Beans: budget-friendly and delicious (part 1)

Dried beans are a great food bargain and one of my favorite ingredients for cooking the $2 Dinners way. A budget-friendly deal at about one third of what you would pay for canned beans, dried beans also lend themselves to a wide variety of flavors and cuisines, and they are super-easy to prepare. The best part however, is that not only are they a great value, beans also pack a healthy punch. Fiber-rich and full of protein, several studies suggest that beans help prevent cancer and reduce cholesterol as well. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why beans are a favorite ingredient here at $2 Dinners, and why I am featuring them in a 3-part series!

In this 3-part series on beans, I’ll give you a basic recipe for cooking a specific type of dried bean, and then a second recipe that shows you just one of the many ways you can use it. In part 1 of the series, we’ll look at an easy way to cook black-eyed peas (contrary to what the name says they are beans- not peas), and then we’ll use them in Hoppin’ John, a traditional dish served on New Year’s Day here in the south. Are you ready? Let’s cook some beans!

Click on the orange boxes for printable versions of the recipes
Easy Black-Eyed Peas (makes 6 servings @ about 89 cents per serving)

Hoppin’ John (makes 4-6 servings @ about $1.35 per serving)

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For Breakfast or Dinner Eggs Are Economical

At a cost of only about $1.16 per dozen, eggs are an economical source of protein that lend themselves perfectly to preparing meals the $2 Dinners way! At my house we often make breakfast for dinner, and that usually means eggs in some form. One of my favorite ways to use eggs for these “breakfast dinners” is to make a quiche.
Quiche is the perfect idea for any easy, budget-friendly dinner, and it comes together in a flash! The perfect "go-to" meal when you’re on a budget and you have the "what's for dinner?" blues, quiche is also a smart and economical way to use up leftover meat, veggies and cheese. Add some fruit or a side salad, and you have delicious, thrifty and easy meal your family will love! Just follow the basic recipe, and the sky is the limit as to what you can create! Try these combinations or have fun coming up with your own:

Click on the orange box for a printable version of this recipe

Easy Quiche (makes 8 servings @ about 95 cents per serving)

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$2 Dinners Does Dessert

Think you can’t afford dessert when you’re on a budget? You can if you make it the $2 Dinners way! For less than $2 per serving, you can still afford to make sweet treats for your family and stick to your budget too. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars combine two made-for-each-other flavors in a scrumptious cookie bar. Our other dessert, Mudpie Chocolate Cake, is super moist and chocolate-y and you can make it right in the pan- no mixer or bowls required! Satisfy the sweet-tooth cravings at your house today and make dessert the $2 Dinners way!

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars (makes 2 dozen bars @ about 30 cents per bar)

Mudpie Chocolate Cake (serves 12 @ about 25 cents per serving)

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Use Versatile and Economical Chicken for Many Meals

Here at $2 Dollar Dinners, we love to sing the praises of the humble chicken, America’s favorite meat and the hero of many budget-saving recipes. Chicken recipes are one of the top searches on Google each month and for good reason: it’s fairly inexpensive, easy to prepare in a variety of ways, and very, very versatile! Did you know that the average American adult eats around 90 lbs. of chicken per year? No wonder we’re all looking for different ways to prepare it! The following recipes are my budget-friendly take on some favorite chicken recipes, and the best thing is that each one costs $2 or less per serving to make!

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes
Shortcut Chicken Parmesan (serves 6 @ about $1.58 per serving)

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole (serves 4 @ about $1.39 per serving)

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$2 Dinners Time Saving Tip

Time-Saver Tip of the Week:

I keep a bag in my freezer labeled “soup”, and whenever I have odd amounts of veggies, rice, etc., I toss them in the bag until I have enough to use for what I call a hodgepodge soup. Even small pieces of leftover cheese are good additions to your “soup” bag. Have small amounts of leftover meat? Freeze them in small bags, separated by type, and add them to whatever kind of soup you decide to make (I always save scraps of leftover Christmas ham to use for making ham and bean soup in January).

Soups and Stews Help You Save Bucks

Soups and stews are one of the best ways I know to make an inexpensive cut of meat taste like a million dollars! In addition to that, they’re also a delicious and creative way to use leftovers. Vegetables, pasta, or rice are all wonderful additions to any soup or stew, and you can feel good knowing that nothing went to waste! The thing I like best about soups and stews is that they are also great time-savers; perfect for your slow-cooker or slow-simmering on the stove with no “babysitting” required! Start exploring the time and money-saving advantages of soups and stews with these flavorful recipes that each cost $2 or less per serving.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes
Vegetable Beef Soup (serves 4 @ about $1.63 per serving)

Easy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew (serves 6-8 @ about $1.75 per serving)

Chicken and Cheesy Ravioli Soup (serves 4 @ about $1.50 per serving)

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Feed Your Whole Family with One Pound of Meat

Fact: meat is one of the biggest budget hogs on your grocery list! Even on sale meat can be a budget buster! The good news is that you don’t have to eliminate meat from your grocery list to save money. The trick to keeping meat in your budget is to find ways to make a little go a long way. The following Italian-inspired recipes are all great examples of how to take one pound of meat and make it stretch by combining it in delicious ways with other ingredients, all for $2 or less per serving!

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Speedy Italian Meatball Soup (serves 4 @ about $1.78 a serving)

Rosemary Foccacia (serves 8 @ about .19¢ per serving)

Penny’s Penne (serves 6-8 @ about $1.40 a serving)
Note: This is the recipe I prepared for my appearance on WGHP Fox 8 with Melissa Painter!

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