Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A week of dinners for 5 for under FIFTY BUCKS!

I simply do NOT have the energy to list out the entire cost of each dinner.  I'll try to showcase the items that I can remember, but much of what we are having this week is from the freezer last week (and perhaps the week before).

I scored BIG-TIME at Kroger this week with these simple meal bags.  It's an Italian dish with shrimp, asparagus, peppers, linguini, and a scampi like sauce.  Nutritionally- I'm sure it's high in fat, but I love that we get to sneak in some asparagus in our diet.  I know my girls will LOVE it- simply, because it has shrimp in it.  Yum.

Pre-Prepped meal bag (normally cost $8.98 each)  $4.88 this week.  I bought two bags, making dinner number ONE a whopping $9.76.  It will feed all 5 of us, meaning that per person, each meal cost less than $2 each.

In our freezer we have another bag of the pre-cooked grilled chicken.  I've decided to make a simple

Chicken, Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese Casserole
Grilled Chicken ($3.50)
Rice (pennies)
Broccoli (Trader Joe's Organic less than $2)
Cheese ($1.99)

Total cost for this meal: $7.49.  Per person cost $1.49

Salmon, Sweet Potatos, and Green Beans
Salmon (about $5 because I'm certain I found it on sale)
Sweet Potatoes ($1.68 from Trader Joes)
Green Beans ($1.50 at the most)

Total cost for this meal: $8.18.  Per person meal price: $1.63
I cook the salmon in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, garlic powder, a bit of paprika, salt, and pepper.
I also use olive oil to boil the green beans in (us country folk typically like to use bacon grease- but I don't)
And- yummy of all yummies, I bake the sweet potatoes in the oven for about an hour, sitting them atop an open cookie sheet.  After they are all soft on the inside, I mush them up with a little butter, honey,  and cinnamon and re-bake them for an additional 15 minutes.
Another favorite place to shop is Trader Joes.  They have pre-bagged frozen veggies for a great price, and fresh fruits and veggies, organic and not, for an even better price.  I always spend less there on fruits, veggies, and snack items.

Texas Road House Tuesdays

There are some days that I would just rather have a meal outside of the house rather than deal with the cooking and cleaning that is associated with eating at home.  I love Texas Roadhouse, as does the rest of the family.  On Tuesdays they have a Kids Night, and on this night- they kids eat for $0.99 (including their drink!)
We went last week, and my husband and I shared one of their monstrous hamburgers and fries.  Can you believe that our total bill was only $12.75 (and that included the extra $0.79 cost for getting a sweet potato with my 6 year old's meal, and a sweet tea for my husband).  Potentially- it could have only cost $9.96.   We left a 40%  tip (it's not the waitresses fault that our meal was so cheap), making our meal that Tuesday cost $17.75.  Can you believe that we even had left overs to bring home (Texas Roadhouse doesn't mess around on their kids meals!)  Total meal cost for a night out- at a steak house- per person $3.55

We were still able to eat (somewhat?) healthy.  Having sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes instead of the deep fried french fries, and choosing the grilled hamburgers over the hoped-for Kraft Mac 'N Cheese allowed the girls to bypass the processed-food-dyed options.  They got treated to chocolate milk, and the baby ate the Chicken Fingers (real chicken breast) instead of the burger meal.  All-In-All, MUCH better than McDonald's on cost, taste, and nutritional content.

Chicken Spaghetti
The name says it all- but I'll break down what I do.

After heating a pan lightly coated with olive oil, I put in the chicken, and season with my favorite Italian flavors.  Garlic Powder, onion, pepper, oregeno, basil, and salt.  After the chicken is mostly cooked, I put in a can of tomatoes, and then a jar of Spaghetti Sauce.  All that simmers while I boil the pasta- which I try to make sure is organic, and whole wheat.  Breaking it down to a guess, the pasta is usually only $1.50, the chicken maybe $3, and the sauce no more than $2.  One of the cheapest of the dinner options but also one of the favorites for the girls.

Chinese Chicken

Going back to the Trader Joes options- they have one of the YUMMIEST pre-bagged meals I've ever had.  Mandarin Chicken!  Oh YUM.  IT's a bit pricey at $6 per bag, but I get creative, and add in broccoli and whatever other veggies I happen to have in the freezer that may go with this.  I boil some rice, and toss it all together.  It's possible this meal ends up costing around $10 depending on how many veggies I use, but it's WAY less expensive than Little Peking, and honestly, just as good.

So? The total for this weeks dinner? (not including the night out) Less Than $50.

The breakfast totals are around $10 and then $10 for lunch.

I spent $80 at the grocery store this week- some items on this weeks menu were already in the freezer- so in my grocery shopping budget I also purchased laundry detergent (Purex for $2.50) and a few other essentials (Dove Ice Cream for $1.50).

I have more meals planned for next week (using what I already have at home) and will hopefully discover a way to send my husband out the door with breakfast AND lunch so we can save even more by avoiding the high cost (financially and nutritionally) of him eating fast food.


  1. I'm loving these food posts! Definitely going to try that chicken spaghetti recipe. Which Trader Joe's do you shop at? I frequent Whole Foods Market, but I've never been to Trader Joe's.

  2. Trader Joes in Roswell. Once you go there- you'll be IN LOVE with how awesome it is. Way. WAY. Waaaaaaaay less expensive than Whole Foods. (Though not as big!) www.traderjoes.com