try www.paleofood.com for a zillion recipes that fit the bill. also look on google for budget/cheap/inexpensive paleo recipes~there are a myriad of pretty blogs with recipes you would love.
another one: www.paleo-recipes.com
I am going to make dairy-free chicken pot pie tonight. Very down-home, but my DH loves it.
I put leftover chicken and some par-cooked veggies into a pot. Then I make a gravy out of 1-2 T flour mixed with 1-2 T of Earth Balance margarine and a bit of salt. Make a roue with this and then add a cup or so of chicken broth. Stir it with a whisk and bring it to a boil. When it's thickened, I put it over the chicken chunks and veggies. Then I put a pie crust over it and bake for about 20 minutes (?) at 375 F.
I tend to just throw things together but I think the amounts and time/temp are pretty close. Just keep an eye on it. I use only one pie crust - give the good flavor without as much fat.
Otherwise, I just bake using rice milk instead of milk. In scrambled eggs, I add a bit of water which seems to make it fluffy. I make (or order out) Mexican food with the cheese left off. I have become accustomed to pizza without cheese, but sometimes it needs a bit of salt sprinkled on it to make up for the salt in the cheese.
It was a bit hard going dairy-free at first, but now I don't miss it at all. It helps that I actually have an aversion to it now because it makes me not feel so well.
One thing I would like is beef stroganoff. I may try this with either coconut milk or maybe with fake sour cream. I find the fake cream cheese and sour cream to be good.
Good ideas here. I have been dairy-free for 18 years. I think it's cheaper. Bake with water instead of milk (add a pinch of baking soda if it isn't quite right).
For sauces, try coconut milk or a small amount of arrowroot as a thickener. Some people use cornstarch or tapioca with good success.
When making soup, put a portion of it in the blender, then add it back into the soup for creaminess - or cream up the whole soup (mushroom?) and use in casseroles. Or if you have a hand-held blender stick, put it right in the soup pot and cream up a bit.
Silken tofu adds creaminess to smoothies and other things.
I like Earth Balance margarine, though it's not cheap - there are cheaper margarines, of course.
If you crave cheese, try hummus, Soy Boy tofu-lin, or fermented foods.
There are some good dairy-free ice creams for treats - can be used instead of whipped cream with shortcake, etc.
In frying, use oil or pan drippings (bacon fat!) instead of butter.
You'll get used to it. Seriously, I think your budget will shrink a bit. Dairy is expensive.
My husband and I are both lactose intolerant and we've been dairy-free for about eight years now. Soymilk works just like milk in practically anything. Same thing for margarine (we prefer Earth Balance - it's pricey compared to others, but we consider it one of our splurge items). In savory recipes (pasta sauces and soups) we substitute chicken stock for milk a lot. For most recipes that call for cheese, you can just leave it out without much detriment to the recipe.
One of the best cookbooks I own and that gets regular use in our household is the The Milk Free Kitchen: Living Well Without Dairy Products by Beth Kidder. Especially for the baked goods - the Crumb Coffee Cake recipe is incredible. And dairy eating folks never know it's dairy-free unless I tell them.
Don't rule out vegan recipes. You would be surprised how clever some of those vegans can be ;) And it is super easy to add a little meat. or a side of bacon :D
Here is my "cream of" recipe. It is easy and not as cheap as "cream of" soup from a can but its not bad.
This equals about 2 cans. I don't know how it freezes though.
10 ounces mushrooms (celery or chicken would also work)
3 cloves garlic, minced (you can sub a cheaper garlic like garlic powder or flakes)
Salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup vegetable broth (I used bullion cubes and water. Since you are not vegan chicken stock will work too)
3/4 cup soy creamer (I use silk)
Honestly....this would be about the same price as two cans of cream of soup depending on if mushrooms were on sale.....or if you were using celery or leftover chicken.
Trim and discard the mushroom stems (and honestly there is no reason you can't use them) and chop the mushrooms into pieces. Spray a non-stick pan with canola oil and heat it. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are very soft and exude their juices. Whisk the flour into the vegetable broth and add to the mushrooms. Simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add the soy creamer and simmer until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
My current fav. dairy free breakfast is oatmeal with peanut butter and whatever fruit you want to mix in. The PB cools it and makes is so creamy, sort of like milk did.
I think cost wise the best plan is to not try to re-create current favorites at this point. They will be "different" no matter what you do, IYKWIM? Maybe try simple, completely dairy dishes for a bit and then experiment with your old favorites at a later date. They probably won't taste as off as if you just had them with dairy.
Good luck, dairy free is hard with a traditional American casserole-type diet. I still cheat occasionally, but have found the most success with eating foreign foods (Indian/Japanese, etc) , they are delicious and you don't have to try to sub things for dairy.
We are dairy-, soy-, and corn-free plus profoundly limited gluten (we slip up once in a while). I've intermittently kept a blog and tagged the entries for specific categories so it can be searched quick. If you go to the beginning of the blog, there are actually days after days of what we ate. At some point the blog adds the restrictions of eating under Feingold. :)
But yeah, we don't so much do casseroles for lack of the "cream of" soups. I'm not sorry, but it was an adjustment. FWIW, if your LO reacts to dairy there's an 80-85% chance they will also react to soy; so it might be wise to cut BOTH out for 2-3 weeks and then only add one back in. My son reacted to both, but profoundly differently--so we didn't find out about his soy intolerance until he was nearly 18mo old (vs. dairy at about 5mo). And it wasn't good... although he recovered well once it was removed.
op here. just wanted to update and thank everyone for all the awesome replies and ideas. we've been dairy and egg free since the spring, and peanut free for a month, and i limit soy. i've been surprised at how that has actually lowered grocery costs rather than raised them like i had expected. once i got a handle on dairy free cooking i can do a lot on the cheap. the real test will be next week when my dh comes home from 7 months of deployment. he's missed all the dairy and egg free-ness so we'll see how he handles it and if i go back to buying a little cow milk for him. but overall i've been spending less on groceries and also eating much healthier. the allergist said the dairy allergy is likely to go away on its own, but i think i may stick with no dairy just because of the benefits i've seen in cost and health. thanks again for the ideas and encouragement!