In a previous post I published a partial list of foods that are fairly inexpensive and provide some good nutrition. I've been using those items as a foundation for my grocery shopping. I like to keep those foods on hand. If towards days end I'm coming up short in the fruit/veg department, I can pour myself a serving of orange juice and eat a 1/2 c cup of applesauce and I've added '2' to the count.
Yes, I know it's better to eat an orange and an apple, but those aren't always in season and when they are they often aren't very tasty and still have a pretty hefty price. And...how many times have I just skipped the orange and apple because I don't want to prep it. I've had more low count fruit and veg days because of that thinking, so I decided I'd be better off to eat the 2nd best choice than skipping it totally. My daddy had a saying--"when you can't do the first best thing, do the next best thing". All too often our circumstances don't align with our wishes and we can kick against that, say 'oh well', throw up our hands in despair and do nothing..or we can do the next best thing, keep a merry heart, and be all the better for it.
Most days now, when grocery shopping, I grab one of those shrink wrapped packages of kielbasa--it's a sausage, a bit spicy, pretty high in fat but full of flavor. I offset the negatives by using it sparingly and get a big flavor boost.
You can use it many different ways, but one of my favorites is to pair it with cabbage and peas. I slice or dice a small portion of it, and along with some diced onions, fry it up in a skillet. When that's browned nicely and the sausage has released its fat I add in some cut cabbage and continue to cook, adding pepper and a little salt if needed--remember the sausage is salty. When the cabbage is half way done, I throw in some frozen green peas--in this dish I prefer frozen to canned. When the cabbage and peas are tender, I like to serve this with some rye bread or cornbread and some additional protein in the form of dairy--say maybe a side of cottage cheese, a glass of milk, or some yogurt with fruit. If there's applesauce in your pantry, it goes nicely too.
Granted the above is not gourmet food, but it is substantial and pretty healthy, and it won't strain your pocketbook.
A second way I use the kielbasa is in canned beans--like pinto beans. Again dice a small portion and fry up with some onion, then add a couple of cans of beans. Though cooking dried beans is cheaper, it does have to be planned ahead, so using the canned is quicker and not a budget killer. Cornbread is good with this too--in fact it's almost a necessity if you're from the South.
The world wide web is a cooks best friend when it comes to finding budget mindful recipes, so as time allows take advantage.