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New ideas for cheap healthy meals...?

11455 Views 12 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  melissa_honeybee
We are on a tight budget and I plan out each meal for the week before we go shopping so that we only buy what we need and don't waste anything. I tend to make the same handful of things, which we like but I could use some new recipes to throw into the mix. We eat mostly vegetarian, but we do salmon once a week and chicken maybe twice a month. We love mexican and lots of VEGGIES. Here is what I usually do, I would love ideas for other things.

Black beans & rice with guac, salsa, etc...
Garlic pasta with lots of veggies and parmesan
Veggie stir fry with roasted nuts and some scramble egg
Some sort of homemade pizza or stromboli

What do you make, using basic ingredients that aren't too expensive?
We buy as much organic as we can.
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At the end of the week, I make a crustless quiche filled with whatever veggies, cheese, nuts, and beans we have leftover from the week. You could use your salmon and chicken, too! Make a couple and freeze one or have it cold for breakfast the next morning.
How about soups? Minestrone, vegetable soup, vegetarian chilis. For that Mexican flavor, try black bean soup or tortilla lime soup (with or without chicken, it's very good! Do a google for the recipe. You put tortilla strips or chips, and cheese and avocado on top.

How about lentils -- dahl, lentil soup, cold lentil salads, curried lentils? They're inexpensive and good for you and versatile.

Curries or other Indian dishes with vegetables.

Moroccan-style stews with chicken (if you wish), tons of vegetables, chickpeas, raisins, etc. Again, Google will give you lots of recipes for this. I usually make mine up. They're filling and cheap.

Last but not least, my infamous sweet-potato-black bean stew. Reposting the instructions here:

So basically, it's diced sweet potatoes, black beans (either canned or previously cooked and drained), onion, green pepper, garlic, canned diced tomatoes and/or tomato paste, cumin, a little chipotle chili, chili powder. Add water if necessary to make it sufficiently "soupy" for your tastes, and simmer everything together until the potatoes are tender and the liquid thickened and reduced somewhat. Taste and adjust seasonings, and serve over brown or white rice. Pretty simple, and quick -- it only takes 10-15 minutes depending on how big your potato chunks are.

Hope these help!
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Chicken noodle soup is good and lasts a while. I tend to do a big pot and then use it as dinner one night and lunches/dinners for a couple weeks. It is really yummy.

The other thing I do is a veggie curry..super yummy and you can double the recipe to make more if you want...

Here is the recipe:

Fifteen Minute Vegetable Curry
Serves 5-6
Preparation time: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 - 1 pound tofu (optional, omit for Kapha)
1 cup raw carrots (2 medium carrots)
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (1 lb.)

1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon hing
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup (use 1/2 teaspoon for Kapha) - maple syrup
1/4 - 1 cup plain yogurt (use the smaller amount for Pitta and Kapha)

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds pop, add curry powder, salt, tofu, and vegetables. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add water and cover. Cook another 5 minutes (or until vegetables are tender) on low heat. Shake pan occasionally to prevent sticking. Add all remaining ingredients, mix well and serve.
And best of all it is FAST!
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thanks everyone. I like the idea of using whats left in the fridge to throw something together. Your recipes sound great
: We live right down the road from an organic farm, so I am starting to go there now that things are growing. It is giving me new ideas because I am buying whatever produce was ready that week...for instance this week it was snow peas, and spinach. This is helping me break out of my box, in terms of just going to the store and grabbing the same things I always do. Plus this local produce is unbelieveably GOOD.
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I've been making a black bean and barley salad lately that's easy, cheap and good. You can vary it a great deal by adding extra veggies, different grains or leaving a few things out.

I don't use a recipe, but it's something like this, but I usually only use black beans, and I use dried, not canned.
I make lots of big pots of stew/soups. My favorites are minestrone, split pea, lentil, and chili (I've also substituted the meat with TVP and it came out really good). Each pot makes about 10-12 meals for 8 bucks or so. Sometimes I use meat, sometimes not depending on what we have. Beans/lentils really stretch our budget! I get them organic and in bulk from the health food store.
I love quesadillas-and they're cheap and easy! I usually put cheese, chicken, corn off the cob, spinach, bacon... almost anything. Then serve with salsa and sour cream. My kids LOVE them!
I was thinking about posting a similar thread--glad I saw this one. DH and I really need to cut back, and our food bill is ridiculous. Here's my list of easy, cheap meals so far:

--Polenta & tomatoes (I found an easy polenta recipe: boil 3 cups of water, slowly add 1 cup yellow cornmeal, reduce heat and stir for 15-20 minutes until thickened)

--chili & cornbread (anyone have a good scratch cornbread recipe? The one on the back of the bag comes out too dry)

--Beans and rice; can be served with cottage cheese, cornbread, sausage, ham, tomatoes

--pasta with veggies

--stir fry and rice

--omelets with veggies

Any other really simple, cheap ideas? what can i do with barley?
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Homemade pizza is cheap if you have the toppings on hand already.

You can mix this crust by hand if you want, but I use my Kitchenaid mixer attachment and then use the kneading hook after everything is mixed.

Makes two pizzas

In large mixing bowl (or mixer bowl), mix
1 T. yeast (I use Hodgson's or Rapunzel since some yeast is GMO I think)
1 C. warm water (105-110 degrees)
Add 1 T. cold press olive oil
In separate bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour (or you can mix 1 c. unbleached with 1/3 cup ww flour) with 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt.
Add dry ingredients to mixer bowl and stir. Knead by hand or using hook attachment on mixer until dough is smooth and elastic.
Brush a large bowl with olive oil and put dough in, turning to coat. Cover with towel and set in oven with oven light on OR on stovetop with the oven on. Allow to rise, usually takes 30-45 minutes.

Separate dough into two halves and roll onto pizza stone or pan (grease with butter or olive oil). Coat with pizza sauce, cheese and desired toppings. Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for approx 10 min (this will vary widely according to your oven), until cheese is melted and bubbly and crust is crispy and golden.

I make this pizza for all my friends during their babymoon and for my family frequently and I'm told it's the best pizza in town.
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I made this awesome lentil soup that even my DH loves!!

Next time I make this I am going to actually write it down the amounts but the basics are:

pasta shells
lentils (i use skinless ones called Urad Dhaal)
veggie stock
garlic (as much as you can stand-the more the better)
fresh lemon
any other chopped veggies

It is sooooo good!! Something about the lemon-garlic-spinach combo-yum. very cheap, healthy and yummy.
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