Gluten Free Simple Goulash

Well, for anyone following this blog (I think there are only two of you right now 😉 ) it has been more than a week since I said I would post a gluten free $5 meal. I could lay out a bunch of excuses, but the truth is, this hasn’t been my highest priority. After 3 years of waiting, I am finally in a position to start an in-home preschool!!! Wahoo!! Okay, I know this has nothing to do with meals for five bucks, but it’s a very exciting thing to me and I just needed a moment to celebrate. So, because of my preschool starting this fall, I have been pretty busy writing a curriculum, buying supplies, doing paperwork, etc. Plus, I only started this blog a few months ago and I’m still trying to get used to the whole, writing often thing. Hopefully my two followers will forgive me. 🙂 Thanks guys!

Now, on to some serious gluten free-ness. In typical five bucks a meal fashion, this meal is pretty darn easy. As long as you can brown some ground beef and cook some pasta, you can make this tasty meal. First, get some water boiling to cook 1/2 lb. of gluten free pasta. I did not take a picture of this because I’m assuming you all know what a pot of boiling water looks like. If not, I probably can’t help you. 🙂 Note: if you are new to gluten free, Tinkyada is a great brand of gluten free pasta. Most grocery stores sell it now. It will either be next to the regular pasta or it will be in a special gluten free section. If it says “gluten free” on the label, you are definitely safe using it. Also, if you live near a Winco, they have both gluten free brown rice pasta and white rice pasta in their bulk section for a pretty reasonable price. They often have more of a selection than that, too, but it depends on the Winco near you.

Next, brown some ground beef.

When it is all cooked, you will add some ingredients.

Oh yeah, if your water is boiling, put in your pasta. I used elbow macaroni, but you can use whatever kind you want. Also, no, my pasta is not gluten free. That’s because no one in my home needs to eat gluten free. I do have relatives that need to eat gluten free though and as long as you use gluten free pasta and gluten free spaghetti sauce, I can assure you that this will be a gluten free meal.

Now, add about 2 Tbsp of brown sugar and 1/2 – 3/4 jar of spaghetti sauce to the meat. I think all Prego sauces are gluten free. If you are not sure, just check the label because if they are gluten free, it will say it on the label. There are actually lots of gluten free spaghetti sauces out there, but Prego is always a safe choice.

Don’t be fooled by the amount of sauce in the skillet. I added a bunch more than that after I took the picture. I like spaghetti sauce a lot, so I definitely used closer to 3/4 jar of spaghetti sauce, but you can adjust that for your own preferences. Blend everything together until it is nice and saucy.

Hopefully your pasta is done now. If not, just put your meat on low until the pasta is done. When it is done, drain it like normal and pour it straight into the skillet with the meat sauce. If your skillet is not big enough, you could also pour the meat mixture into the pasta. Mix it all together until that pasta is nice and coated.

Beautiful, right? And here is a close up.

This meal is great because it is extremely simple, it is less than five dollars, it is gluten free, AND it is also dairy free. Well, as long as you use a spaghetti sauce that has no cheese it is. It seems like there are a lot of  people who must eat gluten free and dairy free so this meal is perfect for them. Plus, it’s easy.  I know I already said that, but really, can it be said too much?


Gluten Free Simple Goulash, $4.25

1/2 lb. gluten free pasta ($ .65)

1 lb. ground beef ($2)

2 Tbsp. brown sugar ($ .10)

3/4 jar gluten free spaghetti sauce ($1.50)

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Brown the ground beef. Add brown sugar and spaghetti sauce and mix together thoroughly. After pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the ground beef mixture. Again, mix together thoroughly.

Tips to make this healthier: If you like bell peppers and mushrooms, this would taste great with some of them diced and added to the meat mixture. You could also add a salad or any other kind of vegetable or fruit that you want on the side. Rather than using a jar of spaghetti sauce, you could make your own spaghetti sauce and use that. If you have a problem with the brown sugar, you could substitute it with honey or agave. You could also just leave the brown sugar out altogether, but then it would just be spaghetti. You could also use brown rice pasta (or whole wheat pasta for a non-gluten free version) to get in a whole grain.


