Anyone have recipes for meals on the cheap using more fresh ingredients from the produce department (fresh veggies especially). Of course packaged foods are much cheaper, but I'd like to avoid high sodium content and the myriad of preservatives in these items whenever possible.
Any help is very much appreciated; and thanks for all the great recipes you've all offered so far!
omoleyjoley from Martinsburg, WV
Editor's Note: Our series of recipes, $10 Dinners tries to use fresh and seasonal ingredients in a healthy and frugal meal. Here is a link directly to the entire category of $10 Dinners:
I usually buy frozen vegetables over fresh.
They are much cheaper and contain no sodium.
I have read that fresh vegetables start losing their nutrients soon after being picked if they are not frozen or cooked in a short period of time.
And frozen veggies are so much more convenient.
Plain, frozen veggies (those which are flash frozen) have no added sugar, salt or preservatives. They are frozen not long after they are harvested, leading them to be more nutritional than some fresh, the same goes for canned (although a lot of time canned has added ingredients that make them less nutritionally sound). You can them make your own sauces and such to go over the veggies.
For ex. Apples can be picked and stored up to 6 months before they are placed on the shelves, GROSS! If you were to use frozen apples (for say a pie) than you would eating apples that essentially were only a day or two old.
for a tasty side dish, saute some onion, green pepper and mushroom in some olive oil until nicely cooked and tender, then toss in some chopped tomato and when the tomato is heated thru (about 30 seconds) sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
To make this a main course, toss in some sliced leftover chicken or beef about a minute before the tomatoes go in and serve with multi grain rolls, or on toast.
Check and see if you have a local farmer's market or health food co-op. Sometimes I can find good deals on fresh produce in season at the farmer's market. We don't have such a co-op in my area now but I miss the one in Atlanta!
I've found frozen produce here (SC) to usually be quite a bit more expensive than fresh, in-season stuff, but far superior to canned. The one exception to the latter statement is canned tomatoes. I don't mind using them in vegatable soup, for example, but everything else must be fresh or frozen, or it will taste like canned soup. I'm liable to put just about any kind of veggie in my soup, but it *must* have okra, lima or butter beans, green beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and lots of butter. Beyond that, just whatever sounds good at the moment. Oh, and mine will get fresh ground black pepper and crushed hot red pepper, and a little sugar & salt, but be careful with these; once in, you can't take them out. And if you use oleo instead of butter choose the best brand you can find. Cheap oleo will really mess up good soup.
When you learn what you like in your soup you can make large batches and freeze it in portion-size containers or freezer bags. I think it's even better reheated.
Happy cooking! - Alph
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