Dinner for Two Under $10

Who knew eating well could be so inexpensive?


Inspired by Slow Food's $5 Challenge, the Editorial team decided to create a dinner for two that would fall under 10 dollars. While it ended up being a lot easier than we thought, we did face a few obstacles when determining the guidelines for this challenge.

First, do we ignore pantry staples like butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the overall price? We settled on yes. Do chile flakes, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other common spices fall under pantry staples as well? Yes, again. 

Another tricky question that came up: Since we are only making these recipes for two, how do we determine the pricing when buying packages of pasta, for instance, when only half is used? The way we dealt with this issue is that the price of the meal should be $5 per serving, leaving us with a grand total of $10 for two people. This way, you could cost out the ingredients based on how much you used, not on how much the packaging was. If you were making one of these dishes for four people, then the total cost would not exceed $20.

While you may think that this sounds like an incredibly limiting task, it was actually much easier than we had anticipated. In fact, most people were well under the $10 limit, with our all-time low being $2.69. (Feel free to add some more vegetables and ingredients to that recipe if you'd like.) So yes, it is possible to eat well on a budget, you just have to be smart about what you're buying.

While we only made main dishes in this challenge, you're welcome to host a potluck where each guest is given the same challenge for a different course, like dessert, appetizers, or cocktails (again, price per serving is what we figured worked out best). 

We hope you have as much fun making these recipes as we did creating them — enjoy!

 

Acorn Squash Risotto with Smoked Bacon and Fried Sage Leaves

In many ways, risotto is the perfect meal to prepare for a dinner or date-night in....

— Claire Bullen

 

 

Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus and Pancetta

This simple pasta is just as good without pancetta. For vegetarians, try topping the dish with a poached egg and shaved Parmesan...

— Jessica Chou

 

Game Day Chili

As the cooler days of fall are upon us, a few things come to mind: sweaters, football, and chili!

— Marité Acosta

 

Seared Chicken Cutlets with Cherry Pan Sauce

When you only have 20 minutes to spare and three hungry mouths to feed, more often than not a parent will pull something not-so-nutritious out of the freezer...

— Allison Beck

 

 

Steak Pizzaiola

This hearty, comforting dish may taste like it costs a fortune, but it will only set you back a few dollars...

— Molly Aronica

 

 

Easy Poached Fish with Tomatoes and Couscous

An easy, healthy, and filling recipe that doesn't break the bank...

— Yasmin Fahr

 

 



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2 Comments

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The right way to do this is to figure out a "tax" for pantry staples.

I once decided I was going to try to eat for less than $40 for a week. I started off by taxing myself $5 for staples, which included herbs and spices, oils, condiments, etc. That left me with $35 for the week.

I calculated things per-serving as well. If I had steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast, for example, I figured out the cost of one serving. I made a big pot of stew, calculated the total cost of it, then figured out the cost per serving.

$5/person/meal is a cakewalk. My bottom line was $22.47 plus a $5 staples tax, for a total of $27.47 for the week.

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