I am a San Antonio Mom: Erin Chase of $5 Dinners

If you haven’t heard of Erin Chase, The $5 Dinner Mom, consider this brief introduction my holiday gift to you. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Erin and her wonderful family for over 15 years, and I am constantly in awe of the countless accomplishments this San Antonio mom has achieved. In six years, Erin has authored three cookbooks and made countless appearances on both local and national TV shows, including Rachael Ray (twice), The View (twice), and The TODAY Show. Her recipes, tips, and meal plans have reached millions of people across the globe via her website, blog, and other social media. She has been voted #1 not once but twice by Babble Top 100 Food Bloggers in the “Best on a Budget” category. TIME.com named $5 Dinners as one of the 27 Pinterest Boards That Will Actually Make Your Life Better; and PopSugar’s Circle of Moms dubbed Erin one of their Top 25 Foodie Moms. Did I mention she is a mother of four boys all under the age of 10? I literally could go on and on, but don’t take my word for it—check out her Press page to learn more!

I was thrilled when Erin agreed to sit down and chat about her amazing success and how far she’s come by simply demonstrating how easy it can be to purchase and cook simple, affordable, and delicious meals all for just $5 or less! Bottom line: As Erin says about herself, “I have a little problem. I cannot make a meal for more than $5. It’s unnatural, but my pocketbook thanks me!”

The $5 Dinner Mom, Erin Chase
The $5 Dinner Mom, Erin Chase

Tell us about your background and how you ended up back in San Antonio. I grew up in San Antonio and went to college at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth. A few short months after graduating from TCU, I found myself in the Dominican Republic as a missionary and high-school math and science teacher. I met my husband in the Dominican Republic. We married a year-and-a-half after meeting and continued living and ministering in the Dominican Republic as houseparents. My year as a housemother really allowed me to polish the skills that I now use every day in my own home and on my blog. I learned the ins and outs of budgeting, shopping, and menu planning…all in a third-world country! It was my responsibility to shop for, plan, and cook three meals a day, seven days a week, for 12 teenage boys! After six years of ministry in the Dominican Republic, we moved back to the U.S. several years ago when I was pregnant with our middle son. In 2012, my husband and I moved our now four young boys to San Antonio.

Tell us about how $5 Dinners came about. Back in late summer 2008, I began couponing. Really couponing. It started paying off immediately! I love to cook, and I love the challenge of coming up with a meal that costs less than $5. A few weeks before I started the blog, I’d shared with my husband that “this meal was only $3.85, or tonight’s dinner cost about $5.” One night as I was cleaning up the dishes I thought of the phrase “$5 Dinners.” The rest is history!

What has been your greatest joy of motherhood? Watching my children accomplish hard things, like learning how to swim and seeing that “light bulb” go off when they got it or sitting in an MRI machine for an hour-and-a-half without sedation and having a complete breakdown. These moments make my proud mom heart swell! 

What’s been the greatest challenge of motherhood? Being a working mom, the challenge of balancing it and really trying to “have it all”—because I do think it’s possible! Your “all” will look different from my “all,” but I truly believe that when you have your priorities straight and have a mindset to achieve great things in whatever area you desire, you can have it all.

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Erin and her oldest son, Ryan, prepare dinner.

If we peeked in your purse right now, what would we find? A stray tube of mascara, lip gloss, wallet, pacifier (for the toddler whom I should be weaning from the pacifier but can’t yet), sunglasses, and mechanical pencils.

How do you hope your life influences and/or inspires other women? I hope that my work and my passion help others with their physical health (cooking healthy meals) and their financial health (being wise stewards of their money). I want others to be inspired to make changes that will make a powerful difference in their lives.

Describe your typical weekday. Up before the kids to get ready, school drop-offs, run a couple of miles, work, work, work (might forget to eat lunch!), school pick-ups, homework time, after-school activities, dinner prep, dinner, bedtime with kids, work. Repeat. 

You have been featured on Rachel Ray, The View, and The TODAY Show (to name a few), so I’ve got to ask: Which was your favorite experience? Have you ever had any mishaps on air? The TODAY Show was spectacular! Kathie Lee and Hoda were great and easy to work with; and Kathie Lee even shared her glass of wine with me! As for as any mishaps, they didn’t have the olive oil in the right place, but we made it work.

Erin enjoying some wine from her friend Kathie Lee after her appearance on The TODAY Show!

Which four words best describe you? Driven, passionate, goal-setter, friendly.

Where would we find you on the weekends? Out for a long run and then resting at home or chasing the boys in the yard. 

What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate chip cookies. 

Now that you’re back in San Antonio, as a wife and mother what do you love most about our beautiful city and all it has to offer? I love the pulse of the city, the community in the suburbs, the great parks, and the many things to do and places to visit in and around the city. 

What are some of your San Antonio favorites?
Date Night: The Pearl
Entertainment: Main Event or the movies
Shopping (for you!): I’m a Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, or Old Navy kind of girl!
Relaxation: What’s that?! (giggle!)
Favorite family-friendly activity: Eating out where there’s a field or sandbox (e.g., Bigz) 
Beverage: Mojito at Paloma Blanca
Burger: OrderUp

Visit $5 Dinners for thousands of tips, recipes, printable coupons, and much more. Your pocketbook will thank you!

Christin is a wife who is desperately learning to cook for a husband who LOVES to cook. She’s the mother of big brother T & little sister C and two yellow labs, Duke & Delta. Christin is the middle sister of three girls who are the best of friends and talk a million times a day. She was born in Houston but grew up in San Antonio. Christin likes to say she’s Texas born but SOONER bred. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she returned home to San Antonio in February 2006, where she met her husband just a few weeks later. She has always had a small crush on photography but over the past few years it has developed into a love affair. In her spare time she loves to photograph and write about her little world on her blog Growing Up Gish!

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