Author Topic: Budget Meals  (Read 2086 times)

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Nikko-chan

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Budget Meals
« on: April 14, 2013, 08:47:51 PM »
Hello my fellow Ehellion cooks! I... am about to do something incredibly insane. And I need your help :D I am going to be on a very limited budget for meals-- $50 a week. But I don't want my food to be boring, and I figure if I make casseroles and such I can get away with having one meal for a few days, etc.

The rules:

Anything I have here in bulk (the ground beef we get every year) is a free item, because i dont have to buy it.)
Anything I have here in general (the spices, etc. because those are "communal" meaning both my mom and I use them) are free. This also Includes a lot of the canned goods we have here because apparently buying a BUNCH of canned goods and not using them is common for us.

So uh.... anyone got any tasty yet cheap recipes they'd be willing to part with?

(I've already got an idea in my head for black bean enchilada's with homemade taco seasoning >.<)

Maggie

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 08:59:15 PM »
Taco soup isn't particularly cheap but if you already have hamburger and taco seasoning then it wouldn't be that expensive.  If you want the recipe I'd be more than happy to type it up for you tomorrow.  I'm getting ready for work now. 

Nikko-chan

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 09:02:12 PM »
Taco soup isn't particularly cheap but if you already have hamburger and taco seasoning then it wouldn't be that expensive.  If you want the recipe I'd be more than happy to type it up for you tomorrow.  I'm getting ready for work now.

It sounds lovely!

Maggie

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 09:08:33 PM »
Taco Soup

1-2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped (I use the food processor)

Cook these two together until browned.

Add:

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can navy beans (or any kind of bean you like)
1 can corn
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can rotel
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 package taco seasoning (the homemade you have would be wonderful)
2 cups water or broth

Add the dry ranch dressing mix and the taco seasoning and stir.
Add all the cans.  You don't have to drain them.  Add the two cups water and let cook about 20 minutes.  Or you can put it all in a crockpot after the beef and onions are cooked and let it cook on low as long as you want.  This is a good dish when people will be eating at different times. 

It wasn't as late as I thought it was :)


Oh Joy

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 09:23:32 PM »
Any major likes or dislikes, or dietary preferences (lower fat, higher protein, etc.) and such?

Nikko-chan

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 09:28:18 PM »
Any major likes or dislikes, or dietary preferences (lower fat, higher protein, etc.) and such?

Not really. I'm adventurous... mom however... not so much. but my plan is that if she doesn't like it/can't eat it she is going to have to fend for herself because I can't keep up with likes/dislikes.

Mega5

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 09:35:02 PM »
http://budgetbytes.blogspot.ca/

This is my go to food blog. I love it. I have made many recipes off this site for both myself and friend, all of been tasty. She breaks down a meal in dollar value. As well she also says if the meal is good for freezing or not.


CakeBeret

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 09:44:52 PM »
I've fed myself, my husband, and our toddler on $50 a week for years.

First, get a feel for which grocery stores offer best prices. I shop at Aldi because 99% of what I buy is significantly cheaper there.

Second, plan meals in advance. There are tons of resources for budget recipes online. I like budgetbytes.blogspot.com [eta: I see that Mega5 beat me to it!] and use Pinterest a lot. Compare grocery store flyers to potential meals to see which ones are going to be most feasible to make. Plan your meals for the week, make a list, and then stick to it.

I usually make one big pot of soup for everyone's lunches for the week. We usually have eggs one night and a meatless pasta dish another night, and different meals in between.

When potatoes go on sale for $1 for a 10-pound bag, I buy several bags and we feast on potatoes for weeks.

Cooking from scratch is usually going to be cheaper--for example, I can get 20 pounds of potatoes for the price of one instant mashed potato box. I can buy a 5 pound bag of rice for cheaper than a single rice-a-roni. Learn how to season dishes yourself rather than using spice mixes and seasoning packets.

Once you get a feel for it, it becomes pretty intuitive. :)
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POF

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 10:54:13 PM »
When I need to cut the grocery bill - we eat a lot of eggs ( and we love them )

I shop the discount meat - I got a HUGE turkey at target for $10  in Feb pretty much when it was close to its sale by date.  But - that turkey created a bunch of meals.   Look at cost per serving and buy a on sale roast / etc.

My supermarket has a day when they put $3 or $5 off coupons on meat.  I'll get little steaks for stir fry - etc.


blarg314

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 10:59:20 PM »
For cheap eating, I find that a few general good guidelines are to buy the vegetables that are cheap, and work with that, use dried beans (rather than canned), and eat beans/lentils/chickpeas and rice for protein a few nights a week, and use stew type dishes to stretch out small quantities of meat.  Pasta, potatoes and rice are cheap - often cheaper than decent bread.

For specific recipes -

Taco rice, if you've got ground beef.

Cook up some onions and ground beef with taco seasonings (you can make your own from jarred spices). Make plain white rice, short grain by preference. Serve the meat on the rice, and top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, some grated cheese, and maybe a few tortilla chips.

This, by the way, is a genuine *Japanese* dish, popular in the Okinawan Islands.


