This is probably want you wanted from the get go, right? Here is my official meal plan built using less than $50.
Maple Balsamic Marinaded Grilled Pork Loin
Shoestring French Fries
Sliced Apples (Grill them if you’re feeling frisky)
You’ll be using approximately 1/3 of the pork loin, sliced about 1/2 inch thick into four pieces. I marinade for as long as I can. The flavor is best if you marinade overnight or even 24 hours. Half of the bag of green beans are required. I love to add just a wee bit of garlic salt when I’m cooking them but nothing else. We find half the bag of french fries to be more than enough for four servings (or at least all we should be eating). If you slice the apples thickly enough you can place them directly on the grill for a sugary caramelized flavor. Eat them with a bite of pork = WOW. You should probably only need 1-2 apples to get the job done.
Ham and Eggs
Side Spinach Salad with Sliced Strawberries
You’ll use about five slices of ham and four eggs for this meal. An additional egg will be required for the pancake mix. You can choose to simply scramble the eggs and add the sliced and cubed ham to the mix or you can mix the eggs with a bit of milk, cheese, salt and pepper, and the ham, place in an 8×8 dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle. I know spinach salad sounds like a weird side dish but it has a nice brunch flavor. Top with half of the sliced strawberries. A little green and red will brighten this otherwise beige meal. A homemade balsamic dressing is nice, too. But a ranch would still be yummy. If you have salsa on hand, you could punch up the flavor of the eggs by adding a little into the mix.
Gluten Free Fusilli with Meat Marinara
Brown half of the ground turkey purchased. I typically freeze the second half to use with a later meal but if you want to use it the next day, simply refrigerate. Add to spaghetti sauce (remember I had a jar in my cabinet already) and heat and serve over the gluten free pasta (we only use about half of the bag). Use a bit more of the spinach (our entire family seems to eat this for days) topped with some of the peppers, the frozen peas, shredded cheese, and even a boiled egg if you like. The strawberries make for a nice fruity side dish. You’ll more than likely only use about half of the sauce and half of of the pasta depending on your flavor preferences. Using a wee bit less meat is ok with a meal like this because the bulk of the calories is picked up in other dishes. I’ve also tried to use up more of the fresh ingredients early on the meal plan so they don’t go to waste. Strawberries and spinach are more likely to expire quicker than your apples, black beans, or frozen produce.
Pork Pad Thai with Zucchini
I’ve been dipping my toes into cooking Thai food lately (don’t be overly impressed) and this is a dish that my husband loves. It will require 1/3 or less of the pork, sliced thinly into bite sized pieces. You’ll also use an egg and one of the zucchini. You could even add a cup of the frozen peas into the mix. Again, I used a box of rice pasta I found in my pantry (retails for $1.85 and you’d use half). I found half of chopped onion in my fridge from the week prior but even onion powder could pull off the flavor that you need. The Pad Thai sauce was prefab (typically I get four or five meals out of one small jar because it requires about a tablespoon and no more for our pallets). Serve with a side of apples (a couple should do it for a family of four).
Ham, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits
Shoestring French Fries
Crockpot Apples with Cinnamon
It’s another breakfast themed night. This time, beat four eggs (with a little milk or cream or whatever you have on hand) and pour them into individual portions on the griddle or on the skillet. Use another egg to make the biscuits (which brings us to 11 total in the meal plan) and more of the baking mix. Quickly heat four slices of the ham on the griddle and melt the cheese on top. The fries are an easy out. This meal would be good with roasted red potatoes, too. Chop four more of the apples into chunks and place them in the crockpot with simply cinnamon or add a little butter and brown sugar for a bit more of decadence. Honestly, they’re delicious either way. I adding a side of frozen peas (my girls eat them straight from the freezer – weird, I know) just so you have a little green with the meal. I think if they’re not overcooked, they make a nice little fresh taste addition.
