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Dinners for Dollars

March 26-April 1
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Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake

1 box penne pasta ($1.06)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded ($2.32)
1 1/2 cups diced ham ($1.99)
8 oz can sliced mushrooms ($0.89)
4 T flour (on hand)
3 cups milk, divided (on hand)
1/4 t pepper (on hand)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Mix together 1 cup milk with flour in bowl. When thoroughly combined, pour into skillet. Warm mixture while stirring constantly, adding additional milk until it reaches desired thickness ( I used about 1 additional cup). Simmer about 3 minutes. Add the ham and the mushrooms to the mixture and simmer until the ham warms. Add in 3/4 of the shredded cheese and let melt. Spread cooked pasta in bottom of a baking dish. Stir ham mixture until well combined and pour over top of pasta. Stir to coat. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for around 10-15 minutes until cheese melts.

The kids love this dish and they beg for it quite often. They don’t even notice the mushrooms and I even snuck some asparagus spears in there last time. This dish makes quite a bit, we normally get 6 dinners, 1 lunch and a lot of leftovers. It works about to be around $0.57 per serving.

Open Faced Meatball Subs
1 bag frozen meatballs ($3.98)
1 jar spaghetti sauce ($1.88)
1 loaf French Bread ($2.05)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (on hand)
Mozzarella Cheese Slices ($1.98)
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded ($2.32)

Combine meatballs and spaghetti sauce in saucepan on stovetop and heat through until warm. Preheat oven to Broil. Slice the French Bread on an angle and cut each slice in half. Drizzle sliced bread with olive oil. Place bread on baking sheet and broil until nice and golden brown. Once bread is toasted, top each slice with 2-4 meatballs and add some extra sauce on top. Add 2 slices of mozzarella cheese and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Return to broiler until cheese melts.

Mr.McHunky raves about these subs every time I make them! I usually only make enough for one dinner because I don’t want soggy sub leftovers but the amount of ingredients above equals enough for 2 lunches and some leftovers. I just assemble the subs and broil them when we’re ready to eat. It works out to be around $1.02 per serving.

Taco Pockets

1 lb ground beef ($3.98)
1 packet taco seasoning ($0.62)
1 block pepper jack cheese ($1.98)
1 can (11oz) tube refrigerated thin crust pizza dough ($2.06)

Brown meat, drain and add taco seasoning. Roll pizza dough onto greased pan. With pizza cutter, divide into 4 strips. Spoon 1/2 cup meat onto dough. Add a couple of slices of pepper jack cheese. Fold ends of dough over top of meat and cheese mix. Crimp sides together with fork. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes. Serve with sour cream and taco sauce.

Another family favorite! I fill each pocket with a little less than 1/2 cup because my pockets always seem to explode if I use more filling. If you don’t like the spicy of the pepper jack cheese, substitute Mexican blend or Colby Jack. We normally get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and minimal leftovers. It works out to be around $0.86 per serving.

Fish Cakes

1 pkg Stove Top stuffing ($1.68)
¾ cup water (on hand)
cup mayo (on hand)
2 cans (6oz each) crabmeat, drained and flaked ($2.98)
3 T tartar sauce (on hand)

Mix stuffing, water, mayo, crabmeat and tartar. Cover and refrigerate 10 minutes. Heat large skillet sprayed with Pam on med heat. Shape 1/3 cupfuls of mixture into patties. Add to skillet in batches. Cook 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

We love fish cakes and I think I’ve tried every recipe that has come my way in the past few years. This is the recipe that the kids seem to like the best. We get 6 dinners and minimal leftovers from this and I sometimes double the recipe if I know I’m going to need more leftovers. I always serve these fish cakes with Zatarins yellow rice and sugar snap peas. It works out to be around $0.58 per serving.

Honey Glazed Bacon Chicken

10-12  chicken strips ($4.98)
10-12  thin bacon slices ($2.29)
3 T honey (on hand)
2 t coarse mustard (on hand)
lemon juice (on hand)

Combine honey with mustard in small bowl. Add 1 T lemon juice. Wrap each chicken strip with one slice bacon and place them in a baking dish. Brush chicken with 1/2 of the marinade. Bake at 425 for 10-13 minutes until bacon is crispy. Remove from oven and flip each chicken strip over. Brush with remaining marinade. Put them back in oven for additional 10-13 minutes.

I love bacon, it’s no secret. I will wrap anything in bacon. These chicken tenders are so yummy with the glaze on top of the bacon. Pure deliciousness indeed. If I’m feeling like truly indulging, I will serve these with cheesy potatoes. We normally only get 6 dinners and 1 lunch from this meal because it’s just that good. It works out to be around $1.04 per serving.

