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$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.

                                      1. Homemade pizza is on regular rotation here. Flour, yeast, mozzarella, canned tomatoes through the food mill. Mix, knead, rest, punch, enough for two large pies, or one and freeze the other half. Per pie cost would depend on toppings but easily less than $3 per pie. And learning how to bake your own bread is a versatile skill. Also makes your home smell great. No preservatives, so you'll need to eat it up quick, but when it goes stale, rub it through a box grater for breadcrumbs you can use for frying stuff.

                                        Dried beans and legumes are cheap and versatile: stews, soups, purées, mashes, fritters. They go a long way towards stretching meat dishes.

                                        I always have a bag of baked/boiled potatoes in the fridge. Mash up with an egg for potato pancakes or fried in a little bacon fat.

                                        Collard, turnip, and mustard greens are cheap and benefit from low, slow cooks. Add stock or cheap Chardonnay. Rite Aid carries a perfectly inoffensive Chardonnay: 2 for $7.

                                        One key seems to be steering clear of prepared foods as much as possible. You're paying a LOT for the convenience, packaging, fat, and salt. Set aside some weekend time for cooking/freezing leftovers for meals during the week.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                          Rite aid carries chardonnay? Not in my neck of the woods.

                                          1. re: Disneyfreak

                                            Sure. There's a Rite Aid in San Diego that is super small but still devotes two aisles to alcohol.

                                            1. re: Violatp

                                              In CA you can buy wine just about anywhere, yes?

                                            2. re: Disneyfreak

                                              The Walgreens in Chicago always had alcohol, a few aisles worth actually. Here in CO though? Not a chance.

                                            3. re: monkeyrotica

                                              I heartily agree with the point that avoiding prepared foods takes one a long way toward answering this thread's $10 challenge.

                                              One thing that made me realize this point was 10 years ago when I used to live near and shop at a Whole Foods. Several friends thought it cost a fortune to buy there, made the "Whole Paycheck" point, etc. But I realized that I mainly bought produce, some meats, and got grains and legumes and spices from the bulk bins. Add to that the occasional bottle of olive oil or vinegar or the like. That actually cost much less than what my friends were doing--buying prepared foods, boxes of breakfast cereal, etc.

                                              Of course, it will remain difficult or even impossible to work in certain proteins (good halibut, say, which is never less than $20 a pound around here in Indiana, USA). But there's always some worthy meats/poultry on sale.

                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                I know i'm late to the party, but I wholly agree with this. I shop at Whole Foods in Washington, DC. My grocery bill went up about 5% when i switched from safeway/Trader Joes/Harris Teeter. And that increase had more to do with the impulse buys than anything else. Much of the stuff at Whole Foods costs the same, and many of their house brand (365) products are cheaper than regular name brands.

                                                For example, my wife loves water crackers for some reason. The Carr's are $3.29 at the target in Columbia Heights (a neighborhood of DC), and the 365 brand is $2.19 at Whole Foods. And the Safeway near me doesn't have things like popcorn, chick peas, or bulghur wheat in their bulk bins, so I'm saving more on that stuff too. More than makes up for the slightly higher prices on produce (it's really negligible).

                                                Also - if you're not tied down to boneless skinless chicken breast and NY Strip steaks, there are great deals to be found in the refrigerator next to the butcher counter, especially on things like well-raised chicken backs for soup (often $1.29/lb) and beef or bison stew meat and short ribs (usually around $5/lb).

                                            4. Braised pot roast, mashed potatoes.
                                              Roasted root vegetables.
                                              Simple green salad.
                                              Homemade yeast rolls.
                                              Homemade apple pie for dessert.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                Just the apple pie is likely to cost close to $10, between the fruit, shortening/butter, and sugar.

                                              2. So in light of the foregoing , wouldn't it be correct to say that $70 should feed a family of four for a week?
                                                Now, the above comments asked if we should consider staples ie; spices, herbs, a dash of this or that, etc. I am not.
                                                I am just talking about your post...would agree?

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: PHREDDY

                                                  I think a better word than "should" is "COULD". $70 COULD feed a family of four for a week, for dinners anyway. I know I spend less than $75-$100/week for 2 of us for all meals, so adding two kids into the picture wouldn't be that hard if all we're talking about is dinner costs. I read a number of blogs where people do just that. I even have one I read where it's a family of 6, including teenagers, that does it for $125/week and that includes food for one of the gluten-free kids. They homeschool the kids too so the $125 includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meals are simple but nutritious. http://thepeacefulmom.com/category/12...

                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                    I had 3 kids at home, and when they were little, not too bad, but when they got to the hormone growth stage, I'd rather buy them clothes than feed them!

                                                    So then how much to feed a family of four for the week?
                                                    (21 meals) about $210-250? I know you have mentioned your SO is on the road most of the week, so I can see your #'s
                                                    Condiments and staples for the purpose of this conversation is beyond our analysis.

