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Your cheapest and most delicious meals...

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
I know we've had threads like this before, but I thought maybe I could start an updated one. In a week I will be adding two teenagers to my family, so I am desperately in need of cheap, filling meals! To make matters more complicated, one fo the girls won't eat fish or dairy, the other will eat anything. Although, recipes with fish and dairy are still very much appreciated, she will have to eat leftovers some nights.

I currently have less than $100 to feed my family of 3 for a week and then our new family of 5 - I overspent getting their room ready.

post #2 of 74
This is my general recipe for beans and rice, Puerto Rican style (or rather, it was Puerto Rican style until I got ahold of it):

My own additions: I don't use the bacon or ham.
I used adzuki beans instead of pigeon peas, but any bean would do. Personally, I like black beans very much. I also used way more than the recipe said. Bags of dried beans are so cheap!
I guess you can add some diced chicken thighs, cook them up with the sofrito. I used more sofrito than was called for.
I didn't use olives.
Oh and brown rice was used!

This makes a huge pot of beans and rice, enough for 5 people for sure. Add a cheap vegetable on the side and you're good to go!
post #3 of 74
Also, if you can plan some meals around the leftover ingredients from this one, it's not too bad either. I know buying herbs gets expensive. I love this recipe.

post #4 of 74
I made this the other night, and my family seemed to like it. (Okay, DH said "as much as he likes anything with beans," but that's a compliment coming from him.)

I boiled pasta & carrots (separately and with the carrots still firm). I also steamed some broccoli.

In a skillet, I put olive oil & garlic, let heat. Then I added a roasted red pepper dressing we had on hand (which is about $3 for a bottle but is super-thick). I added already-cooked northern beans and let them cook in the sauce for a couple of minutes, added in the pasta, carrots, & broccoli for another 2 minutes or so.

The whole meal was probably $2-3.
post #5 of 74
I've tried a bunch of the recipes from this post, and they've all been wonderful (and cheap, of course!).
post #6 of 74
Black bean enchiladas is my current cheap favorite.
post #7 of 74
Ham and Beans. I make the way it's been done in my family for generations, but there are a lot of different recipes out there and can be adjusted for different tastes - just google for it. In our house we call the meal "Beans and Cornbread" because we always eat it with cornbread... but the dish itself is called Ham and Beans. This is actually dd's (8yo) favorite dish that I make.
post #8 of 74
post #9 of 74
Some of our favourite go-to inexpensive meals are:

Rice, lentils and caramelized onions: http://bedouina.typepad.com/doves_ey...rah_lenti.html

Minestrone soup with breadmaker bread and/or baked beans on toast.

Clearance-rack hash:

Main ingredients are:
One onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-4 diced potatoes
Pretty much any vegetables that are on sale or were on the bruised rack or are bits and pieces in the fridge (since you're dicing/chopping you can remove the bruises): zucchini, carrots, eggplant, green or red or orange or yellow peppers, chard, kale, cabbage, peas, green beans, etc.)
Any inexpensive fryable protein (choose from: leftover chicken, ham, pork, beef, ground beef, small amount of bacon, tofu hot dogs (if using those add towards the end), tofu, whatever)
Olive oil

For flavouring we usually add a bit of soy sauce, oregano, salt and pepper, or some beef or chicken stock, but sometimes we use barbeque sauce or sometimes we add a can of/leftover baked beans. You kind of have to taste as you go and know your family's threshold

So you just dice and saute the onions and potatoes in a big pan, add protein and the rest of the veggies (diced or chopped up or whatever is appropriate for that vegetable) at the appropriate times. It comes out like a big mess and is usually yummy.

You can start small with onions, garlic, potatoes, ground beef, peas and carrots. Or corned beef hash if you want to be traditional.
post #10 of 74
I make a lot from the Poor Girl Eats Well site. My favs are this chickpea curry dish and a chili dish... I don't remember their actual names. I serve the curry with rice and the chili with homemade corn bread.

When coconut milk is on sale I pick up several cans. I sautee some onions and garlic and cook some red lentils with curry, cinnamon and a few other spices I don't recall at the moment, lol. I don't have the recipe in front of me but it's a pretty basic coconut curry lentil soup. Very yummy!
post #11 of 74
pasta w/ alfredo sauce and french bread.

I use a half stick of butter, a package of neufchatel cheese, about 2/3 a cup of parmesan - I buy the small bags of shredded and use half (though sometimes I make a yellow cheese sauce) and milk to get it to the right consistency. Melt the butter, neufchatel cheese and parm and whisk the milk in until it's smooth.

I like to use bowtie pasta because it's easier for my little guy to eat it.

It's a meal big enough for our family of 5 with leftovers for the next night or lunch.

I usually have butter on hand, but the pasta is inexpensive $1-2, the neufchatel is about $1.50, the parmesan is $2 something and we have milk on hand. I usually serve with corn or broccoli.

We also do bean, rice and cheese tacos a lot. Super easy and the kids love it.
post #12 of 74
I have the "Family Feasts for $75 a Week" book and the recipes are pretty good! See if your library has it, or can get it through interlibrary loan... in addition to recipes it has lots of info on economizing with several children.

