Wednesday, January 14, 2009

65 Cheap, Healthy, One-Dish Meals with Good Leftover Potential

A few weeks ago, we posed a question to CHG readers, asking what kind of posts y’all would like to see more of in 2009. Overwhelmingly, the response was: easy, one-dish meals that make excellent leftovers, posted alongside gratuitously good-looking pictures of George Clooney. (I may have added that last part.)

It was a challenge, but I think we may have come up with a few ideas, thus fulfilling your wildest frugal foodie dreams. (We’re also very modest.)

It’s a big internet out there, and there are several billion interpretations of “one-dish meal,” so our first step was narrowing the field. Here were our initial criteria:
  • The whole meal – vegetables, starch, and meat (if included) – had to come to the table in a single pot, skillet, bowl, or dish. This DOES NOT mean it was entirely prepared in one implement. (Though quite a few meals are, and those have a ** next to them.)
  • The meal shouldn’t require additional side dishes, breads, rice, or other accompaniment.
  • The meal had to be relatively balanced, meaning no all-vegetable, all-meat, or all-starch dishes, a la macaroni and cheese.
  • Preparation and dishes had to be kept to a reasonable minimum. Chopping an onion, salting an eggplant, or sautéing a chicken breast was allowed. Creating a from-scratch, two-hour tomato sauce before adding it to a dish: not so much. (This killed a lot of lasagnas.)
  • No Cream of Mushroom, Chicken, or Whatever soups allowed. Because I hate them.
  • No thin soups, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, or slow cooker dishes were included, mostly because they’re subjects for another post. Stews were okay. (Logic? Not allowed, either.)
  • If a recipe wouldn’t be any good the next day, it was disqualified. (This ruled out a lot of egg dishes.)
  • As always, if the dish came from an aggregate site with ratings (All Recipes, Epicurious, etc.), it must have had at least an 85% approval from reviewers.
  • “Cheap” and “healthy” parameters were determined however we usually do it on this blog. (Meaning: low fat, low calorie, and otherwise subject to our whims. Muahahahahahahaha!)
Needless to say, after hours of searching, we found a LOT of chilis and pasta dishes. They’re all listed below, along with various bakes, casseroles, rice dinners, meaty mains, full-on veggie deals, and quite a few bean-based meals. To reiterate, if a recipe can be prepared using just one heating implement (one pot, one pan, one skillet, etc.) there are two stars (**) next to it.

The list is by no means definitive, but it’s a nice start. Readers, please add your suggestions in the comments section, using the guidelines listed above. When we’re done, this is going to rule.


CHG/All Recipes: Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

CHG/Cooking Light: Baked Eggplant with Mushroom-Tomato Sauce

CHG/Bon Appetit: Ratatouille

CHG/All Recipes: Cheesy Eggplant Bake

**CHG/Weight Watchers Boards: Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Martha Stewart: Baked Eggplant Parmesan
(This looks GREAT. Use part-skim mozzarella for less fat.)


CHG: Garlicky Long Beans and Cannellini Beans

**CHG/Yeah That Vegan S***: Curried Apple and Lentil Dal

**CHG/International Vegetarian Union: Tunisian-Style Greens and Beans

**CHG/Amateur Gourmet: Bodega Beans

**Eating Well: Kale, Sausage, and Lentil Skillet

**Greedy Gourmet: Pork Sausage, Leek, Carrot, and Butter Bean Casserole
(I listed this because you might be able to pull it off with turkey sausage and a minimum of olive oil. Plus, the picture looked REALLY good.)

**Recipe Zaar: Beans and Greens


**All Recipes: Pumpkin Chili
(I would substitute ground turkey in here to keep the fat down.)

**CHG: Camp Stove Veggie Chili

**CHG/Cook’s Illustrated: Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili

**CHG: Leftover Turkey Chili

**CHG/Bon Appetit: Turkey Chili with Beans

**Epicurious: Chicken and White Bean Chili

**Recipe Zaar: Santa Fe Chicken Chili


Eating Well: Chicken Tagine with Pomegranates

Eating Well: Honey-Mustard Turkey Cutlets and Potatoes

**Recipe Zaar: Pan Roasted Chicken and Veggies

**Chicken Stir-Fry With Yams, Red Cabbage, and Hoisin

PASTA (Meatatarian)

