Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't afford a little flavor. Five delicious and satisfying dinners that cost less than $10 apiece.
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice"One of my favorite things to make during lean times is inspired by my love of the Big Easy–red beans and rice. With these as the foundation, what could be cheaper? You can throw the beans, sausage, and seasonings all into a slow cooker to simmer–hands-free–while you're at work. It couldn't be easier."
–Ann Taylor Pittman, Cooking Light food editor
Ham and Swiss Bread Pudding"I always see Hawaiian bread on sale for two for $5, so it was a tax-season natural. Green onions are also inexpensive, and milk and the seasonings are staples. The only other expense was for ham and cheese."
–Krista Montgomery, freelance food editor
Spinach, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Pizza"One of my favorite splurges is fresh-baked bread from the bakery. But when the budget is tight, I make my own. In this case, it's pizza crust–basically flour and water–which leaves plenty of money to get creative with the toppings. "
–Julie Grimes, Cooking Light associate food editor
Beef and Bok Choy Hot Pot"This dish uses inexpensive stew meat, which becomes tender as the dish cooks for more than an hour. And while it's simmering, your house will be infused with the scents of cinnamon, ginger, and garlic. Add some bok choy and carrots, and serve over fettuccine or whatever noodles you have on hand for a comforting yet exotic dinner."
–Jill Melton, former Cooking Light food editor
Italian Potato Torta"My first post-college trip to Italy was followed shortly by the purchase of my first Italian cookbook. Together, the two inspired this recipe, which has seen my family through times both lean and lush. A gnocchi-like mixture of mashed potatoes, flour, and an egg is patted into a cake pan, topped with tomatoes and cheese, then baked. What emerges is part pizza, part potato pancake. Sometimes I intensify the flavor with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, black olives, and–if we have it around–a bit of leftover prosciutto. Serve this with a zesty green salad for a complete, inexpensive feast."
–Mary Kay Culpepper, Cooking Light editor in chief