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Meal Planning: 6 Dinners on a Budget

#5 Baked Chili Potato continued...

15 to 22 ounce can of your favorite chili or “grilling” beans ($2)

1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese ($1.50)

4 green onions, chopped ($0.50)

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream ($0.75 because a 16-ounce container is $2.89)

1 to 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped ($0.50)

6 slices turkey bacon, cooked crisp and then crumbled (optional)

Fresh, in-season fruit ($4)

Pierce each potato twice with a fork and cook in microwave until tender. Cut each potato in half and open up wide. Top with about 1/4 cup chili (nice and hot from the stove or microwave), cheese, green onions, sour cream, tomatoes, and bacon bits if desired. Serve each chili potato with fresh fruit.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains: 430 calories, 22 g protein, 60 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber, 864 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 25%. Omega-3 fatty acids = 0.4 grams. Omega-6 fatty acids = 2 grams.

#6 Baked Penne Pasta

This budget dinner cost $12.61. 

Ingredients:

1/2 pound dry whole wheat or whole-wheat blend penne noodles ($1)

3/4 cup sweet or yellow onion ($0.75)

8 ounces very lean ground sirloin ($2.25)

26-ounce jar marinara sauce ($2.50)

1 cup fat-free sour cream ($1.44)

2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese ($0.67)

2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Fresh, in-season fruit ($4)

Cook noodles as directed on package and drain well. Brown onion and ground sirloin in large, nonstick skillet. Pour in the marinara sauce, reduced heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Coat a 9x9-inch baking dish (or similar) with canola cooking spray and add half the noodles, half the cheese, sour cream, and meat sauce. Layer with remaining noodles, cheese, sour cream, and meat sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top if desired and bake in 350-degree oven until cheeses are melted (about 30 minutes). Serve with fresh, in-season fruit.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains: 493 calories, 28 g protein, 76 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 3.5 g saturated, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 47 mg cholesterol, 12 g fiber, 900 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 15%. Omega-3 fatty acids = 0.3 grams. Omega-6 fatty acids = 1.2 grams.

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Reviewed on June 26, 2009

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