$5 Dinner: Homemade Sloppy Joe’s

This is such a quick and easy meal that I’m almost embarrased to post it! But we all need quick, go-to dinners for busy nights (which nights aren’t busy??), so here goes:

Homemade Sloppy Joe’s


  • Ground turkey (that’s what I used because it’s cheaper, but you can use beef)
  • 1/2 c. Ketchup (use more if you want)
  • 1/4 c. Mustard
  • 1/2 c. Chopped onion (In a hurry? Use 1 t. onion powder instead.)
  • 1/4 c. Finely chopped green pepper (In a hurry? Use 1/2 t. red pepper flakes instead.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Brown meat along with onions and green peppers.
  • Add all ingredients and cook  until heated through.

That’s it! Literally.

I added french fries (on sale at Giant Eagle this week) and used $.79 hamburger buns I had on hand from Aldi along with some frozen peas for a side.

Super cheap. Super easy. Super yummy.

Here’s the price breakdown:

  • Ground turkey: about $1.89 at Aldi
  • 1/2 c. Ketchup: negligible
  • 1/4 c. Mustard: negligible
  • 1/2 c. Chopped onion: negligible
  • 1/4 c. Finely chopped green pepper: negligible
  • Salt and pepper to taste: negligible
  • Fries: less than $2 at Giant Eagle this week
  • Buns: $.79 at Aldi
  • Peas: $.89 at Aldi

Total: just about about $5

$5 Dinner: Pasta w/ Kielbasa, Bread, and Brushetta

This meal is a favorite in our Italian household. 🙂 It’s so easy to make and it fills up my guys! That’s no small feat.

Pasta w/ Kielbasa


  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 box pasta: free
  • 1/2 package Sausage or Kielbasa
  • Spices: basil, parsley, oregano, fennel, onion powder, garlic powder (I had some fresh basil, so I added a bit to the mix…yummm)


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  • Cut Kielbasa in small slices and place in small pot with pasta sauce.
  • “Doctor” the pasta sauce as follows: add 1/2 t. dried basil, 1/2 t. dried parsley, 1/2 t. dried oregano, 1/2 t. fennel, 1/2 t. onion powder, and 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • Once the sauce is heated through, add to cooked pasta and serve warm, topped with Parmesan cheese



  • 1 c. chopped tomato
  • 1/3 c. chopped cucumber
  • 1/4. c. chopped sweet onion
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic (put through garlic press or chop finely)
  • 1 T. Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T. Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Chop first 5 ingredients and combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Mix the garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a small dish and let set for 5 minutes.
  • Combine all ingredients and serve with toasted bread.

Here’s the price breakdown on the whole meal:

  • 1 jar pasta sauce: $.75 at Giant Eagle this week
  • 1 box pasta: free at Giant Eagle this week
  • Sausage or Kielbasa: $2.40 at Giant Eagle this week; used half, so $1.20 total
  • Spices: basil, parsley, oregano, fennel, onion powder, garlic powder: negligible
  • 1 c. chopped tomato: about $1 (mine was free from a garden)
  • 1/3 c. chopped cucumber: about $.20 (bought mine for $.79 at Kuhn’s and used 1/4 of it)
  • 1/4. c. chopped sweet onion: about .$20
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped: $.50 (mine was free from a garden)
  • 1 clove garlic (put through garlic press or chop finely): negligible
  • 1 T. Balsamic vinegar: negligible
  • 3 T. Olive oil: about .$20
  • Salt and pepper to taste: negligible
  • 1/2 loaf bread (bought my loaf for $.99 at Kuhn’s this week): $.50

= about $4.55 total for the meal

Dinners for $5 or Less: Yummy Beef Burritos

We had these beef burritos for dinner last night, and they are so quick, easy, and delicious! My husband doesn’t typically like Mexican food, but he LOVED these.


1/2 lb. lean ground beef

2 tsp. chili powder

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 c. salsa

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (or mozzarella or monterrey jack, if that’s what you have)

6. flour tortillas

1/4 c. sour cream

1 tomato, chopped

1 c. shredded lettuce


Brown meat until no longer pink. Drain fat and add chili powder, black beans and salsa. Heat through for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted.

Spread meat mixture on tortillas and top with sour cream, tomato, and lettuce and roll up the tortilla like a burrito. Serve with corn or tortilla chips and salsa.

Serves 4-5

(This recipe is easily doubled.)

$5 Notes:

I purchased my tortillas, salsa, black beans, and cheese for $1 each. The ground beef and lettuce were purchased at a discounted rate in bulk at Sam’s. I have left-overs of tortillas, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce, which will be used toward future meals. This means that I spent just about $5 for this dinner. (The corn was super cheap, and the chips were just left-overs in my cabinet.)

$5 Dinner: Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

As I mentioned on the KDKA TV spot yesterday, using a crock pot is a great way to save on your utility bill. I make as many meals as I can each week in our crock pot. Not only does it save our gas bill, but it saves me time!

Here’s one of my most time effective (and yummy) crock pot dinners. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

Serves: 4-5


1-1.5 lbs. chicken breast

1/4 c. water

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

6-8 Hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls


Cut 1-1.5 lbs. raw chicken breast into large chunks and place in the bottom of the crock pot.

