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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If you qualify, income wise, apply for food stamps. Some of the cheap foods that I depend on are goulash(made with hamburger, pasta, can of diced tomatoes, can of tomato soup, and I always add a can of whole kernel corn that way you have a complete meal in one pan). I never use more than half a pound of hamburger in this, unless I am making a super size batch.
I never measure the ingredients, I just dump stuff in. I also end up making enough for two-three meals. I don't mind leftovers, we eat this every day until it is gone. I also make beef stew, using hamburger instead of stew meat. There again, I don't measure, being it is hard for me to peel potatoes because of bad shoulders, I dump in 2-3 cans of potatoes, a can of carrots, sometimes a can of green beans. I also use a pkg. of brown gravy mix for a little color.
When almost ready to serve, I use instant potatoes to thicken it or else you could use it as soup. There again this makes several meals. Which can be eaten day after day until gone, or divided up and frozen for other days.
Chili is fairly in-expensive to make, and there again makes several meals.
For breakfast I am completely happy with a couple slices of toast and a can of cola(for my caffeine fix). The adult daughter that lives with me always wants a bowl of cereal and a can of cola. Some times I have peanut butter on the toast and sometimes I have plain margarine on it.
When I buy hamburger I buy several pounds at once, and divide some up into the size of packages we need for two people. Then the rest I crumble up and brown, then rinse the fat off with really hot water, then when it is cool enough I divide it up into zip lock baggies, putting 2-3 handfuls in each baggie and flatten them out and freeze them. That way it is ready for whatever I want to use browned hamburger for.
There's a website and newsletter from the Hillbilly Housewife that has quite a few tips. Here is the site for her $70 menu that feeds 4 to 6 people.
Ramen noodles are inexpensive and the individual packages come with their own flavoring. I mix one package with half a can of green English peas for lunch. For dinner, I add meat and any vegetable that seems a good accompaniment. For chicken and rice, I boil the chicken and use the broth to cook the rice.
Of course, there's always the tuna and prepared boxed macaroni and cheese mixed together with a can of peas, perhaps. Mackerel is a bargain in canned fish. I crush up a column package (1/4 of a box) of saltine crackers to mix with the un-drained, un-boned canned fish. Some cultures eat bones and these just crumble up. Then I add a beaten egg. Forming into patties, I fry these up in a skillet. Catsup is good on top after they are cooked.
Whenever we have pork with fat, I remove the fat and freeze it in a sandwich bag. Dried beans are always a bargain. You just rinse them in a colander. Then you put them in a large pan with maybe an inch of water over the level of the beans to soak overnight or for about eight hours.
Just before cooking, you add more water to cover the beans and use the reserved fat in the water as pork flavored seasoning. For spaghetti, use three pounds per one pound of meat. For the sauce, use canned tomato paste that you thin with water, adding chili powder and other spices, as desired.
Make your own fried potatoes by scrubbing the spuds, removing the eyes, and slicing them into thin medallions before frying up in a skillet.
A friend just sent me this website, 211.org - give it a try. They may be able to direct you to food pantries. Call your city hall and ask them if they can refer you to any agency that can help. City hall might just know of churches in your area that will help you. Check and see if you can get subsidized housing, too.
Dried beans and pasta are real good for filling up, and dried beans are very nutritious. It's hard to buy good, nutritious food on a tiny budget. Try to aim at having at least one fruit and one veggie a day though. When the sale ads come out, if you can get to the cheapest store just for the ad, do it. Then pour over it for the very cheapest good foods. Make your menu around that. Maybe tuna will be on a real good special, and that will be your main protein for the week.
Eggs are cheap and very nutritious, and they are telling people to eat plenty of them now. Well, scrambled egg sandwiches, egg salad, omelets - many ways to eat eggs. Try to buy some herbs without salt in them just so you can change the taste up now and then.
Ask the managers of your local groceries questions. They might be willing to tell you when they mark things down so that you can shop on those days. Explain that your income is very low. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes they will tell you when they do that, and when they have super sales coming up.
Do you like things like cabbage and noodles? Cabbage is cheap, you use just a little meat, or none, and a onion, and noodles. It's really good. I would be more than happy to give you the recipe, if you like it. There are recipes for it on Thrifty Fun.
Convenience foods are always too expensive, stay away from them. Send me a message on my Thrifty Fun account and let me know what kind of things you like, and I will send you some ideas. My income is $990 a month for two people, so I might have some ideas for you. Good luck!
Most food pantries require a referral from a food stamp case worker or other non-profit organization like the Salvation Army. Where I live from what different people have told me you can only go once every six months and then you only get about a weeks worth of groceries. With the economy the way it is, the food pantries have had to cut back on what they give out. I live off $700 a month and have never been to the food pantry. I do get food stamps.
Another possibility is if you are a senior citizen and your state has a senior commodity program, you can apply for that, but there again it goes on income. I think that applies to food pantries too. Some Salvation Armies do food give aways and I know from my previous experience and from what I hear about food pantries that you get a lot more from the Salvation Army. Of course now in different times a person might not get as much from the Salvation Army.
Almost every place you ask for help will require amount of gross income. What things can you cut down on. There were times my daughter and I lived off less than $700 a month and we cut back on a lot.
Something that is inexpensive but still tasty that I like is Ramen noodles, tuna and cheese. What I do is make 2 packages of Ramen noodles and drain. Skip the seasoning (you can use it another time for some inexpensive broth or to flavor ground meat if it is the Oriental seasoning).
Then add a small can of drained tuna and 2 slices of American cheese on top. Zap it in the microwave for 10 to 30 seconds and stir so the cheese coats everything. This will make several servings and I think it's tasty and quick :) Of course you can use other cheeses too if you do not care for American cheese.
I eat this a lot. Hope this helps. God Bless.
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.
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'!
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.
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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