$5 Challenge

What could be better for a group of college students/recent graduates than a dinner in which you don’t spend more than $5? For this dinner, people were to spend no more than $5 on ingredients for any dish. If you already had ingredients, that didn’t count against you, but any purchased ingredients couldn’t total any more than the $5 limit. We had some great dishes — I don’t have the recipe for the stir fry we made, but it was delicious!

Here are the recipes I do have!

Mexican Rice:


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water


  1. Heat a large skillet to medium high and sauté the onion, garlic, and rice until onions are soft and rice is slightly golden brown.
  2. Add in the tomato paste and stir until incorporated.
  3. Add in the spices and stir to combine.
  4. Slowly add in the chicken stock or water and stir until everything is well mixed; heat to boiling.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata: 


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini (or 1 large one), washed and sliced into thin rounds


  1. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta and Parmesan and beat to combine. Add the salt, black pepper, basil and thyme, and beat to combine; set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof stick-free skillet on medium high. When the oil is hot and begins to simmer, add the zucchini slices. Stir so that the zucchini is coated with some of the olive oil. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until the zucchini slices are slightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove zucchini slices from the pan with slotted spoon or tongs to a bowl. Let cool for about 30 seconds and then stir the zucchini slices into the egg mixture.
  3. Reheat the skillet. There should still be a couple of tbsp. of olive oil in the pan, but if not add some more. When the oil is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Do not stir it. Reduce the heat to medium. Let the egg mixture cook. Run a spatula along the edge of the frittata, separating the edges from the pan. Let the egg mixture cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is beginning to set, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Set the top rack 5 inches from the heating element of the oven. Preheat the oven broiler. Once the top of the frittata has started to set on the stove top, remove the pan from the stove and place it in the oven. With the broiler on the door of the over needs to be open. The pan handle can stick out through the open oven door. Cook under the broiler until the top browns, about 2 minutes.
  5. Slide the frittata out of the skillet onto a serving plate. Let stand for a minute or two, then serve.

Double Chocolate Mint Brownies:


  • 1 box brownie mix (or make your own)
  • Mint Layer:
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 2-2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. mint or peppermint extract
  • 3-4 drops green food colouring
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips


  1. Make the brownies as directed on the box. Let cool and then place in the fridge to chill.
  2. In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix together all the ingredients for the mint layer. Spread onto the chilled brownies.
  3. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the mint layer and spread them out to cover. Gently press them into the mint layer. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If chilling them for longer, cover with foil.

Enjoy! Challenge yourself to making a meal with $5 or less and let us know how it turns out!


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