Chef shares tips on how to feed a family of 5 for less in ‘Break Bread on a Budget’


Rekaya Gibson | The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK, Va. — Lexy Rogers hopes to teach people how to make easy, soulful meals with her debut cookbook, “Break Bread on a Budget: Ordinary Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals,” which was released April 4.

She should know since she’s a private chef, Air Force wife and mother of three living in Hampton, Virginia.

Rogers grew up in Illinois about an hour from Chicago. She fell in love with cooking at the age of 11 while watching her grandmother and aunt. She didn’t see them use recipes or measure anything. She noticed how happy family and friends were eating their food, though.

Rogers enjoys the same creative freedom with her home cooking, which she says is influenced by the South.

“One of the things my grandmother taught me was to cook with confidence,” said Rogers, who became a private chef in 2020.

In 2021, she went on Fox’s “MasterChef” Season 11, a cooking show hosted by the legendary chef Gordon Ramsay. Rogers spoke about how she fed her family of five on a $40-a-week budget. Her children were younger than 2 and ate less. She finished in the Top 9 of the competition.

People emailed and contacted her on social media with budgeting questions. She became overwhelmed and decided to write “Break Bread on a Budget.”

It features more than 60 kid-friendly recipes, such as Creole Mac and Cheese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Donut and Not Ya Mama’s Chili, but it can also appeal to college students and anyone who wants to save money and eat delicious meals. The paperback also includes shopping lists, meal prep advice and budget-stretching techniques. She keeps it simple with easy-to-find ingredients; she shops at Walmart.

Rogers shared some of her tips:

— Purchase pasta, rice and potatoes — they’re a good way to stretch a meal.

— Buy meat, such as chicken and ground turkey, in bulk for the week.

— Go shopping in the morning. Grocery stores get their shipments then and mark down old items to make room.

— Make a menu for Monday through Friday so everyone knows what they’re eating for lunch and dinner.

— Prepare different meals with the same ingredients.

— Make a little extra for dinner and portion it out for lunch the next day.

— Get creative with what you have and stop going to the store multiple times a week.

— For picky eaters, she recommends having kids help in the kitchen when preparing the food. “If my 5-year-old son knows what’s going into the dish, he feels like it’s his meal and he’s more inclined to eat it.”

— Never shop hungry.

For the kids’ breakfast, Rogers makes oatmeal and sometimes pancakes or waffles with fresh or frozen fruit. Her husband is not big on the morning meal.

It’s not all Apron-Worthy Burgers and Mozzarella Monkey Bread; she’ll cook frozen chicken nuggets for her kids, sometimes. Snacks, such as Fruit Roll-Ups, eat up a huge part of her budget. She said she doesn’t have the time nor the patience to make them herself.

In a pinch, Rogers’ go-to meal is a one-pot chicken thighs recipe (in the book). It includes seasoned chicken, potatoes and peppers. She cooks it in a pot on the stove for about 30 minutes and serves it with rice.

“My kids love it and it goes really far,” Rogers said.

She admits it’s been difficult to stay with a $40 price point with higher food costs — and her children are older and eat more. Her budget is about $80 a week now. Rogers had a baby a day prior to our phone conversation — can someone say party of six?

She adds: Be creative, have a good balance and give yourself grace.

Details about Lexy Rogers,


Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 3


4 cups water

2 cups rice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons butter (divided)

2 pounds of chicken tenders

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar

Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Fresh chopped chives for garnish (optional)


1. Bring water and rice to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.

2. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, add salt, pepper and one tablespoon of butter.

3. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is fluffy when forked.

4. While rice is cooking, coat chicken in cornstarch.

5. Combine chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic, honey, soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl and place to the side.

6. Melt remaining butter in a skillet over medium to high heat and place chicken in the pan.

7. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, or until browned, and flip.

8. Pour sauce into the pan and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium to low or until the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chives, if using.

10. Serve with rice.

Budget tip: Freshen your leftovers by adding your cold, dried-out rice to a skillet with a few tablespoons of canola oil. Fry and add one to two tablespoons of soy sauce to make fried rice.

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