Food

How To Make 5 Perfect Dinners For $10 Each

Five recipes, one grocery list, and an essential cooking technique shown step by step. You’re going to use this constantly.

Emily Fleischaker

Here are five dinners, each serving two people, that you can make for under $50 from a single grocery list.

A few notes:

1. The first thing you’re going to do is break down a whole raw chicken. You’ll roast the breasts on Day 1 and then you’ll roast the legs and thighs on Day 2. Buying the chicken whole helps keep costs down and is generally a good thing to know how to do. Use our video (below) and a sharp knife and you’ll be all set.

2. The salad on Day 3 might benefit from leftover chickpeas (Day 1) if you have them, and you can use something other than a peach if that’s not in season in your neck of the woods.

3. On Day 3 you’ll be asked to caramelize onions. This is one of those, “throw them on the burner right when you get home from work and let them sit there for 45 minutes as you unwind” kind of things. You can rush it, and the recipe will show you how. But caramelizing a big batch of onions to use in multiple meals throughout the week is a great work-week cooking hack.

4. Store your sourdough loaf at room temperature — it’s okay if it’s not super fresh by Day 3 and 4, because you’ll be toasting it by then.

2. Day 1: Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika with Sauteed Spinach and Greek Yogurt

Emily Fleischaker

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 2

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced and divided into two piles
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
⅓ cup Greek yogurt
2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
14 (or so) grape tomatoes
6 packed cups of spinach (use about ¾ of your 9-oz bag)
Kosher salt
A hunk of sourdough bread

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 450°. Measure and set out all of your ingredients. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, half the garlic (one of the minced cloves), paprika, and cumin in medium bowl (you want the bowl to be big-ish because you will add stuff to it later). Pour 1 teaspoon of that spiced oil mixture into a small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside to use as a sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans and tomatoes to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

When the chicken has been in the oven about 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add spinach and sauté until just beginning to wilt (about 3 minutes). Push the spinach to one side, add a little more olive oil and then add garlic. Stir together garlic and spinach and season with salt. Transfer chicken and spinach to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

3. Day 2: Mixed Greens with Shredded Chicken, Peaches, Tomatoes, and Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Emily Fleischaker

Serves 2

ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Chicken
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Salad
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 5-ounce package mixed greens
4-6 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large peach, halved, pitted, sliced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

PREPARATION

Chicken
Preheat oven to 475°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12” cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking the thighs skin side down, occasionally flipping the legs to brown all the sides. Occasionally rearrange the legs and thighs and rotate the pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes, rotating the legs half way through. Flip the thighs and rotate the legs; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Salad
Whisk first 2 ingredients and a little (1 teaspoon) water in small bowl to blend. Add more water by teaspoonfuls if dressing is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place greens in large bowl. Add half of dressing and toss to coat.

Divide greens among plates. Scatter chicken, sliced tomatoes and peach slices over both servings. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

4. Day 3: Bacon and Brussels Sprout “Pizzas”

Serves 2

ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
4 slices of bacon cut into 1/2” pieces
1 loaf of sourdough bread
4 Brussels sprouts, halved and sliced thinly crosswise
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
Kosher salt

(See an explanation of crosswise vs. lengthwise in pictures)

PREPARATION
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 45 minutes. (You don’t necessarily have to go that long. You can crank up the heat and stir more often. But the longer / lower the heat, the more flavor they will develop.)

Slice off four pieces of bread about 1” thick. Set bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with most of the cheese (reserving some cheese to sprinkle on top later). Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in a separate small medium-sized skillet over medium heat until it’s crisp and looks flavorful — about 7 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel and pour off all but 1 tablespoon grease. Sauté Brussels sprouts in bacon grease — as they’re cooking, season them with a little salt. Cook until they are bright green and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pile caramelized onions, bacon and Brussels sprouts onto the cheese on the bread, then top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle on a little salt and bake 8-10 minutes.

5. Day 4: Baked Eggs with Spinach, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions

Emily Fleischaker

Note: You will need 1-cup ramekins to make this recipe (as pictured above), but if you don’t have them you could probably use a ceramic coffee cup.

Serves 2

ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS
3 slices of bacon
3-4 cups spinach
Sourdough loaf, toasted
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of caramelized onions
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Pour off drippings from skillet; reserve drippings. Add spinach to pan, sprinkle with salt, and toss over medium heat, 2 minutes. Transfer to strainer set over bowl to drain. Brush two 1-cup ramekins with drippings. Crumble bacon. Slice off two slices of sourdough loaf about 1” thick. Trim them to place them in the bottom of the ramekins. Divide spinach and caramelized onions among ramekins, then sprinkle bacon over, dividing equally. With back of spoon, shape well in center of each ramekin. Gently crack 1 egg into well in each ramekin, keeping yolk intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place ramekins on a baking sheet for easy handling, then put into the oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 16-18 minutes.

6. Day 5: Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Zest

Emily Fleischaker

Serves 2

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
4-5 Brussels sprouts
Zest of 1 lemon
5 ounces orecchiette
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup mozzarella
Kosher salt

PREPARATION
Set a pot of salted water on to boil. (It should be salty enough that it tastes like the ocean.)

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat, add Brussels sprouts and a little salt, and sauté until bright green, fragrant and tender, 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Whisk egg and mozzarella in medium bowl to blend; gradually whisk in a spoonful of pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta to Brussels sprouts in skillet and stir to heat. Remove skillet from heat. First make sure the skillet isn’t so hot that it will scramble the eggs, then pour egg mixture over pasta and stir until sauce is just creamy and eggs are no longer raw, about 2 minutes. (Return skillet to very low heat if egg mixture is runny; do not overcook or eggs will scramble.) Add some of remaining pasta cooking liquid to pasta if needed to moisten.

7. To follow this plan you gotta know how to break down a chicken:

8.

9. Removing the Wishbone

10. Removing the Wings

11. Removing the Thighs/Legs

12. The Grocery List


Download this list as a PDF

Fresh Produce
large yellow onion, $.81
grape tomatoes, 1 pint, $2.99
mixed greens, 1 5-ounce package, $3.99
bagged spinach, 1 9-oz bag, $2.99
9 Brussels sprouts, $3.99
2 lemons, $1
1 peach, $.61
head of garlic, $.61

Meat/Poultry
1 whole chicken, $9.16
bacon, 1 lb, $2.99

Dairy
1 6-oz bag of shredded mozarella, $3.50
1 6-oz container of Greek yogurt, $1.79
½ dozen eggs, $1.19

Dried/Canned/Spices
1 16 oz package of orecchiette or shell pasta, $1.79
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), $.80
1 oz. paprika, $2.69
1 oz. cumin, $2.99
loaf of sourdough bread, $2.99

Oils/Vinegars
1 24-oz bottle vegetable oil, $2.99

Pssst: We’re assuming you have:
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
olive oil

TOTAL: 50.37*
*based on prices at a Key Food grocery store in NYC’s East Village

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