7 Affordable Poke Bowls Everyone Can Make At Home (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

I don’t know about you, but I am hopelessly hooked on poke bowls.

Also known as sushi bowls, the trendy Hawaiian-inspired rice bowls are topped with marinated raw fish and all the goodies you enjoy in a sushi roll. And they are pretty much answered prayers for anyone who loves eating sushi all the time but can’t afford to drop those $$ for EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.

From cost restrictions to limited local availability, diet or a desire to make it in your own dang kitchen the way you like it, there are tons of reasons why you might want to DIY your poke/sushi bowls.

So go ahead and peruse these supremely fresh, simple and filling dinners that are great for fish addicts and vegans alike — on any budget.

1. Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Salmon Poke Bowl​

If you have fresh sashimi-grade salmon, you can’t go wrong with this gently salt-cured version that gets tossed with a handful of ingredients and coated in a traditional sesame poke sauce. The best part? This recipe calls for fresh diced tomatoes, which take on something of a tuna-esque texture and appearance, so it helps stretch out the potentially pricey fresh fish.

2. “Low-Rent” Tuna Poke Bowl

Can’t find reasonably-priced, safe sashimi-grade fish? Would splurging on the stuff relegate you to eating wish sandwiches for the rest of the month? Pregnant? You can absolutely satisfy your craving with canned tuna. Other suitable substitutions include quick-seared salmon (or any other fish), marinated tofu (see #3), krab (see #5) or a Japanese omelet.

3. Soy-Glazed Tofu Sushi Bowl

Hey there vegans! You don’t have to miss out on this fun, fresh food trend. Just make this sweet, savory tofu. Prefer a more spiced version? You can use this tofu marinade instead.

4. California Roll Sushi Bowl

This is such a great option for when raw fish just isn’t an option, and it’s so easy to make! As with all the others, you’re more than welcome to throw in all your favorite fixings.

5. Tomato Poke

Ok, ok. I know. This doesn’t include a full bowl recipe. But this tomato poke is so dang delicious and a dead ringer for ahi that I had to include it. Throw it atop your favorite sushi bowl, and if you like it extra tender, steam it for a few minutes and let it marinate in the sesame oil for a few extra minutes. You’re welcome.

6. Watermelon Poke Bowl

Similar to tomato tuna, this is a fabulous way to enjoy poke without eating raw fish — or you can use it to cut a smaller batch of sashimi cubes to stretch it out a little.

7. Ahi Tuna Poke Quinoa Bowl

Love some of that bright red tuna? This is the recipe for you. Of course, you can totally use regular sushi rice, but the quinoa brings more nutrition plus an extra nutty pop for a welcome textural change. Have fun!

Featured Image: Michael Saechang/Flickr

Tags: affordable dinner, cheap sushi recipe, Poke, poke at home, poke bowl recipe
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7 Exciting Ways To Eat Chickpeas For Meatless Monday (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

It’s Meatless Monday!

Going meat-free once a week can help save tons of water and fossil fuels, and it might also reduce the risk of certain health conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Of course, there’s no denying that you know what’s best for your body and your diet, so if you can’t or don’t want to cut out meat entirely, you’re more than welcome to observe Sustainable Mondays (with locally sourced meat and veggies) or Less-Meat Mondays.

Either way, if you’re looking for an affordable meatless main or side that’s packed with enough protein to actually fill you up, consider the delightfully underrated chickpea aka garbanzo bean. This versatile, savory legume is cheap, easy to get your hands on and simple to cook with.

Here are some of the best things you can do to chickpeas:

1. Soy-Free Vegan Benedict

From the creamy cashew hollandaise sauce to the spiced chickpea patties, this filling dish is absolutely magical, especially when it sits atop a toasted English muffin, a thick tomato slice and some completely spellbinding shiitake bacon (or pork/turkey/soy if you’d rather). Serve with some veggies on the side and you have a perfectly rounded meal.

2. One Bite Falafel Kebabs

These are super fresh, healthy and adorable. Perfect party bites. If you want your patties to be a little crispier, you can fry them on medium high in an oil-coated pan.

3. Baked Broccoli Burgers 

This might sound weird, but broccoli, chickpeas, couscous and onions combine to make a really delicious and hearty vegan veggie patty with a perfectly textured bite and tons of nutrition. Top with tahini dressing and you’ll be head over heels in love with this meatless burger. Serve with:

4. Chickpea Fries with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

All right, this might not be the most rounded meal, but these crispy on the outside, soft on the inside protein-packed fries are absolutely irresistible dipped in the yogurt mint sauce, and they’ll go great with the veggie burger.

5. Stuffed Falafel Balls

If for some strange reason you find falafel to be boring, go stuff them with tons of cheese and roasted peppers and then come back and we’ll talk.

