HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Frugal meals

I'm sure this has been posted about before, but I can't find any. I am a poor recent graduate student that lives on a VERY limited budget. I have approx. $20 a week for food. I would be thrilled if I could cut it down to even less. I eat semi-healthy and do not want to stoop to ramen or boxed mac and cheese and hotdogs. But if it has to be, so be it. I was wondering if chowhounds could help! What are some good ideas to save money and/or cheap eat meals? I dont want to starve to death by just eating eggs! What are some good, filling, cheap eat breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas?? I cant shop at asian markets and cant join a co-op. I am restricted to "regular" grocery stores. I do have sugar/flour/condiments.

My ideas so far:

fried eggs over rice
Buttered noodles
ghetto corn chowder--can of creamed corn


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This one is a delicious and super easy and cheap recipe to make. A big pot of this lasts for a few days! I lived on this stuff when I first moved out of my parents' house. I still get a craving for this soup about once a week!

    AVGOLEMONO (Greek lemon soup)

    3 cans of College Inn Chicken Broth
    1/4 cup long grain rice
    2 eggs
    1/3 to 1/2 lemon or lime juice (depending
    on how much you like your lemon!)
    cooked chicken, chopped (optional)

    In a large pot, boil the chicken broth. Pour in the
    rice. Bring to a good boil again. As the rice is
    cooking, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a
    bowl until mixture is nice and frothy. Test the rice
    and see if it's tender (makes sure it's not too soft!)
    When the rice is al dente, and the broth is still
    boiling, ladle about 1 and 1/2 cups of the hot broth &
    rice into the lemon-egg mixture. Whisk with a fork.
    Then, slowly pour the whole lemon-egg-broth mixture
    back into the pot, stirring constantly. Lower the
    heat. The hot broth cooks the eggs. You should see a
    cloudy white-yellow soup. Continue stirring for a few
    more minutes until soup is hot and steamy. Do not let
    it reach a boil. Stir in a pinch of salt & pepper and add the cooked chicken (if you like) and heat through.
    Serve with hot pita bread. Enjoy!!
    (Makes 1 quart)

    Also - clip coupons!! You'll be amazed at how much $$$ you save at the grocery store.

    Lots of meals can be made with the following canned ingredients. You may want to stock your pantry with these:

    Goya chick peas (garbanzos)
    Del Monte tomato sauce (in a can)
    Goya Black Bean Soup (delicious heated with some chopped onion)
    evaporated milk

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sra. Swanky

      What a delicious recipe... I'll try it tonight! I'm wondering if lemon grass would do the trick. Would it be cheaper than a lemon...if we think frugally.
      Thanks so much

      1. re: Sra. Swanky

        A bowl of black bean soup can also be topped with a fried/poached egg and some hot sauce for a very filling meal - one of my faves.

        1. re: Sra. Swanky

          A bowl of black bean soup can also be topped with a fried/poached egg and some hot sauce for a very filling meal - one of my faves. http://methoo.com

        2. Beans and rice ar cheap and a complete protein. Get a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce (87 cents at my grocery store) to jazz it up. When I was little, we often had egg burritos for dinner to save money.

          If you can spare the time, get a part time job at a restaurant that gives free employee meals.

          1. Beans are one of the cheapest staple foods you can buy, and they're very good for you, high in protein and fiber. As well, beans combined with rice makes for a "complete" protein, including all the amino acids your body needs.

            Canned beans are the easiest way to go, and for about $1 a can they won't break the bank. However, if you have enough time on your hands to soak and cook dried beans, that's even cheaper. You can freeze them in small portions so they'll last, cooked, for months.

            Spaghetti (or any shape of pasta that's on sale at the grocery store) and tomato sauce is another cheap, relatively healthy way to go. Also, since you've already got flour and eggs, how about spaetzle?

            Your post doesn't pose a very "chowish" question, so I'm not sure how many replies you'll get. It's awfully hard to eat well on a $20 a week budget, and I wish you the best of luck with that!

            3 Replies
            1. re: operagirl

              operagirl--Do the beans get mushy when defrosted? I always use dried, but I end up making a HUGE pot and can't eat them all. Freezing is a great idea, as long as it doesn't compromise the texture.

              1. re: foxy fairy

                Before having a pressure cooker, I would soak and partially cook beans and then freeze them in single/double serving size. When I needed them I would put them in with brown rice or millet to finish cooking.I didn't notice a difference in texture.

                1. re: lgss

                  I freeze beans that I've fully cooked and they're excellent. A favorite meal of ours is black beans (I include an onion, garlic, and lots of cilantro in the original cooking and take all day to make a big, 2lb pot) w/ a poached or fried egg over it.

            2. Tomato Lentil Soup is great, healthy and cheap. I amke it all the time and am not on a budget. Heat a medium pot and add a can of crushed tomatoes w/basil. Pour in water and any seasonings (boullion is cheap and adds tons of flavor). Pour in lentils. They will expand so not too many. Frozen spinach is wonderful to add too, and usually 79 cents for a package. They fit a lot in there.

              Bean soup, pasta, quinoa are all cheap and healthy other options. Shopping sales is a good idea and then just making things with what you have gotten.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Main Line Tracey

                Yes -- if you shop and just buy whatever's on sale, this board can definitely help you figure out how to make the most of whatever those ingredients are!

                Another general tip that you've probably already figured out is that if you buy things in fairly large packages (like the whole chicken recommended below) can save a huge amount. Sometimes a double-size package is only a tiny bit more -- plus cooking a larger amount at once saves you time, so long as you're diligent about packing yourself little meals for the rest of the week.

              2. ah, brings back those memories of grad school............

                Honestly, you can save so much money buying dried beans instead of cans. Okay, a can is a $1 but if you only have $20 a week, a dollar is a lot. Just put them to soak while you are gone during the day or overnight--they really can't be oversoaked.

                In my grad school and post grad days, I spent a good deal of time living on an Egyptian dish that combined lentils and rice and yogurt. I can't remember the exact name but the recipe is in Claudia Roden's middle east cookbook.

                Anyrate, you basically saute sliced onion and ground cumin in a pan with some oil. Then add long grain rice and the largish brown lentils. You can also add some garlic. Cook until rice and lentils are done. Add salt towards the end or the lentils won't get soft. Serve with yogurt on top. Very tasty unless you are forced to live on it for months at a time.....

                The other thing that did very well for me was stir frys. Lots of veggies, not a lot of chicken--maybe one chicken breast sliced really really thin. Buy the chicken in bulk packs and be sure to get bone on. Then remove the chicken from the bones, freeze in individual packets and use the bones to make yourself some chicken soup. For soup veggies, the more "tired" stuff in your produce section may work nicely.

                Don't discount bulk packs just because you might be short on space---I did this when all I had was one of those little dorm fridges. If you pack the chicken into baggies and flatten them out, you'll be amazed at what will fit in that little tiny freezer space!

                2 Replies
                1. re: jenn

                  The nice thing about dry lentils is that you don't have to soak them before cooking. Adding onion and garlic cloves can improve their mild flavor.

                  Fried rice- made with leftover chicken and veggies can be cheap.

                  Canned salmon is another cheap food source (less mercury than tuna) that can be made into all sorts of things.

                  My college, post grad and residency days-- lots of popcorn, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, celery, carrots and fresh apples. Sometimes I would bake my own homemade pizza, bread, make cornbread or biscuits for filling up.

                  I did some of my most creative cooking banding together with other students to eat. Then we could make a lot of something and not eat it every day on our own. Beat the school cafeteria!

                  1. re: jenn

                    Very tasty unless you are forced to live on it for months at a time.....

                    though I have always said it's the perfect food -- so nutritious!

                  2. Stirfry - a great way to make basic cheap veggies like carrots and celery taste great, and if you make it saucy and serve it over rice, just a single carrot and celery stalk per person eating make a good meal .

                    The most economical meat you can buy is chicken -- buy a whole chicken, and break it down yourself - you get the breasts, legs and thighs, which each can be a single serving roasted or sauteed - or stirfried to serve two. The wings and carcass can then be roasted, and picked for meat to add to soups or put in enchiladas, and the remaining carcass simmered for stock.

                    Overall the most important thing you can do is cook at home from scratch, and use *everything* you pay money for -- if you are trimming carrots , save the trim in the freezer for when you want to make a stock. A surprising amount of money disappears in prep when it doesn't have too.

                    Anna's Clam "Chowder"

                    1 large clam per person (clams can frequently be found for 50-60 cents apiece)
                    1 small potato per person
                    1 stalk of celery per person
                    milk - whole is best, skim works if you add a little butter, powdered is tolerable, but again needs butter.
                    salt and pepper to taste.

                    Chop the potato and celery into smalllish pieces, and put them into a pot of a size which allows them to cover the bottom in a single layer. Add water to cover. Put the clam(s)on top, cover tightly and bring to a boil. The clam should open in about five-six minutes, and the vegetables be done as well. Pop the clam out of it's shell, and chop it finely, saving as much of it's liquid as possible. Add the chopped clam and juices back to the vegetables, and add the milk - enough to make it soupy. Bring to a simmer, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with saltines. A dash of hot sauce can be good on this, and little extra butter makes it richer, if you like.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: AnnaEA

                      Re the chowder - what? No onion?

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        No onion. I use it in traditional chowders, but I've tried in this quick version, and it's just a bit too much. The flavour doesn't mellow out the way it does in a regular chowder.

                    2. One of the poor student's diet is condiments. Get your family or friends to send you some Asian sauces to help w/ the eggs over rice. Even a spoon of cheapo chain store salsa on an egg will help.

                      Fried rice is your friend, a .50 cent slice of ham and chopped scrambled egg and .50 cent of veggies (onion, celery and carrots) will go a long way...three meals.

                      As mentioned, beans. Bulk beans are very inexpensive. Over rice...get some decent hot sauce and use onions. Also you can use them for soup. Lentils are similar in pricing.

                      Potatoes can also be economical in bulk. Spanish omelettes or empanadas and basically boiled potatoes and eggs. Potato salad is also possible for cheap.

                      Pancakes or crepes from sratch, eggs, milk, flours...cheap.

                      Best of luck...

                      1. I was checking out some of your recent posts, and my first suggestion would be to stop going out to restaurants! Can't eat BBQ on $20 a week. Face it, the only meat you're going to be able to afford is a ham hock to flavor your red beans and rice. All of the above suggestions are good, and I would add congee, which is a delicious and nourishing rice porridge which you can make from canned chicken stock, rice, ginger, garlic and whatever else you can afford to add. Saveur magazine also lists an old Japanese breakfast dish as one of its top 100: whisking a raw egg with soy sauce and pouring it over steaming white rice. It's actually delicious with nori. Also recently made a delicious lentil soup from split yellow peas--all the flavor came from frying onions, garlic and spices in oil and pouring them into the soup.

                        Not that I'm advocating crime, but during my starving artist days I learned that it's just as easy to shoplift filet mignon as it is to shoplift hamburger!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: whs

                          Top marks whs.

                          on the egg and soy on hot rice.

                          filet mignon, LOL.

                        2. I echo above on the dried lentils and beans. I remember living on lentil curry for awhile when I was really poor. Also, Tofu is a cheap and healthy source of protein, and complete when you combine it with whole grains like brown rice.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: trixel

                            Actually, tofu is the only non-animal source of complete protein - save that rice to eat with beans (the two together form a complete protein).

                            1. re: macrogal

                              I'm sure there are others: quinoa.

                              1. re: macrogal

                                I like seasoned tofu, it has a 'meatier' texture.

                            2. Another thing to keep an eye open for is meat that's been discounted because it's reaching its use by date. I usually buy it and freeze it immediately, then use it at my leisure.

                              1. Here's a recent thread from the Home Cooking board that might also help you:


                                Lots of folks have already offered great advice, especially about beans...I think I read somewhere that if you mix beans and corn, you have like some kind of perfect protein or something...I'll need to research that a bit! Wow--found the article about "complete protein" which involves beans and grains for great and inexpensive nutrition:


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Val

                                  Val, you're on to something with the grain-legume combination resulting in a complete (and cheap!) protein. Grains lack one or more essential amino acid as do beans. Combining them gives the whole enchilada. Cultures worldwide have built their menu basics around this principle -- bean burritos, soy beans & rice, hummus & whole wheat pita, curried garbanzo beans & lentils w/ naan, black beans & rice -- even the lowly PB&J fits this because peanuts are legumes not a nut.

                                  I will also admit to lying to the butcher many years ago when I was dead, stony broke so he would give me bits of meat, usually liver, for my non-existant cat. (My husband went on US Navy survival training for a week and was thrilled to get some meat during orientation)

                                  1. re: Sherri

                                    Actually, hummus is a complete protein on its own. Legumes and seeds (chickpeas and sesame seeds) also create a complete protein.

                                2. Seems like everyone else has pretty thoroughly covered the topic. The only thing I have to add is pbj sandwiches. I had forgotten how really good they are on a cheap, comfort food level. Also egg salad sandwiches.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: vktp

                                    When I was in college I used to buy chunky peanut butter, Roman Meal bread, and raspberry jam for an upgraded, but still cheap, PB&J experience ...

                                  2. Find a used copy of Doris Longacre's Living More With Less cookbook for inexpensive meals.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: jlawrence01

                                      That was going to be my suggestion. Its actual title is "The More-with-Less Cookbook" and it was published by the Mennonite Central Committee. You absolutely can't beat this book for frugal and good eating.

                                      I said this in the other thread on a similar subject, but here's what made this not a drag for me when I was in this situation: I turned it into a game. I worked incredibly hard on my menu plan and my grocery list. I estimated (got pretty good at this, actually) what things were going to cost, and when I got my list to $20 max (including food for the cat and the various non-food things you've got to have) I would clip out a few coupons (only used them for the things I would actually buy, never to buy things I wouldn't otherwise buy but they wanted me to try and get hooked on), and head off to the store with my list and a calculator. Usually I would have one or two "optional items" on the list, which I would only buy if I managed to get everything else on my list and come out under my $20 budget. Sometimes I would end up having to put things back because I went over, but most of the time I'd come out under budget and be able to get my optional items.

                                      Another suggestion: Get a crock-pot if you don't already have one. You can save a great deal by slow-cooking cheaper cuts of meat, and if you use a crock-pot you don't have to babysit it. Get it ready before you go in the morning, and when you get home you'll have a nice supper. There are good cookbooks for this as well; one really good one is called "Fix-It-and-Forget-It" and there is a "light" version out there as well, if that's a concern.

                                      1. re: jlawrence01

                                        This is a good rec, though be forewarned that there are a fair number of recipes calling for cans of soup. Learn to make a white sauce and substitute. Also check into Extending the Table, same philosophy but recipes are from all over the world.

