Gourmet meals on a budget – for students!

Is it possible to create gourmet meals on a budget? With a bit of creativity and a few simple ingredients, even a busy student can enjoy flavorful and fun meals that do not break the bank. Read on to discover a few recipes that will save time and money, without compromising your taste buds!Cut Mushrooms

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto (courtesy Familycircle.com)

Ingredients:

• 2 14 1/2ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
• 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup diced sweet onion
• 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 cup arborio rice
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
1. Warm broth in a small, lidded pot over low heat.
2. Crumble sausage into a large, nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Brown 5 to 7 minutes, breaking apart meat with a wooden spoon. Transfer sausage to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
3. Pour oil into the same pan. Add onion and saute 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; saute 5 to 7 minutes until they are browned and soft. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Transfer mixture to bowl with sausage.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add rice; toast 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of the warm broth. Scrape brown bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a very low simmer. When liquid is almost absorbed, add another 1/3 cup of broth. Continue adding broth 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until it is gone and rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Stir in cooked sausage-vegetable mixture, salt, pepper, cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Ramen Meat Pie (courtesy budget101.com)

A lasagna style layered Ramen dish that is cheesy, hearty and quite filling.

Ingredients:

• 2 packages beef flavored ramen noodles
• 1 can Hormel chili with or without beans (25 oz. can)
• 1/4 bag of nacho cheese tortilla chips
• 1/4 cup diced jalapeno pepper
• 1 T chili powder
• 7or 8 thin slices of Velveeta cheese

Directions:
1. Boil about 3 cups water, add noodles and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice until noodles are tender. Drain the water, add seasoning packet to noodles and set aside.
2. Heat chili in small sauce pan just until hot.
3. Crush tortilla chips and add about 1/4 to the bottom a lightly buttered pie pan until bottom is covered.
4. Add about ¼ of the noodles to cover the tortilla chips. Layer next with the chili mixture, and a few slices of cheese. Repeat until all of the ingredients are gone making sure cheese and tortilla chips are on top.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers (courtesy thecheapgourmet.com)

Ingredients:

• 2 small Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 teaspoon Sunflower or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 6 medium Green Onions (or Scallions), white and green parts cut into 1-inch strips
• 1 15-ounce can Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup Ketchup
• 1/4 cup Sunflower seeds, toasted and ground into a coarse powder in spice grinder or blender
• 1-1/2 cups plain Bread Crumbs
• Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions:
1. Add 3 to 4 inches of water to a large saucepan. Add potatoes to a steamer basket, cover and bring water to a boil. Cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with a fork.
3. Transfer 1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes to the work bowl of a food processor.
4. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until limp, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add scallions, chickpeas, ketchup, and ground sunflower seeds to food processor. Pulse on and off several times until ingredients are well blended.
6. Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl. Add bread crumbs. Mix by hand using a large spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
7. Season with salt to taste. Mixture will be moist, but should hold together well.
8. Divide and shape mixture into eight patties approximately 3-inches across and 1/2-inch thick. Add extra bread crumbs if patties don’t hold their shape.
9. Prepare grill or preheat broiler.
10. If using a grill, place patties on vegetable grid to avoid sticking. If using the broiler, place patties on a broiler pan or large cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil.
11. Grill over medium-hot coals or broil 3 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side.
12. Check often to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Transfer to serving platter and serve with favorite toppings and condiments.

These three recipes are just a few samples of many different options. Planning is crucial to staying on a food budget, so be sure to plan meals and shop for groceries accordingly. Not only will this keep your wallet in check, it will decrease your stress level overall, allowing your mind to focus on other areas of your life, including your family, schooling, and work.

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