5 Family Dinners You Can Make for Under $10

5 Family Dinners You Can Make for Under $10

Yes, a meal can be delicious, affordable, AND kid friendly, all at once!

By: Lorraine Allen

Family dinners don’t have to cost much at all to be delicious, satisfying, and kid friendly. For under $10, you can cook something far tastier, more special, and more affordable than you’ll pick up at any takeout joint. Here are five kid-approved ideas, with countless possible variations, to inspire you:

1. Stuffed breads. Buy some frozen or refrigerated pre-made fresh pizza dough, which costs about $1 a loaf. Stretch out the dough with your hands or roll it with a rolling pin. Kids love helping with this and it only takes minutes. Once it’s flattened on a baking sheet, just layer your favorite proteins and/or veggies on top. We use whatever we have in the fridge, which is usually salami slices, ham, bacon, turkey, or sausage (make sure it’s pre-cooked!) and shredded or sliced cheese. Broccoli, mushrooms, or even just sautéed sliced onion or chopped herbs with cheese work well too! You really can’t go wrong here. Once you have covered your dough with yummy fillings, roll it up like a jelly roll, drizzle a little oil on top to get a beautiful golden brown shine, and pop it in a hot oven at 425 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until done. Serve with some salad and a side of tomato sauce if you like, to dip.

2. Mexican-inspired casseroles. Instead of standard old tacos, try layering tortillas in a casserole dish with heart-healthy, dirt-cheap beans of your choice (we love black or pinto in our house), shredded cheese of your choice (we love Monterey Jack, Colby and cheddar), and diced tomatoes (fresh or canned are fine). Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 375-degree oven until cheese is melted, and serve with sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

3. Lasagna rolls. These are delicious with pre-cooked veggies like zucchini or mushrooms, or shredded chicken, pork, or beef. A great dish to use up leftovers! Cook your lasagna pasta sheets in boiling salted water until al dente (still firm to the bite). Drain, and when cool enough to handle, cut each in half, fill with your protein of choice and roll up (You can use toothpicks to hold together if you need to, just remember to remove these before the kids eat!) Arrange rolled pasta in a flat layer in a casserole dish, with a little tomato sauce on the bottom. Cover with more sauce and a thick layer of shredded cheese like mozzarella, and bake about 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling hot.

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4. Dumplings. Buy dumpling wrappers and fill with cooked veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, canned pumpkin, or cheese. Cook for five minutes in boiling broth of your choice (we like chicken broth best), garnish with scallions or chives, and serve as a hearty soup with a fresh side salad. Note: You can also make dumplings ahead and freeze until you are ready to cook them. Kids also love to help stuff and press dumplings together using a little water as the “glue” to rub around the edges.

5. Roast chicken. Heat your oven to 425 degrees and salt and pepper the bird generously. Place it in a roasting pan with your favorite root veggies around it, like carrots, turnips, mushrooms, parsnips, and cut-up potatoes. Drizzle the veggies with a little oil and season them too, then put the whole dish in the oven for 40-45 minutes, turning your veggies just once in between so they cook evenly. Take out the pan, remove the veggies and baste the chicken well with pan drippings. Then put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until it’s done (use a meat thermometer to be sure). Baste one more time when you take it out of the oven and let rest a few minutes before carving.

What are your kids’ favorite inexpensive, homemade dinners?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.


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