                                        Another great book is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. Some of her tips are, as she calls it "black belt tightwad", but I've found her "universal recipes" pretty helpful-- guides to proportions for things like muffins and casseroles to use up absolutely every scrap of leftover anything. I also find her book useful for resetting my priorities every once in a while.

                                        One other thing I did in my student days was to make a trip to a store like Big Lots or Value City-- they often have canned foods for about half what a grocery store does, though the selection is wildly unpredictable. I would get canned salmon there for $.75.

                                        1. re: JGrey

                                          There is a recipe in More-with-Less for basic white sauce, including variations in thicknesses and flavorings. Even says which one to use in place of a can of cream of whatever soup.

                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                            I recently picked up "Deep South Staples: how to survive in a southern kitchen without a can of cream of mushroom soup" (by Robert St. John). I haven't tried his "mushroom bechamel" sauce, but it looks pretty straightforward. But this is OT ;-)

                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                              I'm glad the More-With-Less Cookbook was mentioned. It's one of the first cookbooks I cooked from. My parents used it when we were on a limited budget and I used it a lot as a poor college student. I really came to appreciate that basic white sauce recipe as a substitute for "cream of" soups.

                                              1. re: Neuromancer

                                                It never occurred to me that you could use white sauce instead of 'cream of something' soup! I always just assumed that if the recipe uses tinned soup it's not for me (since I'm lactose-intolerant and sensitive to msg/salt)... White sauce with cornflour is EASY to make! Does anyone know if there's a substitution chart/guide somewhere online?

                                                1. re: Kajikit

                                                  I found a formula and it's dead simple if anyone else was interested - for a THIN white sauce it's 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 cup milk... a medium sauce is 2 tablespoons and a thick one is 4 tablespoons... plus seasoning of your choice.

                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                    The More-with-Less formula says a medium-thick white sauce is the equivalent of canned soup. That's three tablespoons of butter and three tablespoons of flour to a cup of liquid. Use half chicken, half milk for cream of chicken. Saute some mushrooms in the butter for cream of mushroom. Use tomato juice for the liquid to replace tomato soup.

                                            2. re: JGrey

                                              For about 75% of the home cooks, using a "cream of" soup is the only way that they'll get a white sauce. Even for me, when time is of the essence, I use cream soups. Homemade IS cheaper.

                                              In addition to Big Lots, Deals and the other dollar stores, I always look at the discount bin. Last year, I bought 24 cans of Alaskan salmon for $0.25 and I am just about finished with it. Also, look for seasonal foods - like Matzohs after Passover. Or turkeys after Christmas.

                                              If you know somebody who buys a side of beef, ask for the bones. Most of the time, you get them free.

                                              I hate to admit this, but on occasion, I get bread from the localSalvation Army whenever I drop off goods there. They get so much from the local supermarkets (3-4x what they can use and end up throwing some of it out).

                                              Farmers Markets (the ones with REAL farmers) like Eastern Market in Detroit, The NC farmers Market in Raleigh or the SC farmers market in Colunbia offer some real steals LATE IN THE DAY. The farmers want to leave by 3pm and are ready to make a deal. Imagine a bushel of peaches for $2-3.

                                          2. I also want to add - don't leave out the veggies! Buy veggies that have some staying power in the fridge: carrots, broccoli, roots like rutabaga, cabbage, etc. You can buy a good size bunch for cheap and it won't go bad too quickly. Also frozen veggies (the basics, like corn, peas and spinach), can hang out for quite some time and if you're cooking for one, they'll last forever.

                                            I keep corn tortillas and nuts in the freezer, too - I'm only cooking for two, and a lot of that stuff gets stale or rancid if you don't store it properly.

                                            I disagree with tofu only because, unless you can find the two-pack that Trader Joe's sells divided into two 8-ounce packages, it's going to go bad before you can eat it all. Well, you can freeze tofu, too. Just remember that when you thaw it, it will have a slightly chewier texture.

                                            A recipe that I found recently involved cooking lentils, sauteeing whatever veggies happened to be around, layering the veggies and lentils in a bowl, and topping with a poached egg. I've been making that a lot lately, because not only is it cheap, it's quick!

                                            I also like broccoli and pasta with peanut sauce. The sauce can be as simple or complicated as you want, based on what's in the house (I won't bother posting a recipe, because you'll find a million online). And if I don't have broccoli, I use frozen peas.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: LBeff

                                              Lots of 99 cent stores have bulk bags of carrots and onions-- just refrigerate them-- and a grated carrot salad can be a nice change from soups all the time. Just peel and grate raw carrots, add some olive oil and lemon juice, and the flavors of your choice. Cumin and hot sauce are favorite additions of mine. Also good hot.

                                              Celery root is also usually very cheap, and you can grate it and dress it with mayo and mustard for a raw salad, or cook it like potatoes.

                                              And don't forget the "bargain" section of your supermarket's produce aisle. There are usually some almost ready to go bad veggies for dirt cheap. If you get into the habit of shopping every few days, and using the veggies the day or the next day, then you will have some variety from the canned stuff.

                                              1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                                I second the frozen veggies. One thing I make for myself that's easy and comforting:
                                                1:1 ratio peas to water
                                                add stock cube ( i use veggie)
                                                Chop up a shallet
                                                dash of dried mint.
                                                Cook for about 5 min
                                                Whirr in blender.
                                                Takes about 10 min to make :)

                                                I also take beans in Tom sauce and make different things with them. I add taco spice and dollop sour cream on top and eat with tortilla chips, also good wrapped in a tortilla with your fave taco toppings.
                                                Also good when you are cooking the beans crack an egg into the middle so it kinda paoches in the beans. YUM

                                            2. Here's one more: Pita pizza --> this one is with spinach, humbly modeled after one I ate at Bedouin Tent on Atlantic Ave. Bedoin Tent's is better for a myriad of reasons, but most of the time this one does just fine: Sautee spinch with a little oil, s&p. Put on top of pita with a little chopped onion, mozzerlla (Polly-O is fine) on top, put in oven and voila. Red pepper flakes are good on this if you have them around or can nick some from your local place.

                                              Also, a friend of mine makes tacos with kale, black beans and feta, and it's good.

                                              1. I lived on "mashed potuna" once upon a time:

                                                instant mashed potato made with a bit of milk and butter -
                                                mix in a can of tuna and cup of peas.

                                                it was filling, and cost very, very little per serving.

                                                it tasted good and was comfort food - I still make it occasionally on cold winter days.

                                                1. You have received a lot of ideas on inexpensive foods to sustain you, so I think I will take a different turn here.

                                                  Not sure where you live, but going to the Farmer's Market at the very end, when the vendors are packing up can get you some free items!

                                                  Also, someone suggested getting a Crock Pot. Good idea! But that is going to take a whack out of your food budget. Try www.freecycle.org

                                                  You will probably be able to get a free crockpot by asking for one.

                                                  Also, our local Freecycle often has offers of food being given away . . for free!

                                                  If you have a Hare Krishna Center where you live, there is often a free Sunday Vegetarian buffet. Hummous, basmati rice, fritters, vegetables all cooked with love. You can leave a donation if you want, but it is not mandatory. And no one tried to convert me!

                                                  Often times grocery stores will have tastings. Go to them! And taste!

                                                  Volunteering for a fundraiser of some sort or some kind of food event will often get you a meal or free leftovers in return. Go for the meat!

                                                  Ok, just a few out da box ideas.




                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Isabella

                                                    Tons of bars have free food like soup, chili etc during happy hour, football games etc. Depending on where you live many real estate agents have great food at open houses especially on weekends.

                                                    1. re: MsMonkey

                                                      Indeed. I did a time in art school as a grad. There was an unoffical network where people shared free food info on openings, receptions, reading, etc. The typical conversation went something like:

                                                      #1: So it is cool or just sort of to meet people?
                                                      #2: Not my thing, seems dumb.
                                                      #1: Is there food?
                                                      #2: Yeah.
                                                      #1: What time do you want to go?

                                                    2. re: Isabella

                                                      The Hare Krishna (ISKCON) centers do serve fantastic food every weekend, during their Sunday Feast programs! They also serve food on their festival days - not only at their centers, but also at their various outdoor festivals (Ratha Yatra, the Festival of India, is a famous and popular one).

                                                      Here's a directory of their centers worldwide: http://directory.krishna.com/

                                                      1. re: shruti108

                                                        I've been to the temple here, but I liked the garden patio atmosphere much better than the food. I mean, no onion!!! There is not much I cook that doesn't start with the dicing of an onion.

                                                        1. re: foiegras

                                                          Asafoetida (hing) is an excellent substitute for garlic and onion they use. :)

                                                    3. Sadly, there are a lot of people on limited incomes in this country who, by the time they have paid for rent and medical needs, have very little money for food. In one case I know, a recent cost of living adjustment in a disability check led to a reduction of a food stamp allowence to about ten dollars a month. And this guy is supposed to be on a high protein diet so he can recover from back surgery and get back into the work force. Good information on economical and tasty nutrition is really welcome, especially when the only options seem to be rice and pulses and greens, with a little chicken or meat to add flavor. I lived on rice, beans and cabbage one summer. But our disabled and elderly poor need and deserve more than that. So please keep the recipes coming.

                                                      1. There are a few good supermarkets in my area that have outstanding clearance veggie corners. They bag up the older stock of vegetables when they get new stuff in. Very often, the old stuff doesn't look appreciably worse than the new - and usually much better than what I have at the bottom of my vegetable crisper at home. You can sometimes pick up big bags of great fruit and veggies really cheaply. If you come upon a big bag of slightly wrinkly green peppers - make stuffed peppers (stuff with lentils and rice, cook in inexpensive store-brand tomato sauce); if you happen to pick up a huge bag of bananas, you've got banana bread for a month.

                                                        1. As far as a crock pot -- truer words were never spoken. It is a device designed to cook beans and cheap cuts of meat. I have a couple of recipes for split pea soup and spaghetti sauce that each make about a gallon, both very cheaply.

                                                          You can probably get one at a thrift store if you're looking there (actually, I would recommend this for cookware in general), but you should be able to get a new one for $20 - $30 bucks.

                                                          1. lots of good advice!

                                                            avoid processed foods--they ALWAYS cost more. buy oatmeal, instead of cereal, or look for cereal that's on sale. i frequently have cereal for dinner because i don't feel like cooking ( i live alone, lol.)

                                                            open tofu will last a week, if you put it in a ziplock and change the water a few times. a 16 oz. package is 3-4 meals.

                                                            those clearance shelves for produce can be a boon. recently i picked up some tiny purple potatoes for 30 cents a pound -- they had been "featured" at $2.99 a pound, but the yuppies haven't moved here yet, so i guess they were languishing!

                                                            my market also sells "ends" of cold cuts at about 1/2 price. they're wrapped up already, so i can buy the sliced cheese and turkey in small amounts. (there is also ham and other stuff i don't eat...)

                                                            tins of smoked mussels and oysters pack a lot of flavor, as do sardines. all are very nutrient dense and very cheap. stirred into olive oil, they're great on pasta and a little goes along way. bacon has lots of flavor too, for adding to sauces, and is often on sale. separate the package, wrap 2 or 3 slices in saran wrap, and put them all flat in a ziploc and freeze. that way you can pull out one serving at a time.

                                                            big (32 oz) containers of plain yogurt are much more cost effective than the individual sized, and you can add fruit for breakfast, or use it instead of sour cream in savory dishes.

                                                            in college, we spent nearly every sunday at a bar that sold 10 cent hot dogs and dollar pitchers!

                                                            also make friends on bigger budgets, and invite yourself over for dinner!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              I love buying ends! Random tip on this -- where I've lived, nicer supermarkets have been more likely to sell ends and scraps -- but their prices on these pieces of meat have been significantly lower than the less nice stores' prices on regular sliced meat (at Central Market in Houston, which is a gourmet grocery store, packages of ends were between $1 and $2, and because they're little chunks of meat instead of slices, they were totally servicable for dinner!)

                                                              In line with many other recs here, you should probably ask around where you will be to see what if any special deals are available in your area - sometimes there are even student discounts at grocery stores (my grocery store now in New Orleans gives us 10% on Saturdays!) - and definitely "join" your store to get any in-house discounts. Plus, if you're living on a campus, as someone else mentioned, there are likely to be a lot of events that involve free food.

                                                            2. Buy a whole chicken and a pound of rice and beans. Debone chicken and make stewed and or roasted chicken with the majority of the meat. Cook rice and beans with spices, coconut milk and garlic. Make soup with remainder of bones and freeze soup for later.

                                                              1. When I was married our budget was $30 a week for the two of us.

                                                                Adding a couple of squirts of Sriracha and a cup of frozen peas to cheap mac'n'cheese makes it taste like real food. Or homemade salsa. Black beans are good in it, too.

                                                                Smoked pork picnic shoulder is very cheap. I slow cook it, shred it, use the broth for bean soup, and freeze the meat. Pulled pork sandwiches, added to scrambled eggs, added to fried rice, added to mac'n'cheese. Plus you get a big pot of delicious bean soup (with whatever veggies are cheap) out of it.

                                                                Saute a bunch of sliced onions, and poach/steam/fry eggs with them, in the juices. Eat with toast or couscous. You can do the same thing with different vegetables- anything that's good braised, and gives off lots of liquid. Make friends with raw-fried potatoes, and eat them with an egg, or a little cheese.

                                                                Make friends with potatoes, period.

                                                                If there are any Asian grocery stores near you, check their prices on veggies and meat. They're quite often much cheaper than supermarkets, and they have cheap tofu, miso, and condiments.

                                                                1. The supermarket where my mom shops sells these bags of what they call "bean seasoning"--actually the odds and ends and stuff that falls off when a ham is spiral-sliced. It's a huge, inexpensive bag of ham odds & ends, some of which are the right size & shape to throw in your pot of beans for a little flavor, but some of which are good-sized pieces you can use for sandwiches and fry up for breakfast.

                                                                  1. To expand on the can of creamed corn: mom's (quasi egg drop) corn soup. Bring one can chicken broth to a boil, add one can creamed corn, return to boil. Meanwhile, mix one spoonful cornstarch with about the same amount of cold water. Beat one egg. Combine cornstarch and beaten egg, stir into boiling soup, keep stirring until egg bits are cooked, and soup is simmering. Voila, chicken corn soup.

                                                                    If you're feeling particularly extravagant, mince half a chicken breast into tiny ground meat size bits, and stir in before adding the eggs. Keep stirring as the soup returns to a simmer, to avoid clumping. My aunt made this for part of our thanksgiving meal this year, not as cheap eats.

