Prepare $5 Farmers Market Meals with This Free Cookbook

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natural gourmet institute soba noodle
This soba salad can be served hot or cold. Photo courtesy of Natural Gourmet Institute.

We’re big believers that eating locally, seasonally and healthfully doesn’t have to break the bank, and this new Natural Gourmet Institute cookbook — aptly titled $5 Dinners — proves it. 

The intro to the PDF recipe compilation insists that “each of these recipes costs five dollars or less per serving, proving the same [amount] that can be spent on a fast food meal can pay for a delicious, balanced and satisfying home cooked dinner.” Don’t expect just any ol’ stir fry though — they’re serving up meals like poached chicken tacos with charred corn salsa and skillet barley with broccoli, tomatoes and feta. And these fancy-seeming names shouldn’t intimidate you; as long as you feel comfortable chopping, boiling, sautéing, roasting and wielding a grill pan along with other basic kitchen tools, you should have no issue with any of these recipes.   

To download your free digital copy, sign up for Natural Gourmet Institutes newsletter here. NGI instructor Kayleen St. John MS, RD oversaw the nutrition, marketing, dietetic interns from NGI, Bronx VA and NYU who wrote the recipes. There are vegan and gluten-free options, and pretty much every recipe is easily altered to meet any dietary preference. 

As a preview, we’ve shared their cold soba noodle salad (that can be made warm as the weather cools) below. And if you’re craving even more cheap and healthy recipes, check out IACP award-winning Good and Cheap by NYU food studies grad student Leanne Brown. It’s geared to the $4/day food stamp budget and is available for free download here.

Cold sesame-avocado soba noodle salad

“Soba” literally translates to buckwheat in Japanese. In Japan, soba is traditionally served either cold or hot with a hearty broth, but as a noodle, soba is versatile enough to be topped with a sauce or tossed in a salad like this one.

Aside from the great taste, soba noodles are a good source of fiber and high quality protein, and are rich in minerals like phosphorous, iron and potassium. Together, tahini and avocado provide excellent doses of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.


Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup tahini
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
10 ounces dry soba noodles
½ pound Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 avocado, cubed
¼ head purple cabbage, shredded
½ bunch cilantro, stemmed
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, water, sesame oil, shoyu, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook soba noodles according to the package directions until al dente, then immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to chill. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, carrots, avocado and cabbage with half of dressing. Add cold noodles and remaining dressing and toss salad together.
  4. Serve salad garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds.
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