We had another hectic week, so my $5 Friday dinner this week is something I came up with on the fly. My whole family ate every bite, though, so it couldn’t be too bad. I was originally going to make Parmesan Pasta with Greens and Beans, but for some reason I just felt like something more homey. This is what I came up with.
Cheesy Spinach and Macaroni (AKA Mac & Cheese w/ some frozen veg thrown in)
1 lb elbow macaroni ($.79)
1 tbsp butter (maybe a little more if you’re like me and love butter) ($.08)
1 tbsp flour ($.01)
2 cups milk ($.16 at Aldi’s)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese ($1 at Aldi’s)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese ($.50)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed ($.50)
1/4 tsp nutmeg ($.10)
salt & pepper to taste
1. Boil a pot of water and toss the elbows in when it’s boiling.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, put the butter in a large saute pan on medium heat.
Add the flour to the butter, and whisk briskly, creating a roux.
3. Still stirring, slowly add the milk to the butter and flour mixture. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes
4. Add the cheese and stir until it is all incorporated into the sauce. Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and add it to the sauce. This starchy water will thicken the sauce and add a bit more body to it.
5. Add the spinach, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the sauce.
6. Add drained macaroni to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Serve with a green salad or alone for a quick, easy meal.
Total Cost? $3.14
Have a dollar or two extra to spend? Chop up some sweet Italian sausage and add to the sauce.
Need to make it even cheaper? This meal costs $.78 a person, which is less than a school lunch. I'm not sure it gets much cheaper.