Ten $20 Dinner Ideas for Families!

image of soup in a bowl next to a cast iron dutch oven

Whether you have just purchased your first (or third!) home and are looking to cut expenses where ever possible or are just looking for a quick, simple and delicious recipe to feed your family after a busy day, this article is for you!

Here are ten recipes that are not only easy on the bank but easy on you after a long day!

  1. Slow Cooker Turkey Chilli with Corn Bread

This is a great recipe for those of us who have to work long hours through the day, odd hours in the evening or are just up for something you can throw in the cooker and walk away from. After all, what is better than coming home to a hot ready to go homemade meal? Without the work that goes into it of course!

Prep wise all you will need to do or this recipe is brown whatever meat you will be using (we prefer ground turkey to stay lean and low on cholesterol. Drain the fat and transfer to your slow cooker. Add all other ingredients and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

What you will need:

  • 1-1 ½ lbs of lean ground beef or turkey.
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained.
  • 2 15oz cans of pinto beans, drained.
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans, drained.
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped and seeded to your preference (this step is optional if kiddos will be enjoying too!)
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped.
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced.
  • 2 TBSP Chilli Powder
  • ½ TSP Chilli pepper Flakes
  • ½ TSP Garlic Powder
  • ½ TSP Black Pepper
  • ½ TSP Salt
  • 1/8 TSP All Spice
  • Box of Corn Bread Mix (just add water!)


  1. Chef Salad

All this recipe takes I a big bag of spinach and whatever veggies you may have in your kitchen. We refer to this salad recipe as “The Kitchen Sink f Salads” because you can throw in just about anything! Which makes this a great recipe for when it comes time to use up whatever you still have in the fridge before shopping next!

What you will need:

  • Spinach
  • Diced Ham
  • Bacon
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Mushroom
  • Tomates
  • Cucumbers
  • Whatever else looks yummy!


  1. Homemade Pizza

This is sure to be a hit if you have any little ones in your home! They can even help cook! If you happen to have a breadmaker or food processor with a bread attachment than making your own pizza dough at home will take seconds, and even if you do not it is still an easy, quick way to make delicious pizza dough. Try following our favorite recipe below!

Prep wise for this recipe you will need to prebake the pizza dough for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees then add the topping and bake for another 15 minutes.

Homemade Pizza Dough recipe:

  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • ½ TSP Salt
  • 2 TBSP yeast
  • 2 TBSP Honey

What you will need:

  • Pizza Sauce (any marinara or white sauce will work!)
  • Cheese (Italian 6 Cheese Blend is a great choice and pre-shredded will save you time!)
  • Chicken, Pepperoni or Sausage (whatever is in the fridge works!)
  • Mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes (Any vegetables you may have laying around or maybe even some leftovers from Chef salad the night before!)


  1. Grilled Chicken and Whole Gain Rice Blend with Broiled Asparagus and Zucchini

This is also a great option when it comes to meal prep, as an ever growing means of having food ready and prepared while staying away from eating low quality processed food this is a great way to keep the family full all week or just for a few days in a row if you aren’t the type to eat the same foods all week long.

What you will need:

  • Chicken drumsticks and/or breasts
  • Whole Grain Rice Blend
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • A marinade of your choosing or try ours!

Marinade recipe:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce or liquid amino
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP dry mustard powder
  • 1 ½ TSP black pepper
  • 2 ½ TBSP lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • ¾ TSP minced parsley
  • ½ TSP salt


  1. Baked Rigatoni and Meatballs with Broiled Zucchini and Garlic Bread

There are always so many options when it comes to pasta nowadays, and not just healthier options like whole grain and gluten-free but just what kind of pasta you want to make in general, whether that be Penne, Rigatoni, Linguini, Angel Hair, Zitti, etc. So let us simplify this for you and just use what you have!

