FAQ

Answers to the most commonly asked questions…

1. How many people do these meals feed?

The recipes posted are just what I make for my family.  My husband, myself, and my 3 boys, ages 5, 3 and 1.  Yes, if you have a larger family or family with older children, then the recipes would need to be adjusted according to your family’s size and needs.

2. Are these prices for real?

Y-E-S. Yes!  I have never been dishonest about prices.  I live in the midwest where prices tend to be less than other areas of the country.  I never pay full price for anything.  I always buy products that are on sale and I actively use coupons to reduce my grocery budget even further.

3. How do you figure the cost breakdown?

For most protein ingredients, the price is on the package.  For produce, I remember the prices, but keep my most recent receipts on hand in case I forget!  For smaller ingredients like spices, flour, oils, etc., I have figured out how much those are per tsp and Tbsp.

4. Do you have any dietary restrictions?

For a time we were GFCF (gluten free, casein free), but have since learned that our oldest has a true dairy allergy and is not allergic to wheat.  He is also allergic to potatoes, pears, ham, turkey, lamb and rye.  You won’t see those ingredients around here too often!  I make all meals from scratch and use as little processed foods as possible. We recently reintroduced potatoes to the oldest’s diet and have done well thus far.

5. What falls into your grocery budget?

All food, cleaning, household needs and toiletries.  I also include any medicines like Tylenol or cold medicines.  Prescription medications and vitamins/calcium supplements go under our “medical” line of the budget. Diapers and wipes go under baby budget, but I can sometimes get them into my monthly budget with the right coupon matchup and sale price.  I do buy some products from Amazon using Swagbucks credits and get them “free.”

6. Where do you shop for groceries?

Almost exclusively at Kroger.  I will bop into the drugstore every now and again for a great deal on food or diapers, and I visit the health food store once a month or so to stock up on allergy free ingredients.

7. Have your written any cookbooks?!

So glad you asked!  The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook and The $5 Dinner Mom Does Breakfast and Lunch are both on real and virtual bookstore shelves!

If you have any other questions, please email me at 5dollardinners at gmail dot com.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Libardo Suarez June 29, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Hi, I just saw you on RR and had a look to yur website, it is great thanks for thinking in sharing it with other people, I know it should take a lot of time to do and maintain.

I work from home and my wife works out so most of the days I cook and your recepies are great. The hardest is to think what to cook today, so just an idea for lazy people like me or for millions of young people that or do no have the cooking knowledge or just lazy to do it, it will be great if you can make recepies distributed per week, just for 4 different weeks will help a lot with ideas, I think just dinner will be enough e.g Monday (xxxx), Tuesday (yyyy), Wednesday (zzzz) …….

Probably with the time you can get enough data (recepies) to do a calender for the whole year customised by cheapest seasonal products, it will be a nice book to have (I know seasons are different around the world but the products that grow in each season are the same, so recepies for the whole year distributed by season instead of a calender month will apply around the world).

Cheers,

Just an idea,

Cheers,

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Sabra August 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

This is an amazing idea!!!

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Army Wife September 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

I LOVE your site! I have yet to try anything (just found the site today) but I’m already planning to snip coupons and stalk the sales papers! My DH is deploying to Afghan in January so I’ll just be making dinner for myself and my 18 month old daughter. I really want/need to learn how to shop and budget. I make homemade meals now but they are costing more than they should. Glad you started this site! God Bless you and your family!
Army Wife

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Kristy Reynoso September 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

Hi,
I found your information in the Woman’s Day magazine and found it interesting, $5 dinners. I’m a working mom, m-f 8-5, with a wonderful husband who helps out a lot, and three joyful boys, 15 yrs old and 11 yr old twins. We are located in Napa, CA. I want to be more efficient and save money with meals and grocery shopping and after reviewing your website, I don’t know where to begin. I find the coupon world really confusing and how to make use of them. Also, due to limited time I like to only shop at Safeway. My question to you is, where do I start, how would I make the best use of this website?
Thanks for your suggestions in advance,
Kristy

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Brenda Gregory October 16, 2009 at 9:30 am

My heart goes out to your oldest! Both of my boys were lactose intolerant, but my oldest grew out of it. Unfortunately, my youngest can’t drink milk at all. He can eat a lot of dairy, but forget milk. We did find out he’s allergic to carrots, some tomato depending on how it’s processed and can’t digest corn. Before we had our boys, we had to deal with our dog who was highly allergic to wheat products. There was only one kind of food she could eat that was wheat free. Then there were her other allergies. By the time the boys came along it was nothing to adjust to theirs. My youngest is trickier, but we’re managing.