                                                    1. re: PHREDDY

                                                      Well, lately he's been home, so my budget numbers do include him being here. If he's not here I can do it for like $30-40 week and the leftover money goes towards paying off debt, because once that's paid off, I can start buying all organic meat and veggies. I do take a Costco trip about every 2-3 months and spend around $200 for stuff like beef and a few other grocery items, and non-grocery items, so that helps keep the weekly budget a tiny bit lower since I have a mini-stockpile of proteins. Just an example though, I went to the store today to buy for the week and I only spent $46. $11 of that was for my SO's Cherry 7-up that he drinks like it's water, and $5 of that was for non-food items. I can do it on the cheap like that because of the Costco stock up and stocking up on some items when their price is lowest. I also have a pretty well stocked pantry at this point so all I need to buy on a weekly basis is perishables or things like granola or granola bars that I have for breakfast/snacks. My bill used to be higher when I moved here because I had to buy a lot of pantry staples and seasonings.

                                                      I think you could feed a family of 4 for $250 if you had to do it. Now, I don't know if you could do it in an expensive area like NYC, but I think in most places in the country it could be done, if you had to. It was a different time, but from 1982-1988 my parents raised my brother and I on $12,000 a year, which included a $600/mo mortgage. My mom stayed at home during that time had a big garden and was just very savvy with the rest of her purchases. My dad (he was a landscaper) had a customer who was a caterer and would often send him home with homemade stuff like spaghetti sauce and preserves. I don't remember ever feeling deprived, and we even got the occasional treat at Mcdonald's or ice cream cones at Thrifty's.

                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                        JJ...Wow! so much info...you forget that when I said $800 to $1000 you sided with Kaytrn Dale...???
                                                        I respect your positions and your posts.my daughter was born in 1982 ..but please don't try to make me out to be wrong....
                                                        In NYC $250 is enough..,even today for 2...
                                                        Please stop ...
                                                        My daughter was born in 1982...I was earning much more than $12/year...so??
                                                        My wife stayed home too..so?
                                                        I was a plumber an my customers sent home nothing...so?
                                                        Please be humble and retract your position, for it is not only me, but many others

                                                        1. re: PHREDDY

                                                          I originally agreed w/ kathryn_dale, yes.... living very frugally CAN be done. But after reading the rest of her posts, I definitely don't agree with most of what she had to say.

                                                          I still think $800-$1000/mo seems very high, if someone is really trying to save money. Many folks here on Chowhound are not trying to save money on food, so I'm not saying there's anything wrong with spending $800-$1000+ a month on food. I used to be in a much better financial position and I was easily spending that on food, both groceries and eating out, and I was single, in downtown Chicago. I would think nothing of paying $75 for a really great organic beef tenderloin from a butcher, and going to Whole Foods and buying truffle butter for $9 for a couple ounces... to make sandwiches with! So, I've been at it on both ends. Once I'm in a better financial position I hope to be able to find a happy medium... being responsible with my money (since I learned you can't predict the future and the money CAN go away) while still having higher quality food. That being said, even if I had to do things the way I'm doing them now for the rest of my life, I'd be OK with that. I feel like we eat very delicious meals for my budget, and my SO agrees.

                                                          My point is, if someone is really in a tough spot financially, and NEEDS to cut their budget, a family of four in most parts of the country (I can't speak for other countries as I have no knowledge of that) could feasibly do it for $250/month. Not sure why that seems so unbelievable.

                                                          But anyway, this is all pretty off-topic for a thread that's supposed to be about meals that can be made for $10 or less. Do you have any suggestions for those?

                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                            Again JJ...you clarity helps one understand your point of view, and I concur with you...And might I note you always seem to post with a variety of meals..my suggestions
                                                            Yes , look below !

                                                2. So here's the thing; not everyone on these boards is North American. Maybe a looser term, like "your lowest cost meals for four" would be more inclusive of nationalities, regions within NA, different types of diets, whatever.

                                                  That way, everyone can glean something from folks with similar parameters.

                                                  15 Replies
                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                      It's not just currency. There are areas where food is much more expensive than others. Setting a dollar (or Euro) amount even within NA doesn't make as much sense, we should have learned from that other thread I will not name. ;-)

                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                      MCF...you are correct, so if everyone states their point of "reference"..there should not be any issue...I live in a suburb of NYC...
                                                      LD-89...you concur?

                                                      1. re: PHREDDY

                                                        I'm that helps some, but I wonder how conversant we all are with everyone's locale and food availability and costs?

                                                        I suppose it depends on whether the dollar amount is primary and not the frugality/cost, and that's the OP's choice.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          Please be mindful that most who participate in this and other threads are pretty able to digest most of what goes on here...remember your locale is just a guide, for those who really need to interpolate the real cost to them....

