Easy and Delicious – Black Bean Salsa

You’ve likely seen this recipe on my site before, but I wanted to highlight it as a delicious meal that costs less than a dollar per plate!

Black Bean Salsa is easy to make and has only five healthy ingredients. It tastes so fresh, and the cilantro makes it so flavorful. I serve it with Organic Corn Chips.  The total cost for the salsa and the chips costs less than $6 and will feed my entire family. This is also a great, inexpensive snack to share with guests at a party.

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You’ll find the recipe here.

Looking for more meal ideas that use healthy, real food ingredients and cost less than one dollar per plate? Here’s what I’ve shared so far:

 

Chili Mac ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers.

Most of the time, I really do love them. On the days I have way too many items on my to-do list and just don’t have time to cook – it’s great to just pull out leftovers to warm up and eat. But on the other hand, having a fridge full of little tid-bits of this and that? It makes my fridge look cluttered, which kinda makes me feel annoyed.

This, my friends, is what we call a “first world problem.”  Too many leftovers? So much food in my fridge that I can’t find what I’m looking for?  So many people around the world long to have the “problems” I have.

When I have to slide all sorts of bowls and jars around in my fridge, just to find the peanut butter stuffed way in the back? It’s a waste of a good thirty seconds of my life.

Ooh, and you know what’s really annoying? When I make enough peas for each of us to have a nice serving. And then the last person leaves about 13 peas in the pan. Why? Just take the rest of the peas, for goodness sake! I do not want to find a little container for 13 leftover peas, and then put them into the fridge so that I can slide them all around when I’m looking for peanut butter. Likely, they’ll become forgotten and fuzzy because really? Who wants to take the time to re-heat 13 peas?

Oh to have the luxury of complaining about “all” the food in my refrigerator. I truly am thankful for all of the food on my shelves – even the container of 13 forgotten peas.  I promise to always be grateful for the cluttery tid-bits.

(But really, if you are the last one to serve yourself at my house, and there are a few peas floating at the bottom of the pan, please, for the love of my sanity as I search for peanut butter, just put them on your plate and eat them already.)

And now for a real food recipe that costs a very small amount of money and uses up some of the leftovers that are taking up space in your fridge.

Chili MacYum

6 cups (give or take) leftover chili
2 cups water
4 cups whole wheat or rice pasta (any shape)
Sea salt to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring chili and water to a boil. Add uncooked pasta. Cover and cook on medium heat until pasta is tender. Sprinkle in salt, according to your taste. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

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Estimated cost of this meal? About 65¢ per person. And that includes the peas. All of them – even the last 13.

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

If you are sick of chili, and don’t want to eat your leftovers immediately – simply spread this Chili Mac mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish, top with cheese, cover, and freeze. Reheat another day.

I am happy to report that the day recently when I served Chili Mac, there were no leftover peas. But just in case, maybe I should come up with a recipe that uses 13 peas…

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

Are you a fan of leftovers? Do you sometimes find a few straggly uneaten peas in the pan? 

Easy Chicken Pot Pie {Real Food Dollar Menu}

FAQs of Easy Chicken Pot Pie…

Question:  What do you get when you mix one cup of milk, one cup of mayonnaise, and one cup of whole wheat flour?

Answer:  The most amazingly delicious crust you can imagine.

Question:  What is the easiest way to make a crust for a Chicken Pot Pie?

Answer:  You know the “one cup of milk, one cup of mayonnaise, and one cup of flour” I referred to? Mix it up and pour it over the top of your pot pie filling, then bake. It doesn’t get any easier. No mess. No rolling. No problem.

Question:  How much does it cost to make this healthy, hearty Chicken Pot Pie?

Answer:  Would you believe me if I told you that it only costs $6.00*? It’s true. This recipe feeds 8-10 people. (Eight if you’re my family. Ten if you aren’t feeding teenage boys.)  That makes the cost of this recipe between $0.60 and $0.75 per person. And it’s a complete, filling, healthy meal.

Question:  Is the rest of this post going to be as cheesy as what I’ve read so far?

