An Easy, Delicious, and Healthy Dinner for Under $5

…this dinner is so much more than the title suggests. In addition to being easy, cheap (it’s like $3 per serving!), and healthy, it’s also filling, fast to make, delicious, and will guarantee you leftovers for lunch the next day. Perfection, right? What it’s not? Photogenic (hence the one icky-looking photo in this post…sorry, don’t gag, I promise it’s yummy!).

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I made up this dinner on a whim a few weeks ago and have been whipping it several times since because it’s just that good. You guys know I’m not a cook in the slightest. Cooking doesn’t bring me joy, it just makes me feel impatient and hangry…I hate the idea of putting in a ton of work to create something that will only get destroyed (well, I guess enjoyed is a better word, but it’ll literally get chopped into pieces) within an hour. However, I make an effort to make most of my meals at home, especially for dinner, so I had to find something that would work for me. (My coworkers and I constantly talk about whether we’re people who prefer spending money on food over everything else or feel the complete opposite…you can guess which side I’m on).

While browsing Trader Joe’s website/Instagram one Sunday (yes, I really do this to get grocery inspiration #dontjudge), I learned about their corn and quinoa salad that I’d somehow passed by on previous shopping trips. I picked it up later that day and ate a few bites of it plain because my weekend eating habits are always out of whack and I’ll realize at 2 pm that all I’ve had all day is like, an English muffin with peanut butter and a few pieces of chocolate (#balance).

Image via Trader Joe's
Image via Trader Joe’s

The salad is super good on its own, trust me–and as Trader Joe’s says“This wouldn’t be Mexican Style Corn & Quinoa Salad if it didn’t contain a healthy amount of Mexican style corn. But we go beyond the corn here. Brightly colored layers of grape tomatoes, kale, red & green cabbage, and a mixture of white quinoa and brown rice accompany the corn. It’s made complete by a fresh lime wedge and a packet of roasted poblano cilantro dressing that recreates the delicious crema you’d find on elote and esquites. When all contents are emptied into a bowl and mixed together, you’ve got a salad that’s sweet, fresh, and flavorful.” 

I mean, YUM!

That night, I decided that the corn would go really well with black beans (hello, DIY burrito bowl), and this dish was born! All you need to do is grab a frying pan, add some of the corn and quinoa salad, throw in some canned black beans (a can of black beans is seriously like 79 cents, so I always have a ton of them on hand in my cupboard), and add in some taco seasoning (you’ll probably only go through about an eighth of the packet, so just grab a chip clip and save the rest for next time), and stir everything together on medium heat. Place everything in a bowl and top with fresh avocado, or the cilantro dressing that comes with the , or some hot sauce…whatever you’re feeling at the moment. Then sit down and enjoy! The whole thing takes less than five minutes to prepare–faster than the time it would take you to pick up takeout!

This dish is packed with protein, tastes like your favorite Mexican food (which I could eat every day), and is vegetarian-friendly…what more could you want? I’ve enjoyed bringing leftovers to lunch at work, which has been a nice alternative to my usual sandwiches.

What are your favorite easy healthy dinners? (And let me know if you make this one!).

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