30 Days of Delicious Dinners, all Around $1 a Serving!
More and more I’m hearing phrases like, “I’m broke.”, “It’s just a bad time of the month for us.”, “Buying groceries is all I can afford to do.” I’ve been there folks, we’ve gone from six figures to unemployed & nearly homeless, back up to a comfortable living again. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to stretch a dollar. The easiest way to save $$ every single month is in the kitchen. (or for some of you simply staying in the kitchen and out of the restaurants would be a good start…you know who you are!)
Feeding a family of five on a budget can be hard! What’s even harder is serving up a dinner that actually tastes good that’s affordable! Or maybe your problem is your too tired after having to work all day to buy the groceries, so instead you call your favorite take out or delivery service. I get it, boy do I ever, I’ve been there, we all have! This is where I got the idea, the idea to share everything I’ve learned along the way the last 12 years, with you to save you time & money without sacrificing taste or quality. I’m calling it Fast, Frugal & Fabulous, Life on a Dime w/ the Playolgoist Mom!
I’ve searched the world wide web to find the best recipes, included a few of my personal tried and true favorites and I’m putting them to the test for you to see if they fit the bill, fast, frugal and fabulous! Enjoy and be sure to stay tuned for new meals! Maybe you’ll love them, maybe you won’t, but most importantly, I hope your inspired to save a few $$ each month by making just a few small changes in your menu! Then you’ll have more $$ to spend on the fun stuff in life!
Day 1 –
Tortellini with Ham and Peas
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 pound ham, chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook tortellini until just al dente (do not overcook), as package label directs. Add peas to pot for last 30 seconds of cooking time.
- Drain tortellini and peas and return to pot. Stir in butter, cream, salt, pepper, Parmesan and ham. Turn stove on to medium heat and cook, stirring, until ingredients are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately
Enjoy! We sure did! I served this dinner with a warm dinner roll and a side of cottage cheese.
Day 2 –
Penne with Chicken and Asparagus
Absolutely delicious! I savored every last bite! Knowing that it cost around $5 to make made it extra yummy!
Yield: 8 Servings Fast – Time – 20-30 min Frugal – Cost per dish – $5.90
- 1 (16 ounce) package dried penne pasta
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into cubes
- salt and pepper to taste
- garlic powder to taste
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bunch slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
- Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in chicken, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until chicken is cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to paper towels.
- Pour chicken broth into the skillet. Then stir in asparagus, garlic, and a pinch more garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover, and steam until the asparagus is just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet, and warm through.
- Stir chicken mixture into pasta, and mix well. Let sit about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, stir again, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
My taste bud’s begged for more! I served this one with a warm buttery dinner roll. Enjoy!
Day 3 –
Creamy Chicken Fajitas
Yield: 5 Servings 2 Fajitas for five people Fast – Time – 20-40 min Frugal – Cost per dish – $6.52
- 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon Italian salad dressing (I used Tastefully Simple Garlic Parmesan Sauce)
- 5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 7/8 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell’s® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
- 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Pace® Thick & Chunky Salsa
- 10 (8 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
- 3 to 1/4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 7/8 small avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional)
- Pour dressing into shallow nonmetallic dish. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade.
- Grill or broil chicken 15 minutes or until done, turning once.
- Mix soup and salsa in saucepan. Heat through.
- Slice chicken into thin strips and place down center of each tortilla. Top with onions, avocado and soup mixture. Fold tortilla around filling.
So except for omitting the avocado and using my Tastefully Simple Garlic Parmesan Sauce (that gave it a nice kick!) we followed the recipe to the letter and man oh man the kids were trying to eat it all out of the pan before I could put it into the tortilla shells! Served with a side of Seasoned Rice.
If you bought your chicken on sale, or raise your own, this dish would be even cheaper! As it stands this dish cost us $1.30 a serving, 2 fajitas each. Not to shabby!
Day 4 –
Zesty Taco Salad
Yield: 5 Servings Fast – Time – 5-10 min Frugal – Cost per dish – $3.92
- 1 tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 2 tbs. On the Border Mexican Grill Medium Salsa
- 1 head of lettuce
- 3 cups seasoned black beans
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- Add the first three ingredients to a small jar. Shake to combine.
- In a large salad bowl, toss together the remaining ingredients.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to cover evenly. Enjoy! (we didn’t bother with this)
This was AWESOME! I am still in shock I was able to throw this together in less than 10 minutes! What’s even better is this dish is only about .80 cents a serving! Now that’s my kinda dish! You could certainly add more to this, fresh tomatoes or onions, however, I ran with what I had and it turned out just fine! We served it up with a side of cottage cheese! (we do love our cottage cheese!)
Day 5 –
Parmesan Chicken Spaghetti w/ Spinach
Yield: 5 Servings Fast – Time – 20 min Frugal – Cost per dish – $4.60
- 1 lb. spaghetti noodles
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic (any “flavor” will do)
- 2 10 oz. boxes frozen spinach
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- Optional: Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, boil the spaghetti noodles as directed. Drain and let sit in colander while you prepare the sauce. Do not rinse.
- Meanwhile, cook the spinach as directed. Drain off the liquid, but don’t squeeze it dry.
- Return the warm Dutch oven or saucepan to the burner and add the diced tomatoes with their juices, the spinach and remaining liquid, and the cooked and shredded chicken. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Reintroduce the spaghetti noodles and toss well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.
Fast? Yes! Frugal? Oh ya! Just .92 cents a serving! Fabulous? Yes!! This was not only delicious, it was absolutely beautiful! I really enjoyed cooking it! My biggest change to the recipe was the spinach. 2 Boxes? No way. I used just half of one, I felt that was more than plenty! Served with a side of fresh from the garden salad, courtesy of our old neighbor, this was a lovely summer dish!
Day 6 –
Chili n Bisquick Bowls!
Yield: 5 Servings (2 bowls each) Fast – Time – 20 min Frugal – Cost per dish – $4.79
- 2 cups biscuit mix
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 (14 1/2-ounce) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- Toppings: sour cream
- Stir together first 3 ingredients. Turn dough out onto a surface sprinkled with biscuit mix. Shape into a ball, and knead 3 to 4 times. Divide into 10 portions.
- Invert 6 (6-ounce) custard cups several inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. (Or use an inverted muffin pan.) Coat outsides of cups with vegetable cooking spray. (we used olive oil spray and a muffin pan)
- Roll or pat each dough portion into a 6-inch circle. Place each on a custard cup; press into a bowl shape.
- Bake at 450° for 9 minutes. Cool slightly; remove biscuit bowls to a wire rack.
- Cook beef, onion, and bell pepper in a Dutch oven over medium heat until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and chili powder.
- Bring beef mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes. Spoon into biscuit bowls, and serve with desired toppings. Garnish, if desired.
So this dish is AWESOME! If you’d like a change from the boring old bowl of soup, this should do the trick! It’s super frugal too, at only .95 a serving, this one fits the bill! Depending on your preference of side dish, that can go up or down, I like a nice fresh salad with my Chili Bowls.