How to Cook a Southern New Year's Day Dinner on a Budget of $20

All Things Mandy
by All Things Mandy

I'm Mandy and welcome to my kitchen. Today we are making a traditional Southern New Year's Day dinner for four people and under $20. I bought items totaling under $20, but that does not include egg, milk, oils, seasoning, butter, or dessert.

Ingredients for the New Year's Day dinner

Prices of the ingredients


  • 4 Large sweet potatoes 
  • 1 Pound of black-eyed peas 
  • Corn muffin mix
  • Huge head of cabbage
  • Center-cut bone-in pork chops 
Soaking the black-eyes peas

1. Pre-soak black-eyed peas

I put the peas in water and soaked them for about an hour. Then I rinsed them and put them in an Instant Pot along with a ham bone for a ton of flavor. I had the ham bone left over from my Christmas dinner. 

Cooking peas with a ham bone

2. Cook the peas with a ham bone

After rinsing the peas, I added them to the Instant Pot. If you don't have an Instant Pot, you could cook the peas on the stovetop for a couple of hours or in the slow cooker all day.

I nestled the huge ham bone right into the pot, and added garlic powder, onion powder, Kosher salt, pepper, and four cups of water so the beans don’t dry out. I made sure the beans were completely covered in water.

The ham bone will break down a little bit in the pot, too. I’ll use my Instant Pot’s bean and chili setting but I raised it to 45 minutes.

It’s said that black-eyed peas look like ancient coins and if you eat them on New Year’s Day, you are going to have a prosperous year.

Frying the sweet potatoes

3. Fry & caramelize the sweet potatoes

After washing and peeling my sweet potatoes, I sliced them to get them ready for the skillet. I put a bit of oil in the skillet, and I added a lot of butter, too. I flash-fried my sweet potatoes and flipped them around so they could soak up the butter and oil mixture.

I added more butter as they were frying. But frying the potatoes took a while since they are hard when they went in the pan.

Then I added brown sugar by sprinkling it in as they were frying. The entire mixture caramelized as I tossed the potatoes.

Then I put the lid on the skillet and turned down the heat to low, but I also came back to stir the potatoes every couple of minutes until they caramelized to perfection.

Corn muffin batter

4. Make the corn muffins

I mixed my corn muffin batter according to the package’s directions.

Baking corn muffins

I put the muffin batter in my cast iron skillet and popped it into the oven at 450 degrees.

The tale about the cornbread is that it looks like gold, symbolizing that you will have a prosperous year. 

Cooking the pork chops

5. Cook the pork chops

I oiled my cast iron skillet to prepare to sear the pork chops. To sear them, I seasoned the chops with some salt and pepper. After searing the chops, I transferred them to a casserole dish and put foil over it so they won’t dry out when they bake.

Pork chops are eaten on New Year’s Day because the tale is that a pig always looks forward, never backward. On New Year’s Day, pork chops symbolize looking to the future and not focusing on our past mistakes. 

Frying the cabbage

6. Fry the cabbage

It’s tradition to eat a green on New Year's Day, whether it’s cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, or turnip greens. From what I understand, you eat greens because the color stands for money and health, both of which you want in the new year.

To prepare this dish, I cored the cabbage and cut the rest of the cabbage into strips. I fried strips in the same cast iron skillet I seared my pork chops in, drippings and all.

There was a lot of cabbage, but it wilted down, as greens do when they cook. As the cabbage cooked, I added butter, salt, and pepper. 

Southern New Year's Day dinner

You can see here the yummy pork chop, black-eyed peas, caramelized fried sweet potatoes, fried cabbage, and golden cornbread. This is a delicious New Year's Day dinner that promises prosperity in the new year.

Southern New Year's Day dinner

What are some of your New Year's Day dinner ideas and recipes? Do you eat any of these traditional foods for the holiday because of the meaning behind them?

Do you believe in the traditions of eating golden foods and peas that look like money? What else can you eat on New Year’s Day as a promise of good luck? Leave comments and suggestions here!

Join the conversation
2 of 12 comments
  • Melodie Melodie on Dec 28, 2023

    Looks delicious but I would’ve breaded & fried the pork chops…I usually cook everything you list except for the pork chops. I bake a ham instead on New Year’s Eve.

  • Van49678878 Van49678878 on Dec 29, 2023

    I don’t recall eating anything “golden” to encourage good luck or fortunes or anything like that. I’m Australian, so we’re most likely BBQ’ing. It’s certainly food for thought! 😉

    Happy New Year!!