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Cheap Meal Ideas

Do you need help learning how to stretch your meal budget? This guide has tips on what is both nutritious and cheap when money is tight. This guide contains cheap meal ideas.

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Fork wound with spaghetti and ketsup meal.
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November 15, 2011 Flag
40 found this helpful

Okay, this is my first ever tip, but here goes.

For a couple of years, my husband and I had very, very little cash flow and began going hungry at times, here and there. We never had a lot of food, but it only felt bad when we had nothing but dried noodles and water; rice, if we were lucky.

Realizing something had to be fixed, I scourged our local Wal-Mart and found the best deals I possibly could. Especially since we have no working stove top or oven, so we have to get creative with our eating habits. If you ever find yourself in this position, here are my suggestions for your grocery list:

  1. Hamburgers If you have a George Foreman or any other way to cook hamburgers, buy the patties. I found you can get 25 semi-thin patties for 7-10 dollars, depending on your brand preference. For us, we always just did whatever was cheapest! Once you have the patties, you only need to buy some ketchup, mustard, one head of lettuce, and one package of buns at a time, giving you more time to make more cash before needing another package of buns.

    Also, after you've made this initial purchase, you won't find yourself needing to buy ketchup or mustard for a while, which also saves on cost the next time around! If you have enough in your pocket book, pickles make for a nice flavor enhancer, and are still relatively cheap. Just stay away from the cheese! It may be absolutely delicious, but it's also what will kill your check book when it comes to eating hamburgers. Without the cheese, they are a very cheap meal!

  2. Rice: You can do so many things with rice and it's oh, so inexpensive! I like it just plain with butter, soy sauce is inexpensive. As most of you probably know, you can use other forms of liquid to steam it in in order to give it a different flavor. My husband's favorite was chicken broth.

    Now, we had no working stove top (still don't) but one plug-in burner does the trick! Chicken broth in bulk is so inexpensive and gives the rice a wonderful flavor!

  3. Split Pea Soup: A bag of peas, an onion, a little bacon, milk, and you are ready to go! If you have no stove top, see if anyone has a slow cooker you can borrow, or maybe you're lucky enough to have one of your own. I got one for Christmas! Anyway, I buy the chuck pieces of bacon - not only are they a heck of a lot cheaper, but they are fattier, which is better for your soup, anyway. This costs less than ten dollars to purchase and used to last me a week!

    If you don't like split pea soup, feel free to look around at other soups. They can be some of the cheapest meals if you keep them simple, and adding something like a box of 6 bread sticks for less than $2! Just heat them in your toaster oven, if you have one and no oven, like us.

  4. Dollar Tree: If you happen to have a Dollar Tree in your area, there are some foods they carry that actually aren't that bad. First of all, in my opinion, they carry the best ketchup. You can find stuff there that has no high fructose corn syrup, and it tastes much better than the stuff that has that crud in it. Also, in their frozen foods, you can sometimes find Savory snacks by Pillsbury, yum! I don't suggest going here all the time, but if you have $5 to your name, you can find a little something to hold you over until you find a way to make that next dollar.

  5. Pork: I am a meat eater and it was very hard for me to stay away from the meat section when we were so poor. We can afford food now, and are ready to move out of this kitchen-less home. Pork is great though. You can have it as steak, in pieces with your rice, or make Chinese noodles (pork, ramen noodles, and eggs topped with soy sauce, add green onion if desired).

I hope someone out there finds this helpful! I know how difficult it can be to work hard, and still go cold and hungry. If any of you out there are in this position or a similar one, just remember to keep holding your head high. God never gives us a challenge we can't handle, scripture promises as much.

If you are out there, feel free to let me know about it. Believe it or not, I most likely know a lot of what you are going through and would like to help in any way possible. Even if it's just an ear to hear and a prayer to pray. I love you, and God does, too!

Have a wonderful and frugal week, all! Here's a cup of cocoa, on me!

By Chelle152 from Coquille, Oregon

A cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream and a candy cane.

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March 31, 2009 Flag
0 found this helpful

I am looking for cheap meals please. With the economy the way it is, and my husband and I both on a Pension I'm having a bit of struggle to be inventive and frugal as well. Help!

By Leah Jones from Bauple, Australia

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September 7, 20090 found this helpful

My bf is very picky and won't eat a lot of things but here is one thing he loves:

Mix a box or two of velveeta shells and cheese with a pound or two of hamburger and you are done! You can add onions or peppers or whatever you like to this, but he just eats it plain or with broccoli mixed in. It's good and really cheap!

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May 21, 20100 found this helpful

If possible, buy meat, vegetables or fruits in bulk, divide into storage containers and freeze for use in soups, and stews, etc.

