Two Dollar Tuesday: Four-Way Chili Mac

“Copy cat” recipes seem to be all the rage as of late. I can’t get onto Pinterest without seeing at least one pin proclaiming to have found the secret ingredients to some sauce or batter. Now this is not a copy cat recipe below, but more of a vegan tribute to something I remember fondly from childhood.

It has been several years since I last ate Three-Way Chili at Steak and Shake, but it was brought to mind when some of the beloved diner chain’s coupons were put (in vain) in our mailbox.

I don’t really know exactly when I first tried that dish, but I have a faint hankering that it was on the way home from a swim team competition somewhere. What I do know though is that my young self was in awe of the meal because it was a combination of two of my favorite foods: chili and spaghetti.

I still love both of those foods to this day, so a vegan update to the dish was a necessary one. The best part is that this recipe makes 6 servings for $4.86, while the single serving dish from the restaurant costs $3.99 each.

Four-Way Chili Mac

Recipe total: $4.86

Servings per recipe: 6

Cost per serving: 81 cents


  • 12 oz. package whole-wheat thin spaghetti (90 cents)
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans red beans ($1.30)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes (55 cents)
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (59 cents)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (11 cents)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (26 cents)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (12 cents)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste (5 cents)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (6 cents)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce (50 cents)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (12 cents)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (8 cents)
  • 1 cup diced white onions (22 cents)


Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions.

In a large pot add red beans, diced tomatoes, tomatoes and chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Combine cornstarch with cold water and pour into the chili mixture. Stir well and continue to simmer until a thick saucy texture is achieved.

In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

Divide cooked pasta amongst plates, topping each with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce, a hearty scoop of chili, and a sprinkle of white onion.

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