I love chili. Chili is incredibly versatile and it’s general my go-to meal when I don’t want to work too hard or spend too much money. It’s an easy-to-please dinner that can be jazzed up with toppings and sides.
Today, I was worn out and tired after running errands with a head cold. I thought – this is the perfect time to dump a few ingredients in a pot and walk away.
Here is my version of Cheap Chili
Ingredients list: Really, it’s JUST 3 things!
Chopped/ground meat (a ground beef and pork mix may be the most cost effective, but ground chicken or turkey is a great healthy alternative.)
Beans! I love beans. They’re packed with protein and give chili that great texture I love. I recommend buying a small bag of dry beans because they go a lot further than canned beans (about 3-5 times in terms of price). Stick a handful in a bowl of water before you go to bed and cook them prior to adding them to your chili. Kidney, pinto and black beans are my favorite.
Tomato sauce. When you buy a chili seasoning pack, the recipe on the back of the packet calls for tomato sauce, and truly, in comparison to tomato paste and diced tomatoes, this is the cheapest, and easiest option. Generic tomato sauce is 50 cents a can, NOT on sale. If you don’t live in NYC, you can probably find it for cheaper.
Spices. Basic chili seasoning consists of **chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oregano, cayenne pepper, and cumin. **Quick rule of thumb: you will always need 2-3x the amount of chili powder to everything else** Try adding a tablespoon of sugar, very little bit!, to your chili to off-set the spicy factor of the cayenne pepper and add a bit of sweetness. I also always add fresh garlic and onion to mine!
I know that spices are costly but I promise you it’s cost effective to stock your spice cabinet. You’re going to be spending a lot more buying those pre-made packets such as the taco seasoning and chili seasoning packets. Consider buying your spices at non-grocery stores because they tend to be generic and much less expensive. Did you know Rite Aid has many $1 spices? Again, this is shelf price, not sale price. In fact, drug stores are a great place to check for any pantry items! Just a tip: you can also get a 2lb bag of white or brown rice at Rite Aid for 1.99. I often see it on sale for 1.50!
Now it’s time to jazz it up! Maybe a dollop of sour cream to the top? A handful of cheddar cheese? On a bed of rice perhaps? Smothered on top of a hotdog or fries? Or both?
There are many ways to make chili, and I’d love to hear your version.