Wow your friends and family with this stress-free holiday dinner

For most of us, the holiday season means gathering in our homes with friends and family to enjoy company, conversation, and great food. If you’re planning a holiday gathering at your house, you may be looking forward to it with equal amounts of excitement and fear. I don’t blame you! It’s never a small feat to hold a gathering that involves food, and even small dinner parties can make your palms sweaty; the holidays only add an extra layer of stress! You’re not alone though, because even veteran hosts/hostesses can find it a balancing act to put together a great meal without spending all their time in the kitchen (and neglecting their guests).

The good news is that a holiday dinner party doesn’t have to be stressful, and you can pull it off easily and within budget. How? The secret is to plan ahead and to have an easy but delicious menu. The menu for our $2 Dinners “Stress-Free Holiday Dinner” is full of recipes that are delicious, super-easy and guaranteed to “wow” your guests! The best part is that each one has six ingredients or less (not counting salt and pepper)! For your upcoming holiday meal, try “Heavenly Christmas Ham”, “Scalloped Potatoes”, and “Bacon-y Green Beans”. With rolls and dessert purchased at your local bakery, you will have a delicious, stress-free holiday feast you can be proud of!

$2 Dinners Hints for a Stress-Free Holiday Meal:

- Read and re-read the recipes to make sure you understand the steps and to double-check that you have all the ingredients. Make a grocery list and do your shopping a day or two in advance.
- Set and decorate your table the morning of your party. Set out all your serving bowls and utensils as well. Guests who arrive early will most likely offer to help, so put a piece of paper with the name of the food it will contain beside (or inside) each serving dish. That way, your helpers will know where things go and you won’t be interrupted every 5 minutes to give them instructions.
- To avoid washing all those dishes, consider using paper plates. There are some really gorgeous patterns available and paper makes things so much easier. I love using my great-grandmother’s china, but since it has to be carefully hand-washed, I usually choose paper instead. While I still use my good flatware for the main meal, I do use plastic ware for appetizers and desserts (otherwise I would run out of forks!). I also purchase paper or plastic cups in a coordinating color or pattern for guests to use before and after the meal.

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

Heavenly Citrus Ham (makes 15 servings @ about $2.00 per serving)

Really Easy Scalloped Potatoes (makes 6-8 servings @ about .75 cents per serving)

Bacon-y Green Beans (makes 6 servings @ about .35 cents per serving)

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Share Our Strength's Progressive Dinner- Share Our Holiday Table

Today's post is really special to me because it's part of Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign during the holiday season. $2 Dinners and about 40 other bloggers were invited to take part in a seven-day, online progressive dinner series—Share Our Holiday Table—that will help raise funds for Share Our Strength during the critical holiday period.

Before I get to the post, I want to tell ya'll a little about the No Kid Hungry campaign. No Kid Hungry™, is an unprecedented, five-year effort designed to end childhood hunger in America. Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against: The stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by access to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive. For 25 years, Share Our Strength has been confronting hunger head-on to break down these barriers. Together, with your support, we can put an end to childhood hunger. Won't you join us in the No Kid Hungry campaign?

Welcome to day 4 of SOS's virtual progressive dinner...we're serving up a family-friendly soup that's easy, delicious, and budget-friendly. Today's soup recipe is based on an American fast food favorite...bacon cheeseburgers with fries! I know it sounds off-the-wall, but the flavors we all love in this classic combination translate surprisingly well into a soup too. Besides, anything with bacon in it can't be all bad (can I get an "amen")? This soup is a snap to prep, goes from stove to table in about 30 minutes, and it tastes amazing! Give it a try this week...I bet your kids will love the idea of "cheeseburger soup" (my 7-year-old grandson, who loves soup, said he thought cheeseburger soup was "crazy" but after tasting it, his mom said he asked for more!).

