Visit a restaurant or bar on Cinco de Mayo, and you’re bound to find plenty of $5 margaritas, $10 taco platters and other specials.
Those deal aren’t bad — but you can go equally festive and cheap (maybe cheaper) cooking at home. (For some inexpensive margarita and sangria recipes worth experimenting with, click here.)
We asked chefs, bloggers and other experts for their best cheap, celebration-worthy Cinco de Mayo recipes. Here are 9 to try:
Queso Mexicano with Chipotle-Honey Sauce
In this recipe from the National Honey Board, honey and other spices make a flavorful dipping sauce for Mexican cheese cubes.
Adding celery to the mix stretches out the more expensive ingredients. Plus, it tastes better, says creator Lora Krulak, author of Veggies for Carnivores.
“The celery adds its natural salt and, combined with the lime, adds a depth and a spark to the avocado that is really spectacular,” she says.
To make it, mash one finely diced jalapeno (stem and seeds discarded) and a pinch of crushed red pepper in a bowl with the juice of one or two limes. Cut three avocados in half and squeeze out into the bowl, mixing well.
Add in four chopped stalks of celery, a chopped bunch of cilantro, a teaspoon maple syrup, one chopped bell pepper and a dash of shoyu or soy sauce. “Keep at least one or two of the pits in the bowl while mixing to keep the gorgeous vibrant green color,” she says.
Crock Pot Pollo Pibil
Orange juice gives this shredded chicken, from Kristen McCaffrey of “Slender Kitchen,” a tangy flavor, while cheaper chicken thighs cut the cost.
“Forget the typical, boring and sugar-loaded margaritas,” says a spokeswoman for Coffee-mate. This traditional drink is cheap to make, unique — and tasty.
Combine four cups hot water, one cup rinsed and drained white rice and two cinnamon sticks in large bowl; cool. Cover; refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Remove cinnamon sticks. Spoon rice into food processor or blender, reserving the soaking liquid.
Cover rice mixture and process on high for three to four minutes. Add reserved soaking liquid and one cup sugar; process for two minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher, pressing the rice solids until only a dry paste remains.
Discard paste. Stir in one cup Coffee-mate Natural Bliss Low-fat Vanilla and, if desired, four ounces spiced rum. Serve over ice, sprinkled with cinnamon.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos
Jalapenos, cream cheese and bacon combine for a quick and easy appetizer, from Marcia Kellogg of “Cooking and the Career Girl.”
Black Bean Salad
Not only are beans a super food, but they are also super cheap. Maria Zoitas, creator of “Maria’s Homemade” line at Westside Market NYC, makes a party-worthy salad using them.
To prepare mix together two cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed, with two diced avocados and two diced plum tomatoes. Add two tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, one diced medium red onion and five ounces Italian dressing and toss. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Rajas con Queso
McCaffrey’s combo of poblano peppers, onions, cheese and corn is easy and cheap to pull together.
Don’t buy jarred dip. Kristl Story, chief executive of TheBudgetDiet.com, makes her own using a pound of white American cheese, one four-ounce can each of diced green chiles and jalapenos, and one cup milk.
Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted. “Use the white American cheese from the deli,” she says. “It has a different taste and consistency from the prepackaged kind.”
Too spicy? Nix the jalapenos.
Watermelon Agua Fresca
The sweetness of watermelon means you won’t need to add any sugar to this refreshing summer drink.
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.