“Affordable side dishes” are side dishes that not only perfectly accent to your protein of choice, but they anchor down the ultimate price of the dinner $5 or less! In this post, I’ll be doing an overview of what makes a side dish affordable, provide you a list of affordable ingredients to make your own cheap sides, a list of my side dishes that are $3 or less, and an opt-in opportunity to get a list of 25 $5 dinners +12 side dishes FREEBIE.
What Makes a Side Dish Affordable?
- Choosing “cheap” ingredients. I do not enjoy using “cheap” as the word to focus on most, but it really is what makes a side dish affordable. Choosing canned foods, root vegetables, seasonal produce- and yes, boxed items such as stuffing- makes a side dish affordable and compelling.
- Buying certain ingredients in bulk. I prefer to buy my butter at Costco- I think butter is $6 for 24 sticks of butter! That makes each tablespoon about 3 cents each! Let’s pretend I am being overzealous that night with the butter- that still makes 1/2 a stick (4 tablespoons) only 12 cents!
- Combining ridiculously cheap ingredients for amazing flavors. NEVER underestimate the power of simply combining salt, pepper and butter to sautéed onions and garlic before adding things like mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, pasta or other low carb option.
- Use side dishes for more than one dinner. For just 2 people, we don’t eat a full box of Stovetop stuffing. But we can eat it over the course of a few dinners.
Affordable side dishes come in all shapes, sizes and different places in the grocery store, bulk store. Here are a few ways to get creative when choosing how to make affordable side dishes.
- Canned vegetables
- Frozen vegetables- frozen vegetable like bell peppers, peas and carrots, etc. are often healthier than canned vegetables because they haven’t lost their nutrients
- Root Vegetables such as carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes
- Seasonings such as salt and pepper, seasoning mixes such as Taco Mix.
- Box or Bags of Stuffing mix or Instant Mashed Potatoes
- Seasonal produce
- When you considering that you use a fraction of the ingredients, dairy products such as butter and milk
- “Rice” Cauliflower- especially when you remind yourself that you are purchasing a head of cauliflower and then using a small portion of it each time you use it.
List of Side Dishes that are $3 or Less
- Mashed potatoes: any potato, butter, splash of milk, salt, pepper, garlic (optional: onion) $2
- Baked Potatoes: gold and red potato medley, salt, pepper, paprika, olive oil and garlic. Bake 425 for 25 min.
- Green Beans: seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and garlic. $1
- Oven-roasted Mixed Veggies: carrots, onions, red and yellow potatoes, garlic, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika $1 Goes perfectly with pork loin!
- Steamed/Boiled Carrots: might sound a little icky, but it’s just to the point that they aren’t hard as arock. Cook with a little bit of water, 2 TBS of butter, a few cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and viola!It’s a delicious side dish.
- Brown Sugar Baby Carrots: Not my idea of a healthy side dish, it tastes too loaded with sweets in myopinion. But mix baby carrots, 2-4 TBS of butter (to coat the carrots) and probably 1-2 TBS of brownsugar (enough to coat the carrots), and cook in a small pot until warm and maybe a little soft.
- Garlic Pasta: Kyler is the one who named his favorite side dish. It is so simple! Melt 2 tbs butter in a pan and mix with a splash of milk, salt, pepper and a lot of garlic. As you mix in the pasta, also add in Parmesan cheese or a light amount of Mexican Blend cheese. You only need enough to make the pasta to stick together.
- Mac n Cheese: pasta of any sort, butter, splash of milk, Mexican cheese blend
- “Rice” Cauliflower: staying low carb sometimes calls for sacrifices, but it is a worthwhile substitute. I learned a lot about cauliflower rice from this blog post at The Forked Spoon
- Stovetop Stuffing (1 box is less than $1 at my grocery stores) You can even make great leftovers buy reheating leftover shredded chicken or turkey, or chopped port, and adding vegetables like peas and carrots. Delicious!
- Veggie Blends: again, this isn’t something we do at our house, though I wish it was an option for Kyler! At my grocery store, their small frozen bags have different themed blends of vegetables that can be easily cooked and served right next to your main dinner.
- Steamed Broccoli and/or Cauliflower
- Peas: $1 or less
- Quinoa: Buy a giant bag from Costco and it will last forever! I don’t remember how much it cost but I guarantee that 1 serving is less than $1-2. Cook it with homemade beef broth or chicken broth, and butter…. OMG! It is amazing.
- Low Carb Cheesy Bread Rolls 2 easy ingredients and you can’t deny that they will pair great with something like Cream of Broccoli Soup