P.S. Please check out the links at the bottom of this post to see more awesome recipes from other bloggers for SOS's "Share Our Holiday Table" virtual progressive dinner, and please click on the "No Kid Hungry" button on my home page to donate whatever you can to help stop childhood hunger.

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

Mimi's Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries Soup (makes 6 servings @ about $1.89 per serving)

Please check out these other great posts from the Share Our Holiday Table virtual progressive supper:

Day 1- Appetizers
             Gourmet- The Italian Dish
                              Recipe Girl
             Family Friendly- Family Fresh Cooking
                                          Giving Up On Perfect
             Vegetarian- Two Peas and Their Pod
                                  Smith Bites
             Gluten Free- Wenderly
                                   La Fuji Mama
Day 2- Drinks
             Gourmet- Food Woolf
                            The Gringo Chapin
             Family Friendly- Three Many Cooks
                                         Fat Wuz Here
            Vegetarian- Lexie's Kitchen
                                Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
            Gluten Free- Gluten Free Easily  

Day 3- Salads
            Gourmet- The Bitten Word
            Family Friendly- Food For My Family
            Vegetarian- Glugle Gluten-Free
            Gluten Free- Add A Pinch
                                  Gluten Free Diva

Day 4- Soups
            Gourmet- edible cville
                             The Runaway Spoon
                             A Girl, A Market, A Meal
            Family Friendly- Ladles and Jellyspoons
                                        All About Alton Brown
                                        Cookie Central's Great American Bake Sale
            Vegetarian- Good Life Eats
                                 Feed Our Families
            Gluten Free- Celiac Teen
                                  Celiacs in the House
                                  And Love it Too!
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Pumpkin is Perfect for More Than Just Pies

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and rows of canned pumpkin are beginning to appear in local stores, ready to be turned into holiday pies. With visions of delicious, whipped cream-topped custard pies dancing in our heads, it’s easy to forget that pumpkin is also a versatile and budget-friendly ingredient in many other recipes as well. Economical at around $1.89 per can, pumpkin can be used in surprising ways for both sweet and savory recipes. From soups and stews to pancakes and lasagna, pumpkin adds a delightful touch of holiday flavor to a wide variety of dishes. So, if you’ve never tried pumpkin for anything besides pie, you don’t know what you’re missing! The following recipes will get you started thinking about pumpkin in a whole new and delicious way.

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

Pumpkin Soup (makes 10 servings @ about $1.35 per serving)

Pumpkin Lasagna (makes 6 servings @ about $1.98 per serving)

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Apple Harvest Time Means Delicious Deals

For maximum taste at a minimum price, smart shoppers know that the best time to buy fruits and vegetables is when they’re in season. Right now in many parts of the country its apple harvest time, and that means delicious bargains await you in the produce section of your favorite store. Whether they’re sweet, tart, red or green, there’s nothing that beats a juicy, crispy apple. One of the best things about apples, however, is that not only are they a delicious and inexpensive snack, they’re also adaptable to a wide variety of sweet and savory recipes that are easy on your budget.

So what can you do with apples besides putting them in a pie? The following recipes are just a sampling of the wonderful dishes you can create with apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Don’t miss out on delicious apple deals at your local store…take advantage of apple harvest time and cook up some delicious apple-inspired and budget-friendly meals for your family this week.

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

Apple Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup (makes 4 servings of 3 pancakes each @ about 99 cents per serving)

Cider Pork Chops (makes 4 servings @ about $1.68 per serving)

Easy Apple Crisp (makes 8 servings @ about 60 cents per serving)

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Save Money and Time With This Double-Duty Dinner

When the mornings start to get cooler and autumn is right around the corner, don’t you find your thoughts turning towards comfort food? You know… dishes like soups, chili, meatloaf and pot roast? Here at $2 Dinners we love a good pot roast, but it’s not exactly the most budget-friendly meal in the recipe box is it? Even though it may not be an affordable option for just one meal, if you split one roast between two recipes, then it suddenly becomes a frugal cook’s new secret weapon.