                                                                    1. all the the lentil & rice ideas are good. if electricity costs are also an issue, here's one oven full of goodness

                                                                      double this recipe, using the brown/green lentils for half of it (I have tripled it, using barley for the third, and it's great too) http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                                                      - then wrap up a bunch of beets, cut into quarters if they're too big

                                                                      put both in the oven until done. you've got way nutricious food that warms up nicely.

                                                                      tomato/veggie stews are another cheap rice-topper.

                                                                      or red lentils tossed in a pot with some water or broth and stewed until broken down. topped with some sauteed onions. easy, cheap and good for you

                                                                      those, together with some soya sauce and hot sauce will take you thru a tonne of meals well fed.

                                                                      1. yellow split pea soup with carrots,onions and flour dumplings-cheap,good and healthy-
                                                                        pasta with veggies-whatever you have
                                                                        chicken-chicken soup,chicken salad,creamed chicken,chicken sandwiches--goes far

                                                                        1. I know that you didn't want to eat just eggs, but what have you made with them? I dislike eggs cooked in the conventional ways (frying/poaching/boiling) but adore souffles. All you need are some eggs, milk, and a bit of cheese. Very elegant meal.

                                                                          What about pierogies? You can get 5lb bags of them for a dollar or 2.

                                                                          1. wow thanks for all the replies! I can't wait to try some of them out! I don't feel so poor after all. It sounds like me and beans/rice/potatos are gunna be best friends for a while...

                                                                            1. oh yeah, another way to 'jazz up' ghetto corn soup is to whip an egg or two into it. gets you your protein too, without ANOTHER EGG feeling

                                                                              1. There have been many great suggestions on this posting. The only thing I can add is it would be helpful to get a part-time job in a restaurant, deli, bakery, or grocery store. That will net you free or possibly heavily discounted goods, or even free meals, depending on the establishment's policies, as well as put a little $$ in your pocket. Product demonstrating is one way to go, if you want something very part-time.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Seldomsated

                                                                                  I was thinking something like that too -- I don't know if the OP's grad program prohibits having a job (I know PhD programs sometimes have rules like that) but no one can stop you from babysitting -- which usually also involves being fed.

                                                                                  1. re: Seldomsated

                                                                                    I've known several people that have worked part-time with a catering company. They often reported being fed meals before working, as well as an opportunity to leave with a plate or more of food at the end of the event. Oh, and the extra income didn't hurt, either.

                                                                                  2. Have you tried the Hillbilly Housewife website yet? Works great when it has to.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. Big Vegetable Soup:

                                                                                      1 sm. can tomato paste
                                                                                      1 15-oz. can creamed corn
                                                                                      a chopped zucchini
                                                                                      some frozen peas & corn
                                                                                      1 big carrot, chopped up small
                                                                                      2 chopped celery sticks
                                                                                      broccoli, if you like it
                                                                                      whatever other vegetables you like/want/can afford
                                                                                      (chicken would be good too)
                                                                                      Simon & Garfunkel spices (parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme)

                                                                                      Simmer in a big pot for 2 or 3 hours. Inexpensive (although I have never counted it out to the pennies), filling, and will last several days in the fridge.

                                                                                      3 chopped zucchini
                                                                                      1 chopped eggplant
                                                                                      1 chopped onion
                                                                                      several (or one large can) diced tomatoes
                                                                                      garlic, black pepper & olive oil (I have forgotten the olive oil before, though, and it didn't matter)
                                                                                      Lay in layers in a deep covered dish. Sprinkle garlic & black pepper on top, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 90 min-2 hours.
                                                                                      Serve over rice, or sometimes I put potato chunks in the bottom of the dish instead. Again, tasty, filling and cheap. (wait, I suddenly can't remember if eggplant is expensive... sorry)

                                                                                      Check out MFK Fisher's "How To Cook A Wolf." It has a chapter called "How To Stay Alive."

                                                                                      Also I second the "Stone Soup" approach -- bunch of friends contribute an ingredient or two, and you get together and cook & eat the resulting soup/casserole/whatever.

                                                                                      1. I'll second the farmers market suggestions above, and especially to find vegetables that will last in storage that you can buy in quantity. We scored a case of wonderful delicata squash for $5 (regularly $1 each) and it helped feed a family of four for a couple of weeks.

                                                                                        Make a habit to do a menu plan once a week and figure out what you're going to buy ahead of time so that you shop and not get caught off guard.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: edwardvielmetti

                                                                                          I completely agree on this point. When I was an undergrad on a budget, I used to go to the farmer's market with a girlfriend just before closing. We'd comb the market for farmers who still had stock of whatever was plentiful, and then bargain with them. If you know the market schedule where you live, and that there won't be another for them to go to the next day, if the produce is ripe/quickly perishable, the farmer will likely want to get rid of it rather than take it home. I remember bushels of ripe peaches for $3 in particular. My friend and I put up enough peach butter for fall and winter. We baked bread that winter, and ate well for breakfast, and inexpensively. If you're in big metro area with lots of farmers market every day of the week, this can be more difficult, unfortunately. Where we lived there were only three markets in a week, so it was a good strategy for us budget conscious kids.

                                                                                        2. Won't reiterate all the same above, but omelettes :)

                                                                                          Also, if TJ's is around, consider buying frozen fish if you can afford it... I know it's not a "cheap" suggestion, but you could add it sparingly to more starchy based dishes. Or, bags of frozen chicken breasts or tenders.

                                                                                          1. Everybody has beans covered, but must reiterate; PLEASE ONLY DRIED BEANS, they actually taste much better.

                                                                                            fasolathia is a greek dish: put soaked beans in water, bring to a boil, cook till al dente, drain. saute celery, carrots, onions, oregano in olive oil, add beans, water to just cover, cook until beans are just tender, add one bunch parsley. Serve with lemon, I have even made it "ala" Avgo lemono, used in SRA. SWANK post, when itching for more lemon flavor

                                                                                            buy small golden potatoes and bake in oven, no foil, until tender, halve, sprinkle with dried oregano, salt and pepper and drizzle with Olive oil. Don't go out to eat for a week or two and buy yourself olive oil, as it can be expensive.

                                                                                            1. All these recipes remind me of when I first got married and we were living in England. We had Yorkshire pudding at least once a week (milk, eggs, flour beaten together and cooked in a greased pie pan - we couldn't afford proper pudding tins) with frozen veg (carrots were the cheapest) and OXO gravy.

                                                                                              Soups, particularly bean soups and lentil soups, will be a live-saver for you. Make a big batch of split pea and barley soup (split peas, barley, water or stock, carrots, celery, salt and pepper then simmer for several hours) or black bean and rice soup (pretty much the same recipe - add cooked rice in at the end to prevent it from starching the water or disintegrating). Even a minestrone (tomato paste, water or stock, veggies, salt and pepper - add cooked pasta just before serving if you want) does well.

                                                                                              Stock up on frozen vegetables when they're on sale. If you're near a university - shop at the local store where they expect student budgets. Don't knock ramen. It's unhealthy for you but you don't have to use the little sauce packet - use a boullion and some veggies. You can also check out mattfischer.com/ramen for more ramen recipes.

                                                                                              Save a little of your budget each week and invest in spices. They can really liven up your meals so that you don't feel like you're eating the same meal every day of your life.

                                                                                              Good luck!

                                                                                              1. If there is actually a butcher at your grocery store they may agree to give you bones or at least sell them at a very low price. Would be nice to add to your bean soups.

                                                                                                good luck.

                                                                                                1. Along the same lines as lentil and bean soups I just made an enormous pot of split pea soup for about $5. I've been eating it all week. Ham hocks are cheap as are onions, the split peas, carrots, etc. I even dressed mine up with some frozen peas thrown in at the end and a half bottle of drinkable (but yet unimpressive) white wine. A great way to dress up all of your meals is to be conscious of keeping leftovers to make stocks. Freeze the bones from those whole chickens, keep the carrot and celery stubs, etc and when your freezer bags are full it's time to make stock! It really makes a difference in soups, rice, sauces, etc. Good luck!

                                                                                                  1. If you only have $20 per week for food, a discount store like Aldi or a 99 cent store are good places to shop. Many cities have CSAs, co-ops, or similar places where you can do a labor trade for fresh produce and other healthy food that might not be available at discount stores. Soups, stews, and sauces, as people have already mentioned, are probably your best bet because you can make them in large quantities for relatively cheap. Good luck!

                                                                                                    1. In addition to the great advice above, making a pot of pasta sauce (stretching and flavoring basic jarred sauce with cheap ground chuck, and clearance vegetables) can be a lifesaver and easily freezable when you're tired of it. (And it can't be said enough, LENTIL SOUP).

                                                                                                      Buy whole chickens and use ALL of them, including the carcass for soup later. If you're dining out on the largesse of friends or family, take the leftovers home (if you can), including the bones for soup or flavoring later.

                                                                                                      If you can, try baking your own bread (if not, pancakes (and waffles, if you have the equipment) are a very easy and cheap alternative you can make yourself).

                                                                                                      1. Quick pizza can be made for pennies - a little topping goes a long way... I don't use yeast dough - my 'quick mix' dough is 2 cups SR flour, seasoning of choice, mixed with 1/3 cup of oil and 2/3 cup water. It takes seconds to mix up and you can make it into scones or biscuits or pizza bites or a fullsized pizza or the topping for a pot pie...
                                                                                                        I like to make it into vegetable slice with tomato, sweetcorn, onion, celery and whatever else is in the fridge, topped with a milk/egg mixture and sprinkled with a little grated cheese. If you're feeling extravagant, add ham.

                                                                                                        1. Conclusion: regression analysis of the above replies gives you beans, lentils, pasta, eggs, and rice; plus scavenging urban opportunities.

                                                                                                          1. I lived for a while on those pastas that have the added protein and fiber - you can get them for the same price as regular pasta but at least you're getting some fiber in your diet....

                                                                                                            1. Dry beans are indeed very cheap and nutritious and tomato paste is a great way to add depth of flavor on the cheap. This is one of those very obvious waste-trimming ideas that inexplicably took me years to incorporate. I make a lot of bean based soups and stews and Indian curries that involve tomato paste. Recipes usually call for a tablespoon or two and I would transfer the rest to a little jar in the fridge "for later". However, much of it would get mold and have to be thrown out. Now, each time I open a can of tomato paste, I oil a tablespoon lightly and scoop out little mounds of paste onto a wax paper lined tray and pop it in the freezer. Later I transfer the frozen pieces to a ziploc bag and toss back in the freezer.

                                                                                                              1. I forgot to say, there's quite a few things that can be made easily on your own that can save quite a bit of money. Avoid boxed cereal and make your own with rolled oats and nuts which can be bought in bulk. Yogurt can be made yourself, as well as ricotta cheese. If you have a patch of earth (or even a windowsill), you can also grow your own fresh herbs.

                                                                                                                Also, rice porridge can be made very cheaply (chicken stock and rice), and then topped with any number of cheap garnishes like eggs, vegetables and herbs.

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: sidwich

                                                                                                                  out of morbid curiousity, how do you make ricotta cheese???

                                                                                                                  1. re: asiansensation007

                                                                                                                    Warm milk slightly, add lemon juice or vinegar and allow to curdle. Drain through cheesecloth and voila - ricotta. I used to do this a lot when we kept goats and had too much milk.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                      do you continue to stir and it curdles? how long does it take approximately? finally, how is this different than cottage cheese?

                                                                                                                      1. re: asiansensation007

                                                                                                                        the way i do it, once the milk is scorched i turn down the heat, add the vinegar, and let it sit. It curdles on its own and i pour it through cheesecloth.

                                                                                                                        Personally I think this is more like Indian Paneer in flavor, but more like ricotta in texture. I don't know if I would call it cottage cheese.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                          I do the same as Adrienne. It's not the exact flavour as ricotta but definitely a similar texture and can be used in any recipe that calls for ricotta. Cottage cheese is curdled with rennet, I believe. The process is quite different.

                                                                                                                          Just to be clear, traditionally ricotta was made by somehow curdling the solids out of whey. I don't know how this was done because to me, whey doesn't have much solid in it.

                                                                                                                          I can't remember how this short thread started (too lazy to go back and read) but it would be foolish to think it's more economical to make ricotta rather than buy it (unless, of course, you keep cows or goats). The cost of the amount of milk you'd need would make it probably more expensive.

                                                                                                                2. I love to make a vegetarian barbecue with TVP - a super cheap soy protein.

                                                                                                                  Available at any health food store - soak 1/2 cup in water to reconstitute and fry up ina pan with onions and a sauce of your liking...very good and resembles a sloppy joe.

                                                                                                                  I also just bought a soymilk machine and it makes soymilk for like 10cents a gallon! AND- you get the byproduct - OKARA which can be used to make vegi burgers etc...

                                                                                                                  Potatoes are a great standby as they can be used so many ways....

                                                                                                                  Soups are very cheap and easy too.....

                                                                                                                  good luck~

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: jbyoga

                                                                                                                    Oh, yeah. I forgot about TVP. It's a wonderful cheap meat extender. I used it in all sorts of strongly flavoured ground beef recipes, especially chili.

                                                                                                                  2. A cool thread.

                                                                                                                    Paradoxically, I sometimes think I might have been happier with my far from luxurious meals during college. Even though I missed home, missed going to good restaurants, I did all right.

                                                                                                                    A challenge met with a great deal of resourcefulness can result in tremendous satisfaction, almost elation, while making do with a limited budget.

                                                                                                                    Now, if I were to think I could recreate that feeling by merely restricting my budget, I would be mistaken. It’s almost impossible to do a “pretend poor”. I doubt the same feeling would come back even if I did become poor again.

                                                                                                                    The sappy prologue is just to let you know that I am perfectly sincere when I say I envy you at the stage of your life. It won’t last forever, so enjoy it while you can.


                                                                                                                    Possibly you could find someone who has a membership at Costco or other warehouse clubs? (Even a restaurant supply store?) They will be able to get you a few staples - sacks of pinto beans, rice, giant jars of pickles or banana peppers, nuts, soy sauce, canned food like corn, clam chowder and such that will last you months. You probably don't want to bother anyone. Understandable, but as a one time deal, I can't believe anyone wouldn't do it for you.

                                                                                                                    1. my blog: http://frugalcuisine.blogspot.com for specific recipes....it's been idle for a month or so but I will soon begin posting again. Also, http://www.ellenskitchen.com has a great page on strategies for frugal eating.

