Melissa d’Arabian’s Ten Dollar Dinners {with Giveaway}

by Jennifer Donovan

One of the responsibilities I take most seriously as a wife and mom is feeding my family well. I take it seriously, but that doesn’t mean that I feel like I’m doing my very best. There’s a lot to balance as I try to create budget-conscious and healthy meals with some variety. Melissa d’Arabian comes to the rescue with her Ten Dollar Dinners cookbook, which offers “140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh, Meals Any Night of the Week.”

This is the kind of cookbook that is a joy to read, with its bright photos and chatty, informative feel. It would make a great holiday gift for a relative, or teacher or friend. You could sweeten the gift by including a gift card to their favorite grocery store for even more budget appeal!

Melissa gives interesting bits of info about how she was inspired for a particular recipe, or her own family’s responses. There are also tips throughout the book that cover topics such as “Buy big now, save big later.” We all know that it’s cost-effective to stock up when meat goes on sale, but it ends up feeling like it’s more trouble than it’s worth when it comes time to use it. However, Melissa helps you by explaining exactly how to break up and save those ingredients for easy meal prep later.

These recipes are somewhat gourmet, but family and budget friendly at the same time. The recipes I’ve tried made for a nice change for us, were easy to follow and delicious. They were

  • Crispy Chicken a l’Orange, page 141
  • Four Step Chicken (with many variations), page 141
  • Kielbasa and Black-eyed Peas, page 177

I can’t wait to try out the

  • Salmon Cakes, page 127
  • Lemon-Thyme Meatballs, page 190
  • Fried Brown Rice and Eggs with Garlicky Soy Vinaigrette, page 331

Does that sound good to you?

One of you (US and Canadian shipping addresses) can win a SIGNED copy of Ten Dollar Dinners. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter this giveaway starting with leaving a comment answering “Are simple meals or cost-effective meals more important to you?”

New to Rafflecopter? Watch this 45-second video on how to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa’s a great social media sharer, so get more tips and tricks by following Melissa on Facebook and Twitter (@MelissadArabian) or visiting

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer Thomas December 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I think simple meals are more important to me.
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2 Sandra K321 December 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Yes, simple meals that are quick to prepare are always good since we are always on the go.


3 angie December 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

both are important but due to lack of time the simple meals may be the ones I cook most
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4 Okaasan December 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

For now, simple!


5 Tabitha P. December 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

cost effictive is more important


6 Karen Lynch December 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Simple meals during the week.


7 Jenny December 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Cost effective meals are very important, without sacrificing a lot of time in the kitchen.


8 Allison December 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Right now, cost effective meals are more important, but I also want them to be healthy, with some variety. This would be perfect.


9 Jen F December 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I try my best to make sure meals are the perfect balance between simple, cost effective and healthy…not always easy though.


10 Johanna miner December 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Love to watch Melissa


11 sindy murray December 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm

cost-effective is more important!!


12 merrilie cardiali December 10, 2012 at 12:56 am

With the price of food these days, I have to go with cost-effective. Having a cookbook showing how to make simple, yet healthy meals is a big plus!


13 Debbie Bashford December 10, 2012 at 5:33 am

Cost effective, everything is going up except the income so I need to save money where ever I can


14 Anne December 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

Cost effective meals are important.


15 Kathy S December 10, 2012 at 10:03 am

The simpler, the better


16 Tobi Drabczyk December 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

Cost effective meals are what I need right now but, simple and cost effective are exactly what I need.


17 Donna O'Neil December 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

Simple meals are important.
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18 Alexandra December 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

Simple meals are important!!
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19 Garrett December 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

With a busy work week, simple meals are the way to go.


20 Dianne December 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

Simple meals are all I can handle! I would love to try some new variety!


21 Brittany December 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

I love fancy recipes but most of the time with our schedules it is easier to have something simple and easy to put together. I love saving money wherever I can. Thanks for the chance to win.


22 Kerrie Mayans December 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Right now simple meal are more important to me.


23 Darcy December 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Simple Meals are more important


24 Melissa December 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Cost-effective for sure
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25 Angela E. December 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Gonna say simpler meals are what I go for.


26 butterfly wishes wonderland dreams December 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm

simple and cost effective work for us!


27 Sue December 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Probably cost effective but good for you recipes count the most!


28 Janet December 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I can’t choose so I will say both are important.


29 Michelle December 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I prefer simple.


30 Steve December 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Love it when I can get both in a recipe but Cost effective is my preference!


31 Allyson Zupin December 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Cost effective as a military family with 2 boys, and one with diabetes, things are tight during the holidays!!!


32 Patricia Wojnar Crowley December 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I think Simple usually beats Cost for me!


33 diane sabatini December 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I’d say cost effective. I love Melissa d’Arabian! I’ve been making her garlic tomato sauce for over a year and never buy jarred sauce anymore.


34 Erin December 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Cost effective is more important.


35 acmommy3 December 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Definitely both together are my favorite :-) but I’d probably choose cost effective since cost of living is high.


36 Lauren December 11, 2012 at 1:06 am

Hi:) At this time, simpler meals are more important to me…because I still have so much to learn! ;)


37 April December 11, 2012 at 2:05 am

Both are important, but if pushed, I’d say cost effective.


38 Holly December 11, 2012 at 5:12 am

Simple is better because the simplest recipes tend to be the healthiest. :)


39 Marianne S. December 11, 2012 at 5:18 am

Cost effective first, as both my husband and I are disabled, and we’re raising a special needs child…on a Social Security budget… then simple
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40 Daiva December 11, 2012 at 5:22 am

both are important to me:)


41 Chuck December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

We prefer the more simple recipes.


42 Tonia December 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

For me – cost-effective meals are important.
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43 Jingle December 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Simple and fast, although cost plays a role, too.
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44 Staci A December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Yes, we all like our meals pretty simple.


45 Linda V December 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I cook for us every night, so it is very important to have simple good meals.


46 paige aka mrs. bacon December 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm

cost effective all the way!
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47 Jessica T December 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Simple – they tend to be cost effective too!


48 June December 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I say, the more simple the better.


49 Angie December 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Cost effective meals are most important to me!
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50 Daniel M December 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm

simple quick and easy


51 Cindy B December 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I stick with SIMPLE most of the time!


52 Margaret December 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Both equally actually!


53 Jes December 13, 2012 at 1:30 am

Both are important to me! It sounds like Ten Dollar Dinners achieves this! :)


54 Van December 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I would go with easy any day of the week.


55 Bluerose December 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Both are pretty important for me right now!
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56 Kelly Blackwell December 16, 2012 at 2:08 am

I love simple, but the fact is I need to take care of both in my life. I am pretty busy weekly with work even when I am not working so anything that will give me back time for my family is important. Saving money is always a priority, but if I need to save time, I will compromise on the cash.
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57 Jenny December 17, 2012 at 2:23 am

Yes! Simple and cost effective meals are very important to me. I don’t have much time, so simple is always great!


58 Lori D. December 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

Going simple just works better for me when I’ve had a hard day at work.


59 Francine Anchondo December 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I like Cost effective meals but if it is simple and cost effective that is even better


60 Idaho Jill December 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

simple – I don’t have a ton of time to cook…but I don’t spend a lot, either…
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61 Jennifer C December 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Simple meals are more important to me.


62 Don December 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm

We kinda do both here at our house.


63 clarissa December 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm

definately cost effective. I enjoy cooking and making more complicated, time consuming meals…but with a large family I am budget conscience


64 Beth C December 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Cost effective are more important to me.


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