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Five-Ingredient Turkey Chili for $12? Yes, Please!

Posted on: February 19th, 2011 by Ashley

This post is part of a series for The Family Dinner Project Fast Food Challenge. Over the next few weeks, members of our project team will share recipes for fast homemade meals that can be prepared for less than $21, which is the cost of a typical fast food meal for a family of four. We hope you’ll join in, too! To submit a recipe for the Fast Food Challenge, email ashley@thefamilydinnerproject.org.

O.k., so this Turkey Chili recipe technically calls for six ingredients if you count the chili spice, but it’s super easy to make. Another bonus is that it can be prepared in one pot, making clean-up a breeze as well!

Chili ingredientsFor years, I avoided making chili because my mom’s recipe has a mile-long list of ingredients, and it has to simmer for hours. Our family loves the results of all her hard work, of course, but such intensive recipes just aren’t practical during a busy week. And don’t they all seem to be busy?

Especially during the winter months, I find it difficult to get to the store for special ingredients such as fresh chili peppers. That’s why I was so excited when a friend passed on this recipe for Turkey Chili, which calls for just a few ingredients that are easy to keep on hand.

This Turkey Chili recipe uses shortcuts but is still flavorful and uses healthy, natural ingredients. Additionally, this meal is easy to make a day ahead…it’s actually more flavorful that way!

The cost of making a pot of this chili was $12.08. Here’s how the money breaks down:

Turkey Chili

Ground turkey = $6.41/lb

Kidney beans= $1.19/15 ounce can (I paid $.10 more for organic; regular are $.99/can)

Organic baked beans=$1.49/15 ounce can

Whole, no-salt tomatoes=$1.49/28 oz can (recipe calls for 20 ounces, so cost is $1.06)

Marinara sauce=$1.29/18 ounce jar (recipe calls for 15 ounces, so cost is $1.05)

Chili spice=$3.99/4.5 ounce jar (recipe calls for 2 Tbsp., so cost is $.88)

Total cost of dinner= $12.08

Sauteing Turkey ChiliTo prepare the Turkey Chili, start by sautéing the meat in a pan. I use 99% lean turkey meat, but you could also use 93% lean meat if you prefer. Drain pan if needed. Add 2 Tbsp. chili spice and ¾ cup water and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

While meat is simmering, mix all other ingredients in a large saucepan. It’s easiest to crush the whole tomatoes with your hand as you add them to the pot.

Add sautéed meat and salt, pepper or other spices to taste. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Turkey ChiliIf you’d like to add some other dishes for a more complete meal, you can easily do so and stay within the $21 budget.  A simple salad would be a great way to add some more vegetables. (Didn’t Lynn’s salad from the last Fast Food Challenge post look amazing? And it only cost $3 to make!)

Or, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, I’ve heard great things about Chef Mary’s Lemon Cornmeal Cookies. These cookies also call for ingredients that most people keep on hand and, though I haven’t done the exact calculations, it looks like they could easily be prepared for $9 or less. What a fun twist on the traditional chili-and-cornbread combination!