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5 tasty budget dinners for less than $3 per serving

By Jessie Price, August 21, 2012 - 3:15pm

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5 tasty budget dinners for less than $3 per serving

When you’re busy and trying to stick to a budget, dinner needs to be quick and cheap. But you also want it to be healthy…and fresh…and delicious too. Is it really possible to have it all? Yes, it is! Save money and time with these cheap and easy weeknight dinner recipes your family will love. All of the main dishes cash in at less than $3 per serving. (P.S. You want a shopping list too? We’ve got that for you: Get a 7-Day Menu Plan & Shopping List for the recipes featured here.)

More Healthy Budget Ideas from EatingWell:
6 Simple Changes That Could Save You $2,997 on Food
A Week of 5-Ingredient Dinners for Less Than $50
Best Healthy Foods to Buy on a Tight Budget
Get Your Copy of the EatingWell on a Budget Cookbook


Budget Tip #1: Go meatless. Going meatless a few times a week is good for your health (you’ll be eating less saturated fat), good for your wallet (meat is often the most expensive food on the plate) and good for the environment. You can eat vegetarian and still be satisfied, by including ingredients like rice, eggs, beans and tofu.

Cheese-&-Spinach-Stuffed Portobellos (pictured above)
($1.65 per serving), serve with whole-wheat fusilli


Sweet-&-Sour Chicken DrumsticksBudget Tip #2: Get chicken-savvy. Poultry often goes on sale, so when it does, stock up and keep it in your freezer. Also, learn to cook whole chickens, thighs and drumsticks—not just boneless, skinless chicken breast, which tends to be more expensive.

Sweet-&-Sour Chicken Drumsticks
($1.37 per serving), serve with roasted sweet potatoes and salad


Beef & Cabbage Stir-Fry with Peanut SauceBudget Tip #3: Stir-fry for dinner. Stir-frying with plenty of vegetables and just a little bit of meat is an obvious choice when you want to make a quick and healthy dinner. It’s also very forgiving, so if you have a little extra onion or half a leftover zucchini you want to use up, just throw it in your stir-fry.

Beef & Cabbage Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce
($2.49 per serving), serve with brown rice


Salmon RöstiBudget Tip #4: Discover great ways to use canned fish. Doctors recommend eating fish or seafood twice a week, especially fish rich in omega-3s, such as salmon and tuna. If you’re looking to save money, try budget-friendly canned tuna and canned wild salmon as well as sustainably fished or farmed shrimp, tilapia, catfish and trout.

Salmon Rösti
($2.72 per serving), serve with steamed green beans


Pork Chops au PoivreBudget Tip #5: Know your portions. You can enjoy pork chops, a steak dinner or a lean leg of lamb for less than a takeout meal if you’re savvy. At EatingWell, we always keep serving sizes to a healthy 3 ounces of cooked meat—which makes it healthier and more affordable.

Pork Chops au Poivre
($1.69 per serving), serve with roasted carrots, brown rice and green salad


What are your tricks for sticking to a food budget? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Jessie Price, Food Blog, Budget meals, Cooking tips, Dinner

Jessie Price
Jessie Price is the editor-in-chief of EatingWell magazine. Besides her work on 11 other EatingWell books, she is the author of the James Beard Award-winning The Simple Art of EatingWell and EatingWell One-Pot Meals. She lives in Charlotte, Vermont where she stays busy growing her own vegetables in the summer and tracking down great Vermont food products when she’s not working.

Jessie asks: What are your tricks for sticking to a food budget?

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