Surviving Isolation Without Going Broke: SIX for $60 Healthy Family Dinners

So as promised. Here are 6 healthy, easy dinners that you can make for 60 bucks total this week!They each feed at least four people and are all “real food”. These are based on ALDI prices near Orlando. They can easily be made low fat or low carb by switching out types of veggies etc, but I wanted to try to do something realistic that could work for any family. Sorry, lots of chicken used on these… but for $54.35 for 6 family suppers- you use what’s on sale! Also, you could upgrade for a few more bucks if you want and use beef or pork in one of the stir fry recipes. Also, I’m supposing with this that you already have basic spices and cooking oils etc…. so please check the recipes and make sure you do before shopping! However, here is the basic list and FULL Recipes!!! Remember, you can substitute basic spices etc and you what you have on hand to save even more and not be wasteful!

Dairy & refrigerated

Dozen Goldhen eggs
16 oz Friendly Farms sour cream
8 oz block Happy Farms cheddar cheese
Happy Farms deli sliced provolone

Frozen

16 oz Season’s Choice peas

Grocery

L’Oven Fresh hamburger buns
Fusia soy sauce
Burman’s BBQ sauce
3 lbs Earthly Grains long grain white rice
2 boxes Chef’s Cupboard chicken broth
Casa Mamita organic chipotle lime salsa
2 cans Dakota’s Pride black beans
Pueblo Lindo chipotles in adobo
tortilla chips

Meat

5 lb whole chicken
5.25 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
12 oz Fremont Fish Market medium peeled shrimp

Produce
Bunch green onions, $.69
2 lbs carrots, $1.49
8 oz mushrooms, $1.89
1 lb asparagus, $1.49
1 lb green beans, $1.69
8 oz bag spinach, $1.39
3 lbs yellow onions, $1.89
3 heads garlic, $1.29
5 lbs large baking potatoes, $2.29
Pint grape tomatoes, $1.89
2 avocados, $1.58

Meal 1: Simple roast chicken + vegetables. (Throw a couple of large potatoes in the oven to bake, too, then refrigerate them for tomorrow’s side dish.)

Meal 2: Black bean, chipotle, & spinach frittata with super seasoned pan fried potatoes.

Meal 3: Chicken burrito bowls (use 1 lb chicken), topped with chopped green onion & avocado.

Meal 4: Chicken & asparagus stir fry and garlic green beans, served over cooked white rice. Cook up a double batch of rice tonight; reserve and refrigerate 4 cups cooked rice for Meal 6 recipe.

Meal 5: Slow cooker honey chipotle BBQ chicken sandwiches. On the side: Mix 1/2 cup salsa w/ 1 cup sour cream, & use this as a dip for the tortilla chips. Also have buttered peas & carrots (reserve 1 cup peas and 1 medium carrot for tomorrow’s recipe). To make this, chop the carrots and saute them in a large skillet in 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat until crisp-tender. Stir in peas and 1/2 cup broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until most of the broth has evaporated & veggies are tender. Salt & pepper to taste, adding additional seasonings if desired.

Meal 6: Easy shrimp fried rice plus egg drop soup.

Meal 1: Whatever-Ya-Got Simple Roast Chicken and Vegetables

Simple roast chicken & veggies is a really easy meal to make, with the added bonus of some leftover cooked chicken to help you throw together another easy weeknight dinner later in the week. Just rub it down with olive oil mixed with “whatever ya got” in your spice cabinet – and substitute any of my seasonings listed below. Got extra veggies going bad in the fridge? Add them too!

Course dinner Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes Servings 6

Ingredients

– for the chicken

  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp thyme

– for the veggies

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 lbs potatoes, diced (whatever kind you like or have)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
  • 12 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 8 oz whole mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp rosemary

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and remove chicken giblets, if they are there, then rinse chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Place chicken breast side up in a roasting pan. 
  • Mix together olive oil and spices, then rub the spice mixture all over the chicken.
  • Surround your seasoned chicken with the vegetables and garlic. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and season them with the spices, then toss to coat.
  • Roast chicken at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven and stir the veggies. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, return chicken to oven, and bake for another 40-60 minutes (or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees), stirring vegetables occasionally.
  • Remove chicken from the pan onto a cutting board and tent it with foil, then let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. (Stir veggies and return them to the oven while the chicken is resting, if they need a little extra time.)
  • Serve chicken with its associated vegetables on the side.


Meal 2: Meatless-Monday Southwestern Frittata with Because-I’m-German Potatoes.

This is very easy and perfect for Meatless Monday. It is a vegetarian frittata recipe, but you won’t miss the meat! It has tons of flavor. I make mine Weight Watchers friendly by using low fat cheeses, sour cream, etc – but it’s definitely not necessary. Use what you already have!

