How I Make One Meal Last for Four: Homestyle Fajitas

When you hear the sizzling griddle approach your table in the restaurant, it’s almost impossible to stop your mouth from watering.  It means your delicious plate of fajitas – tender grilled meat, carmelized onions, fresh salsa – is but a few minutes away.

But lately, I’ve taken to making fajitas at home on the weekends, as the list of ingredients translates so well into other meals and reheatable lunches that it seriously cuts down on our weekly food bill while also keeping me (currently on a low-carb kick) and the hubby (who’s never dieted a day in his life) happy. Generally, this one meal will translate into four for us: one dinner, one breakfast, and two lunches, or eight total servings.

Here’s what the shopping list looks like: (Click “continue reading” to see more.)

  • Pre-marinated* skirt steak fajitas (2 lbs)
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • 1 pack sliced mushrooms
  • Small Velveeta (16 oz) package
  • 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chiles, to you Northerners)
  • 1 packet Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice – Spanish style
  • 1 can black beans (regular or refried – either works)
  • 1 10-count package of tortillas, freshly made if possible
  • 1/2 dozen Eggs
  • Lettuce/Salad Mix
  • Tomato
  • Salsa
  • Ranch Dressing (optional)

*If you can’t find pre-marinated, then just get 2 lbs skirt or flank steak, rub it in olive oil, and apply a dry rub mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, minced onion, and garlic powder, and let marinate for at least 4 hours.

The above ingredients will run you about $30, depending on your grocery store, and divided across eight servings, that translates to $3.75 per serving – pretty good in my book!

When it comes time to get cooking, you start with your main fajita feast. The meat goes on the grill, then sliced in thin strips against the grain. The Velveeta and Rotel get combined, microwaved, stirred, microwaved, stirred, and finally served, forming queso dip. The onions, peppers, and mushrooms, all thinly sliced, get sauteed in a hot pan with a couple tablespoons of butter, and stirred often, until tender and carmelized. The tortillas are heated over the grill, just until they puff up, and then–if you’ve done it right–all the elements will come together at just about the same time and your fajita feast will be ready.

But, if you’re like me and only cooking for two – you’re not going to eat two full pounds of steak.  The real magic comes in what you do next.

Burrito bowls times two - an easy reheatable weekday lunch from our weekend fajita feast.

Burrito bowls times two – an easy reheatable weekday lunch from our weekend fajita feast.

First, put your instant rice in the microwave, and heat up the black beans as well. Split the rice between two tupperware containers, and add about 1/3 of the beans to each container.  Next, add a scoop of queso and about 1/4 of your leftover meat in each dish.  Top with as much salsa as you like, and boom – you’ve got burrito bowls for lunch, just heat and serve.

The rest of the meat gets packaged up in to two Ziploc bags, with the remaining sauteed vegetables and beans, and about 1-2 tablespoons each of salsa. Then, in two more tupperware containers, fill with your salad mix, and your tomato, diced. Place the ziploc on top of the lettuce, so it’s easy to reheat seperately, and you’ve got a tasty Southwest Steak Salad, again for lunch. (I like to add a little bit of Ranch dressing to mine as well – but my hubby likes it with just the salsa, so it’s really up to you!)

Finally, package up your remaining tortillas and queso.  The next day, cook up eggs in whatever style you like (we usually do sunny side up), and top with queso.  Eat them with your remaining tortillas for quick and easy breakfast tacos.

So – if you’re keeping track, that’s four meals for two people, or eight total meals, all made with the same set of ingredients, and for less than half the cost of what a similar meal would run you at a place like Chipotle. Can’t beat that – all hail the conquering hero meal: fajitas!

Header image photo credit: Flickr user stevendepolo under a Creative Commons license.

Whitney