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Smart And Delicious Dining: A Week of Dinners for $50

Smart And Delicious Dining: A Week of Dinners for $50

In this blog, @kristen.carli shows us how to take $50 and make 5 meals for your whole family shopping at Trader Joe's.

In a world where dining out can quickly drain your wallet, the allure of preparing affordable and delicious meals at home is stronger than ever. Trader Joe's, a beloved grocery store known for its unique and reasonably priced offerings, has become the ideal grocery store for budget-conscious food enthusiasts. With just over $50, I will show you how strategic shopping and the right ingredients from Trader Joe's can yield not just one, but five healthy dinners that won't break the bank. It's time to prove that cooking on a budget can be both delicious and healthy.

Grocery List

The following grocery list has been strategically planned so that you will utilize all of the necessary ingredients for the planned dinners, with no traces of leftovers. You no longer have to feel bad about that sad bag of spinach wilting away in your crisper drawer. Because of this, you’ll avoid food waste and keep more money in your wallet.

🛒 Pizza sauce
🛒 Organic creamy tomato soup x 2
🛒 Spinach tortellini x 2
🛒 Canned organic vegetarian chili x 2
🛒 Garlic herb chicken sausage x 2
🛒 Garlic & herb pizza dough
🛒 Frozen sweet potato fries
🛒 Shredded 3 cheese blend
🛒 Organic baby spinach
🛒 Red bell peppers x 2
🛒 Yellow bell peppers x 2
🛒 Mini pearl grape tomatoes 16 oz

    Total: $50.35 (tax may vary based on your location)
    Click here for our printable grocery list!


    Veggie-Packed Sheet Pan Gnocchi

    Ingredients: Gnocchi, Chicken Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes

    I’m a big fan of sheet pan dinners. They offer a convenient and wholesome way to enjoy a veggie-packed dinner without compromising on flavor. Just throw everything on a large baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and before you know it, you have dinner. The process of oven-roasting intensifies the tomatoes' natural sweetness, caramelizes their sugars, and releases their juicy goodness, which makes for a tasty pseudo-sauce for the whole dish when stirred together.

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    🍅 16 ounces gnocchi
    🍅 12 ounces garlic herb chicken sausage, sliced into coins
    🍅 8 ounces mini pearl grape tomatoes, halved
    🍅 2 ounces spinach
    🍅 1 tablespoon olive oil
    🍅 ½ teaspoon salt
    🍅 ¼ teaspoon pepper
      1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

      2. On a large baking sheet, add gnocchi, chicken sausage coins, halved grape tomatoes, and spinach.

      3. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

      4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

      5. Enjoy!


      Shortcut Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

      Ingredients: Canned Veggie Chili, Bell Peppers, Shredded Cheese

      I love stuffed peppers, but I find they’re too time intensive to make on a weeknight. Using the Trader Joe’s canned vegetarian chili to stuff the bell peppers is my favorite solution. Not only is this chili packed with plant-based soy protein, but its tasty flavor can fool even the most avid meat lover.

      Yield: 4 servings
      Prep Time: 5 minutes
      Cook Time: 30 minutes


      🫑 4 bell peppers, stems and ribs removed
      🫑 1 (15) ounce can vegetarian chili
      🫑 ¼ cup shredded 3 cheese blend

      1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

      2. Place bell peppers on a foil lined baking sheet.

      3. Carefully spoon vegetarian chili into bell peppers.

      4. Top with sprinkled cheese.

      5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cut into bite sized pieces before serving.

      6. Enjoy!


      Spinach Tortellini Soup

      Ingredients: Tortellini, Tomato Soup, Spinach 

      This soup is the best weeknight dinner hack! Requiring only 3 ingredients and 20 minutes of time, you will have dinner on the table as quickly as you can bring your pot to a boil. I like using the spinach tortellini from Trader Joe’s to sneak in more veggies, but they have many other varieties if you want to switch it up.

      Yield: 6 servings
      Prep Time: 5 minutes
      Cook Time: 20 minutes


      🥫 (2) 32 ounce cartons of Creamy Tomato Soup
      🥫 4 ounces spinach
      🥫 (2) 10 ounce packages of Spinach Tortellini

      1. In a large Dutch oven, add the soup.

      2. Bring the heat to a boil.

      3. Once boiling, add in the spinach and tortellini. Stir well.

      4. Continue to boil for 3 minutes until tortellini is cooked through and the spinach is wilted.

      5. Enjoy!


      Chili Sweet Potato Fries

      Ingredients: Canned Veggie Chili, Frozen Sweet Potato Fries, Tomatoes, Shredded Cheese

      Trader Joe’s is known for their creative and extensive frozen food selection. These sweet potato fries are a staple in my house to serve alongside sandwiches, burgers, etc. However, if you top them with the canned vegetarian chili, some sliced tomatoes, and shredded cheese, you will have an extremely tasty and balanced meal.


      🍠 1 bag sweet potato fries
      🍠 (1) 15 ounce can vegetarian chili
      🍠 ¼ cup shredded 3 cheese blend
      🍠 Sliced grape tomatoes

      1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

      2. Arrange fries in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes.

      3. Remove the fries from the oven and top with canned vegetarian chili, sliced tomatoes, and any other toppings you'd like.

      4. Return fries to the oven and bake 3-5 more minutes or until the cheese has melted.

      5. Enjoy!


      Chicken Sausage Pizza 

      Ingredients: Pizza Dough, Chicken Sausage, Sauce, Shredded Cheese

      Trader Joe’s makes the best pizza dough. I happen to love the garlic and herb flavor, but the whole wheat is also fantastic. Simply spread out your dough on a pizza pan, top it with sauce, shredded cheese, and sliced chicken sausage. You’ll have a filling and balanced meal the whole family will love. 


      🍕 Garlic & herb pizza dough
      🍕 1 pack chicken sausage
      🍕 Pizza sauce
      🍕 The rest of the 3 cheese blend

      1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

      2. Leave dough at room temperature for 20 minutes.

      3. Roll dough into a 12" diameter circle and place on a lightly oiled pan.

      4. Top pizza with sauce, chicken sausage slices, and cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese bubbles.

      5. Enjoy!

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