Total Time50 minutesServings6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced (about 1/2 tsp)
  • One can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo minced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or cheddar-jack cheese

Instructions

  • Chop veggies. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Heat olive oil in a 12″ cast iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Add onion and saute for one minute. Stir in garlic and tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in black beans, chipotle(s), and spinach and continue to cook over medium heat until spinach is wilted and dark green, stirring occasionally.
  • While the beans and veggies are sauteing, whisk the eggs, sour cream, smoked paprika, sea salt, and pepper together in a large bowl until well blended and frothy.
  • Spread the bean, tomato, and spinach mixture evenly across the bottom of the skillet. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the beans. 
  • Turn off the heat under the pan, and top the eggs evenly with shredded cheese.
  • Increase the heat under the pan to medium-high and continue cooking undisturbed until the edges just start to set (about three minutes).
  • Move the skillet into the oven and bake the frittata at 400 degrees for 14 minutes, or until set. 
  • Broil on high for another two minutes to brown, then let the pan sit for at least five minutes before slicing.
  • Optional: Top with avocado, more sour cream, salsa, cilantro…

Notes

I used two chipotle peppers in my frittata, because we all like spicey food – but you can just use one if you want!


Because-I’m-German Fried Potatoes

The perfect addition to the frittata! Or really ANYTHING! Potatoes make any meal better, in my opinion!
Prep Time5 minutes Cook Time10 minutes Total Time 15 minutes Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large cooked baked potatoes see Note
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper omit if sensitive to heat
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Turn on your oven fan. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about two minutes, or until butter is melted. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Meanwhile, slice your potatoes into circles.
  • Arrange potato slices in a single layer in the prepared skillet, then season them evenly with all of the spices.
  • Cook potatoes over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, until browned nicely on both sides. Flip potatoes occasionally, and be sure to keep moving the less browned slices into the center of the pan so that every piece gets beautifully browned on both sides. 
  • Serve hot, and enjoy!

Notes

If you don’t have leftover baked potatoes, microwave two potatoes until soft, then slice when cool enough to handle and proceed with the rest of the recipe. If you don’t have large baking potatoes, use a few smaller ones.

Meal 3: I-Miss-TexMex Chicken Burrito Bowls

If you are like me, you may have some Tex-Mex withdrawls during this time of quarantine. This is cheap and easy to make, and you probably have most of it around already. Also, it’s kid friendly 🙂

Course dinner Total Time 45 minutes Servings 5

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 cup chipotle salsa (or salsa of choice — chipotle is recommended, though)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add onion and chicken, then saute for about five minutes until onion is softened and chicken is no longer pink on the outside, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in garlic, salt, and spices and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in rice, broth, beans, and salsa and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet with a tightly fitting lid, and let everything simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until rice is done and has absorbed most of the liquid.
  • Remove from heat and stir.
  • Replace lid and let sit covered for 5 more minutes to thicken up (will still be slightly goopy), then serve in bowls.
  • Top each chicken burrito bowl with diced avocado, green onion, shredded cheese, and/or other burrito bowl fixings of choice.

Meal 4: Everything-Is-Better-With-Soy Chicken Thigh Stir Fry

Using boneless skinless thighs instead of breast keeps this chicken stir fry recipe tender and also less expensive, but you can use chicken breast you prefer. I love veggies and love stir fry any way you make it. Plus, the green beans are also stupid good!

Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 10 minutesTotal Time 25 minutes Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1.25 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb asparagus trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp cold water

Instructions

  • Trim and cut up the chicken, then season it with sea salt and pepper. Trim the asparagus and cut into bite sized pieces. Mince garlic, if not using jarred.
  • When you’re almost done chopping, start heating the canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl to coat, then add the chicken and brown for four minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the asparagus to the pan and continue stir frying over medium-high heat for another four minutes, stirring occasionally, or until asparagus is bright green and chicken is cooked through.
  • While the chicken and asparagus are cooking, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and ginger in a small bowl.
  • Stir the cornstarch and cold water together in a separate small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  • When the asparagus and chicken are cooked through, stir in the soy sauce mixture and continue cooking for one minute over medium-high heat.
  • Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and continue to stir for another minute, until the sauce is thickened and shiny. Serve immediately, over cooked rice if desired.

Notes

The purpose of the cornstarch is to thicken the sauce and make it shinier, both for a pretty presentation and to make it adhere nicely to the chicken and asparagus.