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Corndog Muffins

I have another delightfully simple recipe for you today, but first, let’s talk gluten free. It seems like more and more people everywhere are needing gluten free options. Most of the time I think they are all just silly people who are just trying to lose weight by eating gluten free. Basically the only reason people lose weight from eating gluten free is because they are cutting out a bunch of carbs, not because of the gluten free-ness of it.

Anyway, I really shouldn’t be so judgmental. I know first hand that there are plenty of people who need to eat gluten free and not just because they want to lose weight. There are now three people in my family that must eat gluten free. They are both on my husband’s side and mine. Two because of celiac disease and one because of gluten intolerance. I recognize that my relatives truly need gluten free food. For the ones with celiac disease, even a tiny little bit of gluten will throw their bodies into a frenzy for a week. I also know that for someone who cooks non-gluten free, getting gluten free right can be pretty hard.

So, I’ve decided to add a new category to the dinners on this website. It is…. (drum roll please) Gluten Free! I’ll try to add one recipe for this category every week or so. The first one will be tomorrow. Many of them will be adaptations to the recipes already on this website, with specific brands for items that are not always gluten free (like BBQ sauce, salad dressing, vanilla, etc.).

Now on to the non gluten free recipe. If you are looking for the gluten free one, check back tomorrow.

This meal is pretty awesome. You start with a box of cornbread (or a bag, or a homemade dough, etc.) Make it according to the directions on the package.

Don’t mind that my mixer has chocolate splatters on the bottom of it. 🙂 I just cleaned it after seeing this picture, but come on, that part never touches the food anyway, right? It’s okay if chocolate splatters stay there for a few days, or months. 😉 Next, get some hot dogs straight from the fridge and cut them up into little pieces. Here is the bowl with only one chopped up hotdog.

Since, we have a one year old in the house, I cut the hot dot in half long ways before cutting it into smaller cuts. You could just cut it into circles without cutting it in half first. I only cut it in half because of my baby. However, after trying this recipe, I actually would suggest the smaller pieces. It just seemed to have a better cornbread to hotdog ratio. If you want to taste more of the hotdog, feel free to use bigger pieces.

Here is the cornbread with all of the cut up hotdogs before I mixed it in.

I used five hot dogs and that seemed like a really good amount. Here are the hotdogs after they are mixed in. I just used a regular spoon to mix them. I did not use my electric mixer.

Next, spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin. You will not be able to fill up all the muffin spaces. I would go for 8 or 9 depending on how big you want the muffins.

Next, cook your muffins according to the directions on your cornbread package. I did have to add about 5 minutes to the cooking time because of the hotdogs.

Here is the last of the muffins. I forgot to take a picture of the pan when they came out of the oven, perhaps because my ravenous family devoured them too quickly. You all know how that is, right?

As evidenced by the last remaining muffin that is already half eaten, my family loved these. Even I loved them. I’m not really a hot dog person. When we get hot dogs for my husband and me, we always get all beef hot dogs. They are the only kind I will eat. Since, I was going for cheap, though, I used the cheapo hot dogs. I still thought it tasted great. I don’t think I would have liked it if I hadn’t cut the hot dogs in half, but with them small, the cornbread really made the hot dogs yummy.

Also, I wasn’t sure if I should serve this with ketchup or not. It is supposed to be like a corndog after all. It turns out that I did not serve it with ketchup. The muffins tasted really good on their own and for me, the cornbread was a little too bready to have with ketchup. You can of course make that call for your own family. If you have ketchup lovers, then maybe a little ketchup would simply be necessary. Don’t forget to add a vegetable to this meal. It’s so inexpensive, you will have more than enough to buy some veggies.


Corndog Muffins, $2.25

1 box of cornbread mix and ingredients needed to make it ($1.25)

1 package of hot dogs ($1)

Directions: Make the cornbread mix according to package directions. Cut 4-6 hot dogs into bite sized pieces and add to the cornbread dough. Mix the hot dogs into the cornbread mix until they are well incorporated. Spoon mixture into a greased muffin tin (you will only use 8 or 9 spaces). Cook corndog muffins according to package directions, but add about 5 more minutes to cooking time.

