Holiday Meal on a Budget

Budget meals recipe

In the weeks and months leading up to a holiday, it can be hard to figure out where you’re going to find the time and money for gifts, activities, and festive food. With friends, family, and co-workers telling you what they are preparing to do for the holidays, it can be tempting to copy their plan. Even when you have different financial situations!

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, think of how to make a plan that may be uniquely yours.  One that fits your needs, budget, and your unique expression. Whether you are celebrating with friends, significant other, or family, you can share a delicious meal that is cost efficient. Cooking at home has many benefits compared to eating out. Here are a few benefits to be mindful of:

  • It costs less to cook at home and you won’t overspend on adding an appetizer or dessert
  • You can control what ingredients you buy and can choose healthier options
  • You can use your SNAP dollars towards buying groceries for your special meal, rather than spending from your “eating out” budget or funds dedicated to another purpose

Spinach is one of the few vegetables that is in season during March in North Carolina. The recipe below can be prepared for less than the minimum monthly FNS/SNAP benefit ($15). Try this Italian Spinach and Chicken recipe for St Patrick’s Day this year:

Italian Spinach and Chicken Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: 7 cups

Shopping List:

  • 1- 24 oz. jar tomato pasta sauce: $0.88
  • 3 pounds chicken breast at $1.98/lb: $5.94
  • 1- package frozen spinach: $1.00
  • 1- 16 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese: $2.77
  • 12 count bag of rolls: $1.98

Total: $12.57

 Pantry Staples:

  • Salt (26 oz.): $0.36
  • Pepper (3 oz): $2.68

***Tip: Space out buying pantry staples over the course of a month so that you don’t go over your budget for any one week.


  • 1 cup tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 pound chicken breast cut or pounded into 1/2-inch thick slices
  •  1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained or 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3⁄4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


·   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

·   Pour ½ cup of pasta sauce in a large baking dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken and add to the dish. Top with remaining ½ cup of pasta sauce, spinach and mozzarella.

·   Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside and cheese begins to turn brown.

·   Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Warm the bread in the oven when your dish has about 10 minutes left to cook. Enjoy spending less on your holiday meal and spending more time with your loved ones!

 Recipe Source:

Prices listed above are from, as of 3/4/2020. Prices are subject to change depending on the season and store you choose to grocery shop at.