Easy Garlic Green Beans with Soy Sauce

Prep Time 10 minutesCook Time 10 minutesTotal Time 20 minutes Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh green beans trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp seseme oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic about six cloves
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

  • Wash and trim green beans, patting them dry with a paper towel (or kitchen towel).
  • Heat canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering, then swirl to coat. Stir in the sesame oil and garlic, then immediately stir in the green beans, crushed red pepper, and ginger.
  • Stir fry the green beans over medium-high heat for 7 minutes, stirring often, until crisp-tender.
  • Stir in the soy sauce and cook for another two minutes, stirring often and scraping the tasty browned bits up from the bottom of the pan with a wooden utensil. Serve hot.

Notes

Full disclosure: I have actually used olive oil as an experiment, because some of you were asking whether it was OK to substitute it for canola or vegetable oil in fried rice and stir fries. It has a lower smoke point, so the garlic got a little more well done than with canola, and the pan was much more difficult to clean — so, do this at your own risk. Be sure to de-glaze the pan with water immediately, before it cools. Avocado oil or another high smoke point oil would also work well. 

Meal 5: Because-BBQ-Is-Tasty Honey Chipotle BBQ Chicken

Take a break and let your crockpot do the work today! Super easy and very family friendly! I love BBQ… so do the hubby and kiddos. This is a super easy recipe that everyone approves. Serve with the carrots and peas and listed above, or just some chips or fries! (Or whatever you have on hand!)

Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 2 tsp minced garlic about 4 cloves
  • 1 chipotle in adobo chopped
  • Buns or rolls for serving
  • Sliced cheese of choice to top optional

Instructions

  • Trim chicken and place it in the bottom of your slow cooker, then season with cumin and smoked paprika.
  • Stir together the BBQ sauce, honey, olive oil, adobo sauce, minced garlic, and chopped adobo in a small bowl, then pour it evenly over the chicken.
  • Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove the chicken from the Crock-Pot (discarding liquid), then shred.
  • Serve your honey chipotle barbecue chicken sandwiches on buns or rolls. (I topped mine with sliced mozzarella and served with pickles, for a little contrasting sour crunch.)

Meal 6: My-GoTo-Takeout-Closed Shrimp Fried Rice

When you have this easy 30 minute weeknight dinner recipe for your own tasty shrimp fried rice, takeout just might become a thing of your past! This easy fried rice makes for a simple all-in-one dinner, or you can pair it with a simple egg drop soup and/or fruit to make for a heartier meal. Course dinner Total Time 29 minutes Servings 4

Ingredients

– for the shrimp

  • 12 oz frozen peeled deveined medium shrimp (I used tail off)
  • 1 Tbsp olive or canola oil (I prefer olive oil to cook shrimp, but use your own preference)
  • Black pepper, to taste

– for the veggies and rice

  • 2 Tbsp canola or other high smoke point oil, divided
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about six cloves)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (use less if you’re sensitive to heat)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups cold cooked rice
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  • Thaw shrimp by putting them in a colander in the sink and running cold water over them for a few minutes, tossing shrimp and moving the colander around so that all the shrimp get exposed to the water. Drain well.
  • Heat olive oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shrimp to pan, season with black pepper, and cook about three minutes until bright pink and opaque, stirring frequently. 
  • Remove the cooked shrimp to a separate bowl, then drain and wipe out the pan.
  • Turn heat back to medium-high and add 1 Tbsp canola oil to the pan. Once shimmering, add the carrot, onion, and sesame oil and cook for about four minutes until nicely browned. 
  • Stir in garlic, peas, and crushed red pepper and continue cooking for about 30 seconds, then stir in the rice and spread it out in the pan, breaking up clumps.
  •  Let the rice cook undisturbed for two minutes, then stir in the soy sauce, spread out again, and let cook undisturbed for another two minutes.
  • Meanwhile, beat eggs in a small bowl. Push rice to the edges of the pan to create an open well in the center, then add 1 Tbsp canola oil to the center of the pan.
  • Pour the beaten eggs into the center of the pan and cook for about two minutes until scrambled, occasionally pushing the egg to the middle and breaking it up. Stir and chop the cooked scrambled eggs into the rice.
  • Stir the cooked shrimp back into your fried rice, then taste to see if you need additional soy sauce (mine did not, but to taste).

Notes

You can chop the shrimp before adding back into the rice if desired — I just left mine whole for a prettier presentation. 🙂 You can also optionally top with Sriracha and/or chopped green onions for an additional kick. Also note, on the rice: Cold cooked leftover rice works much better for fried rice than freshly cooked, and it’s also important for the final texture to let the rice sit spread out in the pan undisturbed for a while as directed, rather than stirring frequently.

Happy Cooking!!!!!

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