The $5 Dinner Mom on Rachael Ray and New York City

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 20, 2009

$5 Dinners on Rachael Ray airs tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21st.  Check your local listings at!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we!

About 6 months ago I heard about this segment with Rachael and Whoopi discussing the “fat tax” and the idea that it is more expensive to eat fresh produce and healthy foods. Of course, when I got wind of this, I had to say SOMETHING! I jumped on Rach’s website and submitted a short note in the “contact us” that went something like this…

“Just heard about the segment with Whoopi where the high cost of fresh produce and healthy eating were discussed. It is NOT MORE EXPENSIVE TO EAT HEALTHY!!!!!!!!! Here’s what I do…”

Totally forgot that I had submitted this to them. Until about a month ago!

A producer from the show called and said she’d been poking around the site and was interested in doing a story. We talked for a long time, she asked a gazillion questions, the kids whined and cried while I attempted to answer her questions in a most articulate way!

After getting off the phone with the producer there was a little LOT of squealling…cuz I just love Rachael and couldn’t believe I was going to get to MEET HER!  After a few more phone calls, squeals and interviews, it was set up that a crew would come to the house one week and I’d fly to NYC another week to appear in the studio!

The crew was LOVELY to work with!  They were very patient with me during the interviews.  Highlight of the day: the local high school marching band showed up in the grocery store…while we were filming!  Huh?  And they marched around the store.  Yeah.  That’s what I said!  The band caused a few audio issues while we went throughout the store….but we managed to get what was needed despite the tubas and trombones!

Skip ahead a week and I was off to NYC!!!  My mom flew out and met me there.  I managed to get a full and complete night’s sleep, by God’s good grace!, and woke up refreshed and ready for the day!  My mom and I spent about an hour straightening my hair.  We bummed around the hotel, went out to lunch at the Capital Grille and then headed over to the studio.

Getting hair and makeup done!

All dressed and ready to tape the segment!  I made a silly face because if I had attempted to smile, I don’t think I would have been able!  The anxiety was palpable!  No, actually, I completely pretended like I was not there so that I could get through it.  Had to make my brain go to another place so I wouldn’t feel nauseous or get tongue tied or just plain fall over! 

Notice the deodorant in hand.  Steph from A Year of Crockpotting was on the show last year and she tipped me off to the NEED for extra deodorant!  Thanks Steph!  The mini deodorant was very helpful.  As were the little paper towels wrapped around the deodorant.  NO SWEAT STAINS allowed on my pretty pink blouse!

The producers walked me over to the set, where I was thrown on stage and met Rachael.  I sat down with her at “the kitchen table” for the interview.  We had a short little chat while the background piece was rolling.  I felt a little shudder of nerves go up my body, I shook that off and it was time for business.  Then the camera started rolling.  We chatted for a few minutes and that’s was it!  The taping was a success! Rachael was so encouraging, flattering and super easy to chat with!  It was lovely meeting her, and all the staff and crew on the show!

After the taping, I laid down back at the hotel and felt like I couldn’t move.  Pure exhaution!  I made a few calls, had a granola bar and then off to dinner and to see Mamma Mia on Broadway!  LOVE THAT SHOW!  (I had not seen the movie and am so glad to have seen it first on Broadway!) 

We then strolled through Times Square and the M&M store after the show.

Hello…Chocolate Heaven!!!

The next day we had brunch with a friend and toured his office. 

How about this view of Broadway and 5th…and the Empire State building! 

I felt really tall when taking this photo in front of the Flat Iron building!

I did notice as we went around town that NYC streets were quieter than I remembered. I had memories of LOUD horns, lots of honking and cabbies yelling at each other! Not the case anymore…in an effort to reduce noise pollution, there is now a $350 fine for honking just to honk! I think I can say it made my trip a little more peaceful! The noise level was remarkably lower than previous visits!

We did some shopping that day and then it was BACK TO REALITY!

After an hour and a half ride back to the airport (my definition of traffic is stumbling over one of the children on my way to the kitchen in the morning!) I was on my way back home!

I had a FABULOUS time and I’m honored and humbled to have had the experience of being on the show and hanging out in New York City!

