Garden Plate: Budget-Friendly Fall Recipes That Will Satisfy Every Appetite

This fall, as we return to normal hours after a summer of fun, the reality of having to tighten our budget belts is upon us. While the economy and our wallets may look a little melancholy, our taste buds and our health need not suffer. This month, let’s explore budget-friendly, palate-friendly, and nutrition-friendly family meals.

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Many cost-conscious meals rely heavily on carbs. It’s comforting to some, but it’s not a healthy way to satisfy an appetite. This recipe uses carbs in moderation as the backdrop for the main event: flavorful veggies and chicken. Frozen and canned staples make the best use of your dollar without suffering flavor-wise.


Servings: 4

1 box of short pasta (rigatoni, penne, ziti, etc.)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch strips

1 jar of drained artichoke hearts cut into quarters

One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

One 10 ounce can chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 pinch of dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving

1 lemon cut into wedges to serve

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Reserve ½ cup cooking water when draining the pasta. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate. Continue cooking adding the onion, garlic and pepper. Cook until the garlic turns slightly brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the grated cheese, and stir until heated through. Add cheese, drained pasta plus ½ cup cooking water and reserved chicken. Stir and reheat. Serve with more cheese and lemon wedges if desired.

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This stir fry recipe is great because of its flexibility. For a weekday dinner, nothing could be faster thanks to its preparation time. Pack any combination of veggies left in your crisper or on sale and head out to whatever errands you go to. Using brown rice increases the nutritional value and adds a nice texture.


Servings: 4

3 cups brown rice, prepared according to package directions

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups of protein, such as cubed tofu, chicken, fish of your choice, beef, or pork

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ tbsp chopped ginger

3 cups vegetables of your choice cut into 1-inch pieces (onion, carrots, peppers, zucchini, frozen corn kernels, etc.)

¾ cup teriyaki sauce of your choice

3 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

Cook the rice according to the package directions. While the rice cooks in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the proteins until golden brown. Remove to a plate. Add the garlic, ginger and vegetables and, over high heat, sauté until lightly browned. Add the sauce, the proteins to the pan and heat for about 3 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

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These meat/meatless hybrid meatballs will be a hit both for weekday evening meals and served in a smaller form for fall tailgating. A few tips and tricks make this recipe a breeze. Using eggplant and mushrooms as a meat substitute extends the reach of a pound of ground meat, but also adds a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.


Servings: 4 medium meatballs or 8 as a small appetizer

1 box Spanish yellow rice, prepared and set aside

1 can of frozen peas

For the meatballs:

1 medium eggplant, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes

6 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 seasonal taco packet

1 pound ground turkey or chicken

1 egg

1 cup breadcrumbs (more if needed)

A 10 ounce tub of your favorite salsa

1 cup sour cream for serving

1 small bunch of cilantro for garnish

1 lime, cut into wedges to serve

Prepare the rice according to the instructions on the package. Prepare the peas by pouring them into a 2-quart microwave-safe casserole dish. Add ¼ cup of water. Microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Combine the two once cooked and set aside to serve with meatballs.

For the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large sauté pan, sauté oil, eggplant and mushrooms over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring often. It will take about 10-15 minutes as there will be a lot of water to evaporate. Remove to the bowl of a food processor and let cool. In the same skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant over medium heat. Stir in taco seasoning. Process vegetable mixture until coarsely chopped. Remove to a large bowl and let cool completely. Add raw meat, egg, sautéed onion mixture and breadcrumbs. Form large 2-inch balls, using more bread crumbs if too wet to form a ball. Place in a medium sized casserole dish. Pour salsa over and cook until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve over rice and pea mixture, drizzling over sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.