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I love these recipes thank you for your amazing recipes …
Hi, Elisa! So glad you like them! Thanks for letting us know!
I love all these great ideas ….Thank you for the quick recipes that are truly delicious..
You’re welcome Elisa!
MAKE YOUR OWN BREAD! I have been doing this for years, and my family loves it. I use whole grain flours such as barley I buy at the African market, white whole wheat and bread flour from Hudson Mill in KS — local to KC. Store bought bread almost always has junk in it, I also use honey, and organic molasses for sweetener. I make sure it has a nice soak to soften the shards on the whole wheat so it does not cut the gluten strands.
It is not only cheaper. but soooooo gooood. My family won’t let me buy from the store.
Also, I make bone broth in my power pressure cooker — I know the fans are here! I buy chicken feet from the Asian market, and add chicken bones from a carcass. It comes out like gold jello, and totally healthy as a base for everything. The left overs I keep a pot boiling for my dogs. I add it to their food, and one 16 yo girl can’t hear, or hardly see, but she can leap tables in a single bound.
My contribution here!
Great ideas Melody, thanks so much for sharing!
I loved reading this post and all comments, some great ideas to try. Here is my contribution from New Zealand.
I make a self crusting quiche with whatever I have available. All you need is 3 or 4 eggs and a little milk,some cheese, half cup of flour and whatever you want to flavor it with. I have used some diced onion and bacon, chopped spring onions and ham, a few diced tomatoes and frozen veges as well as a can of tuna and cheese. Whatever you have to flavor it will work.
It can go a really long way and one of those dishes great for large crowds – just make it in a huge pan
I love this! I am a college student and we have found most of this to be really true and we try to save money while still enjoying our love of cooking! All of our friends always ask how we eat so well and cook so much and these budget friendly items are the answer!
Wow, I really really love all this ideas!!!
I just moved in to Russia (Moscow) from UK, and I can tell you now, it’s not very easy to live in Moscow. The food is really really expensive here and tastes horrible. I have two little kids, which I need to make a dinner everyday after school and somedays it’s very hard to find inspiration on what to cook, so the kids will eat.
So please keep posting this great ideas and recipes, as I always on this site looking through the pages.
Thanks again, I love this web site…..
These are great ideas! I lived in alabama all my life and have grown up on buget southern cooking. Some of the cheapest meals are my family’s favorites:
1)Large white lima beans, onion, garlic, ham boulion, salt in the crock pot. Serve with corn bread feeds the whole family for $1
2)Chicken and dumplins
3) chicken and rice
4) corn beef and cabbage
5) The 3 meal pork roast: night 1 bake in oven, night 2 take the left over meat mix with bbq for pulled pork sandwiches, night 3 take the bone or hock and use in beans or greens.
6) shepperds pie
I just love ready all the ideas on ways to cook and using what you have in your kitchen. Makes me hungry and gets me thinking on new ideas.
We are always living paycheck to paycheck so we find the cheapest way possible to make a meal that will fill 5 of us. My husband came up with grilled cheese which i make a little different i add a little seasoning to the butter on the bread..I also get a big can of veggie soup and make beef rice to go in it..very filling. We came up with our own fajita, we would find chicken already cooked and sliced (sometimes can be found cheap) i take it and heat it up throw it on a tortilla with rice and ranch dressing..yum still my favorite.
We just made a dinner that made me think of this post and wanted to share:
Stuffed spaghetti squash (working title).
I just baked a spaghetti squash at 375 until I could pierce it very easily with a knife (maybe 20 to 30 minutes? Maybe longer…). Then, I took it out, sliced it open and scooped out the seeds. Take a fork and rake it along the sides to get the “spaghetti noodles” free. Transfer the strands to a bowl, mix in with a little olive oil and salt and fresh herbs (i used fresh basil and dried oregano). Then, we added some leftover spaghetti sauce and mixed it all together and scooped the mixture back in the squash halves. I topped it with shredded cheddar (mozzarella would have been better) and panko bread crumbs (toasted day old bread crumbled up works too) and baked it until the bread crumbs were crispy and the cheese was bubbling.
Very filling and VERY cheap:
-the squash costs around 2 bucks or less and fed two healthy eaters.
– leftover spaghetti sauce (anything could be used here. Crushed tomatoes / fresh tomatoes / just olive oil / alfredo sauce / etc)
One of my favorite “budget recipes” is stuffed cabbage. I can get away with 1lb of ground beef, 1/2 cup of uncooked rice, 1 small head of cabbage and 1 large can of store brand crushed tomatoes and 1 can of store brand tomato sauce. I make the stuffed cabbage and steam the rest of the cabbage pour melted butter on the cabbage and sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Usually this meal costs me less than $7 to feed a family of 4 and have enough leftover for the two adults for lunch the next day.
#1 budget saver requires space: big freezer and big pantry. My mantra is “When its cheap buy it in bulk”. I hate to pay full price for anything. By cost averaging this way I get to eat what I want, when I want, as cheaply as possible.
#2 Invest in good knives (a couple of serrated and a set of straight edge [kept SHARP –> you really are less likely to hurt yourself if you don’t have to “saw”/press really hard to cut through foods]) and cookware. You don’t need $2000+ cookware but quality pots will take high heat, go from stove to oven, won’t stick/burn as easily, will clean up more easily and won’t put teflon bits in your food. You’ll cook more often if the entire experience is positive from start to finish.
#3 the best value is always on whole unprocessed foods which require prep and cooking. So my other “best friends” are the BBQ, crock pot, 2 burner hotplate and breadmaker all of which are outside during the summer and all but the BBQ make great space heaters inside all winter.
