17 Affordable Dinner Ideas

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham.  I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good!  This recipe makes a lot!

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham. I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good! This recipe makes a lot!

Our grocery budget is a monster.  Do y’all food allergy parents know what I mean?  I mean, it’s CRAZY!  And ya know what makes it even crazier?  We don’t even eat extravagantly.  Our safe foods are just THAT expensive.

I sat down and tried to brainstorm the most budget friendly tried and true recipes I could think of.  We are in Financial Peace University again as table leaders and really have budgeting on the brain.  I really want to cut our grocery bill each month.

My recipes might start looking a lot like these from now on since I’m trying to trim the giant grocery bill.

(These prices are what I pay at the grocery store and I don’t price out every item in this list.  Some are just my best guesstimates.)

If you want to get ahead of the menu planning game and like freezer cooking, the recipes that have stars are freezer friendly.

Meatless

  • Pineapple Fried Rice (1-2 pineapple cups {$1}, 2-3 carrots & 1-2 zucchinis {$2.50}, omit ham- can get 2 dinners from this & possibly 1 lunch)
  • Veggie Pizza** (1/2 bag Daiya {$2.50}, 1/3 green pepper {33 cents}, 1/3 green onion, olives)
  • Refried Beans, Rice & “Cheese” Burritos**
  • Rice & Beans (and maybe fruit to round out the meal)
  • Bean & “Cheese” Quesadillas (use homemade refried beans or black beans)
  • Veggie Spaghetti (1 zucchini {$1} & 1 carrot, sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

Chicken

Turkey

  • Picadillo (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & rice)
  • Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & approximately 1/2 bag of tater tots {$1.50})
  • Spaghetti (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50},  sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

The chicken tacos are probably the most expensive dinner on this list because of the type of chicken we like and because of the fresh toppings.  I can plan another dinner or two that also uses those fresh produce ingredients like nachos or soup and salad night.  That helps lower the cost of the grocery bill & helps fresh produce not to go to waste.  I can also stretch the budget by stocking up on the chicken when it goes on sale.

I also buy dried beans.  It’s easy to soak and cook the beans.  I think I get 6-8 cups from one bag of dried black beans (my memory is a little fuzzy on this number.)  The beans cost $1.18.  Much cheaper than canned!  I freeze my beans in one cup portions and pull them out as needed.  A quick defrost in the microwave and the beans are good to go!

Do you have some food allergy & budget friendly dinner ideas?  Please share in the comments below.

Thanks!

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

20 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners

Menu Plan

It was so relaxing for me to sit down and plan out this menu plan. A few years ago, I never would have made that statement!!!

After our stressful vacation, it feels good to sit down and get back into our safe and comfy routine.

By the way, isn’t this graphic amazing?  My brother is a very talented graphic design artist and is responsible for graphic designs on my blog.  Thanks brother!  I will use this menu plan graphic in all of my upcoming menus.  I’m so excited!!!

Here’s our menu plan for the last few days of December and the first half of January.  I’m always adding new recipes (thanks Pinterest!) and mixing in our old favorites.

Speaking of favorites, I’m currently obsessed with pineapple fried rice. You’ll see that twice on this menu served three times. I could eat it for dinner everyday! And it’s meatless to boot. At least my version is.

I digress.

This menu has a mix of chicken, pork, turkey and meatless meals (beans and veggies as the main protein source).

I hope this helps. Maybe one day I’ll have enough energy to even make a coordinating grocery list. But not anytime soon.  🙂

I share these menus to help other families like ours out there. Meal planning can be a challenge with a special diet.

Just for fun, here’s a pic of my set up for menu planning and getting this post typed up. I love Coke with my homemade Dragon’s Breath Popcorn. It’s the perfect snack for this menu planning blogger mommy!

