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Help I need cheap meal ideas.

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I spent to much money on Masons birthday party (My baby who just turned 1) plus we just had to register both of our cars and spend $400 to fix one of them which pretty much wiped out our savings so now I need to catch my self up. We will definitely be fine I just need some cheap meal ideas so that I can put my self back on track and set a budget for my family. I would like to eventually have a set budget anyway so any cheap meal ides will help for now and for the future.
post #2 of 27
You can never go wrong with bulk ground meat. So much you can do with it from meatloaf to burgers, tacos, even Hamburger helper which is pretty cheap at Walmarts.
post #3 of 27
I like to roast a whole chicken, have it for dinner and then tear all the meat off the bones for leftover recipes the next few days. The bones can be boiled in water, and the meat remainders removed for really good soup.
post #4 of 27
This time of year is great for cheap produce. Find a local farmers market and stock up. Load your freezer with vegetables. Last weekend I got:

Yellow beans: A grocery sack for $8
Cucumbers: 18 for $7
Green peppers: 14 for $3
Eggplants: 3 for $1
Zucchini: 3 for $1
Yukon gold potatoes: $1 per pound
Farm fresh free range eggs: $1.50 a dozen

I'll freeze whatever we don't eat this week for future meals.

I also shop at 3 different places. With both of us in school right now, we're broke. But it's still really important that we eat healthy. I shop at Whole Foods for bulk granola, raw nuts, and a few other things when I can get a good deal. [People assume it's all crazy expensive there, but you just need to browse the shelves for the stuff that is average price, and sometimes even less.] I shop at the farmers market every weekend, and freeze enough vegetables to last through the winter so that I need very little grocery store produce (overpriced and shipped in from South America). I buy organic yogurt, frozen broccoli, canned tuna, and some other items from Costco. Total it breaks down to anywhere between $30-60 a week for two people, and it's most often on the low end of that estimate.
post #5 of 27
When money is really tight, I brown up a pound of hamburger, add a can of corn, a can of pinto beans, some onion, salsa (or bbq sauce) and shredded cheese and put on tortillas with some lettace. Voila, instant burritoes. And, what is left can either be used the next day or frozen for an easy meal the next week.

I don't know about you, but DH and I can only eat about 2 meals of the same thing so most of our left overs get frozen if possible. I always make a HUGE pot of spagetti sauce and usually freeze over 1/2 of it in individual containers. Same with Chili. I have learned that Hamburger Helper does NOT freeze well, unless you like mush.
post #6 of 27
I love meatloaf (hubby didn't used to but loves mine)
Beef Stroganoff made with hamburger instead of steak
Spaghetti sauce and/or spaghetti and meatballs
Home made hamburger patties and some nice buns for hamburger night.
Hot hamburg sandwiches.

When we were kids my mom would often fry hamburger with onions, then when it was cooked she would add some beef stock and scrape up all the lovely brown bits. Then she would thicken it like a gravy with either flour, potato flour or cornstarch, and serve it over mashed potatoes. It was really tasty. My brothers loved it with catsup but I don't like catsup much.
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sohni View Post
I like to roast a whole chicken, have it for dinner and then tear all the meat off the bones for leftover recipes the next few days. The bones can be boiled in water, and the meat remainders removed for really good soup.
mmm I have been wanting to roast a whole chicken for a long time. WHat kinds of things to you usually make with the left overs?
post #8 of 27
Hamburgers aren't really cost effective. For 3-4 people, figure that at least 2 people will want 2 burgers. So you'll make at least 6. If divided up and frozen, you could get at least 2 meals from what one meal of hamburgers would make.

Pasta meals are always cheap. Sausage isn't that expensive either - homemade biscuits and gravy. Other breakfast meals - pancakes. Soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazycatlover View Post
mmm I have been wanting to roast a whole chicken for a long time. WHat kinds of things to you usually make with the left overs?
What about chicken pot pie? Thats what we usually do, or make chicken soup.
post #9 of 27
Actually our local grocery (small town) has the best meat around and every Sunday they have specials on roasts and better cuts of meat. I got a lovely pot roast last weekend that lasted us for 2 meals for 3 people for the price of $6.00 CDN. We love pot roast so it is great for us.