UPDATE:  Here is a newspaper link with a photo of Rachael and I sitting at the table.  If you are in the Dayton, OH area, you can catch me around 8:45 on Fox45 tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  And if you are in the San Antonio, TX area, you can see an interview with me on Good Morning San Antonio on KSAT12.

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Jo April 21, 2009 at 7:43 am

What an awesome experience! I’m looking forward to seeing the show today. ♥


Betty Jo April 21, 2009 at 8:32 am

Erin, I just had to come back and tell you. I just saw you on the show and you were incredible. Keep up the good work with your blog and teaching others how to do what you do. ♥


tony April 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

I viewed your segment with Rachael Ray, and you were great on your segment with her. I hooked up to your website (which I have added to my favorites), and I love it; very interesting and informative website with a lot of saving tips – especially good in today’s inflationary times. I am looking forward to trying your recipes; so now, in addition to following Rachael Ray’s lead for my culinary needs, I will also follow your website. Thanks! Keep up the good work. Your new Fan.


Wes April 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

I saw you on the Rachael Show this morning! What a great challenge for yourself, you really pulled it off perfectly!

Really enjoyed reading this post. Im a first time visitor and will absolutely be back again!

I hope Rachael has you on the show again!


Angelle April 21, 2009 at 9:41 am

I just saw you on R&R. Great job!


Megan April 21, 2009 at 9:43 am

I just saw you on TV and I came straight to the site. My boyfriend just left for Afghanistan and I was sitting bumming watching a little tv. This is such a great idea that I hoped right on the computer and read your story. You looked great and didn’t seem nervous at all! Thank you for giving me a new hobby to keep me busy and enjoy going to the grocery store to shop for one. I look forward to not only shopping on a budget but learning how to cook all of the new recipes. Thank you!!!


Lisa B April 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

I just seen you on RR! You were fabulous. I’m so glad RR gets “it”. Good Morning America this week is running their $15 dinner challenge. They’ve talked about how many people are on food stamps and are showing how you can feed a family of 4 on $15. GIVE ME A BREAK! If you’re on foodstamps, you can’t afford $15 for a meal for 4 people. They (GMA) need to take some lessons from you! You would run out of money before the end of the month. In my meal planning, my goal also is $5 or less for dinners for us three. You have helped me so much with that goal. Thank you.


Beth April 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

Hey Erin!
This is the 1st time I’ve ever commented, but I had to tell you that I just saw you on Rachael Ray! How exciting! You were awesome, keep up the good work! Love the blog!


Samantha April 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

Just watched it here in Colorado. It was great! I bet your site gets 100,000 hits today! You looked great, congrats!


Mariam F. April 21, 2009 at 10:47 am

Wooohooo Erin! Just finished watching you on RR. You must have been so excited it was a great segment..wonderful tips. You’ve got a great blog with wonderful tips, thank you for sharing with everyone!


Maryann April 21, 2009 at 11:09 am


Congrats on a great spot on Rachel Ray! I’m here on your site because I just saw the show and was so impressed with your ability to do pull this off, that I just had to investigate. I just emailed a friend with the link to your site, as well. I must mention your organizational skills also we were apparent, then I read you are a teacher. Of course! I’d like to mention that you appeared to be a complete pro on TV – no extra deodorant necessary. Best wishes and God bless you and the talents He has given you!


Awry April 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

Just saw your segment this morning. Ya looked great and pretty darn relaxed! I had no idea you were going to be on and when you mentioned your blog I yelled “omg I LOVE that blog!!”. Needless to say I scared the crap out of my dog.

Hope the segment brings lots more readers and good attention!


crockpot lady April 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

Erin, I just saw the piece. You were fantastic! Congratulations, and I LOVE the pink blouse.


Tonya April 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

I found out about your segment on Rachel Ray through Jolyn @ A Military Family Blog. I just saw it on tv and it was great! Lots of great tips. I’m going to try out some of your recipes.


Jamie April 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

I love Rachael Ray and I love your website!! I saw you today on the show, and I was so proud of you and excited for you!!! YAY!!


Annie @ PhD in Parenting April 21, 2009 at 11:36 am

I have it taped and ready to watch tonight!


