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Cheap Meals

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Obvious, but black beans and rice. I like to add some peppers and onions..onions are cheap, peppers a bit less, but green ones aren't too bad. 

 

15 bean soup with some cut up, sauteed sausage in it. or ham, if you have left over ham. Or even bacon. You can throw some greens in at the end if you want as well. (I buy the 15 bean soup mixed beans, but don't use the seasoning packet). OH, and I put onion in this as well, and often a pepper. 

 

Stick to frozen or canned veggies. 

 

 

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What do you have on hand? I would start with that list and go from there.

Rice pilaf with a bit of meat and veges can be mixed up in so many ways. But that is cheap for me b/c I always have tons of rice.

Make it asian flavor or curry or tex-mex. My DCs favorite is a bit of ground beef, garbanzo beans and this spice mixture . I serve salad and either plain yogurt or cucumber/garlic/yogurt sauce on the ised.

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Oh, and breakfast for dinner! Eggs, or even cheaper, french toast. Frozen breakfast sausages aren't very expensive either..not at all. Add some fruit, whatever is cheapest or that you have on hand and you are done. 

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Dried Lima beans or pintos, cooked, with cornbread. Homemade vegetable soup. Chili beans. ETA you could probably halve the amount of meat called for in the chili beans without anyone noticing as long as your DH isn't a super carnivore. Mine would notice and complain 😉

Edited by MotherGoose

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Do you have access to fresh local produce?  This time of year I can pick up really nice produce for cheap (plus whatever I can harvest out of my garden).  About 50% of our non-breakfast meals are some variation of grain, legume, and veggies.  Rice is the biggest hitter but I will use whatever is on sale...barley, quinoa, bulgar, farro, spelt, etc.....  And whatever dry beans are on sale.  I cook huge pots and freeze whatever I don't use that day in meal-sized portions.  Then I have limitless possibilities with produce, cheese, eggs, nuts, fresh herbs, sour cream, etc....  It never gets boring, it super cheap, and pretty healthy.

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Mexican variations, our favorite variation is taco bowls using beans and rice as a base

 

Stir Fry, bonus points if you serve it with frugal, simple egg drop soup 

 

Quiche with a rice crust

 

Homemade soup

 

Spaghetti boglonese

 

 

 

 

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spaghetti with homemade meatless sauce

 

homemade soup (tomato basil, chicken, veggie, chili) 

 

baked potato with toppings (chili, broccoli, cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc.)

 

Chicken - Buy a whole chicken and roast it. Eat it as an entree. Pull the leftover meat off of the bones (back and wing pieces) and use it to make chicken tacos (or lots of other things), freeze the bones. Later, use the bones and leftover* fresh carrots, celery and onion to make chicken stock. Then, use the stock to make soup. You can also save some of the chicken you pulled off the bones for the chicken soup, or you can use frozen cooked chicken that was leftover from other meals. 

 

Jambalaya (I cheat and use a mix) - sometimes with sausage or shrimp in it, sometimes meatless. 

 

 

 

 

*by leftover, I mean the veggies that have been in the fridge for a while and are wilting and looking "tired." They don't need to be pretty to add flavor to stock. 

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Baked potatoes with leftover bit of veggies and meat or beans if you have them.  One of my kids favorite dishes is to fry a bit of sausage or bacon in a pan, add onion and peppers, and chunks of leftover baked potatoes.  Pour BBQ sauce over and still till heated through.  If you wanted to skip the meat you could easily add beans.

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I think more important than the recipe is that you buy the ingredients cheap.  I only buy what's on sale and then I stock up.

 

 

If I buy on sale ground Beef and chicken are cheaper than veggies....

 

So this week at Aldi's Ground Beef (73%) was $1.80 per pound.  I use it in Spaghetti/Tacos/Shepard Pie/Homemade Hamburger Mac (actual hamburgers/meatloaf/Salisbury patties get lower fat meat).  

About every other month Kroger or Publix offers a BOGO on pasta, so it ends up being 50 to 75 cents per box.

 

 I just bought Prego at Publix for $1 per jar.

 

 A couple weeks ago Jif peanut butter and welch's jelly/jams were $1, I bought like 20(of the peanut butter, even the Simply was on sale!).  

 

I'm going to Aldi's again tomorrow for $1.49 boneless/skinless chicken breast, 49 cent eggs, $1.79 gallon milk, brown basmati rice 2 lbs. for $2.50.

