Category Archives: $6-$10 meal for 4

Cooking with Kids


Today felt like the best day ever!  The boys (11 and 9) rode their bikes with me as I trail ran, and they mountain biked.  Immediately there after we hit up a roadside produce stand run by a local couple that has been farming 4 miles from my house for years.  Not only did I get excellent quality produce for practically nothing (I tipped too), I also got great advice for my own garden.  Then I took the boys to the lake and taught them how to  canoe.  We saw so many amazing things, like a Blue Heron gliding just above the water 20 feet in front of our canoe then landing just of shore and feasting.  All of these things were amazing, but the best part of the day was cooking with my kids.

When we got home Cooper shucked the corn, Will cut the green beans, and I grated the carrots and zucchini.  The boys had talked with the growers today, and knew the food had been picked that morning.  The boys handled it, and prepared it themselves.  Then Cooper came in and made his first loaf of home-made bread entirely by himself.  They had a hand in preparing food from it’s raw natural state to what we ate for dinner.  HOW COOL IS THAT!  They learned quite a bit in the process.  There’s measuring, chemistry, cause and effect, bonding, among many many other lessons.  Bonding, I haven’t found a better way yet.  Of course they are still young.

Carrot-Zucchini Burgers ready to be cooked up!

The best part is that when you are done, you get to eat it!  They were so proud of themselves.  They couldn’t wait to watch their Dad eat it.  Perhaps, in the future, they’ll be more compassionate towards me when they don’t absolutely love what I’ve worked to make for them.

Nearly finished. The green beans and corn are there some where!

I only spent 6 dollars on the produce I bought today, and I didn’t even use it all!  I just can hardly put into words the amazing feeling of watching your kids comprehend FOOD, watching them comprehend where food comes from, how food is cooked, that food in boxes is different from food in the ground.  Food preparation, and meal sharing has long been a central part of cultural identity.  I feel like we all gained a sense of family culture today, more so than ever before.  It felt really important, I don’t know why but it did.   Also, it was amazing to watch their little chests puff out with pride when their Dad took his first bite!  Now I can’t wait for my own produce to ripen!!!  That’s going to be ultra splenderific!

Our “trash” from this meal.


Carrot Zucchini Burgers

5 medium carrots (2 cups): grated

1 medium Zucchini (1.5-2 cups): grated

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 c plain yogurt or sour cream

1 egg

2 10ish garlic cloves minced, OR 2-3 tbsp (sounds like a lot you can do this to taste.  I LOVE GARLIC.  I’d say at least 6 cloves/2tbsp)

dash of oregano, and basil or any other spices you chose

Mix it all together (hands work best)

Form into patties

Cook in a thin layer of olive oil until brown.


Yummy Chicken


This recipe isn’t new or inventive, but I love it just the same…  Italian Chicken.  It costs roughly 5 dollars to feed 4.  My soldier not only gave it a 9 out of 10, but ate more than half of it (enough for 2 adults).






1c Your Favorite Italian Dressing (1.50)   (I used Newman’s Own… Of course I shop at a commissary where organic products are inexpensive)

1# boneless skinless chicken breasts (3.13)

1/2 a red pepper (.99)

1/2 cup green beans (fresh are cheaper than canned) (.65)

1 1/2 cups of rice (.50)

GRAND TOTAL of   $6.77

Cut your chicken to about 1 inch cubes.  I absolutely despise cutting chicken, so trust me, this dish is worth it.

pour dressing into skillet and allow it to warm up over medium heat.  While it is warming up cut your red pepper into strips.

Add chicken, red pepper, and green beans to the dressing.  When chicken is cooked  thoroughly, and the red peppers are limp it is ready to serve.  Also, the dressing will cook down during this time.  Actually, it is really just absorbed by the ingredients…

While your chicken mixture is cooking start your rice.  I use whole grain brown rice so it can take 30 min to cook.

You will need to be near the stove as this dish is cooking so as to stir both the rice and the chicken.


“homemade” pizza


This recipe gets a 10 out of 10 from my Soldier, and my sons!  It is a family favorite, a must have for our weekly family movie nights, and very easy to make.  It costs roughly 7.50,  for 2 larges, BEFORE coupons, and is somewhat healthy.  It would be much less if I made the dough myself, but I am pragmatic and opt for Pillsbury Pizza Crust for which there are ALWAYS coupons.

2 rolls of pillsbury pizza crust (1.79 each before coupon which you can get here)

1/2 a can of spaghetti sauce (.69 cents for the can)

1/2 a package of turkey pepperoni (.79 cents for the package)

a few leaves of fresh Basil  (which I grow myself) chopped**this is the secret ingredient**

2 8oz (or 1 16 oz depending on pricing) package of mozzarella cheese (3.15 for both)

on a standard cookie sheet spread out the pizza dough, then spread the spaghetti sauce evenly.  sprinkle some garlic powder and the basil evenly then cover with the cheese and pepperoni.

Bake on 425 for 15 minutes.

The assembly of the pizza is the worst part, but enlist the kids or some friends to help!  As for the fresh herbs that I grow, I kill EVERYTHING but I manage to keep these herbs alive.  Adding the spices to my cooking is what keeps us from feeling like we are “skimping” on our grocery budget, because they make everything taste GREAT!  This is a GREAT meal for a weekend family movie night!

Beef stew without the stew


So this is another cheap recipe, and a one dish meal.  I love one dish meals, less clean up! ($4.50 w/0 biscuits, $6.00 w/store-bought biscuits)

+/- 1 lb of stew meat.  (you can almost always find this on Manager’s special!)

2-3 potatoes chopped into “chunks”

2-3 carrots peeled and chopped

1/2 an onion chopped

seasoning (I add fresh basil and rosemary that I keep potted in the house.  Rosemary is especially hard to kill.  In fact, the Rosemary plant I have currently sitting on my dining room table is the only survivor of this summer’s “plant graveyard”, my eldest son’s name for my garden.)

In a Casserole dish, Layer the veggies on bottom.  You can add whatever types of stew veggies you’d like.  Don’t limit yourself to what’s listed here! Now, layer the meat on top.

Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the meat.


bake on 350* for 20-30 min.


As a side you can add store-bought biscuits, to save time, or fresh  bread, to save money.  There is enough food here to feed all 4 of us TWICE, so you won’t need many side dishes.

This one gets a 7 out 10 from my Soldier, and a 5 out of 10 from my boys (it has veggies so go figure!)

Tuna Casserole


I am listing this recipe because my kids LOVE it, it is cheap, and it’s fast.  I have to preface though, that I HATED this meal as a kid because of the black mushroom pieces.  I just knew that they were bugs or something worse conjured up by my imagination.  That being said here it goes.  Oh, and I will drive folks that want PRECISE measurements CRAZY as I tend to eye-ball a lot of seasonings.  I will do my best for you.

1 16 oz bag of egg noodles

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 cans of tuna

Italian Style bread crumbs

garlic powder to taste (approx 2 tsp)

(optional I like to sneak in veggies where ever I can) broccoli pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350

boil and drain the egg noodles

return noodles to pot (fewer dishes!)  to mix in the tuna, cream of mushroom soup, garlic, and broccoli

level out mixture in an 8×13 baking dish cover completely with breadcrumbs

You will want to either spray top of breadcrumbs with a no stick spray or spread out dabs of butter about every 3 inches so that it is a bit crunchy.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until top is crisp

That’s it, add whatever veggie or side dish you please.  Side note: our family of 4 always has plenty of left-overs, even after 2nds.