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Jan 5, 2013 11:05 AM

Your best meals for $5.00 or less

I am starting the new year cutting my food budget for myself to $40.00 a week.

I know my way around the kitchen.I make a pot of beans,cook chicken using the leftovers for soup.Also make frittata,waffles,pasta,vegtables, and the list goes on.I also like using leftovers to make other meals for the day.Any recipes you like to cook for $5.00 or less?

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  1. Eggs... delicious, nutritious, and dirt cheap. Our family's favorite cheap meal is pasta with meat sauce (scratch).

    1. There are tons of options, but a lot will depend on seasonality, demand, and prices in your area.

      - salmon croquettes
      - turkey chili
      - shakshuka
      - polenta with turkey, pork or sausage ragu
      - turkey burgers
      - meatloaf
      - adobo chicken
      - braised chicken or turkey thighs
      - African peanut stew (chicken optional)
      - chicken cacciatore
      - pot roast
      - pulled pork shoulder
      - London broil
      - tuna noodle casserole
      - baked cod

      Remember that you can use one large batch of cooked protein - roast chicken, whole fish, chuck roast, pork shoulder - in several different recipes.

      1. Run right out and buy yourself some of those roasts, the larger the better, that have been discounted after Christmas! Turkey, pork shoulders and the capons that did not sell have now been frozen and will make the basis of a dozen meals each.

        Last year hubby and I did a successful $75.00 a week budget, for both of us, for 3 months (bet with a competitive and frugal friend).

        Here is where 1 6-lb frozen chicken, original cost $12.00, broke down, by portion. The cost of added ingredients totalled approximately $8.00, so $20.00 in total.

        Roast Chicken, Celeriac and Lemon Zest Sauce-2 portions
        Hot Chicken on Rice (Dark meat leftovers with Lemony Gravy), red pepper and remaining celeriac-2 portions
        Chicken Divan (white meat leftovers, bread, brocolli, masked with bread-crumbed bechamel)-3 portions
        Curried Chicken Salad, Romaine, Grapes and Almonds-2 portions
        Rosemary-Chicken Noodle Soup (made stock from carcass and used odd bits to enliven celery and carrot) 2 portions fresh and 2 to freezer
        That was a total of 13 servings for about $20.

        I could parse a pork shoulder or roast of beef, too, but you get the is truely meat as condiment. My husband who is a meat lover hardly noticed the deprivation as everything was smothered in flavour additives from spices, herbs, roasted veggies.

        1. A roast chicken is truly the one that keeps giving.

          The chicken itself as a main the first night
          pieces of chicken in meals for at least 2 more meals
          and stock from the bones that you can use to steam veggies, make sauces, make soups, cook grains, etc.

          And once you go Zuni you never go back.....

          We (2 of us,) average $40 a week and eat very well.

          8 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            It is hard for me to do this because I try to be low carb to keep my weight down. Some things I have learned:
            - Some groceries have their roast chickens half off later in the day. One $3 chicken can be four servings, if you don't mind noodles or potatoes (good ramen noodles with stock, veggies and meat makes a good meal)
            - some stores sell nearly-expired ham and turkey that are cryovac wrapped. I used to get them half price.
            - A mirepoix can make soup, stew or sauce easily. A bag of carrots, a bag of celery and a couple onions last a long time
            - If you can find a deal (even Costco) a flank steak can easily do 6-8 servings and is therefore quite affordable.
            - Sauces make leftovers taste like a new dish. We do mustard sauces and we puree the mirepoix we use to cook poultry with.
            - You can deep fry many greens to get tasty, crunchy sides or toppings. I love to do it with spinach!
            - Corn tortillas are inexpensive and freeze well if wrapped tightly. They can be fried or just warmed as bread or used to wrap proteins and cheese/veggies.
            - Black beans are good and good for you
            - Use lots of spices so things have more flavor.
            - Fresh fruits are filling and nutritious
            - Vary your breakfast a lot or you'll get bored soon
            - try to buy local when you can.

            Some specifics besides the noodles and tortillas
            - Stuffed baked potatoes
            - Stuffed cabbage leaves. You can find lots of recipes on the web depending on ingredients you like. These are nutritious and filling.
            - Make sauerkraut -- a good, cheap, healthy veggie
            - I love adding Wakame ( a sea vegetable usually sold dried) to soups, etc. It is really cheap ($4 worth will last months even if eaten 3-times a week). It is very healthy, too.
            - I stuff roasted green chile with cheese and meat/poultry/shrimp and bake for a very inexpensive dinner. Depending on size, two chiles, 50 cents worth of cheese and 50 cents worth of that $3 roasted chicken makes a good, cheap dinner.

            1. re: travelerjjm

              I always cringe a little when inevitably these threads are full of posts suggesting that you "stretch" meat with carbs. It's nice to see someone understand that you aren't saving money if you give yourself type II diabetes (etc)

              1. re: jvanderh

                Its also just not necessary! We eat pretty low carb (I eat 30g a day or less,) and only spend $40 a week for 2 of us! A lot of that is in the shopping but it can be easily done.

                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  $40 a week is still too high. Assume someone's on SNAP, at 1.40 per meal. Good luck.

                2. re: jvanderh

                  I agree. I will have maybe a small amount of protein with vegtables, and my carb of choice is potato. More than often boiled. I add it to my plate. No need to add butter.Plenty of fat from your protein.Reply to jvanderth.

                  1. re: jvanderh

                    if by "carbs", you mean bread crumb extender and lots of pasta, then yes. But, lots of dried beans? Beans are healthy and cheap.

                    1. re: mwk

                      and beans served with rice create a complete protein. like tofu it's boring if you're not clever, but cheap and nutritious.

                      1. re: hill food

                        I envy those who can eat beans and rice. I do and I gain ten pounds overnight from one plate.

              2. emglow, I am so glad you asked this question. One of my granddaughters just moved into her first apartment and asked me about recipes for inexpensive meals. My brain just went dead. Now with the responses to your query, my brain in functioning again, and I feel that I can help her.