Melissa's Budget-Friendly Dinners

These smart suppers are a far cry from the bargain bin. With Melissa d'Arabian's innovative ideas for economical shopping and cooking on your side, satisfying dishes featuring fish, steak and more are within reach.

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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Chicken in Mustard

Give a classic French bistro recipe, Lapin à la Moutarde, a wallet-friendly spin by swapping the pricey rabbit for inexpensive chicken thighs. Braise the chicken in a rich and creamy sauce until tender, and serve over Melissa's buttery noodles.

Get the Recipe: Chicken in Mustard

Pecan-Crusted Catfish with Spicy Cream Sauce

This elegant fish dinner is simple to prepare and easy to pay for. Fried up with a crisp, nutty crust, the catfish fillets are moist and flaky on the inside and are served with homemade spicy cream sauce. Bulk up the pecan crust with cornmeal, and be sure to buy your pecans in the bulk aisle, not the baking aisle. Keep the leftover nuts in the freezer.

Get the Recipe: Pecan-Crusted Catfish with Spicy Cream Sauce

Succulent Braised Pork

A little patience can transform a humble cut of meat into a tender masterpiece. Though pork shoulder is a more fibrous cut, that only makes it more flavorful. First searing the meat and then braising it in a rich, aromatic broth for three hours results in a most-tender disk that can easily serve a crowd.

Get the Recipe: Succulent Braised Pork

Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Cream

Melissa's elegant, individually portioned baked eggs are cooked in ramekins with a layer of bubbly Jack cheese. Topping each one with fresh Mexican chorizo makes for big flavor without spending a lot of extra money on ingredients; when it cooks down, it creates its own little sauce of paprika and seasoning.

Get the Recipe: Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Cream

Fish and White Bean Tostadas

The key to making this fish dinner on the cheap is stretching it with beans. Pile fried, crispy corn tortillas high with lime-marinated tilapia, sauteed white beans and all the fixings. Plus, Melissa opts for a surprising ingredient, canned pineapple, to get that chunky pineapple taste without shelling out the money for fresh.

Get the Recipe: Fish and White Bean Tostadas

Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne

Melissa's penne recipe has hundreds of top reviews and takes just pennies to make. Whole-grain pasta shines in this hearty, protein-packed dish tossed with flavorful sausage and roasted vegetables.

Get the Recipe: Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne

Arroz con Pollo

This one-pot, Latin-style dinner features spice-rubbed chicken cooked on a bed of seasoned rice with tender onions and sweet bell peppers. Purchasing a whole chicken and cutting it up means a lot of chicken for not a lot of money, and braising it makes for tender, juicy results.

Get the Recipe: Arroz con Pollo

Moussaka

Think of the comforting, layered casserole, moussaka, as a Greek take on lasagna. Melissa makes her recipe with four layers: roasted eggplant, tender potatoes, a cinnamon-spiced meat sauce and creamy bechamel. Including inexpensive yet super-filling potatoes means you can use less of pricier ingredients, stretching one eggplant and just a half-pound of ground beef for the entire recipe.

Get the Recipe: Moussaka

French Cut Steak

The average steakhouse dinner might cost a pretty penny, but Melissa uses budget-friendly skirt steak to make it work at home. Her recipe starts with a flavor-packed rub and ends with a beefy pan sauce of sweet caramelized onions. 

Get the Recipe: French Cut Steak

Falafel

To break out of the meat-heavy dinner routine and save some dough, Melissa suggests cooking one bean-focused dinner per week. Use canned chickpeas to make crispy, golden falafel seasoned with herbs and aromatic spices, served on a simple salad with a drizzle of creamy white bean-and-yogurt sauce.

Get the Recipe: Falafel

Rice with Fresh Herbs

Ready to eat in just 25 minutes, Melissa’s go-to rice lets garden-fresh herbs shine. She recommends using mint, basil, tarragon, chives or cilantro, though a mixture of several is an easy way to use up what herbs you have on hand.

Get the Recipe: Rice with Fresh Herbs

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