The $2 Dinner Plate

One of my greatest challenges in homemaking is managing the food budget. I have certain dietary standards that I have set for my family and we try to stick to them as much as possible. We are mostly able to accomplish this through these means:

-Growing, raising as much as possible in our backyard.
-We eat meat only 2-3 nights a week.
-Buying organic grains, beans, and spices in bulk.
-Purchasing fruits and veggies that are in season.
-Eat less.

At least one night a week I challenge myself to create a dinner meal that costs $2 or less. We are a family of 2 adults and 3 children under the age of 10. It’s a fun challenge and forces me to get creative (especially with the rising costs in food these days).

“The $2 Dinner Plate” meal this week was this…


Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Herbs
Served over quinoa and topped with an over-easy egg.

-Olive/Coconut Oil or butter
-1 onion, chopped
-1/4 cup fresh garlic chives
-1/4 cup fresh parsley
-1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
-1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
-1/2 lemon, or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
-1 tomato chopped (optional)
salt, pepper to taste

Directions: Saute onion in oil or butter for 5 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and season with salt and pepper. Add chard (or seasonal greens) to pan and cook until just wilted. Add tomato and lemon (or apple cider vinegar) now. Heat through.

Serve: Serve chard and beans over prepared quinoa or rice. Cook an egg (or two or three) till over-easy and place a top chard and beans. Season each serving with a handful of fresh chives and parsley.

Budget Breakdown

  • Pastured eggs: Free (backyard hens)
  • Herbs: Free (backyard herb garden)
  • Swiss chard: Free (backyard garden)
  • Dried Beans: $0.28
  • Onion: $0.20
  • Lemon: $0.15
  • Quinoa: $1.25
  • Total = $1.88

    Notes:

    -Use whatever greens you have on hand. Seasonal greens such as kale and spinach are perfect.

    -I usually add tomatoes but I didn’t have them on hand.

    -Garlic makes a nice addition to this meal if you happen to have some.

    -Cook your rice/quinoa in homemade bone broth for nutritional bonus points.

    How do you feed your family on the cheap (and healthy)?

    See this post and a host of others like it here: Real Food Wednesday, It’s a Keeper, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Farm Friend, Farmgirl Friday, Gallery of Favorites, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Fridays, Nature Table, Living Well, Fresh Bites, Frugal Friday, Pennywise Platter, SNS 106, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Sunday School, Nifty Thrify Things, Homestead Barn Hop, More the Merrier, Mangia Monday, Homemaker Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Fat Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday

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    Comments

    1. Carmen @ Natural and Nourished Family says:

      My favorite frugal meal is a crustless quiche or veggie frittata. A dozen eggs, some leftover meat and whatever veggies I have on hand can be made into a savory breakfast (or even supper) that is filling and nourishing.

    2. Oh, that sounds so good!

      My favorite frugal meal is Honey Baked Lentils with baked sweet potatoes or winter squash. It's easy, too–just stick everything in the oven and go do something else for an hour!

    3. Anonymous says:

      Last week we cooked $7 worth of pork roast Mexican style. Rubbed with spices, browned, then simmered with some onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, etc. until it's pull apart and the water reduces. It's so full of flavor. A pound of dried organic pintos ($1.55 bulk) makes a big pot of beans. Served with tortillas it makes a super cheap meal for several days and it's sooo good. One day we had it with corn tortillas as soft tacos with beans and pico de gallo (chopped onion, tomato, and cilantro), the next night we had burritos. Enchiladas can be made with it. The meat is good in a scramble in the morning. We seriously were bummed when it was all gone. That meat and beans fed 5 of us for several meals and kept us coming back for more.

    4. even one sparrow says:

      ha – AWESOME! I love the little challenge you set up for yourself – that is TOTALLY something I can get into. What a great idea.

    5. Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal says:

      That is impressive – not to mention tasty looking. I'd have to add $2 to that meal for the organic eggs I buy. No chickens.

