How $40 Can Get You Through 3 (Totally Different) Weekday Dinners
Serve four people three bang-up, affordable meals? Here's how.
The Budget-Friendly Southeast Asian Dinner That's Not Pad Thai
Cheap ethnic food doesn't have to mean making the same old stir-fries. While Thai cuisine has such a varied range of tastes—sweet, salty, pungent—and calls for inexpensive ingredients like garlic, ginger, lime and a couple of fresh herbs, it goes way beyond noodle dishes. These grilled chicken skewers are a great example; they have a tangy coconut sauce that's easy to make and pops with flavor (and is especially good over rice).
Price per serving: $3.29
Get the recipe: Chicken Satay with Coconut-Lime Sauce and Jasmine Rice
The Easy Way to Up Your Pasta Game
Whole butternut squash, sweet Italian sausage and fresh sage are fairly low in cost. Still, these homey, rustic ingredients are pretty powerful. Combine them with a big bowl of penne and you've got a hearty meal that tastes like it took much longer than a half hour to make. There are two keys to pulling it off: The squash and sausage cook in the same pan; and, cream and butter add depth in mere minutes.
Price per serving: $3.02
Get the recipe: Penne With Sausage and Butternut Squash
A Very Good Reason to Revisit the Dinner Sandwich
Hot, melty panini make fantastic lunches, but the truth is, we rarely have time during the day to make them. That's why we love serving these crunchy, oozing sandwiches for dinner; they feel evening-worthy, yet they're faster than many other suppers to prepare. This version, which Oprah created, includes basil; it's untraditional, but the citrusy, floral herb totally works here. It livens up deli standards (pepper Jack cheese and smoked turkey breast) and nicely complements avocado and tomato slices.
Price per serving: $3.61
Get the recipe: Oprah's Love Sandwich