Using one roast for two meals doesn’t have to be boring either. We love leftover roast beef sandwiches as much as anyone, but we also know that there is so much more you can do with your leftover beef. Our Italian-style pulled beef sandwiches and Vegetable Beef Soup with a Kick are perfectly delicious examples of what you can create from just one roast and they couldn’t be easier. Make the sandwiches for lunch or dinner one day, use the leftover beef for a delicious soup later in the week, and you’ve got two great meals for one budget-friendly price.

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

Italian-Style Pulled Beef Sandwiches (makes 10 servings @ about $1.36 per serving)

Vegetable Beef Soup With a Kick (makes 6-8 servings @ about $1.00 per serving)

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I just joined a great new food blogging community

Hey ya'll...I just joined a great new food blogging community that I want to share with you. It's called Foodie Blogroll and it's lots of fun.....they have community forums, great contests and lots more. Right now they are having a contest to promote Foodie Blogroll and the prize is a great customized FBR tote. It's easy to enter...all you have to do is join!

So if you're a foodie, what are you waiting for? Join Foodie Blogroll today and network with other foodies, get you blog noticed and be part of a fantastic food blogging community!

The $2 Dinners Cookbook is coming!

Guess what ya'll? Last month I was offered a book contract to do a $2 Dinners cookbook.....can you believe it? That's one of the reasons I have been behind on my posts, the other(s) being the launch of the new Carolina Gourmet line, tastings and demos, and writing my column. plan is to get back on track and post some new content so ya'll don't get bored with me and stop visiting. Thanks for sticking with me...I love ya more than my KitchenAid Pro Mixer!

Also, I'm thinking about doing a recipe contest...anybody up for a little friendly competition? It would have to involve budget-friendly recipes of course. Let me know what you think and I'll put something together to announce real soon. The prize? I'm thinking a basket of gourmet goodies from my company, The Carolina Gourmet.

A back to school menu that really makes the grade

Our $2 Dinners look at back-to-school menu ideas continues this week with more easy recipes for delicious school-week meals. This week’s recipes complete our fantastic menu with a wonderful dinner and dessert combo that are a snap to prepare and budget friendly too. Our Easy Overnight Meatball Casserole is a busy cook’s dream because it comes together in minutes and then hangs out in the fridge overnight to work its’ magic. Then, when you get home after a busy day, just pop it in the oven and let it bake until the pasta is tender and the cheeses are melted and golden brown, while you help the kids with homework, pack lunches, etc. It couldn’t be easier and your family will love it! And, because at $2 Dinners we believe that every delicious dinner needs an equally delicious dessert, we have a recipe for Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies that are the perfect ending for the perfect meal. Full of chocolate and peanut buttery goodness, these chewy brownies are sure to be a hit at your house.

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

Easy Overnight Meatball Casserole (makes 6-8 servings @ about $1.82 per serving)

Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies (makes 24 brownies @ about 18 cents per brownie)

Want another great meatball casserole recipe that's budget-friendly? Check out this recipe on Foodista...the cooking encyclopedia that everyone can edit!

Meatball Casserole

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Get an A+ on savings with this back-to-school menu

It’s back-to-school time, and for many of us that means the annual “back to school” frenzy and all that goes with it. As parents, while this might mean relief that peace and quiet will return to our homes during the day, it also means the stress of planning before-school breakfasts, packed lunches, after-school snacks, and dinners that are quick, and easy. While it’s true that meals must also be planned and prepared when the kids are home for the summer, somehow it seems like a bigger deal when you know you have to accomplish multiple meals in the midst of all the school-related chaos like getting your kids to the bus on time, finding lost books, shoes, coats, etc., not to mention helping with all that homework! It can be stressful and exhausting.