CHG/Jenny Craig: Moroccan Chicken and Orzo

**CHG/Words to Eat By: American Chop Suey

CHG/Giada DeLaurentiis: Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes

CHG/Cooking Light: Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Chicken, and Mint

CHG: Whole Wheat Penne with Grape Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Navy Beans, and Sausage

CHG/Cook’s Illustrated: Maque Choux with Chicken and Turkey Kielbasa

Serious Eats/All Recipes: Basil Chicken Pasta

PASTA (Vegetarian)

CHG/Weight Watchers: Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

CHG/Ellie Krieger: Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce

CHG/Sara Moulton: Orecchiette (er, Macaroni) with Broccoli and Chickpeas

CHG/All Recipes: Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

CHG/Moosewood: Penne with Lemon, Potatoes, and Cannellini

CHG/Reluctant Gourmet: Pasta with Nettles, Sorrel, and Lemon

The Kitchn: Arugula with Orzo and Garden Tomatoes

The Kitchn: Israeli Couscous with Chard

The Kitchn: Velvety Broccoli and Feta Pasta

**Martha Stewart: Spaghetti with Pecorino and Black Pepper

**Martha Stewart: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce

Serious Eats/Cook’s Illustrated: Baked Rotelle Puttanesca

RICE & GRAINS (Carnivore)

CHG/Betty Crocker: Stuffed Peppers

**Cooking Light: Louisiana Goulash

Cooking Light: Shrimp-and-Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

Cooking Light: Turkey Jambalaya

**Martha Stewart: Lemon Shrimp with Rice

**Recipe Zaar: Lemon Chicken and Rice

RICE & GRAINS (Vegetarian)

All Recipe: Quinoa Tabbouleh
(I would halve the dressing here to keep the fat down.)

**CHG/Wildman Steve Brill: Sesame Rice with Burdock

CHG: Shredded Zucchini and Chickpeas Over Polenta

DK’s Culinary Bazaar: Grilled Eggplant Moussaka with Brown Rice

Epicurious: Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, and Mint

Recipe Zaar: Bulgur Pilaf with Broccoli and Peppers

Serious Eats/Cooking Light: Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Edamame

Serious Eats/Epicurious: Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
(You’re only cooking the quinoa here. Also, it’s FREAKING DELICIOUS.)


Cooking Light: Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Tarragon Broth

Ellie Krieger: Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

**The Kitchn: Tomato and White Bean Panade

Martha Stewart: Quick Vegetable and Navy Bean Stew

Serious Eats/Jamie Oliver: Bread and Tomato Soup
(This has much more of a stew consistency, which is why it’s included here)


All Recipes: Vegetable Phyllo Pie
(Use low-fat feta crumbles to keep fat down.)

Cooking Light: Butternut-Cheese Pie

Serious Eats/The Kitchn: Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta, Sage, and Pine Nuts

For kicks, these three cookbooks looked helpful, and garnered good ratings on Amazon: Readers, I throw it back to you. Any suggestions?

(Photos courtesy of Live Journal, Bitten and Bound, and Contact Music.)

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Anonymous said...

Great list!

The Blow Leprechaun said...

Outstanding, I saw several that I'm going to investigate more closely!

I really appreciate separating carnivore and vegetarian subheadings, too. I'm not vegetarian, but I cook for one, so it's convenient to read this way.

Michelle said...

This is great! There should be a one-dish potluck centered on these dishes.

Jen said...

I would add this recipe for chicken mole from the Casual Kitchen:

(or as it is known in my apartment, "magic sauce")

I've estimated it at 375 calories per serving (total 4) using only 1 lb of chicken breast (to me, its all about the sauce anyway).

Lee said...

Great list, and I think we need more "Clooney with Puppies" pics...

MCM Voices said...

Thank-you so much for this post. It comes at precisely the time when I'm thinking, "if I have to come up with one more dinner menu for 3 finnicky guys I will 'go berserk and slay six.'"

Also, the pix of GC have a very calming effect, enhancing the therapeutic value of this post by 3/.0175.


Calidaho said...

A puppy? George Clooney and a puppy--that is almost too much! I said ALMOST!

Great compilation, by the way.

Alison said...