Chickpeas are great for cheap protein. I buy the dried ones, and cook overnight in the slow cooker, and freeze in batches for quick use (saving the broth for soups). You can use them in a salad (with vegetables, lemon juice and olive oil with a bit of garlic), or make them into a stew or curry (saute onions and garlic and celery, add your cooked chickpeas, then cook with tomatoes and cumin, or with a spoonful of yoghurt and curry spices. Some chopped green leafy vegetables go well in either version (frozen spinach, kale etc), or even just toss in the leaves off of your celery.

Cabbage is usually cheap. You can do sour cabbage with caraway, 7 day coleslaw, creamed cabbage with noodles, etc. Carrots are cheap, and grated carrot salad is easy and tasty (grated carrots, lemon juice, a bit of olive oil). Or pureed carrot and ginger soup, or carrot and potato soup.

Pasta with spaghetti sauce, of course, and chili con carne (use dried beans to save money).

For cheap meat - stewed beef shanks (make a hearty stew with onion and carrots and celery and potatoes. Add mushrooms if you can get them from the cheap rack at  the grocery store - they taste better when they start to look funny). Or a moroccan style beef and chickpea stew with tomatoes.  Or go for chicken thighs (cheaper than white meat) and cook with onions, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, etc.

Frozen vegetables can be a good option if the local produce isn't great yet, or is expensive - I find green beans, peas and corn particularly useful.

And eggs, as others have said - omelettes, fried eggs, poached eggs, baked eggs, savory Japanese egg custards.

If you can get a whole chicken on sale, you can get a lot of eating out of it. Roast it and serve it the first night (save the pan drippings!) Then carve off the leftover meat, and use it for the next night - in a pasta sauce, or salad. Cook up the carcass and pan drippings to give you stock, which give you soup on the third night. Save things like celery tops and bottoms, the ends of onions and carrots, and other veggie bits, and add them to the carcass to make a really flavourful stock. 





Jones

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 11:12:35 PM »
We do varieties of stir fry at least once a week. Huge bags of rice last forever. Frozen or canned veggies with a little meat can go a long way.

cicero

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 05:12:05 AM »
podding a lot of what was said.

*I buy fruit and vegetables in season - better tasting and less expensive. I rarely buy frozen or canned. when green beans are in season, i'll buy a few kilos, blanch and freeze.
* use lentils and beans to flesh out your meals - lentils don't need overnight soaking and they are usually more easy to digest.
* don't buy convenience anything - check out prices of instant rice/potatoes vs. made from scratch, spice blends vs. mixing your own (I used to use budget101 for how to make your own mixes), baking a cake from scratch vs. mix or buying store bought etc.
I even dry my own herbs (much tastier and cheaper than store bought) but i'm a nut.
* eggs are a great source of protein.
* so are nuts - yes, they are expensive but not that bad, and if you can buy them in bulk and freeze they will last forever.

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Katana_Geldar

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 05:29:12 AM »
I like to cook things that will last two or more nights, or I can turn into things for other nights. I find I also like having enough butter, flour and salt in the house to make pastry for pies.

DH and I got a large leg of lamb that I cooked in the French oven. It was too much for us, so I made the rest into Pi after the first night.

Nikko-chan

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2013, 06:33:30 AM »
podding a lot of what was said.

*I buy fruit and vegetables in season - better tasting and less expensive. I rarely buy frozen or canned. when green beans are in season, i'll buy a few kilos, blanch and freeze.
* use lentils and beans to flesh out your meals - lentils don't need overnight soaking and they are usually more easy to digest.
* don't buy convenience anything - check out prices of instant rice/potatoes vs. made from scratch, spice blends vs. mixing your own (I used to use budget101 for how to make your own mixes), baking a cake from scratch vs. mix or buying store bought etc.
I even dry my own herbs (much tastier and cheaper than store bought) but i'm a nut.
* eggs are a great source of protein.
* so are nuts - yes, they are expensive but not that bad, and if you can buy them in bulk and freeze they will last forever.

Cicero trust me you are not a nut... if I had lovely herbs to dry I would be using them too!

wx4caster

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Re: Budget Meals
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2013, 09:15:04 AM »
Seconding the chickpea suggestion.
Try googling chickpea and couscous. One of my favorite salads contains chickpeas, mint, feta, red pepper and couscous. Another is a variation of saffi with pita chips and cucumber.
And I like to make this soup every once in a while: http://simpledailyrecipes.com/5578/tomato-chickpea-and-spinach-soup/

Also, black beans are very tasty.
http://www.onceuponachef.com/2010/08/black-bean-salad-with-corn-red-peppers-avocado-lime-cilantro-vinaigrette.html
http://www.recipesource.com/fgv/beans-grains/yellow-rice-beans.html
http://yumtherapy.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/sweet-potato-corn-black-bean-soup/ (not quite my version, but close)

And cooking dried beans yourself in a crock-pot is both cheaper and tastier than canned.

And this is my children's favorite:
http://www.cloverleaf.ca/en/recipes/view/ItalianOrzoandTunaCasserole/  - you can substitute canned tomatoes for the sauce and up the seasonings.
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