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Your best budget meals - regular and veg/vegan


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We went about $5K over on our remodel, and we have to quickly tackle this cc. I want to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible.

I know there have been a million threads on this in the past, but I’m looking for your best budget recipes. I’ll take veg/vegan and non-veg/vegan (I’m eating more veg/vegan because I will generally only eat local, grass-fed meats, and that’s just not in the budget at the moment. My husband doesn’t care, and is gonna want meat most days, so I’ll have to do some meat recipes for him).

What I’m planning to do is make a weekly menu with 7 inexpensive meals and use the leftovers from the meat meals for his lunches or a second night’s dinner. On those nights, I’ll just eat something else.

I appreciate any ideas you have. I’m hoping to cut my grocery budget to around $400 from $600, and that will include our toiletries and cleaning supplies. I think I can do it, but I just need ideas and a plan. ?

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26 minutes ago, StaceyinLA said:

We went about $5K over on our remodel, and we have to quickly tackle this cc. I want to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible.

I know there have been a million threads on this in the past, but I’m looking for your best budget recipes. I’ll take veg/vegan and non-veg/vegan (I’m eating more veg/vegan because I will generally only eat local, grass-fed meats, and that’s just not in the budget at the moment. My husband doesn’t care, and is gonna want meat most days, so I’ll have to do some meat recipes for him).

What I’m planning to do is make a weekly menu with 7 inexpensive meals and use the leftovers from the meat meals for his lunches or a second night’s dinner. On those nights, I’ll just eat something else.

I appreciate any ideas you have. I’m hoping to cut my grocery budget to around $400 from $600, and that will include our toiletries and cleaning supplies. I think I can do it, but I just need ideas and a plan. ?

My go to favorite is brown rice and lentil tacos.  

1 cup of brown rice

1 cup of lentils

2 packages of taco seasoning

4-5 cups of water 

Cook in crock pot on low for about 6 hours

serve in tortillas as if it is taco meat....add cheese whatever veggies you put on tacos.

I also eat it like a dip with tortilla chips.  

Edited to add--this makes  a LOT of food. Feeds my family of 3 men plus me with leftovers for a couple of days.

Edited by Scarlett
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Black bean tacos are a hit here.  I start off the beans with a finely chopped cilantro/onion/garlic/peppers blend sauteed together, then add a can of black beans and a half a can of water.  I simmer them for a while, then add a bit of salt and a capful of apple cider vinegar.  I serve them on corn tortillas, barely fried in a little bit of oil, with avocado, queso fresco, and homemade pico de gallo. Cilantro rice is served on the side (add the cilantro while cooking, dress with a bit of lime after).

Also...
-Lemon buccatini (cook, reserve a cup of the pasta water, and add butter or olive oil, the juice and zest of one lemon, parmasan, salt & pepper, and about half the water.  Cook on high 2-3 minutes until it comes together or add a little more water if too thick)
-white bean chili
-barley "salad" (cook as the box says, but in a side pan sautee diced carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and onion.  Add this to the cooked barley with a large spoonful of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.  Salt & pepper)
 

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We're needing to cut our budget for the next few months as well. I'm getting back in the habit of shopping the sales, plus we remembered we have a $50 gift card to Trader Joes. Here are some random thoughts:

Eggs. We just got avocados on sale and will stuff avocados with cheesy scrambled eggs. 

Local trout was on sale, so that will work for tonight.

Trader Joe's organic chicken served a variety of ways.

My family doesn't like beans, but I love them. I can probably get away with chicken tacos or quesadillas for DS and we can have bean tacos.

Trader Joes vegetarian Italian sausages. Brown and add to soups, serve in a hotdog bun, or add to a pasta dish.

Pancakes with whatever fruit is in season. Same with French Toast.

Homemade pizza or frozen pizza on sale.

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I like to make use of grocery store rotisserie chicken.  I think many stores sell them for 5 or 6 dollars.

Chicken and noodles

Chicken pot pie

Chicken salad

 

I usually buy 4 chickens at a time.  We eat two that night for dinner (there are a lot of us).  I will take the meat off the other two chickens and freeze them in portions according to my chicken pot pie and chicken and noodles recipes.

 

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51 minutes ago, Junie said:

I like to make use of grocery store rotisserie chicken.  I think many stores sell them for 5 or 6 dollars.

Chicken and noodles

Chicken pot pie

Chicken salad

 

I usually buy 4 chickens at a time.  We eat two that night for dinner (there are a lot of us).  I will take the meat off the other two chickens and freeze them in portions according to my chicken pot pie and chicken and noodles recipes.

 

 

This would probably work for dh for sure. Honestly, it was recently deboning 2 store-bought rotisserie chickens for my daughter (and they were from Whole Foods) that made me decide I may never eat chicken again. It really grossed me out for some reason.

I do get these for my husband though, and if only he is eating it, it’ll likely make him 3-4 meals.

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Great ideas thus far!

In winter, I feel like I can do better - soups (and dh is fine with no meat as long as they’re flavorful - I make a LOT of soups in the winter), beans and homemade cornbread, chili, etc.

