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For purposes of this diary and in the discussion below, a meal is one that costs $10 dollars or less. I've known people that can do a cheap and a filling meal for $2 dollars basically. The criteria is listed below:

  1. The ingredients for the meal must come to the total of $10 dollars or less.
  1. It must serve two or more people, enough for leftovers.
  1. In addition to being cheap and filling, it must also be delicious.

The meals also don't have to count what you already have in stock in your pantry and in fridge. This is for what you've recently purchased to add to your stock. With that said, let the food games begin!

Here's my number one cheap pasta meal from Epicurious which I love adding parmesan cheese to at the end:

Spaghettini with Garlic and Lemon

1 lb spaghettini or capellini
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. While pasta is boiling, cook garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in zest, then juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer. Toss pasta in sauce with parsley. (Add more cooking water if pasta seems dry.)

The spaghetti where I love to buy costs $1.16, the garlic is $1 for two garlic bulbs, red pepper flakes were purchased in a small ziploc bag from the bulk aisle for $.20, the olive oil is what I already have on hand, the lemons were 4 for $1, and the parsley was $.99. So this meal, not counting the olive oil and parmesan cheese which I already had on hand cost me $4.35.

Chicken Bone-in Breasts With Rosemary Potatoes

2 bone-in chicken skin-on breasts
1 lemon
1 bunch rosemary leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound small red potatoes

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, add chopped rosemary leaves to the top with a drizzle of olive oil on top, and squeeze of a lemon. I usually thinly slice the lemons and put them underneath the chicken breasts when I roast them so there's more of a fragrant lemon flavor that permeates the skin. In a small bowl, coat the potatoes well with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary leaves. You can add them to the same pan as the chicken, or put them in a separate pan. Roast both at 425 until the chicken is well-done and the potatoes are a golden brown.

The chicken breasts usually cost me about $3 or $4 dollars. The rosemary leaves are bought in bulk, which is about $1.19, the lemon is $.25, and the small red potatoes are $1.79 for a pound. On the low estimate, not counting the spices and olive oil which I already have on hand from a prior shopping trip, the cost of the meal comes out to $6.23, and on the high side, it is $7.23.

My average weekly shopping budget to the grocery store is $120, although I usually come in under budget at $90. What's your go-to cheap filling meal that's delicious and comes under $10 dollars for a family of two or four?

Originally posted to slinkerwink on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM PST.

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