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Cheap Meal Ideas

Category Cheap Meals
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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By 40 found this helpful
November 15, 2011

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.

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    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!

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  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.

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  6. 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!

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

By Chelle152 from Coquille, Oregon

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August 6, 2008

With times so tight, I am glad that my family enjoys budget friendly meals. Here are some of my fave recipes that have my families stamp of approval (and they are easy and cheap!)

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Sausage Goulash

Ingredients

Directions

Cook noodles and drain. Brown sausage in frying pan, breaking up into small pieces. Add cabbage, stir and cook until cabbage is tender. Add to noodles and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss lightly and serve. Surprisingly tasty!

Impossible Vegetable Pie (Quiche)

Ingredients

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a pie plate. Cook broccoli, drain. Mix broccoli, onion, pepper and cheese in pie plate. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth with a whisk or in blender. Pour over ingredients in pie pan. Bake until golden brown and done in the center about 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before eating. I make 2 of these at a time, because they are great reheated for breakfast, lunch or anytime. Use whatever veggies or cheese you have on hand!

Company Pasta

Kids love this!

Ingredients

Directions

Combine pasta with veggies and bacon. Mix lightly and keep warm. Heat Velveeta with milk over low heat. Stir until smooth. Place pasta mixture on a platter or bowl. Top with sauce. A delicious and economical dish.

The Best "Beefaroni" Ever

This makes a nice big pot, great leftovers.

Ingredients

Directions

Cook the ground beef, onions and garlic in a big pot on the stove. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups UNCOOKED macaroni, stir. Simmer 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, scoop into a bowl and enjoy. I drizzle any rolls, or bread I have on hand (even hot dog or hamburger rolls) with olive oil. sprinkle a little Parmesan and garlic on and broil and I am good to go.

Hope you enjoy. Blessings to all!

By Carol from Landisville, PA

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By 0 found this helpful
May 1, 2008

Chop up one onion; mix with one pound ground beef. Cook until done and drain off grease. Mix brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. mustard into a bowl. Then add one can of pork and beans into the same bowl. Add to ground beef and let simmer for 20 minutes.

By Robin from Washington, IA

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October 15, 20040 found this helpful

This recipe is so economical. For a family of four I buy 2 boxes of mac & cheese at 25 cents each, 2 cans of pork & beans at 33 cents each and a package of hot dog wieners for 50 cents (only use half the package for this recipe). I buy it all at the Sav A Lot store.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 28, 2012

This is a great one-dish meal! Inexpensive to make!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 31, 2009

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

Answers

March 31, 20090 found this helpful

What great meal ideas! There are also a lot of good meals, menus, and tips on hillbillyhousewife.com. I love saving money and this is a good site for information.

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April 3, 20090 found this helpful

I belong to Sparkpeople.com It's a site for living a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of meals serving 4 that are under $10 (US).
I make what's called Pho' it's a Viet soup that is very easy to make. Just find Pho seasoning, make the broth with that add 1 chunked up chicken breast, rice noodles and green onion. Once it's done you add bean sprouts and Thai basil. It's a lovely soup and very filling.

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April 3, 20090 found this helpful

Fresh vegetables are less expensive if you can garden them, get them from a local farmer or farmer's market, or buy at a store that stocks only locally produced vegetables and fruit. Fresh vegetables and fruits are also what people need the most, and miss the most when they don't get them for a while.

Liven them up by varying your cooking method (boil, bake, roast, steam, stir-fry, soup, stew, slice, dice, whole), and by spending your money intelligently on spices -- even better if you can keep an herb garden in a window box or pots in the house.

Use meat as a flavoring for the vegetables, rather than as a full 1/3 of the plateful. Ground meats, or whole meats diced finely, can be spread throughout a large vegetable dish, satisfying a whole family on just half a pound. The same can be done with just a sprinkling of cheese; be sure to use a strongly flavored cheese, so that the flavor goes further and you won't need as much, parmesan and cheddar rather than mozzarella, for example.

Fiber makes you feel fuller, faster. Go for whole grains like brown rice instead of white, whole wheat instead of white bread.

Fruits are cheaper, healthier, and more satisfying than most prepared desserts, so fill your kids' lunchboxes with fruit snacks instead of cookies or muffins. I highly recommend getting a bento box from http://www.ichibankanusa.com (most are around $1.50 to $2.00 per single-tier box) and filling it in bento style: 2 ounces of protein/meat, 1/2 C starch such as rice or potato, and the rest with fresh fruit and vegetable. That's the proper proportion for a child's meal, and the proper amount as well. For an adult, pack two bento boxes, one just like the child's and the other with more fruit, for a healthy, weight-controlling lunch and snack, since adults need more food than children. In fact, do a net search on bento and see the creative, fun, healthy ways that people eat very cheaply when making bento.

