Dinners on a Dime

Every other month or so, Meijer runs a ridiculously great deal on Tyson breaded frozen chicken.  I can typically pick up a family-sized bag of chicken nuggets or chicken tenders for just $2.99 with the sale and (of course!) a coupon.

As much as our kiddos love chicken nuggets, I’m not a huge fan of just plopping a plateful of them in front of the kids to eat.  So, I started brainstorming to think of a recipe that I could put together that would utilize the chicken nuggets.  Strolling through the store, flour tortillas caught my eye, and I instantly thought of putting together Southwestern Roll-Ups.

Here’s what I came up with for my concoction:

Southwestern Chicken & Bacon Roll-Ups

Flour tortillas
Tyson frozen chicken nuggets, cut into small chunks
Turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
Cheddar cheese
Kraft reduced-fat honey dijon dressing
Romaine or Boston lettuce

Place open tortilla on plate.  Spread a small amount of honey dijon dressing down the middle of the tortilla.  Add chicken, bacon, cheese, and lettuce according to preference.  Roll up and enjoy!

The entire family loved this incredibly simple meal.  And I felt much better about serving the kids chicken nuggets in this fashion as opposed to the traditional method!

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Dinners on a Dime: Grilled Shish Kabobs

by Katie on August 31, 2011

Over the Fourth of July weekend, we enjoyed a grill-out together with family members.  The hostess of the party put together a station for make-your-own shish kabobs.  Guests could choose between marinated chicken or steak as well as an assortment of vegetables – tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, peppers, onions, and carrots.  We all assembled the kabobs to our liking, and they were then grilled to perfection.

We all enjoyed them so much that we were anxious to try them out for ourselves.  I bought a package of chicken as well as a pack of steak and cut them all into medium-sized chunks.  I poured marinade into two different resealable bags, and placed the steak in one, and the chicken in the other.  I put both bags in the fridge to marinate while I cut up the vegetables.

Since fresh vegetables are so reasonably priced during the summer, I picked up fresh zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and onion.  I had previously inherited a set of metal skewers from my parents, so I assembled them all, alternating between the meats and vegetables.  My husband grilled the kabobs until the meats were cooked and the veggies were tender.

We served the kabobs over steaming hot rice along with fresh fruit – yum!  Such a simple dinner that is both economical and easy to prepare.

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Dinners on a Dime: Chicken & Rice Bowls

by Katie on July 21, 2011

One of the new recipes we tried last week was Chicken & Rice Bowls.  I found a basic recipe online, and as per usual, I tweaked the recipe to match our family’s preferences.  The recipe is one of the easiest I’ve ever made, and everyone loved it (trust me, that’s not an easy feat around here!).

Chicken & Rice Bowls

5 large boneless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 jar salsa (I used Chi-Chi’s mild salsa)
1 bag frozen corn
4 cups cooked rice
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

Place chicken, broth, salsa, and corn into crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  Serve over cooked rice.  Top with cheese and sour cream.

This meal was perfect for the hot days we’ve had in Cincinnati over the last few weeks.  Instead of heating up the entire house by using the oven, I popped everything in the crockpot, and was finished with dinner prep in less than 10 minutes!

I think I would also enjoy adding black beans to this recipe; however, since my oldest hates beans, I would most probably cook them on the side, and add them to each bowl according to individual preferences.

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Dinners on a Dime: Homemade Pizza

by Katie on July 6, 2011

One of our family’s all-time favorite meals is pizza.  While there’s definitely something to be said for the convenience of carry-out pizza, it can become really pricey, especially with the size of our family. We often opt for making homemade pizza, as it is a much more economical choice, and it’s hands-down our favorite.

I used to be really intimidated by the idea of making my own pizza crust.  I tried a number of different recipes, none of which were a huge hit for our family.  I finally tweaked a combination of different recipes to come up with a recipe that we all love.  And the best part – it’s so easy to make!

 

Pizza Crust Recipe

3 Tbsp. active dry yeast
3 cups hot water (approximately 110 degrees)
3 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
9-10 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in hot water.  Stir in the sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.  Add flour until dough becomes thick and difficult to stir.

Dump mixture onto floured counter and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and easy to handle.

Divide into three sections, and roll out according to the size of the pans you’re using (I typically use two rectangular cookie sheets and one round pizza pan).

Add pizza sauce (we typically use Prego or Ragu sauce) and desired toppings.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

We have an older oven, so I usually bake our pizzas for closer to 18 minutes.  I check the side crusts to make sure they are lightly browned and have a hollow sound when I tap on them.  I also put a fork into the middle of the pizza to ensure it is baked through, and isn’t gooey in the center.

There is no limit on the number of combinations you could create with your family’s pizzas.  Our favorites includes the traditional cheese, sausage, pepperoni, or mushroom, but we also enjoy a Hawaiian pizza from time to time as well.  We add chopped ham and pineapple bits and cover with cheese – yum!

As a side note, this recipe makes three large pizzas.  This is plenty of pizza to feed our family for dinner and at least two lunches.  Since it does take a little time and effort to make homemade pizza, I would rather make extra so we have plenty of leftovers to enjoy.  However, if you have a smaller family, this recipe could easily be cut down to just one batch of dough.