6. Spicy Chickpea and Sour Tomato Curry with Noodles

Do try and find tamarind, but if you can’t, you can substitute equal parts lime juice and brown sugar. On that note, if the tamarind is a little too sour for you, add a pinch of sugar to balance out the taste.

7. Falafel Wraps with Grilled Veggies and Salsa

Look, you don’t need to eat your falafel patties in pita pockets every darn time. Get a little variety in your life and taco-fy this lovely food.

Featured Photo Credit: Jules/Flickr

Tags: affordable dinner, chickpea recipe, dinner recipes, Meatless Monday, vegetarian recipes
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7 Dirt-Cheap Dinners To Make This Spring (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

Ever look at your grocery receipts and wonder why it costs so much money just to exist? We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun.

But here’s the thing: if you’re already buying your own groceries, you are on the right track to saving money, since cooking for yourself is almost always cheaper than ordering takeout on the regular.

You can cut down on your grocery bill even more by buying seasonal fruits and vegetables and crafting your recipes around them. Since it’s now officially spring, the cheapest and freshest produce includes: asparagus, Swiss chard, spinach, Rhubarb, pineapple, peas, mangos, limes, green beans, collard greens, artichokes, chives and broccoli.

Keep these foods in mind through the month of April, and you’ll save a pretty penny. Here are some of our favorite affordable spring dinners:

1. Pea Pancakes

These savory pancakes are veggie-packed and easy to make for a perfect breakfast-for-dinner treat. They are delicious as is, but you can totally take them to the next level by topping them with smoked salmon or maple syrup if you’re in the mood.

2. Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Believe it or not, soda is the perfect meat marinade and tenderizer — you can do the same thing with beef (we recommend cola) or chicken (cola or lemon-lime soda are fabulous) for a similar effect. Feel free to use an even cheaper cut of meat, since the slow cooker will make it nice and tender over several hours anyway.

3. Ravioli Dough With Four Fillings

It’s a fair bit of work to make ravioli from scratch, but don’t let that scare you away! It’s not as hard as you might think, plus ravioli freeze well, so you can make a ton in advance. On top of that, you probably already have most of the ingredients you need at home, since you can make the filling out of just about anything you want. It’s very leftover-friendly and perfect for a special evening.

4. Shakshuka

​This veggie dish is delicious and filling, and leaving meat out of your meal keeps costs and calories down. Scoop this breakfast-for-dinner up with your favorite type of crusty bread.

5. Fettuccine with Shiitakes and Asparagus​

Since asparagus is in season, this is the perfect springtime recipe to make. Use whatever noodles are on sale, and feel free to swap out shiitakes for Portobellos or even just regular white/brown mushrooms if you’d rather.

6. Six-Layer Dinner

With potatoes, onions, veggies and ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) stacked in the slow cooker, this hearty dinner is dirt cheap and impossibly easy to make.

7. Sesame Noodles With Wilted Greens

The whole wheat noodles (or whatever you have on hand) get an added filling, nutritional touch with a fried egg and spinach or your choice of greens. Delicious!

Featured Photo Credit: Nina/Nourish Atelier

Tags: affordable dinner, cheap dinner recipes, easy weeknight dinners, seasonal recipes, spring dinner recipes
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Ridiculously Easy, Affordable Dinners To Make This Week


By Cooking Panda

Looking for some quick dinners to make this week? We got you covered. We know you’re busy, so this week we have super simple recipes that don’t take a lot of time or cost much but taste like a million bucks. Most of these will only make you wash one or two dishes and a few can be prepped in advance in your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

It doesn’t get any easier than this. Dump a bunch of ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning, and you’ll come home to a delicious, flavorful and filling soup.

Lemon Butter Cod

It tastes like you put a lot more work into this white fish dish than throwing some stuff in a pan and roasting it, but this primal recipe is so easy a caveman could make it. If you don’t want or have cod, use any fish you want.

Crock Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers

All you have to do is mix a bunch of stuff together in a bowl, stuff it into your bell peppers, and toss them into the slow cooker. Does it get easier?

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

If you want cheesy fried chicken without the hassle, try this impossibly easy baked version that uses only a few ingredients and is super inexpensive to make. Pro tip: prep the chicken in advance and freeze it beforehand. That way, all you have to do is defrost and bake.

One Pot Wonder Southwest Pasta

Fool your dinner guests into thinking you spent more than eight minutes getting this outstanding, simple dish ready. It is packed with both flavor and veggies, so it’s a win-win for everyone.


Whether you’ve had shakshuka a ton of times and love it, or you’ve never even heard of it, you need to make this recipe. This hearty, healthy veggie and egg dish will leave you totally satisfied, and you’ll be pleased by the minimal cleanup involved with this one pan meal.

Photo Credit: Life In The Lofthouse

Tags: affordable dinner, dinner recipe, easy recipes, one pot meal, recipes
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