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6/19/12 12:42 P


Homemade tortillas are super cheap (whole wheat flour and water is all you need)
Refried beans/black beans... Buy them dry for $1 a pound
Buy onions and peppers when they are on sale, chop them up and freeze them.
Add some shredded cheese (shred your own to save money!) and you have a meal.

SWHITEHOU SparkPoints: (0)
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6/19/12 11:59 A

Black Beans and Wild Rice, side salad, and a fruit of your choice! Definitely under $5 a person and very filling!

CHICKYWANNA SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 310
6/19/12 11:47 A

Is there a way to get some of the recipes,or is the idea's it ? emoticon emoticon

Edited by: CHICKYWANNA at: 6/29/2012 (15:28)
GOALDRIVEN3 SparkPoints: (13,174)
Fitness Minutes: (5,767)
Posts: 118
6/19/12 11:41 A

Spaghetti and Breakfast for dinner are eaten a lot in our house.

I loved reading all other ideas. I may have to try a few. Thanks.

SUGARSMOM2 SparkPoints: (248,626)
Fitness Minutes: (219,464)
Posts: 10,954
6/19/12 10:22 A

baked tomotoes with mushrooms and onions in olive oil . take these and make a pasta and add water from the pasta that you cooked to make it thicker . serve .salt and pepper and perhaps a shake of red peppers .

6/18/12 10:28 P

Lentils, definitely

JDD123 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 89
6/18/12 6:34 P

Breakfast,sometimes we have it for dinner also.A huge baked sweet potato,very filling and beans are a great standby.

DAWNAMAIN SparkPoints: (3,527)
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Posts: 89
6/18/12 4:38 P

BEANS. i eat beans 3 times a day 7 days a week. i make a large pot of 7bean soup on Sunday. then everyday i put some in a small crock pot so i can add beans to my meals. or just have a small bowl for a snack. some people are worried about eating beans because of belly bloat or gas but that goes away after a day or two.

SALEX52 Posts: 5,444
6/18/12 4:20 P

Eggs. Especially poached, which I'll serve in a soup (tomato or onion base), or over steamed asparagus, or to top a salad. Yum.

6/18/12 11:01 A

turkey sausage fried rice

BLACKSHEBA SparkPoints: (4,081)
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6/18/12 10:57 A

love the post! Funny that you say these are quick meals going to make spaghetti tonite for the gang..... Best of luck to you on your journey!

6/18/12 10:14 A

I like scouring the grocery store meats for marked off items. It's pretty common in our store for them to be marked down ridiculously low because they need to be sold that day. Cheap cuts can be marinated to make more tender. They can be frozen that day for use later on. I like using them up in stir fries, where a little bit goes a long way. Or in sauces for pasta and rice dishes.

When I was on a tight budget, I ate a lot of rice and beans, lentils and eggs. I used a bit more in the way of frozen veggies too (keeps better). Farmer's Markets around me (when they're in season) can have good prices on fresh produce too. Actually, I should get back to eating that way. I ate far healthier when I was a tad poorer!

RUBYSHOE SparkPoints: (111,721)
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6/18/12 9:35 A

Spaghetti night, taco night, and breakfast for dinner aka Brinner :)
Noodles are almost always on sale at the local grocery store, and it's a quick meal

CHICKYWANNA SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 310
6/18/12 8:26 A

I wish there was a place to post recipes ! I'm reading all this and it just makes me hungry for the recipes LOL

6/18/12 7:43 A

breakfast dinner or turkey chili

6/18/12 7:07 A

I'm on a budget too, so what I try to do is shop my sales ad and eat less meat. I like to add lentils to bulk up sloppy Joe's or pasta sauce. I have chickpeas on my salad. I also try to buy less convenience foods, like instead of bagged salad mix, I buy Romaine hearts and break them down when I get home. It takes about 5 minutes and costs so much less! Instead of buying jarred sauce, you can put together a quick pasta sauce with just canned diced tomatoes, a little tomato paste (buy it in the tube!), garlic, onion, crushed tomatoes, and then build on from there with the spices you like, or maybe spinach.

