Five Dollar Dinners?

I recently found a website that specializes in $5 dinners. Unfortunately, I can’t fix any of those dinners for the prices listed–mostly due to the price differences with meat, eggs and dairy items in the US. And vegetables. Sigh.

Not that I think all our food should be that cheap. In fact, most of the problems with our food system are due to the super-cheap prices we demand. North America spends less on food than anywhere else in the world, which leads to all sorts of problems like concentration of power, over-use of chemicals, mono-cropping, super-sizing animals with hormones, etc. etc. etc.

But. It is a challenge to feed a family of four healthy foods on a budget in downtown Ottawa. Yep, that’s 50% of my blog content summed up right there.

So I’m going to try producing some of my own $5 dinners. Not $5 per serving. Not $5 per night. $5 for the whole dang healthy pot of dinner. Now, I guarantee these won’t be anything fancy. You won’t find any arugula or pancetta or anything else in French or Italian. You might not even want to admit to eating this for “dinner”. But I will guarantee they will be healthy, balanced, and contain at least some fresh vegetables.

I’m going to try making this black bean casserole I saw online some place, and if it comes in under $5, I’ll blog the recipe. Until then, let me know your favourite cheap meals! If they’re under $5, I’ll add them to my list.

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4 thoughts on “Five Dollar Dinners?

  1. I always wonder when I see those meals for under $ is it per person or per meal, and where do they shop, because when I try to recreate it in my neck of the woods its not possible or if it is possible its not good for me or the kids. Look forward to seeing what you find.
    I am embarking on a challenge (beginning Sunday) to feed my family well and within my principals for $25/person/week or less. I am adding it as a special page to my blog because I don’t think I will post daily on it, just a post after shopping with my menu plan and then an update at the end of the week.
    Good Luck!

  2. I’ve been making $15 huge pots of soup (as in 3 gallons) for over a year for an inner-city children’s center. I start with the meat, whatever I have…whether it’s chicken or beef or pork; usually one or two pounds of it. I make the broth from that, with the trimmings from the last-weeks vegetables which I froze. Then I add what I have: sometimes it’s greens, sometimes it’s dried beans, sometimes it’s corn, sometimes it’s a mixture. I do freeze a lot of vegetables from my own garden in the summer, and for a pot of soup like this, I’ll use whatever is on hand. I occasionally buy a big can of something to add to what’s fresh or frozen. Pasta rounds it out if it’s a little “lean”; or cabbage, which is nutritious and goes far. I season to taste with homegrown herbs, and send off the majority of the soup each week. We keep a quart or two for the freezer and farm; it’s a nice quick meal in a pinch. I’ve gotton so many thank-you’s since I’ve been doing this. It’s about the cheapest way I know to warm a belly nutritiously. I keep sourdough starter in the fridge too; if you mix that with a handful of flour and pan bake the rolled out dough, the resulting flatbread is GREAT with olive oil and herbs…and costs nearly nothing. Good to dip in soup!

  3. This might not be kid-friendly, but I’ve been making a supper salad with equal parts kale (fairly finely chopped), green or brown lentils, carrots and onion (again, fairly finely chopped), dressed with an olive oil/red wine vinegar vinaigrette. I tend to make a big batch (1/2 a large bunch of kale and 1 1/2 C. dried lentils cooked in the rice cooker), and eat it all week.

    With the rest of the kale I made a large pan of crustless quiche. Eggs, the remaining kale, one chopped tomato, and seasonings.

    Certainly each dish came in under $5, and made one supper for three, plus three lunches for me.

  4. A year ago, two university students turned up at our table (invited by our eldest). They really loved the homemade meal.

    At some point, they mentioned they lived on Hungry Man dinners. My husband, the chief cook in our house, asked how much they paid for the cans. Then, he told them that for the same price they could have four meals. Peter actually calculated exactly how much the meal for seven had cost us: two Hungry-Man meals.

    Years ago, Peter was on strike and fed four of us on $35 a week. Yes, we were eating down the pantry, but good planning and excellent cooking made the difference between eating crap and eating really really well!

    The boys were shocked. Peter told them hilarious stories of his diet before he learned to cook and then offered to teach them. Unfortunately, they never took him up on the offer!

    Some of Peter’s super cheap family meals include:

    Vegetarian Pasta Sauce full of veggies
    Green Stuff (spinach crepes, but we didn’t want to use the S word with the kids)

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