Remember too that variety is the spice of life. You can serve cabbage four nights in the same week and no one will really complain, as long as you make very different meals with it. Cabbage soup, cabbage in your stir-fry or egg rolls, cabbage stuffed with rice and sauce and a little ground lamb or beef, cabbage cole slaw. Put leftovers in the freezer, or put the tiny portions in the kids' lunches, since tiny leftover portions are perfect for bento.

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April 3, 20090 found this helpful

www.sparkpeople.com/10recipes.pdf There are 10 meals that serve 4 people for under $10.00 per person and the nutritional info with each recipe.

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April 4, 20090 found this helpful

Go to http://www.budget101.com for great recipes, convenience recipes and ideas for inexpensive meal preparation. I think meals made at home for $10 per person is an outrageous price and does not merit the word frugal to be attached to it. At budget101, you'll find out how to stretch every penny of your food budget while feeding your family very well and having enough leftovers for another day or seconds all around the table.

Buy generic or store brands when shopping. The savings will soothe the overstretched budget no matter what it is. Try to plant some seeds for your own garden and bring the cost of vegetables way, way down for your own use. Remember that herbs and many small plant vegetables like many pepper varieties will grow nicely in window boxes and flower pots. Save here by planting seeds rather than buying started plants. Support for your tomatoes can be as simple as a branch clipped off a tree and some old stockings to tie the stalk to the branch stuck in the ground near the tomato plant, Include a packet of seeds in every trip for groceries and keep the garden going. That will be your greatest success to bring the price of food down.

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April 4, 20090 found this helpful

One thing I like to make is called Texas Hash. Saute a chopped bell pepper and some onion; brown some diced ham. Pour into the pan some beaten eggs and scramble everything together until set. Put into hogie rolls with some cheese. Amounts don't matter, and you can add whatever you have on hand: diced zucchini, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. Sometimes I put sliced cheese on the roll, other times I use shredded cheese on top.

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April 4, 20091 found this helpful

I shop at a store called ALDI's and it saves me a lot of money. Their stores are clean and they have a double guarentee on thier products. If your not 100% happy they'll refund you and replace the product. Google ALDI's and search for a location near you, if you'd like.

I also have a couple of cheap meals.

1. Chili with a lid
4 cans of chili poured into a 9x13 pan, then mix up two boxes of jiffy corn bread and pour over the chili, bake on 350 until corn bread is brown and done. You can top with a little cheese if you'd like. Cost is under $5.00 (using Aldi's brands) serves 4-6

2. Ham Hash
1 bag of frozen hashbrowns partially defrosted, 8 small cans of ham spread (deviled ham?), 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbl melted butter, 1 tbl mustard, chopped onion to taste, 1 tsp horseradish to taste, salt/pepper to taste. Combine all and pour into 9x13 pan. Press down and bake uncovered at 350 for 35 min. top with cheeses of your choice. serves 4-6 Cost under $10.00

3. Taco noodle bake
1 bag egg noodles or pasta of choice cooked. 1/2 lb.- 1 lb. browned grown beef. 2 cans of tomatoe sauce. 1 packet taco seasoning. 1 lg container sour cream OR 2 packages of cream cheese (you can even use 1/2 sour cream and 1/2 cream cheese). 16 oz of shredded cheese (divided- save half for later) Mix and place in 9x13 dish. Bake for about 25 min at 325. Top w/remaining cheese and bake 5 min. serves 4-6 You can also add lettuce, olives, and tomatoes if you'd like.

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April 7, 20090 found this helpful

Don't waste anything. Re-write your recipes for two if you don't like leftovers. Ask your store for a package of meat just the right size, and don't make it the star of the show.

Don't use expensive ingredients. Instead, ask yourself what the ingredient is there for. A chopped, sauteed onion and a beef bouillon cube taste better than onion soup. I immediately pass over any recipe with too much butter or any cream unless I think I can substitute milk.

Breakfast for dinner is always cheap and good. Biscuits and gravy with an egg, pancakes with eggs and bacon, waffles with fruit and milk. Just add a dish of fruit (a banana and canned mandarin oranges is a good cheap combo) and you have a fine meal.

