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#1 of 26 Old 08-05-2009, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband and I have a wonderful 9 month old little girl and want to make changes in our lifestyle. Our goal is to pay off our credit card debt in the next 6 months to a year. We want to spend less money on eating out and groceries, our big expenses. What recipes do ya'll have that are super cheap, super easy, and super quick??? Help please!

P.S. We aren't very adventurous when it comes to food, so nothing too crazy please, lol. :

Mama to Taylor 10/31/08 and wife to Jason 9-6-02
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#2 of 26 Old 08-05-2009, 10:03 PM
 
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Beans are our favorite cheap thing! You can get a bag of dried beans super cheap and they don't take that much preparation, and it's a lot of savings compared to canned.

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#3 of 26 Old 08-05-2009, 10:32 PM
 
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I make vegan sloppy Joes with sauted onions, lentils and catchup and some seasonings. I'm not vegan, but I have discovered that it is sooo much cheaper not buying meat! Now I just buy meat for 1 or 2 meals and do vegan/vegetarian with the rest. Pasta is a favorite, veggie fritatas are good and cheap. Also, I try to buy only a few processed food items if I can help it. The fresher and closer to nature's intended form, the cheaper it seems to be!

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#4 of 26 Old 08-05-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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Moved to Meal Planning
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#5 of 26 Old 08-06-2009, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I make vegan sloppy Joes with sauted onions, lentils and catchup and some seasonings. I'm not vegan, but I have discovered that it is sooo much cheaper not buying meat! Now I just buy meat for 1 or 2 meals and do vegan/vegetarian with the rest. Pasta is a favorite, veggie fritatas are good and cheap. Also, I try to buy only a few processed food items if I can help it. The fresher and closer to nature's intended form, the cheaper it seems to be!
I've never cooked wih lentils, what kind do you use? How do you prepare them?

Mama to Taylor 10/31/08 and wife to Jason 9-6-02
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#6 of 26 Old 08-06-2009, 09:59 PM
 
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We're vegetarian so here's some cheap ways to lower meat intake

-tvp instead of ground beef in pasta sauce
-omit the beef in chili and used cooked dried kdneys
-refried bean soft tacos or sweet potato/refried bean burritoes mmm
-if you like indian food-red lentil dahl and potato chickpea curries are both super cheap meals
-rice and lentil casserole-3/4 c rice, 1 cup brown DRY lentils, 6-8 c liquid(I use a mixture of homemade broth and tomato juice, then diced onion, and whatever veg you have on hand(about to go rotten diced)-for a mexican feel I use the bottom of a jar of salsa with water added as part of the liquid, chili, cumin, garlic and cayenne..bake in a casserole dish at 300-350 check on it and add more water/broth/or tomato juice as needed...at the end you could add grated cheese if you'd like
-breakfast for dinner-potato latkes, eggs,
-potato egg fratata
-make homemade broth, save all your veggies and make your own broth, using broth instead of water makes everything taste better
-end of the week soup-use your homemade broth, half cans of tomatoes/tomato sauce/rotting veggies/left over rice or pasta/ spice it up and call it dinner
-fried rice-use leftover rice,scramble eggs remove from pan and then sautee diced onion, carrot, frozen peas or whatever veg rotting and then throw everything into your wok or pan and add soy sauce and whatever spices you'd like.

Here's some meat options-though its WAY cheaper/healthier to try and eat more vegetarian

-roast-buy a LARGE roast when on sale, cook it slice it and after you can portion it for:
1) traditional roast beef dinner
2) sandwiches for the week("real" meat is cheaper/better for you then sandwich crap!)
3) shepards pie
4) beef fajitas
5) stew
6) Hash
7) cabbage rolls
8) stir fry

Buy whole chickens instead of "breasts or legs ect) cook it and cut the whole thing up
1) traditional dinner
2) sandwiches
3) broth
4) chicken noodle soup

Here's a link to check out to find ways to use leftovers

http://www.leftoverchef.com/

HTH!

mommy daddy son daughter = our family
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#7 of 26 Old 08-06-2009, 11:18 PM
 
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Lentils are SUPER easy! Once I discovered that, I was thrilled. They sell different kinds at the store. I shop at Whole Foods, and they happen to have an awesome dried foods isle so I can by lentils in quanities that fit my needs, but I think they are also kept near the beans in other stores. I used brown ones, but they all work about the same.

• To cook lentils, first pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse, and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. I usually simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes.

• Salt added to the cooking water will toughen the beans. Add salt once the lentils are completely cooked.