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Have you tried the new Wendy’s Chicken Berry Almond Salad?  I received a $1 coupon in my e-mail from Wendy’s, so my sister and I decided to stop by on our lunch hour and try out this newest salad creation.

On the positive side, we both thought the salad was absolutely delicious.  On the negative side….our jaws about hit the ground when we saw our combined total on the drive through screen – almost $14!  To me, that’s a whole lot of money for two salads.

After last week, I thought I’d get creative this week and put together a salad using ingredients we had on hand.  I started with an organic lettuce blend that I had purchased from Meijer.  I added leftover grilled chicken from the previous evening’s dinner, as well as craisins, pear slices, and poppyseed dressing.

While I didn’t have almonds on the salad, I loved the combination of flavors, as did my daughter who “shared” the salad with me.  Now technically speaking, we had the salad for lunch, but it was absolutely filling enough to be served for dinner.  I’m sure a roll or slice of bread would compliment the salad nicely, and round out an evening meal.

Cost

Organic lettuce mix, $0.50 (Meijer)
Grilled chicken, $1.10 (Aldi)
Ocean Spray craisins, $0.20 (Kroger)
Pear slices, $0.25 (MainStreet Market)
Kraft poppyseed dressing, $0.05 (MainStreet Market)

Total cost – $2.10

For this cost, I’ll gladly make my own salad and not only enjoy the flavor, but the amazing savings as well!

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Dinners on a Dime: Burrito Casserole

by Katie on May 12, 2011

There are certain staple foods that I try to always have on hand in our household – things like fresh fruit, yogurt, and soft tortillas.  Yes, tortillas.  Our kiddos absolutely love anything that is made with a tortilla, and will even eat them plain for a snack.  While the frugal side of me would love to try making them from scratch, the very practical side of me knows that I’d be hard pressed to make them much cheaper than the $0.99 that Aldi sells them for.

I love finding new recipes that incorporate tortillas, since they are almost always a huge hit for our family.  The burrito casserole is one such recipe.  It’s quick and easy to put together, and is an economical dinner choice as well.

Burrito Casserole

3 cups water
2 burrito seasoning mix packets
2 cans (8 ounces) tomato sauce
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
20 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese (I use either Cheddar or a  Mexican blend)

Brown ground beef; drain and set aside.  Mix water, seasoning mixes, and tomato sauce until well blended.  Add beans and 1 cup of the sauce mixture to the ground beef.  Fill each taco with approximately 1/2 cup of ground beef mixture.

Roll tortilla, and place seam side down into a greased 9×13-inch pan.  Pour remaining sauce over burritos.  Top with cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Our oldest son does not care for beans, so I typically leave a portion of the ground beef and sauce mixture aside to fill his burritos prior to adding in the beans.

Cost

Meijer brand burrito seasoning packets, $1 (Meijer)
Store brand tomato sauce, $0.80 (Aldi)
Ground beef, $1.98 (used $1/1 Ground Beef wyb Uncle Ben’s Rice coupons at Kroger)
Ortega black beans, $0.76 (Meijer)
Store brand flour tortillas, $1.98 (Aldi)
Store brand shredded cheese, $2.39 (Aldi)

Total cost – $8.91 (or $1.49 per serving)

We paired this casserole with corn and brown rice, which rounded out this meal nicely.  The leftovers on this meal never stick around very long!

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Our family loves fixing breakfasts foods for dinner.  It’s an inexpensive dinner option, and by fixing breakfast at dinnertime, we always seem to have more time to enjoy the meal than we would first thing in the morning.

A few weeks back, I decided to try making French toast by using store-bought French bakery bread, complemented by homemade syrup.  After searching out recipes online, I decided to tweak a few different recipes to make a simple almond butter syrup.  Here’s what I came up with:

Almond Butter Syrup

1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick butter
1 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; continue boiling and stirring for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Add butter, almond extract, and cinnamon; stir until combined.  Serve warm with French toast or pancakes.  Refrigerate remaining syrup.

While the syrup was cooling down just a bit, I prepared the French toast recipe below.

French Toast

4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 loaf fresh French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Dip bread into mixture, coating both sides.  Place bread in a preheated skillet.

Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve with almond butter syrup.

This was a huge hit for our family.  And the almond butter syrup…..let’s just say that I would willingly use it to dip just about anything in and eat it – yum!  While it might not be the healthiest syrup to eat on a routine basis, it was delicious for an occasional treat.

Cost

Store brand sugar, $0.35 (Aldi)
Countryside Creamery butter, $0.57 (Aldi)
Store brand almond extract, $0.25 (Meijer)
Store brand ground cinnamon, $0.10 (Aldi)
Store brand eggs, $0.32 (Meijer)
Friendly Farms milk, $0.12 (Aldi)
Store brand vanilla, $0.25 (Aldi)
Store brand nutmeg, $0.05 (Meijer)
Meijer French bread, $1.49 (Meijer)
Domino confectioner’s sugar, $0.25 (Meijer)

Total cost – $3.75 (or $0.63 per serving)

We also whipped up a batch of scrambled eggs and sliced up fresh strawberries and pineapple to go with our breakfast for dinner.  Even though Lent is over, I’m sure this recipe will stick around throughout the entire year!

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