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$5 dinner: Roast tomato + ricotta pasta

$5 Dinner Ideas /

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:

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}

♥ 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?