Talk about quick and cheap eats! Mini meatloaves full of flavor pair with made-from-scratch mac and cheese for filling comfort food that won’t disappoint.
Creating a dinner for four under $10 is not rocket science. Anyone who shops the sales and coupons can probably pull it off easily. However, creating a fully-homemade-from-scratch dinner for less than ten bucks can be a little more challenging.
In our efforts to get away from chemicals, GMO’s, and processed foods, I’m trying to feed my family more natural food — and still stay under budget.
This meal is that and more. Savory meatloaves are made miniature so that they cook quickly. Old fashioned macaroni and cheese cooks on the stovetop in about the same time it takes you to prepare that blue box. Serve steamed broccoli on the side and you’ve got a tasty, whole foods meal that really isn’t more work than opening a few cans and boxes.
In the old days I might have made meatloaf with canned bread crumbs and a packet of dried onion soup mix. Today I used the heels of a loaf of bread. Practically free since who wants to eat the heels anyway? You’ll be amazed at the great flavor this has with just a few spices from your cupboard.
Serve these meatloaves with Stovetop Mac and Cheese for an easy but hugely filling meal for a bargain price! The mac would have come from a box back in the old days. Instead a little butter, flour, milk, and cheese melted together “just so” far surpasses the boxed variety. Did you ever stop to think that you’re already adding butter and milk to the boxed packet? This is so much better for you and just as easy. Really.
This meal is a step up from the blue plate special of yore, but it’s still very budget friendly. And it’s good for you! 😉 My kids gobble it down, and I’m always so pleased to recreate those comfort foods of the good old days — from scratch!
Here’s how the numbers crunch:
- ground beef – $3.99
- bread – free because I use the heels that no one wants
- spices – $0.25
- onion – $0.25
- soy sauce – $0.10
- macaroni – $0.88
- cheese (1/4 pound) – $1.00
- milk – $0.25
- butter – $0.38
- flour – $0.25
- broccoli – $0.99
Total for this meal to feed 4 to 8, depending on ages and appetites: $8.34
Boom! Comfort food win!
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 slices sandwich bread ground into crumbs, about 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 °.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients gently. Don’t overmix.
- Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each one into a small loaf or patty. Place in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Originally published October 24, 2012. Updated April 21, 2017.