                                                                                                                      1. quick pasta sauce - 1 can diced ot whole tomatoes, diced onion, diced garlic, italian seasoning (buy in bulk at co-op if poss. - but only buy a small amt.) - 1 can water or leftover wine (any shade except pink) bring to quck simmer.
                                                                                                                        Tuna espanol - 1 can drained tuna (oil pack if possible), 1/2 diced onion, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 can diced tomatoes - salt/pepper to taste if needed. Add dash hot pepper sauce or red pepper flakes - serve on pita or any chewy bread - or toss with thin egg noodles Ithis usually goes into a pie shell to be baked, but it's eminently adaptable)
                                                                                                                        EGGS ! Hard cooked eggs can be tossed with a curry sauce and served over toast. Or make a spanish tortilla - take one large potato, slice it thin, and cook until almost tender. Saute thinly sliced onions, some garlic if you want, toss with the cooked potato slices. Beat two or three eggs until almost fluffy. toss with potato and onions. Heat a bit of oil in an oven-proof skillet, Pour eggs and potatoes into skillet, let the bottom set. Move the whole thing into a 375 degree oven until it's set and a bit brown on top. Serve with above-noted pasta sauce. PS - you won't starve on eggs as long as you remember to combine them with a little something else!

                                                                                                                        1. Another chicken recipe that is inexpensive and filling from my grad school days...Boil down some chicken backs (1 buck or 2) with a cube of bouillon; minced onion, garlic and pepper. Add egg noodles. Cook until the noodles are done. Chicken backs have a surprisingly large amount of meat on them. You will have enough for at least 4 or more meals if you're just feeding yourself. Another variation is to use the same chicken mixture and add rice. Don't think soup...it's more of a stew. You will look back on these days and smile!

                                                                                                                          1. These are all great suggestions, but as someone with experience cooking for myself on a budget I'd also offer one idea -- don't neglect the value of an occasional "splurge." I, for instance, haven't seen a single poster mention beef yet; it's more expensive than, say, chicken, I know, but it can also be quite cheap if purchased, cooked and stretched right. For instance, at your average supermarket you can probably find a London Broil for less than $5 a pound (I've seen it for $3/lb) -- at a good butcher near me, I can find hanger steak for about that as well. It'll break your budget if you use it for only one meal, but there's no reason you can't make last it four, even five meals in one week. Cook it on the rarer side and eat it as a steak the first night, then make fajitas or quesadillas, which are cheap and a great way to use up other leftovers as well, maybe throw some cut up beef in fried rice, make a steak sandwich or have steak and eggs. You're probably only paying a few cents more than you would otherwise, and the extra satisfaction is worth much more than that.

                                                                                                                            1. Call me crazy, but homemade stock is my moonlight, my waves against the shore and costs about the same. Just throw organic necks, wings, and backs (99 cents at Fairway) into a pot of water and bring to a boil. throw the water out and start again. Now add a carrot, celery stalk (or not) a yellow onion, a garlic clove, a sprig of parsley, a bay leaf and a sprig of fresh thyme. If you have a piece of tomato or a bit of tomato skin, you can add that as well. Let it cook for two to three hours and strain, using a fine sieve. Freeze in pint containers.
                                                                                                                              For a classic zuppa ai poveri, heat one of your containers of stock. Salt to taste. Toast a piece of yesterday's bread, then rub gently with raw clove of garlic and dust with a little kosher salt. Set in the bottom of a bowl. On the top add simmered and squeezed broccoli rabe, or raw leaves of baby spinach or baby arugula. Shave on some parmesan and ladle the stock over. Drizzle on a little olive oil. fayefood.com

                                                                                                                              1. I bet these are really good replies, but if I read them, I'll forget what I wanted to post.
                                                                                                                                Ask your butcher to paper thinly slice your meats. If it's one chicken breast or one steak, either a round or chuck or pork chop, sliced really thin it goes much farther. Or buy said items and partiallly freeze and thinly slice yourself. The meat really stretches a long way as you're only using slivers to compliment something else.
                                                                                                                                I adore red beans and rice. Agree about getting the dried beans, much cheaper, and you can buy brown jasmine rice even at the bargain stores for around a buck. Add a slice of bacon to the beans just a slice and the smokey flavor gives it a step up. What's a pound of bacon? $3. A chicken breast, $1.99, a pork chop, about the same. A package of ground beef can last a week easily. A whole chicken can too. Our college days proved that. One night it's taco's, one night it's chili, one night, it's an individual meatloaf, one night, it's stew. Vegetables are a huge savings too. I just watched Ina Garten do a vegetable soup from combining yesterdays vegetables from dinner and the rest of her salad which included dressing of vinegarette, in the blender add chix stock, reheat, done.
                                                                                                                                It all depends on how truly thrifty you are. How much you want to save the money and make it stretch. I can do it, had been doing it for years while in college. Check out dollar stores, you can find, I'm telling the truth here, chicken thigh package of 4, bone in,for a buck. Eggs are there, cheese is there, lunch meat is there, butter is there, < Challenge butter unsalted/regular is a buck for two cubes. Still if you double, that's only $2 for a pound. Still less than the market price even on sale. And you've got real butter and not margarine. Watch for sales. Whole chickens go on sale here often in our supermarkets for 49¢ a lb. Easy to spend only $1.89 for a whole chicken, then consider this for that whole chicken.

                                                                                                                                4 ingred chix enchiladas.
                                                                                                                                in water stew a chicken with salt and pepper, for a couple of hours until it falls off the bone.
                                                                                                                                pick it apart and set aside.
                                                                                                                                1 can green enchilada sauce.
                                                                                                                                put in sauce pan and lightly heat through.
                                                                                                                                1 pk corn or flour tortillas.
                                                                                                                                salt and pepper or season the picked through chicken.
                                                                                                                                place a tortilla in the sauce for a second,then take out, you're softening them.
                                                                                                                                place on dish and continue till done with as many as you're going to use.
                                                                                                                                1 pk 4 Mexican cheese mix, Walmart, $1.67
                                                                                                                                Place small amount of chix and cheese in tortilla, roll up, place seam side down in baking dish, that you buttered.
                                                                                                                                when done, pour most of the rest of sauce over the enchiladas and rest of cheese.
                                                                                                                                bake uncovered in preheated 325º oven for 25 minutes. use extra sauce for dipping bites in. this meal can last what 3 meals or so and it's really tasty. found it online years ago.

                                                                                                                                1. Split pea soup made with smoked ham hocks is by far my personal favorite for the optimal delicious/cheap/healthy combination. When I was superpoor, I figured out the cost per bowl, and it was something astonishing like 14 cents. I still make it a few times a year. The ingredients I always use are split peas, a ham hock, and water. Save the homemade chicken broth for another soup, there's plenty of flavor in one ham hock for a whole vat of split pea.

                                                                                                                                  My cheapskate runner-up is oatmeal. Real, plain rolled oats. Amazingly cheap, and will keep you full for hours.

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                                                    Split pea soup is a good one. I posted my last splitpea experiments on a blog that never went beyond that here:

                                                                                                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                      Once when Mike and I were unemployed and strapped I made a big batch of vegetarian split pea soup. We ate it as soup for a couple of days, then the last day I mixed in a can of tomatoes and some curry powder and we ate it again over rice. After that there was just enough for me to have for lunch the next day. It was pretty good.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                        your split pea soup looked wonderful...how did it taste?? i'm thinking of doing a cheaper version...water, ham hock and split pea. do you think i could still get that same thick consistancy?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: asiansensation007

                                                                                                                                          The soup I make is the super-cheap-nothing-fancy version, and the leftovers are frequently sliceable by the next day! I don't know if it's the gelatin from the ham hock (seems doubtful) or some wierd split-pea-property, but thickness has never been a problem. Just be judicious when adding water as the soup cooks (sorry I have no measurements--I just go with "looks about right" for split pea). Let us know how you do it!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                          turning oatmeal into granola is easy and cheap.
                                                                                                                                          Make your own yogurt.

                                                                                                                                      2. I know you're trying to avoid resorting to eggs and ramen, but I thought I'd add this simple suggestion to the mix. To make ramen a little less bland, try adding 1/2 cup of frozen mixed veggies and one raw egg to a package of your favorite ramen. It will give you some protein and fiber, more *real* flavor (in fact, I generally use little of the seasoning mix for my ramen when I make it this way), and is incredibly cheap and easy.

                                                                                                                                        1. I made meatloaf this past week with stuff that I needed to clear out of the fridge. The groundbeef was Niman Ranch but it was still only $4 for 2 lbs. I mixed it with a cup of rice, leftover wine, pitted chopped olives, onions, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, sage, olive oil, anchovy filet, and a couple of eggs. When I make meatloaf it's to clear out the little scraps that I'm not using otherwise.
                                                                                                                                          I also made mashed potatoes with olive oil and eggs.

                                                                                                                                          We made several sandwiches out of the leftover meatloaf on $2 Hawaiian Taste White bread.

                                                                                                                                          And salad, too.

                                                                                                                                          This serves us usually 8 meals or more.

                                                                                                                                          1. I haven't seen this mentioned yet...

                                                                                                                                            Shop the bulk bins at stores. you can cereal without the packaging, and the high price. If a whole box of cornmeal or a whole bag of beans limit your buget or your menu variety you can get just what you need. Many ethnic grocers offer spices in bulk, or at least in cello packs. That beast the pants off of buying them in bottles. You pay thru the nostrils for that cute little bottle.

                                                                                                                                            Peasant foods exist in almost every culture...

                                                                                                                                            I haven't seen much mention of good old American soul food in this thread. This was the home cooking of the southern slave. The did a lot with very little. Swett potatoes, cornbread, biscuits, black eyed peas, cooked greens, grits ham hocks and neck bones make for frugal meals that won't leave you feeling empty. that must be the reason they call it "soul' food.

                                                                                                                                            The potato provided the backbone for Irish cuisine. It also elevates a few other humble fixings into something special when making a spanish "tortilla"

                                                                                                                                            Carribean cultures add great new dimensions to beans and rice. I love cuban style black beans, or Jamaican rice and peas. not to mention the fabulous things they do with goat.

                                                                                                                                            The island of Sicily has existed on a diet that is mostly bread and pasta for centuries. Find a local bakery with good bread and hit the place late for "stales". Most places throw stuff out, or offer a steep dicount for day old loaves. Turn it into toast, costini, or garlic bread.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                                                                                              I agree one night a week here it is soup beans and corn bread sometimes adding fried potatoes....Cheap cheap cheap!


                                                                                                                                            2. Everybody here has it covered....I'd only add to pool your resources with other starving grad students (there are a lot of them out there; I used to be one). One of my fellow students worked at a fish market on weekends; I worked part time (under the table) at a fruit stand. I'd get him apples when I could, and he'd get me some kind of cod or something for chowder when I really needed it. It makes for a "Stone Soup" kind of thing....even if you're not sharing food items, try to eat with others at least a few times a week. It's good for the soul.

                                                                                                                                              1. Great ideas,I think what helps alot is what my mom called stapels to keep on hand. 1. ground beef 2.chicken 3.onion 4.celery 5.carrots 6. potato 7.eggs 8. bread crumbs 9.box chicken noodle soup 10.rice11.spices 12.can of kitchen ready tomato take 3.saute in oil add1.brown add12.11. and you have pasta sauce call it13. mix you have meat loaf. top with a little 13.bake at 350.. or take that mix add a little greated cheese roll into small balls ,fry you have meatballs add to13. or take meatball mix add 10 cooked to mix and stuff peppers or cabbage top with 13. bake at 350 or take meatloaf mix in cassarole dish layer frozen corn, peas ,mashed potato made with 6. bake 350 the magic number you have shepperds pie or 2. the breast dip in 7. then 8. fry in oil you have battered chicken breast or tenders good alone or take that in baking pan add 13.parm cheese or even the single wrapped american bake at 350 you have chicken parm. as for soup here are a few 2. boil and deboned add back to broth the chicken add package 9. for more flavor 11. you can pour over 10. cooked or over cooked egg noodles . take 2. deboned again this time to chicken and broth add scallions and 3. 9.package, soy sauce bring to rappid boil wisk in a couple 7.s you can pour over 10. cooked,or eggnoodles again. you have sort of egg drop soup. this is my favorite cheap soup take 9.make as package says when boiling add some frozen cheese raviolis. I like the medium or small size. boil untill ravs puff and float, best if cooked a few minutes longer if a few ravs break it adds to flavor you'll luv it.! tiny tip, I add a few drops of milk to my bowl, it adds a nice flavor, but if you do., you may become an addick to those few drops of milk ha! ha! BEST OF LUCK!

                                                                                                                                                1. I shop often on Mondays, when chicken from the weekend is marked down, but not expired -- never had a bad experience. I also always check the rejected produce -- ripe fruit! Here's an idea for stretching one chicken to feed four people for three days --http://www.savingdinner.com/archives/...

                                                                                                                                                  1. So many good ideas. I'll add two: 1) dollar stores have a lot of cheap non-perishables like canned clams and canned meats. 2) here's one for the brave: if you don't mind a little risk of getting caught and had a finger waved at you, there's a shameful amount of stuff to be had free by dumpster diving behind supermarkets. My dumpster-diving friend Jake finds lots of stuff that way.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Check out this site http://www.apbw.mistral.co.uk/ Old Scrote's Cookbook. He has a huge site full of ethnic recipes that use cheap ingredients but are very accomplished food. Some tips of types of food to look for that are good and cheap. Rustic French (their poverty foods), Irish and southern poverty foods. People already mentioned getting a crock pot from freecycle or a thrift store. You can also check freecycle toward the end of the summer. People are always giving away extra produce. Windfall apples are also dirt cheap and many people will let you pick apples off their tree simply because they have no interest is doing so. Another option is to see if you have a food pantry nearby. If you asked for staples like dried beans and frozen meat they would probably be thrilled since so many people want processed convenience food. If you know someone with a Costco membership and a couple of other starving students have them get a big bag of pork chunks. Costco sells these huge vac pac bags of cubed pork for stews or Mexican dishes and last I checked they were under $1 a pound. The best deal on spices is World Market. Most of the celophane packs are a dollar an much better quality than the bottled spices at the grocery. World Market also has a pretty good olive oil for $7.99 for a large bottle. It is great for cooking and good enough to use for things like salad or dipping bread, though not as nice as a $30.00 bottle. One cheap quick meal is cook some pasta, get a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and Italian spices already in it. Toss the pasta with some olive oil and the drained tomatoes. You could add leftover meat also. Oh, find the local bread store. They had some better bread types, like whole grain or gourmet types. Nobody else bought them so I could get them cheap, sometimes the store clerk would just give them to me to get rid of them. Everyone who shopped there wanted wonder bread.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I have weeks where I have to live off of $20 for groceries.
                                                                                                                                                        Breakfast: instant oatmeal or granola bars

                                                                                                                                                        Lunch: PB&J, fried rice, cottage cheese and fruit, yogurt or leftovers
                                                                                                                                                        Dinner: bean burritos, pasta and sauce, omelettes, potato soup, biscuits and gravy, meatless chili, veggie plates, big salads, quesadillas, baked sweet potato

                                                                                                                                                        I try to always make enough dinner so that I have leftovers the next day, rather than eat ramen.