• Acidic ingredients such as wine or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender.

• Lentils should be liberally seasoned. They have a bland, bean-like flavor, but they soak up what you cook them with, and the texture is nice, imo

• The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.

Mom to Delia  (5/25/07) and Alex  (4/10/10) and 2 spoiled kitties
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#8 of 26 Old 08-07-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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Start cooking whole chickens. You get 3 or 4 meals out of them.

Day 1: Roast the chicken, have roasted chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes. (Eat the drum sticks and thighs.) $5

Shred remaining meat, save fat, skin and bones for making stock.

Day 2: Chicken casserole, chicken enchiladas, chicken alfredo pasta etc. (Whatever you like) yesterday we did chicken alfredo pizza. So good!!! $2

Day 3: Chicken cesear wraps, chicken tacos, bbq chicken on a bun etc. $2

Day 4: make your stock. Reserve for later, or make into soup immediately. $0

With a beef roast:

Day 1: Roast beef, gravy and mashed potatoes. $6

Divide remaining beef in half. Save gravy and left over mashed potatoes. (I make horseradish carmalized onion mashed potatoes with roast.)

Day 2: Slice the beef really thin, serve with sauteed onions and peppers, on buns with hot gravy on the meat. Sort of a beef dip. Yum. Or Stick the thin slices into the crockpot with bbq sauce on low all day and serve on buns. $2

Day 3: Cut up remaining beef. Make beef stock soup, add veggies, beef and make little dumplings with the left over potatoes. $2

With a ham:

Day 1: Bake the ham, serve with rice or potatoes or whatever you like. $10

Day 2: Ham and cheese quiche. $3

Day 3: Homemade mac and cheese with ham. $2

Day 4: Ham and cheese and spinach grilled egg dipped sandwiches. Really yummy and filling for cheap. Esp if you make your own bread. $2 www.breadtopia.com

Day 5: Soup. Either split pea or ham chowder. Either way, super yummy. $3


Each soup starts with 8 cups of stock. Finish chowders with 2-4 cups of cream.


I serve every meal with veggies or salad.

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#9 of 26 Old 08-07-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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People always suggest eating lots of beans or vegetarian when this question comes up, but I would advise you to try one bag of beans (don't buy lots) first before deciding if it is for you. I personally cannot eat beans or soy without intense stomach distress, which happens to many people. I can have a small amount of lentils, but that is it as far as beans for me. My daughter is the same way. Some people are just really sensitive to them. I also don't feel very well eating like that from an energy standpoint, and really need to have some kind of chicken, fish, beef, etc. for dinner. Although rice with lentils is a very nice side dish.

Similar to lil earthmama, I buy whole chickens and roasts, and try to get a few meals from those. You can find really good deals on these by looking at the sale flyers from your local market. Our local grocery store is Safeway (we don't have Walmart in the Bay Area), and they send out a flyer each week that I use to plan our meals for the week. I always know what we will have for dinner each night of the week, and planning ahead prevents you from just getting take out or other costly alternatives.

Tonight is Chicken Marsala with mushroom pasta and green salad. I have some whipping cream leftover from another chicken dish I made on Monday, and cannot waste it--so I decided to make pasta with it. That is what I typically do--I buy ingredients for my meals and make certain that I use up all of them in creative ways. There are so many recipe websites out there.

Check out Clara on Youtube for hints on depression cooking:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuMkW35BwK8

I made her poorman's feast last weekend with the beef and rice and lentils and endive salad and it was fantastic. I have also made her pasta and peas as a side dish.
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#10 of 26 Old 09-04-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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i agree about the veggie suggestions...that just doesnt work for some people.
Oatmeal and eggs are actually great ways to strech a buck..very filling, eggs are great cheap protein, oatmeal expands, you can add some butter or cream to it for fat and some fruit and it satisfies for a long time.
Egg salad sandwiches, eggs fried, over easy scrambled, with mexican seasonings or salsa as an egg "burrito"...super easy and cheap protein. You can et a dozen eggs here for 60-80 cents right now..you can cook up 6 eggs for the 3 of you, and have a high-protein meal for like 40 cents? 40 cents worth of meat won't stretch nearly as far, LOL!

Rice is a great stretcher that most people tolerate well. Pasta isn't as healthy, its a processsed food, but still, it stretches budgets. Quinoa is a good pasta or rice substitute that adds in protein and higher nutrition, although it's pricier.

Potatoes are uber-cheap. I also buy canned when they are on sale, because it'smakes foodprep so easy, although it's more expensive, of course.

