You read that right! Following are 3 meals to serve 6 that cost UNDER (or right around) FIVE BUCKS! (Cost is estimated based on what I pay here in the Pacific Northwest. Your prices may vary.)
These are complete meals that are inexpensive and easy to prepare, and they’re also super versatile so you can use whatever you have on hand. Not only are these meals all around $5, they’re kid-friendly!
3 Super Cheap Meals That Cost Under $5!
Meal 1: Thai Red Curry
What I like so much about curries is that you can throw a bunch of leftover veggies that are starting to turn into a pot, add some spices and a can of coconut milk, and 15 minutes later you have a dish so full of flavor that your insides will burst with happiness. Yes, I love curry just that much.
1 onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
oil of choice
2 carrots, sliced thin
1 small to medium zucchini, sliced thin
handful greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
1 bell pepper
1 Tbsp red curry paste*
14 oz can full fat coconut milk
Optional: leftover cooked chicken, pork, or shrimp
*Found in the international section of your grocer, small jars of the cheap stuff run about $1. If you can splurge on the better stuff do it, but don’t feel bad if you get the cheap stuff. If you can’t find it you can make a substitute or just use curry powder.
In a large, deep skillet saute the onions in oil for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the curry paste and mix into the onions and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the vegetables and mix so they get coated with the curry paste, cook for about 10 minutes. If you’re adding meat do so here. Add the coconut milk and stir, bring to a soft boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice.
Meal 2: Veggie Fried Rice
It sounds unhealthy but in reality fried rice is packed with protein and veggies, and it’s another awesome way to repurpose leftovers into a new meal. I’ve made this dish with bacon, sausage, no meat, frozen veggies, leftover veggies, leafy greens, root veggies….any meat and any veggie will work, really. This is also another great way to clear out your vegetable drawer.
4 cups cooked and cooled rice
frozen veggie mix (or any leftover veggies, fresh or frozen)
soy sauce (to taste, start with 2 Tbsp)
spices: salt, pepper, ginger, cumin, chili powder (all to taste)
optional: any leftover meat, cooked and cooled
oil of choice
In a wok or large skillet saute the veggies until cooked through. Add the rice 1 cup at a time and mix well. Add the soy sauce and spices, mix well. Push everything to one side of the wok and crack the eggs into the empty space and scramble. Mix the eggs into the rice. If you’re adding meat throw that in now. Mix everything together and cook until the rice is warm. Serve with copious amounts of sriracha.
TIP: You can substitute noodles for the rice if you happen to have some extra. Work with what you have!
Meal 3: Baked Ziti
Baked pasta is pretty much the way we got through 2008, really. My poor kids were subjected to so much pasta that they pretty much refuse to eat it now, ha ha. Pasta is a cheap, filling food, the meat is optional but will add some protein, the pasta sauce adds a serving of veggies, and the cheese adds deliciousness.
1 box ziti (or any pasta on sale)
1/2 lb ground meat (whatever is on sale, sausage is my favorite)
2 cups shredded cheese of choice
1 jar pasta sauce of choice
Cook pasta according to package, drain and rinse in cold water. Brown the meat in a skillet, drain. In a large bowl mix the pasta, meat, 3/4 of the cheese, and the pasta sauce. Pour everything in a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Pull it out, top with remaining cheese, cook 5 more minutes.