                                                                                                                                                        See if you have an Aldi nearby. You can find cheap veggies and stuff like frozen pizza for .99, 1 lb. ground turkey for .99, bread for .50, chips for .99, etc. Just don't buy their boxed pasta salad or "hamburger helper" - it's yucky.

                                                                                                                                                        1. When my husband abd I were first married, he was a poor grad student and we had to stretch my paychekc as far as it would go.

                                                                                                                                                          We made a point of going through the circulars of all the local grocery stores before we wnet shopping (a lot of them were posted online, some came with the local paper) and we'd plan our weekly menus based on what was on sale and what we had in our cupboard already. We also decided which stores to shop at based on which would offer the most savings on our "staples" that week. That way we weren't gas driving from store to store.

                                                                                                                                                          There are some budget traps in most grocery stores, that is, certain things that are simply too expensive for what you get:

                                                                                                                                                          - Most sliced luncheon meat - one store near me charges nearly $10 a pound for turkey. For that, I could buy a small breast, brine it in a few cents worth of salt, suger and spices, roast and eat sandwiches for week!

                                                                                                                                                          - Name brand cereal. A lo of folks have said this so I won't go into too much detail but store brands, bulk versions and oatmeal can be just as delicious and even healthier if you add some dried fruit (store brands for that, too). A friend of mine who had five kids in six years ups the nutritional and satiety value of her children's hot cereals by cooking them with powdered milk.

                                                                                                                                                          -Pre-shredded and pre-chopped anything - unless it's at the in-store salad bar and it's a very small amount of something you don;t want to buy a lot of. For example, if a recipe calls for a small amount of a vegetable that oly comes in large heads or bags such as celery or cabbage, see if you can buy a small amount from the salad bar instead. If you won't eat it outside of the recipe, why waste the money on a large quantity of it?

                                                                                                                                                          Bonelss, skinless chicken breasts - ridiculously priced for the proten and satiety value you get. I say stock up on chicken and turkey thighs instead when your budget allows. They are only slightly higher in fat, a lot cheaper and much more filling. Plus, they don't dry out as much as breasts. Sausages are also a good cheap option when on special. A litte goes a long way to flavor soups, rice dishes, egg dishes, etc. You can stretch a half a pound of strong flavored sausage over several delicious dinners if you plan right and supplemtn with additonal proteins like beans, cheese, whole grains, etc.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: newbatgirl

                                                                                                                                                            I know you have limited access to foods but please consider sprouts and sprouting your own. Mung beans are an awesome food to sprout, when freshly sprouted they taste like fresh garden peas, if you let the grow out they're awesome for making your own chow mien. I pay just pennies to make a quart of mung sprouts and all you need is a mason jar, water, and some seeds. You can also sprout other seeds like wheat, rye, and micro mixes. I hope this helps from a health POV, to buy try shopping eBay or a place where you can buy a portion from a bulk lot. I personally share 1 co-op subscription with several other people to help meet the minimum order and take a big chunk from the fee, then we split bulk items...

                                                                                                                                                          2. My teenage son's favorite dish at home is not my crab cakes, steak, etc...it's my hamburger stroganoff...I must say that this version is tasty...Brown 1 and 1/2 lbs lean ground beef with 1 cup up onion and 1 chopped green pepper...can use poblano if you like spicy, as well as two to three cloves garlic...When browned, drain fat, and on top of the meat mixture, spread 3 cups of your choice of noodles...On top of that pour a mixture of 3 cups spicy V-8 juice that is mixed with spices of your choice...we like chili powder, oregano, parsley, cumin, and a bay leaf...Pour this mixture over the top of the noodles...Do not mix, as this is done in layers....Bring this mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, and cover for about 25-30 minutes...Uncover and dump in one small carton of sour cream ( don't use lite..it does not work...and you might want to temper the sour cream first, or put a little of the skillet mixture in the sour cream, and then fold the sour cream in...)...If you spice this up well, it is really delicious...We always add Tabasco on top of our individual servings....

                                                                                                                                                            1. Two recipes from our impoverished-student days:
                                                                                                                                                              Fry some bacon end pieces (cheaper than bacon). Remove when done. Cut up an onion or two and fry in the bacon grease. When onion is cooked, return bacon and add a large can of baked beans and some ketchup. Stir. Serves four.
                                                                                                                                                              Cook some rice until done. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup. Stir. Serves 1-2, depending on how much rice you started with.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Sometimes I like to think about the lowest possible limit you could live on and still eat great food. I think as long as you keep a minimal, but well thought out supply at hand, you can use it for a variety of dishes. I especially like to make hearty soups and stews which you can cook in batches and that are both filling and cheap. For the basic supply, you need onions, carrots and celery. Add potatoes and garlic to this and you have a great basic supply. Buy lots of bulk beans and lentils as well as bags of rice and pasta. There are a variety of grains you can buy which are healthy and cheap such as wheat berries and bulgur that add variation.

                                                                                                                                                                When it comes to vegetables, I like to focus on cabbage and root fruits as well as frozen bags of vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                If you want to add some meat to your diet, then it's a good idea to buy large packs of sausage (you can usually find good quality sausage in large packs), then freeze them individually and use them to flavor a lot of different dishes. The same can be said for Bacon - buy a large pack and then freeze 3-4 slices together and use them as you need them. Eggs are another great source of protein that are both cheap and nutritious.

                                                                                                                                                                For more ideas on this subject, I wrote a longer post: http://www.theculinaryreview.com/food...

                                                                                                                                                                I think the important aspect is to keep meals filling. There is no point in living on Ramen noodles since you're hungry 2 hours after you eat a pack. Another great idea is to bake your own bread, if you have the time and the interest. Then you can eat great food for a very cheap cost.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. there are many more delicious and nutritious choices for you. Beans and rice are inexpensive, and together form a complete protein. There must be at least 300 different combvinations of bveans and rice. A few seasoning, some salt and pepper, and a couple of green veggies, and you should be able to eat like a king (or queen) on very little money. But you WILL have to do the cooking!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I did polenta and eggs over easy last night. Was very good and goes well with tomatos if you have them.

                                                                                                                                                                        I also like to do black bean and sweet potatos taco style. Roast sweet potatos, add black beans and other fillings as desired and heat them through. Pretty quick, pretty cheap and pretty tasty. :)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. My mom gave me two recipes when I moved into my first apartment. I freaked out about feeding myself and her recipes definitely saved me during really tough months.

                                                                                                                                                                          Vegetable soup- 6 cups beef broth or consumme (use the cubes to save $), canned corn and green beans, 1 big potato cubed, sliced carrots, celery, onion and a head of cabbage (makes the soup thicker), and a can of tomatoes. Cook the onion and celery first, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few hours. It probably doesn't cost more than $10 and I can eat for over a week.

                                                                                                                                                                          Salmon patties- 1 can of salmon (as I got more $ I started using with boneless/skinless), bread crumbs, 1 egg, 3tbsp minced onion, soy sauce. Mix all ingredients- I start with 1/4 C bread crumbs- form patties and saute.

                                                                                                                                                                          For both recipes- you can make them as gourmet as you want but both are tasty and healthy with the least expensive ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                          Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Tofu is great and cheap. I like the soft kind and I can get it for 1.97 a pack, which is two meals. I like to steam it, set in a small plate in my steamer with some soy and ginger, if I've got it. Also, the best way--- is to cut it into cubes, roll in cornstarch and fry- immediately. Eat with rice and enjoy. Some nice green onions top it off.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I usually buy bread baked in house in the grocery store (its quite cheap). I keep it in the frig, to keep it fresh as long as possible.
                                                                                                                                                                              With leftovers, as its going stale, you can make stuffing with just some chopped celery, onions, and poulty seasoning, and canned or homemade chicken broth.... which will go great with your inexpensive whole roasted chicken!
                                                                                                                                                                              You can also use stale leftovers to make bread pudding - using eggs, milk, and sugar for the basic custard. If you have cinnamon or other spices, you can add them in.

                                                                                                                                                                              You can make savory bread pudding with any leftover meats or veggies you have around. Also frittatas using just the eggs, with any leftover bits of meat or veggies, and cheese (admittedly, cheese can be more expensive)

                                                                                                                                                                              You can also make pasta fagiole soup (beans and pasta) fairly inexpensively.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Here is something I "accidentally" made the other night that was super cheap and so flavorful. I was in heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                *1 (5 oz) bag of Mahatma spicy saffron rice ($0.99 or $1.29)
                                                                                                                                                                                *1/2 jar of sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped into small bites ($1 for the jar from the Dollar Tree. I am not kidding. I have bought about 10 of these jars so far and all are delicious. I can't figure out for the life of me how they have these at the Dollar Tree. Also have the same brand of roasted red peppers. Equally good)
                                                                                                                                                                                *and then I cooked 6 chicken leg quarters and took off the meat (that whole package was like $4). Shredded the chicken/ cut into bite-size pieces

                                                                                                                                                                                Combined all the ingredients into a one-bowl wonder. It was just incredibly delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm voting once again for the sweet potato/beans combo. tonight's addition was one nuked sweet potato, topped with sofrito/cumin/pepper flakes/cilantro and black beans from a can, and a splurge of a toss on of low-fat shredded cheese from TJ's. I mean it still has to have cost less than a buck fifty, dairy product included. mmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chocolatstiletto

                                                                                                                                                                                    Spaghetti and meat sauce for 2-3 nights
                                                                                                                                                                                    Chicken and dumplings x 2-3 nights
                                                                                                                                                                                    Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch
                                                                                                                                                                                    Cereal, milk, bananas for breakfast

                                                                                                                                                                                    Spaghetti: 1.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    Spaghetti sauce: 1.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 pound of ground chuck: 1.50

                                                                                                                                                                                    Loaf of bread: 1.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sliced cheese: 2.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    Can of tomato soup: 0.75

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 pound of dark chicken meat: 2.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    Frozen peas and carrots: 1.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    Onion: 0.75
                                                                                                                                                                                    Small box/package of bisquick mix: 0.75
                                                                                                                                                                                    2 cans of chicken broth: 1.00

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 box of cereal: 1.50
                                                                                                                                                                                    Gallon of milk: 2.50
                                                                                                                                                                                    Bananas: 0.69

                                                                                                                                                                                    Total: 17.44

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BellaDonna

                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow Bella. Awesome. As mentioned by a med student above, cooking with a gang of buddies (or neighbors, roommates, share lunches and lunch cost with colleagues) is great b/c you can split ingredient costs, and not be stuck eating the same thing for days on end. Freezing is also great.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Because fresh produce is so expensive, I like to use up every last bite of my fresh veggies. It is cheap and yummy to make your own cole slaw (carrots and cabbage, some grated red onion in the dressing if you have it). Then a sandwich suddenly has a small accompanying side salad, which for me feels/tastes much more meal-like. Likewise, cook up some pasta (cheap-O) and toss your extra produce (tomato, red pepper, carrot, celery, onion, olives) in for a quick pasta salad, to complement your sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                      A friend just did Baked Potato Night. I would never think to do this, but what a cheap and delicious way to eat up all veggies in the fridge (sautee them separately or together), a little sour cream or yogurt or cheese if you want it/have it. Potatoes are cheap. Chickpeas or beans for protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Improvise with what you have in the fridge and cabinet. How can I make this into an exciting meal? You'd be surprised. I come up with some of my favorites (an easy-peasy chicken curry this week, suggested by someone here on CH). It's like your own version of Iron Chef-- secret ingredient = whatever is in cupboard/fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                      BUY WHAT IS ON SALE. Check for coupons in the paper, and combine these with sales. Sometimes you can get stuff close to free. I cook with and snack on ricotta all the time, and I pay $3 max for the big tub that usually retails for $6.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find a place with cheap produce. There are several near me that sell produce at a third the price of even the cheapest grocery chain stores. Produce is also cheaper, in my experience, at Latin and Asian markets.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BellaDonna


                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not sure I could duplicate these prices at any store in my neighborhood...

                                                                                                                                                                                        so decided to try and at least get an idea if it is doable. Went to Safeway.com and found:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Cheapest bread I could find for sandwhiches: Ovenjoy White: .99
                                                                                                                                                                                        8 oz Lucerne Cheddar: $2.50 (sliced was more)
                                                                                                                                                                                        Safeway Tomato Soup: .90 a can

                                                                                                                                                                                        (This amount would last me two, three days of lunches at most, definitely not a week, On this budget I'd rather eat something cheaper, ie lentil soup...)


                                                                                                                                                                                        Cheapest cereal I could find: $2.50 for 15 oz (Safeway Brand) OTOH, 42 oz of Oatmeal was $2.49. Better nutrition, more food, better deal

                                                                                                                                                                                        Gallon of milk, Safeway brand, 3.99 (though a gallon seems like a lot, perhaps you mean half gallon?)

                                                                                                                                                                                        hate bananas so didn't bother :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        And DINNER:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Cheapest spagetti sauce I could find, in a can: $1.25, 26 oz
                                                                                                                                                                                        spaguetti: 16 oz: .90

                                                                                                                                                                                        ok, so so far I am at about $13 before I buy the chicken, ground chuck, frozen peas and carrots, onion, bisquick or chicken broth....

                                                                                                                                                                                        sorry, but while the idea behind these menus (use a few simple ingredients) is a good one, I think it is far from being the cheapest, most filling way to live on $20 a week....

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have to agree. I was thinking perhaps it was just the higher cost of living in my area, but I could not get the items listed at the prices given. The cheapest half gallon of milk here is $2.50 at a certain store. The cheapest 16 oz can of broth is 99 cents, except for the rare sales where you can get 2 for a dollar. (a 32 oz is about 2.39). One single can of tomato soup is a dollar, but you would need 7 dollars worth to cover each lunch for a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The only way to get chicken or ground chuck at prices per lb near those mentioned would be to buy a huge amount all at once. The small packages will be more expensive. A whole (very) small chicken is around 5-6 dollars. And I dont think most people would be able to spread 8 oz of ground chuck (before cooking) over 3 days and be satisfied.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Not to mention, one must account for sales tax.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                            Make your own bread-go to the library & get a book-if you have a freezer , even a little one, you'll never buy bread again! Plus, you can make pizza dough. Check out your local fancy bagel place- they're really cheap (2.19 for 12, here) or free at the end of the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. My favorite cheap eat is Potato Pasta-serves 2
                                                                                                                                                                                        2 med baked potatoes while still hot cut in half lenthwise and slice into half moons a little over 1/4 inch thick.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Put 2/3 cup olive oil (guess you could go 1/2 olive half veg ) in frying pan and start to brown when first side is starting to brown add 12 (yes 12) cloves of minced garlic and one dried red pepper broken up. Finish browning potatoes on both sides. Can be a little tricky getting potatoes browned without burning garlic(we like the garlic almost burnt) Toss over 3/4 lb thin pasta. Top with grated cheeze and sever with french bread.


