Fast & Frugal Dinner: Main Dish Nachos

My confession for the day: I used to watch Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals almost daily when my kiddos were younger and still took naps. I loved that show. Every once in awhile, she'd put together a meal that she called "takeout at home" - or something along those lines. Anyway, the premise is making restaurant favorites in your own kitchen, thereby saving money and retaining control over the ingredients you put into the dish. My "go-to" dish (another nod to Rach there) that fits this bill is Nachos. This is one super easy, pretty cheap meal that's way healthier than the eat-out variety.

What You'll Need

1 9 ounce bag multigrain tortilla chips (My local store makes a brand of these out of white corn, oats, and barley that has five (yes, five!) grams of fiber per serving; they are knockout good.)
1/4 - 1/2 lb ground meat (turkey, lean beef, chicken all work for this)
1 onion, chopped
chili powder
garlic powder
ground cumin
black pepper to taste
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
a good handful or two of cherry or grape tomatoes - halved or quartered
a handful of frozen or drained, canned corn (if desired)
shredded cheese - about 1 1/2 cups (more or less to taste, any variety - including reduced fat. A money saving tip: buy the block form and shred yourself at home.)

To Make

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add meat to a skillet. Add seasonings to meat. I usually add around 2 generous teaspoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, a hearty sprinkle each of garlic powder and pepper. I usually do not add any salt; between the chips and beans, I find it doesn't really need any. Fry up the meat in a skillet until no longer brown.

In a baking dish, make a thin layer of the chips; top with half the meat, cheese, tomatoes, beans, and corn. Repeat layers. Pop it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce. Enjoy!

This is a basic recipe that you can defnitely customize to your family's preferences. Make it completely meatless by using just beans and upping the veggies you put on top of the chips. Swap out green peppers for the corn. Add a clove of chopped fresh garlic to the meat instead of the powder. Add in a chopped jalapeno pepper for some extra kick. Whatever suits your family, go for it!

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