Low-cost menu options

Get the recipe for Beef Enchiladas. Want to make your whole family feel taken care of? Treat them to a baked pasta dish. It's easy, it's cheap, and it's super filling.

Get the recipe for Classic Stuffed Shells. Who's in the mood for a minute dinner? Besides gnocchi and frozen spinach, all you need for this meal is some cream, some cheese, and a few pantry spices. Get the recipe for Gnocchi with Creamed Spinach. Tuna salad has been the centerpiece of a number of cheap and easy snack dinners in our household.

Add some crackers, some cheese, a little fresh fruit, and you've got a meal! Get the recipe for Tuna Salad. Broken noodles simmer in a tomato broth with sausage and spinach, capped off with a big dollop of blended cheese.

Get the recipe for Lasagna Soup. An easy way to save on dinner costs? Have breakfast for dinner. This simple but delicious mix of eggs, tortillas, and sausage is a fun way to go all out while still saving some cash. Get the recipe for Migas with Chorizo.

If you're craving a tasty pasta dish that's a little more grown-up than jarred red sauce, give this dish a whirl. We're pretty sure it'll become a regular part of your dinner plans.

Get the recipe for Salmon and Creamed Spinach Fettuccini. We always seem to have the makings for tuna salad around, and elbow macaroni is not expensive. So when we're on a budget, this tuna mac makes a dinner that's fun, filling, and fast. Get the recipe for Classic Tuna Macaroni Salad.

Is there a more classic cheap dinner than mac 'n cheese? Especially because this recipe shows you how to cook the pasta and make the sauce all in the same pot, no draining required! Get the recipe for Easy-Peasy Stovetop Mac 'n Cheesy. Known around the Upper Midwest as "hot dish," this pure comfort-food classic is easy, inexpensive, and plate-lickingly good.

Get the recipe for Tater Tot Casserole. Linguine with Clam Sauce. Oysters Rockefeller. Steak au Poivre. Marry Me Chicken. Filet Mignon with Duck Fat Potatoes. Truffled Risotto with Mushrooms and Parmesan. Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Scallops. Coconut Curry Chicken.

The Best Easy Pasta Carbonara. sign in. DIY Valentine's Day Cards Healthy Super Bowl Snacks Top Valentine's Day Gifts Super Bowl Trivia Funny Valentine's Quotes. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. How do you make lasagna in 25 minutes? It's budget-friendly and ready in less than 30 minutes too.

A hearty budget meal of spiced red lentils with butternut and tomatoes. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric and a dollop of mango chutney. Put mushroom soup to clever use in this Scandinavian-style beef meatball dish with dill sauce.

Make crowd-pleasing fajitas the easy way with this one-tray recipe that's full of nutrients and low in fat and calories. It makes a speedy midweek meal. Search, save and sort your favourite recipes and view them offline. Join the BBC Good Food Wine Club.

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Sandwiches:Turkey or ham sandwich Burgers:Classic cheeseburger 10 Budget Busters on Everyday Restaurant Menus · Soft Drinks · 9: Salads · 8: Wine · 7: Seafood · 6: Specials · 5: Breakfast Foods · 4: Side Dishes and Appetizers

10 Budget Busters on Everyday Restaurant Menus

Low-cost menu options - Pizza:Margherita pizza Sandwiches:Turkey or ham sandwich Burgers:Classic cheeseburger 10 Budget Busters on Everyday Restaurant Menus · Soft Drinks · 9: Salads · 8: Wine · 7: Seafood · 6: Specials · 5: Breakfast Foods · 4: Side Dishes and Appetizers

Ask where it's from. If you want shellfish, order the lobster, mussels or clams and leave the other fruits de mer out at sea. Whether it's the Blue Plate Special or the Chef's Special, almost all restaurants have that limited-time- only dish. But is this a truly unique dish from a creative chef, a pricing scam or something the kitchen need to get rid of before it expires?