Sharon B. April 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

I saw you on RR, I think you’re incredible.

I was wondering if you ever experiment with tofu? I was browsing your recipes but didn’t see it listed in anything. Just thought it might make a simple, cheaper than meat, protein option if you marinate it or crumble it like ricotta in lasagna.


Toni April 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I just watched the show. You did great! Let us know when you go back & cook.


Melissa Kelley April 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Hi Erin, I saw the segment on Rachael Ray today for your $5 dinners, and thought WOW! How great would it be to make dinner for $5 or less, also when you said about the sunday papers with coupons and buying for as many people as you have in the family, great idea Erin!!! Thank you so very much for sharing your ideas, recipes and all that you do for your family!
Melissa Kelley Sarver, Pennsylvania


Sayra April 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Hey, very cool site, this is my first visit. I just saw you on the Rachel Ray show! Perfect timing for such a great idea. Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing it with us.


Carmen April 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I saw the show today and its great to finally “meet” you. You did a wonderful job. Love your website. Thanks


Alli Worthington ( @alliworthington ) April 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I’m so thrilled for you!

{hugs & belly bump}

xo, alli


James J. Fazio April 21, 2009 at 4:22 pm

It was great the way you showed how a family of four could get dinner for five dollars a day; now all you have to do is show how you can do it for someone who is Type one Diabetic.
then you will really have alot of people’s attention……specially mine.

Sincerely Yours,

James J. Fazio


Stacey Crew April 21, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Congratulations! Just watching you on Rachael Ray. Awesome ideas. Can’t wait to download some yummy recipes from your site!


Angela Litzinger April 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm

You did a GREAT job! I was so pleased to be able to “meet” you today! Your tips were great…

Thanks for giving us the heads up that you were on so we could see you!


momstheword April 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I can’t wait to find a link of the show. You looked so pretty and calm in the pictures you posted.

Oh. My. Word. I would have thrown up or fainted or something. Seriously. Makes me nervous just thinking about it. I don’t think I have anything to worry about though, lol. Hollywood isn’t knocking down my door!


Brenda Campbell April 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I just watched you on Rachael Ray!! You looked stunning and the tips are wonderful! Congratulations again on a great show!


Pat Anderson April 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Wow! Heard about you and your exciting opportunity over on a Membership Site from one of your Twitter followers. Way to go! I am so proud of you! I hope this leads to many exciting and profitable opportunities for you!

Way to go for being ready to speak when you needed to!

Create a Great Day!


charlene @ myfrugaladventures April 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm

YEAH!!! How exciting!! So was the food backstage as good as everyone says?


Anne Ivy April 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Great job on the show! So exciting!!


LaToya April 21, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I caught the show today. I think they should have given you lots more time. But it looked great!! I definately hope they have you back.


Joy April 21, 2009 at 8:36 pm

I really like your site, and how cool that you got on the RR show!

…but I have to throw in my two cents about your initial comments on this post about inexpensive healthy food. I think it is very easy for people like me–people who have only one steady, decent-paying job, health insurance, and a stable living situation–to agree that yes, eating healthfully does not have to be expensive. There are good, inexpensive grocery stores, even if they’re a little bit further away, and I have the spare time to invest in planning, shopping for, and preparing my meals.

However, for millions who are not fortunate to be in my situation, the dollar deals at the corner store will have to do. Getting to a quality grocery store–or even a regular one–means time spent on the bus, lugging groceries all over the place–and who has time for that? Or even if you can get to a store, you might not have the working refrigerator or stove (or power source) necessary to prepare meals in a quantity that will be cost-effective. Or you don’t have the time to cook because you’re working second and third shifts.

I won’t go on forever (I’ll post a few links below for further reading). I just think it’s important that instead of criticizing the belief that healthy food is expensive, we understand the luxuries that allow some to easily obtain healthful foods and the lack that prevent others from doing the same. In other words, to me, it’s a $5 meal, but there are many hidden costs I don’t have to pay.