Answer:  Ummm…no. But I do want you to know that I’m currently working on more ideas for this milk/mayo/flour crust mixture. I got the idea from Matt’s cousin Monica, and I’m thinking that the possibilities are definitely not limited to Chicken Pot Pie. Can’t wait to figure out more ideas!

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Yum

6 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bites
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup cold water
2 Tablespoons organic corn starch or arrowroot powder
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower Mayonnaise)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)

In a large cooking pot, boil broth, chicken, carrots, potatoes, and peas until veggies are tender. Mix cornstarch with water until smooth. Stir mixture into the broth/veggies, cooking for about one minute on the stove to help the mixture thicken. Pour contents into a 9×13 inch baking dish.

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In a separate bowl, stir together milk, mayo, and flour. Spread mixture over the veggies in the baking dish.

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Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie {Real Food Dollar Menu}
 
Author:
Serves: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bites
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup cold water
  • 2 Tablespoons organic corn starch, arrowroot powder, or wheat flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower Mayonnaise)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)
Instructions
  1. In a large cooking pot, boil broth, chicken, carrots, potatoes, and peas until veggies are tender.
  2. Mix cornstarch with water until smooth.
  3. Stir mixture into the broth/veggies, cooking for about one minute on the stove to help the mixture thicken.
  4. Pour contents into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together milk, mayo, and flour.
  6. Spread mixture over the veggies in the baking dish.
  7. Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

 

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken and broth. And I love one-dish meals!

This is just one more recipe that proves that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive!

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

P.S. I think this recipe would work great for creating personal sized frozen Chicken Pot Pies. :)

Crock Pot Beef Stew ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

Here is another healthy meal that is super easy, quick to make, and low in cost. There is really nothing fancy about this meal. But it’s comforting and warm and perfect for a chilly evening.

Crock Pot Beef Stew with Cornbread Muffins

1 pound stew meat, cut into bit-sized chunks
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion or 2 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix
1/2 cup water
Sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

The cost of this meal, including the cornbread, added up to $8.29*. It fed 9 people. Cost per plate (um, bowl) =  $0.92. I love this price!!!

beef_stew

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken – Real Food Dollar Menu

It might sound kind of silly for me to say this, but I’ve typically thought that making a meal of Barbecue Chicken Breasts is a bit of a “splurge” for us. Why? Because hardly ever do I just cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts as our “main dish” without spreading them out within a casserole to make them “stretch”.

Even so, this meal costs just a tiny bit more than one dollar per plate. Sweet! I’m so glad to know the price breakdown on this, because we love it. Plus, this meal is super fast and easy to prepare. I’m talking five minutes tops. I can quickly throw chicken breasts and homemade barbecue sauce into the crockpot on a Sunday morning before church, or right after lunch on a weekday – and a few hours later, our main dish is ready! Add a veggie or two, and maybe some bread, and your meal is complete.

We used (free) green beans from our garden for this meal, but to be fair to those who don’t have garden beans in their freezer, I included the price of purchased, frozen beans as I calculated the cost of this meal. Altogether with the chicken, sauce, beans, and muffins, this meal ends up being $1.09/plate. (I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.)

In case you’re wondering – I use Smart Chicken Brand boneless skinless chicken breasts in recipes like this. That is the best I can find around here – and I wait for them to go on sale. (My friend recently got me a case at a great price from her local store. Smart Chicken breast for just $2.71/pound…so exciting!)

Crock Pot Barbecue ChickenYum

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken - Real Food Dollar Menu
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ recipe of Homemade Barbecue Sauce (about ½ cup)
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken breasts into portion sized pieces.
  2. Place in a crock pot, top with barbecue sauce, and cook on low for about four hours or until meat is no longer pink.
  3. BONUS: Don't have time for the crock pot? Simply put the chicken and sauce into a saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Cook for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Serve!

Here’s my Homemade Barbecue Sauce recipe. :)

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Do you often use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a main dish…or do you typically try to “stretch” them into more meals?

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

 

Hearty Chili ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

Well, I’m really sorry if I disappoint all of you so early in this new Dollar Menu series. Don’t be mad. Please. I’m just trying to help all of us out as we work on finding inexpensive real food meal ideas.

Okay, are you ready for me to share the potentially upsetting news with you? Are you sitting down?