The answer could be all three. A daily special is often a way for the chef to get creative, and spice up the menu for the restaurant's regular diners. But, it can also be a way to establish a pricing structure and manage diners' perceptions.

Specials can also be ways to get rid of surplus. If the salmon is not moving quickly enough, it may end up as a "Salmon Surprise" that week. Additionally, if that particular restaurant does catering or hosts special events, they may have leftovers they need to use. Specials also give restaurants pricing flexibility.

Specials are a temporary item on the menu, if they're listed at all, so the chef can change prices based on changing costs or low sales. To avoid busting your budget on a daily special, ask some questions about the preparation to help determine how special things really are.

Once upon a time, desserts were a way for restaurants to make easy money. But, with the popularity of the pastry chef today, every fine dining restaurant in town features signature desserts, complex tarts and labor-intensive delicacies. So, if you want a little value for your dollar, order the dessert and watch the restaurant work for it.

Breakfast is a favorite pastime, especially on the weekends. But, unless you order the omelet stuffed with crab and lobster, you're probably spending too much. How do most people begin their breakfast?

With a cup of joe. The mark-up is about percent and a profitable item for a restaurant, regardless of refills. And, we're not even discussing the skinny, soy-milk, and whipped cream specialty coffees.

Orange juice isn't much different. Imagine a 64 ounce 1. You don't have to be a math genius to know this is a triple digit markup. On to the food: The majority of breakfast items like pancakes and egg dishes are highly profitable and cheap to make. Syrup, especially if it's a fancy specialty, may be the costliest part of your meal.

Omelets are no different. Bacon, ham, turkey, peppers, tomatoes -- regardless of the type or style are still very inexpensive ingredients and unless specified, fairly generic and purchased in bulk. In other words, don't expect gourmet mushrooms or organic tomatoes in that omelet.

With appetizers and side dishes, restaurant-goers have a hard time determining a good value. Subsequently, these items are more profitable for the establishment.

The entrée is your main focus and that's what sets the standard. Jody Pennette, the founder of CB5 Restaurant Group, told Forbes in October that the prices on appetizers and side dishes had increased disproportionately to the raw food costs of these items.

This gives restaurants a nice cash cow. Another trick of the trade -- use mysterious ingredients that your average person doesn't eat or use. If you don't cook with lavender, use truffles or Beluga caviar in your recipes, you won't know what they should cost. The presence of that exotic element in your appetizer or side dish justifies the higher price, regardless of the quantity or quality used in the recipe.

So, skip the appetizer or extra side dish, and not only for cost reasons. Ordering them leaves you less likely to finish your entrée. That's leaving money on the table. Another thing leaving money on the table?

Most people enjoy pasta , and what's not to love? It's filling, it's tasty, it works with seafood, meat or primavera and it's one of the more affordable items on the restaurant menu.

But appearances can be deceiving. Earlier we mentioned that food costs average between 30 and 42 percent of menu prices, average being the operative word. Pasta, for example, brings that number down which is why restaurant owners love you to choose the penne over the beef.

Pasta costs around 18 percent of menu price, so restaurants can make a killing. Even served with shrimp, veal or fancy mushrooms, there is still a nice profit margin factored into most pasta dishes. So, if pasta is a restaurant rip-off, what should you order? According to Clark Wolfe, a restaurant consultant from New York in a Forbes article, "Choose labor-intensive, time-consuming complex dishes that call for hard-to-find ingredients.

Wolfe added, "If you can whip it up yourself in 20 minutes with stuff from your kitchen cupboard -- do that. In other words, go hard or go home. And we think that especially applies to the next item on our list.

If you're familiar with comic strips, you know Popeye, the spinach-eating sailorman. One of Popeye's friends, Wimpy, was a bit of a mooch with an insatiable appetite for hamburgers.

Today's restaurant patrons are no different. However, the new gourmet burgers are enough to make anyone, including Wimpy, reconsider his options. But, today's restaurants have found ways to spice up the standard hamburger, and in doing so, command a higher price tag.

