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Sebastian Scholl

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Lunch for the week, under $25

If you recognized the oysters and champagne before the Victoria Secret model, you may be a foodie.
It is always difficult to stick to a budget; it is even more difficult on a food budget – especially when you have a palate like mine.  My mother often recounts to me how at age 5 my favorite dish was Black Linguini Seafood Pasta at our local Italian joint.  Her story includes my old tendency to not only finish my plate, but also lend a helping jaw to those at the table who seemed to be “full”, a word that at that age I blissfully hadn’t learned yet.  Needless to say, from a very young age I had a taste for
fine foods, and a lot (!) of them.

Moving into my early adult years this tendency has yet changed.  That is, with the exception of quantity…in one sitting.  Oysters with champagne mignonette, Belgian endive and shaved parmigiano, fennel encrusted Alaskan salmon, Greensboro blue with a Bordeaux Cab. Sauvignon, these are a few of my favorite things.  
Now, in an attempt to make my passion economical, I often try to find ways to enjoy gourmet food at a discount.  There are many ways to go about this.  Coupons, social events, and dine and dash (never have done it and never will) are a few popular options.  However, the most affordable, rewarding and enjoyable method I have found is simply cooking my own meals.
For this week I decided to create my own quinoa salad that would last at least 7 days, taste delicious, and barely dent the bank – here is what I came up with.
Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato and Cranberries
 Time: 60/70 minutes


2 1/4 Cups quinoa

2 medium sized sweet potatoes

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Sea salt (just have enough)

Black ground pepper

1/2 onion

1/2 apple


1 can pinto beans

1 red bell pepper (red, green, yellow… doesn’t matter)

8 sprigs of parsley 


Cayenne pepper

Curry powder

1 lemons juice

1 1/4 cups olive oil


1) Put quinoa in large pot with 4 1/2 cups water.  Throw in a few pinches of salt and bring to a vigorous boil.  Once big boils are popping turn the burner down two a simmer, place plate on top of the pot and let it sit for 30 – 40 minutes.  Keep checking it to tell when it’s done.  (It should be soft, but a bit chewy, and little white hairs will appear on outer edge of the grains.   

2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take a baking tray and set aluminum foil over it, then smear it with olive oil.  Cut sweet potatoes into medium/large dice (your preference) and lay them across the baking sheet.  Throw about a 1/4 cup of dried cranberries over the sweet potatoes, a few generous pinches of sea salt, and throw it all in the over for 40-45 minutes.  Taste test to tell if they are done (should melt in your mouth).

3) While your quinoa and sweet potatoes are cooking, prep everything else.  Pretty much just dice the onions, bell peppers, apple and tomato, then finely slice the parsley.  Also, if there is any other veggie or fruit or whatever you’d like to throw in here, do it!  It’s your salad.

4) After the quinoa is done, put it into a large metal bowl and let it cool.  Place it on the counter until it is near room temperature, and then place in fridge or freezer to cool more rapidly. 

5) Once it’s coldish…throw everything in and mix it up.  Personally, I always over indulge when it comes to the spices, but experiment and find what amount best works for you.  Just remember that most dishes are under seasoned, so be bold and spice it up.
Oven roasted sweet potatoes

Mixing all the ingredients together

Easy storage in the fridge
That’s it.  It’s easy, simply, delicious and a weeks worth of lunches/dinners and nutrition.  This cost me a little less than $22.00 at the grocery store for the ingredients; HOWEVER, I did already have the spices and olive oil.  Be resourceful in your kitchen and try tasting things together that you may not have thought of at first.  What works will surprise you.



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