Canned salmon makes the best croquettes. I take the skin out and mash the bones with my fingers. Add an egg, some oatmeal, and a sauteed chopped onion. If you can give the mixture a few minutes to set it will hold together better. Fry in a little oil and serve with noodles and canned peas. Leftovers make a great sandwich the second day, warmed up.

I buy the salmon on sale. My stock-up price is $1.29 or less for the large can.

Start a small price book and stock up on staples when on sale.

Try lentil soup or bean soup with corn bread. Don't buy "9 bean soup mix" just make it from navy beans.

Make it a challenge and acknowledge yourself often. It isn't hard to eat on very little money, but it only works if you feel good about it. I feel smart when I eat a delicious meal that only cost a dollar per person. I do it often.

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May 17, 20090 found this helpful

Make homemade as much as possible. I make homemade bread, coffee creamer, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, Pizza dough, spaghetti sauce, etc.

Don't pay more for convenience, do it yourself. Lunch meat; buy a whole packed ham and have it sliced for free a the deli. You'll get more than twice the amount of the prepackaged, pre sliced stuff. Freeze what you wont use right away. Buy block cheese and shred it yourself. Shred it all at once and put it in a zip loc so you have it ready when you need it. Block cheese is always cheaper per oz than pre shreded.

If you don't like left overs or hate eating the same thing twice in a row, the freezer is your friend. Freeze left overs to eat later in the week so you don't get sick of the same thing.

Beans, Rice, Noodles are great cheap staples for meal planning.

Shop around. Sometimes bag your own discount stores like Aldi aren't always the cheapest. Some store brands like Walmarts 'great value' can be cheaper than Aldi. Take a day and just price shop with a notebook. Also Dollar General has food now to and often beats out Aldi and Walmart.

Consider drinking powder milk and Ice Tea instead of soda's. Walmart has an off brand of sugar free water flavoring at less than $2.00 a box, in Apple, Orange and Cherry. I have a plastic jug I fill up and use 4 packages to make enough for a couple day's. I make 3 large jugs of 'Juice' for under $2.00 and it's sugar free! Also frozen concentrate juice is cheaper too! Buy cereal in the bulk bags and consider oatmeal for any meal. It's filling and cheap!

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

I have a family of 6 in OC, CA o I know a few things about eating on a budget. These are some of my families faves:

Easy black bean chili

1 large can blackbeans
1 can corn
1 jar salsa
You just pour it all in a pot & cook through. You can also add any kind of meat (great for using up leftover meat).

Lentil soup:

1 bag lentils...cook according to package, but add:
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes
2 chopped carrots
1 diced onion
Salt & pepper to taste

Meat & potatoes:
1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
5 potatoes
1 diced onion
1 can tomatoes
1/2 pkg frozen mixed veggies
1 pkg taco seasoning

Poke potatoes with fork & pop in microwave for 3 minutes. Let cool enough to handle...then dice
brown the meat with the onion. Drain & add potatoes, tomatoes and veggies...add taco seasoning & cup water...simmer for 10 minutes.

Here is one of my favorite recipe sites. Just remember that you can always substitute less expensive produce & meat...I am always substituting meat with beans or lentils. www.kraftfoods.com

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Anonymous
June 8, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you so much for this website and all the wonderful recipes. We recently started the Dave Ramsey program to eliminate our debt and I realized (after making my budget and importing my expenses) that I was spending about $900 a month on groceries. That may not sound like much to some of you with children but it is just my husband and I. I realized that I had to cut my budget down to at least $400 per month and went on a search. When I found your website I realized that we could still have wonderful tasting meals for 1/2 the cost. Thank you so much! Our goal is to get out of debt and for us to start my husbands dream business. Thank you again! You are all wonderful! God Bless You all!

Also, I will be experimenting from all your great ideas and hopefully posting some new items of my own! :-)

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

Don't forget about "brenner" (breakfast for dinner)! We love biscuits and sausage gravy or scrambled eggs with pancakes and bacon for dinner sometimes! Serve pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for something different. One fabulous-tasting meal I always forget about is ham and beans with cornbread. We use ham steaks sometimes instead of ham hocks just to make it quick and easy (and they are cheap too). Jiffy mix is less than $1 a box!

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful

A cheap an easy meal I like to make is: take 1 lb of hamburger meat and cook it on a skillet until brown. Then I added Broccoli florets and a can of cream of mushroom and let it cook until broccoli is warm. Then I serve over white rice. Delicious! Another family favorite Enchilada Casserole. Brown Hamburger meat, add 1 can of rotel, Cream of mushroom, cream of chicken and I can of enchilada sauce. (all cans under a $1) Then in a baking dish layer corn tortillas, hamburger meat fixture and then pour some shredded cheese on top. Keep layering until your at the top of the pan. Place in oven at 350 F. for about 15 minutes or until cheese in melted. Enjoy!

