5 Under 5

5 Under 5: Cheap but Tasty Meals

This week for 5 Under 5 Friday, I’m sharing some awesome recipes that you can make without spending more than $5 a serving. Not only that, but you don’t need to be a professional chef to throw them together. It’s a win-win!

Disclaimer: There are NOT my recipes. I’m linking the original recipes I found for these meals within the article. However, the way I have them described within this article is how I personally make them. So, check out the links for the original recipes!

1. Southwestern Cheese Panini


Photo courtesy of EatingWell.com

– 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
– 1 cup shredded zucchini
– 1/2 cup shredded carrot
– 1/4 chopped red onion
– 1/4 cup salsa
– sliced wheat bread
– 2 teaspoons canola oil

Servings: 4







  1. Combine your shredded cheese and vegetables in your bowl. Then, stuff this mixture in between two of your slices of wheat bread.
  2. Once your panini is assembled, heat your canola oil in your pan on medium heat and place your panini in your pan.
  3. Cook on each side for about two minutes or until all of the cheese is melted.
  4. Plop your panini down on a plate and enjoy (after it cools)!


2. Chopped Ham & Apple Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing


Photo courtesy of EatingWell.com

– 1 head of lettuce
– 1 large sweet apple cubed
– 3/4 cup sliced smoked ham steak
– 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
– 1/2 cup reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
– 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
– 1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Servings: 4





  1. Put your yogurt, Parmesan, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, tarragon, pepper and salt together in a bowl. Whisk until your dressing is evenly mixed.
  2. Chop your lettuce. Cube your apple. Slice your ham.
  3. Refrigerate your dressing separately from your lettuce and other toppings until you’re ready to eat it.

* Depending on my mood, I also sometimes add either dried cranberries or radishes, too!


3. Inside-Out Lasagna


Photo courtesy of EatingWell.com

– 8 ounces whole-wheat rotini or fusilli
– 3/4 part-skim ricotta cheese
– 1 white onion
– 3 1/2 cups sliced white mushrooms
– 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
– 8 cups baby spinach
– 3 cloves sliced garlic
– 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Servings: 4





  1. Bowl a pot of water and cook your pasta with a dash of salt until it’s tender. While this is boiling, cut up onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
  2. After you transfer your cooked pasta to a large bowl, heat your oil on a skillet set to medium. Brown your onions and garlic before adding mushrooms, salt and pepper.
  3. Once mushrooms release liquid, increase to medium-high and add tomatoes and spinach.
  4. Cook until the spinach is wilted; it should take about four minutes. Only stir once halfway through.
  5. Mix this mixture with your pasta, add three tablespoons of ricotta, and enjoy!


4. Turkey and Balsamic Onion Quesadillas


Photo courtesy of EatingWell.com

– 8 slices smoked deli turkey
– 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
– 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
– 1 small red onion
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Servings: 4







  1. Slice your entire red onion and let it marinate in a bowl of your balsamic vinegar for about five minutes.
  2. While your onions are marinating, warm one tortilla on a skillet at medium-high heat for about 45 seconds on each side.
  3. Top the tortilla with two slices of turkey, 1/4 cup of cheese, and 1/4 of the red onion.
  4. Fold the tortilla in half and cook until golden and crispy on both sides.
  5. Once your cheese is nice and melty, serve your quesadilla up with a dollop of low-fat sour cream!


5. Creamy Tarragon Chicken Salad


Photo courtesy of EatingWell.com

– 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
– 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
– 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
– 2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
– 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 1/2 cups diced celery
– 1 1/2 cups halved seedless grapes
– 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Servings: 4





  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Put your chicken in a glass baking dish along with your chicken broth and place it in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when your chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  3. While your chicken is cooking, stir your sour cream, mayonnaise, tarragon, salt and pepper together in a bowl.
  4. After your chicken is out of the oven and cool enough to touch, cut your chicken into cubes and add it to the mixture in your bowl.
  5. Top off this mixture with your celery, halved grapes and walnuts.
  6. Refrigerate your chicken salad for at least an hour before eating. When it’s ready, enjoy it wrapped in a crisp piece of lettuce!

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