Dry beans and rice, when cooked properly, can be filling and are often a good bargain. Ramen noodles can be the basis of many recipes. And they are cheap. Pasta is generally cheap and you can make your own sauce if you like. I bought a large crock pot and make stew that will feed a family of 5 for 2 or 3 days. Hamburger Helper can be made with less than the pound of ground beef called for, ground pork sausage can be used as the meat, or make without meat if you desire. Many times these items are offered with coupons or sales.

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June 28, 20100 found this helpful

Go to www.hillbillyhousewife.com and look for her $45 emergency menu for feeding a family of 4-6. You may not want to make those meals, but it will give you ideas. This is a great site in general, and it's linked everywhere.

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October 14, 20100 found this helpful

Growing up my mom would buy two of those Lipton noodle packets (now named Knorr) like butter and herb and add a can of peas to it. She found a way to add peas to everything. You can add hamburger too.

I like to brown a pound of hamburger in a big skillet, drain, then add a can of diced tomatos. Add the noodles from a box of mac-and-cheese, add water, milk and butter to barely cover. I never measure, it doesn't have to be precise. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are done and add the cheese packet and two or three slices of american cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. For big families, use two boxes of mac-and-cheese.

Another meal is a pack of bratswurst, head of cabbage, an onion and a few potatoes. Cut everthing up, cover with water and boil everything until brats are cooked and potatoes are tender. Season to taste. Soup can last days. To stretch it more, add more potatoes. Can make it in a crockpot too.

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October 20, 2011 Flag
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I live on less than $800 a month. Can anyone help me with some very cheap recipes?

By defile from St.John, IN

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October 21, 20110 found this helpful

Have you looked on this website. If you type in budget Recipes or cheap recipes you will find alot of them. I know because I have looked them up. Good Luck.

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October 31, 20110 found this helpful

You have to rethink the way you cook and eat. As lots of the posters have suggested take advantage of offers at supermarkets and if you can buy ahead if there is a really good offer on something you use regularly.

However now is the time to think about what you eat and whether it is actually nourishing you or just filling you up with empty calories which leave you feeling full for a while but then craving more food as you body tries to get what it needs.

So if you rethink in terms of value for money being value for your body you will steer away from packages and mixes and spend the resources you have on the best basics you can afford. 1 good sized chicken roasted will feed you for a week. With the addition of fresh veg, rice and beans each day you can have a different tasting main meal and enough for lunchtime sandwiches too. Even the soup you make at the end of the week with the chicken carcass, an onion, a carrot some dried herbs and pearl barley will do you more good than any packaged, pre-prepared rubbish.

If you can go to the farm gate for things like potatoes, onions and beans, buy in bulk and split with others in the same fix as you, you will make friends and save money because farmers will give you deals. Wait until the end of the day at farmers markets and ask them what they will give you for $5, you will be amazed, they never want to take stuff home and would rather give it to you cheaply than throw it away.

The internet is your amazing free recipe book, start with Thriftyfun then move out from there, you will find so many cheap and nutritious recipes you won't have enough days of the week to use them all!

If you are interested I have loads of recipes I can send you just let me know, especially the ones for 'elastic chicken'!

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July 26, 20120 found this helpful

A filling food that isn't very nutritious but will fill you up are homemade flour-&-water noodles. You can use wheat flour to add a few nutrients, but anyway, it costs pennies:

To Make Flour & Water Noodles you will need about 1/2 cup of flour per person.

1. Boil a pot full of water.

2. Take 1/2 a cup of flour and add cool tap water to it a little at a time until it forms a soft ball. (If you add too much water, just add a little more flour.) Sometimes I add black pepper or garlic or onion powder.

3. Put the ball onto a plate and roll it into a thick cigar shape (or sausage-shape.) Cut the ball into pieces, rolling each piece off the plate and into the boiling water. Be careful you don't splash yourself.

4. Let them boil for a minute or two until they rise to the top. Scoop them out and enjoy with either spaghetti sauce, cheese, butter, gravy, or in soup.

As I said, it's not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it is very inexpensive and it will fill you up in an emergency - "I have no food left" situation. They are a very inexpensive alternative to pasta, and they taste pretty good.

FYI: This is a great website: www.dollaraday.com. This woman is able to cook three meals per day for $1 per person, per day.

