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ImportantElements

$5 Meal Challenge

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On 4/13/2018 at 9:58 AM, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

VitaCost is the cheapest source I've found.

They sometimes run a food sale, 20% off an order of $50 or more—with free shipping.

 

Red Boat salt is also useful.

It's expensive, but ships free.

A little goes a l—o—n—g way!

red-boat-fish-salt-8oz-inline.jpg

 

Squid brand is my 'everyday' fish sauce.

$2.00 for a 25 fl. oz. bottle at Wegmans.

I clicked on the Red Boat link you provided it showed me that shipping was going to be $6.25? Expensive to start with and then relatively expensive shipping also, don't think I'm going to be getting any. I do wish we had a Wegmans however, I grew up in Rochester and got addicted to them.

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OK. Here's my contribution to the world of challenge-dom, as I expressed it earlier: A $5 or less meal, assuming no charge for pantry staples. This is a favorite that my kids loved when they were little, and I loved because it could be thrown together in a hurry with little thought.

 

Mexican Lasagna (and yes, I use the term loosely). It resides near the epitome of Southern trailer park trash food. And I love it, on a very intermittent basis. Maybe twice a year.

 

The ingredients list (prices are from Kroger or Aldi in NE Arkansas; ymmv):

  • A dozen small corn tortillas  ($1.39)
  • 1 pound ground beef ($5.00*)
  • 1/2 onion, minced (pantry staple)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (pantry staple)
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, guajillo chile powder, ancho chile powder, smoked pimenton, oil (pantry staples)
  • 1 can white shoe-peg corn (1.39)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed ($1.19)
  • 1/2 can black olives, drained and chopped ($1.99 for a full can)
  • 6 oz. cheddar cheese (1.99)
  • 6 oz. monterey jack cheese (1.99)
  • 1 large can El Paso red enchilada sauce ($2.98)

For a shopping list total of $17.92.

*My farm-raised beef costs me an average of $5 a pound, whether it's hamburger, or filet. Supermarket cost may well be less.

I'm throwing in the other half of the can of olives because I'll eat them out of hand.

 

Start out sauteeing the onion and garlic until just starting to soften, adding the ground beef and spices, and sauteeing until done. Drain if necessary, and set aside.

5ad3f5a044d4b_ML--beef.JPG.c10ecd8bc2aab110ad0422e5a3981b11.JPG

 

Grate the cheese. I used grocery store sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack. Co-jack would be fine. Most any cheese you like would be fine. Set that aside as well.

 

Chop the olives, if they're not diced. Drain and rinse the black beans; drain the corn.  Put everything within easy reach, oil a casserole dish (I use a 7-inch round Corningware baker), and commence layering.

 

Put a tablespoon or two of enchilada sauce in the bottom of dish. Swirl to coat. Lay down a corn tortilla. Add a layer of meat. Sprinkle on some corn, followed by some beans, followed by some olives. Top with some grated cheese. Drizzle with some enchilada sauce (3-4 tbsp is plenty). Repeat the layers. For the final layer, put a tablespoon or two of enchilada sauce on the tortilla, smooth with a spoon, and sprinkle with cheese.

 

5ad3f7b874def_ML--readytobake.JPG.4036dc9755e158ba93338965988ccf94.JPG

 

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes at 350. 

 

ML--baked.JPG.5cd778e304ab522885b0fcaddd050505.JPG

 

And here you are.

 

5ad3f88e52ab9_ML--done.JPG.68024939ea19d0b8f3f59786031a6934.JPG

 

My cassrole dish would feed two very hungry eaters; my daughter and I ate all we wanted, and half was left. In addition, I used the additional ingredients and make a freezer meal that will serve another two or three. So, I'm saying six meals, for the original cost of $17.92 plus pantry staples, or $2.98 per meal. The other two bucks would be enough to add a side salad and/or some chips and guac. 

 

I'll give the freezer meal to someone, because I've had this now, and that's plenty for me for the next six months or so. But nevertheless, it's an inexpensive, quick and relatively healthy meal that kids love, and that was really important to me when mine were little.

 

I can't match Liuzhou's 80 cents a meal, but I wasn't ashamed of it. Come on; play along.

 

 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, MSRadell said:

I clicked on the Red Boat link you provided it showed me that shipping was going to be $6.25? Expensive to start with and then relatively expensive shipping also, don't think I'm going to be getting any. I do wish we had a Wegmans however, I grew up in Rochester and got addicted to them.

 

You'll find the following below the picture of the salt:

"FREE SHIPPING ON SALT
US DOMESTIC ONLY - OFFER VALID ONLY FOR SALT, SHIPPING FEES WILL BE APPLIED TO OTHER ITEMS"

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This is so on.

 

I wasn't sure on the details, I thought it was $5 for all the ingredients, so that's what I did. If pantry items are free, then that's another ballgame.