 

We also do a lot of frozen veggies,either bought on sale for $1-1.50 per package at Kroger or regularly priced $1.50 at Aldi's. 

 

Red/Yellow Peppers were on sale earlier this summer for .75 each, I bought 20. Sliced them and froze them. They should last me all winter (I use peppers in almost everything-chili, stir fry, mexican, spaghetti)

 

The kids really like instant oatmeal packets (using regular quick oats takes too long?) they're on sale this week for $1 per box of 10 (kids eat 2 per meal each) so 20 cents for breakfast.

 

I used to feed all of us (2 adults, 2 teen boys, 1 teen girl)for around $700 (food only) but now with DD being GF Vegan we're closer to $800 per month.

 

Things I make regularly....

 

Spaghetti- 1.5 pounds ground beef, 2 jars of sauce, added in peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, 1.5 boxes of pasta (sale price) under $8 feeds 4-6

 

Stirfry- 1.5 pound chicken, 1 pound frozen or fresh broccoli, frozen green bean, 1 can water chestnuts, 1/2 c. shredded carrots, some peppers, onions, zucchini (on sale everywhere right now) mushrooms on brown rice with homemade sauce (honey, soy sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper in water then add cornstarch). Under $8 feeds 4-6

 

I try to keep all dinners to $20 per person. Notice I said person, per serving would be even less since these kids eat like their starving.

 

We also do Indian, with chicken, rice and lentils veggies cut up small are added to a jarred sauce.

 

Salisbury steak (basically hamburgers with gravy) baked potatoes and green beans

 

Tacos with black beans, rice, and ground beef

 

Sausage and cabbage

 

Brinner (breakfast for dinner)

 

 

 

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What's your usual grocery budget, and how many people does that feed? Also, are there any dietary restrictions (including "my kids hate spinach") and how good a cook are you?

Edited by Tanaqui

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Obvious, but black beans and rice. I like to add some peppers and onions..onions are cheap, peppers a bit less, but green ones aren't too bad. 

 

15 bean soup with some cut up, sauteed sausage in it. or ham, if you have left over ham. Or even bacon. You can throw some greens in at the end if you want as well. (I buy the 15 bean soup mixed beans, but don't use the seasoning packet). OH, and I put onion in this as well, and often a pepper. 

 

Stick to frozen or canned veggies. 

 

This sums it up.

 

when we were very poor, we ate:

beans and rice

rice and beans

WIC food (canned tuna, I think carrots?  canned juice, hot cereal - we don't eat dairy but if you do there is a lot of dairy)

banana bread - eggs, flour, sugar, oil, baking powder, bananas (highly caloric, filling, sweetish, easy to buy most ingredients in serious bulk for cheap and can be made without the eggs if necessary)

bananas

the greenest cheapest vegetable available that week - kale is often $1/bunch at Target, for instance

peanut butter, homemade bread, sometimes pretzels

apples

 

as far as *meals* go, rice and beans for lunch/dinner, banana bread or biscuits and eggs for breakfast.

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Thanks for the ideas!  

 

I shop sales and try to stock up on sale items.  So I am lucky that I have stuff on hand and the dc will eat most anything (except cooked spinach & 1 won't eat eggs).  Dh eats most stuff but is more picky than dc.

 

It is like my brain has shut down on coming up with ideas, especially since I realized I need to cut back on going to the grocery.  Knew y'all could help me.  I love the ideas and I am writing them down and putting them to action

   

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Peanut butter and jelly is a good staple too. Generic peanut butter and jelly work just fine. 

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Remember to shop the sales. Take whatever cheap cuts of meat you can find and plan meals around them. Is chuck roast really cheap? Pot roast and chili from the same roast. Pork loin? Roast it one night, do stir fry another night. When ground beef is on sale is the time for tacos and hamburger helper (home made of course, better than the box and cheaper).

 

Breakfast for dinner is also a thing I used a lot in the past.  Again, with fruit that was on sale.

 

Don't forget to pack lunches for dh with the leftovers...

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Cheap tuna meal. Onion sautéed on butter (find it on sale) add a can of diced tomatoes. Let it simmer then dump in can of tuna. Serve over rotini noodles. I think it's like a $4-5 meal.

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I make a large batch of fried rice every 2 weeks during school. One batch can last 3 days and is pretty filling.

 

Can add whatever meat you have sitting in fridge leftover. Chicken, beef, even bacon tastes great in it.

