$5 Dinner Challenge

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on January 1, 2007

THE $5 Dinner Challenge is coming…the first week of December! Starting in December, I will post a Mr. Linky every Monday night for you to share your $5 Dinner Challenge meals!

In these trying economic times, we could all use a little more frugal meal inspiration! I am always looking for new meal ideas that are not only frugal, but also healthy and nutritious!

$5 Dinner Challenge Guidelines

1. The $5 Dinner Challenge is open to ANYONE. If you have a blog, you can link your $5 Dinner Challenge post to Mr. Linky. If you do not have a blog, please feel free to post your frugal and healthy dinner idea in the comments section.

2. You are NOT limited to $5! I encourage you to set a dollar amount based on the size of your family and the prices in your region. This is a challenge for YOU! Get those creative frugal juices flowing!

3. Please do not feel like you have to do the cost breakdown if you don’t remember all the prices! I would love to hear about some of the deals you are finding on some of the products that you use to make the meal. (And a quick nutrition note…please refrain from posting unhealthy meals like hot dogs or frozen pizza rolls.)

4. To keep things simple for others who wish to learn about your favorite frugal meal, please post the link to your recipe, NOT to your homepage. To do this, click on your dinner post, copy and paste the whole url address into the Mr. Linky.

5. When posting into Mr. Linky, please leave your name and your dinner idea as follows…
$5 Dinner Mom (Rice and Bean Soup).

6. I would appreciate it if you would use the image above (coming soon…I’m working on it!) in your post, although you are not obligated. If you’d like to use it, simply save the image to your hard drive and attach it into your dinner post. I do, however, ask that you post a link back to $5 Dinners.

7. I will post this no later than 10 pm EST on Monday evening.

Make it your goal to make a healthy, well balanced and frugal dinner on Monday night so you can share it with us all on Tuesday :)

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn December 1, 2008 at 8:51 am

This is a great idea. I look forward to seeing what others post. I have a post I did the other day that I am going to link to. Thanks for doing this.


~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ December 1, 2008 at 10:47 am

I’m ready and have a post for you at my place.


road2healthy December 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm

This is such a great idea! In my spark people group, we are doing a grocery challenge.. I am so excited to share and get more ideas!


LenaLoo December 2, 2008 at 7:16 pm

I’ll be looking for Mr. Linky to show up when he starts behaving himself (he is giving the SITS gals some trouble right now)


Diane-The Whole Gang December 2, 2008 at 7:56 pm

What a great challenge. I was thinking tonight as I was making dinner that it would pass so I took notes on quantities. I'll blog about it and link to here. I just need to learn about Mr. Linky? Can't wait to see what people come up with. Will you sort gluten free & gluten entries?


Rebecca Haughn March 23, 2009 at 10:27 am

Am tickeld to find this and on the blog I have provided, I encourage folks to come check you out. Good luck in all you do.


Lori M. April 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Here is an easy recipe that even my kids love, plus it’s inexpensive to make. I do not have the cost breakdown for it but these items can be found on sale to make it even cheaper. I divide the recipe between two 8X8 pans, make one now and freeze one for later.

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
1 – 16oz. bag frozen corn.
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray. Put rice, corn, cheese, chicken & onion in large bowl & mix together. Combine sugar, salt, paprika & chili powder & add to chicken mixture. Mix well and pour into baking dish. Pour milk over casserole. Bake, covered with foil, for 1 1/2 hours.


liz April 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm



Debbie May 10, 2009 at 6:42 am

Hi, Erin
I love your blog. I’m new to blogging myself, and yours was the first blog I have linked to from my page. I saw you on Rachel Ray.
Great job, and congrats on the new addition :)


Mary June 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Here is one of my family’s favorite pasta recipes. My Italian mother invented this recipe years ago. It’s great for summer time when it’s to hot to cook.
Pasta with Raw Sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
1 (28 oz) can peeled tomatoes, with juice. (Crush tomatoes by hand before adding)
1/2 c parmessan cheese
1 lb. spaghetti
Early in the day combine all ingredients, (except pasta) in a large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temp. if possible, stir several times throughout the day. Cook pasta, drain and add to sauce, (I usually reserve some sauce to put on top before serving). Serve with extra cheese if desired.


