Budget Meals: 12 Ways to Use Lebanese Bread
Lebanese food is fantastic, and its also one of my favourite ways to save some cash. Kebabs, hummus and felafels are all fairly cheap to make but Lebanese bread is the best value for money item you can get. Lebanese bread is extremely versatile, is really cheap to buy and it is amazingly easy to make something good using it even when times are tough.
What is Lebanese bread and how much does it cost?
Lebanese bread is a flatbread typical of the bread baked in Lebanon. These days its available in most supermarkets as well at ethnic stores. It is flat and can be used as a base for pizza because each bread (called a loaf) is about the size of a dinner plate. Rather than use it whole you can also tear it in half, or pull the two layers apart. Each option gives you a different use and a different budget meal.
With the supermarkets selling it for around $3-$4 its really cheap but you can usually get it cheaper if you go to the Lebanese stores where its made fresh and sold for $1 a packet. And for that price you’re not getting just one loaf you’re actually getting 5-7 loaves. With a Lebanese pizza base or lunch wrap costing around 20c you really can’t go wrong when you’re looking for a budget meal.
I like to use Lebanese bread in many ways such as wraps at lunch, to use with dips as a snack and as a pizzas for an easy weeknight dinner. Because of its versatility Lebanese bread has many uses, which I’ll show you in today’s post.
12 budget meal ideas using Lebanese bread
One of the easiest meals to make for breakfast and that can be catered to just about any taste, is the breakfast wrap. Take your 20c Lebanese bread and apply any combination of foods you like and have at home already (thus meaning you don’t have to buy anything extra). Eggs are especially budget friendly when you consider a dozen eggs are about $5, making each egg around 40c each.
Some simple breakfast ideas for you to try are:
- Wrap scrambled eggs with avocado, tomato, cheese, spinach or other breakfast vegetables to make an easy breakfast burrito. Toast it to keep it warm and make the bread crunchy.
- Wrap boiled eggs with rocket, tomato, feta and olives for a breakfast wrap you can take on the road.
- Wrap fried eggs, smoked salmon, rocket, tomato, cheese and zaatar (oregano based herb mix from the Middle East) in Lebanese bread for a great brunch idea to keep you full for hours.
Fatteh is a Lebanese breakfast with chickpeas in a garlic and cumin yoghurt layered on top of crunchy pieces of Lebanese bread. Chickpeas are also a great budget option as they are very cheap to buy dried, about $4-$5 a kilo. Even if you dont want to soak and cook your own chickpeas a tin of precooked chickpeas are only about $1-$2. Chickpeas are also a great vegetarian source of protein so will keep you full for hours, again meaning its great bang for your buck.
Follow the recipe, or tweak it with cumin and cinnamon to your own tastes. I make mine by toasting the Lebanese bread rather than frying it (either in the oven or with my sandwich press) and I warm the yoghurt for 20-30 seconds in the microwave before adding it to the warm chickpeas (I use a can of chickpeas warmed in a pot of boiling water for 10 mins). Throw over toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of paprika to finish.
Like with breakfast, an easy lunch idea is to make a Lebanese bread wrap. If you use leftover meat from dinner the night before you can greatly reduce the cost of the wrap and still have a tasty and filling lunch. If you have a little bit of room in your budget you can buy one gourmet ingredient like smoked salmon or a beautiful brie and add that to make your lunch a little bit special (and save cash while you get good flavour).
Here’s a few ideas to try:
- Put leftover shredded roast chicken, avocado and cheese into a Lebanese wrap and toast it in a sandwich press.
- Make a mixed salad or just throw in whichever salad ingredients you like and wrap in the Lebanese bread.
- Grate carrot, zucchini, cheese and beetroot for a rainbow Lebanese bread wrap.
- Spread the Lebanese bread with your favourite dip, add lettuce and other salad items, then add on some sliced beef and cooked onions for a twist on the usual steak sandwich.
- Cut up felafels or other vegetable patties and roll in the Lebanese bread with salad and hummus or sweet chilli.
Pita pockets are smaller versions of Lebanese breads that you can stuff with your favourite lunch items. You can have them toasted for fresh, its really up to what you prefer. Cut the pita pocket in half and stuff if its a thick one, or tear a small hole along one side if its a thin one and then stuff.
Pita pockets might cost you a bit more at the supermarket, so you could just use a large loaf of Lebanese bread, cut it in quarters and open up the sides (being careful when stuffing because the sides aren’t as strong using this method). Alternatively you could pry apart the layers and wrap them around the food like a little parcel.
Here’s some ideas to try:
- Use any of the choices above in the lunch wraps section.
- Add smoked salmon, lettuce, tomato, capers, asparagus and cheese for something different.
- Make a Greek salad or Cesar salad and stuff the pita bread with this.
- Put ham, cheese and tomato in the middle and grill them in a sandwich maker for a twist on a toasted sandwich.
- Or try one of these 6 recipe ideas.
Lebanese Bread Pizza
For an easy weeknight dinner you can turn your Lebanese bread into a pizza in minutes. Just spread the Lebanese bread with tomato paste (or tomato pasta sauce) and then throw on your favourite toppings. By using ingredients you already have on hand you can reduce the cost of the pizza. Not to mention its already a lot cheaper than getting a takeaway pizza from Dominoes or Pizza Hut.
Here’s 5 suggestions for toppings and here’s another 25, but if you have no idea what to top the Lebanese bread with, just add a whole bunch of vegetables that you’ve precooked in a bit of pesto or some herbs. The pesto and herbs give a good flavour, the vegetables get soft (because they won’t get soft in the oven on a Lebanese pizza) and then you can add the cheese and you have a very simple yet really healthy meal.
If you have a pizza tray its best to put the Lebanese bread pizzas on them when you bake it in the oven. If you don’t have a pizza tray you can also put them straight on the oven shelves (carefully, and using tongs and a plate to help).
Remember too that you’ll need to precook the meat you need to add to the pizza. When you precook it though, only half cook the meat as it’ll finish cooking in the oven on top of the pizza. Ground mince is a great cheap option here, especially when combined with onions. This is also another great option for using up leftover meat (like roast chicken, roast beef, roast lamb, etc).
You can use pita chips just like you would with corn chips, crackers or mini toasts. Just cut the Lebanese bread into triangles and bake at a low heat in the oven for a few minutes (watch them or they’ll burn). For a variation on this you can spread them with oil and herbs or spices, like rosemary and garlic, mixed herbs or cumin seeds and sage. Remember that Lebanese bread is very cheap, and if you pry apart the layers you’ll get double the amount of pita chips. This is a much cheaper snack idea than buying a packet of Doritos (which will cost you $3-$5 instead of 20c a loaf of Lebanese bread!).
Fattoush is essentially a Lebanese bread salad, or a salad which uses Lebanese bread like croutons.
To make fattoush just toast the Lebanese bread in the oven on a low heat, or toast in a sandwich press. Either toast the whole loaf and break into croutons, or cut the Lebanese bread into smaller pieces and then bake/toast them.
A simple Fattoush salad usually consists of cos lettuce, tomato, capsicum, cucumber and the Lebanese bread croutons. The dressing is usually olive oil, lemon juice and some mint/parsley, so it doesn’t contain expensive ingredients and won’t break the bank. Try this recipe and see for yourself how cheap it is to make croutons with Lebanese bread.
Now that I’ve told you the simple ways I turn Lebanese into easy breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas, its your turn to tell me how you use it. Do you like a good Lebanese bread pizza on a weekday night? Are Lebanese wraps your standby work lunch? Do you have any other brilliant budget friendly meal ideas to add to this list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@SpicedAnecdotes).
Till next time.