Feed Your Family of Four for $50 -- For a Week!

Feeding a family of four -- week in, week out -- can get expensive, but with a little planning and some smart shopping you can drastically cut your grocery bill. To prove it, we challenged "Early Show contributor Katie Lee to come up with a week's worth of dinners that are not only tasty and healthy, but within a $50 dollar budget.

Below is a breakdown of the week's menu and each dish priced out as a whole and broken down by serving. (All recipes are for 4 people, and assuming pantry was stocked with some of the basics ie. salt, pepper, butter, eggs, dried spices, oils.)

"Early Show" recipes galore!

One of the ways Katie was able to save so much money is by getting multiple uses from some of the more expensive items. For example, Wednesday's dish calls for roasted beets so instead of just tossing the greens that come with them she incorporates them into the next night's dinner. The broccoli and chicken calzones make use of the leftover chicken from Wednesday's dinner and the extra cheese from Tuesday's, bringing that total cost to a meager $2.49. Another way to save a lot of money is to purchase frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables, such as peas or broccoli, are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts because they are flash frozen as soon as they leave the farm locking in all of their vitamins and nutrients, and can cost almost half as much as fresh. ($1.69 frozen, $2.99 fresh)

Check out Katie Lee's menu and prices for the week:
Monday - Pork Milanese - $6.75/$1.68 serving
Tuesday - Baked Spinach and Cheese Ravioli Lasagna - $6.48/$1.62 serving
Wednesday - Lemon Chicken with Roasted Beets - $8.57/$2.14 serving
Thursday - Salmon Cakes with Dilled Orzo and Beet Greens - $8.65/$2.16 serving
Friday - Broccoli and Chicken Calzones - $2.49/$.62 serving
Saturday - Sausage and Lentil Stew - $7.73/$1.93 serving
Sunday - Beef Fajitas - $8.73/$2.18 serving



Day 1

Pork Milanese

Four 4 ounce boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cup baby arugula
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place each pork chop between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season each side with salt and pepper.

In a shallow dish, mix bread crumbs, cheese, and garlic powder. Put the egg in another shallow dish. Dip each chop in egg, allowing excess to drip back into bowl, then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Place chops in pan and brown for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer back to baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes.

While chops are baking, place arugula in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Plate chops and serve with arugula salad.

Day 2

Baked Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

1 1/2 pounds frozen cheese ravioli, thawed
One 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
One 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Use nonstick cooking spray to grease a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine ravioli, spinach, and marinara sauce. Transfer to greased baking dish. Top with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Day 3

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Beets and Quick Polenta

One 3 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lemon cut into quarters
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bunches beets, scrubbed clean
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.

On a large baking sheet, toss chicken with garlic, oregano, olive oil, and lemons, squeezing the juice from each quarter.

Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Drizzle beets with oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 450°F (in the same oven as the chicken) for about 40 minutes, until fork tender. When cool enough to handle, remove peels and cut into slices. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Quick Polenta

4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Bring water to a boil. Whisk in polenta and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add butter, salt and pepper. Any herb or cheese can be added as well. (I like fresh chives or rosemary.)

For more recipes, go to Page 2.