Tips to Make this Healthier: Serve this with a vegetable. You could even try adding half a package of frozen mixed vegetables to the cornbread mix with the hot dogs. I’m not sure how this would taste. If you have tried it, please let me know in the comments. Another tip is to use a homemade cornbread mix. There are lots of healthier options for hot dogs, too, but they will be more expensive.

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Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Today’s recipe is so easy you won’t know what to do with your extra time. Here are some ideas: take a nap, take a shower, paint your nails, play tag with your kiddos, get dressed, put on some make up, twirl around in circles etc. etc. etc. The possibilities are endless. If you can make macaroni and cheese and open a few cans, you can make this dinner!!!

Step one: Make a box of macaroni and cheese according to package directions.

Step two: Add a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of tuna, and some frozen corn or peas. We used a can of corn because that’s what we had in the pantry.

Done. Easy shmeasy. I will now show you the picture of it completed, but please, please, please don’t make fun of my picture taking skills.

Okay, you can make fun of the picture a little bit. It’s sooooo blurry. Just pretend a certain child of mine bumped me right as I took the picture and then lost my camera temporarily so I couldn’t take any more pictures. Don’t assume that I had no idea the picture was so blurry until I downloaded it onto my computer days later. That’s not what happened at all…….

But at least I used up my free time well. Look at my pretty fingernails.

Thank you Pinterest for fingernail inspiration. I have to say, I was a little worried that this would turn out  tasting a lot like macaroni and cheese. While this was a childhood favorite of mine, my palate has since become more sophisticated. Meaning, I now hate boxed macaroni and cheese. 🙂 I was happily surprised by this meal, however. It turned out delicious and didn’t taste at all like boxed macaroni and cheese. Not only did my kiddos love it, but so did I!!! Now, here is your written recipe (although I’m sure you don’t need it.)

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, $3.45

1 box macaroni and cheese and ingredients needed to make  it ($1.50)

1 can undiluted cream of chicken soup ($ .75)

1 can drained tuna ($ .60)

1 can corn or 1 C frozen vegetables ($.60)

Directions: Make the box of macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Add the soup, tuna, and vegetable to the macaroni and cheese and cook on stove until heated through. Serve and enjoy.

Tips to make this healthier: Use homemade macaroni and cheese rather than the boxed variety. Also, make your own cream of chicken soup. You could probably add twice as many vegetables as well and still have a delicious dinner.


Filed under Other/Any Meat, Pasta

Beefy Cauliflower Pasta

This week in my food co-op I got some green cauliflower. I don’t know why it’s green. It tastes the same as regular cauliflower and cooks the same; it just looks different. Well, I needed a good recipe for this green cauliflower because I knew that a certain kiddo of mine wouldn’t eat it just the way it was. Enter Beefy Cauliflower Pasta.

First brown some ground beef in a skillet. Drain the excess fat.

Add some salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. I also added some onion powder and some garlic powder just for some added taste.

Next, cook 1/2 pound of pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, chop your cauliflower (mine is green cauliflower, remember: 🙂 ). Add the cauliflower to the pasta water for the last 5-10 minutes until both it and the pasta are cooked through.

Next, add some cream cheese and shredded cheese to your deliciously seasoned beef. I only added about 1/4 of the cream cheese block, but I wish I had added a lot more. The cream cheese acts as a binder so everything will stick together. The meal tasted good, but it didn’t really stick together at all. It felt like it needed more sauce or something. I think more cream cheese would have helped considerably.

Now, mix everything together and serve it to your very impressed family.