Another thing I used to do was cook up large meals, make up my own TV dinner type meals to freeze and then the nights I didn't feel like cooking, I could easily nuke a nice dinner.
post #10 of 27
Baked beans are nutritious, especially if you have some cornbread with them!
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyeCat0117 View Post
You can never go wrong with bulk ground meat. So much you can do with it from meatloaf to burgers, tacos, even Hamburger helper which is pretty cheap at Walmarts.
Yup...I agree.....lots you can do with ground meat. Also chile and spagetti.
If your family likes tuna you could also make a box of mac and cheese and add a couple cans of tuna and a small can of cream of mushroom soup.
(OP)Add extra chesse if desired and a drained can of peas if you like them.
This was always one of my kids favorites....easy and cheap!
Creamed chicken (or beef...you can even use ground beef) and noodles over mashed potatoes is pretty inexpensive. (I always add a little bullion for added flavor, but then cut back on the salt)
Anything you can do with eggs too can be pretty cheap
Linda
post #12 of 27
You can really get your moneys worth out of a rotissary chicken or a homemade roasted chicken!!!

I use the leftovers for:

Chicken Alfredo (just get you some cheap alfredo sauce and pasta and that shouldn't be so expensive - then add cut up chicken to it!)

Soups - you can really make some amazing soup recipes with some cheapo egg noodles and leftover chicken! Check out some online recipe websites- there are tons of great meal ideas out there for different soups and you can really use up a lot of what you have in a soup!

BBQ Chicken Pizza - get you some pizza shells (they're cheap and usually come in a 2 pack at the store) and a jar of your fav. bbq sauce then coat the crust in some EVOO, your fav bbq sauce and add your leftover chicken and some shredded cheese- this is such a yummy pizza and a lot cheaper than ordering one!

Chicken quesadillas (Tortillas are cheap and can really go a long ways- add a little butter to the inside of the tortillas, then shredded chicken and shredded cheese and just cook it in a frying pan- voila!)

If you have leftover Rotel dip- you can add your leftover chicken to it and also some spaghetti and you have chicken rotel- it's soooo yummy!!! It's a family favorite and a great way to use up two different leftovers!

I also like to use leftover chicken in salads - you can really have a nice meal out of a chicken salad! It's healthy and inexpensive

You could also use your leftover chicken and get some rice (it's always cheap and always feeds a lot of ppl!) and make you some chicken and rice (add a little chicken broth and seasoning) or you could do a nice stir-fry with it depending on what seasinings/sauces you have around the house. Save those leftover Soy sauces from when you go out to eat- I can always use those up at home!!! I use them to season a lot of different things with!

You could also use the leftover chicken and get some tortillas and you could have chicken tacos

There's sooo many things you could do with a chicken- they're really worth the money and can be stretched for numerous meals Same with pasta and rice- just be careful not to go too crazy with all the carbs. They make affordable/healthy whole wheat versions of most stuff nowdays - cheap and healhy in moderation!