Here’s the deal. Depending on how you make it, this Hearty Chili recipe actually costs way, way less than $1 per person. I know. This is not what I promised you. Can we still be friends? ;)

When I began tweaking and adding up the cost of this recipe, I was rather shocked myself. Because I used tomato products we had grown in our garden, it turns out that this entire pot actually cost me about $1.05 to make – and it fed 10 people! That’s 11¢ per person*!!!!

However, since not everyone has a garden, I also figured the cost with purchased tomato products. This made the cost $5.40 for the pot, which divided by 10 people is 54¢ per person. I’m liking this hearty meal – how about you? :)

Now guess what? If I wanted to add a pound of hamburger to this pot of chili, my cost with garden tomatoes would be $5.40 for the entire pot. Cost with purchased tomatoes would be $9.75…STILL less than a $1.00 per person! And actually, the meat would help the pot of chili go just a tad further, making it possible to feed more than ten.

If you don’t mind a little additional cost, you can add shredded cheese or sour cream, which is always tasty on chili. You can serve this with Corn Bread Muffins (also inexpensive) and carrots sticks. Or you can fill tummies and stretch the chili by serving this over baked potatoes.

Are the possibilities not endless?

Hearty (Cheapo) Chili

Hearty Chili ~ Real Food Dollar Menu
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans (or 1 15-ounce can)
  • 1 cup dry red beans (or 1 15-ounce can)
  • 1 pound hamburger meat (optional)
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • ¼ cup chopped onions or 2 Tablespoons dry minced onions
  • chili powder or chili peppers to taste
  • garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place dry beans in a large cooking pot.
  2. Cover with water by at least an inch. (Splash in some vinegar to help make these more digestable if you want.)
  3. Soak beans in water overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  4. Drain beans and fill pot again with water, enough to cover the beans by 1 and a half inches. Bring beans to a boil. (Skip all above steps if using canned beans)
  5. Cook (watching to be sure they don't boil over) for about an hour or until beans are tender. Drain.
  6. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, onions, and seasonings. (The more chili powder or chili peppers you add, the spicier it will be, so you make the call on those. I typically add about 3 Tablespoons of chili powder, which keeps it pretty mild.)
  7. Simmer chili for at least 30 minutes before serving. Simmer longer if desired. Or make this ahead of time and warm it in the crock pot on low for several hours. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be!

 

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What’s your favorite way to eat chili?  (I love shredded cheddar melted throughout mine!)

Don’t you just love a dollar menu that’s less than a dollar? Wonder what else I’ll be able to come up with that doesn’t quite “meet your Dollar Menu expectations”…

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Spanish Rice ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

I love how versitile this recipe is. Have a little bit of cooked chicken or beef to use up? Throw it into the pot! Want black beans instead of meat? Perfect. Don’t want any meat or beans at all? Leave them out.

Sometimes I like to stir in one cup of sour cream if I have it. That raises the cost of this meal, so adding the sour cream only happens if I have some that I need to use up. Also, the corn is optional. I love the sweetness that it adds, but two of my boys prefer it without the corn.

Confused yet? Don’t worry. Here’s the actual “recipe”  – but just know that this one lends itself to a lot of flexibility. Do with it what works best for cleaning out the leftovers in your fridge. Or make it depending on what you’re hungry for at the moment. No matter how you make it, you’ll be serving a healthy meal without spending much money!

Spanish Rice

3 cups water or broth
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups salsa
1 cup cooked chicken, cooked ground beef, or black beans
1 cup frozen corn

Boil water. Add rice, stir, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add salsa, chicken, and corn.  Cook on medium heat until warmed through and through.

Serves 6

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Dollar Menu Cost BreakDown:

Spanish Rice = $5.35* which divides to 89¢ per person. I typically serve this with fruit, so the additional cost will vary depending on what is served with the Spanish Rice. If I serve it with applesauce that I made from free apples – the cost is practically free. If I serve it with smoothies from frozen berries and yogurt or kefir, the prices is going to be a bit more.

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

What would be your favorite add-ins to this meal?  Chicken or beef are my favorites, but I’m a meat lovin’ girl, so that probably comes as no surprise. :)