Cover with 1/4 c. water and 1/2 c. of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Cook for 6 hours or until chicken easily falls apart.

Shred chicken, add more BBQ sauce, if necessary, to reach desired taste.

Put BBQ chicken on buns or rolls and serve with a side of your choice.

$5 Dinner: Chicken Caesar Salad

This Caesar Salad recipe comes from the recipe book, “Great Taste No Pain.” If you struggle with acid reflux or indigestion at all, I highly recommend this recipe book. It teaches how to properly combine food for easy digestion. You will love the fresh taste of this delicious caesar salad!

Note: If you want to make this meal meatless, just hold the chicken.  It will be less expensive also.



1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips

I large head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces



2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 c. mayonnaise

1-1/2 t. anchovy paste (optional!)

3 T. Parmesan cheese

1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 t. Dijon mustard

1 T. fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese for topping


Combine dressing ingredients and whisk until well combined.

Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until well combined; top with chicken, croutons, and additional Parmesan cheese and serve.


$5 Dinner: Beef and Noodles

This is a very simple recipe, but it is my husband’s absolute favorite!


1 lb. beef stew meat (price varies)

1 package onion soup mix ($.69/box at Aldi–contains two packets, so it’s $.345/package)

1 stick butter (price varies)

1 bag wide egg noodles (I buy Ronzoni whole wheat and got my last bag for free with sales and coupons)

Final cost: about $5

Put beef, butter, and onion soup mix in a crock pot for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Serve meat over warm noodles and enjoy!

(Almost) $5 Dinner: White Chicken Chili

I know we’re heading into summer, but this is a delicious meal you can enjoy any time! It’s one of our absolute favorites! It pushes the $5 limit unless you score some great deals, but it’s worth it. 🙂


Serves: 7


1 lb. chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1-1/2 t. garlic powder

1 T. vegetable oil

2 cans great northern beans

1 can chicken broth (or use water and chicken bullion)

1 can chopped green chilis

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. dried oregano

1/2 t. pepper

1/8 t. cayenne pepper

1 c. (8 oz.) sour cream

1/4 c. whipping cream


In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and whipping cream. Serve immediately.

$5 Dinner: Homemade Hamburgers and Fries

We just enjoyed this meal outside last night, and boy, was it yummy!! (

I won’t list the cost for each item below, but this entire meal shouldn’t cost more than $5 if you have purchased the items on sale, with coupons, or at some low Aldi prices. For example, I haven’t been able to beat Aldi’s potato prices lately at as low as $2.69/bag.)


Serves: 4


1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1/8 c. bread crumbs (any variety)

2 T. ketchup

1 t. onion powder

1/3 c. cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste


5-6 baking or Yukon Gold medium-large potatoes sliced into thin wedges

1/4 c. oil (any kind will do)

seasoned salt

Italian seasoning


Fries: Spread most of the oil on a baking pan.  Layer the potatoes on the pan and sprinkle with seasonings and remaining oil.  Broil for 10-15 minutes, flipping often.

Burgers: Mix the beef, egg, bread crumbs, and seasonings and form into patties. Cook on the grill, on the stove, or broil in the oven.

$5 Dinner: Spaghetti Casserole

This recipe is one of my family’s absolute favorites.  It stays within the $5 budget, and it is delicious!


1 lb. ground beef (I purchased on sale at Aldi for $2/lb.)

1 box pasta of your choice (purchased for $.50 with sale and coupon)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (Aldi: $.59)

1 8 oz. sour cream (Giant Eagle: $.50 with sale and coupon)

1 large jar pasta sauce (Giant Eagle: $1 with sale and coupon)

1 bag colby-jack shredded cheese (Target: $1 with sale and coupon)

Total: $5.59


Boil pasta until well-cooked.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a large sauce pan.  Drain and add pasta sauce.  Heat through.

In a separate bowl, combine soup and sour cream.  In a 13 x 9 pan, layer the ingredients accordinly:

pasta/meat mixture

1/2 of all seasoning


sour cream mixture

1/2 of cheese

(Repeat this layering one more time.)

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: We separate this recipe into two pans and freeze one for future use!

30 Ways to Cut the Cost of Living: Dinners for $5 or Less

#24: Set a $5 budget for meals most nights of the week.

One of your monthly expenses is groceries, as we have discussed.  One way we have cut back in this category is by attempting to keep our dinners to $5 or less less most nights of the week.  There are TONS of great recipes that allow you to stay within this budget, and I am going to give you one today.  Keep a look out for more “Dinners for $5 or Less,” because I am going to be making them a regular part of my posting!

Chicken Tetrazzini

Boil and cut up 1 lb chicken breast

Boil one box of veggie rotini

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, rotini, and the following:

1 8 oz. tub sour cream

2 cans cream of chicken or mushroom soup

1 can mushrooms

1 t. pepper

1 t. parsley

1/2 t. garlic salt

1/2 t. onion powder

Spread  the mixture in a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve!

This meal stays within the $5 budget and is a quick and easy crowd pleaser!

What is one of your favorite dinners that stays within a $5 budget?


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