Picnic Savings: Healthy DIY Meals for Less Than $4

Summer season is picnic season, and if you're looking for some creative ways to save on dining this month, EatingWell magazine's deputy food editor Jessie Price offers us some delicious meals for less than $4 per serving, sure to impress friends and family.

Smoked Turkey and Farro Salad

- 1 cup cooked farro- 6-oz smoked turkey in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1 large stalk celery, chopped
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 3/4 cup slivered soft sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced smoked Cheddar or Gouda
- Dressing made with olive oil, red-wine vinegar, diced shallots, ground pepper

See Also: Guilt-Free Homemade Snacks

This whole-grain salad is one of Price's favorite go-to picnic meals. It includes cubed lean turkey and crunchy vegetables like bell pepper and celery, a little smoked cheese and avocado for flavor -- perfect for a hot summer night. "Farro is a whole grain. It's actually a type of wheat. You can find it in natural food stores or in well-stocked supermarkets," says Price. "It cooks pretty quickly."

To prepare, cook the farro for about 15 to 25 minutes. Rinse and drain. Then, whisk olive oil, vinegar, shallots and ground pepper in a large bowl. Add farro, turkey, cheese, bell pepper, celery, avocado and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss with dressing. Serve with a baby spinach salad.

Makes five servings of 1.5 cups each for $3.50 per serving.

Tortellini & Arugula Pasta Salad

- 1 medium clove garlic
- 5 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 2 divided tsps grated lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 9- to 10-oz package whole-wheat cheese tortellini
- 5 cups small broccoli florets

This is a simple combo of tortellini and broccoli, but what makes this dish special is a quick homemade arugula pesto that dresses it all up. Price likes to serve this with fresh sliced tomato drizzled with olive oil for added flavor and color balance.

See Also: 5 Dinner Recipes, One Bag of Groceries

To prepare, cook tortellini according to package directions. Then, in a food processor combine garlic, arugula, cheese, oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, lemon zest and salt until smooth. Drain about three-fourths of the hot pasta water over the broccoli florets to "flash cook" the broccoli, reserving a bit of liquid to pulse with the pesto to heat and smooth. Finally, transfer the tortellini and broccoli to a large bowl and toss. Serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tablespoons of pine nuts.

Makes six servings of 1 1/3 cups each for less than $3.50 per serving.


See Also: Healthy Fast-Food Meals for Less Than $5

Zesty Black Bean and Shrimp Salad
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced chipotle pepper in adobo
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 pound peeled cooked shrimp cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
- 1 cup quartered yellow or orange cherry tomatoes
- 1 large poblano pepper or bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

This salad is loaded with tomatoes, peppers and cilantro, seasoned with cumin and chile - all the flavors of a great fresh salsa. Price adds that you can't go wrong with shrimp in the heat of the summer. "Shrimp is a great summer protein because it's delicious cold," she says. "Think shrimp cocktail!"

To prepare, whisk liquids and spices in a large bowl. Add shrimp, beans, tomatoes, pepper, scallions and cilantro; toss to coat. Serve room temperature or cold. Price likes to serve with chips or fresh corn tortillas.

Makes four servings of about 1.5 cups each for less than $3.50 per serving.

See Also: Pitfalls of Extreme Couponing

What are some of your favorite summertime recipes or meals? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.

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