Our budget-friendly back-to-school menu brings you easy and delicious ideas for preparing a whole day’s worth of school-week meals, without all the stress and without spending hours in the kitchen. This week’s recipes cover breakfast, lunch, and an after-school snack, and in our next column we’ll bring you recipes for a wonderful school-week dinner and dessert. Your family will love these tasty recipes, and kids will love helping with the preparation, especially the “Beary” Delicious Snack Mix.

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

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins (makes 12 muffins @ about 23 cents per muffin)

Hearty Hoagies (serves 4 @ about $1.95 per serving)

"Beary" Delicious Snack Mix (makes 5 1/2 cups, serves 5 @ about 85 cents per serving)

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Zero in on savings with zucchini

I don’t know what it is about zucchini, but this scenario happens to me every year, and I know I’m not alone: Early in May or June, you plant “just a couple” of harmless-looking zucchini plants in your garden, figuring you’d grow enough of the tasty green squash to enjoy for a few meals, right? But, little do you know that those small zucchini plants have other ideas...for they proceed to grow enormous and to produce enough zucchini to feed your whole family...and half the neighborhood! As a result, by mid-August you’re knee-deep in zucchini, and your friends, neighbors, and co-workers are running in the other direction when they see you coming with another bag to give away. Sound familiar?

So what can you do with all those zucchini once you can’t even give them away anymore? Here are a couple of easy and economical recipes your family will love that make delicious use of the zucchini bounty from your garden.

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

Zucchini Salad (serves 4 @ about 71 cents per serving- if zucchini is purchased)

Fried Zucchini (serves 6-8 @ about 45 cents per serving- if zucchini is purchased)

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$2 Dinners on WSVA today!

Just a shout out to all my followers that my $2 Dinners will be on the radio today...WSVA in Harrisonburg Virginia at 3:35. Check out the live stream by clicking here.

Grilling on a budget doesn’t have to mean just burgers and hotdogs

As the heat-wave across most of the country continues, if you’re like most of us, you’re probably relying more and more on your grill for meal preparation. After all, even though it’s no fun standing over a hot grill when it’s 90+ degrees outside, it sure beats heating up the inside of your house by preparing meals in the kitchen. But what can you grill when you’re on a budget? Chances are that you may feel limited to burgers and dogs because anything else seems out of your price-range.

However, here at $2 Dinners, we know it doesn’t have to be that way. While burgers and dogs are both popular choices for budget-minded grilling, you don’t have to feel restricted to just these two sandwiches. In addition to those all-American favorites, there is a wide variety of taste-tempting, easy and economical sandwiches that can be prepared on the grill.

This week’s menu is a perfect example of the flavorful and budget-friendly sandwiches you can create on your grill. Our affordably-delicious Philly-Style BBQ Chicken Sandwich comes together in a flash, and your family is sure to love this savory combination of smoky BBQ chicken, melted Mozzarella cheese, and crisp-tender veggies nestled on a soft roll. Serve these incredible sandwiches with chips or macaroni or potato salad, and you have a budget feast you can be proud of. For a cool and refreshing treat at the end of your meal, try our Orange Granita (think gourmet “slushy” that you eat with a spoon).

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

Philly-Style BBQ Chicken Sandwich (Serves 4 for approx. $1.78 per serving)

Orange Granita (Serves 4-6 for approx. .10 cents per serving)

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A frugal fiesta that’s perfect for a hot summer day

The “dog days” of summer have arrived; bringing with them the kind of heat and humidity that saps the energy right out of you. On days like this, even if you can find the motivation to cook, the thought of heating up the kitchen can send you running straight to the nearest air-conditioned restaurant. However, during a prolonged heat wave like we’ve been having recently, dining out every time the heat gets to be too much can get expensive in a hurry.

