Frugal Healthy Dinner Series – My Famous Spaghetti
Hey everyone, I thought I would break down the prices on some our my family’s favourite dinners. I always talk about sticking to our budget, and how you can eat healthy without breaking the bank, but for all you know I am spending $200 a week on 5 dinners because it just isn’t actually possible to eat healthy on a reasonable budget. Time for me to prove that you can!
If you have been a reader for sometime now, you know that every Monday I post our dinner menu for the week, so I thought I would share with you the meals that show up there the most. Dinners that are well balanced, that my husband and my kids all enjoy, that take around 30 minutes to prepare and cook, and that are easy on your bank account. This will be a little series, and first up is by far our most consumed meal:
My Famous Spaghetti – Serves 4-5 adults (we get 2 adult dinners, 2 kid dinners, and leftovers for 2 lunches) Cost: $8.75
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 pack fresh sliced mushrooms ($0.99)
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced (these cost pennies each when you buy a 5 pack for $0.99))
1 tbsp Italian blend seasoning, divided
2 tsp garlic powder, divided
450g ground beef ($4.00)
1 can crushed tomatoes ($1.17. Feel free to use a can or jarred sauce if it is on sale for cheaper, just watch the added sugar, and feel free to buy the no salt added tomatoes!)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (we put this on so many things that we buy a 500g container of it, so this much works out to be about $0.62 worth of a $10 package)
375g of your favourite noodle ($1.97, but often on sale or look for coupons online. I prefer linguine or spaghettini with this, but you can use any shape you like.)
Over medium heat cook the mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil, being careful not to burn the garlic as it will turn bitter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the ground beef and half the Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Break up the meat into small pieces, and cook until no longer pink. Drain any fat that collects, I find even lean ground beef needs to be drained sometimes. Mean while, cook your whole wheat pasta in boiling water, following the package directions. Add the crushed tomatoes and remaining seasoning to the meat mixture and bring to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce the temperature to low. Stir in the cheese, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over the pasta, with extra cheese if desired, and a side salad for even more veggies.
A hearty and healthy meal for under $10! What’s not to love about that! You can even make the sauce ahead of time if you wanted to. I have even found that the leftovers freeze well, just mix the noodles into the sauce thoroughly before freezing. Thaw it, add a little more sauce, toss into a casserole dish, cover with a little grated cheddar cheese, and bake until heated through and the cheese is melted. A new dish made from leftovers? I count that as a free meal! And don’t forget that these prices are not sale prices, so it could end up costing you even less. I used to only make it when the pasta or meat was on sale, but it is such a great meal that everyone enjoys, I don’t mind spending $2 more. And for a few dollars more you could add a nice big garden salad on the side. You could even add more veggies to the sauce if you wanted to; zucchini, carrots, onions, so many possibilities, but with just mushrooms and the tomatoes is how I usually make it.
And yes I realize by definition this is not traditional Italian spaghetti, even calling it spaghetti when I don’t use those noodles seems silly, but the sauce is similar to a classic bolognese or ragu sauce, so we’ll say it’s close enough. And growing up, this was what spaghetti was to my family, and it is what my own little family knows as spaghetti now too. I hope you give it a try, please let me know if you do and how you like it!
Please also take a peak at past meal plans and let me know if you see any other recipes you’d like to see broken down!