Category Archives: $5 meals

An Ode to Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I would like to take a minute to sing the praises of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  The perfect recesh lunch.  It’s crazy delicious AND so inexpensive!  Let me break it down for you:

•Two slices of bread 20¢ (and that’s the good kind, you can usually find decent bread for $2 a loaf)
•2 oz. of cheddar cheeze 56¢ (or less, for two generic brand american singles, fancy!*)
•margarine 4¢ (8¢ for butter, if you’re classy like that)

your basic GCS is just 80¢!

extras: an egg 21¢, a slice of turkey 40¢, half an onion (carmelized first, of course) 34¢, a slice of bacon 22¢, half a tomato and some mustard 50¢.

for just over a buck you can have a fabulous lunch!

allow me to inspire you with two tales about my best grilled cheese sandwich experiences in recent history.

the face of jealousy

A couple of weeks ago, I was house/cat-sitting for my brother.  (There’s a perfect recesh survival scheme if I ever heard one: house/cat-sitting = free food from my bro’s fridge, and my bro’s fridge = fancy food).  So I had access to some nice wheat bread, muenster cheese slices, sliced turkey with herbs already on it, and actual butter.  The cheese melted to stringy perfection and the slightly heated herby turkey was just mmmm.  It was so delish, Bix, the cat looked super jealous!

And now, the tale of the sandwich in that mouth-watering photo up-top there.  That, my friends, is the main course from one of the most delightful meals of my life.  I was in Seattle with my dear friends Raul and Keighty.  We were looking for cheap food near pikes market (it’s tourist-ville.  $10 crumpets? no thanks), when Raul spotted “Restautrant”.  (the place had an actual name on their menus, but we chose to call it by the name on the sign outside).  Keighty and I had identical meals: a cheese and egg sandwich grilled to gooey perfection, and a rootbeer float that came as a glass full of ice cream and a can of rootbeer, yum.  It was a delightful meal and our bills each came in at under five dollars!

Well, now you’ve heard what i have to say about the gloriousness of the perfect GCS.  You absolutely MUST czech this out:

10 of the most magnificent GCSs ever!
(complete with inspirational photos and recipes)

* i know that cheese singles are fancy, because as a child we only got to have them at grandma’s house, and they come individually wrapped!  that is fance!

p.s. what are your fave GCS recipes? comment, please. i’m always up for trying a new form of melted cheese on toasty bread.



Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal

Five Dollar Fiesta!

I went to Lucky’s determined to pick-up a $5 meal for three (ani, brian and me again). Lucky for me, the produce was all crazy on sale. So i decided to make Taco Salad!  It’s easy to make and delish!

How did i make a top-notch salad for just 5 bucks?  Some stellar deals and one secret ingrede*!  Let me break it down for you:
Lettuce (great sale)!                 .79
2 smallish Tomatoes                .32
green onions                              .39
1 can chili beans*                      .99
1 cheddar cheese snack stick  .59
1 li’l bag of fritos                        .99
the smallest sour cream          .99
taco bell hot sauce packets      FREE

grand total 5.06!

oh! i know, six cents over budget.  but you can probably find that between the couch cushions, or you could charge each of your dinner guests 3¢, or you could tap dance outside of the grocery store and put out your hat ’till you collect six cents.

okay, so now that you have your beautiful ingredes, assemble away!  It’s only a matter of chop, chop, chopping up the lettuce (not the whole thing.  We used just over half, that means more salad soon!), tomatoes, green onions, and cheese stick (ani found it way too small to grate.  her chopping skillz were stellar).  If you happen to have a real chunk of cheese around you can just grate some of it up.  Now, my fave ingrede THE CHILI BEANS, just drain the can into a colander. You can give them a little rinse if you want.  They will still retain their chili-y flavor and give you some protein.  Finally, throw that salad together, top with some fritos! don’t forget the sour cream (i love that stuff) and bust out those taco bell hot sauce packets that have been sitting in your fridge forever.  (seriously, if you’ve ever been to taco bell you know, they give you about seventeen packets of hot sauce for each taco you order.  If you’ve never been to taco bell, I’m so sorry).

Just look at this yumtastic salad!  Keep in mind this is just an idea that can be modified in about infinity ways.  Green onions not on sale this week? no problem.  You could dig up the extra carrots you have left over from MnCnT night and grate some of those into the salad.  Anytime’s a great time to clean out the produce drawer into a bowl and smother it in sour cream, fritos, and chili beans!

Even ani was a little less bothered by the fact that, yet again, I have my camera pointing in her direction, because this time it means she gets to be having taco salad!


Filed under $5 meals

Pop Corn Fun!

I am going to share one of my absolute favorite discoveries of the past year. Popping popcorn on the stove! Last summer i found myself sharing an apartment with a roommate who was firmly anti-microwave, which is how i discovered that corn popped on the stove is not only so much more tasty than the soggy microwave bagged kind, it is considerably cheaper! Cheap and Delish! Sounds like the perfect recesh treat.

Now, my variety of stove popped corn is the sweet kind (some call it kettle corn). It is soo good! How good? Let’s just say i’ve been known to make myself a pot-full and eat the entire batch for lunch! (warning: that is not actually healthy).

ingredes The ingredes:
1/3 cup yellow popcorn
1/3 cup sugar (regular type)
2 Tbsp. veg or canola oil
< 1 tsp. salt

a note about these amounts: this recipe is the perfect amount for the size pot that i use (you can see it in those pictures there). I used to use 1/2 cup popcorn and 1/2 cup sugar and slightly more oil and salt, because i had a bigger pot. What i’m saying is, the amounts are pretty flexible, just remember 1:1 popcorn to sugar (some recipes use less sugar, but they are crazy).

