Cooking solo: Lunch for a week on $13.50


If you are currently a household of one, cooking healthy can be a nightmare. Food and produce spoils quickly when you’re the only one eating it, and fixing the same thing over and over can be monotonous. Cooking meat can be a gamble, but eating vegetarian usually leaves you hungry still. WHAT’S A SINGLE HUNGRY PERSON TO DO!?!?!?! 

I’ll tell ya. I’m giving away my greatest secret here: Black beans, sweet potato and rice. A cinch to prepare, easily portable for bringing lunch, keeps in the fridge forever and a day, and so versatile, you can serve it in a bowl with a fried egg on top, in a burrito with spinach and avocado, on chips…and it combines the two magic ingredients of beans and rice, which is what the entire rest of the world eats, along with the arguable superfood sweet potato, also one of the cheapest veggies out there.

What I’m saying is I’m the next Julia Child except instead of teaching you how to cook a duck, because WHY, I’m going to teach you how not to spend $13.50 a day on Chipotle and instead spend $13.50 a WEEK on homemade Chipotle that’s arguably better for you. Sit still and LISTEN CHILDREN

Go to your neighborhood international supermarket, where you can get each piece of produce a la carte, or Aldi, where you’ll pay up front for bags of produce but be able to make more. (If you go to any different grocery, it’ll cost twice as much. Dumb) And if you don’t already have a big ol’ bag of brown rice sitting on your counter, I got a 5-lb. bag at Super G for $5. A wise investment.

Here are your ingredients:

  • 2 cups (ish) of cooked brown rice (approx. 1 cup before cooking) ($0.70)
  • 1 large sweet potato ($0.70)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil ($0.20)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced ($0.40)
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic OR 2 fresh cloves of garlic, minced ($0.20)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced OR 1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained ($1)
  • 1 16 oz. can of low-sodium black beans ($1)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon Adobo seasoning OR 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, sage, and cayenne pepper
  • Whole grain tortillas ($3 for 5 @ Aldi, I believe, so $0.60 ea.)


  • Spinach ($2 for Aldi bag)
  • Avocados ($1 ea.)
  • Lemon juice ($0.30)

Addt’l Nourishments

  • Bananas ($1 for 5)
  • Oranges ($2 for 4)

Total cost: $13.50 (OMG YES THAT’S REAL) for 6 burritos + fruit (yr welcome)

How to make it:

1. Wash the sweet potato, cut off nasty ends, then cut into 1/3-inch wide discs. Leave the skin on, it’s good for you! Helps ya poop! Cut the discs into tiny lil’ cubes about the size of Barbie baby building blocks. Sweet potatoes take damn near forever to cook so cutting them smaller makes it go faster. You should think while you’re cutting them, “WOW I have never cut a potato this small before and I feel like a GIANT.” That’s how you know you’re doing it right.

2. Toss the lil’ cubes in a frying pan with all the oil until they are covered on medium heat, tossing every few minutes. Add pepper if you feel like it. It’ll make a lot of noise. Turn down the heat if they start getting too burnt too early.

3. Empty can of beans (don’t drain it you FOOL this isn’t amateur hour) and tomatoes into a pot, add all spices, stir well, cover and leave on low heat.

You can line 'em all up like friends cheering you on if you're feeling lonely. Or maybe you should go outside and get some fresh air
You can line ’em all up like friends cheering you on if you’re feeling lonely. Or maybe you should go outside and get some fresh air and say hello to a bird

4. When the sweet potatoes are turning a lovely orange-er color and getting a bit softer (probably about 10-15 minutes in), bring down the heat slightly and add garlic and onions. They’ll take about 5 minutes to brown. Stir this quite a bit. It will smell very good but you need to resist eating it. Well, maybe just one lil cube, to test whether it’s softening.

Dang I just really love this color. Terrible that nothing rhymes with it

5. You’ll know in your heart the time to combine has come. Listen with your heart. The sweet potato hash is golden and the onions are looking a bit caramelized, and the beans are simmering ever so softly. Take a moment to appreciate how cheaply you are taking care of your body, how foolish it is to be extravagant when such simple pleasures are accessible all around you, and note the beautiful rainbow of colors on your stovetop. Inhale the sweet smell of garlic deeply. Smile. Carry peace in your heart.

Wow everything in the world is just so affordable and correct right now in this moment
Wow everything in the world is just so affordable and correct right now in this moment. Is Trump running for president I suddenly forgot

6. Dump the rice into the saucepan. Dump the sweet potatoes in. Mix well.

Weeping brb
Weeping brb

7. Serve immediately in a bowl or wrapped up in a burrito. Let it cool before you stow away in the fridge. Bonus: The rice and potatoes will continue to soak up the savoriness of the mixture and it actually tastes better a day or two later. It’ll keep for a little over a week. Plate that thing like you’re on freakin’ Chopped or whatnot. Exhibit A:

I could basically write Real Simple or Martha Stewart magazine, cover to cover, with my eyes closed and with my non-dominant hand

Happy affordable munching, chums. xo Jo

PS bonus feature: you’re going to have some killer amazing poops

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