KELLYB92 Posts: 3
6/17/12 10:41 P

I like to go Indian - baked samosas - these you could so as simple as make the filling and wrap it in tortilla shells

or vegetarian/Mexican - lentil taco filling - even my kids like this

6/17/12 8:12 P

I have six kids so I feed 8 people. My ds is egg and dairy free due to food allergies. Here's some things that I do....

Asian usually uses less meat and more veggies. I used to make a Korean dish with eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and I'd throw in other things as well. Served with rice.
Middle Eastern is yummy. If you have a market where you can buy spices cheaply, then there's tons of recipes online.
Curry (I use leftover chicken) - - you can add as little or much curry as you like
aloo gobi veggies in a spicy sauce
Red beans and rice
Black bean burritos
Use leftover chicken to make stirfry. When I do it this way, I cook the veggies through and then add the meat last. You don't need a special pan.

I used to make a super yummy dish using sweet potatoes, apples, and turkey sausage. You slice everything up, add cooked sausage on top, add a bit of water...and the recipe called for some flour and sugar, but I think you could omit it) and bake covered until the potatoes are done. Yummy!!!

Buy whole chickens or parts....cook extra in broth and have dinner and use the broth for soup OR save a chicken carcass and render broth and use leftovers to make soup. You can do the same for a roast chicken. I just rub mine under the skin with herbs de Provence and bake. Leftovers I use in curry.

If you have an Aldi or Save a Lot, check them out for cheap produce. They don't have a lot of good things, but they have your basic essentials....produce, meat, milk. Some people also find milk and eggs tons cheaper at Aldi. I am lucky to be near lots of stores so I can easily compare prices and sales. If you have a Trader Joe's, they are awesome!!! They are Aldi for health conscious people. They're owned by the same company.

Also, I can sometimes get things cheaper at the farmer's market. I have a fruit stand near me that regularly sells riper and slightly bruised fruit. I will buy a huge box and freeze some. I also check for marked down items at the grocery store. I often buy marked down meat and sometimes buy veggies and fruit that are marked for quick sale. If you use milk quickly, sometimes stores mark that down close to date. The only thing I don't buy is things that look rotten, discolored, or fish. I think fish is too risky. If I buy marked down meat, I bring it home and freeze it right away.

Check circulars online before you go shopping.
Keep a price book
Do NOT go shopping hungry!!! I was in the store today after church and I was hungry. Boy was it hard not to overspend!!!

I also have a garden. It isn't too late. You can plant things now....even in containers. I plant a big garden and containers. When it gets toward the end of the summer, depending on where you live, you can plant lettuce. It is super easy to grow. So is spinach. So are radishes. You can get a pot and a packet of radish seeds and plant radishes all summer. They are ready in a short time!!!

EGRAMMY Posts: 13,491
6/17/12 7:31 P


MUSOLF6 Posts: 1,327
6/17/12 4:40 P

That sounds really good... emoticon

Fitness Minutes: (3,287)
Posts: 35
6/17/12 4:07 P

My mother makes this spicy penne pasta. Tomatoes, spicy turkey sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, eggplant, wheat pasta. So delicious and really good for you.

6/17/12 12:51 P

My sloppy joe: Cavatappi pasta and my meat sauce made with tomato sauce, mixed in Greek yogurt, and either ground beef or beans for protein.

LOSER05 SparkPoints: (491,919)
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6/17/12 11:52 A

rice a roni with hamburger

HFAYE81 SparkPoints: (21,822)
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6/17/12 11:41 A

Exactly! When I go for cheap, it always involves eggs and beans!!

KAPELAKIN Posts: 1,984
6/16/12 11:49 P

Eggs, beans, potatoes and tofu are all really cheap proteins.