Also, i find it helpful the measure out the ingredes ahead of time.

oilStep 1: Put 2 Tbsp. of oil and three “test kernels” of popcorn in the bottom of a medium sized pot. The oil should just coat the bottom of the pot and not cover the kernels (that would be way too much…).  Now, put the lid on and turn on the heat.  I set my current stove to 6 (out of 10), you don’t want it too hot, but you also don’t want to sit around all night waiting for the corn to pop… So I guess, i will declare, set your stove to medium high.

all inStep 2: As soon as a test kernel pops, add in the rest of the popcorn and all the sugar.  I pour the popcorn in first, then sprinkle the sugar in evenly over the kernels.  Return the lid onto the pot.  The kernels will not start popping immediately, because the popcorn and sugar have cooled down the oil a little…


Step 3: Shake, shake, shake.  Initially shake the pot about every 10 seconds.  Once the popcorn starts popping big time, shake it every 3 seconds.  Just keep shaking away and the popcorn will do its thing.  Keep this up, until you go 3 seconds with no new pops.

Step 4: Pull the pot off the stove and sprinkle in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt (you can always add more later, if its not salty enough, but it’s a big bummer if your popcorn is over salted).  Then put the lid back on and give it some more good shakes.

Step 5: Dump your popcorn into a bowl, and walk away.  This is the hardest but most important step.  When you transfer the popcorn to the bowl it is still very sticky and hot.  When you come back in five minutes it is much cooler and crispy!  Just give it a little stir and the individual pieces will break apart.  Now all that’s left to do is eat up!

Going to the movies is so terribly spendy ($10 ticket + crazy pricey snacks!) yuk. This popcorn is so yummy, you might just grow to prefer borrowing a DVD from a neighbor (it’s free-er than renting!) and making yourself this irresistible popcorn.

Today, I bought a heaping cup of popcorn kernels (from a bin at a produce store) and it cost me 88¢! That’s just 29¢ a batch.  A 5 lb. bag of sugar gives you about 11.25 cups for about $2.50, so for our batch of popcorn we use just 7¢ of sugar!  Add in the pennies worth of salt and oil and you have a totally super treat for about 40¢.  That is crazy.  If you have two friends over and make two batches, all three of you can eat yourselves sick for less than a dollar!  mmm.


Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal, generally great, Party Tip

Mac ‘n Cheeze ‘n Tuna!

i’m thinking, i will share $5 meal ideas.  I know, anyone can eat a meal for under $5 (happy meal!) but I want to find ways to feed THREE people for under five dollars!  Crazy, I know.  Why three people?  Mostly because around here we’re often cooking for three (lokate, ani and brian. that’s me, my sis and her bf).  Also, i think three people is a good number of folks to cook for, cause you can invite over two friends (and it’s not awkward, like a date) or, if you’re super hungry, you can get really full all by yourself!

For my first $5 meal.  I proudly bring you my all time fave thrifty meal!  Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Tuna!

This one’s super simple.  First you make one box of Mac ‘n Cheese.  Then while it’s all made and still in the pot, mix in exactly one li’l can of tuna!  This is one of those “you have to try it to believe it” kind of meals.  I watched in disgust as my roommate (thanks keighty!) ate this meal at least twice before i dared try it, and now i’m hooked.  If i could invite the whole world over to my apartment and make them this meal i would, because everyone needs to know how great this tastes.

A word about Mac ‘n Cheese quality.  Since learning this recipe from Keighty, i have become somewhat of an expert on MnC brands.  Happily, most store brands of MnC are totally decent!   While i’ll always grab a box of the good ol’ Kraft orig if it’s on sale (currently 49¢ at Lucky’s!), I usually get store brand.  So far i have found Safeway and Lucky’s to have good generic brands. Now, A WORD OF WARNING:  At Fred Meyer they carry FMV Mac ‘n Cheese, and it is usually 33¢ a box (so tempting, right?) but it is NOT GOOD.  Too bad, cause that’s quite a deal.  (i’d like to take a moment to say don’t turn your back completely on FMV brand.  If you have the privilege of living near a Fred Meyer, I totally recommend FMV Corn Flakes, 99¢ a box and so delish!)  I just cook the MnC following the box directions, but i usually don’t have milk to mix in and it’s usually NBD*.  Also, you can cut the amount of butter in half, to keep it healthier.  It’s pretty hard to mess up MnC.

Now, tuna talk.  Just open up the can, pour out the extra water and mix it right in.  I usually get chunk light tuna in water, 5oz., whatever brand is on sale.  My sister is big into albacore tuna, but for mixin’ into MnC, chunk light is cheaper and just as tasty!

So far:
Mac n’ Cheese $1 (and that’s for kraft orig not on sale!)
Chunk light tuna $1

We’re only at $2 and three people are pretty full.  So why not pick up some carrots for a side and three apples for dessert.

Carrots $1 (for one pound according to, these are not peeled, but honestly, you made mac ‘n cheese ‘n tuna for dinner, you can take the time to peel the carrots).
Apples $1.5 (fuji apples are 50¢ each on, i don’t get groceries online, i’m just using it to check prices.  Also note, if you cut the apples into slices for your friends or roommates, it makes having apples as dessert seem a lot more fancy!)

Grand Total $4.50

Three people fed and extremely happy.  Enjoy!

(do you have a personal fave MnC modification recipe? please leave a comment)

*does it seem like maybe some of these words aren’t in english… czech out my abbreve guide


Filed under $5 meals