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Shortage of ingredients for recipes

Hi all,

I was wondering if I could get some help with a few possible recipes.

My husband lost his job almost a month ago, so I am trying to make meals with limited ingredients.

I was wondering what I could make with 1/2 lb lean ground beef, half a pepper, a small can diced tomatoes, an onion or two and some spices I have, that isn't spaghetti sauce. (We have no pasta, just rice)

Also, for some reason I have a large bag of frozen peas, and a large bag of frozen corn. I have no broth ingredients, but I do have a few chicken bouillon packets. Could I make a corn chowder or pea soup of some sort?? I have no other meat products. No celery or fresh veggies.

Thanks for any ideas!!

(we will be going to the food bank shortly, if we are approved)

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  1. Well, you could make a type of SWISS steak, but use hamburgers instead, or a version of new orleans style dirty rice. Split pea soup should be relatively easy, you just won't have the bacon flavoring, but you can compensate for that with the spices (depending on what you have)

    good luck and hang in there!

    1. You can make a couple of things, one that way that you could stretch the meat, would be to make a Portugese Risotto, riff on risotto. When my boys were young I worked at the corporate office of Mervyns and they put together a an employee cookbook. I purchased it and I still use this book once in awhile. Filled with mom's and grandma's recipes, many recipes are really recipes for budgets. During this time my husband was building his career and we really were pinching pennies!
      Portuguese Risotto
      Use a 13/9 inch baking dish or on stove top in large pan. Brown your rice first in a fat, toasting it off. Then make your sauce. You want the rice to liquid ratio to be about 2 to1. If I were feeding my family, I'd make it for 4 and always make a little extra for my hubby. I'd use 2 cups of rice to 4 cups of juicey liquid stuff. Strain the tomatoes. Add a packet (taste that to water and the strained tomato liquid)/ Saute your beef with a half a diced onion if you have it, and the half pepper. drain the fat leave about 1-2 T in for flavor. Set aside.
      In a 13X9 glass dish put the cooked beef, the juice with tomatoes,and the toasted rice. Bake for about 45 minutes covered with foil. Thicken the sauce with starch.

      If you want to get a little creative, you can make a take on Chinese Meatballs. Use cooked rice to help you with the meat balls/ Put them in a baking dish, cut your pepper in thin strips-and an onion if you have it, the same way. The onion will bring a lot of flavor and texture. Make a broth with the tomatoes and chicken bouillion with the juice and about a cup of water. Place the meatballs in the baking dish, thicken the sauce with flour, cornstarch or tapioca, then surround the rice and meat balls/ cover and bake for about 35 minutes, then uncover for 5 minutes. If you have it, make extra rice to soak up the sauce.
      I didn't see any milk mentioned, that's what I'd use if I were making a chowder.
      I recently was told that California has a program called WICK, and they help feed families as well as providing services for children. I know the churches will also help you out, we have several that are doing exactly that. After walking my 5 yr old to school last week, coming home to my court, a lady flagged me down. After explaining that she was going throw the bread out, I given two bags of different bread the other day.Dinner rolls and onion bagels. Seems she's also a part of a church program here in town, providing foods given by Costo and etc., to people in need. "What throw it out ?"I said, no way, I'll use and thanked her.

      Best of Luck to you, these are indeed hard times. I know many of us, at least I am, rethinking how we should of saved here and there on even the smallest things. Food is something I've never been without, but I too am stretching everything and making use of everything I buy. So important .

      1 Reply
      1. re: chef chicklet

        Hi Godslamb,
        I see you live in Canada.
        I too am trying to stretch every penny, so I know how you feel.
        Is there an equivalent of our food stamps here, in the States, for you in Canada?
        Also, our fellow Chowhounds have been very generous in giving out advice for stretching cheap eats on a thread that I started.
        Please look under my Chowhound name, and you will find it - may help you in these times.
        God Bless, and good luck!

