15 Scrumptious Family Recipes Under $5

Everyone knows that eating at home is cheaper than dining out, but what most people don’t seem to know is that wholesome food is much cheaper than packaged & processed food. It’s true. Hearty dishes cooked with whole ingredients are much easier on your wallet than the chemical-laden boxed, frozen, or canned “just add water” foods that seem to fill the aisle of every grocery store in the nation.

Don’t believe us? Just look at our mac and cheese recipe further down the page. It’s made with butter, flour, milk, real cheese, and other wholesome ingredients, and it’s only 63 cents per serving! Now, let’s take a look at Kraft Easy Mac, the kind of pre-cooked mac and cheese that comes in little microwavable cups. The first 5 ingredients are enriched macaroni product, modified food starch, salt, maltodextrin, and potassium chloride. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? A 10-pack of that stuff can run you up about $20, so that’s $2 per serving. So a teeny tiny cup of chemically-altered mac & cheese is $1.37 more expensive than a big hearty 63-cent bowl of wholesome mac & cheese you can make right at home.

Believe it or not, but each of the following delicious wholesome recipes can feed you and your family (or friends) for not even a mere 5-spot (or five Washingtons). Got $1.65 lying around the house? Make pea soup! Scraped together $1.55? Serve Belgian waffles! Found $3.49 in your wallet? Put together some fancy linguine with lemon cream sauce! Take a look at some of the recipes you can pull off for under $5… and prepare to be amazed!

Boston Black Bean Soup

Serves 6
Estimated cost: $3.35 (or $0.56 per serving)

2 cups canned black beans, drained and dried
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon yellow onion, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons sour cream

Put the beans, water, and salt in a pot and cook covered for about 2 hours, or until soft. Next, transfer all the beans and a little bit of the water in a blender or food processor and puree the mixture. Return the bean puree to the pot (with the rest of the water) and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for a moment and add the onion, pepper, and mustard. Stir in the whipping cream and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Add this to the bean puree and heat all just to the boiling point. Be careful not to scorch the soup, though.

Serve in shallow bowls with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

Corn Bread

Serves 6
Estimated cost: $2.19 (or $0.37 per serving)

3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup salad oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the liquids and mix until smooth.

Put the mixture in a greased 8 x 12-inch pan or a muffin pan and bake in preheated 400* oven for about 30 minutes.

Pea Soup

Serves 4
Estimated cost: $1.65 (or $0.41 per serving)

Thomas Jefferson was a huge fan of pea soup. This recipe is actually close to what he enjoyed after a long day at work.

1 cup fresh peas
2 1/2 cups water
Salt to taste
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons butter

In a small pan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and add in flour. Stir for a few minutes until well blended. Set aside.

Bring peas to a boil in 2 1/2 cups salted water. Simmer until tender, and then drain. Save the water. Puree the peas and a little bit of the water in a blender or a food processor, and then return to the pan before adding in the rest of the water, sugar, and the butter/flour mixture. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens a bit. Add 1/4 cup of the soup to the beaten yolks, stirring constantly, and then stir the yolk mixture into the soup. Top with the parsley and the 2 tablespoons of butter.

Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Serves 6
Estimated cost: $4.77 (or $0.80 per serving)

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
A dash of black pepper to taste
5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1-inch cubes
6-10 skewers

In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, and pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and stir until completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade. Grill the skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Serve immediately.

Soda Bread

Serves 6
Estimated cost: $1.59 (or $0.27 per serving)

While everyone knows that the soda bread hails from Ireland, very few people actually know that it was used on the Oregon Trail, where emigrants relied on soda bread to keep them full and healthy. Of course, they cooked it with a black frying pan over fire. Don’t worry, this recipe can be done in an oven!

3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter or Crisco
1 1/4 cups buttermilk or sour milk
Shortening for greasing the pan

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then fold in the butter or shortening until the mixture reaches a fine and grainy texture. Stir in the milk. Knead the dough a few times and then place it in a greased black frying pan. Bake in a preheated 400* oven for about 35 minutes or until the loaf is browned and light in weight.

Linguine in Lemon Cream Sauce

Serves 4
Estimated cost: $3.49 (or $0.87 per serving)

8 oz dry linguine
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and 1 tablespoon zest, grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cook linguine according to package directions in a pot of boiling salted water.

In a large saucepan, warm cream cheese, oil, and lemon juice over low heat until completely melted. In the meantime, drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Stir the reserved cooking water into the cream cheese mixture. Remove from heat. Blend in the pasta, lemon zest, and parsley and toss until the pasta is completely coated. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Sally Lunn Bread

Makes 2 loaves
Estimated cost: $2.16 (or $1.08 per loaf)

The Sally Lunn bread dates back to the Colonial Times, and this recipe is as close as it gets to the original one they used in England several centuries ago.

