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J-HANSEN SparkPoints: (17,949)
Fitness Minutes: (12,463)
Posts: 331
5/8/11 9:18 A

Try this website:

She has decent recipes that she feeds her family of 4 or 5 on $5 per night. Keeping in mind that she has toddlers - I usually have to double the recipes to feed my teenagers and still have leftovers for my hubby to take to work every day.

BUUKWORM14 SparkPoints: (76,027)
Fitness Minutes: (74,457)
Posts: 946
5/2/11 10:17 A

Beans and canned tuna! Dried beans are even cheaper (and healthier) than canned- just soak them overnight or cook them- the bags have instructions. I mix both with some onion, other veggies and either salad dressing or just oil and lemon. Season with a bit of salt and DONE.

OKIELORA SparkPoints: (18,739)
Fitness Minutes: (17,465)
Posts: 404
4/18/11 6:28 P

One of my favorite new cheap finds is McCormicks White Chicken Chili. You can find the packet of seasoning in the spices section (I assume they sell it in Canada as well). It takes one chicken breast, one can white beans and packet. I also add a can of diced tomatoes to make ours go further and feed a family of five. Cost is around $4US.

Hope this helps. I am always looking for cheap dinner ideas.


GRACIESMOM70 Posts: 1,345
4/18/11 3:29 P

Look for bean recipes- especially mixing beans and pasta

4/16/11 8:00 P and both have a budget-friendly section. The author of sticks to a $3.33/day food budget.

With planning, stocking up at sales, and cooking at home, I eat well on a student budget. Look into buying food in bulk, especially cereal, flour, nuts, beans, etc. which can sometimes be half the cost of a pre-packaged bag on the shelf. Sometimes, Sam's Club, Costco, and equivalents have good deals.

Legumes are an inexpensive source of protein. I make hummus, beans and rice, Indian curries, or bean salads. Eggs are quick, nutritious, and tasty whether as an omelet, a quiche, or a frittata. Another cheap meal is a tuna melt or to add a can of tuna to pasta with tomato sauce. Portion sizes for meat are smaller than what's served at restaurants. If you feel meat-deprived, you may feel more satisfied with a meat-and-veggie stir fry.

Eat seasonal produce. During fall and winter, I eat winter squash roasted, stuffed, as gnocchi (
ternut-squash-gnocchi.html), or in soup Frozen veggies can often be cheaper than fresh and are just as nutritious. Look into a CSA or, if you have a green thumb, a (community) garden.

4/16/11 7:05 P

it's an every day battle for me too!!! One of my fav. go to cheap meals is tuna casserole.

1/2# pasta (whatever you like/is cheap)
1 can tuna, packed in water (very cheap)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small onion
1/4 cup grape nuts cereal
1 tbsp butter
salt/pepper to taste

cook pasta as directed, but remove from heat and drain before it compeltely done.
conbine soup, onion, tuna and salt/pepper in large bowl.
fold in pasta
put in a 9x9 square baking dish
set aside
melt butter in microwave and stir in grape nuts cereal until well coated. sprinkle of the top of noodle mixture
bake at 400 for approx 10 minutes.


ASK4JJG Posts: 1,795
4/11/11 1:49 P

MMCDAN03 Posts: 305
4/3/11 12:52 P

I've been there and done that for years.It may take longer but cooking from scratch is cheaper in the long run. Keep an eye out for deals and plan a little money out of your set budget for when you find an excellent deal and stock up. I will buy 10-20 lbs of chicken or burger to put away in the freezer if it is a really good deal. Same way with potatoes, pasta, veggies, etc.

Make casseroles where you can stretch a small amount of a more expensive item like meat to feed a large crew. Have meatless meals 1 to 2x a week.Cook beans in the crockpoy and use them to extend dishes like stews and soups. I use to use pinto beans in my tacos and taco salads to extend a pound of burger to feed 6 people. Now that my kids are all teens and I casn afford to serve enough burger, they still want the beans instead of straight meat.

CRAZYDOGLADYBO SparkPoints: (62,118)
Fitness Minutes: (40,733)
Posts: 2,934
4/3/11 12:17 P

Buy whole chickens on sale, boil them for an hour with onion, garlic glove, celery and a carrot, remove meat and return bones and skin to cook for another 3 hours. Remove veggies and bones, strain stock and store in old jumbo yogurt containers, 2 cups in each, and put in fridge overnight, next day remove the fat from the top and freeze till needed. Take the meat from earlier and use it in anything you want, it has great flavor and is very tender. It is just me so the chicken goes a long way. You can make soup, put it in burritos or tacos, make sandwiches etc.

