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Apr 6, 2013 05:23 AM

$10 meals, can we make a list?

Seeing some discussions about people's struggling with food budgets, it occurred to me that CH is full of people with cooking experience. Let us compile a list of meals one can make for $10 or less that can be a repository for those who need help.

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  1. Priming the pump, I posted this on one of the other discussions:

    It is a shame that courses like home ec are discontinued or taught badly.

    If you roast a chicken with carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, you get a meal for 4 for less than $10. Use extra veggies and carcass to make soup that is a meal or two more. Add a salad.

    Reserve stock and then use it as a base with onions, peppers, tomatoes to make sauce. A few cups of flour, two eggs, some oil. Mix and roll, fold and re-roll several times. Cut into pasta to make with the sauce, and you have another meal for under $10 for four. Add a salad.

    17 Replies
    1. re: law_doc89

      I think it depends where you live, whether a roasting chicken is much under $10.

      1. re: lagatta

        Well that is interesting? I live in DC and bought two free range, fresh organic 2lb chicks yesterday on sale for $2/lb.

        1. re: law_doc89

          Assorted chicken parts usually go on sale for $1.29 a pound, cheaper when they're approaching expiration date. I tend to get them in bulk and freeze half and thaw as needed.

          1. re: law_doc89

            I live in Québec, not the US. This site has people the world over.

            1. re: lagatta

              So what does a chicken cost, in Québec?

              1. re: law_doc89

                It varies a lot, but hearing comments on this site, I'd say it tends to be more expensive than in at least some parts of the US.

            2. re: law_doc89

              I envy you. Every time I find fresh, free range organic chickens they're absolutely exorbitant. I don't mind paying two or three times as much as factory farm meat, but JEEZ.

              1. re: jvanderh

                If freezing them wouldn't have been a joke, I would have bought them all.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  Costco carries a two pack of Coleman organic chickens for about $2.50 per lb. Trader Joe's has incredibly delicious pre brined organic ones for under $3 per lb, as well as unbrined for less.

                  1. re: mcf

                    I've been buying those Costco ones for quite a while now and have been pleased. They're not AS huge as some others.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      They're very good, usually a tad under 4 lbs. But the pre brined organic ones at TJ's are so incredibly perfectly brined and delicious that I pay about $3 lb to get them instead now. And I don't have to have the freezer space taken up by the second chicken.

                2. re: law_doc89

                  Wow. First, I have difficulty finding such a small bird. Usually the smallest I can find is 4 pounds. Local, organic chickens run ~4.50/pound here.

                3. re: lagatta

                  I never buy a "roasting" chicken, I just get the regular, inexpensive chicken. They roast just fine.

                  1. re: wyogal

                    Actually, my grandparents owned an egg farm in NJ...we had a lot of hen, which was considered "potting chicken"...the more robust "roasters,"....(juicier and softer") were used for holidays, why did we not regularly have roasters?...Why? the bird would then would stop generating revenue for them....this was a conversation with my grandmother, when I was about 18, and told her I did not like hen....

                    1. re: wyogal

                      Roasters are actually larger than "regular" which IMO makes them not as good a candidate for roasting :) Go figure.

                    2. re: lagatta

                      True. Roasting chickens are pretty cheap in my parts. Lamb used to be a whole helluva lot cheaper in my youth. Don't know what's up with that.

                      1. re: pinehurst

                        I just think it is supply and demand....not much in demand..
                        I love my lamb.

                  2. To be clear, $10 for a dinner that can feed four?

                    1. Can I ask some for some guidelines?

                      Poster should state where they live-cost vary widely between countries, states, provinces, etc

                      How many people to feed? Family of four? 4 adults? 2 adults 2 kids?

                      Is it a single entree pp or is a full (balanced) meal pp?

                      Does cost include everything or are there certain things we assume are pantry samples-salt, pepper, spices, flour, etc

                      If the meal cost more than $10 but provides lunch the next day or can repurposed for another meal is that OK or should the cost be broken down by meal?

                      I ask because some of the other threads became VERY contentious when one person said "everyone has cumin!" or "Just grow it in your garden!", etc.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: foodieX2

                        hahahaha - oh, poor OP. Foodie, I agree with you on all the variables but I hope you agree that it was probably thought to be a simple question. Heh. :-)

                        1. re: foodieX2

                          Reading through this - I have to say that these guidelines are most important to me, not currently living in a country that has cheap meat cuts available. A $10 meal where I am (doing the conversion of local prices to dollars - not making any adjustments for cost of living or anything like that) can't really involve any whole cuts of meat or fish.

                          This thread is definitely making me appreciate the different realities of food prices.

                          1. re: foodieX2

                            "I ask because some of the other threads became VERY contentious when one person said "everyone has cumin!" or "Just grow it in your garden!", etc."

                            HAHAHA true...

                            Buut we alllllways have saffron on hand. So when I catch shrimp on sale for 5.99 lb I can make a pretty good shrimp and rice dish for 10 bucks

                          2. Let's assume 2 adults, 2 kids and then extrapolations can go from there.

                            1. Hell, for ten bucks, I can make some thick cut pasta and sauce outta San Marzanos. In September, I can grill us up a coupla lobsters and some eggplant. Gimme ten dollars and tell me what you want!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: MGZ

                                <*raises hand*> Lobster, please! Hard shell two pounder if it's not too much trouble!

                                1. re: mcf

                                  At the end of the tourist season, while the lobsterin's still good, we can get hard shell culls or shedders for $2.99 a pound. Throw in a dollar worth of eggplant from the Farmer's Market down the street from the monger, and it can be a mighty fancy ten dollar dinner. Then there are the free bugs and scallops I get in return for doin' favors for friends, but I think that's getting as bit outside the scope of this thread. . . ..

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    Are those NJ lobsters? I love tomalley, but NJ lobsters have tested high mercury in it.

                                    As long as we're picky, I'd like roe in mine. ;-)

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      In the late part of the season, the place I go to (Point Lobster Company) sells bugs caught from here to Nova Scotia. Honestly, it's hard to tell where a trap was hauled when they're in the tank. My buddies only fish in NJ waters. I'm too old to think about mercury when I eat lobsters. Livin' in NJ, that's the least of my environmental worries.

                                      I assure you, I can arrange for some females when you come by.

                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                Actually, "First you get the lobsters, then you get the women . . . ."

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  Baby, when you're negotiatin', lobsters are fine allies.

                                              2. re: MGZ

                                                For what it's worth, the US East Coast lobster moratorium lifted on April 1. The prices are still a bit high, but they've come down from what they were when nothing but Maine Lobsters from Canada were available. Even better, my buddies who lobster are starting to sober up . . . .

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  "Maine lobsters from Canada..." I learned about those when I was up in Maine last fall. Some of the lobsters in the supermarkets were tagged, some weren't (I can't recall if it was the lobsters that came in via Canada that were the tagged ones). They were all selling for the same price. I had a chat with the guy working behind the counter, and he told me about this seemingly absurd practice. I must admit, I still don't understand it.