By the way, yes I am aware that this meal is a little more than five bucks. I don’t expect every single meal on here to be five bucks or less. I do try my best to get them as close to five bucks as possible. This one counts as close. 🙂

Beefy Cauliflower Pasta, $5.85

1 lb. ground beef ($2)

1/2 lb. pasta ($ .50)

1 tsp. salt ($ .05)

1 tsp. onion powder ($ .05)

1/2 tsp. garlic powder ($ .05)

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ($ .20)

1 box of frozen chopped cauliflower or 1 head fresh cauliflower ($1)

2 oz. cream cheese (you might want to add more like 4-8 oz.) ($1.25)

1 C shredded cheese ($ .75)

Directions: Brown ground beef in a skillet and drain excess fat. Season beef with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook 1/2 lb. of pasta according to package direction. Add the cauliflower to the pasta water for the last 5-10 minutes. Drain pasta and cauliflower. Mix cream cheese and shredded cheese into the beef until it melts. Add the pasta and cauliflower.

Tips to Make this Healthier: Use whole wheat pasta or half whole wheat, half white pasta. You could make a homemade white sauce in place of the cream cheese. As always, serve with an extra vegetable and fruit. Use less shredded cheese.

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Black Beans and Rice

Let me start by saying that I have never liked black beans and rice. I had it a lot growing up. I always ate it dutifully without any complaining since my mom had taken the time and effort to make it. I tried to like it. Everyone else in my family LOVED it. I pretended that I liked it. I tried to convince myself that I liked it. None of it worked. I just don’t like black beans and rice. That was true until last night!!! I’ve been making dinners for 6 years now and this is the first black beans and rice recipe that I have ever liked. What makes it so different, you ask? The addition of canned tomatoes. Delish.

First cook some rice. Hopefully you have a rice cooker which makes it sooooo easy.

Next, you get out a frying pan and saute your chopped onions in some olive oil. I, as usual, used onion powder instead. Next, add your garlic powder and Italian seasoning. I added some salt, too and apparently forgot to put the onion powder in the picture. Next, add the canned tomatoes (undrained) and 2 cans of black beans (rinsed and drained). I didn’t have 2 cans of black beans so I just used 1 can of kidney beans and 1 can of black beans. It was still really yummy that way.

Saute this mixture for about 20 minutes on medium low heat.

When it is all cooked through, your rice should be done. You can serve this on top of cooked rice, or you can mix it all together before you serve it. I served it on top for everybody in our family, but we all just mixed it together before we ate it. Next time I’ll just mix it all together before I serve it.

There may or may not have been a few bites taken out of this before the picture was taken. 🙂 It was so good I couldn’t resist.

Black Beans and Rice, $3.05

2 C hot cooked rice ($ .50)

1/2 chopped onion ($ .50)

1-2 Tbsp olive oil ($ .25)

1 tsp. garlic powder ($ .10)

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning ($. 10)

1 can petit diced tomatoes, garlic and herb flavor ($ .60)

2 cans black beans ($1)

Directions: Saute the onion in some olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Add the canned tomatoes and stir. Pour in the black beans. Saute about 20 minutes on medium low heat. Use a potato masher to mash a bit of the mix (2/3 whole, 1/3 mashed). Serve over cooked rice.

Tips to make this healthier: Serve with a vegetable side. Use brown rice instead of white rice.

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Meaty Cornbread Pie

If you are looking for a cheap, delicious dinner that the kids will love, look no further than this recipe. It is one yummy meal that costs just five bucks. First, get a box of cornbread and make it according to package directions. As you can see, my cornbread actually came in a pouch, not a box, but it works fine, too.

Pour the batter into a pie pan and bake according to package directions. While it’s cooking, begin browning the ground beef with your onion and spices. I used onion powder because there are some picky eaters in my family that don’t like the texture of onions, but do like the taste (um, yeah, it’s me. I hate the texture of onions. 🙂 )

I added the spices right as I started browning the beef and then added the tomato sauce after the spices were blended in little. You can’t tell from the picture, but the meat was still pretty red when I added the tomato sauce.

After the cornbread has been in the oven for 12-15 minutes (or until it is golden brown), take it out of the oven. I am CLEARLY not a photographer and don’t know anything about lighting, so sorry about the yellow in this picture. I don’t know why this was the only picture that was so yellow. I guess it just wanted to show you how “golden” the cornbread should be.