      2. In years past I had a hearty dish that was like a southwestern sloppy Joe that used the ingredients you have on hand. Served on rice even! Browned beef with onions, peppers, corn, tomatoes and some chili powder and cumin.

        I love corn chowder and think you could whirl up a batch with onion and you chicken bullion, which I would dilute with extra water so it doesn't overwhelm. Pea soup can be done the same way.

        Best of luck to you - I'm afraid I understand your situation too well. Things WILL be better soon.

        1. porcupines - can be made with the ingredients you have. Its hearty stick to your ribs kind of meal and will make a lot if you have the rice. Basically its ground beef and onion season a bit mix with rice make balls cover with water and tomato product and cook til rice is tender - Im sure you can find a recipe on line some are pressure cooker .

          1 Reply
          1. re: coastie

            Oh, I remember porcupines! When Mr Pine and I were starving students, we ate these a lot (when I first told him the name--he's from India--he though it was really porcupine meat!). Best wishes on your fortunes improving, Godslamb. We've been there before; just keep the faith that things will get better.

          2. I immediately thought of Texas Hash when I saw your ingredient list.

            Here's the basic recipe- its very adaptable. It really is one of those use-what-you-have-on-hand recipes:

            saute 2 diced onions in oil until transparent
            add a diced pepper
            add ground beef (recipe says 1 pound, more or less works just fine) and brown
            stir in 2 cups canned tomatoes (I've used fresh and added extra liquid)
            1c uncooked rice
            1 tsp or more chili powder
            salt and pepper to taste

            pour into a 2 quart baking dish, cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Check rice to make sure it's done. Add liquid, cover and put back in oven if still crunchy, if it's done but a little liquidy remove foil and cook another 15-20 minutes.

            If you don't have 2 cups of tomatoes, add chicken bouillon and water to that amount, change the spices up to whatever you have.

            Its cheap, goes a long way and is total comfort food. The note from my Mom said that my Grandmother was given the recipe on her 50th birthday which would have been in 1958.

            Hang in there and be sure to check out the frugal meals threads like aurora suggested. There are some great ideas!

            1. Hm... if you can get a head of cabbage, stuffed cabbage rolls would be ideal. You've got the ground beef, tomatoes and rice. How about just rolls without the cabbage? They would be really good in tomato sauce (canned diced tomatoes) and onion. Then peas and corn on the side.

              Another idea is fried rice. I often make fried rice with whatever I can find in my fridge.

              1. Your ingredients are very similar to a rice casserole I make all the time, at least every couple of weeks.

                I boil some rice and saute some hamburger meat. Sweat some onions and celery and bell peppers if you have them.. no biggie if you don't. Add some tomato paste if you have it. Throw in the corn. Spice it with whatever sounds good. I always use at least some chili powder. Add some flour water slurry, you know flour mixed into water so it thickens the stew you have.

                Put it in the bottom of a 9x13 pyrex pan. Put the rice on top of that. Poke holes in the rice and pour some kind of sauce over the rice. I use Campbell's tomato soup diluted a little with water. You could use tomato sauce or just about anything or even nothing. You could cover it with cheese if you like.

                Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and serve.

                You can vary this a thousand different ways. you could use the can of tomatoes with the beef if you like. In better times you can mix the hamburger meat with some kind of sausage depending on where you wish to go. Andouille and cajun spices for a trip to New Orleans. Italian sausage and italian spices for a trip to Italy. You get what I'm talking about.

                I hope you see better times soon. While you are scrimping, treat meat as more of a condiment than the star of your dishes. Remember that rice, beans and pasta are your friends. Poor people use those ingredients, just a little meat and lots of spices to make it interesting.

                Become an expert with pasta dishes, rice pilafs and bean dishes. I highly recommend red beans and rice cajun style with Andouille sausage.

                Stock your pantry with potential emergency it's Wednesday and I don't get paid until Friday ingredients. A can of soup poured over a pile of rice is what a lot of young couples live on.

                Good luck.

                1. Thanks everyone. A lot of good recipes here, that totally use the ingredients I have. I appreciate you all.