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Sassy Stephanie October 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Erin,

I just want to add my praise to the list for your site. I have really enjoyed seeing you not only stay within your given budget amounts, but have made several of your recipes. I love to save but only this past January became a die hard coupon shopper. I love that I can slash my grocery bill all while preparing a healthy dinner. Saving at the store does not mean compromising on nutrition. I love testing out some of your recipes. Tonight, it’s applesauce chicken and roasted acorn squash. Thanks so much for all you put into your site. Our family is truly blessed by your efforts.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 28, 2009 at 5:07 pm

@Sassy Stephanie,

Thanks Stephanie! You’re welcome!

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Mer January 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Hello! Just finished reading your book. I got a copy from the library but plan to buy it! So great!

Wondering though how you budget for stalking up your pantry? If you have a $60 group budget and you spend $15 of that on 15 boxes of cereal at $1 each that is a pretty significant amount.

Also, how do you deal with the expensive prices of dairy subs like rice milk at $2.99 a container. My entire family of 5 drinks it and we spend $40 a month on rice milk ( for cereal, fruit shakes and dairy added to cream soups etc…)

Thanks for your time and thanks for a great book.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

@Mer,

I make rice milk! Details here: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2009/08/rice-milk.html

Saves a bundle!

As for stockpiling, it does fit into the budget…little by little! Building a stockpile can take weeks, as different items to add to your stockpile will be on sale on different weeks! This week is a good stock up week for me, as chicken breast, ground chuck, pasta, etc and some of my other favorite products are on special…but since I have a stockpile already built, and I’m doing the pantry challenge this month, I’ll likely just get 1 of each to maintain the stockpile!

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Lynn January 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I love your site! Especially that I can look up recipes based on ingredient–thats awesome for when I have extra of an ingredient or need to get rid of something before it goes bad! [I’m not good at figuring out menus, but your site looks like it could be the fix!] Also, your recipes seem easy to tweak for picky eaters vs. those who will eat just about anything. I’m over on the east coast, so things tend to be more expensive, with very few coupons for fresh vegetables [I don’t have a green thumb at ALL.] But, it’s a small price to pay for fresh ingredients that your recipes call for, as opposed to all the unhealthy processed foods. I can’t wait to try your recipes–I’ve already got stuff for your Chicken Pasta Primavera…looks great!

Thanks!

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ChampagneMommy February 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I am impressed with all you do! How do you find the time?

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LisaE May 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm

A HUGE THANK YOU!!! I have been looking for quite a while for a website like this! I have tried hard in getting my grocery budget down and have finally gotten it down to an average of $70-$90/weekly (usually within the $80 range for my family of 4) after spending on average $120/weekly and want to get it even lower. With this website, tips & stragedies, and especially the very frugal recipes, I am confident I can get my grocery bill even lower! Thanks a bunch from someone who has started making as much homeade items(laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain cleaner-to food items) as I can to save money…..I really hope you do not start to charge for the use of this site in the near future(as it would not be in my budget). I had joined a different site that has some “free” recipes, but also charges a monthly fee to join the “club” that contains a lot more information…..but, sadly, I do not have the money to “join”.

Again…a huge thank you and this site is a tremendous help!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom May 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm

@LisaE,

You’re welcome. I have no plans to charge a fee to use the site, so don’t fret!

Erin

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Eden Ahl May 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I have not been receiving your emails for several days. Can we fix this?

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Gena Sennett June 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I just read my usual newsletter, 6-23-10, and had to figure out how to make a comment, at least to Thank~You, for sharing such a funny, “been~there~did~almost~same~thing”, story…..needed a good laugh, thanks again!!! Gena

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teresa white July 29, 2010 at 7:37 am

I am trying to stick to the “No More than $2.50 per meal on protein” however with fish (esp salmon) I am having a hard time finding it for under the price even on sale for me and my husband (only 2) Where do you find fish so reasonably priced? Thanks

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom July 29, 2010 at 8:29 am

@teresa white,

Fish is definitely the toughest protein to get under $2.50 per meal! I see fresh fish, incl tilapia and salmon, on sale for $2.99/lb about 3-4 times a year. I also see great sales on the vacuum sealed frozen fish…and my store puts out store coupons for those too. I also try to get shrimp whenever its on rock bottom sale. And I do wish we could incorporate more fresh fish into our budget!