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July 14, 20090 found this helpful

A really good and cheap meal is chicken and gravy. Just take some cooked chicken ( i use chicken tenders) with 1 can cream of mushroom and 1 can cream of chicken. Dice the chicken, put in skillet and add canned soups. Let it cook for about 20 minutes and then serve over rice. I have had the most compliments on this cheap and easy meal!

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July 14, 20090 found this helpful

I have developed a method that works great for my husband and I. Especially for me, since he's gone 3-4 weeks at a time and then it's just me here, and when he's home it's just the 2 of us.

What I do tho, is whenever I cook, I cook the amount that the recipe calls for, whether it's 2, 4, 6, or 8 (I don't go above 8). Then I divide it up onto individual portion size microwavable/freezable dishes. I pop them into the freezer. Then when it's close to time to eat, I just bring out one or two and pop them into the microwave for however long it takes to heat them up. I've been doing this for years and it's saved us a lot of time and money.

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July 15, 20090 found this helpful

I posted this one on another thread. It goes a long way and can be served with pasta! I freeze what I don't use for another day.
http://www.thri  2738735.tip.html
Another relatively cheap meal is to brown, then stew chicken thighs in gravy with onion, carrot and turnip or any other veg. Serve with potatoes and peas or beans. Healthy home-cooked food:-))

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July 19, 20090 found this helpful

This meal is cheap and even yummier the next day.
French onion casserole.
-500g chicken thigh fillets
-no name brand pkt french onion soup mix
-tablespoon plain flour
-butter
-oil
-3 rashers bacon chopped
-1 onion chopped
-1 1/2cups water
-1 tablespoon sour cream
-1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Put soup mix and flour in a bag place chicken in bag shake to coat.heat oil and butter in pan brown chicken 5mins put in casserole dish.cook onion and bacon, add water and left over soup mix together add to pan scrap bottom, pour over chicken place lid ontop.put in oven on 180c for 1hr or so. when ready to serve take chicken out stir through sour cream and parsley spoon over the top.YUMMY.serve with mash and vege.
If using chicken with bones don't cook for as long the bones get soft and there is nothing worse then trying to sift through your dinner for meat.

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July 31, 20090 found this helpful

Leah, You're the reason I started a blog that offers ideas for cheap meals. Having six children it feels like I have been living on a pension my whole life. There are so many bloggers on the web that have great ideas.

What an inventive and ingenious group. I am very glad there are so many who are eager to share their ideas. I hope the ideas in my blog and the other very helpful writers you find will give you many great, inventive and fun ideas to draw from.
Here's an idea, how about a steak dinner for $1.66 a plate.
http://steakmea  in-disguise.html


Russ Rock from Dunnellon, FL.

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August 11, 20090 found this helpful

Please pull up the web site angel food ministries.com. There is no agreement to sign or income restrictions. You will be glad you did. Anyone can take advantage of this program. You will be happy and the host sites are just around the corner from you home.

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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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By 0 found this helpful
October 20, 2011

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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By 0 found this helpful
November 5, 2010

Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas?

By Autumn

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June 3, 20120 found this helpful

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

By Helen

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March 31, 20090 found this helpful
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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November 5, 20100 found this helpful

I am looking for very cheap recipes and meal ideas. Half the week there are just 2 of us, and the rest of the week there are 6.

I already make things like spaghetti bowls, mac and cheese, shepherd's pie, lasagna, jacket potatoes, stews and soups, curries, etc. We also make our own bread.

We have a very low budget and 2 of us are vegetarians. I am looking for new ideas. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

By charlie from England

Answers:

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczn is the best book I've found for saving money on groceries. You can buy the Complete Tightwad Gazette (which includes all three of the Tightwad Gazette series) used at www.amazon.com for $8.76, or you can buy the Tightwad Gazette II or III each starting at $0.01 at Amazon, so basically you would just pay shipping and handling for both books. I have the complete series and it contains a wealth of information. (12/23/2009)

By Patricia Eldridge

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

We enjoy baked potatoes with broccoli, butter, cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Homemade vegetable soup is also good.
Make your own pizza dough add spaghetti sauce, vegetables of your choice, mushrooms, onions, etc., or buy cheap pizzas and embellish with other vegetables.
What about macaroni and cheese?
Make a vegetable lasagna and use cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese to cut the cost.
Buy sandwich sliced bread instead of the regular; more slices in the package; grilled cheese, salad sandwiches with dressing tastes good on toasted bread. (12/23/2009)

By Myrna

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

One of our go tos is corn stew. One can each of whole kernel corn, creamed corn, and stewed tomatoes. Heat and serve over rice. We add frankfurters cut into coins, which the non-vegetarians could add to theirs. You could stretch it even further with most types of canned vegetables and well drained beans, etc. It's fast (longest time is cooking the rice), can be made cheaply and the ingredients are usually on hand.