Cathy Serra October 6, 2009 at 10:52 am

I make Hamburger soup with leftover vegies. I gather the vegies by putting all leftovers from dinners in a freezer container. When full, I make the soup with a base of Lipton’s beef or onion soup (whatever is on hand) 1/2 # hamburger and then dump in the 1 quart container of left over vegs. The soup is different every time and fun!! Sometimes I go through the refrigerator and dump in leftover spegitti sauce, gravy or what ever I have. In the end I think it should be called leftover hamburger soup!!


Aneesa October 27, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Pineapple and Cranberry pork roast

1 Pork Roast (I usually buy 3-4lbs so I can use the left overs)
1 Large can of Crushed Pineapple
1/2 C. Dried Cranberries
Salt and Pepper
Brown Rice
Vegetable of your choice

Salt and pepper your pork roast and place in the crock pot. Pour pineapple (including the juice) and cranberries on top of roast. Cook on Low for 8hrs or High for 5 hrs. Serve with brown rice and vegetable.

I use the extra pork to make shredded BBQ pork sandwiches later in the week. I even include the pineapple and cranberries into the sandwich.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm




Aneesa October 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm

@Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom,

It is so yummy and the easiest dinner I make!


Aneesa October 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Chicken on Sunday
(serves 4)

6 skinless Chicken Thighs (bone in)
1 cup white rice (not instant)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom (or celery) soup
2/3 c Milk
1 envelope of French onion soup mix

Mix the two cans of soup and milk together,heat slightly (I usually microwave it). Sprinkle rice in GREASED 9×13″ pan. Add soup mixture and mix throughly. Place chicken on top of rice mixture and sprinkle with onion soup mix. Cover with tin foil and bake on 325 for 3 hours. Serve with Vegetable of your choice.


Laura Giovannello November 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm

This recipe was adapted from Sandra Lee’s Money Saving Meals show on The Food Network. I am a big believer in spending less and still being healthy- everyone always thinks healthy=expensive. Well not in this recipe!! I LOVE veggie burgers, especially when ground meat isn’t on sale (and 90/10 is usually not on sale around here). And frozen meatless patties are SO expensive!!
I am also a huge fan of Round 2 Recipes, which Sandra features a lot.
So here is what’s for dinner at my house tonight! =) Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers
makes: 4 burgers, plus leftover for a round 2 meal
time: 20-30 minutes total… about 15 minutes to prepare, about 12 to cook

You’ll need:
1/2 medium onion, your choice (I like red), roughly chopped
1/2 medium green, yellow, red or orange pepper, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
Or about 4 cups prepared if you use them from a bag
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves, or about 1/2-1 Tablespoon dry
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves, or about 1/2- 1 teaspoon dry
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 hamburger rolls & Your favorite burger toppings!

To do:
Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-low heat. Spray with no-fat/cal cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse onion, pepper and garlic until finely chopped. Add 1 can black beans, cilantro, parsley, egg, and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. Be careful not to over process!!

Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the remaining can of black beans and the bread crumbs. You add the whole black beans to the processed ones for texture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mix until well combined.

Reserve 1/3 of the black bean mixture for Round 2 Recipe. Divide remaining mixture into 4 portions and form into patties. Place on hot pan over medium-low heat and cook about 6 minutes a side or until heated through. Toast hamburger buns on a grill. Place a burger on the bottom of each bun. Top with favorite toppings. Cover the burgers with the top of the bun and serve.

Use the leftovers from this recipe in either Black Bean Enchiladas (which are featured on her website) OR since I don’t care for enchiladas, I make them into taquitos…..

Round 2 Taquitos:
Heat oven or toaster over to 400 degrees. Spoon 1-2 T of Black Bean mixture onto a taco size tortilla. Top with a little cheese, whatever you have (I used sliced pepper jack..mmm). Roll into a cigar shape. Place seem-side-down on sprayed baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until browned. Top with homemade salsa and fat-free sour cream! Serve with rice and veg.



Bette December 14, 2009 at 6:55 pm

$5 Dinner Mom ( Roasted Pork Loin with Tomatoe Sauce).