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naomig@the happy sanitarium November 9, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Have just spent a ton of time on your website, thank you for all the recipes and information! I’m thinking that your recipes and meal planning will help me make my meals around $12 per dinner–haha… groceries are A LOT more expensive here. :-) Anyway, that will be a huge improvement over what I have been spending! Thank you!!!

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Dana Burgess January 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I was intrigued by your segment on Fox this morning and visited your site! Only to be amazed that you are also a Horned Frog!!!!( Class of ’91) And so proud of our Rose Bowl Champions!!! Blessings to you and your family I only wish I could grow my business as well as you have. I plan to take up residence on your site to save for my own family.
Proud of the Purple,
Dana Burgess

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Daniel Keller January 18, 2011 at 6:46 am

Love this concept. I almost paid another site for this same thing but now that I found you and you have better information I glad I did not. I cook all day and just do not feel like it when I get home. My wife is learning to be a really great cook, and she was good already. So I just print the recipe for her. Thanks for all you do

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charles July 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

nice work

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Lanese August 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

My husband and I both work full time and have two children (ages 3 and 1). I love the idea of this, but wonder, I hardly have time now balancing everything, how can I find coupons quickly to use?

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Marilee October 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Erin,
So glad I found your site. I have been trying to cut back on monthly grocery expenses which include cleaning supplies, paper goods, and cat food. I normally cook dinner for 3 adults. Still trying to cut spending to $3 per day per person on average. Do you think that’s too much? I’m in the mid-west.

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Jean October 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Saw you on The View this morning. It was great!

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Karen July 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hi, I have a budget of $75 a week for 4 adults, (3 males, 1 female). Two of us are diabetic, 1 pre- diabetic, and cannot budge from this budget. What recipes can I use from your books? Unfortunately, we cannot have a lot of carbohydrates in a meal and you have no dietary input in the book. Is this something you are considering in the future? This dietary restriction prevents us from having cheap meals to eat. Thanks!

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Les September 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Hi! I found your site from krazycouponlady.com. I work at Kroger and I also shop there and only shop other places for good deals! I am a huge couponer and am stocking up on nonperishables while saving up to move out of my parents house. I also try to cook a few new meals for me and my boyfriend (and sometimes his dad), and have been doing so very cheaply. A goal of $5 a meal is a new challenge and I’m ready to learn from you! Thank you for the site!

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Loretta Boggan September 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Great website

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Brenda C December 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Can shredded Mozzerella Cheese be frozen for later use? My local grocery store has 8 oz. packages of shredded mozzerella cheese on sale this week and I would like to stock up for after the holidays but I need to know if it can be frozen for later use. If so, how long will it keep after thawing?

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Gloria Nocito DeGeorge January 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I am a new subscriber. I’ve tried several times to print out your recipe for burrito cups but never can get past the picture. HELP!

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April August 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I would love to know if you have a “search” feature to find bulk cooking recipes that you’d recommend from your recipe list.

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Bonnie September 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm

How about adding service adjustment/scaling to each recipe…would make this rush rush world of seaching for recipes more efficient….I am a senior widow, whose husband of 31 years did all the cooking and baking so I am a novice at cooking and other sites with the scaling feature are of more use to me that just recipe sites.

Thanks for listening and hope you will let me know when you had this feature so I can add your site to my Favorities.
BonnieJ

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Lara September 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You might want to change the Kitchen Aid graphic on the front… the contest has been over for 2 weeks!

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Angelia Johnson September 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

Do you have a holiday guide for make ahead meals and holiday recipes? Preferably freezer options for make ahead get together’s. I work a lot durring the October- January time frame and I always look for an easy make ahead freezer dishes that can be mad well in advance on my own time and then taken out for the big day like Thanksgiving, Christmas or even cocktail parties. This would be ever so helpful. Maybe an idea for make ahead freezer money saving meals for the holidays book! Thanks I have all 3 books..

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Angelia Johnson September 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

Do you have a holiday guide for make ahead meals and holiday recipes? Preferably freezer options for make ahead get together’s. I work a lot during the October- January time frame and I always look for an easy make ahead freezer dishes that can be mad well in advance on my own time and then taken out for the big day like Thanksgiving, Christmas or even cocktail parties. This would be ever so helpful. Maybe an idea for make ahead freezer money saving meals for the holidays book! Thanks I have all 3 books..

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Vega Vega November 30, 2013 at 2:27 am

How about a VEGAN (not vegetarian) menu using no animal products at all? I have yet to find anything like that on the web.

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Mari August 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Is there any way to send recipe suggestions to you?

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Brandi August 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I just purchased all 3 of you recipe packs but can’t open them (my phone doesn’t like them lol) is it possible to have them emailed to me?

