Eatin' Good - Fast and Frugal Meals

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

When it comes to meal time the less prep time with less money is better. Hearty and healthy is the key while leaving time for family. Try two budget friendly rules for fast and frugal meals.

Make it Macaroni!

Macaroni is not only a satisfying staple, but it's easy on the grocery bill as well. With generic boxes of macaroni and cheese selling for as little as $.20 a box, it can make one of the cheapest and heartiest meals. Plus, the kids love it! If the prepackaged fare isn't to your taste, purchase a box of macaroni itself for $.50 a box and make a meal from scratch.

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  1. Add a new spin to mac & cheese. Try mixing up a batch of the traditional style but toss in some extras. With a jar of salsa added, you have instant Salsa Mac. Stir in a variety of cheeses or make it with whole wheat noodles. Add broccoli for a healthy twist or extra chili for some added zest.

  2. A new tuna casserole. Make a box of macaroni and cheese as directed. Then, to it add one can of cream of celery soup, one can of tuna, and a _ cup of milk. Spread in a greased baking dish and top with shredded cheddar. Bake at 350º until heated through. Instant tuna casserole for under $3.

  3. Whip up a beef casserole. Brown 1 lb. of hamburger while boiling 7 oz. of macaroni elbows. Mix the hamburger and macaroni with _ cup of Miracle Whip and a large jar of spaghetti sauce. Heat and top with cheese or pour into a baking dish and bake.

Make it Sunny Side Up for Sundown!

Breakfast is usually a meal that's easy on the pocketbook, so why not make it for dinner instead? Often mornings are rushed and those appetizing morning meals go uncooked, opting for cold cereal instead. Keep the cereal for the mornings, and look forward to healthy breakfasts in the evenings. With some prepackaged waffle/pancake mixes and a dozen eggs the evening meal can cost less and fill more.

  1. Fold extras into an omelet. Take some time to inventory leftovers in the fridge. Have an extra tomato, pepper, or onion? Make a vegetable omelet. Leftover pizza ingredients or chipped steak? Create a pizza omelet with pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, the works and top it with warmed pizza sauce. Try making a cheese steak omelet with leftover chipped steak, some onions, and mozzarella cheese. Anything can find its way into the folds of this favorite.
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  2. Traditional ham and eggs. If you've made ham, steaks, or a meal that required one or two slices of bacon, you most likely have leftovers in the fridge. Plan for a traditional meal of eggs with a slice of meat on the side. Make ham and eggs, steak and eggs, or bacon and eggs with toast. Don't forget a nice side dish of asparagus to add some greens.

  3. The short stack, Belgian style. By using a box of pancake mix, you can prepare a stack of pancakes filled with fresh or frozen fruit. Opt for the alternative, Belgian waffles. Use the same fruits, add whipped cream, and you have a dinner and a dessert in one. These are not only filling, but they are a delicious treat for family game night.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at Englishteach@rcn.com or visit her website at http://users.rcn.com/wesavedamutt/Writer

September 11, 20060 found this helpful

Make it dried beans! One of the tastiest and cheapest dishes I make is Great Northern Beans & Ham. I usually plan on it when I have leftover ham and preferably a meaty ham bone. A 2 lb package of dried Northern beans at Aldi's is .99. Add to that a little meat and seasonings and you have a delicious and inexpensive meal. Great with cornbread...of course! Also you can freeze leftovers or use in other meals or even soup.

Beans are very nutritious and I think I read that they contain more fiber than any other food!

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November 11, 20060 found this helpful

I always have a house full of boys, and they can definitely put some food away.

here are 2 recipes to make a house full leave smiling without hurting your wallet.

texas style mac and cheese

-1 pound ground beef

-2 boxes mac and cheese

-1 pkg. taco seasoning

brown ground beef while boiling macaroni, drain both. mix macaroni and beef, add cheese sauce* and taco seasoning and serve hot.

Cheesy golash-

1 pkg. mini cheddar dogs/or cheddar sausages

2 cans mushrooms (preferably cut, or steams and pieces)

2 boxes mac and cheese

cook cheddar dogs while boiling macaroni.

drain macaroni, add cheddar dogs and drained mushrooms. stir in cheese sauce* , serve hot.

*if your mac and cheese comes as a powder, make sauce as directed on box separate from macaroni.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my family.

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