Dinner Ideas That Don’t Cost Much

There is no reason that you can’t make a tasty dinner on a dollar. There are plenty of ways to save money when it comes to making delicious dinners. The trick is to have basic pantry items on hand, and also to plan out what you might have. Or, you might keep a small list of foods that are fast and easy to prepare. Here are some ideas that can help you add a little pizzazz to your dinner, without breaking the bank.

Investing in a crock-pot is always a good idea. They are relatively inexpensive (especially if you look at a thrift store or a yard sale), and they make preparation very easy. There are a variety of crock-pot recipes available, and one of my favorites is what I call “My Crock-pot Chicken.” I toss in the requisite number of chicken breasts (or thighs, or drumsticks) and add a can of chicken broth and a can of cream of mushroom soup (both cheap, and even cheaper because I buy five or six cans of each when they are on sale). Then sprinkle some tasty spices (I like oregano, time, and sage) and add half an onion. I let it cook on low for four or five hours (more if you have more chicken, of course) and viola! A delicious, home cooked meal. It can be served with fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, and with inexpensive egg noodles or minute rice.

“Fun” ideas for stretching out your mac and cheese include putting in “add-ins.” Interestingly enough, eggs taste pretty good when scrambled and added to your mac and cheese. This adds more to the package as well, allowing you to extend the meal to do for lunch the next day. Hot dogs also have the same effect. But beware! Though this is a fun way to stretch your dinner money, it is probably not best to have too often, as mac and cheese is notoriously unhealthy when it comes from a box. But the great thing about add-ins is that they add extra flavor, so you can spring for the generic box (much cheaper than the name brand) and your kids won’t know the difference.

Make a pasta salad using Ramen noodles. This can be the main course or as a cheap filler that allows you to use less meat for the entr�©e. Get rid of the flavor packet and cook the noodles as directed. Drain them and then rinse them. Add mayonnaise, pepper, and salt to taste, mixing it all together well. Drain a can of tuna and add that to the mix (or even canned chicken). If you want to add vegetables to your salad, add a bag of frozen vegetables to the noodles while you are cooking them.

Another tasty idea is the cheater’s way to a carbonara dinner. All you need is spaghetti, two egg yolks, Ã?¼ cup milk, bacon bits or strips (chopped and cooked til crisp), and half an onion (chopped and sautÃ?©ed til golden). If you want to add mushrooms, toss them in while cooking the onion. After cooking and draining the spaghetti, mix the egg yolks and mild in a bowl and pour over the spaghetti. Mix it all around until the liquid begins to thicken. Then add everything else and mix well. You can garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley if you like.

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