How I Made 3 Dinners For Two Average Out to Just $5 Person

1. I’ve invited Amy over for dinner. I have no money, but I have groceries. I will make breakfast for dinner because I already have all the things for breakfast for dinner. Classic. Easy. Cut up some potatoes. Mix with spices and garlic and oil. Preheat oven, put in oven. Shred some cheese. Make a salad. Make a salad dressing. Wait until Amy gets here and con her into making the omelettes because she won’t burn them and they’ll be great. “Thanks for dinner, ” we both say at the end. ($0)

2. I’ve invited Matt over for dinner. I have no money, but I have groceries. I have some cans of things and some jars of other things and a box of rice. Pour some cans of black beans and corn and tomatoes into a pan. Add garlic—wait, cook the garlic first, duh. Scoop the garlic out and put it in a pan with oil, cut up an onion too. When that’s done, add it to the beans and corn and tomatoes. Stir it up. Add a bunch of cumin. Cook some rice. Scoop rice and beans into bowl cover with salsa put handful of arugula on top, cut up some grape tomatoes. “This is pretty good for being all canned stuff,” Matt says. ($0)

3. I’ve invited Mike over for dinner. I’ve done so well with making dinner out of groceries that I’m going to keep on keeping on with that theme. I’ll make … roasted vegetables and also roasted potatoes. And a big salad. I should double check I have everything I need. But first I’ll take 20-minute nap.

An hour later the buzzer rings and I wake up. Welcome Mike, please come in, Mike. I know I look like I just woke up but I’ve been up for ages, three minutes at least. I haven’t cooked yet but I will do that shortly. Here, have some wine. It’s the cheap kind from Trader Joe’s but I’ve had it for three weeks so it’s practically vintage. Let me start cooking, hold please. Where are my potatoes? They have to be here, somewhere? Did I eat them? Mike and I both look for potatoes. Roommate comes in: “Your potatoes were rotten so I threw them out.” Moving on. I put the arugula in a bowl and am looking for something to add to it when I make a decision: I’m not going to cook. I probably was never going to cook. I break the news to Mike and he laughs, and I order takeout. We drink some wine. We eat our takeout. “Sorry I invited you over for dinner and then ordered takeout,” I say. “I wouldn’t expect anything else,” he didn’t say, but maybe should have. The last time I was at his house, he made three courses, but I’m not going to think of that. I only have to tell him twice that I don’t want or need his money. ($37, incl. tip)

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