Then add an egg or two, chopped onion, some frozen veggies (we like peas and green beans), and if you like some spice add some finely chopped ginger. Done.

 

For a spicy sauce to spoon over it like Benihana's shrimp sauce with a kick:

1 cup mayo, 2  ketchup, 2 T Sriracha (add more if it's not spicy enough for you), 1 T finely chopped garlic.

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Start by listing what's in your pantry and freezer. Make as many clear-the-pantry meals as you can before you shop. Also, be careful about avoiding food waste and eat everything in your fridge. No forgetting stuff and tossing it later. If you're bad for that, add a leftover night to your weekly plan and just guiltlessly serve a bunch of stuff that doesn't go together. It's like a free meal!

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I think more important than the recipe is that you buy the ingredients cheap.  I only buy what's on sale and then I stock up.

 

 

Red/Yellow Peppers were on sale earlier this summer for .75 each, I bought 20. Sliced them and froze them. They should last me all winter (I use peppers in almost everything-chili, stir fry, mexican, spaghetti)

 

 

I totally agree with what you said about buying cheap and stocking up. How much you stock up depends on your storage space and how fast your family goes things but it is a huge money saver, plus when things are tight you can shop from your pantry and coast for a long time there.

 

I quoted your red pepper because it really made me laugh.  See my family vastly prefers red peppers to green so we use them in most everything too.  However your idea of buying 20 and it lasting all winter is what really got me laughing and here's why.  I live near an Amish community and I can buy produce in bulk at their auction.  Last year I bought 245 red peppers (at 35 cents each) plus 3 bushels of green peppers (about another 100), this is additional to the 15 peppers plants I have at home for fresh use in the summer and the multiple peppers I buy each week during the winter for salads.  I froze around 300 peppers last year and we are out.  Can't wait for September so I can stock pile again. So I hope you can see the humor from my side as I envision trying to make 20 peppers last all winter.

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in addition to all the above ideas, you can shop for veggies that are cheaper - in my area, carrots, cabbages, beets, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, yellow squash, turnips, kale and a few others are always cheaper than other veggies. You can add any of them to your stir fries, fried rice etc to make them very nutritious. I also buy sweet potatoes and bake them or chop them up and add them to any grain that I am cooking - they are a superfood and they add bulk to the grain like rice or barley while adding higher nutrition value to them.

If you have a friend with a costco membership, you can shop with them occasionally and buy large quantities of staples and freeze them.

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I start with in season vegetables, and not necessarily from the grocery store. Even if grocery store vegetables seem expensive, I've always been able to find another less expensive source. After that, whole grains and some protein. We like eggs and tofu for an alternative protein source and they're often less expensive. And I'd rather get slightly more expensive legumes like garbanzo beans and red lentils because they taste better to me, and they're still really cheap protein. Don't get them at the grocery store in little 1-pound bags though.

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I can make homemade pizza very cheap and it's a meal everyone enjoys--you don't feel deprived! Homemade sauce is really cheap and my recipe based on one 28 oz can tomatoes and 1 can tomato paste makes enough for 4 or 5 dinners--freeze leftovers in 1 cup mason jars (each jar is enough for a 2-pizza dinner). Mozzarella is pretty cheap, homemade crust very cheap, then whatever you like for toppings.

 

No allergies here, so many in our family could live on PBJ's for lunch everyday.

 

This is a good time of year to pick up produce very cheap--maybe even free if you have friends who grew too much zucchini! Our church has a big garden and anyone who helps harvest for food banks can take stuff home for their own use. Lots of farm stands and u-pick places--not everything is cheap, but some stuff definitely is.

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When our budget is tight, I start making every meal with a starchy base.  

 

Pasta, rice, potatoes (not as popular here), or bread.  Every.single. one.

 

We like many of the same stuff already mentioned--beans and rice of a thousand variations (this is my childrens' favorite meal), spaghetti and other pasta variations, chili, soup, chicken, chicken, chicken, breakfast for supper.  

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I followed a few different methods when we went really cheap ($500 for a family of 5, including toiletries)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Feed-Family-More-Less-Month-ebook/dp/B00710A0V6/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472035418&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=how+to+feed+your+family+on+%24250#nav-subnav

 

I used a lot of her ideas.  Now, that is an outdated book, and she had toddlers, so don't think you can do it for $200, but you can do a lot of the ideas.   She actually spent $170 at the store, saved $30 and then once a year spent $360 on a half a cow and used that for most of her meat.  I didn't do that.  I had no desire to eat only beef and I didn't want to fill my freezer with just beef.