Chefs add unique burger toppings like foie gras, special mushrooms or truffles; stuff patties with lobster or gruyere cheese or make them with Kobe beef, ostrich, or salmon.

Spices and spreads like pesto, curry or wasabi are other ways to jazz up this standard fare. In the minds of customers, this also elevates the burger from the sandwich category into fine dining.

But, with these sophisticated ingredients, you get a very small portion relative to the price. How many truffles fit on a burger? How much wasabi do you need on the bun? Do a few lobster pieces justify the cost? To avoid this budget buster, stick to your good, old-fashioned burger.

You may not feel as classy, but you'll get a better bang for your buck and still love the taste. People would expect New York City to have some of the more expensive restaurants in the world, and it doesn't disappoint.

In April , Masa, a Japanese and sushi restaurant in Manhattan's Columbus Circle, was ranked as the most expensive NYC restaurant. So after all that, would the best deal be some good old-fashioned Chinese food from the local takeout place?

Yes and no. International is another area where prices can be deceiving. Looking at Japanese fare, most would say sushi is worth the price. It has low food costs but high labor. After all, it takes talent and time to make the rolls; most people can't do this at home. So, when you get your 4 to 6 ounces to grams of soybeans, remember that it cost the restaurant about 50 cents in food and labor.

If you love Chinese food, chicken-fried rice is probably on that list. Assume any restaurant is buying eggs, rice and oil in bulk. Add tiny bits of chicken, the cheaper veggies of the day, toss it all around and you've got your entrée. The better deal is the beef and broccoli stir-fry.

It's more expensive but it's healthier and a better deal for your wallet. Or go Mexican and consider guacamole. They mash it up, add some spice and it's done. Remember, if you can do it quickly and easily at home, it's probably not worth the restaurant's price. com article:. Sign up for our Newsletter!

Mobile Newsletter banner close. You only need a handful of ingredients, and the whole thing only takes 20 minutes. The original recipe calls for red split lentils, but if you want to get more creative, add some French lentils, too.

Recipe: Dal. Black bean patties are one of the most popular alternatives to meat. They're also pretty easy to make. Recipe: Black Bean Burgers. Recipe: Tuna Melt. Pair it with any greens you have handy!

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Glazed Chicken. Tangy, spicy kimchi or Korean-style fermented vegetables is another way to add a ton of flavor to a dish for not a lot of money. Keep a jar stocked in the fridge, then work it into fried rice, noodle bowls, or burgers.

Recipe: Minute Kimchi Fried Rice. Recipe: Rice Bowl With Fried Egg And Avocado. Recipe: Southwest Turkey, Vegetable, and Rice Skillet. This recipe calls for only three ingredients, and you can always add a protein to the mix if you want. Recipe: Creamy Tomato Shells. Recipe: Chicken Pesto Bowls.

Recipe: Zucchini Corn Quesadillas. Recipe: One-Pan Pizza Chicken. Recipe: Super-Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad. Recipe: One-Pot Caprese Chicken Pasta. Recipe: Vegan Creamy Kale Pasta. Recipe: Greek Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

Recipe: One-Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac 'n' Cheese. Recipe: Spicy Chipotle Buddha Bowl With Cauliflower Rice. Recipe: Chicken and Mandarin Salad With Simple Sesame Dressing. Recipe: 5-Ingredient Coconut Curry. Recipe: Garlic Butter Capellini Pomodoro With Shrimp.

Recipe: Vegetarian Sheet Pan Zucchini Parmesan. Recipe: Vegetable Enchilada Casserole. The recipe calls for both whole wheat spaghetti and zucchini noodles, but you can skip the spaghetti if you want to go fully low-carb. Recipe: Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti With Avocado Sauce.

