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Sep 11, 2007 12:04 PM

Budget meals that are NOT starch-dependent?

Does anyone have any great budget meal ideas that don't involve rice, pasta or potatoes? I'm a newlywed and my husband and I are saving for a house, BUT I don't want to regain all of the weight that I took off for the wedding! (I know that I put on weight faster when I'm eating starches, evenn if the caloric content remains the same.)

Any great ideas?

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  1. Lentils: we often make dal and serve with brown rice, but you don't have to.

    Dried beans: black bean soup is hearty, filling and easy on the budget. Overall, bean soups are cheap and filling.

    1. Serve protein with veggies. One of my favorite lunches is chicken teriyaki, with broccoli, carrots and green beans with some raw cabbage.

      I cut up boneless chicken thighs, marinate them, the put them on skewers, then grill. The veggies (except for the cabbage) are either steamed or blanched.

      A bite of chicken with a bite or two of veggies. Trying to guess portion size, 1 cup of chicken to 2-3 cups of veggies. If you are still hungry, try some strawberries and non/low fat cottage cheese, 1 cup fruit to 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

      If you are concerned about weight gain via starches, look into the glycemic index.

      1. Vegetables high in fiber make for a cheap and filling side. Try sauteed cabage, broccoli sauteed, sauced or simply steamed, cauliflower mashed with low-fat cream cheese. A hearty serving of vegetables with a lean meat and sensible starch will give you all the nutrients you need for a very forgiving price.

        1. two thoughts:

          1 - as someone else mentioned choken thighs. Jfood buys a 2-pack for $1.50-2.00, so for 2 people it's a $3 investment. Then a salad on the side with iced water. jfood has this at least 2/week and its not for the money (nice added bonus) but because he likes it.
          2 - braises - uses either thighs again or a chuck roast. lots of veggies, some beef stock and seasonings, into the oven for a few hours and you probably have two dinners. for $10.


          5 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            For the OP (and of course for jfood and anyone else) - if you like the chicken thigh idea, this is a lovely and easy recipe - you marinate the chicken in yogurt:


            1. re: jfood

              chicken leg quarters appear to be the cheapest/ lb. Even cheaper than a whole chicken. Parts have been going up in price since more people are buying parts over whole chickens. I find leg quarters to run anywhere from $0.39 to 0.79/lb

              1. re: scubadoo97

                I also buy chicken leg quarters when they're very cheap. In New York the quarters tend to be terribly fatty, but I make do by trimming the excess fat and skin and using that to make schmaltz and gribenes which I use to make the occasional treat of chopped liver (which is also quite affordable at 1.89/lb. of chicken livers).

                1. re: JungMann

                  although gribenes and chopped liver are two of the wonderful Jewish contributions to world cuisine, definitely does not meet the "do not want to regain weight" standards.

                  1. re: jfood

                    The *occasional* treat. Although I thought the problem with chopped liver was the cholesterol and not necessarily the fat.

            2. Eggs! You can have a very nice (and cheap) dinner with an omlette, a green salad and some french bread on the side if you like. You can also make fritattas, quiche and souffles. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking has some excellent entree egg dishes.

              Chili -- you can make black bean chili or chicken chili using chicken thighs. Hearty, satisfying and quite inexpensive.

              Any number of different soups -- if you make a split pea or bean soup (black bean, navy bean, etc.), you can season with just a little ham, ham hock or bacon, and you will have a flavorful, nutritious and satisfying dinner.

              Roasting a whole chicken is a good way to economize as well. You can have roast chicken the first night and use the leftovers and carcass to make chicken stew or soup the next night.

              Probably the most important thing is to stick to whole proteins and vegetables -- the pre-cut, pre-packaged, boneless/skinless varieties will cost you a LOT more.