Dinners for Dollars

March 19-25
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Cheeseburger Cups

1 lb ground beef ($3.98)
½ cup ketchup (on hand)
2 T brown sugar (on hand)
1 T mustard (on hand)
t worcestershire sauce (on hand)
1 tube (12oz) refrig. buttermilk biscuits ($1.39)
½ cup cubed velveeta cheese ($1.98)

Cook beef and drain. Stir in ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat, set aside. Press each biscuit onto bottom and up sides of greased muffin cup. Spoon beef mix into cups; top with cheese. Bake at 400 for 14-16 minutes.

The kids absolutely love this cheeseburger cups. Sometimes I even sneak petit diced tomatoes in there. We don’t normally get any leftovers out of this meal but Mr.McHunky does at least get 1 lunch in addition to our dinner. It works out to be about $1.05 per serving.

Chicken Hashbrown Bake

16 oz sour cream ($1.69)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.16)
1 can cream of chicken soup ($0.60)
32 oz frozen hashbrowns, thawed ($2.98)
3 cooked chicken breasts, diced ($2.99)

Mix sour cream, cheese and soup in bowl. Add potatoes, mix well. Add chicken, mix well. Spoon into greased baking dish. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

This is another family favorite! And it makes a ton too. We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers which works out to be around $0.79 per serving.

Meatball Bake

1 pkg Stove Top Chicken Stuffing ($1.49)
1 can cream of mushroom soup ($0.60)
¼ cup milk (on hand)
1 pkg (1 lb) frozen meatballs ($3.89)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.16)

Prepare stuffing as directed on package for Light Prep; set aside. Combine soup and milk in baking dish. Stir in meatballs and sprinkle with cheese. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

We really enjoy this meal. The stuffing offers a great flavor in contrast to the meatballs (I always use Italian meatballs). We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers from this dinner so it works out to be around $0.60 per serving.

BBQ Shrimp Linguine

1 T packed brown sugar (on hand)
1 t chili powder (on hand)
1 t sweet paprika (on hand)
½ t cumin (on hand)
¼ t ground red cayenne pepper (on hand)
½ t salt (on hand)
¼ t pepper (on hand)
1 lb medium frozen shrimp, thawed ($4.98)

1 lb linguine noodles, cooked ($1.06)

In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Add shrimp and toss until evenly coated. Bake at 475 for 5 minutes, turn and bake additional 8-10 minutes. Serve over hot linguine noodles.

Oh how I love this meal. The sweet and spicy mix is amazing. If you don’t like spicy, cut some of the chili powder and cayenne pepper. But even my kids eat it with the spices in the recipe above. We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and limited leftovers, which makes this dinner about $0.60 per serving.

Baked Tortellini
13oz  bag frozen tortellini ($2.69)
24oz  jar marinara sauce ($1.98)
1/2   cup heavy whipping cream  ($0.89)
1     cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided ($1.16)
1     cup shredded mozzarella ($1.16)

Cook tortellini for 3 minutes, drain and toss with 1 T of butter in bowl. Combine the marinara, cream and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Add to pasta and toss gently to coat. Put tortellini into greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

I love pasta and I love finding new ways to cook pasta. I buy the generic cheese tortellini from Wal*Mart normally but sometimes I splurge on the Portebello Tortellini and man oh man is it yummy in this dish! We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers out of this meal which makes it around $0.72 per serving.

Dinners for Dollars

March 12-18
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Fiesta Ravioli

1 pkg frozen Cheese Ravioli ($3.89)
1 can (10oz) enchilada sauce ($1.67)
1 jar (16oz) salsa ($1.42)
2 cups shredded Colby cheese ($2.32)

Cook ravioli according to package directions. While ravioli is cooking, combine enchilada sauce and salsa in skillet and heat through. Drain ravioli and return to pot. Pour salsa mixture over top and toss to coat evenly. Add shredded cheese and stir well.

This is another family favorite meal. One of the kids, not naming any names, actually licked his plate clean last time I made this dish. We get 6 dinners, 1 lunch and leftovers which makes this dish around $0.78 per serving.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

3 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up ($2.99)
1 jar apricot preserves ($1.26)
¾ bottle Catalina dressing ($1.89)
1 cup orange juice (on hand)
1 can pineapple chunks ($0.88)

Mix ingredients in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Serve over white rice.

I love this version of sweet and sour chicken. It’s tart which appeals to me more than the sickly sweet flavors of some of the other recipes I’ve tried. If you like it less tart you might want to consider using less Catalina dressing. We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers out of this meal which works out to be around $0.64 per serving.

