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Topic: Cheap Meal Ideas

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Subject: Cheap Meal Ideas
Date Posted: 8/12/2009 11:40 AM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas? I've been cooking at home a lot to save money and need to expand to other cost friemdly meals beyond pasta and peanut butter and jelly :)



Last Edited on: 8/12/09 11:41 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/12/2009 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I don't know if you'd consider it cheap or not but I like to make chili in the crockpot with lean ground beef and kidney and pinto beans with jalapenos..I used canned ro-tel(store brand though) and diced onion but it could be done cheaper making the beans from scratch first. it freezes good too and sometimes I'll take a corn tortilla and put a little shredded cheddar or mexican blend (2% for me) and eat on the side with less chili.

pretty much anything meatless is more budget friendly. I think eggs are usually on sale too though I buy the cheaper brand of egg whites at wally world since I don't eat the yolk unless it's scrambled or deviled.

I also stretch meat sometimes by making soup and again using a corn torilla/cheese or leftover roll or something if I want a starch. and also good for tossing in some leftover past or rice for the starch.. I usually have some veggie soup in the freezer and I've eaten with meat, tortilla/cheese, and once tossed in some leftover spaghetti I had in the fridge.

meatloaf is pretty good too with homemade mashed 'taters and green beans.

Date Posted: 8/12/2009 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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I found this recipe in my search....

 

Poor Man's Crab Cake

  • 2 c shredded zucchini (let drain 1-2 hours to remove excess moisture)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (use heels of bread to save $$$)
  • 1 tbsp mayo or miracle whip
  • 1 tbsp old bay
  • 2 tbsp shredded onion

Combine all ingredients together. Heat oil in a skillet (enough to thoroughly cover bottom of the pan). Form mixture into patties (about 3in diameter). Heat in skillet until golden brown. Drain on paper towel to remove excess oil.

 

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 12:24 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 78
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I lower the price of meals by only using chub ground turkey instead of ground beef. It does take a little bit of getting use to but my family can't tell the difference now. We hardly ever have a meal that is just a chunk of meat. It is usually some type of casserole or skillet dish extended  with rice or pasta.

For chicken dishes I use thighs instead of breasts. If you make a link from your post to the cooking forum you might get more responses. It is a fairly active forum.

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,311
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We've been cooking with lots of rice and beans lately.  They're inexpensive, versatile and yummy!

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I've been making soup. Another thing I'm doing is going through my pantry and freezer and finding recipes that fit w hat I have on hand. Sunday night I did a slowcooker dish with pork chops, potatoes, onion, sauerkraut, healthy request cream of mushroom...had the chops in the freezer with no idea what to make with them...onion and taters were about to bite the dust and the other was overstocked in the pantry (at least the sauerkraut was..only eat it with hot dogs and it always never gets finished) dish came out salty but good and filling. Today  I dug through the freezer for precooked chicken breast and have a taco soup going in the slowcooker. everything from freezer and pantry. I call these 'free' meals since I didn't go out and buy more stuff (of course they're not really free but still it feels that way sometimes!)

soups and stews and casseroles seem to be good ways to stretch the meat which is usually the most expensive. I also buyfrozen and canned when possible since I can't  use up a lot of fresh produce by myself. beans also stretch things out...I'm thinking next year - or when these canned in the  pantry run out - I may try making them from scratch for recipes to save a bit more money..just depends though 'cause canned is so convenient!

Date Posted: 8/19/2009 10:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2009
Posts: 91
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Eggplant parm...at the local farmers market I am getting eggplant for 3 for a dollar! 1# of mozzarella cheese, whatever is on sale $3.50. Sauce is cheap too when made with fresh tomatoes and garlic. Both cheap right now. Can make tons and freeze in sections.

Zuccinni (SP) is cheaper then eggplant. I've got breads in the freezer. Have fried it, grilled it, stuffed it with ground meat & rice (just hollow out seeds) and bake. this is another one you can freeze.

whole chickens are cheaper then parts most of the time. Have the butcher butterfly it for you and grill it with some olive oil, garlic, thyme, black pepper. Will easily feed 4 to 6. if smaller family, you have leftover for all types of salads.

Speaking of salads, hit the local famers market, farm stand, etc. All manner of veggies are coming in now. dinner salads with cheeses, left over meats or tuna/canned meats (purchased on sale of course!) are wonderful.

Make your own salad dressings from oils, vinagars or lemon/lime juice and a bit of mustard to hold it all together and a bit of fresh garlic and any herbs you like. MUCH cheaper then bottled and tastes better.

Use any of your homemade salad dressings as marinates for meats.

