I'm new to all of this (including cooking) but I discovered 1 pot cooking and I love it. I recommend cooking bean dishes. Beans are a great meat substitute (I think) for vegetarians and make a tremendous main course as well as side dish. Also learn to cook rice from scratch. I find you can't do better for a lot of things than the 99 cents only stores, but shop what you have available. Here's a fun, cheap hypoallergenic dish (for me) that I loved - cheap enough to buy bulk quantities to make enough to feed an army - this just feeds a few people:
1 pound bag red beans
1 pound bag garbanzo beans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can corn
a little olive oil
a little Smart Beat margarin
1 very large avocado
1 very large roma tomato
a little juice from fresh lemon
I only used about 1/3 of the garbanzo beans (my leftovers), and cooked them the quick soak method the day before. For the red beans - I used the overnight soak method, added 8 cups water to them and boiled for about 1 hour (add salt and stir regularly). After about 1 hour all the water was evaported / absorbed. As the beans began to stick a little to the bottom of the pot, I added some Olive Oil and Smart Beat Margarin to "clean" the pot, and "saute" the beans until it was all soaked up. I then added the tomatoes and let that simmer for a few minutes, then the corn, and finally the leftover garbanzos. Overall cooking of the bean dish is 90 minutes. Then, just let everything sit in the pot and continue to soak up flavor.
Guacamole - Mash up the avocado and tomato, add salt, a little yoghurt and lemon juice to taste and to make it smoothe.
I'm allergic to garlic, onions, jalopeno chiles, pepper, and shredded cheddar mexican style cheese but adding these to taste will make all this really good.
Use the bean mixture alone as a healthy side dish or to make Breakfast Burritos with some scrambled eggs in a wrap / soft tortilla, soft tacos, nachos, etc.
my own experimenting on a $7.00 maximum a day food budget