To give credit where it is due, this post was my husband's idea, and I think it's a great one. Dust off your aprons, because now that everyone's wallet is thinning, it's time to get resourceful. I'm all about eating well (often very well) but there are times when economics dictates that I need to be frugal. I think most of us are at or approaching that point now. My challenge to you is this:
YOU HAVE FIVE DOLLARS. MAKE DINNER FOR FOUR.
Of course, we have outlined some rules and parameters as follows:
- The entire meal (not including beverages) must cost $5 or less. No breaking down individual serving costs, either. If you have to buy an entire bunch of celery just to use one stalk, the full purchase price counts. We're pretending that we literally have a five dollar bill, and have to make a meal with it.
- The meal must serve four average adults. Not football players or supermodels, just average folks. If you'll have leftovers, even better.
- The meal must contain protein, carbohydrates and vegetables in some form.
- Takeout, fast food and frozen dinners are not allowed. You have to cook. We had a frozen pizza for dinner last week that cost five bucks, but it DOESN'T COUNT (mmm...it was good, though).
- Prepared and semi-prepared foods are allowed, but they cannot be served solo. They must be incorporated into a larger dish. For example, you can use a can of cream of mushroom soup in a casserole, but you can't crack open that can of soup, add milk and call it dinner.
- Because we all always have something lurking in our kitchens no matter how bare they are, I'm allowing two "free" items for each recipe that won't count against your budget. Your free items should be things you'd use in fairly small quantities and are likely to have around anyway - the odd can of creamed corn, some dried parsley, an onion...you get the idea. They should not be the primary ingredient in your dish, and they should not be exotic (no foie gras or shitake mushrooms). I have laying hens, so an egg in a recipe might be one of my free items, or vinegar, because I keep that around all the time.
- I'm going to assume that everyone has salt, pepper and oil, so those are free no matter what.