Yes, you CAN feed your family a scrumptious meal-with dessert-for ONLY $5. Here’s how:
You’re going to fix three dishes:
- Did My Tongue Slap My Forehead? Chicken Hash
- Salad on a Stick
- The Little Round Peg!’s Peanut Butter Pie
For the purpose of this meal, I’m assuming you have the usual spices and condiments in your kitchen: sugar, butter or margarine, garlic, oil, peanut butter, salt, pepper, sage, onion powder, white vinegar, eggs, and vanilla.
Now, let’s talk shopping. First, you have to do what I call “conscientious shopping.” That means looking for what’s on SALE, using coupons (don’t forget to join grocery loyalty programs for the best coupons, many of which will be specifically things YOU already buy), perusing store ads for where your best buys are at the moment. And what, you ask, should you be looking to purchase? Next, let’s talk ingredients/grocery shopping list.
Chicken – you’ll want whatever happens to be the LEAST expensive. Sometimes, that’s tenders; sometimes it’s thighs; sometimes it’s a whole chicken (which you can use for 2 or 3 meals, if you plan well). Buy what’s the least expensive for your dish. What I’ve found works best for this dish is a package or two of chicken thighs. I can find these for about $1.50 to $2.00 per package. Yes, these are on the bone, so simply wash them, cover them with water, and boil them until they’re done. Then discard the inedible parts (including the skin), reserve the broth for later and cut the remaining meat into bite-sized pieces.
Potatoes – Check the price of bags of potatoes: If you can get a 10-lb. bag of potatoes for around $1.99 (it’s possible – Aldi’s does this quite often), then the cost of your potatoes for this dish is mere pennies!
Onion – a medium onion, which you will chop, or purchase a shaker of dehydrated onions at your local dollar store or drugstore. These shakers cost between 50-cents and a dollar, and you only need a palm full. Again, this ingredient will cost mere pennies.
Salad – you’ll want at least lettuce and tomatoes. Four salads on a stick (those bamboo skewers you can get at your local dollar store for a buck) cost me only about 70 cents to make (I used 1/3 of a head of iceberg lettuce and 2 Roma tomatoes). But you can add whatever else you may like on a salad: olives, ham, cheese, mushrooms, onion, etc. (for the salad dressing, I mix mayonnaise, a bit of milk, onion and garlic powder, pepper and chopped parsley, add a bit of sour cream if you’d like, shake well and let your diners dip their salad sticks into it).
Pie – you’ll need an unbaked pie shell. The remaining ingredients in the pie are ALREADY in most kitchens. Cool, huh?
Now, here are the recipes:
Did My Tongue Slap My Forehead? Chicken Hash
One or two packages of chicken thighs, cooked and diced (reserve broth)
1 medium chopped onion
3 to 4 medium potatoes, sliced (for more people, add potatoes)
Garlic – heaping teaspoon of minced garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt – to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
Oil – 3 Tablespoons or so just to cover bottom of skillet
Barely cover the chicken with water in a large sauce pan and boil until done. Remove/drain the chicken and reserve the broth. Once cooled, pull the chicken off the bone, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Wash, de-spot and thinly slice the potatoes. I recommend about 1 cup of chopped raw potatoes per person. Place a skillet on med-high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. If you use a black iron skillet, you’ll need to use bacon grease or lard because it keeps the skillet cured; otherwise, use vegetable or olive oil. Once the oil is hot, place the potatoes into the hot oil. Add the onions and then the salt, pepper, garlic (I prefer minced), sage and onion powder to taste. Next, add about two cups of the reserved chicken broth; stir well, and then add the chopped chicken. Stir again, then cover and allow to cook on medium until the potatoes are done and the water cooks down. This is best when allowed to brown, just barely begins to stick, and then is scrapped up with a spatula. This adds a chewy, crunchy texture and tastes GREAT! Continue to cook, turn and scrape until the water has completely cooked away and potatoes have browned.
The Little Round Peg!’s Peanut Butter Pie
½ stick butter or margarine
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 unbaked pie shell
Melt butter and peanut butter together. Cream in sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add remaining ingredients, mix well again, and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the middle no longer jiggles like me when you wiggle it. This pie will have a crusty top.
(For a killer chess pie, omit the peanut butter and increase the butter to 1 whole stick.)
For the salad-on-a-stick, simply cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and place them on a skewer. I like to stand the finished skewers in a pretty vase or champagne flute.
That’s all there is to it.
Chicken hash: Chicken ($2.00), potatoes (maybe 35-cents), onion (maybe 30 cents) – Total $2.60
Salad: 1/3 head of lettuce (33-cents or so), 2 tomatoes (40 cents or so) – Total around 70 cents.
Pie: Pie shell ($1 or so, using coupon for store-brand), peanut butter, eggs, and margarine, all less than $1.60 total.
Which means this entire MEAL for four people can be prepared for a total of just under $5.00.