How I menu plan

How I menu plan

1. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Make these awesome homemade dinner rolls, using vegan butter and non-dairy milk. Use dough setting on bread machine.  Follow directions for baking.  Once baked, cut rolls in half, add cooked chicken, top with safe bbq sauce) & Oven Roasted Carrots

2. Taco Pizza Rolls (use homemade pizza crust, use homemade taco seasoning from 100 Days of Real Food, ground turkey breast, & Daiya cheese)

3. Pineapple Fried Rice (omit ham, use only 1/2 cup pineapple & liquid aminos for soy sauce)

4. Lemony Chicken Stir Fry with Asparagus

5. Black Bean Chili & Cornbread

6. Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Steam in a bag Broccoli

7. BBQ Chicken Pizza

8. Flex Meal

9. Vegan Crispy Cajun Chickpea Cakes, Homemade Dinner Rolls (See link from day one & make double batch for use in Day 10) & Sautéed Zucchini

10. Ranch Turkey Burgers made small enough to fit the Homemade Dinner Rolls from Day 9 (use 2 Tbs homemade ranch mix for ranch packet sub), French Fries & Fruit Salad

11. Tangy Slow Cooker Pork Roast, Roasted Carrots & Baked Potatoes (Bake enough potatoes for day 12, too)

12. Garlic Chicken, Baked Potatoes from Day 11 & Grilled Asparagus

13. Chicken Nachos (use leftover chicken from day 12 & Daiya cheese)

14. Pineapple Fried Rice (see day 3 for link)

15. Leftover Pineapple Fried Rice

16. Veggie Spaghetti

17. Ranch Pork Chops (make safe ranch dressing using link on day 10, dip chops on both sides in ranch, coat with panko bread crumbs & bake), Earth Balance Vegan “Cheddar” Flavor Mac and Cheese, & Steamed Spinach

18. Easy Chicken Tacos (use homemade taco seasoning using link from day 2)

19. Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

20. Vegetable Soup & Bread & Vegan Butter

Here are a few photos of the foods in my menu plan.  Enjoy!

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Ranch Turkey Burger

Ranch Turkey Burger

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham.  I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good!

Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham. I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good!

30 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sauté chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Life has been happening lately.

I’ve been following my latest two menu plans, but haven’t had time to share them and link them up- until today!

So instead of a 15 or 16 day menu plan, I’ve combined them to make a 30 day menu plan!

My Thanksgiving post is still in the works, so I’ll have that up soon- I hope!

Randomness from last menu: I never tried the fish like I planned to last time. I chickened out. PLUS, I couldn’t find a tilapia that seemed to be safe. What brands do y’all use? Please and thank you!

This menu has chicken, turkey, pork and meatless meals. I’m starting to really enjoy our meatless meals. I’d love to eat more veggies and less meat. We shall see…

Here’s my latest only 30 day menu plan!!!

1. Taco Crescents & Steamed Broccoli

2. Sweet & Sour Chicken (sub flax eggs & liquid aminos), Rice & Steamed Broccoli

3. Honey Mustard Pork Chops & Baked Potatoes

4. Coconut Vegetable Curry Soup with Rice (I’ve linked to this several times & FINALLY made it. It is yummy! Even SG liked it!)

5. Mexican Stuffed Peppers (Sub ground turkey breast, use homemade taco seasoning, & make own tomato paste) & Cilantro Lime Rice

6. Crockpot BBQ Drumsticks, Baked Potatoes & Carrots

7. 0 Point Soup & Homemade Bread

8. Mojo Pork Tenderloin, Tater Tots & Zucchini

9. Arroz con Pollo & Puerto Rican Flavored Black Beans

10. Arroz con Pollo Leftovers

11. Chicken Tacos (Can make ahead & freeze. I did!)

12. Meatless Veggie Spaghetti

13. Chicken Curry (make homemade cream of chicken), Rice & Carrots

14. Mexican Pizza Bites (Sub ground turkey breast, use homemade taco seasoning, homemade refried beans & Daiya “cheese”)

15. Crockpot Lentil Soup

16. Chicken Salad Sandwiches & French Fries

17. Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole (I’ll share this new recipe soon!)