Now, put the meat mixture on top of the cornbread and spread around until it covers the cornbread completely.

Now, sprinkle on the cheese. I may have added a little more than 1/2 C, but we got a ton of shredded cheese at an incredible price, so I can afford to use a little more. 😉

Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. It should look like this when it is done. I know it doesn’t look that amazing, but it sure is tasty. My husband LOVED this. My preschooler really didn’t want to eat it because it looked weird to him. We made him try at least one bite after which he realized that it tasted delicious. He even wanted seconds. (Booyah, for making him try just one bite! Works every time).

Mexican Meatza, $5


1 box cornbread mix ($ .90)

1 lb. ground beef ($1.90)

1/2 an onion, chopped ($ .50)

1 Tbsp. chili powder ($ .20)

2 tsp. ground cumin ($ .10)

1 tsp. salt ($ .05)

1 can tomato sauce ($ .60)

1/2 C cheese ($ .75)

Directions: Prepare the box of cornbread mix according to package directions. Pour cornbread batter into a greased pie plate. Pun in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. While cooking, brown 1 lb. ground beef in a skillet with the chopped onion. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and tomato sauce. Remove cornbread from oven when ready and top with meat and then with cheese. Put pie pan back in oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Tips to Make this Healthier: Serve this with a salad! I used whatever veggies I could find in the fridge. I even added some bacon bits, chicken chunks, and cheese chunks because I needed to get rid of them. You could also make your cornbread homemade and add less cheese. Besides that, it’s pretty good, just watch your portion size because it’s so yummy you’ll just want more and more and more and…. just have some more salad. 🙂

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Filed under Beef

Veggie Stir Fry over Rice

Hello blogging world! After a short recess, I am back with a vengeance. And by vengeance, I mean I am ready to give you some rocking $5 dinners. When I first started doing this blog I had a goal of only spending $40 a week on groceries. The $3o I spent on fruits and vegetables from the food co-op would not be included in the $40. This way, I would fit comfortably into my goal of $200 a month on food and I would even have a $10 leeway.

Well, I’ve only been grocery shopping about 3 times since I started  this plan and I must say, the results have been great! The first week I spent about $45. I spent a little extra because I found boneless skinless chicken breast at such a great price. I knew I only went over my budget because of the chicken, but I was still pretty worried about maintaining this budget. I figured I just had to keep trying. After all, I had some cheap meals to work with.

The second week was a little better. I spent about $32. I was at a $38.50 average for both weeks, which is pretty good and within my budget. Well, my real success came this week. My grocery shopping for the week was less than $20!!! I’m realizing that the more I do this budget, the easier it is to save. I know which ingredients to buy and where to buy them. I know what foods I still have leftover and use them in my meal planning for the next week. If all goes well with shopping next week, I should be well under budget for the month! I may just have to go looking for a good deal on something we use often (pasta, rice, peanut butter, or something) to use up the extra money in my budget. If not, I guess we’ll just roll the money over into next month. Saving money is great! Without further ado, here is your recipe.

Veggie Stir Fry over Rice, $4.75


1 bag of frozen stir fry veggies ($1.25)

1 C chopped, cooked meat – you can use chicken, ham, shrimp, whatever you want ($1.50)

2 C cooked rice ($ .75)

1/2 C teriyaki sauce ($ .75)

1/4 C soy sauce ($ .50)

Directions: Stir fry the frozen stir fry veggies with the teriyaki sauce and soy sauce. Add the meat and continue stir frying until everything is heated through. Serve over the cooked rice.

Tips to Make this Healthier: The unhealthiest thing about this meal is the amount of sodium that is included in pre-made teriyaki sauce and soy sauce. You could make your own teriyaki sauce, and use soy sauce that has reduced sodium. You can also serve this with another vegetable or a fruit. I would suggest using fresh vegetables instead of frozen vegetables, but fresh vegetables aren’t really that much better. If you have some fresh veggies on hand though, feel free to use them. They are better than frozen, just not by a lot. You could also use brown rice instead of white rice. Delicious.

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Filed under Other/Any Meat