                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: don515

                                                                                                                                                                                          we are a two commission household...so when its good it is good and when its bad it is REALLY BAD...anyway Roasted veggies are a great way to use up you veggies and carry them quite a ways
                                                                                                                                                                                          Baked potatoes have feed us many a night with various toppings but my favorite is salsa.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Stores like Big Lots and dollar stores have great cheap finds...esp big lots because they are a buyout store.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. If you decide you want to bake your own bread, you might look at Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I have only made the master recipe in it so far, but it has worked very well. You make a batch of bread dough and then refrigerate it for up to a week. Then throughout the week you can bake a small loaf as you need it. The bread is good crusty rustic type bread. I am thinking this is going to save me a lot of money, since I will be able to have good fresh bread all week for the cost of a packet of yeast and some flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I was in the same boat for a very long time so I feel you!

                                                                                                                                                                                            A favorite cheapy meal: get some cheese ends (brie is great for this but any kind will do), a couple of bruised apples (I like green ones) and some day-old discounted panini, submarine buns, kaisers or whatever you can find. Makes a great panino in a George Foreman grill if you have one, otherwise just throw it in a frying pan and weigh it down with something while it toasts.

                                                                                                                                                                                            You won't notice the stale bread this way and if you can score a bunch of bread, just slice it up and freeze it. The sandwiches can be made with bread straight out of your freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Rice is a cheap staple that you should have in your pantry at all times. For a little flavor, try cooking it in chicken broth (if you can't afford to buy it, try making it using the bones of a chicken from another meal(s)).

                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, try to keep Italian seasoning or other spices on hand -- I throw them in anything (chicken, beef, soup, fish) to add a twist to an otherwise bland meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Try to find specialty stores - cheese shops, butchers, bakers etc. instead of shopping exclusively at the grocery store. I've found that typically they tend to be cheaper and better quality products - not to mention you're more likely to find discounted items as well, especially if they are expecting a fresh shipment. Also, if you become a regular and establish a personal relationship with the owner, they might even throw some free food at you!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Some things my mom & dad used to make when they were just poor college students with a young baby:
                                                                                                                                                                                                tuna pattes: small sized can of tuna, hand full of saltine crackers crushed up, one egg. Mix up and form into patties. Fry in a skillet and eat w/ ketchup
                                                                                                                                                                                                Potato Pancakes: Make a big batch of mashed potatoes one night. Save the leftovers for the next day and form cold mashed potatoes into patties and fry in a skillet and eat w/ ketchup
                                                                                                                                                                                                Chili: 1 large can of Tomato Juice, ground chuck, onion, chili powder, chili beans. Brown the beef and onion. Throw in everything else. To stretch even further add macaroni noodles. this will freeze forever.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Breakfast casserole: Make white rice, drop in an egg and cooked bacon or sausage or ground beef and stir until the eggs are cooked. Sort of like a fried rice in a way. To stretch further add frozen peas or corn. You can stirfry the leftovers the next day to make fried rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                I should add that apparently, this stuff was good when I was a baby, because I make it for me and my husband now, 26 years later :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I have several small pizzas in the oven made from items I had in my pantry. Talk about frugal! All you need for the crust are: yeast, olive oil, flour (I use a mix of whole wheat and AP), some vegetables, spices, and cheese. The last time I tried this I messed up the dough, but made them into faux-calzoni.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I still vote for beans/legumes in general...baked beans, pea soup, beans and rice, dhal soups, hummus etc etc.......buy them dry and in bulk for cheap, make and freeze lots, this stuff sticks to your ribs and will keep you going through the day. If you have any bargain giant type stores in your area, keep an eye out for chicken stock (a nearby place sells large tetra packs for 99c), cheap cans of tuna and salmon (for fish cakes), and if you've ever seen those great big jars of pickled red peppers...sub them in for any recipe for roasted red pepper soup. Bargain stores often sell cans of artichoke ends for very cheap, things like this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    check out bulk TVP for a cheap protein source as well. for veggies, google "tunisian vegetable stew" by moosewood, which contains some very cheap veggies like cabbage, onions, can tomatoes, green pepper, canned chick peas, and goes a long way, with wonderful flavours. Senegalese peanut soup is basically onion , can tomato, chick peas and peanut butter which are also relatively cheap. A fine cheap meal of colcannon can be made from cabbage and potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've also seen people make "cakes" out of potted meat, those little blue cans.....corned beef hash is another option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Scour supermarkets for stuff that is being sold on it's "sell-by" date that is marked down, but can be frozen (and this includes cheese). Don't be afraid to bring it to your grocers attention and ask for a markdown, sometimes it works !!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Something i made many a meal off of during my leaner days as an alternative to boxed mac and cheese, was "chicken" noodles. Boil up a quantity of pasta...in the mean time, make a white sauce with margarine, flour, and a big spoonful of the powdered "chicken" bouillion (yes yes i know), and once thickened, stir in milk to make a sauce....you can also toss in onions or some other cheap veg in there.......I have been known to resort to this when i'm sick and craving something really salty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My "comfort food" concoction: saute a med. onion, add 1 huge clove of minced garlic. Add 1 can of black or pinto beans, undrained, & 1 can of diced tomatoes with chillies, undrained. Bring to a boil, add 1&1/2 cups of instant brown or white rice. Leftover rice is fine, too. Bring to a boil, then lower heat & simmer covered for 5 min. Add shredded cheddar cheese on top, cover a few more minutes. Stir & serve!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My newest favorite cheap meal is vegetarian tacos:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        black beans seasoned w/ whatever you have (I use taco seasoning, garlic and salt and pepper and red chiles), rice and corn. top w/ cheese and salsa. Surprisingly good, even my husband likes it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm languishing in poverty too, but I'm actually finding it kind of exciting to think of ways to feed myself on next to nothing. It's kind of a game now - I pretend I'm on Dirt Poor Iron Chef. I second everything everyone said about rice and beans and lentils and soups. I'm eating a lot more veggie dishes and using meat more as a condiment. My favorite is bacon. It's cheap and can go anywhere - in bean soups, on baked potatoes and green salads, in quiches, in breakfast burritos and egg salad sandwiches. And it gives me that meat flavor when I feel like I might otherwise break down and buy a steak. Whole chickens are good for that too. One roasted bird will provide me with 5 or 6 meals plus soup bones. And don't neglect the sweet stuff, or you start feeling depressed and deprived. I'm making a lot of baked fruit dishes which are cheap and nice and warming for winter, and a dozen cookies or muffins gives you a nice lift for very little money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mordacity

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Great post!! I love the optimism of it... and the techniques for keeping the feelings of being deprived at a distance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mordacity

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dirt Poor Iron Chef, I love it! It would make a great challenge thread ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Last night I bought 3 chicken tenders, and the butcher asked me if they were dinner. I said no, I was cooking tomorrow. I wasn't sure if she might take it the wrong way if I told her how many meals I was going to get out of them, but it'll be about 5. They will be stewed with tomatoes, onions, and lime juice Mexican style. I cooked up a batch of pintos with onion, garlic, and lots of spices. Will serve with corn tortillas topped with melted jack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. All these responses have been very good. Of course, beans, rice, other grains in bulk (go, oatmeal!), eggs, soup, cabbage, root vegetables (baked sweet potato = lunch!), scavenging. As far as meat goes, chicken is the cheapest common one, with turkey coming in second. But consider also a picnic shoulder (.99 a pound at Star this week). Sure, you'll have to buy about 7 pounds, but you can cut it up and freeze the chunks. Beef liver is often very cheap, and brisket on sale can be cheap as well. Look for the deli ends they sell in most supermarkets - the end bits to cold cuts and cheese, priced very low. The cheese is particularly useful, because you can use it in so many ways, but also look for ham, which can add a lot of flavor to a dish in very small quantities. Also, discounted day old bread is great - for toasting, making into bread pudding and bread salad, stuffing, etc. Google "recipes" and "stale bread" and you should find lots of good peasant food. For basic baking (biscuit, pancakes, Yorkshire pudding), buy some powdered dry milk. Disgusting to drink, but serviceable in basic flour/egg/butter preparations that are filling and cheap. Hit the library or yard sales for old cookbooks - not the fancy entertaining books, but the ones from the 30s and 40s aimed at housewives. Economy is prized in those books, and they have great ideas for using up leftover bits and pieces, using eggs creatively, and so on. In general, learn as many recipes as you can for using up leftovers - strata, omelets, soups, enchiladas, crepes, fried rice - anything you can fill up with little pieces of this and that. Waste not and all that. Some very useful staples, like canned tomatoes, can sometimes be bought even in regular supermarkets in really big cans for a fraction of the usual price - buy, split into reasonable serving portions, freeze. (The freezer, like the crockpot, is your friend.) Coupons can SOMETIMES be helpful, but not if you end up buying something that was priced too high to begin with - two boxes of breakfast cereal for the price of one may still cost more, ounce per ounce, than oatmeal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. This is a wonderful thread! thanks so much for starting it.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'd love to hear more ideas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. You'd be surprise how much you can eat on so little... if you are willing to spend time in the kitchen...my mom's survival meals during our poor days as a child...bag of flour and lard can make ..tortillas, biscuits, bread (yeast or no yeast) ; lots of fat stays hunger! Hey add a bag of sugar and now you are looking at bunelos (fried tortillas) etc. Beans are your best bet... the grocer discounts over ripe fruit which is great to make breads like banana bread...hey if all else fails, go to a local church and get a free meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. No one has mentioned cabbage. It is cheap and can be added to soups, make cabbage rolls with rice and tomato soup/sauce, for salads, borscht. A friend of mine in Victoria goes to the parks and pick blackberries in season and freezes them for smoothies. Powdered milk is nutritious and can be added to almost anything. Make a 'master mix'. It is a versatile flour mix that can be used for pancakes, muffins, cakes, etc. you make a big batch and use by the cupful, as needed, and add flavourings. I could dig up a recipe. Making from scratch is essential in budget cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like cabbage, but it doesn't like me. :-(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kanosis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you eat it regularly, your body gets used to it and you won't have that problem anymore. (same goes for beans, broccoli, etc)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never had problems when I was younger, but now lots of stuff irritate me..but I am learning to adjust my diet by deliberately choosing whole grains and more vegys. I've never had problems with broccoli and cauliflower, but the round head of cabbage doesn't like me. I thought of subbing it with savoy or napa. They are a little pricey though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh! I was going to say just that! I used to live near a park. I would forage in there for blackberries, wild garlic, wild carrot (queen Anne's lace) and other things. I would freeze the blackberries until I had enough and make a cobbler (biscuit top - shortening and flour etc.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My mom taught me The Ways of the Depression - keep out one Tbsp of veggies from each meal. You won't miss it. Keep adding them to a baggie in the freezer and by the end of the week you have enough for a veggie soup. Keep and freeze all the bits you cut off when making veggies - onion skins, celery and carrot ends, etc. when you've gathered enough, boil with water to make a veggie stock. Cornmeal is cheap and makes great bread, muffins, and polenta. Use leftover to make your own polenta lasagna using that instead of noodles. Find out the time your local market marks down the meat. Mine is at 3 o'clock. Revive day old bread by heating in the oven at 200 F for 10 to 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cut down on other expenses to stretch your food budget. Use the inside of cereal packets as waxed paper. Wash and dry milk bags to use for freezer bags. Wash windows and mirrors with dish detergent in water. Grow your own herbs in empty yogurt pots. Cilantro and chives are especially easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No empty yogurt pots because you make your own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. How about investing in some semollina flour and learning to make pasta? A little flour, water and an egg and you're on your way. There are hundreds of ways to sauce it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I just made a concoction of leftover rice, a few cans of various beans, corn, scallions (or chopped onions), & some vinaigrette. Not bad! Kind of a comfort food concoction....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I had mentioned the soup lines at the local church or salvation army, but I can remember working as an elementary school in a poor neighborhood years ago and the kids would tell me they would go "dumpster diving" at the market garbage cans or they might ask the produce man for the vegy throw aways. They would take the whole lot home and their mom would see what she can use...very sad but true. Oh, one kid told me he also scrounged the florist shops for "free flowers" for his mom...So from lil Johnny to you....try dumpster diving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kanosis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here is a list of some of my favorite budget ingredients.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dried beans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Whole chickens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ground beef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Italian Sausage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rotisseree chickens (for emergencies)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One $5 rotisseree chicken can provide precooked meat for several meals (chicken on a green salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken soup, etc - use that carcass to make the most flavorful chicken stock). Chili is another economical meal that is very healthy - serve it on a baked potato (super cheap-o). Speaking of baked potatoes, they are fabulous - I like to make extra so I can turn leftovers into hashbrowns. Canned salmon is fantastic - can be turned into a sandwhich spread, fried patties, eaten straight out of the can or served on a cold salad). Pasta is another inexpensive meal - even if you add a meat sauce. I think the key here is to be willing to plan your menu ahead of time, and be willing to take the time to get in the kitchen and cook - and don't be afraid to try store brands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kanosis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dumpster diving is also more popularly known as "Freeganism." I've eaten some food my friends have pulled out of dumpsters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With practice, people start to know which dumpsters contain what stuff and good times to get it(some are good for bread, others produce) and come home with surprising amounts of perfectly edible food: oranges, potatoes, plantains, and onions, to name a few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Beans are generally inexpensive and filling. Black beans, garbanzos, lentils, pintos. When I took an intensive summer German course at Monterey Institute of International Studies in CA they had a student loan poster with a picture of Ramen noodles on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't see any indication of where you live but the following might interest you:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.terrabite.org/ (NPR ran a story on this one in the last few days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  )Maybe there are similar places in other cities? Health Food Coops often have work trade options as do some CSAs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you belong to or participate in a religious community many have potlucks where you could contribute something inexpensive and then have a variety of dishes to choose from. In all of the above cases, I would hope that when you're financially able, you would contribute accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Any chance you can grow some of your own food? Community garden or planters on a balcony? We grew lots of habaneros last summer in a pot on the porch, didn't save lots of money necessarily but adds some variety to menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Hot dogs can be cheap and made lots of different ways.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Beanie weenie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sour kraut and dogs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      hot dogs can be eaten on a slice of bread
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chili dogs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pigs in a blanket