                                                            1. re: PHREDDY

                                                              I recognize it, I thought there might be a way to be more inclusive of folks who don't have the same inexpensive access to foods that we take for granted.

                                                              There is a very ethnocentric tendency in this and other online fora despite how many folks post from very different circumstances.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                It appears to me that we are attempting to level the playing field, by including some basic , qualifying information , with respect to all posters....

                                                          1. re: PHREDDY



                                                            Then we can get back to the purpose I hope this serves, namely advice for those who appear to be having budget problems.

                                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                                              The point is that there are good, cheap eats everywhere if you know how to find 'em.

                                                          2. re: mcf

                                                            I won't talk recipes, just 'cheap'!
                                                            Singing the praises of the chest freezer...
                                                            While it's quite an initial outlay, a large, quality chest freezer is really economical.
                                                            I don't eat a lot of meat, which makes things cheaper.
                                                            But when I do, most of it comes out of my freezer...
                                                            I went halves in a half a beef (does that translate?) from a local farm. It works out very reasonably, especially if you prefer the 'cheap cuts', as I do.
                                                            It also means I could ask lots of demanding questions!
                                                            I try to grow way too much produce to eat fresh/give away and freeze it.
                                                            I grow lots of drying beans. Tasty, cheap protein.

                                                            1. re: pippimac

                                                              Unless the power goes out, or the freezer breaks . . . I'd love to do this, but I won't start amassing hundreds of dollars of food until I have a generator that can run the freezer, and maybe a spare freezer.

                                                              1. re: jvanderh

                                                                Someone asked me about this recently, The risk really depends on where you live. Some areas of the US it might be riskier than others. I have 3 freezers. In addition to my kitchen one, I have a chest freezer in the barn for meat and an upright freezer in my wine room for other items. They are invaluable to me for savings and convenience.

                                                                I live in the country and our power goes out several times a year during stormy weather. Modern technology and the power grid make it only out for a few hours at most. In 15 years of living here, I have had no problems. If a huge, property damaging storms hits, my stored food will be the least of my concern.

                                                              2. re: pippimac

                                                                re: freezer
                                                                i live in a city and the City sets the electric rates.
                                                                the rates keep rising.
                                                                when i actually looked at what it was really costing me to run the freezer, the whole thing made no sense.
                                                                (probably a big factor in this is that i don't eat meat nor poultry. you really don't save enough on vegetables/beans to offset the ever rising electric rates, much less the initial capital costs. even when i ate poultry, the taste of frozen chicken was simply not as good as that of fresh.)

                                                                i got rid of the freezer.
                                                                rented out the space the freezer had taken to a neighbor who needed the space to store his boating equipment.
                                                                took the rental money and the money that i was no longer spending on electricity to buy better quality/ more varied/more expensive food and a lot more restaurant food..

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  See? Now THAT is frugal. Not cheap.

                                                            2. I think a pasta bake that serves 6 could be done. I live in Colorado and shop at your basic big supermarket (King Soopers, owned by Kroger). The prices I quote will be the sale prices, since these items go on sale fairly often. I'm also assuming everything has to be purchased, down to seasonings.

                                                              Box of Barilla whole grain pasta (13oz) or 16oz of non-whole grain: $1
                                                              2 chicken breasts, store brand (1ish lb): $2 (on sale every few weeks for 1.99/lb)
                                                              8oz bag of pre-shredded mozzarella cheese, store brand: $2 (consistently on sale for $1.99)
                                                              1lb broccoli, fresh: $1, goes on sale for $1/lb often.

                                                              The next bit of variation is in the sauce. I can buy a jar of Ragu when it goes on sale for about $1.25. You can of course make your own, but that does require some pantry staples that not everyone has, like seasonings. But I would guess that could be done for under $5.

                                                              You pop the chicken breasts in the oven and bake them until finished, then once rested for a few minutes, you dice them up. While the chicken breasts are cooking, you cook the pasta and steam the broccoli either on the stove or in the microwave. Once everything is pre-cooked, you mix together the pasta, the sauce, and the chicken, and half of the cheese. Pour into a baking dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, and bake for about 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Dinner is served.

                                                              Total cost, $7.25 if using jarred sauce... a bit more if making your own sauce.

                                                              1. Also, this blog has a number of full meal ideas that can be done pretty inexpensively. I believe the blog author lives in New Orleans. http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/searc...

                                                                Not all are under $10 but there's a few, and all of them are under $20. Her cost breakdowns include the cost of ALL ingredients including seasonings, oils etc.

                                                                1. http://www.cookinglight.com/food/ever...

                                                                  Cooking Light magazine ran a series on $10.00 meals that my daughter who cooks with light menu & budget in mind raved about. She especially enjoyed the gratin. Each meal has a price pp included.