So how can you put an easy, healthy meal on the table on a sultry summer day without breaking the bank? How about letting your slow cooker do the work? Ideal for hot-weather cooking because it won’t heat up your kitchen, your slow cooker can help you prepare a surprising variety of dishes that are easy on your wallet, healthy, and tasty too. Our $2 Dinners Frugal Fiesta, which begins with savory and slightly spicy Slow Cooker Burritos, is a perfectly delicious example of what you can create with your slow cooker in warm weather. Served alongside the cool, clean flavors of our Summer Salsa with Tortilla Chips, they’re so good you might just forget all about the heat outside for a while.

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

Slow Cooker Burritos (serves 6 @ about $1.45 per serving)

Summer Salsa with Tortilla Chips (serves 8 @ about 45 cents per serving)

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This 4th of July picnic that gives you more bang for your buck

Planning a family picnic for the 4th of July? This year, celebrate your independence from out-of-control grocery bills and try our super-easy and delicious $2 Dinners menu. Parmesan-Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken tastes great hot or cold, takes minutes to prep, and “fries” to a delicious golden-brown right in your oven. Our tangy German-Style Potato Salad with Herbs is the perfect savory side dish because it contains no mayonnaise, so you won’t have to be as concerned about food spoilage on a hot day. For dessert, the classic combination of oranges and chocolate come together in a spectacular Chocolate Chip Orange Cake that’s soaked in orange syrup, so it needs no frosting (making it easier to pack and transport to your picnic). Add some raw veggies like carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes with ranch dip, and sweet tea or lemonade, and you have a perfect, budget-friendly 4th of July picnic that your family will love.

Click on the orange boxes for printable versions of the recipes

Parmesan-crusted oven fried chicken (serves 6 @ about $1.23 per serving)

German-Style Potato Salad with Herbs (serves 6 @ about 47 cents per serving)

Chocolate Chip Orange Cake (serves 9 @ about 23 cents per serving)

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For dad’s big day, this meal is one tasty deal

On Father’s Day, dad deserves a meal that’s as special as he is, and this $2 Dinners menu is the perfect way to show him how much you care. This tasty and inexpensive meal has something to please everyone in the family, and since you make it in your slow cooker, you’ll have more time (and money) to spend with dad on his special day. This Father’s Day, why not surprise dad with a delicious and affordable meal you made yourself at home? Here’s how:

Your Father’s Day meal starts with our Amazing Slow Cooker Chili Dogs. Yes…you read that right…these delicious dogs are made right in your slow cooker. No need to stand outside by a hot grill, or to heat up your kitchen either, because your slow cooker will do all the work while you stay cool and comfortable. And, since no Father’s Day feast would be complete without a fantastic dessert, we have a Chocolate Chip Swirl Bundt Cake that’s so incredibly delicious, your dad will wish every day was Father’s Day. To round out this tasty, easy menu, serve your favorite chips, or make up a pot of our $2 Dinners Ranch-Style Beans for a Father’s Day Feast that costs just under $2 per person.
Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes
Amazing Slow Cooker Chili Dogs (serves 8 @ about $1.06 per serving)

Chocolate Chip Swirl Bundt Cake (serves 12 @ about 45 cents per serving)

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Grill up some savory savings with Sirloin Shish Kabobs

The summer cook-out season is here and it’s time to fire up your grill! Cooking outdoors just seems to make everything more festive and fun, not to mention the fact that it also keeps the heat outside where it belongs instead of in your kitchen. But maybe the best thing about grilling is that not only can you cook your entire meal outdoors, you can also make inexpensive ingredients into a budget-friendly gourmet feast.

One of our favorite $2 Dinners grilled meals is Sirloin Shish Kabobs that features boneless sirloin steak, marinated in a tangy sauce and teamed up with colorful vegetables. These flavorful kabobs are so easy to make, you can even have them on a weeknight because they can be assembled ahead of time, they grill in just a few minutes, and there’s almost no cleanup after the meal. However, maybe the best thing about these kabobs is that since men love beef and kids love just about anything on a stick, this meal is sure to be a hit with your family. The next time you’re ready to fire up the grill, consider making Sirloin Shish Kabobs for a fantastic all-in-one meal. Add some hot cooked rice or maybe a piece of grilled pita bread and dinner is done!

