5 Surprisingly Cheap Eats

There are some things that are just always going to be expensive. Smoked salmon. Ribeye steak. Cherries. Almond butter. Mascarpone cheese. But one thing I’ve learned cooking and entertaining in my 20’s is that there are quite a few dishes that may sound and look fancy, but are actually made with entirely affordable ingredients. Here are a few of my favorites…

Chicken Liver Paté

Seems totally gourmet — but chicken liver is dirt cheap. Chances are you already have the other ingredients on hand, too. Even if you think you don’t like paté, I recommend making some at your next dinner party. It will be devoured. This recipe from gluttonforlife is one I use over and over again.


Cacio e Pepe

A pasta dish (which translates to cheese and pepper) made entirely of staple ingredients. The most expensive part of the dish is the parmesan — but its rich, buttery, peppery, cheesiness makes this pasta taste like a million bucks.

Pork Belly Banh Mi 

Pork belly is very affordable, generally two or three bucks per pound. Once you have that roasted, you can make Banh Mi sandwiches, or even put some in your ramen (or pork buns!)


Calamari Salad

Squid is cheap! A thai style squid salad is tasty and summery, and looks impressive. You could also go the Italian route and toss it into some pasta with garlic and blistery cherry tomatoes.

Chocolate Cake

The use of cocoa powder instead of solid chocolate makes this cake significantly less pricey — Deb suggests Dutch cocoa powder, but I almost always use the regular Hershey’s Cocoa powder and still love the results.

Top photo by Sarah Shatz for Food52, pasta photo by Dee Sullivan, bottom from food.ninemsn.com.

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