Corn fritters are a big hit with my family;

Grate 3 ears of corn off the cob on the shredder side of a box crater,
Cut 3 ears of corn off the cob
Mix together in a medium bowl, add
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp cheyann pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 beaten egg
enough milk to make a thick batter.

large skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter, fry about 3 mins on each side until brown.
FREEZE extras for later when you want a taste of summer!

Chili has already been mentioned and is worth mentioning again. You can serve it over rice or pasta. With a variety of toppings and can even put it on hot dogs, (purchased on sale of course). Can be a lunch or dinner.

Make your menu for the week when you see the sale flyer from your favorite grocery store. I've purchased whole pork loins that were 6 to 8 pounds at 1.99 per pound. there is very little waste and I cut them into boneless pork chops, small roasts etc.  I've done the same thing with Beef tenderloins, cleaned them myself and cut them to suit.

The butcher at the local farmers market sells boneless/skinless chicken breasts at 1.69per pound if you purchase 10 pounds or more.  I break them down into dinner portions and freeze them. (freezer paper is MUCH cheaper then freezer plastic bags!) See if you can work out a simular arrangement with our local butcher. I also get leg quarters with back attached for .69 per pound. A few minutes with a sharp knife and i have the backs cut off and packed up for soup. Legs in one pile for frying. thighs in another for just about anything and I wrap them in dinner size portions. If you check with your butcher and are willing to buy in bulk you may be able to get so excellent deals on meats.

This is the cheapest season of the year to eat and one of the best!  If you have freezer space it is the time to use freezer bags. Buy cheap. blanch and freeze for cheap eats during the winter.

 

Date Posted: 8/20/2009 9:36 AM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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Why do they recommend blanching before freesing? I have seen that recommend alot for zucchini and squash (which I have an abundance of in my garden)

Date Posted: 8/20/2009 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 510
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Why do they recommend blanching before freesing? I have seen that recommend alot for zucchini and squash (which I have an abundance of in my garden)

It stops/slows the action of enzymes that would otherwise degrade the frozen produce.

http://missourifamilies.org/features/foodsafetyarticles/fdsftyfeature12.htm

Date Posted: 8/21/2009 10:48 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,458
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We love to do breakfast foods for dinner.  Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast (if the bread's getting old), waffles.  Cheap, easy, and a treat because we never actually cook breakfasts like that for breakfast.

Date Posted: 8/21/2009 11:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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yum breakfast for dinner is my favorite even as a kid!

Date Posted: 8/22/2009 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,311
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The great thing about breakfast for dinner is that you can make waffles, pancakes or french toast ahead of time and freeze them.  When that hankering for breakfast hits, you can add a simple fry up of potatoes, eggs and sausage or bacon. 

We also love breafast for dinner because we never seem to have time to make breakfast in the mornings, LOL.

Date Posted: 8/23/2009 4:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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I know that beans are also very inexpensive protein.... which is better to use the dried kind or the canned?

Any ideas outside of chili?

Date Posted: 8/23/2009 11:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,311
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We use both the dried and the canned beans.  We rely on canned beans when we're short on time.

We use navy beans and cannellini beans for soup, mostly.  Black beans for side dishes (we jazz them up with sauteed onions and jalapenos, garlic, cumin, a little oregano, basil and black pepper) and as an additive in burritos. 

We like kidney beans for chili and for red beans and rice.

Canned refried beans are sexier (LOL) with added salsa and pepper jack cheese.  They're also great to use as a thickener for chicken tortilla soup or any southwestern soup (they dissolve and are a great thickening agent, plus they add flavor).  We also use them as a spread for burritos or enchiladas.

DH loves garbanzo beans in salads, but I think they suck.  A  friend makes hummus with them.

Date Posted: 8/25/2009 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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hey speaking of dried beans..I was on a slowcooker blog and the woman had alink about some kind of toxin in dried red beans that if they weren't cooked at a high enough temp you could get sick. anyone heard of this? I've never cooked dried beans in a slowcooker though..I've always used canned but she figured out that it was a lot cheaper buyng dried beans instead of canned.

Date Posted: 8/25/2009 7:27 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2005
Posts: 3,443
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I also read that article in that blog,Susanna.She has some good recipes.

I also used dried beans or canned to save time.

Jo, I dont care for garbanzo beans either, but I do like hummas.

Date Posted: 8/30/2009 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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bump

Date Posted: 8/30/2009 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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bump

Date Posted: 8/31/2009 10:09 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 112
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Is anyone interested in recipes for TVP?  Its soy protein, called texturized vegetable protein, and it works as a meat extender to hamburger at very little cost.  I've been using it for chili, sloppy joes, hamburgers, etc.