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

Sensation Sirloin Shish Kabobs ( makes 5 servings @ about $1.75 per serving (with rice or Pita bread- $2.00)

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This Memorial Day cook-out is big on flavor and easy on your wallet

Memorial Day is right around the corner, and for many people that means inviting family and friends over for a cook-out to signal the “official” start of summer. It’s always fun to cook outside, especially when you include your friends and family, but if your budget is tight it can also be a challenge to feed those extra people. While you may be tempted to cut back on expenses by throwing some bargain frozen patties on the grill and grabbing some bulk potato salad from the superstore, there are tastier options that are just as easy on your wallet.

This year for your Memorial Day cook-out, try this easy, taste-tempting Memorial Day menu from $2 Dinners. You’ll love this menu because not only does it taste good, it can be done in advance, leaving you free to spend time with your friends and family. The stars of this fantastic menu are our Garlic and Herb Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers that you can put together ahead of time and grill when you’re ready. You won’t believe how juicy and flavorful they are, and everyone will love the gooey, melted nugget of cheddar cheese hidden inside. And of course no cook-out would be complete without some traditional side dishes, so we came up with two that are both delicious and easy to put together in advance. Our Easy Potato Salad is quick to prepare and only takes 4 ingredients, and our Ranch Beans come together in a flash but taste like they have been slow-cooked all day.

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

Garlic and Herb Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers (serves 4 @ about $1.00 per serving)

Easy Potato Salad (serves 4 @ about 35 cents per serving)

Ranch-Style Beans (serves 4 @ about 45 cents per serving)

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Honor your mom with this affordable Mother’s Day brunch

Are you on a budget and wondering what to get mom for Mother’s Day? Why not give her the gift of your time and do something that lets her sit back, relax and enjoy? For most moms, it really is the thought that counts, especially when you do something that provides a rare opportunity for us to skip a chore like cleaning or cooking a meal. So this Mother’s Day, why not surprise mom with a delicious and affordable brunch you made yourself at home?

We have the perfect $2 Dinners menu to help you make this the best Mother’s Day ever. Mom is sure to love the herbs and spices in our savory Sausage Patties with Sage, and Gourmet Scrambled Eggs take a boring breakfast staple from ordinary to extraordinary. The true stars of this fantastic brunch, however, are the sweet, gooey and oh-so-easy cinnamon rolls you make with frozen bread dough.

So this year for Mother’s Day, show mom how much you care by preparing this wonderful brunch that’s so easy on your budget, you’ll have enough money left to surprise her with a little something to unwrap as well.

Click on the orange boxes for printable versions of the recipes

Sausage Patties with Sage (serves 4 @ about 43 per serving)

Gourmet Scrambles Eggs (serves 4 @ about 69 cents per serving)

Cinnamon Rolls (makes 24 rolls @ about 13 cents per serving)

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Easy skillet meals are a good deal

Are you a busy cook on a budget looking for dinner ideas that are low-cost, fast and easy? Skillet meals may be just what you’re looking for! These one-pan wonders are a busy cook’s best friend because they need just a few budget-friendly ingredients, require little preparation time, and are literally a “meal-in-one”. You won’t even need to worry about serving a side dish unless you want to add some fruit or a small salad. The best thing about skillet meals though, is that since your whole dinner cooks in just one pan, there’s only one pan to wash when dinner is done!

So, if you’re ready to try a time-saving skillet meal, these $2 Dinners recipes are a great place to start. Your family with love the south-of-the-border flavors in our Beefy Enchilada Skillet Dinner, and our Skillet Pasta and Meatballs is a real winner that goes from the stove to the table in under 30 minutes, and needs just five ingredients!