1. Spanish tortilla - sliced potato with scrambled eg. g mixed in, plus a salad or other veggie.
2. Tofu can be marinated in anything and stirfried, baked, or grilled. Don't limit it to Asian flavors. It can take on any kind of spices.
3. Vegetarian fajitas - beans, rice, stirfried veggies with cumin, oregano and garlic
4. Quiche or crustless quiche with veggie fillings, maybe a little bit of bacon for a meaty flavor
5. Stewed cuts of cheap meat, such as pork shoulder or chuck roast. They go a long way and are very tasty when cooked long and slow with lots of spices
6. Cook a turkey! They are often available for about 80 cents per pound, and can make several meals for a family over a week. Have roasted turkey the first night, then use leftovers for sandwiches, salads, soups or casseroles.
7. Black bean enchiladas, or tamale casserole - either masa or corn tortillas with black beans and anything else you might have around - a can of tomatoes, a little ground beef, onion, cheese or spinach.

Edited by: KAPELAKIN at: 6/16/2012 (23:51)
MUSOLF6 Posts: 1,327
6/16/12 6:07 P

love the to try the black beans emoticon

EX-PRESSO Posts: 478
6/16/12 10:03 A

great ideas! :)

thanks, too!

CHICKYWANNA SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 310
6/16/12 9:50 A

When I really want to save money, I have a black bean recipe that will make a weeks worth of dinners. I just cook the pot of beans and then measure and put in storage bags, then add the extras for what ever meal I'm having that day..One day it can be burritos, next day black bean soup etc. One lady used this recipe to save for a vacation and its not bad since you have something different everyday..

KRISTIEVW SparkPoints: (0)
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6/16/12 8:57 A

Sloppy Joes made with Boca crumbles.

DSBRIDE SparkPoints: (124,342)
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6/16/12 8:50 A

I bought a package of chicken quaters for .69 lb, spent $2.48. There were 4 in there and I put them in the crock pot with 4 potatoes, carrots, onions and a frozen bag of broccoli & cauliflower. Added water, garlic and spices and cooked. Ate half the chicken (2 of us), 2 potatoes and some veggies for one meal. Had same another day for another meal and used the leftover broth and few veggies to make a great soup just adding some brown rice for the 3rd and 4th meal. I figured out the 4 meals cost me about $4. to feed both of us.

ANNE007 Posts: 153
6/16/12 6:54 A

This is a great topic, and very helpful! I like the idea of healthy for less!

Thanks for posting your question!

CINEMAVEN Posts: 338
6/15/12 7:43 P

Onions, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini are all very cheap right now and at their peak of flavor. I make a stir fry almost every day for lunch or dinner. Add in whatever meat I had the day before (I always cook an extra portion) or I add in some kidney beans, noodles or rice. So tasty

Because I know I'll use them up that day, I often shop in the veggie bargain bin.

I use a lot of spaghetti squash too.... it's great if you cut Italian sausage into pieces, broil it on both sides and toss it with your fave sauce to eat with the squash. If you haven't made spaghetti squash, it's easy to cook in the microwave. (I cut it in half, put it loosely back together and micro 12 minutes then use a fork to make it noodle like)

PATRICIAANN46 Posts: 19,513
6/15/12 5:01 P

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Garlic Bread and Fresh Fruit for dessert.

SMANISMELL SparkPoints: (76,799)
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Posts: 725
6/15/12 2:44 P


6/15/12 11:34 A

These are great ideas for anyone! Keep em comin! Thanks!

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (199,728)
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Posts: 2,243
6/15/12 11:34 A

The favorite in my house? Spaghetti--with sauce made from scratch. :)

MI-ELLKAYBEE SparkPoints: (228,267)
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Posts: 4,388
6/15/12 11:24 A

