newark, NJ mayor ,Cory Booker, took on a food stamp challenge to spend under $30 for his weekly food intake. The average monthly food stamp benefit is about $133 per person in New Jersey. That would be pretty tough to live on, wouldn’t you say?
When I heard about this challenge, it made me think about what meals I would prepare if I was in that situation. This pasta would definitely be one of them. A great benefit of this meal is that it’s quick and easy to make and the ingredients can be purchased almost anywhere. Here is the breakdown of my cost to feed 4 to 6 people:
- 16 ounces dried pasta $1.50
- 15 ounce can of white beans $1.00
- 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes $1.50
- 3 cups of kale (or other greens) $1.50
The total came to $5.50 for a meal fit for a small family. I used some pantry ingredients such as olive oil, dried spices, garlic and grated cheese. I know not everyone has the luxuries of a well stocked pantry like I do. But this recipe can be adapted to whatever you have on hand. Canola oil or butter can be substituted for the olive oil and spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, dried basil, and dried oregano are all good ingredients to spice up this dish. Any greens such as spinach or escarole could be substituted for the kale. Sometimes I will buy whatever is on sale.
We are constantly reminded during the holiday season but it is easy to forget at this time of year that there are so many families struggling to make ends meet and get enough food on their table. So why don’t you make a meal like this for your family but then donate a few bucks or some canned goods to your local food pantry?
Here are some places that could always use our help:
I will be posting more economical meals in the future. Whether you are struggling to pay bills or not, everyone loves a quick nutritious meal. What are some of your favorites? Links in the comment box are always welcome.
- 1 lb penne pasta (I used whole wheat)
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS chopped garlic
- 3 cups kale, torn in pieces
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes(I used ones flavored with basil)
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, rinsed and drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Italian cheese if desired
- Cook pasta ala dente in a large pot of water according to package directions. Drain and keep warm but make sure to reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
- In the meantime, heat oil on medium heat in a large frying pan . Add garlic and kale. Cook for about 5 minutes or until kale starts to wilt.
- Add tomatoes, onion powder, and basil. Sir, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.
- Add beans, cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and simmer for a few minutes or until sauce thickens and sticks to pasta.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cheese if desired.