Farmer's omelet is easy too. Fry up some potatoes and onions, add beaten eggs. Can be served like an omelet (just flip with a plate and slide the uncooked side down into the frying pan) or scrambled. Sprinkle some cheese on it and enjoy. (12/24/2009)

By Leslie Textor

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

We use Top Ramen which is 6 for 99cents here. As it is cooking, drop in an egg or two and cook until just the white is cooked. Add some chopped green onions (optional) and a little soy sauce. I learned this from a Japanese friend. Same thing with rice, add an egg to hot rice and mix. The heat from the rice partially cooks the egg. Add some soy sauce. These are family favorites now. (12/24/2009)

By Maya Lee

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

The Living More with Less book series may seem old fashioned at first, but the book has a wealth of knowledge and the cook book is a wonderful resource for those tight budgets. I found them both at Amazon.com for about $5.00 each because they were out of print, and rare, so they cost more! But having them has helped me realize all the things my family takes for granted! (12/31/2009)

By chrystal

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

This is an awesome dish that you can all enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 10, or more russet potatoes
  • 2 cups milk.
  • water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 3 stalks of celery with leaves if possible.

Prep -
Chop and crush garlic clove. Start two cups of water to boil and soak potatoes in sink.
While the water boils scrub the potatoes and dice them small. Add the garlic, bay, and rosemary to the water. Dice celery and leaves of celery.

Then -
Add all of the diced potatoes and celery to the pot and just enough water to cover them. Add milk, butter, and soup. You will not want to add more water if the soup cans are condensed. Bring the water to boil for 35 minutes stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to simmering and cook for two hours. Stir every ten minutes.

This makes an awesome crock pot dish, just be sure to boil the herbs before you add them to the crock pot so you get their full flavor.
Garnish with diced roast beef, cheese, or diced pan cooked toast. Salt and pepper to taste. (02/04/2010)

By Mr.Snow

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Halushki

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1-2 large onions
  • 1 pound bow tie pasta (or any macaroni style or egg noodles)

While cooking pasta, cut and saute onions and cabbage together in margarine or butter in a covered pan until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix with cooked pasta and fry all together another 5 to 10 minutes. Very flavorful and is a huge Pennsylvania favorite. We like to add 6-8 oz of sour cream to it when finished, it is amazing, feeds 6-8 and is cheap! (09/15/2010)

By Kim

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December 22, 20090 found this helpful

What are some inexpensive meal ideas?

Jessica from IA

Answers:

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Pancakes, eggs, and french toast if your family doesn't balk at eating breakfast foods for dinner. (05/11/2005)

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Sandwiches- My favorite being peanut butter and jam or banana.

Soup- From a can or heat some stock and throw in some veggies, especially potatoes!

Pasta- Pasta and sauce, cheap, easy and fast.

Rice- Cook rice, add veggies or tofu

You can probably find some good books at the library focused on this topic. I know my library has many! (02/19/2007)

By Katie

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

One of my family's favorites is linguine cooked and drained, tossed with butter, top with generous Parmesan cheese, and then topped with stewed tomatoes, with some garlic bread and a salad. (02/19/2007)

By Peggy

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

I made patties out of a basic meatloaf recipe, just beef, bread crumbs, egg, diced onion, salt and pepper to taste. Brown patties on both sides. Mix cream of mushroom soup (can use cream soup of choice) and 1/2 -3/4 soup can milk, pour over top of patties, cover and simmer until patties are done, about 1/2 hr. Served with corn and mashed potatoes, with the sauce for gravy, and dump cake for desert. My picky family loves it. (02/21/2007)

By janice

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

  • 1 lb. box spaghetti
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • Salt
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • Powder garlic

    In small amount of oil; brown spaghetti and onions stirring, constantly not to scorch. When brown, add water and tomatoes, sauce and spices. Allow to cook until spaghetti is done

    Optional: You can add jalapeno peppers. My daughter adds prepared meatballs. (02/21/2007)

