5 meals to make under lockdown that are inexpensive, delicious and healthy

Registered dietitian and nutritionist Maya Feller shares recipes that are easy to make in bulk (so you can freeze leftovers) and with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
Maya Feller is a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian nutritionist.
Maya Feller is a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian nutritionist.Courtesy of Maya Feller.

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By Maya Feller

In the age of coronavirus, we are all looking to minimize our trips to the grocery store while maximizing the items we put into the shopping cart.

As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, I’m always touting the health benefits of meals rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains from minimally-processed sources. That remains true during lockdown. Of course, individual health-related goals and taste are always taken into consideration too.

Here are five meals that are inexpensive, delicious and nutritious. You can make a large quantity, have some now and freeze the rest for later. If you find that you don’t have all the ingredients, substitute the next best option. These recipes are just a starting point for you to get creative.

Rice & beans with salsa

Don’t be fooled this rendition on rice and beans. It’s anything but boring! Use any type of rice you have on hand. Brown and black rice are higher in fiber and provide more nutrients in comparison to white rice. My tip is to season your rice to increase the flavor.

For the rice:

2 ½ cups of low sodium vegetable broth

1 medium carrots, washed peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

¼ yellow onion finely chopped

1 cup of brown rice

Directions

In a medium stock pot, add ½ cup of broth, garlic and onion over medium heat. Cook for three to five minutes. Add rice and remaining broth and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes.

For the beans:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil of your choice

2 cloves of garlic minced

½ yellow onion, minced

1 medium tomato rough chopped

15 oz. low-sodium beans

Directions

Add oil to a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and tomato and cook for five to seven minutes. Add beans and cook for an additional five minutes. Season to taste with black pepper and hot pepper of your choice.

For the salsa:

2 medium tomatoes diced

1 small onion diced

1 medium cucumber diced

1 medium bell pepper diced

Juice of 1 lime

Directions

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like it spicy add a diced poblano pepper!

Baked vegetable macaroni pie

Maya Feller's baked vegetable macaroni pie.Courtesy of Maya Feller.

This mac and cheese will make you swoon, and it even incorporates a classic baking technique. Whether you call it a macaroni pie or mac and cheese, this recipe is loaded with vegetables. Creamy and delicious, it can be enjoyed with a large plate of leafy greens on the side.

Ingredients:

1 (16-ounce) package whole-wheat macaroni

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced 1/4 teaspoon freshly

ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chickpea flour 1 cup fat-free milk

2 cups grated reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

2 large zucchini, finely grated and squeezed dry

2 roasted red peppers, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for two to five minutes, or until al dente. Drain the macaroni, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for the cheese sauce. Rinse under cold running water, and transfer to a large bowl.

In a large cast iron skillet, warm the pasta water over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and pepper. Cook for three to five minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the chickpea flour slowly, mixing often. Stir in the milk and cheese until a thick liquid is formed. It should be about the consistency of a smoothie. Add the pasta to the cheese mixture along with the zucchini and red peppers. Mix thoroughly so the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is well melted. Uncover and bake for five minutes, or until golden brown.

Veggie Stir-fry

As the name suggests, this stir-fry is a way to use any and all vegetables in your fridge. I like to mix the leaves with cruciferous veggies for an exciting twist.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 red onion rough chopped

2 cloves of garlic sliced

2 inches of ginger peeled and rough chopped

2 carrots rough chopped

1 bunch of broccoli – florets and stalk cut unto bite sized chunks

1 head of red cabbage rough chopped

Season to taste with: coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce / tamari, sesame seeds, black pepper and red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat oil over medium flame in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook for three to five minutes until onion is translucent. Add carrots, broccoli and cabbage and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes adding water as needed. Longer if you prefer your veggies with less of a crunch. Season to taste with spices of your liking. Serve with buckwheat noodle or any noodles you have on hand

Veg-filled tortilla

This is my veggie boosted take on a classic tortilla. Adding zucchini along with the potatoes increases the nutrient profile as well as fiber in the dish.

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. of potatoes sliced

2 zucchinis sliced

1 sweet onion thinly sliced

8 eggs, beaten

Directions

Turn on oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, add potatoes, zucchini and onion. Cook for seven to 10 minutes, taking care not to burn the veggies. Add extra virgin olive oil as needed. Remove cooked veggies from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add eggs to the veggie mixture. Gently mix taking care to not break up the veggies. Transfer the mixture back to the skillet.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the top of the tortilla is browned. Remove from oven and set aside for five to 10 minutes. Serve warm with a heaping plate of greens.

Sheet-Pan roasted veggies

The easiest main or side ever. You can top roasted veggies with a soft-boiled egg or serve it as a side with grilled seafood. Double the quantity if you want to make ahead for meals throughout the week. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days.

Ingredients

2 bulbs of garlic sliced horizontally

2 sweet onions quartered

1 head of cauliflower roughly chopped

1 bag of baby carrots

10 Brussels sprouts sliced lengthwise

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Season to taste with: black pepper, cumin, salt

Directions

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread all ingredients out on a sheet pan or large cast iron skillet. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Season to taste with black pepper, cumin and salt and cook for about 45 minutes.

Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition is a registered dietitian nutritionist who works with patients looking for nutritional management of diet related chronic illnesses with medical nutrition therapy. Maya received her masters of science in clinical nutrition at New York University, where she is adjunct faculty. She is the author of "The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life."