$5 dinner: Roast tomato + ricotta pasta

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. Usually I take great joy in crafting a list of things I want to change or do. But each year I get to the end of the 12 months I can rarely remember the resolutions, or I know that I haven’t met them. This year I made a manifesto instead, something to inspire me over the year 2012. You can see it here.

One of the things on my manifesto was to be thrifty. Over Christmas Day I mentioned this to my Lil Sis, because she’s the queen of thrifty. The conversation got around to how much we spend on food and we worked out it was quite a lot. I said that we’d easily spend $35 on dinner. Easy. My sister gasped and set me a challenge to do it cheaper.

I love a challenge so together we came up with a plan to try and make meals for $5. Of course we couldn’t eat $5 meals for every night of the week but if I swapped out a few meals for the $5 ones … well that’s a few handbags/shoes/holidays right there.

Note: Things not included in the $5 will be salt and pepper, and olive oil. These are basics. I’m also not going to include herbs as I’ll be growing my own herb garden, but I’ll include the price as a guide. Each meal will serve 4 people.

Here’s the first one I cooked up: Roast tomato + ricotta pasta:

Ingredients:
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved {$1.33 punnet}
2 cloves of garlic, cut into fine slivers {$0.10}
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar {$0.10}
300g penne pasta {$0.47}
1/2 x 375g tub of ricotta {$1.50}
Handful of basil, torn {around $0.60, if buying}

Method:
♥ Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
♥ Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil.
♥ Place tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a medium baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15 minutes {or until the tomatoes start to collapse slightly.
♥ Cook pasta in the boiling water as per the instructions on the packet {around 12 minutes} or until al dente.
♥ Once pasta is cooked, drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the tomato and garlic mix, as well as any juices from the baking dish. Add the ricotta and basil and stir to combine.
♥ Serve among 4 bowls. Serve with half a baguette if you like {add around $0.50}.

This meal came to just $3.50 for 4 serves. Am I allowed to stick out my tongue yet and tell my Lil Sis that I knew I could? Can I?

What’s your favourite cheap meal? Do you have one you’d like to see me try?

Comments

  1. says

    We love homemade spaghetti aglio olio.
    If you or your little one likes garlic bread, you'll like it.

    5 tbsp olive oil
    6 cloves of garlic
    1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped extra fine.
    S & P
    parmesan or pecorino cheese to grate.
    METHOD:
    On a medium heat in a nonstick fry pan heat olive oil until warm. Add garlic.
    Fry gently for about a minute.
    Add the parsley.
    Add S & P.
    Stir through.

    Transfer pasta into the frypan and cook through for last 2 minutes of cooking time.

    Serve with grated cheese.

    It is so good when my fridge is running low on stock and! Yum!

  2. says

    What a great idea, it looks so yummy as well. I hate going grocery shopping it's so expensive. when Hubby and I are at the check out we guess how much it will be and the one who is closest to the actual amount doesnt have to cook dinner that night. We are always way off the amount by about $20 to $30.

  3. says

    I aim for no more than $10 a dinner and that is for six of us. Roasts every now and then are probably the only time we go over. I do a variation on this pasta as my kids are still not completely sold on the virtues of ricotta *sigh*

  4. says

    Dude we are having that tonight! Great minds and all that. I made a version of it just before Christmas and was thrilled with how yummo, easy, quick and cheap it was to make. We have vego's over tonight so snap! It's on it's way x

    Oh. And? Happy New Year!

  5. says

    A punnet of cherry tomatoes for $1.33, pasta for 47c? Where on earth do you do your grocery shopping?! Aldi? WA doesn't have Aldi. I wouldn't be able to create this meal for <$5 if using store-bought herbs.

  6. says

    I overspend on my meals as well, I figured with just 2 of us we can but your right thats a pair of shoes right there!
    I do Meatless Mondays, which usually involves a vegetarian pasta or risotto which makes it pretty inexpensive.

  7. says

    Oh yum!!! I doubt hubby will eat it as he's an 'I need meat' man but I totally love it!!

    The only chep meal I can think of is our Ravioli Carbona night, but it's a Latina-Made pasta and sauce, so I hear it up, cook the pasta and it's done :) its about $8 for apparently 4 serves, but it feeds me, hubby and our 6-year old who usually has seconds as its his favorite :) it comes in handy on 'swimming' night when our son has swimming lessons and we are very time poor…

    Xxx

  8. says

    $35? I had the same reaction as your sister! We are a one income family of five so plenty of pasta and rice dishes in our house, I like your style. Just mentioned you over on my blog – you didn't mention anything about it being a healthy meal?!! haha x

  9. says

    Yum! I've gotta agree with a couple of other commenters, though…there is no way in hell I could make this dish at the prices you've listed. I bought cherry tomatoes today, on special, for $2.50 a punnet. That's standard for Perth. Also love to know where I could buy good ricotta for $3 or a bunch of basil for $1.20. I knew Perth was expensive but geez…this has really confirmed that for me!

    I do make this occasionally and it's super yum, so thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    Yum! I've gotta agree with a couple of other commenters, though…there is no way in hell I could make this dish at the prices you've listed. I bought cherry tomatoes today, on special, for $2.50 a punnet. That's standard for Perth. Also love to know where I could buy good ricotta for $3 or a bunch of basil for $1.20. I knew Perth was expensive but geez…this has really confirmed that for me!

    I do make this occasionally and it's super yum, so thanks for sharing!

  11. says

    Honestly, Telle said she was growing herbs, and it's all based on proportions! Packet of pasta is $1. Besides, still cheaper even at $6 than a $30 meal! Ricotta at the deli is $8/kg. looks yummy and simple – thanks!!! What about a chicken stir fry? Or fajitas?

  12. says

    Thanks guys. Prices are as I've paid for them, where I live (in Sydney – which I thought was expensive). Obviously I can't fly to States to check out other prices! I wish I could!

    If prices on all produce are higher in the area you live, then surely this would be cheaper than other meals – perhaps not under $5 but cheaper still.

    @Little Gumnut: Ha! Hubby would have two serves of this, and my daughter and I would have one. x

  13. says

    I mentioned this post to my husband and he said we need to be more frugal too. He loves his protein. We have tuna, pasta, sweetcorn, mayo & sweet chilli sauce often for lunch (which is easy to take to work).

    If we have more time I like to use farfalle instead of penne and turkey instead of tuna and add colourful peppers and cucumber (this is also nice cold).

    What quick meal can you do with tuna?

    x

  14. says

    Nice work Telle. My hubby would be screaming for protein to be added tot his though.

    More important to me than the $5 would be a 5 minute dinner – if only

  15. says

    YUM YUM YUM… whipped this up today, we are a single income family of 6 and i honestly thought that at least 2 of our 4 children would turn their nose up… Nope all gone and everyone ate it. I tweaked the amounts by adding a punnet and a half ($1.50, 99c per punnet), 500g penne woolies pasta (59c), 250g ricotta ($2.01 from the Deli), i already had the garlic, blasamic vinegar, oil and SnP at home they are staples here so the whoe dish came in at $4.10 for 6!!!. I didn't add basil as not one of my kids likes the taste and my last basil plant died over winter (must get another!). There wasn't enough there for us all really but with a little dessert (and a meat pie to Mr11) they were all satisfied and agreed to do this again.

  16. says

    Dhal!
    1 can chickpeas ($1), I can lentils ($1), I can crushed tomatoes ($1) and then just one onion (maybe costs like, 20c) 2 cloves garlic, tumeric, chilli flakes, bay leaves, ginger and stock. Ok maybe comes to slightly more than $5 but still super cheap and super tasty. xx

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