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April 3, 20160 found this helpful

Cook 1/2# ground beef with 1 large (cheap) onion and drain. Cook 1# elbow macaroni and drain. Put the meat and elbows in a large bowl and add 1 can of Spaghetti sauce(I use Hunts 4 Cheese) You can then add any bits of cheese you have or none at all. bake @ 350 til bubbly. This should give you about 5 meals, depending on your appetite You can eat it all week or it freezes well. If you like garlic you can add powder (.99 at Aldis). We also like an Aldis bagel with a fried egg and cheese, and add bacon or ham when we have it. Serve with a side of any fruit...delicious. For those of you with large families, you may like this tip: I buy a whole boneless ham when at a really good price , (make sure it's fully cooked) take it to the deli, where the slicers aren't exposed to raw meat, and have them slice it the way you'll use it best, I get the ends for soup, a slice or two from the middle and the rest deli-thin sliced for sandwiches. I then freeze most of it..A terrific savings over deli ham. When I make sloppy joes, I add a half can of smashed great northern beans to 1 # of ground beef. Hubby doesn't EVER eat beans, but he loves my SJ's.

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November 5, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas?

By Autumn

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November 6, 20100 found this helpful

Individual lasagna noodle rolls>>>you need:

2 cups marinara sauce (from a jar)

1 cup or so of shredded parmesan cheese

1 15 oz container low-fat ricotta cheese

1 lb mushrooms (cooked in bit of olive oil, sliced yellow onion & garlic)

1 egg slightly beaten

1 tab. oregano

(can also add chopped roasted tomatoes--optional)

and 12 Lasagna Noodles--partially cooked 3/4 of the way and drained (should feel smooth, not sticky)

To prepare>>

Pour 1 cup of the sauce to coat bottom of baking dish that'll hold the 12 rolls

To the ricotta, add the cooked mushroom mixture with a slotted spoon, add the beaten egg, add the oregano---mix well

Doing one noodle at a time, spoon 3 tablespoons of cheese mixture onto the noodle (1 Tab at top, 1 in middle, 1 towards bottom). Spread out the mixture to cover the noodle and roll tightly from bottom--place seam side down into baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce over the tops of the lasagna rolls and add some shredded parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 400^ F for 20 minutes, let rest. Can add garnish of fresh thinly sliced basil to add more flavor and color for presentation--- Can be easily frozen to serve whenever you want---just reheat at 350^F for 20 min when you want to serve them individually or more.

+++++++++++++

Turkey Meatloaf with Spinach Roll Up

2 lbs. ground turkey

2 eggs slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs

6 cups chopped fresh spinach

Sea salt and pepper to taste

(some sauce from a jar for serving on slices if wanted..yum!)

Mix turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, s&P with clean hands (don't overwork the meat or it gets tough)

Place meat onto a cutting board lined with foil and shape into a rectangle---place the chopped spinach to cover the entire meat mixture.

Taking the foil from the bottom, start to lift the "rectangle" to help start to ROLL the meat mixture, then carefully pull foil away and then continue until entire roll is completed.

Place turkey rolled-up loaf into a baking pan and bake 350^F for 1 hour and remove when browned--let rest a bit, then slice (you will see colorful green spiral in center of loaf)..This recipe can also be frozen to take out when needed to be eaten in slices. (You may also serve a small portion of sauce over each cooked slice for added flavor!)

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November 7, 20100 found this helpful

Burritos:

Ground beef

Potatoes, diced into small cubes

Onion, diced

Salt & pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with potatoes in skillet. When done, roll up in warm flour tortillas and serve with salsa or cheese if desired.

You can make burritos and freeze for a quick meal.

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November 8, 20100 found this helpful

Macaroni with tuna and peas

Cook package of macaroni (12-16 oz.) according to package directions. Because we are a dairy and gluten free house, we use gluten free pasta and stir in mayo, tuna, and frozen peas. If you like, you could cook regular macaroni and cheese and stir in tuna and peas. Alternative meats include using ground beef, salmon, or leftover chicken.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

I have a dish my husband calls prison food as a joke but he doesn't cook so he can't talk.

Layer a 8 x13 dish with mashed potatoes (buttered and salted). Top that with a layer of ground beef seasoned with a taco seasoning packet. Then end with a layer of 8 oz shredded cheese of your choice.

Bake until cheese is nice and bubbly.

And then a little more sophisticated (I picked this up at epicurious.com and have made it many times).

1 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered

6 russet potatoes peeled, quartered, lengthwise

4 large garlic cloves, halved

3/4 cup canned chicken broth

3/4 cup olive oil

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange chicken, potatoes and garlic in large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour broth over. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and oregano to combine. Pour evenly over chicken and potatoes.

Bake until chicken is cooked through and golden brown and potatoes are tender, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

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June 3, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

Anyone have any meal ideas that could stretch my £6.00 for 4 days please?

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