18. Maple Pumpkin White Bean Quesadilla

19. Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes & Steamed Cauliflower (make of cream of chicken & use homemade ranch mix)

20. Turkey Nachos (season ground turkey like picadillo)

21. Garlic Chicken Drumsticks, French Fries & Broccoli

22. “Cheesy” Taco Crescents (use leftover chicken from day 21) & Leftover Broccoli

23. White Bean Lemon Potato Soup & Homemade Bread (use bread link from Day 7)

24. Leftover Soup or Arroz con Pollo Soup & Bread & Vegan Butter

25. Baked Ranch Pork Chops (make homemade ranch: see note at bottom of menu, coat chops in ranch, coat in safe panko bread crumbs), Baked Sweet Potatoes & Sautéed Zucchini

26. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Tater Tots & Steamed Spinach

27. Thanksgiving!!!

28. Soymilk Ice Cream for Dinner!!!!

29. Coconut Vegetable Curry & Rice (see link for Day 4)

30. Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Here are the links to the subs & homemade mixes:

Homemade Ranch Dry Mix

Homemade Ranch Dressing
(For Dressing, use the above Ranch Dry Mix link and use Just Mayo or other vegan mayo & sub non-dairy milk. I use SO Delicious Original Coconut Coffee Creamer. It’s very neutral in taste and the ranch flavor shines through.)

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

Homemade Taco Mix

Also, you may be wondering why on Black Friday we are having safe ice cream for dinner. It is SG’s birthday and I told her she can have whatever she wants for dinner- even ice cream. So of course, that’s what she chose! I’m guessing the Huzz and I will gorge on Thanksgiving leftovers, anyway. You only turn 4 once- may as well live it up! 🙂

15 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners: Part 3

I know meal planning can be hard and it’s even harder with food allergies.

I hope these menu plans have helped you, my sweet readers, find some new, safe & yummy recipes.

In this menu, I’ve included 12 new recipes! I’m feeling brave. And why not? I pin so many recipes- I may as well make them!

Here’s what I have planned for the second half of September.  You might notice the menu is beef free.

1. Pineapple Fried Rice (Sub veggies, omit sesame oil and sub olive oil)

2. Vegan Spinach Meatballs, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce & Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta

3. Chicken Ranch & Rice Soup & Crackers

4. Lentil Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots & Sautéed Zucchini

5. Chicken & Biscuits (Make homemade cream of chicken & use homemade biscuits & use frozen Italian veggies)

6. Garlic Balsamic Pork Kabobs, Sautéed Fresh Spinach & Pineapple Chunks

7. Flex Meal

8. Creamy White Bean & Bacon Soup & Homemade Biscuits

9. Raspberry Glazed Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Sautéed Zucchini

10. 20-40 Clove Garlic Chicken, Baked Potatoes & Steamed Broccoli

11. Lemon Garlic Orzo Soup (Add 1 cup of cooked chicken and use safe pasta)

12. Veggie Pot Pie

13. Easy Ranch Chicken (Use homemade dairy & egg free ranch. Use Just Mayo & Non-dairy milk) & French Fries & Grilled Asparagus

14. Slow Cooker Maple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin, Baked Potatoes & Roasted Carrots

15. BBQ Chicken Pizza

Here’s a pic of my homemade dairy and egg free biscuits. I’ll post how I modified the recipe to make it safe soon.

Homemade Biscuits.  Yum!

Homemade Biscuits. Yum!

15 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners: Part 2

Y’all, I skipped two weeks in my menu planning. I had it all planned out and then we had two separate visits from both of our parents and I threw my menu plan out the window.

But once again, I’m back on track.

You might notice I serve zucchini for the veggie a lot lately. Here’s why: It’s in season. It’s dirt cheap at Aldi. SG loves it.

And this is the THIRD time I’ve included the “Crockpot Italian Chicken Soup” in a menu plan and I’ve yet to make it! Something always seems to come up… (Or I’m just lazy sometimes, which is oh so true!)