What you will need:

  • Meatballs or Chicken; feel free to make your own meatballs or use premade frozen, just toss them in a skillet and brown.
  • Pasta sauce of your choosing. Can’t decide between white or red sauce, try pink!
  • Pasta of your choosing
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • French Bread Roll
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Ricotta
  • Italian Seasonings


  1. Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

This recipe makes it quick and easy to enjoy Southern comfort Food right in your own home! For those of us without family in the swamps of louisana to visit, this ure hits the pot!

Prep wise for this recipe you simply throw everything in the foil and grill or broil it until boiling.

What you will need:

  • Raw shrimp, frozen or fresh
  • Corn on the cob, cut in half
  • Sausage Links
  • Crab Boil Seasoning – for crawfish and shrimp
  • Potatoes
  • Parsely
  • Lemon


  1. Carne Asada Tacos with Rice, Beans and Homemade Tomatillo Sauce

The great thing about this recipe is that whether it be at Mi Pueblo or Safeway you can always find Carne asada marinaded and ready to go at just about any local grocery store. Of course, feel free to pick up a can of premade tomatillo sauce to save you time or make our recipe!

What you will need:

  • Carne Asada Meat
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Rice
  • Beans of your choice
  • Tortillas
  • Cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Jalapenos
  • Tomatillos or tomatillo sauce
  • Spices
  • Dried Chilis


  1. Turkey Avocado and Gouda Burgers

A definite California twist on an already national favorite, this turkey burger keeps things healthy with low cholesterol while still giving you everything you love about a big juicy burger.

What you will need:

  • Burger Buns
  • Gouda cheese
  • Ground turkey meat for patties or premade turkey burgers
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Pickle
  • Lettuce or substitute with Spinach for an even healthier option
  • Tomato
  • Potatoes or pre-cut French fries

French Fry Recipe:

This is such an easy way to make healthy and delicious French fries right at home. The best part is you can season them however you like. Whether you are someone who enjoys salt on your fries or if you are a Cajun seasoning person these are sure to please!

Prep wise you will need to cut the potatoes lengthwise and then lengthwise again until they are strips. Make sure you place the freshly cut potatoes into a bowl of cold water to ensure the starch does not react with the air while you wait to bake and turn your fries a green hue. Once you are done cutting up all the potatoes you will be using drain the water from the bowl and sprinkle the potato sticks with olive oil to coat and then season with salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning (optional). Once they are coated and looking delicious throw them in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 mins.

  • Potatoes
  • Bowl of Cold Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cajun Seasoning (optional)


  1. Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with a side of Beans

We found this recipe on buzzfeed.com and had to try it! Super simple and time efficient for after a long day. Plus it’s delicious!

What you will need:

  • Chicken- grill, bake or boil; then shred
  • Beans of your choice
  • Cheese, queso fresco and Mexican 3 cheese blend
  • Tortillas
  • Onion
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Sour Cream and Guacamole (optional)

As far as putting these together make sure to lay down a layer of enchilada sauce on the pan before layering down the tortillas. If you have a small skillet of enchilada sauce on the stove to dip each tortilla in it makes everything much easier! One thing I’ve learned over the years is to let them sit for about 15 minutes after taking them from the oven otherwise, they may be a bit runny!


  1. Smoked Sausage Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This may be the fastest recipe on this list! Simply prepare the gnocchi as described on the package, then saute the sausage and other ingredients in a large skillet for around 5 mins; stir in the spinach and gnocchi; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and you are done!

What you will need:

  • 1 pound package of gnocchi
  • 1 14oz package of smoked sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 cups of baby spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Alameda Mortgage Corporation, NMLS #271603, Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act.

Earthquake Preparation 101 – What to do before, during and after

a building under construction

In the wake of our recent Southern California earthquakes and the fires endured over the past few years, we believe it is immensely important that we share our Emergency Preparation Tips from our AMC family to yours.

Check out these reputable Emergency Preparedness Packs for any size family. One of our top recommendations for family sizes up to four people would be the 4 Person 72-Hour 170 Piece Emergency Bucket Kit. They, of course, have options for smaller sized families. However, during an emergency like this, we understand this to be a “more is more” type of situation.

