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Cheap, Fast and Easy - Dinners Under 3 Bucks per Serving
Easy to Make, Inexpensive Family Dinners
Once you are a professional, or a working mom (or both), cheap, fast and easy just doesn't have the same meaning that it used to. I'm thinking wallets and paychecks, rather than lingerie and trashy models. I want to make dinners under 3 bucks per serving. I want it on the dinner table in 20 minutes or less too!
Growing up, things were tight in my family. We made meals from what was in the cabinet, rather than rely on processed, pre-packaged suppers in a box. Today, you'll find that the dinners taste better, are much lower in sodium, and cheaper to prepare than "Hamburger Helper."
Each of these meals takes less than an hour to make, and will fill you up without draining your bank account. I'm a big fan of fast food that is not of the take-out variety!
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
My mom used to make this in an electric fry pan, and still does, as a matter of fact. This is super easy, quick and satisfying. By itself, the sauce will serve 5-8 people. Its easily doubled for larger crowds. Serve with garlic bread and lots of parmesan cheese!
Brown 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey with 1 small onion chopped (optional). If you desire, add 1-2 cloves chopped garlic. Drain fat.
Over medium heat, stir in 1 can stewed tomatoes (15 oz) and one can tomato paste. Add garlic salt, dried or fresh oregano, and salt to taste. Feel free to experiment with this recipe. Add chopped green or black olives. Use ground sausage instead of ground beef (or use a half and half mixture) for extra flavor. Try one of the Italian seasoning blends available in the spice aisle, too.
Spoon sauce over cooked and drained noodles. Add parmesan and/or romano cheese, if you like.
More Resources for Fast and Easy Meals
All you need for this basic meal is: a can of tunafish, 2 cups cooked egg noodles, a can of cream of celery soup, 1/2 cup milk, 4-6 slices American cheese and plain potato chips. This will serve 5-7 people.
First, boil the noodles until cooked (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and set aside. Open and drain the tunafish. In a deep Pyrex casserole dish make 2 layers of: noodles, tunafish and torn up American cheese. Put one additional layer of noodles on top. Stir together a can of cream of celery soup and 1/2 cup milk. Pour over the top of the noodle layers. Crumble plain potato chips on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until bubbly.
Variations on this recipe include adding chopped sundried tomatoes, 1 can of green peas, and/or 1 tablespoon of capers. Chopped red onion to taste is also nice. I like to add fresh chopped parsley in the soup mixture before adding to the casserole (about 1-2 tablespoons). Serve hot with french bread and salad.
Another super easy preparation, without any baking time in the oven! The ingredients for this meal include: egg noodles, 1 pound ground hamburger, stewed tomatoes, canned corn, onions and seasoning to taste.
Start by browning hamburger (ground turkey, or your choice) in a fry pan. Drain fat and set aside. At the same time you are browning the meat, you can boil the noodles- about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set those aside too. In the fry pan, over medium heat, add hamburger, noodles, 1 can stewed tomatoes and 1 can corn. Stir together for about 3-5 minutes, season and serve.
There are so many variants on this theme! Again, the basis is ground hamburger or turkey. Browned and seasoned with taco seasoning, the meat is ready to go. You can make soft-shell tacos, hard-shell tacos, or taco salads. Once you have your meat cooked, chop tomatoes, shred lettuce, chop onions (white or green), grate cheddar cheese, and open a can of black olives (sliced) if you desire. Generally, tacos are made by layering the spicy meat with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and onions. If you want to make soft tacos, use flour or corn tortillas. Hard shell tacos are also available at the store. Many people enjoy pouring guacamole, sour cream or salsa over the top. This will require a few extra ingredients, but worth the extra cost and/or trip to the store.
An easy taco salad can be made by heaping lettuce on to a plate, then adding the spicy meat, tomatoes, olives, etc. Crumble tortilla chips on the top, and add sour cream and guacamole if you wish. Salad dressings can include ranch or Italian.
Easy Family Dinners Leave More Quality Time
Once your family's food is prepared more quickly, you can focus on your time together, teaching etiquette, or listening to your spouse or children's experiences that day.
Kids as young as 3 can start to learn to set the table appropriately. And, studies have shown that children that eat regular family meals are happier and healthier both emotionally and physically. Make it your goal to increase the number of sit-down dinners per week by at least one. There's nothing like home-cooking to bring everyone together!
Want more cheap, fast and easy recipes? Do you have a crock pot? Great!
Check out Crockpot Easy Recipes!