#4 Try new things/give yourself permission to fail. Not all recipes will turn out perfectly every time (Murphy’s law pretty much guarantees they won’t when you are having company over) and you’ll be less likely to experiment and try new recipes or flavour combinations if perfection is the only acceptable outcome: ps. the kids won’t starve if they miss a meal here and there because “they won’t try anything new”.
I understand how planning out meals works for some people, but for those of us who get cagey at the idea of knowing what you’ll eat for dinner six days from now …. It requires some cooking skill or the desire to get skills, but it allows for more flexibility. Here are the cheap (but not tawdry!) methods we use:
1. Instead of planning meals, stock up on cheap vegetables and basic grains based on what is on sale / in season. Challenge yourself to integrate those items in every meal. Example: I always have onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, ginger, and garlic on hand. These are all pretty cheap at our farmer’s market and I can add them to most anything with lots of variety.
2. DON’T shop for recipes if you aren’t comfortable enough in the kitchen to use the ingredients in other meals. We had a friend who religiously followed Alton Brown’s recipes. They turned out well, because butter and salt usually tastes good, but he was spending over $50 for a weekday dinner! Those Food Network people are bankrolled …. and obnoxious.
3. Jazz up beans and rice. I love beans and rice, but I love the add ons even more. We shred up iceberg lettuce or cabbage, diced onions, tomatoes, shredded block cheddar, fresh cilantro, sour cream and hot sauce. They’re all relatively cheap ingredients and you can easily omit what you don’t have or don’t like. It also makes leftovers more palatable.
4. Know your substitutions. Example: when making the cheap box of mac and cheese, be flexible with that half a cup of milk requirement. We’ve (successfully) used sour cream, unsweetened rice or almond milk, plain yogurt or chicken broth. Substitutions are a good way to fake your way through a recipe. It might not taste exactly like the original, but sometimes it tastes better.
5. Never, ever, ever, ever buy anything pre-cut or sliced or seasoned. Your time isn’t that valuable.
6. Buy The Flavor Bible. My boyfriend got it for me and it was the best gift. Instead of recipes, it just lists complimentary foods, spices and meats. Like, under “Apricots” it will list all of the foods that go well with apricots, highlighting those that are especially complimentary. It’s great for people who don’t love following directions in recipes or if you are trying to save a recipe. It’s wonderful.
7. Use your leftover fruits and vegetables for health and beauty routines. If an avocado has gone too ripe, google uses for it as a hair or face mask.
Good luck and I hope everyone keeps sharing their tips!
Great ideas – I really want to try making yogurt. It is amazing how much money you can save by buying ingredients instead of convenience foods. Pasta was my go to meal when my son was growing up, there was always some kind of pasta dish that he could reheat after school or soccer – ready for him in the frig.
We eat meat once a week, which keeps our food costs down but a favorite meal I make is a casserole made with chickpeas, spinach (wilted is best) a cup of orzo and either a can of chopped tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes. Add some basil, thyme, oregano, and garlic for flavor and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
It’s a complete meal. Sometimes we add some cheese to the top, feta is especially good!
I’ve found that adding bulgar wheat to ground beef has been great for reducing the amount of red meat that we eat and making it go farther, while adding more protein and fibre to our diet. A few minutes before I put the meat on to brown, I put 3/4 cup of bulgar wheat on to boil with 1 cup of broth or water, then cook as I would rice for 15 minutes. When the meat has browned, I add the cooked bulgar wheat and any herbs, spices, onion, garlic. Is wonderful in pasta sauce, burritos, stews, casseroles, meatloafs, etc.
One of the best cheap recipes I have is for homemade chili! All you need is 1 lb ground beef/turkey (browned & crumbled), 1/2 an onion chopped, a large can of diced tomatoes, one 8-oz. can tomato sauce, one 6-oz. can tomato paste, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of chili beans and about 2-4 tablespoons of chili powder. Throw it all in a large pot (don’t drain the beans!), bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low/med-low and cook for at least an hour. I like to add the chili powder half an hour before serving so it doesn’t get too bitter. This recipe works great with crock-pots, too!
Anyone have a good old-fashioned “Ham and Cabbage” recipe for the crock pot? My Mom and my friend used to just throw a ham in the crock pot with a quartered cabbage, a little water, let it cook all day, and then add quartered potatoes and cook until they were tender. I want to try it, but, do not remember what spices, etc. would go well.
Sounds a lot like New England Boiled Dinner. ~Elise
Elise, I work in a food bank at a local church. I get an assortment of canned foods to put into packages for those who come to the church in need of food. While packing the food bags it occurred to me that surely I can group these canned/boxed foods in such a manner that I can give a family “a meal”. (I try to put enough for 4 dinner meals in each bag) I see from the posts that many of you really stretch your budget. I only have access to canned/boxed items donated to the church. I put bean and rice donations together in bags, I put tuna helper and a can of tuna together, I thought of putting hamburger helper together with pinto beans or canned chilli or Mac & Cheese donations, which are plentiful, with a can of chilli. I am looking for ideas of ways to combine the variety of canned goods in ways that make useful “go togethers” for a meal. Might there be any suggestions which could help me better serve so many families in need right now. Thank you for all suggestions. Annie
Here’s another way to spice up budget cooking:
a gourmet fried egg sandwich
A fried egg (over medium, still some yellow yolk to run) with mayo spread over bread, top the egg with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumbers, cilantro, a little of salt & pepper. Yum!
It looks and taste really fancy and simple.
It’s also easy and quick to make.
Also very healthy with all the vegetables in the sandwich.