This meal is comprised of four dishes and can be "mix and matched" to fit your taste or budget. If you're vegetarian or just want to cut the cost, you can nix the grilled chicken (while still having a protein packed meal). The dinner, sans chicken, would only be $9.46 for 6 servings or $1.58 per serving (as opposed to $3.03 per serving with chicken). Another option is to skip the garlic bread (since you already have a lot of carbs with the pasta) and cut $1.77 from the total meal costs.
Personally, I think getting the feast below for only $3.03 per serving is still a pretty fantastic deal so I decided to post the whole sha-bang. Alter the meal as you see fit!
This meal includes:Tuscan White Bean Pasta $5.67
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken (instructions below) $8.74
Lemon Butter Green Beans $2.02
Garlic Bread $1.77
Serves: 6, $3.03 per serving
Below is an example of my grocery list and a list of items that I already have on hand in my pantry or refrigerator. Use the grocery list as a guide but, as always, check the pantry list for items that you may not have or need to restock and check the grocery list for items that you might already have on hand. Adjust the lists as necessary.
|1 pint||cherry or grape tomatoes|
|1 can (15 oz.)||white beans (cannellini or great northern)|
|6 cups (1 bunch)||baby spinach|
|16 oz.||shredded parmesan|
|1.5 lbs. (approx. 3 breasts)||chicken breasts|
|1 lb.||green beans|
|1 lg. loaf||french bread|
PANTRY ITEMS / ON HAND
|3 Tbsp||olive oil|
|7 Tbsp (approx. 1 stick)||butter|
|1/2 tsp||dried basil|
|1 tsp||lemon pepper|
STEP 1: Begin cooking the Tuscan White Bean Pasta. As the pasta boils and the tomato bean mixture simmers, rinse the green beans and snap off the stem ends in preparation for cooking.
STEP 2: Prepare the chicken by sprinkling lemon pepper on both sides of each breast. Preheat your counter-top grill (George Foreman type). Cook all three breasts for approximately 7 minutes or until they are brown and crispy on the outside and cooked thoroughly on the inside. When they are finished cooking, let them rest prior to slicing (this keeps the juices inside). Once sliced, each plate should get half of a breast (about 4 oz.).
STEP 3: After washing and snapping the green beans, begin to cook them. The recipe calls for two lemons but I made it here with just one medium lemon. It's flexible.
STEP 4: While the green beans are steaming, begin preparing the Garlic Bread. Put the Garlic Bread in the oven about 10 minutes before everything else finishes up!
NOTE: If cooking multiple things at once stresses you out, you can do some of the prep before you ever even turn on the stove. That way, when it's time to cook, you can have it all going at once without worrying about chopping or doing anything other than actually cooking.
Prep that can be done ahead of time includes: seasoning the chicken (keep refrigerated until ready to grill), cleaning and snapping the green beans, mixing the garlic bread spread. The garlic bread spread can be made well ahead of time (keep refrigerated) but I would not spread it on the open loaf more than 15 minutes ahead of cooking or else the loaf may get stale.
Linguini and other pasta usually comes in one pound (16 oz.) packs. This dinner only calls for 8 oz. but luckily dry pasta stays good for quite some time. Make sure to store it in an air tight container. Having pasta on hand is also great for those days when your refrigerator is running low and there are still a few days before you get paid...
I buy my spinach in a large 12 cup bag for only $1.99 (gotta love produce market prices) but most grocery stores stock it in the smaller 6 cup bags. I like to keep extra spinach on hand because it goes great on sandwiches, quesadillas, soups or just simple salads. If you need some ideas for extra spinach, type "spinach" into the search field located just above my profile picture at the top right hand of this page.
If you choose to use parsley for your garlic bread, you'll likely have some left over. Fresh parsley lasts about a week in the refrigerator. It makes a great garnish for just about everything and adds a nice fresh flavor. If you don't want to buy a bunch (usually about $0.75) just for the garlic bread, it will still taste great without it!
Lastly, I buy my chicken breasts in large 5 lb. packs which usually contain 10 breasts. When I buy a large pack like this they are about $1.50 less per pound which is a HUGE savings. When I get the chicken home I immediately break it up into ziplock bags containing two breasts each. I label them then freeze them. It's really great to have chicken waiting to be used in the freezer rather than having to buy it every time (and at a much higher price)!