Click on the oranges boxes for printable versions of the recipes

Beefy Enchilada Skillet Dinner (serves 4 @ aboout $1.94 per serving)

Skillet Pasta and Meatballs (serves 4 @ about $1.75 per serving)

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$2 Dinners Time Saving Tip

Time-Saver Tip of the Week:

Save yourself time in the kitchen by cooking several pounds of chicken at once and freezing it for later use. I often buy those 3lb. bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the Superstore (priced at around $6.50) and cook the whole thing to use later. To cook chicken: Poach it- Place chicken in a large pot with enough chicken broth to cover. Bring broth to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking for 6 minutes (freeze the stock and use for soup later). Or you can Bake it- Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and place chicken on sheet. Drizzle with a little vegetable or olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear. Once your cooked chicken has cooled, just chop it into smaller pieces and freeze 1-2 cups per container. Use frozen cooked chicken within 6 months.

Make This Incredible Pulled Pork for Pennies

Here in the Tarheel State, there isn’t much of anything we like to eat better than pulled pork BBQ. In fact, we North Carolinians are so crazy about our barbeque, we’ve been known to engage in passionate and somewhat heated debates about sauce, preparation methods, and which restaurant has the best pulled pork. However, even when we don’t see eye-to-eye, something we can all agree on is that there’s nothing quite like a big ‘ole plate of pork BBQ!

So how do you satisfy your cravings for pulled pork at home without getting takeout? Make it in your slow cooker! This delicious and amazingly easy pulled pork recipe is the creation of my friend and co-worker Anita. She came up with this recipe a couple of months ago and brought it to work for some of us to try. I have to say it was love at first bite, and I knew she had a real winner. When I got the recipe from her, I realized that she had created a recipe that was not only delicious; it’s easy and economical too. The onion soup gives this pork a little something extra that takes the flavor over-the-top, so if you’re a pulled pork lover, you have got to try this, and don't forget the coleslaw (thanks Anita)!

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

Anita’s Incredible Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (makes 7-8 cups. Serves: 8 for BBQ plates @ about $1.00 per serving, or 12 for sandwiches @ about 90 cents per serving (includes bun)

Easy Coleslaw (serves 8 @ about 50 cents per serving)

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Make an Easter feast for your family that costs less than $2 per person

On a tight budget and wondering how you can afford a big family meal this Easter? Relax! Even if your budget is tighter than ever, you can still prepare an incredible Easter feast for your family without sacrificing the flavors you love. The secret? A $2 Dinners menu that’s super-easy and chock-full of thrifty recipes for all your Easter favorites. In fact, this $2 Dinners menu is so budget-friendly, it will only cost you about $1.68 per person! With this great menu, you’ll have enough money left over to make a $2 Dinners Chocolate Mudpie Cake for dessert and still come in under $2 per person!

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

Ham with apples (serves 8 @ about $1.01 per serving)

Roasted Green Beans (serves 8 @ about 25 cents per serving)

Mashed Potatoes (serves 8 @ about 25 cents per serving)

Herb Bread (serves 16 @ about 17 cents per serving)

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Takeout “fake-outs” are tasty and easy on your wallet

Don’t you just love Chinese takeout? Egg Rolls, Chicken Fried Rice, Won Ton Soup, Sesame Chicken…so many delicious choices! Calling the local Chinese place for takeout is always a treat worth looking forward to, but sometimes there may not be room in your budget when a craving comes over you. So what can you do when you’ve got takeout on your mind and it’s not in your budget? Try making your own!

Preparing your favorite Chinese takeout at home is not only fun and easy, it’s economical too. With our $2 Dinners version of some classic takeout favorites, you can feed your family for a fraction of what it costs to order from your local takeout place. These “takeout fake-outs” have the flavor your family loves from your favorite restaurant, at a price that’s easy on your wallet. Try these great recipes and have fun “faking out” your family with your own homemade takeout this weekend!