Thx

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Paulette August 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I paid for the $5 meal plan via paypal, but was unable to download. Please send via email

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Tammy Kulman August 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm

what does a raw frozen potato taste like? I didn’t think they froze well at all?

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Cindy costigan August 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I paid for the $6.49 by paypal. I was not able to download. Can you please send via email.

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Judy August 20, 2014 at 9:37 am

Do you have any Vegan plans?

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Monica Roy August 20, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I just purchased the freezer meal plan and paid with my Paypal. But before I realized I couldn’t specify an ail for the plan to go to. The email on my Paypal is email that I can’t check. I’ve updated it now, but I wanted to see if you could email the plan to THIS email that I put here monilyn30@yahoo.com

Thanks

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jennifer August 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Hi, I’m wondering if your meals have nutritional information. I didn’t see any info…Are most of the meals healthy or laden with on-sale grocery sale items (cream of chicken, celery, etc soup). I try to use organic and not a ton of pre-packaged items. Thanks for your help!

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Jenn K August 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

Erin does not typically use an “cream of” soups as she cooks with mostly whole food ingredients.

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Gerie August 24, 2014 at 6:39 pm

just want to know if these meals are for a week or a month. There is no way i can do 150 a week for meals, as we are on a fixed income. my son and his wife plus 2 grandchilden live with us and have many food issues. I need something for make ahead for the adults so things will be easier. I would like to make ahead meals to put into crock pot when i have surgary next month also.
Thanks for any information. I also donot use coupons. They always seem to have stuff i do not use so why bye them.

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Jenn K August 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

Gerie – the Costco meal plans make 20 meals so almost a month’s worth.

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Alissa September 5, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I love the convenience of pulling a prepared meal from the freezer and throwing it in the crock pot. I did the 20 meals for $150 from Costco. Not everything lined up perfectly, but the convenience has already saved my bacon several times. My concern for each meal is that the meat has turned out dry, not juicy and tender. I read that the liquid included in each recipe is enough for the meal, so I’m not sure what I could be doing wrong. I am not a talented chef, so any suggestions would be helpful. The apple sweet potato pork chops were delicious… but dry. The Italian stew had decent flavor, but the potatoes were still hard. Each recipe cooked 8-10 hours on low. Help??

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Jenn K September 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I’d test your slow cooker to see how hot it actually gets. If it’s a “hot” slow cooker then you’ll want to cook for less time to avoid the meat getting dry.

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Lori September 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm

What size crock pot do you use? I can’t find that info anywhere on your site….

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Mylene Angeles Corona September 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Hello,
I just purchased both of the Costco $150 meal plans and when I went to download it there was an error and I was not able to download it. My husband accidentally closed the server and I cannot access the downloads anymore without paying for it all over again. Please help.

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Beth October 11, 2014 at 5:27 am

I am interested in trying your slow cooker/frozen dinners in bags. Looking at them though I wonder about freezing raw veggies without blanching them. wouldn’t they turn out kind of rubbery if they aren’t blanched first? but on the other hand being half cooked already, might they be kind of mushy if they are blanched and then cooked in a slow cooker? How do you get around these problems?
Thanks

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Kelly October 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

I would LOVE a Paleo meal plan!!!!! Please!!!!!!!

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Wendellyn Plummer November 2, 2014 at 6:29 am

Is there a Gluten Free Plan for Sam’s Club?

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Rebecca Schreher November 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Erin,
I HAD to send you a quick note, I just finished listening to you on the “My Wife Quit Her Job” podcast and needed to let you know that you are inspirational beyond belief! There was so much info packed in those 50 minutes, I feel like I need to listen again with a pad and paper!

My short and sweet story is I left a well paid corporate job seven years ago when our daughter Riley was born and fell back on an old trade of making wedding cakes. That was great until burn out and Kaden came along and when they both started school a couple years ago and I desperately wanted our family weekends back, I switched gears and started an online shop with etsy which has taken us places we didn’t expect to be. I am thrilled to say that it has expanded to the point where my husband will be leaving his job this month to join forces and see just how far we can take this thing. We are so excited to be on this unexpected roller coaster and when you said “I wouldn’t change anything, this is the path I am suppose to be on” (paraphrasing here) , it struck a major chord. I thank you for all the info you had provided in that pod cast and will continue to look towards you and your techniques for inspiration. (not in a stalker way, I promise! Ha,ha)

Many, many thanks,
Rebecca Schreher

Agogo Design
Rk Grace Prints
615-424-9108

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