Here is our menu for the first half of September.

1. Grill Chicken, Chips, Carrots & Homemade Safe Ranch Dip (Use Just Mayo and Non-Dairy Milk for the Ranch)

2. Simple Black Bean Soup & Homemade Bread

3. Shake & Bake Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes & Sautéed Zucchini

4. Crockpot Italian Chicken Soup & Homemade Biscuits

5. Clean Eating Chicken Kabobs & Baked Sweet Potatoes

6. Mojo Pork Tenderloin, Rice, & Beans

7. Mojo Quesadillas & Sautéed Zucchini (Use leftover pork from Day 6)

8. BBQ Chicken Pizza

9. Clean Eating Refried Bean Soup & Tortilla Chips

10. Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken & Roasted Carrots & Potatoes

11. Chicken Nachos & BBQ Chicken Nachos (Use leftover chicken from day 10)

12.  Flex Meal

13. Honey Mustard Pork Chops, Tater Tots & Steamed Cauliflower

14. “Cheesy” Taco Crescents & Steamed Broccoli (Use Chicken or Black Beans for Protein for Taco Crescents)

15. Crockpot Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Ore-Ida French Fries & Sautéed Zucchini

Here’s what our Homemade Shake & Bake Pork Chops look like. The recipe only tells you how to make the shake & bake mixture. I cooked ours at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Flip chops after the first 15 minutes. Ours were perfect and juicy! SG kept asking for “More chicken please!” We told her it was pork chops, but hey, whatever! She loved it. I also play with the spices a bit on the recipe. Use the shake and bake as a guide. I add extra of the spices we love like oregano.

Shake & Bake Pork Chops

15 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners: Part 1

Homemade Dairy & Egg Free Bread for the Steak Sandwiches

Homemade Dairy & Egg Free Bread for the Steak Sandwiches

I have to admit… I’ve fallen off of the menu planning wagon. I was tired and lazy for a few days. I completely relied on my “Flex Meals” to get us through. I’m back at it, though. I’ve realized I need *truly* easy recipes for me to stay on track. I love easy throw in the crockpot recipes. I also love it when the Huzz grills. I don’t mind a little work, but honestly, the easier, the better.

I also changed the format. I think having it numbered is a little more user friendly. Also, to differentiate the menus, starting now I’m just going to label them Part 1, Part 2, etc. Unless you can think of a better name??? I’m kind of stumped for cutesy names right now. What do you think? The 16 Day Menus will start their own Part 1, Part 2, etc. Got it?

Okay, let’s get to it. There are some repeats. There are also a few new recipes thrown in for the sake of variety. We also absolutely LOVE BBQ chicken pizza, so you will see that in probably almost every menu.

1. BBQ Chicken Pizza (Use 1/2 of this homemade pizza dough recipe and use breadmaker. Use Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds.)

2. Mojo Pork Tenderloin, Rice & Black Beans

3. Mojo Pork Quesadillas (Use leftover mojo pork.)

4. Oven Roasted Teriyaki Chicken Thighs, Rice, and Asparagus

5. Flex Meal

6. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, OreIda Crispers, & Sautéed Yellow Squash

7. Steak Sandwiches (season steak lightly with olive oil, adobo, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper.) Make homemade bread. Steam in a bag Broccoli Florets.

8. Rotisserie-Style Chicken. Grilled Red Potatoes, Zucchini, & Asparagus.

9. Chicken Stir Fry (Use leftover chicken from day 8. Use any leftover grilled veggies or veggies from week. Add fresh veggies if needed.)

10. Grilled Lemon-Rosemary Pork Chops (Lemon-Rosemary Marinade: olive oil, a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, a small palmful of dried rosemary & a small palmful of dried/fresh lemon peel, 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic, & less than a small palmful of sea salt. There are really no measurements. Eyeball it.) 🙂 Baked Sweet Potatoes & Steamed Cauliflower

11. Arroz con Pollo y Habichuelas (Chicken & Rice & Beans, Puerto Rican Style) I will share a recipe if I can perfect it. My rice isn’t quite right yet but the flavor is spot on!