    By lzygranny

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Here is a one pan easy meal that I call Leftover Picnic Ham:

    Three baked or fresh potatoes
    Bell pepper
    Onion

    Trim the bone and chip PIECES that were not sliced for sandwiches. Cut into bite size pieces. Place a small amount of oil in a pan. Put cubed pepper and onions in. Then add cubed potatoes. Fry until brown. Salt and pepper. (02/21/2007)

    By janice westbrook

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    My take on this is never skimp on the nutrition. You can buy ingredients for meals cheaply. Watch for sales, and then match coupons to the sale items. I got 20 cartons of free oatmeal last month that way, and 44 cups of free yogurt this month. If you go to the bread outlet, they might sell you a whole barrel of outdated bread for $3-4. Some will be moldy, so take it to the park and feed the ducks. Try to get whole grain. Stick some in the freezer. Dry some and make bread crumbs for chicken or pork or fish. Make bread pudding. Cook macaroni, canned tomatoes and chunks of bread together -- we ate a lot of that in my childhood.

    All kinds of beans are nutritious, and you don't need expensive ingredients to make them good. Of course, I got a case of my favorite pork and beans when they were on sale for .40 and there were .40 coupons on them. With a can of garbanzos and some celery, you can have hummus dip. We do this for movie nights when we want something special. We are eating Oatmeal-To-Go that cost .50 per box with coupons and a sale, and we have 20 boxes! Ask the produce manager if he/she will sell you a box of culled produce for a reduced price. I have bought a whole lug for $2.00 lots of times. If you get all lemons, make marmalade or lemonade. Of course, save some to marinate some chicken. Beans and grains are nutritious and very cheap. A 25-pound bag of either will make at least 200 servings.

    I bought a broken bag of whole spring wheat for $5, and it makes a wonderful pilaf or sometimes I make Bulgar. A hand grinder doesn't cost much, and you can use it to make whole grain flour from the spring wheat. It makes delightful cookies and cakes and pies. For bread you want hard wheat flour. Whatever you grow is cheap. Today (February 21) I am going to put up some pumpkin butter. We still have 10 large Kabocha squashes under the bed where they stay cool but don't freeze. They won't keep a lot longer since they've been there almost 5 months. So pumpkin butter, pumpkin pies, and lovely mashed squash as a veggie side dish for a year. Or I'll sell some pumpkin butter at the farmer's market next spring.

    My meal plan is this: See what's in the refrigerator. Now see what's in the cupboard. Try to put together 1 protein, 1 starch, and 1 veggie. Protein can be as simple as an egg. Brown rice makes a great starch and is available for about $10.00/25 pounds. Veggies can be all kinds of things. You can even forage in the wild for dock, asparagus, etc. Are there wild berries in your neck of the woods? Good luck! (02/21/2007)

    By Coreen Hart

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    One other thing I just experienced is that I checked out the cheese bin at a local grocery and found some Irish cheese, an aged cheddar, with no price on it. Digging through the bin I found several other blocks, but none of them had prices either. Then I noticed the expiration date: 2/13/07. I took one to the deli counter and asked them to give me a price, pointing out that the expiration date had already passed. The lady said, "Oh, this should have already been pulled!" and went over there and started pulling it. I told her it looked okay to me and I just wanted to get a price on it, and she said she'd mark it down, and how many did I want? I told her that depended on the price, and she said she'd mark them down to a dollar each. If they had been priced I expect the original price on them would have been four to five bucks, so I scooped them up.

    The moral of this story is, watch those expiration dates, and if something looks good but is outdated, ask for a deal on it. This works with anything; cheese, meat, whatever. If the date is out whoever is in charge just wants to get it out of the store.

    You can save money if you *pay attention*. I figure most folks on this list are here for the same reason I am. We aren't rich and need to stretch what little money we have. I don't want to rip anybody off, but taking advantage of a deal like that is good for everyone. (02/26/2007)

    By Warren D. Lockaby

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    This is a meal idea I came up with in my first year at University as a cheap meal for one or two.

    Baked Flat Mushroom:

    Take 1 or 2 large flat mushrooms per person and lightly drizzle with olive oil, bake for about 10-15 mins on a medium high heat.

    Once the mushroom is baked to your preference place either Parmesan or Cheddar over the top of the mushrooms and grill until browned.

    Serve with organic couscous (made in the bowl with hot water and a tea towel placed over the top for about 5 minutes), mixing the couscous with some organic olive oil. Also serve with raw spinach, making sure it has been thoroughly rinsed and tossed with a little bit of organic oil and sea salt flakes.