Bulk yogurt, in the big tubs, on sale, is much cheaper than the single-serve cups, and it's a decent snack. The danon "natural" line is free of crappy fillers and high fructose corn syrup..its not organic, but it's decent.

i find tha, if possible, it's best to hve a bit of "free" budget, so you can stockup when something you use a lot is on sale..it sucks to have to pass up your favorite toilet paper at 1/2 price simply because your budget is maxed that week, when you KNOW youll have to buy some at full price next week. When hamburger hits $1.50/lb, I buy as much as i can afford that week and portion it out into 1 lb baggies at home.
Frozen veggies are decently healthy and can add a LOT of bulk to a meal. Or a can, if you prefer.
for example, i can take a meal that is sort of stingy (a small amount of meat, for example) and expand it using these items. Add a side of rice, a portion of frozen corn and some frozen carrots, and a piece of bread, and bam! insta meal, on the cheap.

CPST
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#11 of 26 Old 09-04-2009, 09:27 AM
 
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I'm also a big fan of frozen veggies. When certain veggies peak in summer production, oftentimes the frozen bags of it go on mega-sale at the supermarket. I like to stock up then, within reason of course.

That's another reason why I like getting the bigger size veggie box at the CSA, if possible, because then I have surplus veggies each week that I can freeze for the winter. (I use a vacuum sealer to do so.)

I love all these cheap meal suggestions above. I would love it if you guys entered them into the CSA meal planner database. I want to go back through and tag recipes as "budget friendly", to help people searching for just that. (Although most of the recipes on there are already pretty budget friendly.)

http://mealplanner.eatrealgood.com
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#12 of 26 Old 09-04-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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People always suggest eating lots of beans or vegetarian when this question comes up, but I would advise you to try one bag of beans (don't buy lots) first before deciding if it is for you. I personally cannot eat beans or soy without intense stomach distress, which happens to many people.
I was just about to mention this. If you're BFing you might want to be careful as well. I handle beans just fine, but my DS was painfully gassy the whole next day. Just be prepared.


I also second using rice, pasta, and potatoes to fill out a meal. We add rice to just about everything (most meat dishes do great with rice) and a baked potato or mashed potatoes are super easy. Plus, those filler things are less expensive when you buy in bulk (usually) The last time DH bought rice he got a 5lb bag and said it was cheaper that way anyway. I just divided it between a couple of gallon sized ziplocs and we use it out of there (write down or memorize cooking instructions)
Shop sales! Even if you have to go to more than one store. Most stores have a sales paper for the week just lying around. Grab it! The last time we bought meat it was really cheap ($1 a pound chicken breasts...we even got center cut pork loin for the same price once) If you buy several pounds you actually save money in the long run. You can buy 10lbs of meat for a cheap price and then eat on it for several weeks using the stuff you have sitting in your pantry! Right now we have enough meat in our fridge to last us 3 weeks. We went shopping yesterday and bought filler items...and we won't have to go "shopping" (more than the random gallon of milk) for the next 3-4 weeks.
Couponing can also be a great help! We don't use that many because DS is dairy sensitive and a lot of coupons I've found are for things I can't eat...but if there are no restrictions then just spend a few hours once a week going through websites and the Sunday paper. You can really save money that way (especially if you combine coupons with sales!)

Kas (24), Helpmeet to Stefan (25), Mom to Franklin Gaudelio 4/15/09, Jonathan Boswell 1/2/11
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#13 of 26 Old 09-06-2009, 03:27 AM
 
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People always suggest eating lots of beans or vegetarian when this question comes up, but I would advise you to try one bag of beans (don't buy lots) first before deciding if it is for you. I personally cannot eat beans or soy without intense stomach distress, which happens to many people. .
If you get a tummy ache from eating beans, eat smaller quantities and cook them with a 3 inch strip of kombu, a sea vegetable. Try different kinds of beans, and don't salt them when they're cooking, salt them to taste when they're done.

Egg noodles with cottage cheese is a really cheap and simple dish. Just cook the noodles, drain them, pour them back into the pan and stir in some cottage cheese. I know, it sounds gross but is SO good.

Pizza is really simple and inexpensive if you make your own dough. Use more veggies and less cheese than you would find on a restaurant pizza.

Vegetable soups are wonderful. Make your own soup stock and add veggies, beans, and/or tofu to it.

Do you live near a food co-op or a grocery store with bulk bins? That can save you a lot of money.

Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and jam or honey sandwiches are a very cheap lunch.