12. Arroz con Pollo Leftovers

13. BBQ Chicken Pizza (see number 1 for links)

14. Pizza Leftovers

15. Grilled T-Bone Steaks & Grilled Zucchini, Onions, Peppers & Red Potatoes

I’ve been revisiting an older series from Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about Proverbs 31. I’m listening to it now as I type up this menu plan. Nancy said this and I had to share it, as it’s so timely and so true:

“As we look at these verses and continue through this passage, I want you to see that in everyday, practical ways, the excellent wife—the virtuous wife, the excellent mother—is giving her family a picture of Christ and of spiritual realities. You say, “Food preparation is showing my family something about Christ and about spiritual realities?” You bet it is.

You’re living out parables. You’re demonstrating parables of spiritual life to your children as you work with your hands, as you serve in your home. When you prepare food for your family, you’re demonstrating to them that God is a faithful provider. When you’re being quality conscious in the things that you purchase, you’re showing your children the excellence of the character of God.”

I love this reminder!

16 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners (July 16- July 31, 2014)

Hey y’all. Thanks for stopping back by. I’m still hard at work creating two week menus for my little family. I hope these meal ideas are a blessing for you, too.

There are a few repeats because I got a little off track last week. Hy-Vee had a great sale (88 cents a pound for drumsticks!) so we enjoyed some of those and froze the extra cooked meat. (Click here to read how I do that.)

Anyway, we are back on track.

Do you see how delicious this Sweet & Sour Chicken looks? Man, it was scrumptious! I used flax eggs and it worked perfectly!

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Here’s my latest menu:

Click on this photo to see my printed menu.

Click on this photo to see my printed menu.

Wednesday (16th): BBQ Chicken Pizza (I use this recipe for pizza dough and throw it in my bread machine and use the dough setting. Sub Daiya mozzarella shreds.)

Thursday (17th): Veggie Nuggets, Fruit Salad, & Homemade Biscuits (Make Homemade Parm Substitute)

Friday (18th): Grilled Adobo Chicken Kabobs (season with adobo, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder & salt. Kabobs- chicken, onion, & pineapple.) Seasoned Yellow Rice

Saturday (19th): Date Night/Ham & “Cheese” Quesadillas with Fruit

Sunday (20th): Rosemary Oven Roasted Entire Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes

Monday (21st): Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps (use leftover chicken from Sunday & make dairy & egg free ranch), Baked Potatoes, & “Cheesy” Baked Cauliflower Poppers

Tuesday (22nd): Grilled Hamburgers with OAMM Burger Seasoning, Baked Potatoes, & Sautéed Squash

Wednesday (23rd): Grilled Brown Sugar Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Sautéed Fresh Spinach with Fresh Lemon Juice

Thursday (24th): Date Night/Spaghetti

Friday (25th): Chicken “Parmesan.” (Use homemade Vegan Parm & flax egg.) Safe Pasta & Steamed Broccoli.

Saturday (26th): Papas Rellenas (use my picadillo recipe & flax eggs), White Rice & Puerto Rican Style Black Beans

Sunday (27th): Easy BBQ Pulled Pork, French Fries & Sautéed Zucchini

Monday (28th): Seasoned & Grilled Chicken Breasts (cut into strips after grilling.) Serve Atop Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce (Use homemade Vegan Parm.)

Tuesday (29th): Homemade Shake & Bake Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, & Grilled Asparagus

Wednesday (30th): Sweet & Sour Chicken (use 3 flax eggs), White Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Thursday (31st): Date Night/Chicken & “Cheese” Nachos

Tonight we are enjoying this pizza.  The Huzz declared this last pizza was the BEST pizza I’ve ever made.  I think it’s due to this new pizza pan with the little holes.  It must be the holes that allowed for such a great crispy crust.  Hooray!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Have you tried any recipes from my menus?