BBQ Beenie Weenies

4 cans kidney beans ($2.72)
4 cups BBQ sauce ($1.89)
2 pkgs lil smokies ($4.98 on sale)

Mix beans, sauce and lil smokies in crockpot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

The kids love beenie weenies but the only way Mr.McHunky can stomach them is if I smother them in BBQ sauce. This crockpot meal makes a ton so if you have a smaller family, consider halving the recipe or you’ll have beenie weenies coming out of your ears for a week! We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers so it’s about $0.64 per serving.

Breaded Pesto Tilapia

8 Tilapia fillets ($4.97)
3 cups breadcrumbs (on hand)
4 T pesto sauce ($1.62)

Preheat oven to 400. Coat each tilapia fillet with pesto sauce on both sides and dip into breadcrumbs until coated evenly. Bake for 12 minutes.

I love fish and I really love pesto so when I saw this recipe the first time I knew I had to try it. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. We get 6 dinners and 2 lunches out of this meal so not as many leftovers but the taste is worth scrounging for food later on. I always serve this with Zatarin’s yellow rice and a veggie. It works out to be around $0.82 per serving without the sides added in to the cost.

Dinners for Dollars

March 5-11
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Chicken Noodle Casserole
3 large chicken breasts, cooked and cut up ($2.99)
8 oz egg noodles, cooked ($1.06)
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup ($0.60)
1 can cream of chicken soup ($0.60)
8 oz sour cream ($1.67)
1 row of crumbled saltine crackers ($0.98)
½ cup butter (on hand)

Mix together chicken, soups and sour cream. Gently stir in egg noodles and spread in baking dish. Melt butter and stir in crumbled crackers. Top casserole with buttered cracker crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

The whole family enjoys this casserole. It reminds me of chicken noodle soup with a little bit of a crunch. Sometimes I add mixed veggies into the casserole. This meal usually makes 6 dinners, 1 lunch and leftovers which makes it around $0.72 per serving.

Taco Stuffed Shells

1 lb ground beef ($3.98 on sale)
1 pkt taco seasoning ($0.62)
1 pkg cream cheese ($1.68)
1 box large pasta shells ($1.06)
1 cup salsa ($0.78- half a jar)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.16)
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese ($1.16)
½ cup tortilla chips, crushed (on hand)
1 cup sour cream ($1.67)

Brown ground beef, drain and add taco seasoning as directed on the packet. Add cream cheese and cover, cooking until mixed well. Cook shells as directed on package. Drain, rinse well and return to pot, adding 2 T butter. Pour some salsa in bottom of baking dish. Stuff shells with 1 T of meat mixture and place them in baking dish. Cover top of shells with taco sauce. Cover baking dish with foil and cook at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle crushed tortilla chips and the cheeses on top of shells. Cook, uncovered, for additional 15 minutes. Top with sour cream.

The first time I made this dish, my kids actually cleaned their plates which almost never happens. These stuffed shells are so good! We normally get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers out of this dish which makes it about $0.93 per serving.

Spinach Lasagna

2 lbs ground beef ($5.98)
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided ($1.16)
15 oz ricotta cheese ($1.39)
1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained ($0.79)
1 c Sutter Home cabernet sauvignon wine (on hand)
2 jars (24oz each) Tomato and Basil Pasta sauce ($3.38)
12 no boil lasagna noodles ($1.42)
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese ($1.16)

In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, ricotta and spinach; mix well and set aside. Brown ground beef and drain. Add wine; continue cooking 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in tomato and basil pasta sauce. In 13×9 baking dish, spread 1 cup beef-sauce mixture. Layer 4 noodles over sauce. Top with half of cheese mixture, 2 cups beef-sauce mix. Repeat layers. Top with 4 remaining noodles and beef sauce mix. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover, bake 15-20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

I love Spinach Lasagna and I really love this recipe. It’s very easy and quick to throw together and the taste is out of this world. It makes a ton, we normally get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and tons of leftovers. It works out to be about $1.09 per serving. That’s a little higher than I like to spend usually but getting my kids to eat spinach is priceless. Ha!

Zesty Lime Fish Tacos

1 lb tilapia, thawed ($4.98)
2 T taco seasoning ($0.62)
1 T butter (on hand)
1 box crispy taco shells ($1.24)
1 cntr (6oz) Greek yogurt, plain ($1.18)
1 t lime juice (on hand)
1 t sugar (on hand)
¼ t salt (on hand)
4 cups coleslaw mix ($1.59)
1 medium tomato, diced ($0.74)

In a large bowl, mix yogurt, lime juice, sugar and salt. Stir in coleslaw mix and let stand for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle fish fillets with taco seasoning on both sides. Spray skillet with cooking spray and add butter. Let butter melt and add fish. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side until flakey. Heat taco shells as directed on package. Remove fish from skillet and cut into small pieces. Scoop a layer of fish into each taco shell and add a generous topping of coleslaw mix. Top with diced tomatoes.