Roasted Pork Loin with Tomatoe Sauce

1 Pork loin
1 can of Diced tomatoes with herb & spices
1 pouch of onion soup
1 cup of water
Salt & Pepper
Put pork loin in center of roasting pan. Add cup of water to roasting pan . Sprinkle pouch on onion soup over top and pour diced tomatoes cover. Sprinkle with Salt & pepper as desired.
Roast uncovered in oven at 400 degrees for 60 minutes until meat thermometer reads 160.
Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
(You could also use crock pot for 6-8 hours)


Debbi December 15, 2009 at 12:03 am

Here’s an awesome turkey quesadilla I made with the leftover turkey this year. The turkey barely cost anything and we buy our tortillas at Sam’s Club which makes them super cheap.



Duffy January 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables (Keep in mind that this feeds 6 people with leftovers!) ~ $3.75 plus oil & spices
1 lb chicken breast, cut to bite size pieces (I buy boneless skinless chicken breasts @ Meijer when the 40 oz package is on sale for either $6.99 pr buy one, get one free – I am only using a 1/4 of the package ~ so roughly used $1.75)
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed to bite size pieces (10lb bag of potatoes for $1.99 ~ so roughly used $.50)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced to same size pieces (3lb bag of carrots for $1.50 ~ so roughly used $.50)
3 handfuls frozen broccoli florets (I buy 4lb bags @ Sam’s club for ~ $5.00 ~ I roughly use about $.50)
3 handfuls frozen corn (I also buy these in 4lb bags @ Sam’s club for ~ $3.00 ~ I roughly use about $.50) – you could also use 1 can
Olive Oil to drizzle
Garlic powder, salt & pepper, Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray large pyrex rectangular pan with cooking spray to help from the food from sticking!
I put all the cut up chicken, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and corn in a huge bowl. Drizzle olive oil over mixture to coat, but don’t drown! Then sprinkle the garlic powder, S&P, and Italian Seasoning to your family’s taste. We really like it seasoned!
This is a lot of food, and sometimes I need to put in 2 pyrex pans. It’s best to not overcrowd the mixture as it needs to brown.
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until lightly browned (chicken cooked and veggies tender).

With leftovers you can do this recipe:

Roasted Chicken and Veggies Frittata ~ $1.56 by using leftovers!
1 1/2- 2 cups Leftover Roasted Chicken & Veggies
1 1/2 cups of shredded Colby jack cheese (or whatever you have on hand) (last package I bought was $1.50 for 2 cups, so I roughly used about $1.00)
4 eggs (I bought 12 eggs for $.79 – so I roughly used $.26)
1 1/2 cups milk ($1.99/gallon – I roughly used $.30)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 430 degrees. Spray pie sized pyrex dish.
Put the Leftover mixture in the dish – spread to cover the dish. Drop cheese on top and spread around. Mix 4 eggs in a bowl and add milk with salt & pepper and then pour over mixture in pie dish.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the mixture is completely set. Cut in 8 pieces and serve with a salad or fruit!


Jaime Nguyen February 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Hello all,

I just started getting the $5 Dinner emails and am really enjoying the ideas! Here is a great recipe we use all the time! Kinda guessed on the cost, I have never broken it down into such small amts as far as cost, but it’s cheap!

Asian (Sesame) Chicken
Serves 4

1 pound chicken breast ($1.60)
2 Tbsp flour (pennies)
1 tsp salt (pennies)
1 tsp pepper (pennies)
1 Tbsp peanut oil (pennies)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (0.25)
2 Tbsp white wine (0.75)
2 Tbsp maple syrup (0.10)
1-2 tsp chinese five spice (0.25)
1-2 tsp ground ginger (0.25)
2-3 cups cooked white rice (0.50)
Optional: Sesame seeds

Put flour, salt, and pepper in a big baggie. Cut chicken breast into one to two inch pieces and coat with flour mixture. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken about 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, wine, syrup, five spice, and ginger in a bowl. When chicken almost cooked, put liquid mixture over chicken and cook another one or two minutes (enough for wine to cook away and sauce to slightly thicken). Serve over rice and add a dash of sesame seeds if desired. We usually throw some broccoli on the side of this dish to make it well rounded!


Ruth and Tim April 13, 2010 at 7:46 am

This is the cheapest thing we know of — it’s as close to free as you can get. It may not suit your guidelines because it’s not an actual meal, but a crucial ingredient: homemade vegetable stock. But if you can use it, great!


Thanks. We really like your blog.


FoodontheTable April 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Such a good idea. I’ll be ready for the challenge on Monday.


Jess Kinnamon July 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Might find some good recipes !! JK


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