Buy or make a bunch of big flour tortillas and use them to make roll-ups with leftovers.
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#14 of 26 Old 09-06-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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Oooh really enjoying watching Clara's videos!
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#15 of 26 Old 09-06-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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If you get a tummy ache from eating beans, eat smaller quantities and cook them with a 3 inch strip of kombu, a sea vegetable. Try different kinds of beans, and don't salt them when they're cooking, salt them to taste when they're done.

Egg noodles with cottage cheese is a really cheap and simple dish. Just cook the noodles, drain them, pour them back into the pan and stir in some cottage cheese. I know, it sounds gross but is SO good.

Pizza is really simple and inexpensive if you make your own dough. Use more veggies and less cheese than you would find on a restaurant pizza.

Vegetable soups are wonderful. Make your own soup stock and add veggies, beans, and/or tofu to it.

Do you live near a food co-op or a grocery store with bulk bins? That can save you a lot of money.

Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and jam or honey sandwiches are a very cheap lunch.

Buy or make a bunch of big flour tortillas and use them to make roll-ups with leftovers.
I second this advice on cooking beans. Also making sure to cook them in fresh water after soaking helps too.

Student and aspiring midwife mama to Angel: and Iris. Expecting a new sometime near Halloween! I am a all the way!!!!!
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#16 of 26 Old 09-06-2009, 09:15 PM
 
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So you have gotten a lot of veggie recipes which is my prefered way to go but when we ate meat......

eggs eggs eggs. you can add an eggs to lots and lots of things and stretch it. so cheap and easy. egg hot dishes, breakfast for dinner, quiche, it just goes on and on. There is a great bisquic recipe for this egg hot dish. super cheap (you can even make your own bisquick mix) and you can throw in a little of this a little of this (whatevers about to go bad) and tada...cheap supper.

never let anything go bad. watch you fridge. if it looks like something is about to go bad at the very least chop it up/cook it up (when in doubt sautee it) and throw it in the freezer. chop it up and add some water and freeze veggies. spinach just gets put in a bag and thrown in. ground beef gets browned and put in the freezer. chicken I throw in the pressure cooker and then put it in the freezer. fruit can usually be whipped into some quick dessert. whatever, you get the idea.

cassaroles are your friends. as is pasta and sauce.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#17 of 26 Old 09-10-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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We're vegetarian so here's some cheap ways to lower meat intake


Buy whole chickens instead of "breasts or legs ect) cook it and cut the whole thing up
1) traditional dinner
2) sandwiches
3) broth
4) chicken noodle soup



HTH!
I don't know if it's been mentioned, but when we have leftover meat from roasts/chicken, I make enchiladas. I saute it with lots of onions (for flavor, and to stretch it!) and garlic, cumin, chili, etc. Spread some refried beans (or seasoned mashed beans) on large tortillas, add some of the meat filling, wrap up and place in casserole dish. Top with enchilada sauce and bake for...20 min or so at around 350F. Add a little (or a lot ) greated cheese on top and return to oven to melt. Cheap meal for us, in part because we only use 'leftovers' from sale-bought meats. We usually eat it with seasoned rice and a big green salad.
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#18 of 26 Old 09-10-2009, 12:57 AM
 
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Also...I second the egg suggestions. And learn to bake bread. Whole-grain bread is cheaper and more filling than inexpensive pastas. (You can buy the whole-grain stuff, but here, at least, it's far more expensive...) Whole-wheat toast with nut butter, or butter and jam, or an egg...soups with a thick slice of homemade bread...sandwiches...you get the idea. 100% whole wheat bread with a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten costs about 50-60c a loaf for me to make, and I suspect it'd come out cheaper in the states!
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#19 of 26 Old 09-10-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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If you get a tummy ache from eating beans, eat smaller quantities and cook them with a 3 inch strip of kombu, a sea vegetable.
Another thing to remember with beans is that it takes a little while for your body to build up enough of the enzymes to digest them. I think a lot of people give up after a couple of times. But if they kept at it, their bodies would adjust. I guess it depends on just how uncomfortable you are as to whether it is worth it to you... LOL! And like anything, this doesn't work for everyone.
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#20 of 26 Old 09-11-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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Plan, plan, plan. Make a menu before you go to the grocery store. Make your list based on exactly what you need for your dinners plus some fruits and salad stuff, etc. Of course if there is a great sale, you may want to add on. But, don't be too tempted, if you can't see an exact use for something, I wouldn't buy it. It may be cheaper in the long run, but you're trying to save in the here and now. If I won't use something in the next two weeks, I don't get it. We're on a tight food budget right now.

