Aloo Gobi $5 Indian Dinners

Did you know that there is a whole cookbook and blog (the blog actually came first) dedicated to $5 dinners? Erin’s blog is great and has a lot of very healthy looking meals, but, from a kosher perspective, many of her meals unfortunately don’t work for me. Sure, I can modify them, but that inevitably pushes the price tag over $5.

So, when we’re looking at very inexpensive meals, our preference is to go vegetarian. In fact, we eat milchigs (or pareve) pretty much every weeknight, saving beef and chicken for Shabbat.

We often enjoy super frugal dinners that are based either on beans, legumes and lentils, or on potatoes. On sale, we can buy 10 lbs of potatoes for $.99 (non-organic) or 5 lbs for $2.49 (organic). Beans are fairly frugal even canned, but a bag of dried beans is really the way to go if you can find the time. A bag costs less than $1, and produces four or five cans worth.

At a recent sheva brachot (Mazal Tov, Joseph & Alice!), the incomparable hostess (hi, Katie!) served a delicious selection of vegetarian Indian fare, reminding me (a) how much we like Indian food, and (b) what an incredibly frugal way it is to serve both potatoes and lentils/beans.

In the spirit of that yummy Sheva Brachot, I wanted to share with you today my all-time favorite Indian dish: Aloo Gabi. It’s a combination of potatoes and cauliflower, with some onion, herbs and spices. I usually serve it with a lentil dal and vegetable rice. But if I’m short on time, Aloo Gabi is great with a yogurt raita – which is also fairly frugal.

Before sharing the recipe, I want to share with you my favorite online resource for Indian cooking: Manjuli’s Kitchen. It’s a video-based Indian cooking blog, where all the recipes are vegetarian — and 90% of them even vegan. If you want to incorporate more Indian cooking into your weekly diet, you will LOVE Manjuli’s Kitchen.

Now, without further ado, here’s my favorite $5-or-under dinner: Aloo Gabi.


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 small onion, quartered then sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (or more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala*
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (On sale, a head of cauliflower is around $1 or less in Kansas. If you only eat frozen, this may push the price higher.)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot. Fry the cumin seeds until they turn golden brown and begin to pop. (If you don’t have cumin seeds, you can substitute cumin powder for fairly similar results. Add it with the other spices.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in the onion, sauteeing until golden brown. Stir in ginger, and saute for another minute. Add with coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add potatoes and salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding a bit of water as necessary if it’s sticking.
  4. Once tender, stir in lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil. Heat on high for three more minutes to brown, but be careful not to mash the potatoes and cauliflower.

*You can buy garam masala at many grocery stores, or you can mix up your own. Store it in a glass jar and it will last for several months. Here’s a garam masala recipe, if you need one.

Okay, now it’s your turn to share: What’s your favorite super frugal dinner recipe? ($5 or under for the meal is my definition of “super frugal”, but don’t feel obliged to stick to that.)


  1. Rivki Locker says

    My favorite inexpensive dinner is scrambled eggs ($4 for 3 dozen @ Costco) with homemade bread (I haven’t done the calculations but I think it’s about $1 a loaf) and a homemade Israeli salad. I think its under $5 but I haven’t calculated the cost of the veggies for salad.
    Great blog! Just discovered it last week and am already getting great money-saving ideas! Thanks!

    • Thanks for reading, Rivki! We also like breakfast for dinner 🙂 I’ve noticed that Costco’s price on the 3 dozen eggs changes pretty much everytime I’m there. Often I can get it for as low as $.80 – $.90/dozen!

  2. I could cry at your cauliflower prices!!! We LOVE cauliflower around here, and it is over 3.00 a head around here (varies a bit, never saw it under 2, recently closer to 4!!!! ) Even the frozen stuff is 2.00 a bag, for 16 0z bags. That recipe and the link to the blog look great, I actually just found kosher garam masala, I had been looking for it forever. Now if I could just remember which recipe specifically I had been looking for it for….

    As for $5 dinners….well, the most obvious one is some pasta and cut up veggies. Not the healthiest, but it works. The kids and I sprinkle a little cheese on, a little jarred sauce, and done. My husband doesn’t even like cheese, so save some money there.

    Or else we do a soup (usually mushroom barley or split pea), and homemade bread sticks from pizza dough. That also comes out to less than $5.

    Wish I could try either of the ideas mentioned so far..but a potato allergy and an egg allergy knock them both out of the running for family dinner for everyone. Oh well!

    • Oh no! Potato & egg allergies!

      BTW, the cauliflower is usually in the $3 range, but on sale, we can do around $1.50 – $2.00 (sometimes even $1 each!) … and when Target has their $1/1 produce Qs, I buy as many as I can with the Qs. I just very lightly steam and then flash freeze, so they don’t all stick together. Then I toss into a bag to use whenever we need!

  3. I LOVE Indian food. Love, love, love Indian food. I once walked 140 blocks (about seven miles) to get to a kosher Indian restaurant. However, the rest of my family does not like Indian food so I don’t get a chance to make it very often.

    Do you accept the hashgacha of the Beit Din of India? If so, I can tell you a very frugal way to get amazing Indian food.

    • @Julie – 140 blocks?!? You must’ve worked up quite an appetite. I didn’t even know that India had a Beit Din (although it makes sense.) Tell us your frugal way, and I’ll investigate the hashgacha.

      • The Swad company makes microwaveable 99¢ packages of pre-cooked imported Indian food. It is called “micro curry”. One box served with home cooked basmati rice and plain yogurt serves two quite nicely. My favorites are Palak Paneer and Paneer Makhani because there is no way that I am going to make paneer at home. To stretch the boxes and also to make it more healthy, I will sometimes mix 10 oz of cooked spinach into the Palak Paneer or a can of chickpeas into the Paneer Makhani. Their dal is also very good, and it is much healthy. Don’t buy any if their curries with peas or chickpeas in them. For some odd reason, the peas are really overcooked and the chickpeas are really undercooked.

  4. I made a sweet potato chili last night that was pretty awesome. I also just found a link-up from the Sweet and Savory blog called Meatless Mondays – it has a lot of terrific frugal and kosher dinner options.

  5. Split Pea Soup, wheeee!

    Thanks for hosting Mara, you rule!

  6. Shari Lynne Denton says

    I just thought I’d let you know, there is a NEW cookbook out called Spice and Kosher (©2013). It’s the food of the Cochini Jews of Kerala, India (most of whom now live in Israel). It’s only about $12 with Amazon Prime.

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