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Gourmet recession: Delicious dinners for $3 or less

By Lisa Gosselin, January 9, 2009 - 3:36am

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With the stock market falling faster than a cold soufflé, many of us are looking at just how much our meals cost. And when we start trimming expenses, our food budget is often one place that takes a hit. An easy way to save money is to eat fewer meals out and make more meals at home. Plus you’ll have greater control to create healthy, delicious meals.

Our staff at EatingWell Magazine “shopped” online for ingredients and then calculated the cost per serving for main-dish recipes in one of our recent issues. The results seemed so amazing we even went back and double-checked the math: most of those main-course recipes cost less than $3 a serving.

And if you think that nothing’s cheaper than fast food, consider that Pork Chops with Orange & Fennel Salad, a slice of fresh-baked Parmesan-Herb Focaccia and Baby Tiramisù for dessert (total: 488 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat, see recipes below) is less than $6—while a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, fries and apple pie (1,040 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat) is about the same price. If you, like us, choose the healthy homemade meal, enjoy these budget-friendly recipes—your waistline and your wallet will thank you.

Here are 3 healthy dinners to get you started:

Pork Chops with Orange & Fennel Salad (under $2.50 per serving)—Fennel-crusted pork chops with a warm citrus-and-fennel salad is a terrific antidote to a dreary winter day. Serve with Parmesan-Herb Focaccia and Baby Tiramisù.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans
Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans (under $2 per serving)—In this one-skillet supper, dark leafy greens, diced tomatoes and white beans are tossed with gnocchi topped with gooey mozzarella. Serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette.

Marmalade Chicken
Marmalade Chicken (under $1.50 per serving)—Orange marmalade and freshly grated orange zest make a deliciously tangy sauce for quick-cooking chicken tenders. Serve with brown rice.

TAGS: Lisa Gosselin, Food Blog

Lisa Gosselin
Lisa Gosselin is the former editorial director of EatingWell Media Group.

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