The big rolls of ground beef are great too- you can get soo many meals out of them and really feed a lot of people with it- spaghetti is always a good cheap meal!
post #13 of 27
Welcome to the club SPAM is a big staple in my cupboards these days - you can get 6 cans for a little over $12 @ SmartNFinal. A family fave is Spam stew: brown cubed Spam with chopped onion & garlic, add 1 can of tomato sauce, a couple quarts water, potatoes & veggies (I try to always include sliced celery) & cook till the potatoes are done. I use low-sodium Spam.
Spam can also be used for meat in stir-fry vegetables ( you can add curry, if you like) and serve on rice.
I also make rice pilaf & curry rice and add some cashew nuts, olives & fresh tomatoes (if I have them).
I know I've splurged in other areas (such as Innova cat food and a cat fence for JC ), but, as Suze Orzman says, "people first, then money, then things"
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme View Post
Welcome to the club SPAM is a big staple in my cupboards these days - you can get 6 cans for a little over $12 @ SmartNFinal. A family fave is Spam stew: brown cubed Spam with chopped onion & garlic, add 1 can of tomato sauce, a couple quarts water, potatoes & veggies (I try to always include sliced celery) & cook till the potatoes are done. I use low-sodium Spam.
Spam can also be used for meat in stir-fry vegetables ( you can add curry, if you like) and serve on rice.
I also make rice pilaf & curry rice and add some cashew nuts, olives & fresh tomatoes (if I have them).
I know I've splurged in other areas (such as Innova cat food and a cat fence for JC ), but, as Suze Orzman says, "people first, then money, then things"
OMG - are you serious? There really are people who eat SPAM?
post #15 of 27
Having looked at the ingredients of SPAM and similar potted meat products, I know there are canned cat foods that are higher quality...


So, while you're eating SPAM your cats are probably eating something like lamb and rice or duck stew.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
BBQ Chicken Pizza - get you some pizza shells (they're cheap and usually come in a 2 pack at the store)
A cheaper way to do that then buying premade shells is to just get a cheap pizza crust mix. Jiffy costs around .40-60 cents a box depending on sales. Or make homemade.
Prebake them a bit and before you add toppings brush with garlic butter and sprinkle some basil on it. That makes very delicious crust - you can't find store bought or delivered pizza with crust like that.

...I'd have to disagree with the BBQ sauce, that would make me so sick. But you can use chicken as you would any other topping, and it's not greasy like pepperoni is. I use chicken a lot because it doesn't set off my gallbladder. Veggie pizza is good too. Just dig through your fridge and freezer and see what vegetables you have. Squash and zucchini works well...as does left over fajitas as a topping.

Cheese is expensive. Buy the shredded bags when on sale, repacked into smaller freezer bags and toss it in the freezer. Works with sliced cheese too. (DH and I shop at Sams. lol)
post #16 of 27
I tend to make a big ole' pot of chili... it can feed me and my roommate for a week... I love beans in my chili and they make a great filler, makes it more filling, so you eat less.

Also, instant rice mixed with cream of chicken/mushroom/potato soup, spread in a 13 x 100 pan, topped with chicken of your choice (drumsticks are cheapest, not healthiest or easiest to eat, but you get the idea) and baked until the chicken's cooked... You can split that up and eat it through the week too.

post #17 of 27
^ Add a vegetable for filler - and it's good for you. Broccoli works very well. You could also use yellow squash and zucchini, if you know anyone with a garden they're likely giving these away now as they get a little boring.
post #18 of 27
Switch to a vegetarian diet. It's so much cheaper than buying meat products. I haven't been buying meat for a few months, and I've shaved about $125 per month off of my grocery bill, if not more.
post #19 of 27
mixing a grain w/a legume creates a complete protein [like meat is]. that's why you see the most needy eating those types of combos - corn & beans in the southwest, red beans & rice in louisiana, etc. for pasta dishes, pasta fazool is popular - it's a pasta/bean combo. bean/rice pilaf is good... also, dried pasta, grains & legumes are very inexpensive & also very filling!
post #20 of 27
A vegetarian diet is not all that cheap these days. I wish that it were, but here in CA we are having a drought.

Do you have a Safeway near you? At my Safeway and even at my grocery market, they have Friday specials cheap. This week it is a meatloaf for $5.00. That should serve a family with just a 1-year old for 2 dinners and maybe a lunch or 2.

Pasta is one way to go. Buy it in bulk and divide it according to serving sizes. You can make just spaghetti sauce, add ground chuck, add some vegetables, or just put some cheese on it and microwave it with some sauteed onions on top of it. Your son will love playing with his noodles; just let him get messy!

