I’m going to make this a regular feature, so check back often. I’m tagging each one of these posts with the main ingredients so when I post enough you’ll be able to search through many quick and cheap dinners.

I don’t go out to eat much at all, which saves me money and keeps me fit. Although I love to cook, most weeknights I can’t spare more than about 15 minutes in the kitchen. Over the years I have developed a rotation of my favorite throw-together meals, and now you get the benefit of all that work :-) There’s only one rule to making quick and cheap dinners for yourself, and that’s to keep a stocked pantry. I always have canned beans, whole wheat pastas, vinegars, spices and frozen veggies on hand. You’d be amazed what I can come up with when it looks like there’s nothing in the house. I give you exhibit A:

Quick and Cheap Dinner May 12

Sesame Salmon and Summer Bean Salad (I just made up that name)

Total time: 5-10 minutes
Total cost per serving (for 2): about $6

For the salmon (2 servings):

3/4 lb prepared sesame crusted salmon from Whole Foods (it’s a convenience, and only $8)
no stick spray

For the salad (2-4 servings, depending on your appetite):

1 ~15 oz can of navy beans, white beans, cannelini beans, or great northerns
one med tomato
one very small clove garlic (trust me, go small)
about a cup of frozen spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt to taste

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Fish is delicate so be sure to use medium. Once the pan is hot, spray with no stick spray. Lay the salmon in the pan and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Flip and cook another 4 minutes until cooked through.

  2. While the salmon is cooking, drain the beans in a strainer and rinse well. Coarsely chop the tomato and mix with the beans in a bowl. Mince the garlic clove and add along with the oil, vinegar and seasoning. Nuke the spinach about 90 seconds and add to the bowl. Stir and inhale deeply. It’s heavenly when the hot spinach hits the garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle a little salt to taste and serve.

I pretty much planned this on the fly, throwing in things that I thought would taste good together. Don’t worry if you are a total noob in the kitchen. Eventually you will learn what pleases your palate and you’ll be making stuff like this, too. The best part about this side dish? It’s mega healthy and it tastes wonderful. Salmon is full of vitamins and good fats, you get fiber from the beans, good fats from the olive oil, vitamins from the tomato and spinach, and all the medicinal properties of raw garlic. That’s why you use a tiny clove, cuz too much raw garlic is no ones friend, and no one will want to be your friend after you eat it.

And for dessert? I have a late night sweet tooth, which is not good for my girly figure. Instead of dessert I drink an aromatic caffeine free tea, like TeaGschwendner’s Rooibush Creme Caramel, with just a touch of local honey and nonfat milk. Don’t believe it will soothe your craving? Give it a try and tell me I’m a liar.