 

We are going to have a feast! And you can slap that with donkey-sauce and take it to flava-town!

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Yakisoba shrimp ramen $0.75 , extra small 8oz frozen raw shrimp $2.98 , bag of frozen peas/carrots $1.00

Total: $4.73

Dinner is served.

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Just now, FeChef said:

Yakisoba shrimp ramen $0.75 , extra small 8oz frozen raw shrimp $2.98 , bag of frozen peas/carrots $1.00

Total: $4.73

Dinner is served.

If you have eggs you can add a fried egg which is less then $0.20 per egg for a final total of $4.93

 

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On 4/13/2018 at 9:20 PM, kayb said:

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what y'all come up with.

 

 

Me too!  It's my favorite kind of exercise!  Stay tuned.

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Original post also assumes via implication that food costs are the same throughout the country.

 

I suppose I could make a tasty meal for under $5 here in SF if I had the need to, given that SF is one of, if not *THE* most expensive city to live in the continental U.S. but I would have to look really hard for a store that could fit those parameters. And it would involve a real schlep to/from my house which is not something I'm remotely interested in doing.

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Ok guys, 

 

Sorry I've been busy lately with other content, but I managed to do a $5 Challenge Meal this week. 

 

Went to the store over the weekend, and couldn't believe my eyes. I found some good pancetta for $1.97 

Instantly I figured I must try to make a spaghetti amatriciana. 

 

Spaghetti - $0.34

Two Roma tomatoes - $0.57

One Yellow Onion - $0.50

Pancetta - $1.97

Grated Parmesan $1.00 

 

TOTAL : $4.48 

 

Got very very lucky. 

 

ubaHjxS.jpg

 

I cut our pancetta into little squares 

PmBfasA.jpg

 

Saute it on the skillet with chopped onion 

wGOYcS6.jpg

 

Two awesome Roma tomatoes, also chopped into small squares

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Saute all of those for 10-15 minutes on medium heat

 

Al dente spaghetti with little bit of pasta water goes in, and One Dollar Parmesan :) goes on 

OZc5KnV.jpg

 

It actually turned out pretty tasty guys :) though I wish the pancetta was a little bit smokier.

 

Here is a video of the whole process

 

 

 

Next challenge coming is $5 Whole Foods lol 

 

its possible :) 

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1 minute ago, KennethT said:

@ImportantElements Nice... glad to see you're still here and that the previous discussion didn't scare you off!

 

 

Haha no way :)

 

Now i have so many ideas Im gona try and film with this :)

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3 hours ago, ImportantElements said:

It actually turned out pretty tasty guys :) though I wish the pancetta was a little bit smokier.

FYI:  Pancetta is only cured.  Never smoked.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancetta

Same with Guanciale:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanciale

 

Nice looking dish just the same.  Did you skin and seed the tomatoes?

cheers

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I like to think of opportunity cost as contributing to the total of $5.  

 

So the OP was in South San Jose, then Campbell, probably spending a few hours (or >$5) on shopping, and also a few gallons of gas (also >$5).

 

To top it off, spaghetti from Mexico and fake parmesan.  Who wants to eat that dish, no matter what its cost?

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What's the problem with pasta from Mexico?

 

He said it was pretty tasty. I'm willing to take him at his word. Hell, I was grown before I knew there was Parmesan that didn't come in the green can. Ate a lot of spaghetti, too.

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Posted (edited)

I don't know, but I'm wondering if at the price of $.34 for that particular spaghetti, is it any good?  I understand it's a $5 meal challenge, but shouldn't that meal be as delicious as you can make it?

 

In my opinion, that means pasta from Italy and real Parmesan (or, preferably for this dish, pecorino romano)...though I guess  some might think the powdered cellulose added to that $1 parm in a can actually adds to the dish. 

 

 

 

 


Edited by weinoo (log)

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It's been my experience that Dollar Tree foodstuffs are things that are odd-lotted out from other stores or store chains, maybe near a sell-by date, maybe something they're discontinuing, that the chain gets, and then sells, at a big discount. I know when I was in breakfast fruit smoothie world, I used to buy my frozen fruit there; $1 for a small bag (about two smoothies' worth) that was $2.79 at Kroger.

 

So it may be good, or not. Bear in mind that the vast majority of diners in the US have never had fresh pasta, or even pasta from Italy; their experience is limited to Ronco from the supermarket.

 

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Posted (edited)

I have spent the greater portion of my adult life living frugally, first out of necessity and later as I saved my A$$ off so that I wouldn't have to, later in life. Here is my modest contribution. Pork tenderloin schnitzel sandwiches. I have no price on the tomato, the lettuce was from my garden and the flour and seasoned bread crumbs are what I call "pantry items". I also have enough leftovers to do it all again, except for the rolls.

HC

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Edited by HungryChris (log)
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