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Spaghetti - to get more veggies, I add the Kroger frozen mirepoix or cajun mirepoix blend with the sauce, makes a chunky sauce, ups the taste and the nutrition, and one bag is just over $1 here

Chicken alfredo fettucine - with spinach (frozen leaf spinach or wait until the fresh baby spinach is on markdown and then put it in the freezer till you're ready to use it)

Make a meat gravy (chicken or ground beef is what I'll use) that's also got some veggies of some kind (again, the frozen mirepoix blend or chopped onions or spinach) and serve it over rice

My mom used to take cooked rice and mix it with seasoned meat (either cooked chicken or ground beef). The beef version was one of my favorites. When I started feeding my large family, I realized she wasn't doing it because of how it tasted but because of how economical it was.

Shepherd's Pie (but with ground beef, which is technically NOT shepherd's pie, but I can't remember the correct name.)

Potato casserole - This is a recipe that I made. Basically, this is an upside down shepherd's pie, but since my dh isn't keen on mashed potatoes, I layered the bottom of the dish with sliced potatoes and put the meat and veggie mix on top (instead of the meat and veggie mix on the bottom and the mashed potatoes on top.) I can give you the full recipe if you want, but the biggest thing is making sure the potatoes are cooked all the way. I usually slice them and get them started cooking at a high temp (475) while I get the rest of it prepared.

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Baked potato night is a nice, inexpensive meal. Bake good sized potatoes. I cook up broccoli while they're cooking. Top potatoes with broccoli and cheddar cheese. You can add bacon or chicken to it to add meat. 

Enchilada Casserole - layer enchilada sauce, corn tortillas, a mix of sauteed onion, zucchini and black beans, cheese, repeat. Top with sauce and cheese and bake. 

I'll add more as I think of them.

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I don't know if it's the same where you are, but sometimes just doing a simple substitution of ingredients in dishes I already make can make a huge difference in our budget.  Kale has gotten pretty expensive and the bundles they sell are too large for our house (it's about $6/bundle here).  I can buy a smaller bundle of 5-6 collard green leaves for $1.29 and have it be great in two meals with no waste.  And nobody else in our house can really tell the difference after it's been cooked, unlike when I tried substituting spinach. 

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I have a family of meat eaters and they are not happy with just beans.  However, I've discovered if I mix brown lentils with hamburger, they will eat it fine and obviously it it's a lot cheaper than straight meat.  I do 2 pounds of meat mixed with 1 pound (dry) of cooked brown lentils.  We use this mixture in shepherd's pie, tacos, chili, sloppy joes, stuffed peppers etc.  

Bacon and Kale skillet, however, I use a lot more veggies (several onions, peppers, mushrooms etc) and then use brown rice that I just mix together with everything at the end.  1 pound of bacon serves my family of 8 hearty eaters plus gives us leftovers.  

http://www.jennaseverythingblog.com/2012/03/26/bacon-and-kale-skillet/ 

Stuffed potatoes (which then I create a second meal with leftovers by frying sausage, peppers, onions and chunks of leftover potato and adding BBQ sauce)

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My mil's famous cheap meal is cabbage and noodles. She even makes the noodles. I think the butter in it is the most expensive thing. 

I like Budget Bytes website for ideas. We like their pasta with smoked sausage. We omit the cheese. In a similar vein, we like Martha Stewart's one pan pasta. It is penne with tomatoes and basil. Super cheap and quick 

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My two best budget meals that everybody will eat are breakfast for dinner....so a big omelette (we do an Egyptian omelette with garlic and parsley, mini-peppers and cheese, or onions and tomato).... or French toast/pancakes/waffles and turkey sausage/bacon or veggie sausage/bacon.  (Kids like veggie bacon better than turkey.)   I almost always do a mix of olive oil/butter in the pan for sautéing the veggies.

I can get 18 cage free brown eggs at Walmart/Sam's for under $4.00.  We don't need all 18 to feed the 5 of us.   

 

The second meal is pasta.  Pasta with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan is super easy, super cheap, and filling.  We'll usually start with either a red lentil soup or pasta e fagioli...and often add salad (tomato/mozzarela or a Greek salad.)   Actually Greek salad itself is a favorite meal here for all of the kids.  If I do that, I'll try and buy/make a baguette to go with it, and add fruit, and maybe brownies or something more fun for dessert.  

Edited by umsami
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Oh and Friday night is homemade pizza night.  Sometimes I buy the dough at Trader Joe's or Publix (local grocery store), sometimes I make it.  Sometimes we use tortillas, pita bread, or naan.  Can doctor up a can of tomato sauce with some oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder or use pre-made spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce. We'll use Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce if making BBQ Chicken.  We buy the big bags of shredded mozzarella at a warehouse club.  If I'm doing BBQ chicken, I'll buy a chicken there too...and then make either homemade quesadillas or fajitas using the extra meat.  (For fajitas, I'll sauté peppers and onions with fajita spices (I use the BHG fajita recipe), and then add in the chicken with more spice to heat it up.

Kids also like to put cut up hot dogs, veggie bacon, gyro meat, etc. on the pizza.  

Edited by umsami
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