    This meal was a life saver for me. It's unbelievably cheap to make, especially if cooking it for 4 or so people as you use up a pack of 4 large flat mushrooms and a bag of spinach at once. Also the presentation can be lovely for a dinner party with smaller portions for a starter, or even a main as the ingredients are really good for stacking. (03/27/2007)

    By Saha

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    I like to make tater tot casserole. Brown some ground beef and put in a baking dish. Pour cream chicken and cream of mushroom soup in. Place tater tots on top and bake about 30 min. After baking, put shredded cheese on top and place back in oven a couple minutes to melt the cheese. This is so good with ketchup! Sounds weird, but the kids love it. (09/13/2007)

    Mexi-Mac and Cheese

    This is a family favorite and so easy to make!

    Just get some minced meat and brown it. Add a pack of taco seasoning. Cook the Macaroni and Cheese according to package. Place a little of the Mac and Cheese on a baking dish (make a layer). Add the meat and then add the rest of the Macaroni and Cheese.

    If you have some nachos or tortilla chips, crumble some with your hands and add it all over the top of your dish. If you feel for extra cheese, add some more cheese on top. Bake it for a few minutes. So yummy! (09/29/2007)

    By Sol

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Inexpensive Goulash (feeds 4 with leftovers for under $3):

  • 1/2 lb. hamburger
  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cans tomato paste
  • Garlic and onion powders
  • Salt and pepper

    Boil elbow macaroni per package instructions and drain

    Meanwhile, brown hamburger in a large skillet (so you can mix everything together in it afterward). Season with a shake of garlic powder and a couple shakes of onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. When done, drain and add the tomato paste. Sometimes I add a splash of water to thin the paste and mix well with the hamburger. Add the macaroni and some more salt and pepper. Heat a few minutes - careful not to scorch the tomato paste.

    My family loves this and I make it at least twice a month.

    Cheap and Easy Beef Stroganoff (less than $5 to feed 4):

  • 2 breakfast (or minute) steaks (approx. $1.75 at my butcher's)
  • 1 can mushroom pieces (50 cents)
  • 1 can beef broth (50 cents)
  • 1 can water (use beef broth can)
  • 1 pkg. brown gravy mix (50 cents)
  • A shake or two of both onion and garlic powders
  • 1/4 cup (approx.) sour cream (maybe about 50 cents)
  • 3 cups of instant rice (make according to pkg. instr.)

    Make the rice first. This dish only takes about 5-7 minutes to make.

    Cut steak into thin strips, and fry in large skillet in a tiny amount of oil.

    Add mushrooms (drained) and a shake or two of both onion and garlic powders. Stir around for a minute and then add the beef broth and water. Bring to a boil.

    When boiling, add the brown gravy mix and stir until all the lumps are gone. Reduce heat and add the sour cream. Stir until mixed, do not boil.

    Serve over rice, as it's very good and satisfying. I usually serve this with peas on the side and bread or rolls.

    Cheap and Easy Barbecue Pork Sandwiches:

  • 3-4 lbs. Western Style Pork Ribs (buy on sale $1/lb)
  • 1/2 bottle favorite barbecue sauce
  • Hamburger buns

    Boil the ribs until they fall off the bones (1 1/2 to 2 hrs). Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with foil and shred ribs onto it. Pour barbecue sauce over and mix up. Spread out to one layer and bake about 15 minutes or until they don't look too wet.

    Heap onto hamburger buns. Serve with coleslaw or salad. This feeds my family of 4 two meals. (12/01/2007)

    By Cathy Lee

    Cheap and Easy Sloppy Joes

  • 1 # Ground Beef
  • 1 Can Tomato Soup
  • Onion and Garlic Powders
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hamburger Buns

    Brown hamburger and drain. Season with a few shakes of pepper, salt, and onion powder. I only do a small shake of the garlic powder. Add the tomato soup and stir to combine. Heat through and serve on hamburger buns.

    My family prefers this over Manwich or other sloppy joe sauces, and it is much cheaper. (12/01/2007)

    By Cathy Lee

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Here are two recipes that my mom use to make that I got before she passed away. You probably already have some of the ingredients in your cupboard. These are good hits with my children, family, and relatives. The first is what she called:

    Summertime Chili:

  • 1 lb. ground beef with cut up onion in it. Brown meat and onion/drain.
  • 1 can Ranch Beans
  • 1 can Mixed Beans
  • 1 can Mixed Vegetables
  • 1 small 4 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can Rotel (This is Hot, you may need to use only 1/2 can, it depends on your taste)
  • 1 can of Minestrone Soup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    ***Mix together all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low 4 hours*** Saltine crackers crumbled up in the bowls are a plus.