Fabulous. And the recipes are great, too. :-)

Christine said...

George Clooney and a PUG?!?! That is just too awesome.
(The recipes look good, too.)

Anonymous said...

For one-skillet cooking, I love this book:

The more expensive or less healthy dishes are generally pretty adaptable.

Carrie said...

What a great roundup of recipes. And you're so right about the George Clooney pictures, although a few more could have been sprinkled throughout the post!

Jen said...

Thank you for this great blog and list of meals. My kids are four and two and can be finicky eaters-imagine that, so I'm always looking for new things to try in the hopes that they'll love it! I found a great one dish recipe at, I think it would qualify. It's called Gingered Pork and Vegetable Stir-Fry. Low calories, 193 per serving and healthy, you could even make it vegetarian style. And I think its better than our local chinese place. Also, I've made some variations to the recipe-instead of snow peas, I use sugar snap peas because our grocery store didn't have any HUH?, I leave out the cornstarch and use more teriyaki sauce and finally you can serve it with chow mein noodles instead of brown or white rice. A great leftover for lunch at work, cheaper than take-out and a lot less fat!
Yes, more GC please!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting ready to go on a beach trip with 3 other girls and we are on a tight budget! We are also staying in a condo with minimum cooking utensils! This is perfect for our meal planning!!! Thank you!

Britches said...

This is the best freaking blog ever. Thank you so much! Not only is it funny but also lots of great ideas. BTW, you think just like me (or maybe I think just like you) in many areas. :D

That Kind of Girl said...

Oh my god, I love you. I LOVE YOU. At first I was just like, oh, cool, this entry exists to address every single vital concern I have when planning my weekly menu. But then you got to the "No cream of whatever soup" rule, and I realized EVEN OUR WHIMS ALIGN! Truly this blog entry is a singular gift from the internet gods. Now excuse me while I print out a copy to mat, frame, and hang above my sink.

Lilac Wolf (angie) said...

I made the Basil Chicken Pasta from Serious Eats/All Recipes and my whole family loved it. I liked that it was light and low in points, but still filling.

Anyway, have more recipes from you to try this week. I'm quickly becoming a big fan.

Angie from...

Kelly said...

mmm, these look really good. My fave one-dish awesome quick meal is Rachel Ray's Goulash Turkey Paprikash, found here:

Chelsea said...

Thank you! This is an awesome list!

jon said...

Great resource, healthy food really does not need to break the bank. My personal favourite are stews with plenty of pulses, carrots, sweetcorn added. Chickpeas are great in chicken stews.

Micah said...

I love this site. The meals sound great. Im a veggie person and my husband a meat person, so im glad that this incorportates both. Oh love the pics of GC.

Kelly Garcia said...

Just found your blog. LOVE this list. Every time I go to the grocery store I find myself mulling over each item going..."which do I choose: healthy or inexpensive". Very time consuming. Thanks for putting this list together. Very helpful for a busy mama! I just bookmarked it.

Andrea said...

Ad is blocking much of the intro to the blog...most annoying. Seems the blog info is good to know. Wish I could read it. :-)

Anonymous said...

The correct term is "Omnivore" not "Carnivore". Carnivores eat meat exclusively, or almost so. Herbivores eat meat and plants.

Fort Lauderdale Catering said...

This is a great post and a great list of food ideas as well! It is also nice to find dishes for vegetarians. People will find this useful when planning and shopping at the supermarket. The list can also help people plan the menu for the whole week. Thanks for the list!

Persephone Sea said...

Haha. I'm tired and before bed I was googling cheap healthy meals and came across the blog with the recipes and was LMAO at the George Clooney photos that acompanied them. I was thinking "what the hell is he on here for", until I read the opening paragraph! Funny!

Would be nice if he was one of the meals! ;0

Christine H said...

"Glorious One-Pot Meals" by Elizabeth Yarnell. Awesome. Saved my marriage to a nutritionist.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm looking to make some changes in my own eating habits, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate the advice of this couple:

I've started to look for their stuff more regularly and I think I'm going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!


Me said...

Thanks for the compilation.
For the quinoa & black bean dish..why bother making the dressing?
just get some black bean soup from trader joe's or whole foods, etc. that has all the spices, etc. in there already..then just heat up & serve with cooked quinoa..
i do this regularly with coucous and its a great dinner..