I am an expert at CHEAP meals, by necessity! This is for two people: One 5 oz can of tuna (I bought bent cans on sale this week for 68 cents!); add 1/2 bag of Uncle Ben's Instant Brown Rice (I buy this on sale for about $1.60 per bag; it will make 4-6 servings, and I very often have a coupon for another dollar off two bags - when they run the coupons, I make sure I find several copies of it;) 1/2 can of no-salt added Black or Kidney beans (the cans go on sale for about 78 cents - 4 to 6 servings) and 2 tablespoons of Hot Salsa (whichever brand is on sale). Heat in microwave for 90 seconds. Total cost for two people: about $2.00! I add cayenne pepper to mine; my husband doesn't like things as spicy as I do. This is a great lunch or dinner! If you have other vegetables, you can add them. We buy mixed salads at Aldi's for $1 per 12 ounce bag (4 to 6 servings). Total cost: under $1.50 per person, even with added vegetables. We have this combination 4 or 5 times a week, either lunch or dinner. Sometimes I have to stretch the ingredients to make a couple of extra meals because I'm out of money. Shop late in the day on the last day of the sale week - buy all the packages that are left on the shelf of the sale item - then get a raincheck so you can get the sale prices AFTER the items are no longer on sale! I do this with everything so I generally wind up paying approximately 35% of the stores' actual prices for my total orders. Sometimes less! If you can find items near the end of their shelf life, ask the manager to mark them down for you; that gets me about 85-90% off on an item they would have to throw out the next day! I'm really happy when my receipt shows that I bought $100 worth of food and paid $25 or $30 - and that's enough food for 2 weeks. As I walk through the store, I write the sale price of the item on each package, so I can make sure they make NO mistakes at the check out counter! THEN I give them my coupons, so more dollars come off the total! I also e-mail the food companies and ask for coupons - which I generally get by e-mail or mail - fairly often even for a free product!!!!

Edited by: MI-ELLKAYBEE at: 6/15/2012 (11:25)
HAPPYERIN Posts: 335
6/15/12 9:37 A

Casseroles stretch a long way.
Egg salad sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and bacon.
Mini pizzas made from English muffins.
Tuna melts on English muffins.
Soups make lots of leftovers and you can vary it however you like!

Fitness Minutes: (3,115)
Posts: 153
6/15/12 4:57 A

"Calzone pizzas"

Spread wholemeal wraps with passata/tomato puree
Sprinkle on a little cheese onto half of the wrap
Add any toppings (mushrooms, red onion, peppers, cooked ham, chicken, quorn...literally anything)
Fold "pizza" in half
Bung in the oven until cheese is melted and toppings are cooked (usually about 10-15 mins)

ANNETTELOU SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 5
6/15/12 4:38 A

Another suggestion would be to hit the library or used book stores for low cal cookbooks. I often see ols weight watchers cookbooks at my local used book store for a couple bucks. Its a good place to start in expanding your menus.

EX-PRESSO Posts: 478
6/15/12 2:11 A

We love pasta or rice with fresh small tomatoes (with chillies, basil, garlic) - and some cheese.


- shepherds pie
- japanese soup
- lentils with vegs
- feta with a lot of vegetables
- Cipollata (italian onion soup, made with a bit of bacon, onions, tomatoes, parmesan)
- risotto with salad
- homemade egg-pasta with salad
- potatoe, eggs in a mustard sauce with salad

ARIZONA33 Posts: 231
6/15/12 1:14 A

One thing that I have found to help out with creating inexpensive family meals is to plant a garden and take care of it as a family. There are so many vegetable and fruit plants that produce more than you can possibly use and it is nice to be able to share the bounty with friends and family.

A great way to find new things to cook is to have a "block" party in your neighborhood with the theme of inexpensive family meals where everyone brings their favorite dishes to share and recipes. This way you can sample new foods and get great ideas from your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Another way to find some new recipes is to talk to your local butcher as many stores have recipe cards available and the butchers at our local market are always happy to share ideas for cooking meats that are on special. Also, our produce manager at our local store has lots of ideas for healthy meals. I just started cooking more at home and they have given me a lot of help each week with giving me tips and ideas.

The best advice is to eat what is in season and on special at the store. Buy the freshest ingredients that you can as these are the most nutritious. And, it is better to eat foods that are not filled with preservatives.

Good luck in finding some new ideas and get ready to wave good-bye to boring meals.

So, what's for dinner tonight?

ANARIE Posts: 13,200
6/14/12 10:27 P

Look in the grocery store flyers to see what veggies are on sale, and build meals around them. I can sometimes get a 10-lb bag of potatoes for $1.29 and onions 4 or even 6 pounds for a dollar. Since they store well, they can be a great base for lots of dishes, for a long time. I did that not too long ago, and I made potato soup with a tiny bit of bacon and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes; Spanish tortilla (I use half eggs and half egg substitute, and go very light on the olive oil); red flannel hash with beets and beet greens from the garden; and a Mexican-style stew with tomatillos, onions, a very small amount of pork, potatoes, and purslane. Purslane is a weed you probably have in your own back yard that's extremely nutritious. That was 21 main-dish servings for about $10-$12.

