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5 dinners, 5 ingredients each, 1 simple shopping list, under $50

By Hilary Meyer, July 23, 2012 - 1:58pm

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I want to be better at saving money and one place I can start is with dinner. No, I’m not going to be serving my family ramen noodles every night. I’m still going to cook delicious, healthy dinners, but I’m going to be more savvy about the recipes I choose to make. To keep things simple (and cheap!) during the work week, I’ll stick to recipes with only 5 ingredients (not including the bare essentials like oil, salt and pepper). AND I’m not going to spend more than $50. Is it Dinner Impossible? No! Check out my menu (and my shopping list) for the week. It comes out to just under $40 for main dishes, leaving me $10 for healthy sides like salad greens, broccoli and brown rice. Maybe I’ll even be able to slip in a dessert.

Here are the recipes I’m making and how much they cost:

Monday: Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Pimiento Cheese (see the recipe below) $6.69
Tuesday: Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter $11.80
Wednesday: Oven-Barbecued Pork Chops $8.27
Thursday: Florentine Ravioli $6.45
Friday: Black Bean Quesadillas $5.81

And here’s my super-short shopping list:

1 bunch scallions
1 lime
1 onion
1 head garlic
1 avocado

Meat & Seafood
4 small chicken breasts (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds total)
1 pound wild salmon filet
1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds bone-in pork rib chops

Dry Goods
sliced pimientos
unsalted pepitas
1 15-ounce can black beans
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas

Dairy & Refrigerated
Gouda cheese
orange juice
Parmesan cheese
Monterey Jack cheese

20-ounce package cheese ravioli
1 16-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach

Chili powder

Oils, Vinegars & Condiments
extra-virgin olive oil
canola oil
barbecue sauce
crushed red pepper

Recipes to Try: Super Simple 5-Ingredient Chicken Recipes

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Pimiento Cheese
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 25 minutes | Total: 40 minutes

Stuffing boneless, skinless chicken breasts with pimientos, scallions and cheese gives them great flavor without a lot of effort. Don’t be concerned if some of the filling oozes out while the chicken is baking; just scoop it up from the pan as you serve. Serve with: Sautéed zucchini or summer squash and barley.

1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese, preferably smoked
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
1 tablespoon sliced pimientos, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika, divided
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and tenders removed (see Tip)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Combine Gouda, scallion, pimientos and 1/2 teaspoon paprika in a small bowl.
3. Cut a horizontal slit along the thin, long edge of each chicken breast, nearly through to the opposite side, and open like a book. Sprinkle the breasts with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Divide the cheese filling among the breasts, placing it in the center of each. Close the breast over the filling, pressing the edges firmly together to seal. Sprinkle the breasts with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
4. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, about 15 minutes.

Per serving: 200 calories; 10 g fat (3 g sat, 5 g mono); 76 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 26 g protein; 0 g fiber; 445 mg sodium; 232 mg potassium.

Tip: Chicken tenders are the lean strips of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of chicken breasts. They can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken nuggets.”

What are your tips for saving money on dinner? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Hilary Meyer, Food Blog, Dinner

Hilary Meyer
Hilary Meyer develops and tests healthy recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Hilary asks: What are your tips for saving money on dinner?

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