This is a great story about “food deserts” in LA:

Here’s another document about the same topic:


Angie April 21, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I love the Rachel Ray show I watch it whenever I can…I thought that what you brought to the table (so to speak) was great there are alot of families out there living week to week (including my family) and now the ideas that you have given me are great.It is sort of like a challenge to me now to provide the best meal that I can in that price should have your own show…like 30 min. meals but meals under $ go girl…


Lisette Shrimpton April 21, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Hi I Watch RR very often,and was thrilled with your segment on the show today. Yes it was very interesting,and I think you may have encouraged a few more people to use coupons. Way to go! I use coupons and often find myself baffled at the people that don’t want to be botherd, to use coupons. I really don’t think those people realize how much you can save using coupons. So good for you!


Amy April 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Hello, I just saw you Rachael Ray show debute and you were fabulous! I’m a huge fan of hers as well you must have been super excited! By the way I love your website, I just know I’ll be visiting here all the time for new recipes! :-D


Gina April 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I found your blog because of the show. Glad I did. You’ll probably get tons of people because of it. You did a wonderful job! Can’t wait to try your recipes.


Diane-thewholegang April 22, 2009 at 6:04 am

Wow, it was so cool to see you with Rach. Great job! You have mads such huge strides and have helped so many people. You rock!


skydancer April 22, 2009 at 10:09 am

Hi: Caught you on RR show. Amazing!!! Now–where do I find your recipes?????


Jessica April 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm

I saw you on RR the other day, that’s how I ended up at your site! You did a wonderful job on the show and I had to get on my laptop right away to check out your website. I started bookmarking your recipes, then realized I was bookmarking every recipe! I’m so excited to start trying your method of shopping and these great looking dinners! I’ve already forwarded the web address to everyone on my contact list!


Cindy April 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm

How awesome!! Watched it on the computer and was so excited for you. You didn’t look the least bit nervous. I would have been a wreck. Congrats!!


Sherri April 24, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Love RR and what you’ve done with your blog here! I’m here in Kettering.


alicia April 24, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I loved your segment on RR and am hooked to your site and wisdom


Michelle April 26, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Congratulations! You should be so proud – feeding your family well and helping others to do the same. Excellent work :-)


Chelsia April 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I adore Rachael Ray-I watch her almost everyday. I was so excited to watch your show. Thank goodness for DVR or I would of missed it. My husband and I already clip coupons but I hadn’t thought of looking online for coupons or visiting other grocery stores for good deals. We are already following some of your steps on saving money and making quality meals for less. Thank you for posting so many recipes and being a source of encouragement, especially in this tough economic time.


Christina Baita April 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

Hello! We were talking about you at the last CWB meeting. Don’t worry, It was all very good and so exciting. I would love to meet you some day if we are both able to make a meeting. Take care and keep up the good work!

Rachael Ray definitely rocks and so do you for showing us “regular” folk how it can be done.

Christina Baita (known on CWB as


Amy @ Living Locurto May 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

What a fun time!!! Congrats on getting to be on the show. That’s awesome!


Amber M May 3, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I am so excited that you were able to meet Rachel! I adore her! I watch her show everyday I can and DVR it on the other days. I was so excited to see this segment. Your appearance on the show is what brought me to your website! Thank goodness, because you are full of great ideas! I have always wanted to cook healthy but was intimidated by the prices of fresh foods. Now I know I can do this and I am ready for the challenge!


Debbie May 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

This is way too cool! I’m so glad Rachael Ray’s producers called you to do the show. I missed the segment but is there a place to access and watch it now? Maybe on Food Network? Or YouTube? BTW, congratulations!!!!


Andrea May 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

My only question is what you served your hubby and the boys in that segment? It looked so yummy, and with morning sickness, that says a lot for me! :)

Congrats on getting on RR! I’m way happy for you! I’ve been doing the $5 meal thing since college (when all I had for groceries for the week was $25!), and people think it is so hard to eat well, but it isn’t if you make wise choices. Rock on, Erin!


Sherry May 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I saw you on RR and I am very excited about this! It has become more and more difficult to feed my family of 4 with the little grocery money I have, and to make matters worse my husband will not eat veggies! And I have 2 teenagers! :) I am going to put your paln into action and see how it works for us! Thanks so much for your great ideas! And I am looking forward to making your recipes!


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