Look at the grocery store for items that may be getting a little old. Bananas are one thing I like to buy in the bag. For what it costs, I figure that even if I eat one per day on my cereal and 2 or 3 of them go bad that I am still ahead. You can make banana bread and smoothies, too.

Buy paper products in bulk. They don't go bad.

Do you have a grocery coop near you where you can work for - I have no idea for what because I actually haven't been to one.

Are you eligible for food stamps? That would get you things like milk and formula and cheese and veggies for a reduced rate.

Give up smoking or cut down if you smoke.
post #21 of 27
I eat lots of eggs and egg dishes - whether I'm broke or not. Always a good cheap meal.

Also, anything with beans, esp. soup is economical. I make a great veggie chili - filling and yummy.


One of my favorite cheap (and super easy and fast) dishes:

Mexi-lasagne:

15oz can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
14oz can diced tomatoes
4oz can of chopped green chilies
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 green onions, minced
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
8 corn tortillas
1 ½ cups greated Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese


Preheat over to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, chilies, corn, green onions, cumin and oregano; mix thoroughly.

Oil a 2 quart casserole or baking dish (I use cooking spray).
Line baking dish with 4 tortillas, overlapping if necessary.
Spread half of bean mixure in a layer over tortillas, then sprinkle with half of cheese.
Repeat.

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand 1-2 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. (I find I need 20 minutes usually for the cheese to really melt). Highly recommend serving with sour cream and tortilla chips of course.


The packages of corn tortillas I find have 10 tortillas, so I have 2 leftover.
To make your own chips: Cut into fourths (a pizza cutter works great). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 375degrees for 8-10 minutes, until chips begin to color.

I have doubled this recipe and frozen with success.
I think using black beans are way better than pinto (no meat so I need the umph). You can use dry beans for added value. I freeze the rest in 16 oz increments. Less than a $1 for dry beans and I get 5-6 cups from it (with added onion, garlic, and seasoning). A 15oz can is what, $1 also?

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post #22 of 27
Bumping up this thread because I came across a list of cheap meal ideas.

http://food.aol.com/dinner-tonight/c...383x1200828934
post #23 of 27
I will make a pork or beef roast - then use leftovers to make more meals out of them. Like egg noodles, peas, & then the meat diced & tossed in.

"Hobo hotdish" is a fave of mine....hamburger on the bottom, onions, potatoes, then some tomatoes & carrots on top. I make a big roaster full of that & frozen into meals for 1 I can get I think 6-10 meals out of it.
post #24 of 27
SPAM, while sounding pretty nasty, is actually a pretty good suggestion.

Contrary to the popular myths, it's not made of 'bad things'.
Quote:
The common assumption is that Spam is made of stuff even pigs don't like to admit they've got. Not so, says a spokeswoman for Hormel Foods, which manufactures Spam. It contains a mixture of ham and chopped pork shoulder. (Ham is the pig's thigh; pork is everything else.) Ham is Hormel's top-of-the-line product, and Spam was created in 1937 partly to use up what was left of the pig after the ham had been removed. But only the wholesome parts.
post #25 of 27
I like baked potatoes with black beans, salsa, and cheese on top.
post #26 of 27
When I was growing up a "treat" was a fried spam sandwich with egg, tomato and cheese on toast. It is actually very tasty! I admit, I still crave it sometimes.
post #27 of 27
According to a story I heard on the local public radio station, tuna sales are way up, as people are looking to cut down on food costs. Tuna salads are relatively cheap - macaroni, mayo, tuna, and whatever frozen veggie is on sale that week mixed together.

When we were struggling, we only ate meat a few days a week. Other than that, we ate filling vegetarian dishes - lentils are good and cheap, as are lots of dried beans. Even now, we think of meat as a side dish, rather than the main course. Fill up the plate with rice/pasta and veggies, and stick just a small piece of meat in the corner.

http://www.ivu.org/recipes/ <--- lots of good vegetarian recipes from around the world.
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