I would definitely do a few meatless nights a week. I really cuts down on costs a lot. Also, if you're on a budget, a crockpot is your best friend. They are great for cooking beans and everything else. Ex. Soaked kidney beans, some smoked sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and some seasonings (thyme, bay leaf and cajun seasoning mix) set on low for eight hours and serve over rice. Super yummy red beans and rice. If you use two pounds of dry kidney beans, it will probably feed two people 4 times. You can make a great black bean soup with soaked black beans, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and some ham (optional) use chicken stock to cook and add in some cumin, chili powder and seasoning salt. Yummy. again, use two pounds of beans and eat it several times.

When you do use meat use it sparingly. If I buy a pack of chicken tenders, I use half in a stir fry (a bag of frozen stirfry veggies, onion and traditional soy/tamari sauce over rice) and freeze the other half for something else (soup, stew, etc.) If I make tacos/burritos I use I pound of cooked lean ground turkey mixed with a can (or 2) of black beans. That stretches the meat for two meals for two people.

My convenience item is frozen cut up onion, bell pepper and celery. I use is as a base in almost everything. I get a 2 lb bag for under $3. I know it is lazy, but since the baby it has made my life so much easier.

Food budgeting is actually kind of fun when you get into it. Good luck. :

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#21 of 26 Old 09-12-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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We eat a lot of beans, but most of them have some sort of meat in them. The beans stretch the meat, but they don't replace it completely. For instance, when I make red beans and rice, I use 1/2 pound of andouille in 1-2 pounds of beans. The andouille is quite yummy, but all those beans means that you don't need much.

Hoppin' John has a bit of ham in it, I put ham in black bean soup, we make tacos with ground beef and refried beans. When I make hummus for a meal (versus a snack), I'll serve it with kofta kabobs. You can make them really small (1/8 pound), and they are great with hummus.

Baked beans are good with bacon in them. Black bean salad with chicken. There are lots of bean/meat meals out there.
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#22 of 26 Old 09-15-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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Another thing to remember with beans is that it takes a little while for your body to build up enough of the enzymes to digest them. I think a lot of people give up after a couple of times. But if they kept at it, their bodies would adjust. I guess it depends on just how uncomfortable you are as to whether it is worth it to you... LOL! And like anything, this doesn't work for everyone.
I think this can be true, so definitely try it. But I know for me I was vegetarian for almost 10 years and never could handle beans more than a couple of times a week. I still mainly eat vegetarian but now eat organic chicken occasionally because of this problem. I also can't handle canned beans but do much better with dried beans.
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#23 of 26 Old 09-16-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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^
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What baglady said...except, I'd say make your list, based on the very best sales in the grocery flyers, and *then* make your menus! Go back and fill in the list with staples not on sale, etc. And - if you can afford to eat meat even a few times a week, you can afford to stock up on sales. It's what works for you - more beans/ soups/ etc. now (or baking your own bread , or <insert cost-saving measure here>), and more meat/cheese/whatever later, or vice-versa.

~Sara
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#24 of 26 Old 09-16-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lil_earthmomma View Post
Day 4: make your stock. Reserve for later, or make into soup immediately. $0
Stock, stock, and more stock!! Seriously, I'd cook just about everything in it (veggies, noodles, rice, etc). With the rice all of the stock will be taken up, but with the veggies/noodles you'll have to play around a bit to make sure you don't waste any. Stock has a protein sparing effect and is so very nutrient dense which is great for those who are on a budget. You can even buy soup bones relatively inexpensively - my local co-op sells them, but you can also trying buying them directly from a farmer.

I know you said you're not adventurous, but another option is organ meats like liver. Again, super nutrient dense and cheap to boot. I know lots of folks who really like it, but the best I can stomach is to make pate. Add in some homemade crackers, fruit, veggies and dip and it's a great light meal.
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#25 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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this year we grew tons of veggies and froze them to use during the fall/ winter. it will save us tons in produce the next few months. also, buying seasonal veggies can save some moeny.

Leah- mama to Audrey born 12/29/03 and Gwyneth born 4/1/2009! Soon to be TTC #3!
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#26 of 26 Old 10-03-2009, 07:53 PM
 
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I have loved this thread. And I am loving Clara! You ladies are so knowledgable and helpful! Thank you so very much. Dh and I are currently living with another couple and they are all three really picky eaters. It's like cooking for little kids, except that I can't make them eat the veggies. It had never even occured to me to buy a whole chicken and use it in so many different ways.

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