Dinner hacks for the broke that don’t taste like trash

Don't do this. You're better than this. via Pinterest user avocker
Don’t do this. You’re better than this. via Pinterest user avocker

You may have decently-stocked cupboards now, but trust us, it won’t always be like this. There will be days—heck, those could be the days you’re living now—where you’ve come home from another long day having forgotten to shop and you’re facing what seem like spare parts of meals. Hey, we feel you. Below, Brokelyn staff confess to the strange things we’ve eaten when we’ve been faced with said spare parts. And you know what? This stuff turns out to be pretty tasty.

So the next time you can’t figure out how to grocery shop in a blizzard, or you’re just feeling too broke to function, rest assured you can still cook up something tasty and filling. Disclaimer: taste is subjective, obviously. Try at your own risk. 

The buffalo tempeh sandwich thingy

Recently, i’ve taken to a hot mess of “whatever is in the cabinet” meals, which usually happens when I’m too broke/out of food to actually go shopping. This led to the fairly incredible accidental creation of a buffalo tempeh sandwich thingy. It involved tempeh, a whole ton of Frank’s hot sauce, some loose pickles, and veganaise that had been in the fridge for 10 months (yes, it was still good). Throw that on some bread I borrowed from a roommate, and hot damn if this wasn’t tremendous.

– Tim Donnelly


Hot dog bun pizza

Ingredients: hot dog buns, tomato sauce, cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Take straggler hot dog buns (or hamburger buns, or regular bread) and open flat
3. Cover said buns in the remainder of tomato sauce that’s been sitting in that jar
4. Sprinkle any leftover cheese found in fridge on top of sauce-covered bread (can be from block, parmesan shaker, etc.)
5. Place in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.

Voila! It’s a pizza.

– Cat Wolinski 


A different kind of adult lunchable, that's way worse for you
A different kind of adult lunchable, that’s way worse for you

Lunchables for adults

Barbecue sauce with pasta. Or chips with hot sauce. If I don’t have chips I’ll cut up corn tortillas and fry ’em.

I also like to do what I call lunchables for adults where I put a lot of small servings of random food on a plate and revel in the variety and how the meal is very I-woke-up-like-this. Recently I did like an inch of cheddar cheese, some tuna, spoon and a half of hummus, half an avocado, a few tomatoes, and ate with the dregs of a bag of pita chips.

– Kate Mooney


Just enough tuna

Tuna, a can of beans, and pasta. Actually delicious. Or if you wind up with waaaaay too many leftovers (veggies, rice, stirfry) you can chop it all up, add some eggs, flour, maybe water, and fry it up like a scallion pancake.

Also, crumbling tortilla chips or stale crackers on top of anything improves everything.

– Madelyn Owens


Hot peanut butter

Even in the direst of grocery straits, there are two things I can always count on being in my fridge/cupboard: Frank’s Red Hot and a jar of peanut butter. Slather these on a pita, an English muffin, some toast, a rice cake, crackers, etc. The combination of nutty fat and protein with the kick from the sauce creates a satiating little meal. Sound weird? It shouldn’t. This has the same taste profile as peanut noodles or pad thai, just in a less exciting iteration. Hot sauce + peanut butter + whatever bread-oriented item you have around.

– Shaylyn Berlew


See, even restaurants do it, so you should totally do it. via flickr user Wally Gobetz
See, even restaurants do it, so you should totally do it. via flickr user Wally Gobetz

Wild at (romaine) heart

Romaine hearts are really just crunchy spoons. They barely have a flavor of their own, so you can fill them with whatever you want to go into your mouth at the same time. And there are so many leaves to a heart, you can have like a dozen giant helpings, and vary the toppings on each one. Recently, I sprinkled raisins and kewpie mayonnaise on some old romaine hearts and chowed down until I was full. It was essentially an innovation on coleslaw.

– Sam Corbin 


The Italian American

It’s very simple. It’s called “the Italian American.” I just make a meal out of parmesan and raw cookie dough.

– Allison Brown

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