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package dry quick-rising yeast
3 eggs
4 cups flour

Put the milk in a pan and heat it almost to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the butter, sugar, and salt. Let the mixture cool until it reaches a lukewarm temperature. In the meantime, take 1/4 cup of tepid water and dissolve the yeast in it.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl (or with a powerful electric mixer), and then add the milk mixture, the yeast water, and finally the flour. If you’re using an electric mixture, beat for about 5 minutes or until smooth. If you’re using elbow grease, you might need to knead the mixture with your hands until it’s smooth.

Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and allow it to rise for half an hour. Beat it down for just a moment and allow it to rise again. Repeat 2 more times, and then put the dough in 2 large greased bread pans. Set aside for a while until the dough rises again.

Bake in preheated 375* oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The bread should be light and have a nice crust. You can also bake the bread in a muffin pan to make dinner rolls.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

Serves 4
Estimated cost: $3.76 (or $0.94 per serving)

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices of bread, toasted
Lettuce for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, lemon juice, and green onions. Gently fold in the eggs and stir until well blended. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until cold. Serve with lettuce on toasted bread.

Ham & Cheese Frittata

Serves 8
Estimated cost: $4.55 (or $0.57 per serving)

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup cubed ham
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil the potatoes until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly until soft. Stir in eggs, potatoes, ham, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the eggs are firm on the bottom. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and place in preheated oven until cheese is melted and eggs are completely firm, about 10 minutes.

Belgian Waffles

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Makes 4 waffles
Estimated cost: $1.55 (or $0.39 per serving)

For this old classic recipe, you need a Belgian waffle maker.

4 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Whisk in vanilla and butter. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt, and then add with milk to the egg mixture. Beat until thoroughly mixed. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and very gently fold into the batter.

Bake in the Belgian waffle maker. You can line it with butter or spray it with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Serve with toppings of your choice. A few examples include powdered sugar, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream, Nutella, or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Pan Fried Potatoes and Onions

Serves 4
Estimated cost: $2.10 (or $0.53 per serving)

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in olive oil, sliced potatoes, and onions. Cover and fry for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes turn slightly brown on the bottom. Turn the potatoes and onions over. If they appear too dry, add some more butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and continue to fry uncovered for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes become tender. Serve immediately.

Mac & Cheese

Serves 4 – 6
Estimated cost: $3.76 (or $0.63 per serving)

1 (16 oz) package of elbow pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
6 slices American cheese, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, melt the butter in a large pan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually blend in milk, and cook over medium heat. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.

Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Stir in pasta and serve immediately.

Jeff’s Potato Salad

Serves 6 – 8
Estimated cost: $4.50 (or $0.56 per serving)

I call this recipe Jeff’s potato salad because my boyfriend Jeff makes this all the time. He found a basic recipe online, but he has taken it upon himself to add a couple of twists. That’s what makes this recipe truly his. Everyone who has tried his potato salad loves it!

6 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
6 eggs
Half of a large onion (or more if desired), minced
2 small sticks of celery, diced
3 tablespoons mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in a large pot until tender but still firm. Drain and put in the refrigerator to cool. Meanwhile, boil the eggs in another pot for about 10 minutes or until they float. Cool in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, stir together the onion, celery, mustard, and mayo until thoroughly mixed. Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to add the eggs and potatoes. Peel the eggs and chop them into small pieces. Add the eggs and potatoes to the mayo mixture and stir until completely coated. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for an additional hour or serve immediately.

Spanish Rice

Serves 4
Estimated cost: $4.04 (or $1.01 per serving)

This is probably one of the most frugal main dishes out there. After all, it can feed 4 people on a half pound of ground beef!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1 yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup converted rice, uncooked
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon whole thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the ground beef and onions. Saute over medium heat until the meat browns and the onions are clear. Drain the fat and return to the pot. Add in the green pepper and chili powder. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Next, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Maple Custard

Serves 4 – 6
Estimated cost: $1.97 (or $0.33 per serving)

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup real maple syrup
2 cups milk
Dash of salt
3 tablespoons super fine granulated sugar

Mix all the ingredients except for the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour into individual molds such as small custard dishes or very small souffle cups. Set all the molds in a pan of hot water and bake uncovered at 350* for 40 minutes. Take them out and sprinkle the sugar on top of each dish and broil for 2 minutes or until the top turns brown. Serve warm or chilled.