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Meal Deals: 5-ingredient dinners for $3 or less

By Wendy Ruopp, June 29, 2010 - 11:32am

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I just don’t seem to have the attention span I once did. (Wait, what was I talking about?) There are so many distractions these days. And this applies to dinner how? Bear with me... (Hunger makes it hard to concentrate.) Attention span... dinner... oh right, got it: These dinners are built on just five ingredients. That’s a retainable list, even for me. (Oil, salt and pepper don’t count as part of the five, but that’s OK because I never forget them anyway.)

When you’re making a meal with just a handful of ingredients, each one needs to pull its weight. Nothing too exotic here—no need to curate a condiment museum—just good-quality, full-flavored foods cleverly combined for maximum enjoyment in a very short time. (The EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks were really firing on all cylinders when they developed these recipes—they’re younger than I am, of course.) With these express-lane recipes, which cost less than $3 per serving, even I can make memorable meals.

When you taste the very special Five-Spice Tilapia, you’ll want to keep five-spice powder on your list of staples so you can make it often (I know you already keep your pantry stocked with brown sugar and soy sauce, the other secret ingredients).

In a hurry? Satisfying Black Bean Quesadillas take just 15 minutes to make. We like them with black beans, but pinto beans work well too. If you like a little heat, be sure to use pepper Jack cheese in the filling.

Oven-Barbecued Pork Chops: Need a little summertime flavor? Try this swift recipe and enjoy a “barbecue” indoors. Make it a meal: Serve with coleslaw and cornbread.

Chicken and Turkey
Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney: Grab that tangy mango chutney you knew you’d want some day and jazz up a super-easy summer turkey burger.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Pimiento Cheese: Those last few pimientos in the jar? Chop them up and mix with some smoky Gouda for a melty-warm stuffed chicken breast.

What super-simple dinners do you pull together with 5 ingredients? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Wendy Ruopp, Food Blog, Budget meals, Dinner, Family meals, Quick meals

Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she edits all the recipes for the magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.

Wendy asks: What super-simple dinners do you pull together with 5 ingredients?

Tell us what you think:

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