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I like "The New Cookbook for Poor Poets and Others" (Ann Rogers, copyright 1979, 1966, published by Scribner's.) It's good food & good company.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Consider buying a couple of turkey drumsticks on sale. Braise them with seasonings. Remove the meat from the bones. Toss the skin and bones into a pot with some onion, maybe a little boullion. Simmer an hour, strain, return broth to pot, add any leftover rice, potato, or barley, some veggies, cooked or uncooked and you have soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Use the meat for a couple meals. This works with chicken also
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you invest in a fresh herb, use some for the original purpose, lay the rest out on a paper bag and leave until totally dry. Pop them into a small jar, label and you have good dried herbs for the rest of the year. In your recipe you use less dried than fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. For cheap breakfast you can't beat cereal. I got an ENORMOUS box of generic rice chex for $2 and it's probably good for at least 10 12 breakfasts. No high fructose corn syrup either.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PB is cheap. Keep a jar around and put it on toast, on banans(great always cheap fruit), in PB&J, on crackers, pitas, or in faux satays.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pitas are also great, cheap, and versatile. They're good if you're sick of regular old bread and can be used with hummus(can be made super cheap), PB, stuff it with egg salad, used as a base for mini pizzas, toast it for pita chips, you can even put veggie salads in it and it makes them more flling.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sweet potatoes are genius and can be made in the microwave in like 5 minutes. Just poke holes in it, wrap it in a damp papertowel, and microwave until tender. I love them plain just lke this, but you can also top with butter/cinnamon/brown sugar or cottage cheese. Baked sweet potato chips are also a great snack.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You also might consider splurging on one ingredient each week and cooking around that. For instance buying a good chunk of cheese, and putting it with your eggs, making grilled cheese, in grits, pita pizzas, having it with fruit, melting it over veggies, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not sure where you're at but for produce u-picks can't be beat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Can you participate in a community garden or barter for produce? There's not much in the way of nutrients in your OP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I feed a family with three adult appetites (two teen boys and me) on $50/week including toiletry items, and we eat pretty close to a gourmet diet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Essential for making this work are:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Purchasing items across a range of several stores where prices are best
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Making extra large portions now and then and freezing some to have handy when variety is needed during a bland week or cooking isn't possible because of scheduling issues
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cooking from scratch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Every couple-three days I cook large portions of several dishes and we eat each dish over several meals. The variety of dishes is satisfying plus each of us has very different appetites and likes/dislikes in selection so it's nice that each person can choose what he/she enjoys eating at each meal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cook a lot of chicken legs with backs attached, and use the backs for soup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Have rice and beans on hand most of the time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Often cook noodles for the boys with inclusions of meat or chicken or a meaty sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cook Chinese food - it's economical and tasty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tonight, for example, I cooked 4 dishes producing about 20 adult sized servings in about 2 hours (not including marinading time) at a cost of about $12.50. Three are Chinese dishes and one uses Chinese spices (the steak).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One was leftover sliced steak from a London Broil I bought for $1.50 a lb on sale and grilled. I stir-fried the steak with herbs and oyster sauce. That's for me to put over rice for easy, fast working lunches during the next few days. (Produces 4 portions)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dish 2: Cucumbers and chicken cubes in hoisin sauce (6 big portions)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dish 3: Eggplant and ground meat with bean sauce (About 6 big portions)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dish 4: Black bean spareribs (4 portions)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 1/2 cups sliced steak $2.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 lb Boneless chicken thighs $3.20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/2 lb ground pork 80¢
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 lb small-cut spareribs $2.30
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 long cucumber $1.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 bunches scallions 80¢
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Chinese eggplants $2.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 small pot brown rice 35¢
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                condiments $1.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Total $12.45

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Many people have mentioned rotisserie chickens and I agree that they're a great bang for $5.00. Served with pasta and a veggie these make a great meal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/kimi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm in the same spot...and I am VERY picky in terms of eating. My mom gave me a recipe for tuna casserole- chow mein noodles, a can of tuna, and a can of cream of celery soup, and milk. Mixed all together, put in a dish and baked- SO good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, it's not really cheap up front- but I've found the best way to make the most of my meal $ is to efficiently use my left over foods. I found a fabulous recipe for chicken and dumplings off a blog called Macheesmo- I usually buy one of those "bulk packs" of chicken peices...bake it at 450 until their all cooked through and use the bones to make the stock, and 3 stalks of celery and 3 carrots are practically nothing. Flour and butter form the base and it's SO tastey. Yes, cake flour is a bit pricy up front but a bag lasts a long time. It makes a HUGE pot and is so filling/comforting in the winter, you can easily eat for a week off of one pot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Wow I remember $20 a week food budgets. This is a tough job but you can eat quite well on $20 dollars per week and even come up with some very creative meals. If you have a local discount food store go there to stock up on staple items such as beans and pastas. Buy frozen mixed veggies, rice, pasta, canned tomaotoes, dry beans, lettuce, tomato and cucumber and a small bag of apples or a bunch of bananas. Buy frozen veggies since they are cheaper and last longer since you only use what you need. try looking on line for emergency meal plans like the one on hill=billy house wife. LOL sounds funny but this site has great ideas for low cost meals. Remeber to look for recipes which you can make form ingredients that you have on hand like dumpling, biscuits, or even noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My son loves this dish it costs about 3.00 to make and serves 8 so you could freeze it for another time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 can corned beef hash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 can mixed veggies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 cups of rice or barley cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mix together with seasonings of your choice such as pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cilantro, anything you have and a cup of Ketsup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    you can serve this with Jamaican style dumpling which is a stiff mix of flour corn meal and water mixed together to form a thich dough and boiled in water like noodles till done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A bag of frozen veggies and a can of beef broth with some quick cooking barley is a great meal too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Best wishes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. i know i sound a bit off from everyone else but i think $20 would be easy assuming you have a decent pantry of spices.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      buy a premade rotisserrie chicken (if you go at the end of the night you can get them for $5 or less dependent on what they have left over.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      buy a carton of eggs ($2), a stack of tortillas in the mexican aisle ($2-$3), a bag of generic frozen mixed veggies ($1), a bag of rice or pasta ($1-$2). you even have a few dollars left over.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in terms of dinners:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      first night eat a peice or two of the chicken with some mixed veggies, rice if you want.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      then you got options -chicken wraps, fried rice (steal some soy sauce from a chinese restaurant), pasta with chicken and veggies, if you buy some lunch meat and lettuce with the extra $ you got sandwich wraps, salads, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      breakfasts are scrambled eggs or even buy some flour and make pancakes or fruit (if its on sale) and yogurt (buy the big container and portion it out).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      if needed get some ramen or hot dogs for variety but you should be ok.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      shop in ethnic stores when they are around you save so much on fresh produce!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My prediction is that you are going to become a wonderful cook while you are strapped for cash because you will be forced to be more creative. There are so many wonderful dishes based on using cheaper cuts of meats braised with veggies. you will likely often find a chuck roast or chicken thighs on sale. If you avoid processed foods which are more expensive, you are also going to likely have a very healthy diet. Beans, which as people have mentioned are the cheapest food, pack a punch of nutrients. I would also urge you to make you own bread. bread is very expensive ( considering is is flour, yeas and salt). Make two loaves and freeze one. there is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. One that I don't think people mentioned is making your own bread. It's not nearly as high effort as it seems at first, and it comes in cheaper than a store bought loaf (except maybe the very lowest quality). Yum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. The trick I used when I was broke was to make a whole chicken. Usually you can find them pretty cheap when they're whole. So the first night I'd make roast chicken, then have some left overs, and may be add some to a salad or stir fry. Make a few sammichs too. Then I'd take the carcass and boil it up with veggies for chicken soup. I still see whole chickens for 0.99 /lb. It was great to get so many meals from a $4-5 bird with a few more bucks in added veggies for the other meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, keep yr veggies seasonal (I hated that I could afford tomatoes in winter) and look for cheap cuts of meat. And try and buy grains (rice, etc.) in bulk, it's cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cosmogrrl, do they sell grape tomatoes where you are? From what I hear, they are available almost everywhere and aren't too bad in the dead of winter. I'm in Florida so we have 'maters year round but my people in NJ say the grape tomatoes work alright to brighten up a salad or add to a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. When one has limited funds, often limited time goes hand-in-hand. If that's the case, and you want to include cheap sandwiches like PBJ's in your menus, you can find a breadmaker second hand for $5-$10. White bread made with a breadmaker costs about 20 cents/loaf to make (including the energy it takes to bake the bread.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Real Simple often has easy and inexpensive recipes. One I found recently is to shred raw brussel sprouts and apples and add a little cider vinegar and water. I made this with 4 apples and 12 brussel sprouts and have been eating it for over a week. It's filling and refreshing and a little bit sweet. Can't even tell there are brussel sprouts in there!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I had a yummy chickpea "pizza"at a nice restaurant in SF recently - they told me they used chickpea flour, olive oil and rosemary and baked it in a very hot oven. Mashed garbanzos combined with rosemary and a little water and brushed with a little olive oil would probably work also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can buy a large package of salmon at Costco for $10. Slice into one or two inch wide slices and freeze. Broil with lemon and herbs or a little brown sugar and soy sauce. Add rice or pasta and some inexpensive veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. When I was a broke grad student (and undergrad) I found that one of the keys was to avoid expensive ingredients except for a very special treat. This is counter to most foodie advice, where things like extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice are mandatory! In your situation, vegetable oil and bottled lemon juice are more appropriate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other thing is to make from scratch as much as possible, as pre-packaged food is generally more expensive, and when it's really cheap it tends not to be that nutritious. Make your own soup rather than using canned, make your own spaghetti sauce instead of jarred, etc.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For cheap ingredients

