Dinner Ideas: Cheap, Easy Recipes (cont.)

8. Chicken Breast Entrees

Often, buying chicken with the bone and skin on and then skinning it yourself is the best deal. At $1.79 a pound, four bone-in chicken breasts will cost you around $3.58 (that's 2 pounds). You can make a grilling or slow cooker sauce using ingredients on hand, or use half a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. A bottle of barbecue sauce costs around $3, so half a bottle will bring this entree to a cool $5. Just coat the chicken breasts with your sauce and cook on the grill or in the slow cooker until done.

9. O-Brien Casserole

Everyone likes a good potato casserole every now and again. Armed with a few key items on sale, including 2 pounds of O'Brien potatoes for $2, the O'Brien Potato Casserole below is a real budget helper. To make it seem more like a main dish, you can add some extra protein from beans or lean meat: Just stir in two cups cooked fava beans or edamame, or three cups roasted or grilled diced lean meat (like skinless/boneless turkey or chicken breast, pork tenderloin, or extra lean ham) before you spread the mixture in the pan. It costs about $7.50 to make the original O'Brien Casserole (serving 16 as a side dish); stirring in beans or meat adds about $2.50 to the total. If you assume the dish makes eight larger portions as a main dish, that's $10 -- or $5 for four servings.

10. Last-Minute Chili

Chili is a popular entree at any time of year. For the Last-Minute Chile recipe below, you'll buy a pound of braised beef tips for $2 to $2.50 per pound, plus some Mexican-style stewed tomatoes and kidney beans for $1 or less a can. The rest of the ingredients are mostly items you have in your spice cabinet and liquor cabinet. That's right, I said "liquor" cabinet -- I like to use a couple tablespoons of whiskey or brandy. But if you don't have that on hand, just leave it out. Even if you have to buy an onion, a batch of this chili will cost you right around $5, and it serves six.

5 Cheap and Easy Recipes

Here are five easy recipes for cheap family dinner entrees:

Fridge Leftover Frittata
2 cups chopped vegetables (use whatever you have on hand: onions, bell pepper, mushroom slices, tomato, broccoli, asparagus, etc.)
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
4 large eggs
8 egg whites (toss the yolks or save them for another dish)
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese (any type will work)
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 teaspoon no-salt herb seasoning blend

1. In a large, nonstick skillet, cook the vegetables (except tomato, if using) in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, stirring often, until veggies are tender (about 3 minutes). Stir in chopped tomato if you're adding it (it doesn't need to be cooked like the other veggies). Add salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
2.In mixing bowl, beat or whisk together the eggs and egg whites until blended. Stir in the shredded cheese and the sauteed veggie mixture.
3.Begin heating the large, nonstick skillet again over medium heat until hot. Coat the pan generously with cooking spray and quickly pour in the egg mixture, distributing the veggies evenly in the bottom of the skillet. While it begins to cook, sprinkle the herb blend over the top. Cover the skillet and cook, without stirring, for about 6 minutes (the frittata should be set and the bottom nicely brown).
4.If desired, brown the top of the frittata in a preheated broiler, about 4 inches from the heat, for 1-2 minutes. Slide frittata onto a large serving plate and cut into 4 wedges.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 231 calories, 21 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 12.8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5.5 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 210 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 365 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 50%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.5 gram, Omega-6 fatty acids: 1.5 gram.

Tuna Patties
1 can (6 ounces) solid white tuna canned in water, drained
2 tablespoons chopped onion or green onions
1 egg white
1 tablespoon pickle relish (optional)
1 tablespoon light Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup panko crumbs (dry bread crumbs can be substituted)
2 teaspoons canola oil or olive oil (canola cooking spray can be substituted)

1. In medium bowl, combine tuna, onion, egg white, relish, Italian salad dressing, and panko crumbs.
2. Shape into 4 patties. Begin heating nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat surface with oil or cooking spray. Add patties and fry on both sides until lightly browned. Serve with salad, soup, or whole-grain bread.

Yield: Makes 2 servings (2 patties each)

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 297 calories, 44 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 7.5 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 3.2 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 47 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 697 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 23%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 1 gram, Omega-6 fatty acid: 1 gram.

Prize-Winning Meat Loaf

1 cup V8 Picante (vegetable juice) or tomato juice
3/4 cup quick or old fashioned oats
2 egg whites or 1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with canola cooking spray.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the ground beef and mix well with your hands. Add the ground beef and mix thoroughly.
3. Shape into a loaf in the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 195 calories, 25 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 6.4 g fat, 2.2 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 190 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.2 gram, Omega-6 fatty acids: 0.4 gram

O'Brien Potato Casserole

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