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5 Dinners for $50 Challenge – Bring It On!

Posted Apr 22 2013 10:20pm


I’ve accepted a challenge to cook five dinners for $50. Sounds crazy, right? An article in Cooking Light wherein Robin Bashinsky, who works in their Test Kitchen, cooks four meals for four people for $50 inspired this seemingly impossible challenge. His rules:

• Serve four people five meals for $50
• Can’t use anything in your pantry/refrigerator except for salt, pepper, flour, sugar, and canola oil
• Keep the meals interesting

Okay, okay. I know you’re probably thinking there is nooooo way I’ll be able to do this, especially since I’ll walk into a grocery store expecting to buy avocado and milk and walk out having spent $120. I’m also a self-professed non-meal planner, so I’m really interested to see if this will help focus my shopping and budget. I’m doubtful too, believe me, but I’m always up for a challenge.

This is the meal plan I developed:

Meal #1: Roasted Salmon with Lime Butter & Corn Salad
Meal #2: Spring Vegetable Risotto
Meal #3: Gemelli with Shrimp & Arugula
Meal #4: Sweet Potato & Spinach Hash with Baked Eggs
Meal #5: White Pizza with Arugula Salad

I could have easily made pasta every night for $50, but I wanted to mix things up and create nutritious meals that I would normally cook for my family under normal circumstances. The meal plan sounds pretty good, don’t you think? I’m confident I can at least check off the “keep the meals interesting” requirement.

“Piece of cake!”, I thought until I made my (never-ending) shopping list:

italian pepper
sweet potatoes
frozen corn
frozen peas
pizza dough
chicken stock
white wine

I’m a little worried that all that cheese in bold on my list might break my bank, so I might make a few exceptions to Robin’s rules. Here are My Rules:

• Make five meals for $50 for 2 adults, 1 preschooler who eats dinner, 1 preschooler who doesn’t really eat dinner, and a 13 month old who eats pretty much anything
• Can’t use anything in my pantry except for the things I cook with on a daily basis: salt, pepper, fresh herbs, spices, olive oil, vinegar, butter, and MAYBE cheese (see, I just did a big grocery shop and have ALL that cheese sitting in my refrigerator. You’ll cut me some slack, right?)
• Keep the meals interesting

So wish me luck! I’m going shopping (at Whole Foods no less) after I drop my two older boys off at school and will report back later with the results and with the recipe for tonight’s dinner.

Should we place bets on the grocery tab? Do you think I’ll go over my allotted $50? Check back later to find out!

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