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How to make a healthy meal cheap from Dollar Tree/Grocery Outlet items

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We put together an austerity meal tonight--made from items from Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet and a few items from our pantry and fridge--that is simply delicious. Here's the recipe:

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

2 pkgs Kraft brand Italian Pasta Salad mix (from Dollar Tree, each $0.50)

1 can garbanzo beans (from Dollar Tree, $1.00 each)

A few handfuls of frozen green/yellow beans from my freezer (from our freezer, purchased at Grocery Outlet, cost unknown)

1 chopped white onion (from our refrigerator)

5 chopped baby Portabella mushrooms (from our refrigerator)

1/2 - 3/4 cup Girard's Champagne salad dressing (from our my refrigerator)

1/4 cup butter or margarine or olive oil (from our refrigerator or pantry)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste (from our pantry)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Preparation: Prepare the pasta according to package directions. While it is cooking, saute white onion, green/yellow beans (still frozen), and portabella mushrooms over med heat until onion begins to soften, but take care to keep the vegetables crispy. When vegetables are done, remove them from the heat. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans and mix into vegetables to absorb flavor and butter.

When pasta is done (still just slightly chewy), drain and rinse thoroughly in a colander in cold water. Shake out excess liquid and put back in pot. Add vegetables, seasoning and cheese packets from pasta salad mix, salad dressing, and red pepper flakes. Stir thoroughly.

I served this immediately, and it was about room temperature. You can also put it in the refrigerator to chill it before you serve. This satisfied two reasonable appetites with two large bowls each, but if you serve it as a side dish, it can serve at least four and possibly six.

Total cost outlay today: $2.00.

I hope you enjoy!

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