Let start from the beginning.

  1. Do you currently have an emergency plan in your home (that includes your pets)?
  2. If so, what types of emergencies do these plans cover (Earthquake, Fire, Flood, Power Outage, etc.)?
  3. Is the plan clearly demonstrated somewhere in the home?
  4. Has everyone been briefed on the plan in case of emergency or time efficiency?
  5. Do you have all the needed supplies to ensure that the plan is executed smoothly (i.e. earthquake or emergency disaster kit)?
  6. If you have said yes to these questions, then you have taken considerable time and thought into making sure your family is safe god forbid this type of emergency ever occur and we commend you for that.

If you said no to even one of these questions, we are glad you are here!

Things to do before something happens:

Protect your loved ones:

  • Stay informed on your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Check in with your family’s workplaces and schools/daycares to learn about their emergency response plans.
  • Educate your family and loved ones on how to use the safe and well website.
  • Have everyone with a smartphone download the Red Cross emergency app on their phone
  • Designate “safe spaces” throughout your home, workplace, and/or school.

*A safe place can be found against an interior wall away from any windows/tall pieces of furniture that could potentially fall on you or under a sturdy piece of furniture.

  • Practice DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON in each of these safe spaces.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio communications and broadcastings by finding an online NOAA radio station by searching NOAA radio in the Apple Store for iPhone or the Google Play store for Android.
  • Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in case of cell phone tower outages.
  • Keep a flashlight and a pair of low-heeled walking shoes next to/underneath each member of the homes bed.

Protect your animals:

  • Pet emergency kits can be purchased from reputable dealers as well such a Red Cross.
  • Note that most hotels and even some shelters do not allow animals so PLEASE also consider where your pet will stay if evacuation from your home is necessary.
  • You will want to make sure to have the following prepared:
    • A sturdy leash and collar, harness or carrier for transport, pet first aid kid, food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
    • Medications and copies of medical records should be stored in a waterproof container.
    • Current photos of you with your pet in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike this will help in identifying them and eliminate any unnecessary confusion. Pet beds and toys if easily transportable.
  • Consider having your pets microchipped by a veterinarian if you have not already.

Protect your home:

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fitting to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for this purpose.
  • Do not hang heavy items such as pictures, art, mirrors, etc. near beds or couches. The safe rule is to keep them away from any places that people may be sleeping or sitting.
  • Install STRONG latches on cabinets.
    • Large and heavy items should be stored closest to the floor not in a top drawer.
  • Anchor any overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Learn about your areas seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin any new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure that our home is securely anchored to the foundation as well as strengthening tips for exterior features such as porches and decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports, etc.

Duringan event:

Staying safe indoors:

  • DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON or LOCK, COVER and HOLD ON (for wheelchair or walker users)
  • Try to move as little as possible – most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.
  • Try to protect your head and torso.
  • If you are in bed, STAY THERE. Curl up and hold on, covering your head.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
  • If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
  • Be aware of smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently going off in building during an earthquake even if there is no fire.
  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.

Staying safe outdoors:

  • Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Try to get as far away from buildings, powerlines, trees, and street lights as possible.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses, and powerlines if possible.
  • Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
  • Once the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
  • If a powerline falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wit for assistance.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable cliffs or slopes, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as well as landslides.

Staying safe after an earthquake:

  • If away from home, return only once authorities have said it is safe to do so.
  • Check yourself and family members for injuries and get first aid if necessary before heling injured or trapped persons.
  • After an earthquake the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for aftershocks, landslides, power outages, fires and even tsunamis if you live on the coast.
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP COVER AND HOLD ON or LOCK, COVER and HOLD ON(for wheelchair or walker users). Aftershocks occur frequently minutes, days, weeks and even months after the initial quake.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the MOST common hazard after earthquakes.

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If there is an emergency, you can search for family and loved ones here

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Be ready checklist – Click Here

Alameda Mortgage Corporation, NMLS #271603, Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act.