      • Ah, unfortunately me too, but if you divide the $4 per dozen for organic we pay by 12 eggs, they are only .33 each…however my hubby would want at least 2-3 eggs on top, I’d have to tell him he’s over budget ;)

    6. April's Homemaking says:

      I love making simple, but beautiful meals like this. I enjoy the challenge of making a meal for very little, and love calculating it out, so fun to know how inexpensive it can be to feed a family lovely, healthy food! Your recipe looks delicious!

    7. Good Job… looks great.

    8. I love Eggs! So sometimes we have sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Easy, inexpensive and great with a light salad.
      The Paleo Princess Diet.com

      P.s GREAT WEBSITE by the way!

    9. Emily @ Butter Believer says:

      Wow, that's impressive!! I don't know if I have ever made a meal that cheap — although food is really expensive where I live. We're working on growing more of our own. I feel inspired!

      I'd love for you to come share this post at our new blog carnival, Sunday School! It's up today if you'd like to come stop by!
      http://butterbeliever.com/2011/11/06/sunday-school-real-food-link-love-blog-carnival-3/

    10. lilsuburbanhomestead says:

      Looks yummy but I would absolutely have to slip in some meat in there somewhere my guys are meat and potatoes men!

    11. Jill @RealFoodForager.com says:

      Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

      Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

      http://realfoodforager.com/2011/11/fat-tuesday-november-8-2011/

    12. Barb @ A Life in Balance says:

      I would have to pay for the eggs, though here pastured eggs are about $.38 each which isn't too bad when you think about it.

      I'd love to see a list of your other $2 meals!

    13. Wow! That looks and sounds yummy. I never would have thought to pair garbanzos with an egg and chard. I am going to have to try it too. Thank you.

    14. just found your blog this week so i’m perusing your archives. love what i’ve seen so far. i’d be more than content with this meal.

      we hosted an exchange student several years ago from germany. one of her favorite meals was a baked potato with sauteed spinach and a fried egg on top. inexpensive, easy, tasty and filling. we haven’t had it in quite a while; may need to add it to my menu rotation here soon.

    15. Sounds yummy! But it is dead of winter here right now and I live in a townhouse with no yard and have no chicken coop, so the eggs would cost me, as well as the herbs and chard. Organic chard here is about $2.49 a bunch, a dozen organic free range eggs is about $3.50, and the herbs would be about another $3. :( Wish we did have some property so I could have a coop and some land for a nice garden.

    16. Sounds yummy. Fried eggs over greens is a favorite breakfast here… I especially love baby arugula. I am curious as to what you feed your chickens? We have our own chickens as well but feeding them is kinda spendy so our eggs are far from free! I refuse to feed with soy and gmo corn. We have a local feed made with salmon meal and barley which I use but I also buy a feed (from Azure) made with peas, barley, wheat, fish meal… and it includes “dried fermentation product” from ten different beneficial bacteria, which I’ve never seen in any other feed. Both feeds are expensive. My hens free-range from spring till snow, which definitely helps with feed costs but during our very long winter they are eating solely feed + kitchen scraps.

    17. I love veggie stir fry for a cheap and tasty meal. Leftover veggies, chopped up, a scrambled egg or tofu if i feel like it, seasoned with a bit of chili pepper and soy sauce and served over rice. Just a few bucks for the entire thing and gets rid of tons of leftovers!

    18. Sounds delicious! I once saw a salad by Rawbrahs that had an over easy egg on top that sounded yum. There is a woman that posts $10 a day for her meals (raw food), it would be fun to see your $2 meal recipes regularly…love your advice and recommendations!

    19. Looks delicious!
      My favorite inexpensive meal is similar: onions, potatoes and kale (or whatever greens available) cooked in a skillet. Flavor with salt, pepper and some apple cider vinegar and serve with a poached egg on top. The onions and kale are from the garden so that makes the meal about a dollar per serving.

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