Skip the Dollar Menu and Eat at Home for a Few Bucks

September 28, 2014

If your idea of a cheap dinner is a few items from the Dollar Menu of your local McDonald’s, it is time to start enjoying dinners at home. Although some foods – especially meat – can be pricey, you can easily create many home-cooked meals for just a few dollars a serving. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Veggie Chili

With cooler weather on the way, chili is the perfect meal for a chilly night. And it is inexpensive too, at just $ 1.25 a serving. Here is what you need:

  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (3.625-oz.) package chili seasoning kit
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn

Start by sautéing the onion and carrots in hot oil for 7 minutes in a Dutch oven. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes and add cheese, sour cream or other toppings.

Fajita-Style QuesadillasFood 1

Spice up your night with this Mexican delight. This recipe is super affordable, at only 43 cents per serving.


  • ½ medium red or green sweet pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size strips
  • ½ medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, halved, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 6-inch white corn tortillas
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese(2 ounces)
  • 2 thin slices tomato, halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro

Cook the onion and peppers in a large skillet for about 5 minutes. Use the cooking spray on one side of the tortilla. On the uncoated side, add half of the cheese. Top with cilantro, onion, tomato and the rest of the cheese. Top with a tortilla, coated side up. Heat quesadillas on a large skillet for 4-5 minutes per side, then cut and add toppings, if desired.

Crispy Fish

If you are craving seafood, you can have your fish and eat it too for under $ 3 a serving. Here is what you need:

  • 1 pound fish fillets. (This recipe works best with small fillets such as grouper, catfish or tilapia.)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix the egg, buttermilk and seasoning. Place flour in a separate bowl. Dip the fish in the buttermilk and then the flour. Add the oil to a large skillet and add the fish, cooking for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the fish and pat dry with paper towels.

Dinner SaladFood 2

If you are looking for something light, a dinner salad might be a good choice. This one has no lettuce but is versatile in that you can use chicken tenders or fish as the meat option. Slice up some cucumbers and tomatoes and arrange them on the plate. You can also add pitted green olives and feta cheese. Next, drizzle your dressing of choice over the salad. For a yummy and healthy vinaigrette, combine ¼ cup cider or white wine vinegar, 4 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. each thyme and sugar and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.


Featured Image Credit, Image 1 Credit, Image 2 Credit

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