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Mar 30, 2009 10:02 PM

frugal hints/tips/recipes for tough times

With hubs now off work for nearly 4 months, 5 kids and 2 mortgages to support, I am really feeling this "downturn", or whatever current weasel word "they" are using to describe the current economic situation.

And I am really trying to save in the food department. I have some tried and true old faves from my 10 years as a single mum, but some of my old staples, like shanks (which I used to buy in the dog food section at 50c each) have now trendied themselves off my frugal foods list.

I used this recipe for a salad over the weekend, where I subbed pine nuts for cashews, because I had them (and all other ingredients) on hand.

After the BBQ, I realised I had some undressed salad left over, so I stir fired it off, added some chicken thighs, the dressing and some peanut butter, topped it with some leftover noddles and called it "satay" chicken and veggies.

An excellent outcome for salad that would otherwise have been throw away.

What are your frugal tips and hints for surviving the recession that out (Australian) government says we aren't having?

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  1. Eat more beans and not canned ones either. Start with the dried beans and split peas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gafferx

      I totally agree with "eat less meats." Dried lentils are dirt cheap and pack a nutritional punch. Cooked with a little bok choy or spinach added at the end, it's phenomenal. And, of course, as has been discussed at much length on this board recently in many related threads, buy local and buy seasonal as far as fresh fruits and veggies. Incorporate more whole grains...oats here in the U.S. bought in bulk are still close to .79 per pound.

      Purple Goddess...please also check out the SOUP SOUP SOUP thread below...tons of great ideas there too.

    2. Consider growing some of your own food if possible, even if it's herbs in the kitchen window and hot peppers on the porch.

      1. Some of the "on toast" meals from when my mom was growing up in the 30s/40s are both frugal and tasty--real, old-fashioned comfort food: dried beef gravy/chipped beef on toast (a.k.a. SOS), peas on toast, creamed eggs on toast.

        Breakfast for dinner can be an inexpensive option, too--be it pancakes or waffles or some sort of quiche or frittata.

        Goulash (a.k.a American Chop Suey)--ground meat (was always beef when I was growing up, but ground chicken or turkey works, too) in tomato sauce (sometimes tomato soup!) with onions and peppers and pasta.

        Oh, and speaking of beans below, pasta e fagiole ("pasta fazool"/pasta with beans) is filling and tasty, too. Polenta is easy/filling/inexpensive, too...and can be dressed up or down as you wish.

        1. Whole chickens are a much better deal than pieces. Cut them up as you wish, or roast them whole and use the meat. Use the carcass for soup. Eggs are also a great, cheap source of protein.

          1 Reply
          1. re: AmyH

            Also, often butchers will cut up a whole chicken for you, but not charge you for it. I save the backs/wings/neck for stock, and the livers for chicken liver pate.

          2. In the US (I can't speak to Australia), hams will be on special in anticipation of Easter. Good spiral sliced hams on special are a very frugal deal, because nothing gets wasted (so long as you cook them right). I get the shank half, so I have a bone. Otherwise, picnic shoulder will suffice.

            Smoked meat (like sausages in general) can be used for a long time as a condiment with salads, soups, grains, pulses, and eggs, et cet. It's one of the signature ways the poor have long eaten meat, for that reason.

            I cook the ham the Cooks Illustrated way, and then make CI's split pea soup.