Kate said...

Excellent list, thanks for categorising these. Makes menu planning so much easier.

Pat Clayton said...

Love the recipes! I have been cooking for one for several years and am writing a blog:

Since starting the blog, I realize I have so much more to learn! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

hahaha great recipes and even better sense of humour!! who knew that looking for recipes could make me giggle :)

Anonymous said...

Love the gratuitous Clooney pictures! Definitely need more with puppies. lol Oh, and great recipe list. Thanks for the time it took to compile it. There are many I will be giving a try.

The Empty Road said...

The chicken/shrimp noodle salad was awesome, even the resident teenager dug it; not an easy task..

But what's up with all the George Clooney Pics? Does The Cloon dig this site?

He should considering all the great recipes!


Anonymous said...

I Love your Photos of George Clooney!
George is Local Cincinnati boy makes good!

If you or anyone you know grew up in Cincinnati around the time George did then you would remember his Dad Nick as well. You also would know that not many folks really ever left Cincinnati and made it much less made it big!

So I Love George as a Local Cincinnati Girl who grew up watching his Dad (yes, Dad was a looker too in his day) ( I also to this day Love the fact that George is still very much his own person he has not bent to others ideas that he should have married the gal he was dating for so long.

We Love You George !

Keep doing it like Frank sang " I did it my way "

Alexandra said...

I have a soup - potato carrot - to add to this list, if I may. It's SO easy to make, but I think someone with more cooking experience should experiment and post back with better measurements. I'm a recent college grad living in Chile, so my cooking experience/knowledge of how big the average American vegetable is is not that expansive.

Thoughts on the recipe: I LOVE garlic, but there was too much in this recipe for me - it became a garlic soup instead of a carrot one. Also, right before pureeing, I decided to eliminate a few ladles-full of the broth; the recipe called for too much. Also, if you have a handheld blender, this recipe is super easy. Here's the website with the recipe:

P.S. Your blog is hilarious, and I think it's going to help me survive on my tiny food budget this year in Chile!

Anonymous said...

I agree, George Clooney is a One Dish Meal indeed [dessert included!] Yummy

Dingey FruitFlavorins said...

I can't tell you how often I return to this list. Here's my add:
Slice up some cabbage, onions, and peeled carrots, and whole cloves of unpeeledgarlic (smashed). Put them in a lightly oiled roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil. Salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you want to use (I'm big on caraway and fennel, but I'm eastern european like that). An apple or two is also good tossed in. Let it all roast at around 375 until things start to get a little brownish. Then you throw in some vegetable or chicken stock and let the mess braise until it's soft. Add more liquid as needed or to taste. About the time you throw in the stock, you can also add meats and/or beans if you want to. Chicken things will braise/roast with the veggie mess. So will pork chops. SO will sausages. So will beans. And it's just damned delicious once it's done. It's a one-dish meal that just takes some time, and is thoroughly open to improvisation.

Anonymous said...

I though this website was a list of CHEAP meals. Dishes including shrimp, chicken, and mint are not cheap!

Carie said...

So I just found a link to your blog and let me say, what an answer to prayer. Seriously! My hubby and I were just having a conversation about ways to save money (we're trying desperately to get out of debt), and I wanted to cut back on my grocery bill without cutting out healthy food. AND since I have two little ones, one dish meals are practically a must. Throw in a few pictures of gorgeous George himself - who is second to Sean Connery in dashing good looks - and there's pretty much nothing else I could hope for in a blog. Thanks for doing all the work so I don't have to!

Kathy McCreedy said...

Well aren't you clever?!? Wonderful photos of G.C., thanks for sharing! Oh, wait, was there something else I was supposed to notice?!? That's right, lots and lots of wonderful recipes... LOVE your rules and your selections... thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Too many great recipes!
Not enough Clooney...~!

Rachel Page said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, both the content and George Clooney.

Anonymous said...

You are cracking me up with George pics!

Made the Ratatouille last night and the family loved it.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite recipe in the whole world: Garbanzo Beans & Greens from Cooking Light. Healthy, easy, cheap, basically one-pot. You can eliminate the bacon and make it vegetarian if you like:

Thanks for this great post.