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Buy what's on sale and cook that. This is particularly effective for meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Keep an eye out for sales on things like canned tomatoes, canned tuna, canned stock, pre-made salad dressing, etc, and buy them only on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Beans and lentils are filling and nutritious. Dried beans, while more work, are also extremely cheap. I put them to soak in the morning, and cook them when I get home. You can make beans and rice, bean soup, refried beans, dhal etc. Cooked beans freeze well, too. If you have some freezer space, make 3 times as much beans as you need for a dish, and freeze the extra for later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frozen vegetables can to be cheaper than canned or fresh, and can also be more nutritious. If you buy a big bag you will save more and it will last a long time. YOu can use them in soups and sauce, or with fried rice and beans, or by themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Check out the almost expired veggie and fruit rack at your local grocery store. Buy stuff if you can cook it that night - bruised apples make great applesauce, old mushrooms still make flavourful pasta sauce, etc. Do the same for almost expired meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Keep an eye on what vegetables are cheap - onions, potatoes and carrots are usually cheap and nutritious and used in lots of foods - use for a stew, make a pureed veggie soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For meat, buy the cheapest cuts when they are on sale and use it more as seasoning than the main affair. Bone in chicken legs or thighs are way cheaper than boneless skinless chicken breasts, for example. You can poach them, and then you have the broth for soup or stews, and can shred the chicken meat for in pasta sauces or stews. Really cheap cuts can be absolutely delicious when cooked right, and add a lot of flavour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If your grocery store sells whole roast chickens, try going in right before closing - the one near my place has them half off at this point, and it's cheaper than fresh meat. Have roast chicken one night, shred the leftovers for a chicken salad the next night, and cook up the extra skin, bones and drippings for soup the third.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Canned tomatoes go a long way - buy the cheaper bigger cans and make a couple days worth of spaghetti sauce. They are also way cheaper than fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Eggs are cheap protein, and can be cooked in multiple ways - boiled, fried, omlettes, baked eggs, french toast, egg drop soup...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Olive oil is nice, but plain vegetable oil is cheaper, and can be substituted in recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Make your own salad dressing - oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic and herbs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spend some money on seasoning - it will make a huge difference in taste. If you can get spices in bulk that's best, otherwise the plastic packages are cheaper than jars. For maximum economy and versatility, start with a curry powder, an Italian spice mix, and chili powder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For lemon juice, the stuff in a bottle isn't as nice as fresh, but it's generally much, much cheaper and will really liven up your food. Using fresh lemons will quickly break your budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chicken bouillon cubes and powder aren't as nice as stock, but can cheaply add extra flavour to dishes, but cut back on the other salt you add.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dried pasta and rice are cheap and filling, and keep in the cupboard a long time. Pasta sauce can be made cheaply, and beans and rice, or pilafs are cheap and filling. POtatoes are also cheap and filling - scrub well and keep the skins on, as that's where a lot of nutrients are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For variety can make your own flatbread cheaply and easily. Literally, mix flour with enough water to make a stiff dough, roll out into rounds, and cook in an ungreased pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I really abhor bottled lemon juice. I can get a fresh lime for 20 cents ... use the juice and freshen the disposal with the rest. I consider that a bargain ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I second the Avgolemono Lemon rice soup. I take another approach to it though. Make the broth your self. If you can get a chicken for $5-$6 boil that with some carrots and cellery/ onions. Take out the chicken put in the rice and make the lemon soup. You can eat that for a few days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Take the chicken you used to make the soup and make enchiladas or chicken salad sandwiches. Or make some ginger scallion oil as a dipping sauce and serve it on rice. Each one of those will last one person a few days. I almost always make enchiladas though. Soup a few days and enchiladas, that $6 bird just got you threw the week!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My mother use to make beans and corn bread every Wednesday and we had left overs the next night EVERY WEEK. It got boring but I crave it now. Whats a bag of beans cost like .99 cents?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 pound of beans in crock pot with a chunk of ham hock if you can afford it cover with water? cook for 8 hours and your in bean city!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also can make frozen burittos for around $10 that I eat for breakfast. If you make your own beans you can cut the cost almost in half. I use caned beans.They last about 2 weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ground beef/potato , 2 cans of green salsa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cube potato, put in pan W/ ground beef add salsa and cook till potato is soft. Smash a few potato chunks, it just makes it good. Set aside to cool. 30 pack of flour tortillas. about 2 Lg cans of beans is about rite. scoop of beans scoop of meat wrap buritto. Make them small like the ones in the freezer section in the store. put in freezer. Microwave two for 4 min. I bring a bag to work and keep them in the freezer there. 2 a day lasts me 15 days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay D.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agree. I just made a bean soup yesterday, and have about 12 servings for work lunches. Ham was $7 (didn't use all of it), a few pork neck bones ($1), leftover onion, garlic, and parsley ($1), and 1lb of navy beans ($2, didn't use all).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. If you have some chicken bones with a tiny bit of chicken stuck on them, some flour and milk, you can make something really filling and totally delicious and feed at least four people. I once made it for two when we were totally broke and had one lonely chicken drumstick at the back of the freezer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was sceptical when I read this recipe and trust me when its finished cooking it looks like greyish glue and it is a bit time consuming.....but it is sooooo delicious and filling and so cheap to make!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Im not sure how it freezes but I sincerely would not recommend it. So either you quarter the recipe or have this when you invite friends over for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did not serve with mashed potatoes as the dumplings and "gravy" were filling enough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS NO PEEKING ON THE DUMPLINGS! SERIOUSLY!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope you enjoy! This recipe blew my mind. My family loves it!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chicken and Dumplings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the Chicken:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •3 pounds of chicken pieces (leg quarters are fine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      )•2 quarts of tap water (8 cups)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •2 tablespoons chicken bouillon or 6 chicken bouillon cubes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the Dumplings:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •1/4 cup vegetable oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •1 cup milk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •2-1/2 cups unbleached flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •1 tablespoon baking powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      •1 teaspoon each salt & sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chicken and Dumplings is just about the most delicious creation to ever come out of the deep South. Pure comfort food, of the highest order. There are as many ways to make it as there are cooks who specialize in it. After much trial and error, I have discovered the key to making good Chicken and Dumplings. It must be started the day before. This give the broth a chance to cool down so you can lift the fat off of it. The fat in the broth makes for an indigestible mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So start the day before. Get out a very large pot, 5 quarts or bigger. Put the chicken into the pot and pour the water over it. The chicken should be covered with water, if it isn't add more, until it is. If you use chicken leg quarters, use about 4 of them to make three pounds. Now bring the chicken to a boil on the back of the stove. Put a lid on the pot, or a pizza pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. It should still simmer, but sort of slow and easy like, the same way the sun sets on a hot summer day in the south, not energetically, but sort of lazy like instead. Now let the chicken simmer like that for a full two hours. Longer if the chicken was partially frozen when you put it in. You want the meat to fall off the bone. When the chicken is good and tender, remove it from the broth. Try to make sure there are no sneaky bones which have worked there way to the bottom of the broth. If you find any, just fish them out. I do this with a slotted spoon, and a fork. The chicken is hot, so be very careful not to burn yourself. Collect your chicken in a dish or bowl and let it cool down. Let the broth cool down too. Then put the whole pot of broth into the fridge overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the skin, or give it to a grateful pet lurking nearby. Toss the bones away. Put the chicken in a bread bag or quart size canning jar and keep it in the fridge until tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The next day get the big pot out of the fridge and lift off the cake of fat which will be solidified on top. Toss it out. Now bring the broth to a boil on the stove over high heat, adding the chicken bouillon and pepper. When the broth is boiling, add the chicken meat from the fridge. Reduce the heat so that is barely simmers, in that lazy southern sunset way. Taste it carefully and add salt if you think it needs it, probably it doesn't, but make sure first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While the broth is starting to cook on the stove prepare your dumplings. Get out a big bowl and mix up the oil and milk. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix it up to a stiff batter, like for drop biscuits. Set it aside until you need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When the broth and chicken are simmering slowly, it is time to drop in the dumplings. Take small rounded scoops of the dough with teaspoon and drop them into the simmering broth, on top of the boneless chicken. Keep dropping the dough blobs until you have scraped the bowl clean. Now put the lid, or a handy pizza pan over the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Do not peak. Let the dumplings simmer covered for the full 20 minutes. The thing about dumplings is that they cook partly from the boiling broth and partly from the steam. The steam is what makes the fluffy, and the simmering broth is what cooks them all the way through. So just trust me and don't peak while the dumplings are cooking. When the time is up, serve the chicken and dumplings right away. The broth will have miraculously thickened into a rich gravy, the dumplings will be fluffy and the chicken will be a savory gift from the heavens (or the cook). I serve it in cereal bowl with instant mashed potatoes, green beans, and brownies. Orange juice is good with it too, he citrus flavor sort of feels good on your tongue in between bites of the chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This recipe serves 8 folks pretty well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It may seem like a lot of work when you read this recipe, but it really isn't. The first day, the hardest part is taking the bones out of the chicken, and that really only takes about 15 minutes, after the meat is cooled down. And the second day, the whole process takes about 30 minutes from when you start it to when you eat it. The other charm of this dish, is that if you have little else beside chicken leg quarters (often less than 50¢ a pound), flour and a little milk, you have a dish fit for royalty. This is one of the best recipes in my whole collection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This lady also has a few meal plans to feed her family of eight? On a very limited budget. I think the website used to claim she fed her family of eight on forty dollars a week or something like that, but she probably grows her own veggies and has hens lol.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. A few desperately cheap suggestions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Macaroni and cheese from the box. You can add the following if you have it. A can of vienna sausages or some leftover ground beef, taco meat. You could even add some sauteed vegetables.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Rice with a can of soup poured over it. Don't water the soup down as much as you would for soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Tomato soup with some cooked ground beef added or you could add some veggies or maybe some pasta like bowties or rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Spaghetti noodles with pasta sauce. add ground beef or sausage if you like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5. a crock pot stew. There are multiple recipes for this on web.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6. A can of white cannelloni beans add some chunks of ham or even spam.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7. Add the left over meat of your choice to ramen noodles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8. Eggs are cheap. scrambled eggs and a little sausage sprinkled in is hard to beat. add cheese and put it in a flour tortilla - breakfast burritos. Beat some eggs and add it to hot spaghetti noodles. add cheese if you have it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That ought to keep you going when you are pretty much out of money and payday isn't for 3 more days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          my favourite when I was broke was ramen noodles, drained (save the flavour packet) and tossed with homemade satay sauce (sooooo easy and cheap) put in fridge and mix with chopped green onions and cucumer slivers. If you have leftover chicken, mix that with the sauce too and put on top of noodles. Fab!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reminds me of ramen noodle salad, my grandmother's classic:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In this case, you don't cook the noodles. Basically it's a crunchy noodle salad with cole slaw mix and sesame vinaigrette. Tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. You won't be able to live on these, but when you have nothing else in the fridge:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LInguini/spaghetti or even penne with garlic and olive oil, salt, pepper, possibly red pepper flakes, and just a pinch of cheese or not. Add whatever else you have or not.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Refrigerated corn tortillas are your best friend. Usually less than 2 cents each, you can microwave them with a wet towel or fry in a pan with some oil. Add whatever you have around, usually onions works best and no garlic in my experience, season with oregano and cumin if it tastes bland. Of course beans work in this, but any vegetable. I even found that frozen lima beans and potatoes taste great this way. A dollop of yoghurt/sour cream or half a slice of any cheese will make this heavier, but they're not needed. You can also add a little butter to the pan if it tastes too dry to you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In general, fats are a good bargain for satisfying you- Whole Foods sells a great olive oil : 100% Spanish Olive oil for $5.99 for a large bottle. There may be others cheaper, scour some of the stores you wouldn't expect to find deals in and check out the prices. Sometimes they are cheaper for some items, although this will really depend on where you live.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pancakes, as others have mentioned. If you can either share a Costco membership or go with someone that has one, you can get a few things there for really great prices. In particular, you can get an 8lb bag of frozen mixed berries that will last you for 2 years. Would go great with your pancakes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hot dogs are good because they can be frozen, but the best way to use them is in fried rice. Sautee onion, add some frozen or miscellaneous vegetable, rice, and as many eggs as you want.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hot sauce makes things go farther.I really like chinese chili paste condiments, not overhwelming or vinegary.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Costco also has deals on quinoa. You can mix grains to switch it up a bit. Add whatever you have and mix with rice and quinoa for a room temperature salad.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, if you are ever around decent bread, or even decide to make it on your own, know that bread freezes well. Good bread can stretch anything you have. Buy it sliced and store in plastic in the freezer. Take it out and toast it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Wow. I don't supposed this will help out the original poster that much. It helped me tho, so I thought I'd add:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. No trash. It's never frugal to throw stuff out. You have to throw things when they go bad, but if you're frequently tossing the same items, take note of them. If you can find some recipes to use them while they're still fresh, you'll be saving money. I like jambalaya. It's great for meat, bell peppers, herbs, tomatoes, and some veggies. If you're getting whole chickens, you can make stock from bones and use that as a soup base. My personal favorite is a bacon, cheddar, potato soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Recently I roasted some bell peppers. I saved the pan juices in a jar in the fridge. I needed half of a pepper, some parsley, and celery ribs for a recipe the next day, so I put the unused aromatics in the fridge. The next day for breakfast, I put some rice, chopped bell pepper, parsley, bay leaf, celery leaves, and thyme into the rice cooker. While it was going, I made a sauce with the bell pepper juice, roux, and Worcestershire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Get sale and seasonal items. Food has promotions, seasons, and discontinuations. If you find something nice for a nice price, base a meal around that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I get free blueberries, free squash, and 10 cent ears of corn around this time of year, so I've been making blueberry pancakes, blueberry smoothies, blueberry-corn salsa, maque choux, grilled corn, blueberry sorbet, blueberry panna cotta, shrimp and corn soup, bowls of fresh blueberries, fried squash, fried squash blossoms stuffed with thyme and mozzarella, steamed squash with tomatoes, and snapping turtle etouffee garnished with squash blossoms. Soon I'll be able forage wild blackberries. Early spring was a good time for wild greens like: dandelion, thistle, wild onion, and mock strawberry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Altarbo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good advice Altarbo - I just made nachos from leftovers in the frig - cheese, tofu, beans, olives, and I'll have enough for lunch tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. i got a bunch for u:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. http://joyof.kosher.com/recipe/hassel... - u dont need the fancy sauce, its just fanicer potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2.http://joyof.kosher.com/recipe/rice-w... just dressed up rice, and colorful
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. breakfast: http://joyof.kosher.com/recipe/southw... - u can use a cheaper cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. http://www.netmums.com/food/Tuna_Burg...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. C'mon, let's get REALLY frugal:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - always have brown rice cooked and on hand; fry it with onions and whatever veg/meat you have, then break in a couple eggs & stir for fried rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - make potato/onion/garlic soup by cutting veg small & simmering covered in minimum of water, then add salt & pepper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - simmer any kind of lentils with sauteed onions and lots of curry powder; put it over rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - ask at the vegetable market/farmers market if they have stuff they're throwing away: usually most of it is good & you just cut away the bad part
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - split pea soup (especially in the winter). If your local deli cuts ham off a bone, ask them for the bone, or see if you can find smoked turkey wings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: taxidermygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On the split pea soup, Marcella Hazan has a great recipe that uses no meat (but you still have the protein from the peas): 1/2 pkg split peas + 1-2 potatoes, cook in 5 cups beef broth--can use bouillon--when it is done, separately fry 2 Tb of onion in 1/2 veg oil 1/2 butter, add the whole thing to the soup, and process. You won't miss the ham flavor, I promise. It's silky smooth, extremely filling and satisfying, and cheap, about 50¢ a serving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. This is my favorite cheap soup. It's incredibly thick and delicious:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One turkey neck or wing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some beef soup bones
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups legumes and rice -- I usually use 1/3 cup each of regular lentils, red lentils, green split peas, yellow split peas, barley and wild rice -- but any combo will do
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 onion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 or 3 celery stalks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 or 5 carrots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  any other root veggies you like -- parsnips, turnip, celery root, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 can corn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  some kind of green vegetable -- Chinese greens, spinach, or even lettuce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  whatever spices you like -- I use thyme, pepper and cumin and of course salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All ingredients above are approximate. Basically, you should just use what you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like to chop and saute the onions and celery first, but you can just throw them in later if you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Put the meat in a large pot with about 12 cups of water and some salt. When it boils, add the sauted (or raw) onion and celery, plus 2 cups of legumes. Add any root veggies other than parsnips or carrots at this point. Let it simmer on medium heat for about 1/2 hour, then add herbs (if they're dried), parsnips, carrots and tomatoes. Simmer for another hour or so, then add fresh herbs if you've got them, corn, mushrooms, and greens and cook for about 15 minutes. Let me know if you like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Something cheap I ate today ... another poster here was raving about the deliciousness of Spam. I haven't had it since childhood, but decided to give it a go. OK, so it's not as good as I remembered, LOL. Anyway ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Corkscrew pasta with a little butter + cubed Spam + diced sweet onion, fried briefly in olive oil, parmesan grated on top. Also good with raw sweet onion, but I was having this for lunch & decided to have mercy on my coworkers (hopefully that was good foodie karma).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. There are some vegetables that are very cheap with high nutritional value.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For example, brussel sprouts offer you an amazing bang for your buck. They're typically $1/lb (and half a pound is more than enough for one meal), and are among the healthiest vegetables. The simplest way to cook them is steaming, but they taste delicious when roasted in the oven (quite simple to do, but takes about 30 minutes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you want to slash your breakfast budget, eat steel cut oatmeal. It's incredibly cheap and filling. I can stretch out $3.5 worth for about 3 weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tip: go to the bulk section at Whole Foods for rice, dried beans and oats. Prices are extremely low.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of eating cheaply is couponing and looking for sales. Without fail Whole Foods has big sales on yogurt once a month. I stockpile whenever the do that. And with yogurt, the large economy containers are so much cheaper per ounce than buying the small single serving containers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. The cheapest among healthy recipes is lentil soup. 99c per package of green pees. Pour some water into pees, let it stay for 30 min to let bad stuff out. Then change for clean water and boil till ready. Salt, pepper. You can add onions and carrots and boil along, or cut and fry vegies, then add in the end. Also, you can add some sour cream plus parsley into your plate (not the whole pot) Delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For breakfast nothing beats oatmeal, but it has to be "old-fashioned", which is your healthy choice. I cup of oats, 1 cup of milk (almond milk), 1 cup of water. A bit of sugar, raisins, maybe nuts. If you are allergic to milk products, you can cook oats in 2 cups of water (add a beef bullion cube for flavor) Also, when oats are ready, add parsley for fresh flavor!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For lunches, it's easy to make burritos. You can cook meet in advance. Fry ground beef with salt and pepper, let water/juice out. Take tortillas, spread some re-fried beans from a can (and/or sour cream), add meat, add salsa, cheese. Fry in olive oil, both sides till crispy. I prefer small soft flour tortillas. They end up looking like crispy tacos :) Very good Salsa is Garden Salsa from Costco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bon appetit!