 

But the rest of it was good.

 

Make your own mixes (like taco mix)

 

Have you tried Pioneer Woman's Wendy's frosty?  My kids loved it and it was pretty inexpensive to make.  I am throwing that in there as an  extra, it has nothing to do with the above book.

 

We basically did very easy meals.   A protein, a carb, a veggie.  That was dinner.  They might be mixed together to make a casserole type thing or pizza, but that was the staple.

 

I also only shopped the flyer.  Every grocery store has a flyer with their loss leaders for the week.  I shopped and meal prepped with those.  

 

I couponed for a while, but, well, yuck.  Very time consuming and not the foods we normally eat, so meal prep became too much of a challenge.  My kids wouldn't eat a lot of it. 

 

 

 

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For me, the best way to save is to reduce waste as much as possible. I've stopped bulk shopping and menu plan a couple times a week. This way I can use clearance items quickly, shop sales better, deal with schedule changes, and reduce any waste from unused produce. It's also easier to shop from my pantry and freezer this way. I do have to have more self control because I'm in the store more, but overall I think it helps me a ton.

 

I'm also a fan of the rice and bean menu (Pioneer woman's beans and cornbread is awesome!), and scratch cooking. The More with Less and Cheap, Fast, Good cookbooks are great.

Edited by FriedClams
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I don't have anything to add except if you use a lot of stock (I do) making your own can save a lot of money. Any time I am prepping veggies, I put all the ends and junk into a ziplock in my freezer (gallon size) I do carrot ends, onion skins, celery ends and leaves. When the bag is almost full I will either make chicken (save any carcasses and innards and freeze those as well) or beef (steak bones) or veggie (just plain) Throw it all in a large stock pot with water to the top. I also add some fresh herbs (I have a garden so it's free) usually lots of parsley, maybe a couple of garlic cloves and some whole black pepper. I simmer on low for a few hours, strain and then package up and freeze in individual containers. Also, if you like mushroom stock (can be used in place of veggie) save all the stems of the mushrooms and freeze those in a baggie too. When that's full add water and cook down. Strain and freeze. This has saved me a ton of money over the years because you can make so much from one pot. Plus I know what goes in the stock and I always have it on hand. Best of all it's free because you're just using stuff you would've thrown in the garbage.

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I skimmed and I don't think I'm repeating anything. :) I like to make a big batch of vegetarian chili (or if you get cheap ground beef, you can add that.) It lasts forever and is yummy and filling.

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Rice and beans

cheese or cheese and refried beans quesadillas

Spaghetti

Chili I double the recipe and serve left overs on baked potatoes another night

Grilled cheese, tomato soup

Bake a whole chicken for chicken dinner left overs served a scroll ups in tortillas, with cheese and whatever else you like

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Thank y'all :thumbup:

 

I have started a list of the ideas and started lists of what foods I have on hand. 

 

DawnM -- I actually have that Kindle book but had forgotten

 

 

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Potato Soup and corn bread is cheap and will feed our family for a couple of meals.
 

Serve and eat every little bite of leftovers. Plan a leftovers meal every few days.

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I have found that Monday's are often a good day to go grocery shopping because the stores here will mark down meat and other stuff that is close to expiration.

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I third Budget Bytes.  Also, our church maintains a budget cooking facebook page.  It is Budget Cooking 101 if that would help any

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Principles to follow:

Buy in bulk to reduce unit price

Beans from scratch instead of from cans, and from a big sack (10lbs or more) rather than a small plastic package

Meat as a condiment rather than a main item

Produce in season and from friends' and your own gardens

Bulk frozen veggies

Onions, apples, etc. by the larger bags instead of one at a time

Nuts are cheaper than normal right now

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Curious why not the little pound bag of beans?

 

Usually the smaller bags will cost more per pound than a bigger bag.  Although I will say we have a great local chain and their one pound bag prices are cheaper than any bulk sizes I've found anywhere else.  Even Costco is about 30% more.  So the little bags aren't always a bad price you just have to price compare.

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If you have a freezer, find out what days the local groceries send out sale flyers and stock up when things that you know you want to eat are on sale. I seriously buy at least 30 pounds of frozen veggies every time they go on sale, and that's how I can support my veggie habit. 

 

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