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

Easy Egg Rolls (makes 10 egg rolls @ about 90 cents each)

Chicken Fried Rice (serves 4 @ about $1.01 per serving)

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These kid-pleasing meals won’t break the bank

If you have kids or grandkids, you know that their tastes in food are pretty predictable and not always budget-friendly. So-called “fast food” such as burgers, fries, pizza, tacos etc., is the order of the day for most kids, and that usually means a trip to the nearest drive-through where the costs can add up fast! Even if you purchase from the dollar-menu, a family of four will most likely spend a minimum of $12 for burgers, fries and drinks each time they visit the drive-through. While we all want to make our kids happy, for families on a budget trips to the drive-through can be too hard on the wallet to be an option.

So how can you satisfy your kids’ taste for fast-food without blowing your budget? Why not try some kid-pleasing, budget-friendly casseroles? These thrifty casseroles have all the flavors of some of your kids’ fast-food favorites without the drive-through price tag!

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

Cheeseburger-n-Tots Casserole (makes 12 servings @ about 90 cents per serving)

Chili Cheese “Corn Dog” Casserole (makes 6 servings @ about $1.27 per serving)

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Feed your family twice with just one rotisserie chicken

A tender, juicy rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is one of my favorite $2 Dinners shortcuts, and I love to find new ways to use this economical and incredibly versatile deli treasure. While the “slice-and-serve” aspect is one of the nicest benefits of a rotisserie chicken, the real beauty of this deli convenience food is that it’s a quick and budget-friendly source for cooked chicken to use in recipes. It takes a few minutes to get all the meat off the bones, and yes, it’s kind of messy, but the results are worth it because you get an average of 2 ½ to 3 cups of meat when you’re done. While that might not sound like a big deal, here at $2 Dinners we know that 2 ½ to 3 cups of meat is enough for not one, but two dinners, and the best part is that you didn’t have to cook the chicken yourself! So what can you do with all that lovely chicken? The possibilities are endless, but the following quick and oh-so-easy recipes will get you started.

Click on the orange boxes for printable versions of the recipes

30-Minute Easy Chicken Pie (serves 4 @ about $1.08 per serving)

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas (serves 6 @ about $1.42 per serving)

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Dried beans: budget-friendly and delicious (part 3)

Today is the last installment of our 3-part series on a favorite ingredient here at $2 Dinners: budget-friendly dried beans. As with the previous two articles, my hope is to inspire you to add these nutritious little bargains to the menu at your house by showing you how easy they are to cook, and then by giving you a recipe that shows you how you can use them in a flavorful and budget-friendly way.

This week’s first recipe shows you a simple and flavorful way to cook dried Great Northern beans, and then in the second recipe, we’ll use them to make Italian Sausage with Beans and Tomato, an Italian-inspired dish that your family will ask for again and again. This hearty, one-pot meal takes almost prep time because the beans were cooked in advance, and the 30-minute simmer time leaves you free to pack lunches, help with homework, or sit and relax while dinner practically cooks itself!

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

Easy Great Northern Beans (makes 6 servings @ about 48 cents per serving)

Italian Sausage with Beans and Tomato (serves 4 to 6 @ about $1.47 per serving)

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Dried beans are budget-friendly and delicious, too (part 2)

Today we continue our 3-part series on a favorite ingredient here at $2 Dinners: budget-friendly dried beans. One of the best food bargains around, beans not only pack a healthy punch, they’re also easy to prepare. This week’s first recipe shows you a simple and flavorful way to cook dried kidney beans, and then in the second recipe, we’ll use those perfectly-prepared beans to make Red Beans and Rice, a comfort food favorite from New Orleans. This hearty, savory, and filling recipe is perfect for a frosty January day!

Click on the orange boxes for printable versions of the recipes

Easy Red Beans (makes 6 servings @ about 79 cents per serving)

Red Beans and Rice (makes 6 servings @ about $1.89 per serving)

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