Food & Drink

You ‘can’ cook it! How to make three bodega gourmet dinners for just $10

Photos by Lauren Paige.
Turn these ingredients into a delicious black bean and corn tortilla soup. Photos by Lauren Paige.

The friendly neighborhood bodega is a staple of New York living. You know them by the faded awnings, vivid pictures of sandwiches on the walls and the smell of bacon a mile away. Most bodegas are open 24 hours, even if you have to order through the window after 12. When you are in a pinch and can’t make it to an actual grocery store, the bodega can be your saving grace.

Thanks to gentrification, we are now blessed with a new wave of bodegas called “gourmet delis.” While you can still count on them for the regular single beers, baconeggandcheese and lemmegeta’s we all know and love, some of these upgrade include new additions like fresh produce, organic dry goods and bright glass storefronts. If you’re shopping at one of these, you might be able to snag yourself some fresh produce, but if you can’t, try channeling your inner Grandma and grab some canned veggies from a good ol’ fashioned bodega to create something baller on a budget.

With brands like Amy’s and Whole Foods 365, canned food is almost couture and not to mention sometimes a fraction of the cost of going fresh. Yes, I know it feels like most bodegas haven’t restocked since the Reagan era but don’t be scared, go ahead, move that bodega cat off the shelf and test out some of #lpfedme’s favorite creations from the corner spot:

Baked spaghetti with mushrooms and roasted red peppers and garlic bread
4-6 servings
Total cost : $9.07

The shelf life of jarred pasta sauce makes it great for bodega shopping.

Lucky for you, most dry pastas have a shelf life of about two years and canned sauce is good for about half of that. So blow off the dust on that box of Ronzoni and get to work.

The deli dude should be able to hook you up with some fresh cheese, just ask them to not slice it and then you can grate it yourself at home.


Baked spaghetti

1 box of spaghetti
1-28 oz jar/can of pasta sauce
½- 28 oz can of diced or whole tomatoes
1/2 jar of roasted Red peppers, drained (the deli dude can hook you up with some of these too)
1- 4 oz jar of mushrooms, drained
1 onion, diced
½ lb of mozzarella or cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bulb or 1 cup of minced garlic
Salt and Pepper

Garlic Bread

1 hero roll
¼ cup of butter


Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large pot, bring 7 cups of water and 1 tablespoons of olive oil to a boil.

Add pasta, cover and boil for about 7 minutes.

Drain (but don’t rinse!) the pasta and set to the side.

In another pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ cup garlic and diced onions saute for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.

Add the mushrooms, diced/whole tomatoes and roasted red tomatoes (reserve a few to garnish the dish), to the pan, stir and cook for about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 of the pasta sauce, season generously with salt and pepper, cover and reduce to low heat.

Let this simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine the drained pasta and the sauce mixture into a large pot and mix until evenly coated.

Add the remaining pasta sauce if needed.

Place in a 2-quart baking dish and top with grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese and roasted red tomatoes and fresh basil.

Bake on 350 for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

The finished product.
The finished product.

To make the garlic bread:

Slice the hero roll in half.

Heat a pan to medium-low, melt the 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of garlic.

Spread garlic butter mixture over the hero roll and broil for about two minutes.

Serve the baked pasta with garlic bread on the side!


Black bean and corn tortilla soup with jalapeno cornbread
4-6 servings
Total cost : $8.75

You can use Doritos with this recipe, who are we to judge.
You can use Doritos with this recipe, who are we to judge.

The walls of bodega heaven are lined with Goya products. This simple soup can come together with minimal effort and cash.



2- 13 oz cans of black beans
1- 8 oz can of corn (drained)
1- 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1- onion (diced)
½ lb of cheddar cheese (block)
1/2 cup of jalapenos (13 oz can or from the deli dude)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Adobo seasoning
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup of hot sauce (Tapatio is what I recommend)

Corn muffins:

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup of milk
1/2 cup of diced jalapenos
¼ tablespoon of butter

Optional toppings:
1 sliced avocado
Sour cream (some deli counters sell it, but *check the expiration date*)
Tortilla Chips (Nacho Cheese Doritos if you are really feelin yaself)


Adobo is one of the bodega chef’s best friends.

To make the soup:

Heat the olive oil in your soup pot.

Dice up the onion and the jalapenos and add them to the soup pot.

Cook on medium for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the black beans and tomatoes (juices and all)

Stir in the drained corn.

Dash in some Adobo seasoning, salt and pepper and Tapatio.

Stir it all together and bring the soup mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for about 25 minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.

To make the jalapeno cornbread:

Mmm cornbread.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet with butter.

Mix together the Jiffy, eggs and milk and jalapenos.

The batter will be kinda lumpy, that’s okay.

Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes to set before you pour it into the pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

To serve:

Pour the soup in a bowl and top with a dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado and a wedge of cornbread or Doritos on the side!


Salmon burgers with lemon aioli
4 servings
Total cost : $10.94

Turning these simple items into fancy salmon burgers is easy.

Tuna isn’t the only chicken of the sea out there. Canned Salmon is one of those things that people have on their end of the world bunker checklist. In a nuclear war, the only things that would survive are Cher and canned salmon. I mean it’s been soaking in its own juices for god knows how long so I mean it’s gotta be good.

Everything you need to make these fish burgs a success you can grab from the shelves or the deli.


1 can of salmon
2 eggs
5 rolls (1 for breadcrumbs)
1 lemon (or lemon juice)
1/2 onion, diced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Adobo seasoning
Salt and Pepper

Lemon Aioli

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Optional Toppings:

Lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, pepper jack cheese


Mixing salmon with other ingredients.
Mixing salmon with other ingredients.

To make your breadcrumbs: 

Toast 1 of the rolls in the oven for about 3 minutes.

In a bowl break up the roll into very small pieces.

(If you have a food processor/blender/nutribullet, add the bread to that and let it mince it for you.)

To make the patties:

Drain the water off the salmon and in a large bowl add the eggs, diced onion, homemade breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a dash of adobo seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix together until blended well.

Form into patties (about 1/2 inches thick), you should be able to get at least four.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the patties and cook for 4 minutes per side or until nicely browned.

Top the remaining rolls with the lemon aioli, lettuce, tomato or sliced avocado and assembly your salmon burgers.

Pair with a fresh bag of plain or salt and vinegar Lay’s potato chips and a deli pickle!

No one will know these gorgeous salmon burgers are bodega-sourced.

For more cooking tips that are one cup Julia Child with a dash of Beyonce, follow Lauren: @theladypaige.

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