ASK4JJG Posts: 1,795
4/2/11 6:39 P

STARRY_EYES SparkPoints: (2,120)
Fitness Minutes: (918)
Posts: 21
4/1/11 1:24 A

Plan, plan, plan! I spend around 100 a week for 6 people (2 adults and a 13, 10, 8, and 6 yr. old) and can do it on 85 if I really, really try. This also includes things like soaps and paper products. With what you have to work with, it's tough, but can be done. You do have to be willing to invest your time though.

Make everything from scratch that you can as it is much cheaper (and healthier) than buying ready made foods. Eat less meat and more beans! Buy them dry, cook them all at once, and then freeze them in 2 cup portions. They cost about half as much as canned this way. I try to buy in bulk as much as possible and then group my recipes using the same ingredients in different things. It's also nice to have a good pantry established for crisis weeks when the money has to go somewhere else, at least you know you won't starve! I read through the various adds for what's on sale, especially for fresh produce, plan out my menu for the week, and then write out my list. You don't have to sacrifice your health in order to fit your budget.

When I plan my menu, I just write out each day, and then decide on what will be for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From that I write my list and group the items by category (produce, dairy, etc.) so I don't plan for more than I really need. We do order pizza about once or twice a month if the budget allows, otherwise all meals are prepared at home including work and school lunches. I always give myself a few super easy meals for when I really don't feel like cooking. I don't stick to the menu to the letter for each day, because you never know what you're going to be in the mood for. But I do know what I have available for that week. So sometimes I make Wednesday's dinner on Monday, etc.

For breakfasts, we usually do oatmeal (buy the big container of plain quick oats) and then add cinnamon, brown sugar, and either diced apples or raisins. You can do fruit and cream oatmeal by using milk in the cooking process and sweet fruits, like frozen blueberries, peaches, etc. Adding a small pinch of salt will make them taste more like the store bought single serve variety. You can even measure out the ingredients and take it to work in a baggie and then just put it in a coffee cup, add hot water, cover, and let it sit and it cooks on your desk. :)

Other breakfast options: homemade bagels and light cream cheese and a piece of fruit, egg and cheese sandwiches on homemade bread, or yogurt with granola mixed in. (buy the big thing of vanilla or plain, add your own fruit and stuff, much cheaper per serving and less crud ingredients)

For lunches, we often have left overs from dinner. I just make sure I cook enough the night before. Or we do things like salads, soups, etc.

For dinners, ethnic foods are usually very cost effective and most can be made low fat/low cal with some simple modifications that you would do to any other recipe to reduce the fat. We eat a lot of Indian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Italian, and Mexican. Ethnic groceries (at least here) will often have some amazing deals on things, so it might be worth checking them out. I also make a lot of hearty soups.

Here's some ideas:

Indian: garbanzo bean and spinach curry over rice, dahl and rice

Ethiopian: misir wot (spiced lentils) and akilt wot (cabbage, carrots, and potatoes)

Japanese: Tofu Curry with potatoes, carrots, and onions over brown rice, or ramen or soba with vegetables and tofu

Middle Eastern: Hummus (homemade), pitas, cucumber and tomato salad, falafel (buy the mix and bake them)

Italian: Spaghetti and marinara (yawn, I know, but it's cheap!), pretty much any home made pasta sauce and pasta. I buy diced tomatoes and then add veggies, herbs and spices, and some type of protein. Greens and white beans with garlic over pasta. Risottos made with short grain brown rice and extra water/broth to make them creamy instead of shelling out for arborio rice are just as tasty and better for you anyway! And of course, homemade pizza!

Mexican: Tacos (do either beans seasoned like taco meat, or mix pintos in with the meat to stretch it), bean burritos, enchiladas, empanadas, fajitas

Soups: Split pea, black bean, potato rosemary, tortilla stew, chili, etc. I usually serve these with some type of bread and salad.

If you want to add meats, really get to know what the portion sizes are, what we actually need is usually smaller than what we usually eat. Buy it on sale, and freeze it. Use it as an addition instead of the main focus.

Just give your toddler what you eat, but less hot if you like your food spicy and of course cooked to a softer texture. For the beans, slightly squash them a little so they're not a choking hazard. Cut up stuff small, etc. I rarely bought foods marketed towards toddlers when mine were growing up because most of it isn't really any more nutritious, plus I wanted my kids to eat real food instead of becoming picky and expecting special "kid food" as they got older. (plus is costs an arm and a leg) My kids now don't balk at eating things like fresh veggies and fruit now and don't have a weight problem like mom did as a kid! I do let them have some "kid food" sometimes, but they're considered treats and not part of their normal diets. Oh, and buy diapers by the case if you don't already.