Recipe: Amazing Slow Cooker Turkey Tacos. Recipe: P. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps. A super-straightforward weeknight dinner that you can serve with grilled chicken if you want some added protein. Recipe: Orzo With Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers. Introducing your new favorite pasta sauce, made with nothing more than egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon.

Recipe: Pappardelle Al Limone. This recipe calls for tofu, broccoli, and sweet potato, but you can always swap in whatever protein and veggies you like best. Recipe: 5-Ingredient Thai Green Curry. Orzo, sliced sausage, bell pepper, heavy cream, and a handful of spices are all there is to this Cajun-inspired skillet.

Recipe: Sausage and Creamy Cajun Orzo Skillet. Grab some chicken broth, rotisserie chicken, canned diced tomatoes, ranch dressing, and canned fiesta corn mix to make this heartwarming chicken soup with a Mexican flair.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Chicken Tortilla Soup. Have toast for dinner, but make it fancy with this mixture of artichoke hearts, spinach white beans, and basil mashed into a creamy and savory spread.

Recipe: White Bean and Artichoke Basil Toasts. Don't let the ingredient list overwhelm you. All you really need to make these fajitas are portobello mushrooms, peppers, onion, and tortillas. Swap the avocado sauce for store-bought guacamole or diced avocado and you've got a delicious meal.

Recipe: Portobello and Poblano Fajitas. Recipe: Spicy Lentil Nachos With 3-Cheese Sauce. Black beans in chocolate muffins might sound odd, but they get super creamy and batterlike — and it absolutely works. Recipe: Flourless Black Bean Brownie Muffins.

You can also use coconut curry as a marinade for your meats. Here, the chicken marinates for two hours in a mixture of coconut milk, soy sauce, curry powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and fish sauce.

Recipe: Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce. Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato, Kale, and White Bean Skillet. Recipe: Grilled Cheese and Cream of Tomato Soup.

Recipe: Baked Eggs in Marinara Sauce. And fair warning that you'll want to put the latter on just about everything.

Recipe: Mujadarra. Recipe: Simple Black Bean Soup. Recipe: Big-Batch Minestrone. This article contains content previously curated by Hannah Loewentheil, Jesse Szewczyk, Marie Telling, Melissa Jameson, and Ailbhe Malone.

It was compiled by Lavanya Narayanan. Easy recipes and cooking hacks right to your inbox. Opens in a new window Opens an external site in a new window Opens an external site. Share via facebook Share via pinterest Share via email Share via sms. Vegan 3-Bean Chili. Feel free to use store-bought pizza dough to make this recipe a cinch to throw together.

Taco Pizza. White Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese With Chicken and Broccoli. Grilled cheese meets tuna salad. Sweet and Spicy Glazed Chicken. Top it off with your favorite hot sauce and you're good to go. Southwest Turkey, Vegetable, and Rice Skillet.

One-pan creamy goodness. Healthy, tasty, and cheap! Ready in 25 minutes, these quesadillas are a perfect spring dinner. You had me at pizza. Guaranteed to be just as good as your local salad bar, for half the price. Ready in 35 minutes for the perfect weeknight dinner.

Deliciously creamy, and without any meat or dairy. Greek Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. A protein-packed vegetarian dinner. Pretend your mac 'n' cheese is actually healthy by adding some broccoli to the mix.

Spicy Chipotle Buddha Bowl With Cauliflower Rice. Fast, budget-friendly, and healthy: What more do you need? A super-fast summertime salad for your weeknight dinners. The perfect option for your meatless Monday. A healthy-ish, delicious, and vegetarian take on the classic chicken Parmesan.

Swap the avocado Low-cost menu options for store-bought ophions or diced avocado and you've got optkons delicious meal. Introducing Movie soundtrack samples new favorite pasta Art supplies sample packs, made optiobs nothing more than egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon. She is a registered dietitian with a master's in food, nutrition and sustainability. Use limited data to select advertising. If you're craving a tasty pasta dish that's a little more grown-up than jarred red sauce, give this dish a whirl.

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