The recent recession hit most American households where it counts -- right in the bank account. Unemployment, slashed wages and rising food prices have caused 12 percent of all American households to seek government food assistance benefits. In fact, research has shown that it's difficult for one in six Americans to put enough food on the dinner table each day. Regardless of your financial situation, chances are good that you're looking for ways to cut costs in uncertain times. Fortunately, there are many cost-effective and delicious meals that families on a budget can enjoy for less than $2 per serving.
Keep reading for our list of five tasty and inexpensive dinnertime delicacies.
The beauty of pasta is that it keeps for months and is easy on the wallet. In fact, most packages of uncooked spaghetti noodles cost less than $3, and there are multiple servings in each box. Plus, many jarred pasta sauces are as delicious as they are inexpensive, and most cost only a couple of bucks. You can even add a pound of ground chicken, beef or turkey for meatballs (yes, chicken or turkey meatballs are just as good as beef) for less than $5. Add it all up, and you can easily feed a family of four for less than $2 per plate. This recipe for Mama's Best Ever Spaghetti & Meatballs is an excellent example of a simple and affordable take on the popular Italian dish.
Tortillas are uber-cheap. In fact, it's not uncommon to pay less than $3 or $4 for a dozen or more, and a sizeable bag of shredded cheese should cost you less than $4. These are the only two ingredients you need to make delicious and filling quesadillas. Since both contain multiple (in the case of tortillas, even dozens) of servings, you can dress your quesadillas up and still stay safely under the $2-per-person mark. For example, if you want to add more flavor, try this easy quesadilla recipe.
A traditional favorite in the American South, shrimp and grits is both easy and affordable to whip up. We know, it sounds expensive, but it's actually a really cheap dish. Obviously, fresh shrimp is going to cost a pretty penny, but the frozen version is budget friendly and still very tasty. You can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $10 for a box of frozen shrimp, but it'll contain multiple servings, so you'll be able to make this super-cheap dish again at least once or twice more. Grits, by virtue of their simplicity, are typically very inexpensive (think $3 or so for a bag containing 20 or more servings). Take a cue from this recipe for My Dad's Shrimp and Grits for a delicious and cheap dish you won't soon forget!
Eggs are tantalizing not only for their taste, but their pricing as well. They're simply one of the cheapest and most versatile groceries around! You can usually find a dozen eggs for $2 or less, which breaks down to less than 17 cents per egg! Omelets, in particular, are easy to whip up and can produce a well-rounded meal from practically nothing. Similar to quesadillas, recipes like this Basil Omelet can include pretty much any add-in you have a hankering for, from veggies to meats. Of course, fresh veggies can get pretty pricey, so you might want to pick one or two of your in-season favorites to incorporate into the meal, like tomatoes and onions.
The next time you have a hankering for seafood but can't afford a fancy restaurant meal, consider fried salmon patties for a cheap and enjoyable dinner. A bare-bones salmon patty recipe includes an egg, canned pink salmon (you'll likely pay less than $4 for a large can containing multiple servings) and a little bit of oil to cook the patties. However, some chefs enjoy experimenting with add-ins like tomatoes and green onions. If you're looking for inspiration, try this recipe for Speedy Salmon Patties. Rich in omega 3s, salmon patties can be eaten solo or served alongside another inexpensive dish such as pasta, soup or homemade biscuits.
Are you looking for some salad recipes that save you money? Check out this article and get 5 salad recipes that save you money.
- CBS News. "America's New Poor." Nov. 20, 2011. (Nov. 26, 2011) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57328305/americas-new-poor/
- Eating Well. "Easy Salmon Cakes." Winter 2004. (Nov. 26, 2011) http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/easy_salmon_cakes.html
- Staff reports. "Economic climate leads to increased need for food assistance." Foster's. Nov. 20, 2011. (Nov. 26, 2011) http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111120/GJNEWS_01/711209874