Eating cheap is easy. Given $10 to buy ingredients for a meal for four, even the most hopeless home cook could whip up grilled cheese and tomato soup or a simple spaghetti-and-meatballs combo.
But putting together a gourmet dinner for under $10 is more challenging. So we asked food and finance bloggers, as well as home cooks, to send in their best suggestions. (We’ve shared them below with recipe details, or, where available, linked to their blogs.)
Now Frugal Foodie has a challenge you: what’s your best super-cheap yet gourmet meal? Post it in the comments, and don’t forget to “like” your favorite submissions.
(All cost estimates are based on non-sale New York City supermarket prices. If it’s a cheap meal inNYC, we figure cooks in most other places in the country will spend even less. Prices are also adjusted for quantity: if a recipe calls for half an onion, you’ll probably find something to do with the other half. Finally, estimates don’t take into account basic ingredients you likely already have, like flour, olive oil or dried spices.)
One Pan Chicken and Rice
by Hilary Allard of Sliced and Diced
Cost: $5.73, or $1.43 per serving.
Allard’s sauté uses one pot and is finished in the oven, minimizing dishes as well as cost. Even better, cooks can swap out Mexican flavors (black beans, cumin, scallions and tomatoes with green chilies) for Indian and Mediterranean variations without affecting their bottom line.
Caramelized Cauliflower Fritatta
by Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious
Cost: $7.08, or $1.77 per serving
Fresh herbs give Natkin’s frittata zing, but can make a big dent in the budget if you’re not already growing your own. (Those who are would pay just $5.59, or $1.40 per serving, and be able to include as many types of fresh herbs as Natkin suggests instead of using just a $1.49 bunch of parsley, as we calculated.)
Monday Spinach Rice Medley
by Katie Clark and Telly Kousakis of More Dough Than Dollars
Cost: $7.15, or $1.79 per serving
Inspired by a kitchen cleanout project, Clark’s meatless dish could easily be upgraded for a few dollars more by adding cooked, sliced sausage (her suggeston).
Strawberry Chicken Salad
by Frugal Foodie of Mint.com
Cost: $8.49, or $2.12 per serving
Marinate a pound of chicken in a little olive oil, lemon juice and ground black pepper. Grill until cooked through, slice and set aside to cool. Tear up a head of romaine, and top with the chicken, sliced strawberries and a slices avocado. For a dressing, puree some of the remaining strawberries with a splash of balsamic vinegar (or alternately, a splash of olive oil and lemon juice) and some black pepper.
by Nina Hoffman of RecipeLion.com
Cost: $8.95, or $2.24 per serving
Go ahead and buy a bottle of wine to add the optional two tablespoons in this slow cooker meal. You’re saving enough cash to justify the splurge.
Classic Turkey Chili
Maris Callahan of In Good Taste
Cost: $8.96, or $2.24 per serving.
Another great one-pot meal, Callahan’s chili could also be prepared in a slow cooker for a super-easy weekday dinner. Prepare it to your taste with different veggies and spices.
by Julie Arnheim of Rubbing Nickels
Cost: $9.58, or $2.40 per serving.
Ground turkey, polenta and fresh herbs are the most expensive ingredients in this take on shepherd’s pie, but you can economize further by preparing your own polenta (saves $2).
Cuban Shredded Beef
by Art Ginsberg of MrFood.com
Cost: $9.60, or $2.40 per serving
Shred this slow-cooked beef dish before serving it over rice or on a roll. (Frugal Foodie’s mom makes a version of this that subs out the green bell pepper for a few sliced white mushrooms.)
Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps & Srirachi Peanut Sauce
Renae Simeon of $10 Buck Dinners
Cost: $9.82, or $2.46 per serving.
The key to this kicky dish: a spicy Asian-style marinade. Substitute peanuts for the pine nuts, or eliminate the nuts altogether to cut $3 from the bill.
Taco Salad Bar
Jenetta Lea Penner of Frugal Freebies and Deals
Cost: $9.98, or $2.50 per serving
A family friendly taco bar can easily come in at less than $10, especially if you’re shopping the sales for ingredients, Penner says. Her picks for this version: ground beef (browned at home in your choice of spices), a tomato (chopped), cheddar (bought in block form and grated), a head of lettuce (torn), a can of black beans (drained and warmed) and a jar of salsa. It’s enough that you’ll probably have leftovers, too.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.
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