For beverages, milk, water, homemade iced tea, homemade lemonade, and coffee. We don't usually drink juice, it's expensive and better to just eat the fruit.

I'm not sure what your spice rack looks like, but I have an armada of spices in mine so that I can make whatever I feel like. They're expensive, so when I was building mine, I would only get one per week. Since most of the meals are pretty cheap, I can usually splurge on one nice thing, like some expensive cheese, each week. If you want to build a back stock of pantry items, spend the money on things like rice, beans, frozen veggies, etc.

When I shop, I take my planning notebook with me and then keep a running tally along the side of the cost of items and add it up as I go. I just round up for simplicity and it usually gives about a $1 buffer. I also will use a calculator to figure out per unit costs to make sure I'm making the best purchase I can.

Sorry for writing a small book, but I hope this helps! Let me know if you want any specific recipes or a menu example. :)

RUNANDRUN SparkPoints: (45,952)
Fitness Minutes: (23,342)
Posts: 2,703
3/26/11 6:49 P

Been where you are and it can be tough! I always stretched my meals with dry rice, beans and/or pasta. Another thing I did was buy big packages of lean ground beef and cook it all at once. I kept it in portion sizes in the freezer and pulled it out as I needed it. You can get really creative with it.

LIVE4MORE SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (895)
Posts: 77
3/24/11 9:57 P

Check out There are a lot of inexpensive recipes that can be done in a crockpot on here.

GRACIESMOM70 Posts: 1,345
3/24/11 4:56 P

Look up sites that have bean recipes-

-POOKIE- SparkPoints: (295,451)
Fitness Minutes: (91,500)
Posts: 19,543
3/10/11 7:19 A

this is a great site making the most of things like dried legumes.

ALIAKAI SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (365)
Posts: 319
3/9/11 10:47 P

My entire blog is about cheap recipes, and I have a ton of freezer recipes on there as well so when things go on sale you can stock up and make meals for months. I feed 2 adult boys and myself on under $300 a month, so with a little planning and ingenuity you should be able to as well.

SNOOPY1960 Posts: 1,687
3/9/11 7:34 P

You can buy the stuff to make this when it is on sale.
Pasta $1.00
Jar Sauce $1.00
Pound ground turkey or beef $3.00

Big Pot Pasta

1 pound pasta your favorite shape
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves or more garlic chopped

Boil pasta to box directions in a large pot.

While pasta is cooking, saute onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes then add the meat. Satue until done.

Drain pasta and then put cooked pasta back into the pot. Take meat mixture and place into pot and mix well. Add the sauce and mix again.

This makes a lot !! Great for leftovers for lunch the next day.

When you shop, buy day old bread ( great for toast, bread crumbs, french toast etc )
Buy whatever is on sale and make meals out of them.
Buy in bulk when you can and freeze it.

If you have a backyard, plant a garden this Summer ! I know I am emoticon Save lots of money growing your own veggies.

Edited by: SNOOPY1960 at: 3/24/2011 (20:34)
CHOCOCOYOTE SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (44)
Posts: 1,197
3/9/11 6:06 P

Invest 20 bucks (US - no idea the conversion right now) in a crock pot. It is a life saver for low budget cooking.

1) dry beans (and rice) are your new best friends. the variety is amazing, and what you can do with them is equally varied.
a. White bean w/ green chili, tomotitoes (sp, they look like green tomatoes), canned tomato and spices.). I add a chicken breast when I can. Make rice or potatoes on the side.
b. Red beans & rice. (recipe here at sparks). spicy and flavorful, and very healthy.
c. red bean chili. (easy to find recipies here).

Also I like lentiles as a full dish, but most families will use them as a side dish. Dried lentiles with cummin and onions and chicken boulline - cook 20-30 minutes and you have a protien packed dish. Pair with some vegies.

When I go shopping, the staples in my house are:
Lentils (dry), 2 different dry beans (any two), bag of onions (about 2 bucks here), 3 cans of tomatoes or tomatoes paste, rice (or bulgar wheat, or barley, etc), and winter squash. (cheep for the food value).

Then with what i have left, i buy frozen, canned or fresh vegies that are on sale.

ALBC1977 Posts: 41
3/9/11 5:55 P

I am looking for some help from out there.

I have $300 a month to buy food and daipers for 3 people (one being 2 years old).

I need receipes that are $5 or less for supper for the three of us. If you have a good receipe link or idea that I can try it would be awesome.

I live in Canada and we do not get many coupons but I am using whatever I can get.

Please help if you can.

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