Inexpensive Dinner Menus

I mentioned in my last post that I make 3-4 dinners per 10 day period. I know several people who are in the battle with me in tweaking their grocery budgets, so I figured I would post a few dishes that last at least 2 meals for two adults and that really aren't very pricey.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Italian-style Ground Turkey - about $7.50* and serves 8

1 box whole wheat pasta - $1.30-$1.50
1 jar pasta sauce - $1.00-$2.00
1 1.3lb package Italian seasoned lean ground turkey - $3.00
1 can petite diced tomatoes - $0.75

In medium-large saucepan, cook whole wheat pasta. Drain and place in 9x13 casserole dish. Add pasta sauce and tomatoes, making sure to drain tomatoes very, very well. Cook turkey, making sure to break it into little chunks as it cooks. This is easier to do while it cooks rather than once it is mostly done. Drain well, but do not rinse as this will wash off the seasoning. Add to casserole dish. Mix well. Cover with foil and refrigerate. You could bake this dish, but it isn't necessary. I just cut out the appropriate servings and microwave before eating.

I usually try to serve this with a side salad or fruit. This time of year, fresh greens can be expensive, so it might be more cost-efficient to cut up an apple or two to serve with it instead.

*This can be less expensive if you shop for the sale items. I have found that the pasta I buy - Kroger brand whole wheat - is rarely on sale, but it generally isn't too pricey. Don't waste your money on Barilla or Heartland - it's the same stuff. I usually buy large can of Hunts pasta sauce unless the Kroger brand is on sale. Ground turkey can get pricey, but if it is on sale, go for it. If it isn't, you could use chicken or add a diced onion or another can of tomatoes. As listed, the servings cost less than $1 each, but you could get that even lower if you follow these guidelines.

Veggie Chili - about $10.00 if items aren't on sale - serves 8-10

1 can chicken or beef stock - $1.00
2 cans chili hot beans - $1.60
2 cans black beans - $1.60
1 can petite diced tomatoes - $0.75
1 1lb bag frozen, chopped broccoli - $1.00-$2.00
1 1lb bag frozen mixed peppers - $1.00-$2.00
1T lemon juice - $0.50
garlic salt, to taste*
1T chili powder or to taste*
hot pepper sauce (optional)*

In large saucepan, add chicken stock, chili hot beans (do not drain!), black beans (mostly drained), tomatoes (mostly drained), broccoli, peppers, 1T lemon juice, 1T chili powder and garlic salt. Cook until evenly heated, stirring frequently. Serve with hot pepper sauce on top. If desired, add sour cream and cheese, but this will increase the price/serving (obviously!).

This chili freezes well. I sometimes put two servings into gladware containers and put them in the freezer and I'll pull them out as necessary through the week.

*This recipe assumes you have some of these ingredients on hand. The above spices are things I almost always have on hand.


The Crowley's said...

Another tip for saving $$: we make our own pasta sauce in a huge pot and then divide it up into dinner servings and either freeze it or can it. It's super easy to make, tastes better than store bought, and it's cheaper ;)

Rebekah said...

Tammy - Thanks for the tip! I have definitely made my own pasta sauce before, but not 100% from scratch. I usually just get canned tomato sauce and add a little Italian seasoning and garlic salt and I'm good to go. But, that way, it is sometimes cheaper to just buy the pre-canned sauce. Do you all start from fresh tomatoes? How does this work?

The Crowley's said...

I will send you our recipe on Facebook when I get a chance!