Chili with Ground Turkey and Black Beans
Tortilla Chips & Cheese
My chili recipe is SO lazy. Preparing the dried black beans is the most cumbersome part. I typically rinse and soak beans overnight a couple of days before I need them for a dish. Then I cook them for 4-6 hours on low in my crockpot. Then I portion them out (about a cup to a cup and a half) and freeze them for later use in Ziploc bags or containers. If you’d rather use a can of black beans, I totally understand. Since I wanted black beans for a couple of dishes, I chose the dried variety (even though there will be several servings left over). I use a can of crushed tomatoes, either a can or a cup and a half of prepared black beans, half a pound of browned ground turkey, and seasonings (chili powder, cumin, a little brown sugar, and garlic salt typically). You could add onions or what other flavors you desire. Use the rest of spinach to make a little side salad and one third to one half of the bag of chips (don’t pig out because we need the other half). You might have a few leftover apples from the night before, too. Heat them back up in the crockpot for a yummy, low labor meal.
Crockpot Pulled Pork
Topped with Spinach, Cheese, Salsa or BBQ sauce
A naked burrito is a hearty meal certain to fill your belly. I typically cook all three items in three separate small crockpots. If you’ve never prepared rice in the crockpot, it’s simple and delicious. Simply use a tablespoon of butter to coat the inside of the pot, leave whatever is leftover in there, add 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (depending on how quickly your crockpot cook). Use a bit more of the cheese and whatever you have on hand to spice up this dish. I have fresh cilantro growing in spades in our garden so I’d grab some of it to chop and top. Fix a double portion of the beans. You’ll need them tomorrow.
Ham and Cheese Nachos
Leftover Black Beans & Brown Rice
We’re getting to the end of our ingredients for those of you playing along at home. Use the last half of bag of the chips. Top with the remaining cheese and 4-5 slices of the ham chopped into bite sized pieces. Whatever is leftover from the day before – beans, rice, salsa or BBQ sauce, spinach – will be great to top the nachos with once they come out of the oven. Slice up one or two of the apples (there are usually about ten in a bag so you still should have some).
Ham, Zucchini, and Pepper Pasta
To round out the meals, I’ve chosen a simple pasta recipe. For a more kid friendly version, I prepare the pasta and drain. Then to a skillet, I add some butter and garlic salt, sautéing the two zucchini and the chopped multi-colored peppers. Personally, I like a little crunch in the veggies so I don’t cook them long. I add the ham, chopped into bite sized pieces and the pasta (a wee bit more butter if things begin to stick). For adults, I’d opt for fresh basil out of my garden (or dried basil from the cabinet) and olive oil. This might be a bit too powerful for little people pallets. So stick with the butter and garlic.
I eat whatever is leftover (ha!)
So the last meal is probably a wee bit weak in the eyes of some. But I had a cup of the baking mix left, some ham, plenty of black beans, an egg, frozen peas, an apple, cheese, and the magic that is my pantry. How long has that can of pumpkin been in there anyway? I’ve been known to fix a meal for everyone else and scavenge for my leftover fare. Again, I could have concocted a full weirdo-meal with what was remained but we’ll keep it simple on the final day to round things out.
Bottom line, even if the final meal (last supper) is meager, it’s still plentiful. You CAN squeeze 10 gluten free meals out of $50, no problem and have a few leftovers, too. This little experiment redoubled my efforts to make the most of everything we have and everything we purchase. What about you?
I’d love for you to play along with me! How many meals can you get from $50? I bet a few of you could beat me. Hashtag your posts or pictures with #50dollarchallenge or contact me with what you came up with! Maybe I can share a few of your ideas or plans on here, too.
This post was sponsored by the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. You get to learn about affordable ways to prepare food. I get a few extra bucks in the Royal coffers. The post and opinions are 100% mine. No editing was done by anyone. I’m sure you could find some grammatical errors if you read it again. Read more on my disclosure policy.
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