ZOMBIFIEDNERD SparkPoints: (6,506)
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Posts: 105
6/14/12 10:25 P

What about fish fillets or a tuna casserole type thing?

FLOWINGWATER SparkPoints: (39,446)
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Posts: 1,296
6/14/12 9:49 P

Some of our favorites (my husband and I are vegetarian, so not a lot of meat on this list):

Potato soup

Potato soup with cheese

Garlic Black Beans and Brown Rice (Put black beans in the crockpot with a whole bulb of garlic, cook until beans are done, season to taste with cumin and salt, serve over brown rice with salsa and sour cream)

Cheese Quesadillas (Cheese broiled in a whole wheat tortilla shell - serve with avocado, tomatoes, chicken or ground turkey or beans)

Grilled cheese sandwiches (I broil mine instead of frying when I don't have the calories to spare, sometimes open-faced to save calories on bread.)

Reubens (Think grilled cheese with rye bread, swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The kids don't like the sauerkraut, so they end up with ham and swiss.)

Mini Pizzas (Use a whole wheat tortilla for the crust, top with mozzarella and toppings of choice. In our house, everyone makes their own pizza, which is nice, because I can go light on the cheese and heavy on the veggies. The tortilla shell makes a nice, low calorie crust)

Frittata - use your leftover pasta, any kind, mix with eggs (scrambled) and bake until firm.

Stew - potatoes, carrots, celery and onions boiled with a bay leaf. Thicken so that the base makes a gravy. Season to taste. Back when I ate meat, I used to make this with chuck roast, now it's just a veggie version. I often make homemade dumplings to go with it.

That's all I can think of for now. Hope this helps bring some fresh ideas. And, yeah, we do eat quite a bit of cheese, being vegetarian, that's where a lot of our protein comes from. But I'm here to tell you, it's possible to stay within a calorie budget while eating these meals. It's all about portion size!

ANNETTELOU SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,163)
Posts: 5
6/14/12 3:15 P

Stirfry anything. Thinly slice all meat and use lots of vegetables. Subsitute quinoa for rice or mix it half & half. More protein, fewer carbs.

I also google restaraunt meals we like and try to slim them down. A couple good ones are PF Changs lettuce wrap or the ground chicken and eggplant dish. Less meat and lots of vegetables.

I get London Broil cuts of beef from Costco (which is pretty lean) and do a variety of meals out of one. Beef kabobs with 3/4 of the skewer w/ veggies. BBQ'd and sliced thin over a salad. Thai Beef salad aka Crying Tiger. Grind any remaining up and use as flavoring in a beef, barley & vegetable soup.

I grind a lot of different meats in the food processor. Even hamburger. I grind it finer and use less in my spagetti sauce over whole wheat pasta.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
6/14/12 1:40 P

Tacos! You can even get whole grain taco shells now. A little lean ground beef, lots of veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc) and it'll fill up the whole family for less than $10! It's even cheaper if you make your own seasoning.

TISTEN23 SparkPoints: (31,222)
Fitness Minutes: (38,120)
Posts: 1,301
6/14/12 11:51 A

Turkey ham with pineapple.
BBQ Turkey burgers.
Grilled chicken salad with tons of fruit/veggie toppings.

-POOKIE- Posts: 22,524
6/14/12 11:41 A

Chili... bulked out with loads of dried beans, they are so cheap

Lentil Dahl, Indian lentil based dish, loads of variations of recipes, so google and find one you like dry lentils are super cheap as well.

6/14/12 11:34 A

What are your favorite cheap family meals? We are strapped for cash right now and I am running out of options. Lately we have had:

1. Ground lean turkey 1000 ways
2. Whole Wheat spaghetti with veggies
3. Breakfast for dinner (whole wheat toast, eggs, turkey sausage)
4. Crock pot everything

Getting bored. Ideas?

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