    And the second recipe my mom use to make is called:

    King Ranch Casserole:

  • 1 package skinless/boneless chicken
  • 2 cans of Rotel
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • onion and/or bell pepper
  • shredded cheese
  • corn chips (about 14 oz.) (you may want to add peas, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, or other ingredients...just depends on the taste and what you may already have in the refrigerator or cupboard you need to get rid of)

    ***Broil chicken in water on stove. After chicken is done cooking, peel chicken in large bowl. Mix chicken with rotel, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, onion, (bell pepper or any other ingredients you may wish to add) in a bowl. Spread corn chips in a baking dish, spread some broth from the chicken over the chips to moisten the chips. Spoon on the mixture over the chips. Spread shredded cheese over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

    By Kimberly Gering, and my mother Sandra Sue Gering.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot to share my mom's recipe for a fantastic dessert. It is also a big hit and cheap to make! She called it her Strawberry Shortcake:

  • 1 box white cake mix (mix as directed on box)
  • 1 package (3oz.) Strawberry Flavored Gelatin
  • 2 cups (two 10oz. pkg.) frozen strawberries, completely thawed.
  • 1 cup of miniature marshmallows

    ***Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix thawed strawberries and gelatin together, set aside, generously grease bottom of a 13x9 cake pan. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Serve with cool whip or ice cream. Store in refrigerator. (This also makes a good baby shower cake, potluck dessert, or even a birthday cake, and it's easy and cheap!) (05/25/2008)

    By Kimberly Gering

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    I use all of my leftover dinner meats (chicken pieces, turkey, ham, roast beef, roast venison) and make into a pot pie. Pie crusts are cheap and easy. All you have to do is saute some onions, potatoes, and carrots in butter for a few minutes, add one can of broth (match to meat) and cook for 6 minutes on low, covered. Then add 1 cup meat, 2 cups mixed veggies, salt, pepper, and 1-2 tbs flour to thicken broth. When thick, pour into pie crust, put other crust on top. Seal and flute it, cut 1 inch slits in top, then bake for 45-60 mins.

    My family loves this recipe and it's a cheap way to use up extra meat. When I make turkey for Thanksgiving, I cut up the leftovers into portions for this recipe and freeze it so I have it for many more meals. Same with roast. (06/23/2008)

    By Jennifer H.

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    We're cutting corners, and trying to cut way back on our grocery bills. I just got back from the grocery store. $46 for a family for a week! It's much better than what it used to be (and it still sounds like a lot to me).

    I'm making three meals for the week, which will each have leftovers, plus the option for different groceries. I won't go over everything I bought, just the stuff for these two meals I don't think too many people prepare:

    Chicken Mushroom Rice:

  • 2 chicken breasts (bought frozen-9 for $6)-$1.33
  • Rice (bag was $2, we're using 1/4)-$.50
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup-$.68
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar- Approx. $1.00

    Slice the breasts up and fry them in a tiny amount of oil in a saucepan. When they're cooked through (and possibly even browned a bit), reduce heat, add can of mushroom soup, and let sit. Meanwhile, cook the rice with a bit of butter and a splash of lemon juice. Serve layered: Rice, chicken mushroom mixture, top with cheese. Makes four generous portions at a cost of $.88 a serving.

    Chicken Curry Alfredo:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts-$1.33
  • Penne pasta-$.88
  • 1 Jar Prepared Alfredo Sauce-$2.00

    Same thing- slice the chicken, saute it up, add sauce, doctor with spices and most importantly, add a heaping spoon of curry powder. Add to penne. Serve. $1.05 per serving.

    I like the whole "calculating the price of a serving" method, because it helps you sort out what's reasonable and what's just too much to be spending on a budget. About a dollar per serving for dinner (much less for other meals, of course), sounds reasonable to me. More is just too much. (07/11/2008)

    By Hillery

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Hamburger and Hash brown Casserole (serves 4):

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 lb. of Hamburger meat
  • 2 cups of hash browns (I find that Potatoes O'Brien work best)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese

    Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and brown the meat and onion together, drain. Pour in the hash browns into the baking dish and then the meat/onion mix, pour on the cream of mushroom and then sprinkle on the cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

    My husband and I love this recipe. It's SO easy and very cheap to make. Every time I've made this for someone new, they always say "This is amazing!" :) Enjoy. (10/05/2008)

    By lauren

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