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!
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