If you’ve never had fish tacos then you are missing out. These are delicious. My kids were not so sure the first time I made them but now they are fans! This recipe gives us 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers. I usually either buy a second box of shells or we use ritz crackers for the remainder of the taco filling. It works out to be around $0.86 per serving.

Ham Casserole

1 pkg frozen broccoli, thawed and drained ($1.49)
3 cups cubed ham ($3.68)
1 can cream of mushroom soup ($0.60)
1 jar (8oz) cheese sauce ($1.67)
1 cup milk (on hand)
1 cup uncooked instant rice (on hand)

In crockpot, combine broccoli and ham. Combine soup, cheese sauce, rice and milk and pour over ham mixture. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

I will tell you up front that broccoli in the crockpot has an odor, so be warned. If strong smells bother you then this might not be the dish for you. I have an 11 year old boy so smells are nothing new around here. Ha! The taste more than makes up for the smell with this dish. We usually get 6 dinners, 1 lunch and leftovers with this meal. It works out to be around $0.74 per serving.


February 27-March 4
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Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained ($0.68)
1 pkg stove top chicken stuffing ($1.67)
½ cup water
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cut  ($2.99)
1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.16)
Place tomatoes in bowl, add stuffing mix and water. Stir just until moistened. Set aside. Place chicken in dish, sprinkle with cheese. Top with stuffing mix. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

This is a quick and easy one dish meal. Toss it together and throw it in the oven. We get 6 dinner, a lunch and leftovers which makes it about $0.65 per serving.

Meatball Sub Casserole

1 bag frozen meatballs ($3.88)
1 loaf italian or french bread, cut into 1″ slices ($1.05)
8 oz cream cheese, softened ($1.98)
½ cup mayo (on hand)
1 t italian seasoning (on hand)
¼ t pepper (on hand)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ($2.32)
1 jar (28oz) spaghetti sauce ($2.98)
Arrange bread in single layer in ungreased baking dish. Combine cream cheese, mayo, italian seasoning and pepper; spread over bread. Sprinkle with ½ cup mozzarella. Place meatballs evenly over bread layer. Pour spaghetti sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

This is a family favorite. Everyone loves this dish. I always use the thin french bread, it fits better in my casserole dish. We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers out of this dish which works out to be about $0.87 per serving.

Shrimp Pasta Bake

1 bag frozen shrimp, thawed ($4.98)
1 jar (15oz) Alfredo sauce ($1.98)
1 jar (24oz) Marinara sauce ($1.88)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ($2.32)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese ($1.16)
1 box penne pasta ($1.06)
Cook pasta as directed on package. Mix sauces together in large bowl. Add mozzarella and stir to combine. Pour in penne noodles and toss to coat. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Pour into baking dish and cook at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and continue baking additional 5-10 minutes until cheese melts.

I love this dish. It’s one of my favorites. Sometimes I add garlic or breadcrumbs on the top for crunch. We get 6 dinners, 2 lunches and leftovers out of this dish which makes it about $0.96 per serving.

Chicken Pesto Flatbreads

8 flatbreads ($1.47)
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce ($1.98)
3 shredded cooked chicken breasts ($2.99)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved ($1.98)
8 oz shredded mozzarella ($2.32)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese ($0.98)
4 T parmesan cheese (on hand from prev meal)
Heat oven to 450. Place flatbreads on large baking sheet. Spread with pesto and top with chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella. Spoon small dollops of ricotta over each and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

These are so yummy and the kids have fun assembling their own. I use flatbreads but you can also use pitas. There are so many different variations of this meal, we like to mix and match toppings. We don’t normally have any leftovers so it’s not a cheap meal but once in awhile it’s fun. It works out to be around $1.47 per serving.

Smothered Chicken Tenders

10-12 chicken tenders ($4.76)
12 pieces cooked and crumbled bacon ($1.88)
2 T olive oil (on hand)
¼ cup teriyaki sauce (on hand)
½ cup ranch dressing (on hand)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.16)
Spread olive oil in bottom of crockpot. Place chicken on top. Combine teriyaki sauce and ranch dressing together and pour over top of chicken. Add shredded cheese and bacon on top. Cook on low 5-6 hours.

These chicken tenders are super yummy and so easy to do in the crockpot. The kids love them and don’t even grumble when I serve them with a veggie side. Ha! We rarely have leftovers though so it works out to be about $0.88 per serving.