My go-to recipes though came from a battered little handwritten cookbook I got at a thrift store (I often make 4 or 5 batches at a time and freeze for later):

1 cup cup lentils
2/3 cup dry brown rice
5 cups liquid (stock/broth is best but you could just use water)
season as desired (whatever appeals, I usually add thyme, oregano, garlic, onion)

mix together in a loaf pan

preheat oven to 365, bake ~95 minutes, top with cheese or sauce

and my kiddos love what they call "messy rice".... cook up a pot of brown rice (I use the rice cooker, dh uses the pressure cooker), add black beans (I soak bags of the dried beans, cook them in a big pot, then freeze in meal sized batches so at dinner there is no real "cooking" needed), add cooked corn (frozen or canned), add salsa and heat it up. I usually top with cheese but that is totally optional and your teen could leave off the cheese.

coconut rice! Cook the rice in coconut milk instead of water, stir in dried or fresh fruit (raisins, apricots, apples, mangos, or whatever you have), bits of chicken/tofu, and serve. Without the chicken/tofu and topped with some sort of milk (I prefer coconut milk, the girls prefer almond milk, dh likes soy ) it makes a nice hot breakfast...we eat hot rice and oatmeal from the slow cooker most autumn/winter mornings.
post #13 of 74
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) pakage dry Italian style salad dressing mix
1 (up to 5lb) rump roast

combine water and dry ingredients in sauce pan bring to a boil.
place roast in crock pot then pour boiling mixture over roast.
cook on low 10 to 12 hours or high 4 to 5 hours.
when done remove bay leaf and enjoy
Serve on rolls or french bread. We like to top with a slice of provalone and some of the juice that it cooks in. It might not be the cheapest but if you can find rump roast on sale usually the rest is spices from the cabinet already. we also like to use leftovers to make green chili burritos, we drain all the juice then take the remaining meat and put 2 cans of green chilis and a can of rotel peppers in the crockpot then a little bit of water and let it cook all day serve on tortillas with some cheese,sour cream and avacado
post #14 of 74
I don't know if this is the cheapest thing, but it is pretty cheap and has all of the food groups.

I make a pasta bake - for a box of ww macaroni: 2 lbs ground beef (we use grass fed/hormone and drug free), a can of tomatoes and lots and lots of diced up veggies, whatever's in the fridge, plus onions and garlic etc.

I bake it with a little cheese on top. We can eat this for about 3 meals plus!

Many cheap recipes aren't a complete meal - if I want cheap I find the one pot meal concept is great if it contains lots of veg.
post #15 of 74
and my kiddos love what they call "messy rice".... cook up a pot of brown rice (I use the rice cooker, dh uses the pressure cooker), add black beans (I soak bags of the dried beans, cook them in a big pot, then freeze in meal sized batches so at dinner there is no real "cooking" needed), add cooked corn (frozen or canned), add salsa and heat it up. I usually top with cheese but that is totally optional and your teen could leave off the cheese.
wombatclay, i make something that is basically the same. i use my rice cooker, dump in 2 cups of brown rice, 3 cups of chicken or veggie broth, a can of V8 juice, a cup (or can) of black beans, a cup or so of black bean and corn salsa, and, if i have it, a chopped up chicken breast. turn on and wait for it to ding, lol.

i have 4 boys, most of whom have food sensitivities/allergies (gluten, dairy, msg), so feeding them without breaking the bank takes some doing.

i can stretch a pound of hamburger to make tacos or nachos for everyone by adding a cup or 2 of black or red beans and/or a large can of petite diced tomatoes or a jar of salsa. top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, onion, sour cream, salsa, guac, whatever you've got.

the same base; hamburger, small red beans and diced tomatoes, can be used for sloppy joes.

i do a lot of stir fries and skillet or one pot meals. i realized recently that i start almost every dinner with some olive oil in a skillet, a chopped up onion and some minced garlic. last night i added to that: 4 slices of bacon cut in small pieces, a whole summer squash chopped up, a half a zucchini chopped up, 3 portabella mushrooms diced up, and a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half. then i tossed that with some leftover gf pasta shells, and voila! dinner.

i made a tomato salad the other night... i got a bunch of heirloom tomatoes for super cheap, chopped them up and made a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of dried basil, and 3 cloves minced garlic (most people would probably prefer one or 2 but we love garlic!) and poured it over the tomatoes. i let it sit overnight in the fridge, then served it on thick slices of rye bread (except for the gf kids, who ate it plain) and called it tomato salad sandwiches.

you can add onions and cucumber to the tomatoes and change the basil for oregano and serve it with warm pita bread for a greek salad.

op, i don't know if you do this already, but if there is a farmers market by you, go and talk to the vendors and ask if there is anything that is bumped or bruised or not-so-pretty that they will sell for less or give away. i have gotten a pretty good amount of stuff that way this summer. my egg lady saves the smaller eggs for me and usually gives me 2 dozen a week for the price of 1 dozen. the lady i buy meat from gave me a bunch of packages of bones (for broth) and liver and oxtail for free, and said if there was any other organ meats or bones i wanted, she'd give me those, too. she told me that hardly anyone wants them and she hates to throw them out at the end of the season.
post #16 of 74
chicken baked with salsa and cheese on top (perhaps a sauteed onion thrown in). Really good
post #17 of 74
Pasta with lentils. (officially pasta lentiche)

We add anything. Sometimes just butter. Other times, veggies and meat (what ever is in the fridge). One time I made it into soup with homemade beef broth, sliced cabbage, carrots and celery. Delicious!
post #18 of 74
Oat Nut burgers--Delicious!

1 cup walnuts
1 cup oatmeal
1 onion diced
2 eggs
seasoning to your own taste

Process all ingredients to desired texture, form into patties and pan fry. Serve hamburger style on a bun.
post #19 of 74
Honeybaked lentils

We like them with a grain and whatever veggies we have on hand.
post #20 of 74
I can usually find a piece of ham relatively inexpensive (or a whole ham and use it for many meals) and make ham and scalloped potaoes... Don't need much cheese at all and the other stuff are staples (potaotes, flour, milk and maybe some cream)

We usually serve with some raw veggie sticks and/or fruit...
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