Good Food, Good Nutrition, Good Price: Cheap Dinners Quiz

Staff

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About This Quiz

Feeding a family these days is tough. Between finding the time, catering to individual preferences, and actually preparing and cleaning up after a meal, it's enough to make Martha Stewart gain a few gray hairs. Test your knowledge on how to feed your family on a budget, and maybe you'll learn a few new tricks as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, what would it cost, on a weekly basis, to feed a family of four with a moderate budget?

Based on August 2011 statistics, a family on a moderate-cost plan would spend around $195-$232 per week. However, that number can go as low as $125 a week if a family is especially frugal, or as high as $280 for those with a looser budget.

How can you reduce the cost of a spaghetti dinner for your family?

On sale, store-bought spaghetti sauce can be inexpensive, but for those times when it's not, canned diced tomatoes mixed with your favorite spices makes a delicious, cheap red sauce.

What is NOT a reason for higher grocery prices?

Droughts in Russia reduced wheat production, a key commodity in nearly all breads, pastas and cereals. Ethanol, an alternative fuel source, and its production is sapping the corn supply that used to be primarily grown for food and animal feed. Wheat and corn are vital commodities that affect grocery products worldwide.

Spaghetti or lasagna -- which is cheaper?

Spaghetti is typically the lower cost meal. Lasagna has more ingredients and the prices add up before you even get to the meat.

How can you spice up macaroni and cheese on a budget?

One way to keep meal costs down is to use what you have in your house so you don't waste; in fact, Americans waste about 14 percent of the groceries they buy each year. If you have veggies like broccoli or tomatoes, toss them in or add some ground beef or bacon for a heartier meal. You'll still be low-cost, but you won't be boring.

What's an easy way to have low-cost pizza for dinner?

By the time you add on delivery fees and tip, you've usually negated any savings through coupons. And, it's an unusual situation when the entire family agrees on just having sauce and cheese on the pizza. But, if you use tortillas as your crust instead of buying premade pizza crusts, you'll save money. A package of tortillas is only a few dollars, even for the extra large size.

Which one of these is NOT a low-cost seafood option for dinner?

Rather than using fresh fish, make fish tacos from fish sticks, spicing them up with an $.75 packet of taco seasoning and toppings. A few cans of tuna costs less than $2, can stretch a long way and can be combined with any number of cheap ingredients to make a casserole. But, shrimp, however tasty, is always going to be a higher-priced item. Fresh or frozen, you're still looking between $8 and $17.

Ground beef, chicken or turkey -- which costs more?

If you want the leanest ground turkey with a 99/1 lean to fat ratio, then you may pay up to $4.30-plus per pound. If you'll settle for 3 percent fat, your price will be closer to $3.50-$3.75. Beef is the runner-up, costing $3.50 to $4 per pound, depending on fat content. Chicken wins with the lowest cost, averaging around $3.25 $3.30 per pound.

What's the best way to have an inexpensive pancake dinner?

If you did the exact math, making them from scratch might be cheaper. But, time is worth money too, and a 40-ounce box of brand name pancake mix will only cost around $3.50. Boxed, frozen pancakes are the last choice because they will cost anywhere from $2.30 to $4 based on store and brand, and you only get 10 mid-sized pancakes at best. For many families, they'd need two boxes.

Which of these three is the most expensive cut of beef to buy?

Sirloin has the other two cuts of meat beat by an average of $.90 to $1 per pound. If you're on a budget, the kids may not be getting sirloin tonight!

Store-bought lasagna or homemade lasagna -- which is cheaper?

Homemade may be better but it's not always easier on your wallet. A brand-name party size lasagna costs about $11 to $13 and smaller families can buy less, for $6 to $7.50. But making it from scratch? As much as $20 because the really good recipes use sliced mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta. Make it easy on yourself and just buy frozen!

Turkey or chicken -- which costs more per pound?

According the USDA in August 2011, a whole frozen turkey cost .40 more per pound than a fresh chicken. Good news for turkeys until Thanksgiving rolls around.

Using a moderately priced budget, what does the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate it takes to feed a 10-year old child per week?

The USDA says it takes $58 to feed your average 10-year old on a moderate food budget. For $65, you can feed a 12 to 13 year old or a 1-year old on $30 a week.

Tacos are a great, inexpensive meal. So, what's cheaper: an already-made kit or doing it yourself?

Whether you use a taco kit or buy the individual ingredients, it costs about the same. A taco kit is around $3.25. Individually, tortillas, seasoning and sauce come to about $3.35.

Which is NOT a reason to serve omelets as a low-cost family meal?

While eggs have many nutritional benefits, including protein, iron and vitamin B, fiber is not one of them.

Tomatoes are used for many budget-friendly meals -- soups, casseroles, tacos, spaghetti and chili. What's the price difference between standard and organic tomatoes?

Your standard, beefsteak tomatoes will cost around $2 to $3 per pound, depending on your store and any sales. Organic tomatoes are closer to $4.50 a pound. So do your homework on the benefits of organic food before spending the money.

Why is pork shoulder a good option for low cost family dinners?

Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, costs about $1.50 to $2 per pound, and a 9-pound shoulder can create at least three or four meals.

What is NOT a low-cost vegetable to include in your inexpensive family dinners?

Mushrooms cost anywhere from $1.99 to $6 for 8 ounces, depending on the type of mushroom, while onions are only $1.2- to $2 per pound. Cabbage, while not a very sexy vegetable is also low cost, and has vitamins A, K and B6.

Many families justify fast food dinners because of time and money. What does an average fast food meal cost a family of four?

According to a September 2011 article in Time magazine, eating at McDonald's would cost around $23 to $28 for a family of four. A healthy chicken dinner with veggies -- even one that's not budget-conscious -- would be about $10 cheaper.

Boneless chicken breasts or boneless pork chops -- which are more expensive?

Pork is about 90 cents more per pound than chicken. However, pork contains lots of nutrients like B12, riboflavin, potassium and zinc, and there are less expensive cuts out there. So, try to work this other white meat into your meal plan when you can.

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