Secrets to Making $5 Dollar Meals

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$5 Dollar Meals

5-dollar-mealsSaving money is so important. But sometimes there are things in the budget that are non-negotiable. You can’t stop paying the mortgage or rent, and you can’t stop eating.

That said, it’s pretty easy to bring the cost of meals down (and keep them healthy). It’s important to me that meals are healthy. We eat gluten free, and my daughter is dairy-free, so many of out meals are dairy-free, too. This sometimes means products tend to cost more. But even so, I can often keep the cost of our meals around $5 with some easy tricks I have discovered over the years.

Make your beans and freeze them

Homemade beans are easier (and tastier) than you might think. You can pick up a pound of your favorite types of bean for about $1. That pound will yield you about 12 servings whereas a can of beans will cost the same and only contains three servings. Click here for my easy pinto beans.

Use beans to stretch meat

Now that you’ve cooked all those beans you need to use them. They are perfect for a side dish, or you can stretch your meat dishes. The obvious is chili or taco meat. But you can also use them to make meatless burgers, try adding to pasta or even making spaghetti and “beanballs” (lol… yeah I kind of just make that up). Beans are great in soup.

Use Tofu

I know, you might be saying, ick… bland. But it doesn’t have to be. You can buy packages of firm tofu for a dollar or two, organic for not much more and quickly turn into tacos. Crumble it, spice it up with chili powder, onion, garlic, salt and maybe a squeeze of lime and salsa and you have yummy taco filling for half the price (or more than beef). Seriously, these are good tacos!

Keep your sides simple

Your meals don’t need to be gourmet, just tasty and healthy. Cut fruit, bagged carrots, roasted veggies and simple starches like rice and potatoes are budget friendly, time savers and good for you.

Cut the meat in a recipe in half

Pump up cheaper veggies, add beans or simply serve smaller portions of the main dish. Doing this will probably cut meal costs by 40%

Keep to simple recipes you know

It’s ok to try new recipes sometimes. But you much know they are likely to cost more. Often you will need food items you don’t have, and this means you will need to purchase them when they are not on sale. If you keep to a set of everyday meals most of the time you can always have ingredients on hand and stock up on those things when on sale.

Forgo Beef

Beef tends to be expensive. End of story. If you love beef, stick to ground and stock up when on sale. Keep an eye out for sales on cheaper cuts and make them in the crock pot or marinade to tenderize. Pork and chicken can run ¼ to ½ the cost of beef. See my post on how I save up to 70% on beef costs.

Go meatless

I love meat, but a few of the meatless meals I make (wow… that’s a lot of M’s) are on my list of favorites. My Sweet Potato Garbanzo Bean Burgers are amazing. I serve them on buns on top of salad. Even one loves them. Find a few meatless recipes to try out. You might find some favorites, too.

See how easy it is to make 5 Dollar Meals? I think a lot of these tips will save you both time and money. What do you think? Do you have any more tips you are dying to share with us??

Put them in the comments if you do.

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