                                                                  What I like about all the recipes is they feature flavor. So often the mistake is made that budget-conscience meals will be bland.

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Wow! I'm saving this link- thanks!

                                                                    1. re: Berheenia


                                                                      Berheenia, I'm making these savory baked apples for dinner tonight from the CLight grouping.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        What a great link, thank you HillJ. I wish they'd make it easier to see or sort by the recipe ratings, but I suppose that can be found with a little extra clicking.

                                                                        What did you think of the savory baked apples?


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          We used Rome apples instead of honey crisp as suggested. I was trying to fill a larger portion and save time by using the larger size. The stuffing is delicious but changing up the apple was the wrong move; the Rome cooked down too much.

                                                                          I think the filling would work baked inside a green pepper or halved acorn squash. While, the apple cooked down too much for my liking the flavors were good.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            Bummer. Well, you gotta try! Plus, it sounds like you might be able to tweak it going forward.


                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              I liked the flavors and for the purposes of under $10.00 spot on; even with an acorn squash or pepper alternative. What's key for me is that the dish had flavor, kick. I really don't like bland food. Back in the days of career #1, when I was working in government subsidized meal programs, food meant two things: high fat, no flavor. Such a horrible message; especially for children!

                                                                              Meal planning can have plenty of flavor.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  The filling does sound pretty good! I'm like you--I get so bored with bland food!


                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                              this link lays the individual recipes out instead of the individual click per recipe/photo.

                                                                      2. Mac & cheese, not the blue box, a seasonal salad, of greens, veggies, fruits, and some crusty Italian bread.
                                                                        You could probably throw in two glasses of 2buck chuck for mom & dad!

                                                                        1. In practice, we don't shop for one meal at a time and, especially when we try to economize, there's overlap, so it's hard to price out a meal at a time. But I find that half a ham, especially during Christmas and Easter sales, is the ultimate economy. If you cut the meat off the bone and freeze it in parcels you can get so much out of it: scalloped potatoes and ham, baked beans and ham, macaroni and cheese and ham, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, ham salad for sandwiches, ham and eggs, ham and cheese quiche, etc. Even the skin and bits of stuff from the baking pan are good for flavoring greens, green beans, and any kind of dried beans. Then the bone makes a huge vat of soup: split pea, Cuban black bean, or navy bean. And, post-soup, the dog enjoys the bone. There is no waste at all. Watch for holiday specials---as an example, a Chicago supermarket chain always as a coupon in its flyer during holiday seasons, $10 off a ham with a grocery order---last week I got half a ham for $4.02 and it's now in my freezer in many small packages; I will be eating it until July.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                            "I will be eating it until July."

                                                                            And then not again till the following Easter. ;-)

                                                                            I went through three hams a few months ago and I pretty much am good for at least a year.

                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                              Listen...we do the same..even if we pay $10 bucks for a 12 lb ham....it goes a long way for many meals..How about white beans, tomatoes, green peppers, celery, onions, some carrots, over some ham and white rice... some arugula with a lemon vinegarette salad on the side?
                                                                              ..MMM...good.... MMM good!! that what's.......are for!!!
                                                                              Comfort food baby!

                                                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                Mmmm.... arugula with either blue cheese or lemon/EVOO dressing is one of my obsessions. Toss in halved grape tomatoes and I'm on cloud nine.

                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                  hey, I owe you an apology from the last thread. Antibiotic-resistant stuff really gets on my nerves as well, so I ought not to bitch at folks complaining about it ;-) (seriously, there are a ton of "new agey" folks out there, and you happened to sound like one, accimidentally.)

                                                                                  Anyway, my fault.

                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                    Thanks much, no harm done. I'm way too much a hard data geek and cynic/skeptic to go all new agey on it. Those folks have completely ruined the word "toxic" for us normies. :-)

                                                                                    I completely forgave your tone once I realized the hot button status of the word I chose.

                                                                            2. $10 for a single dish or for any entire dinner? $10 for single dish is actually very generous. $10 for an entire meal is still very manageable depending on the size of family (a meal for a family of two vs a family of 8...etc)

                                                                              I am single, each of my cooking is enough for plenty leftover, about 3-4 meals. In other words, each of my cooking is sufficient for one meal for a family of four.

                                                                              I think it is very simple to get a single meal within $10. Heavy on the grain and heavy on the vegetable will save a lot of money and very healthy. It get pricy if the meals are consist of a filet mignon or large filet of wild caught salmon...etc.

                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                Chem, I'm with you. I'd say a shorter list would be meals for four that I CAN'T make for $10. Am I missing something here?

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I think the whole thread started as a response to some naysayers in other threads that thinks a family of 4 can't buy food for less than $1000/month or whatever it was. Good food doesn't have to be expensive.

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                    I don't think it was $1000. The "frugal" poster said her food/grocery budget was $25 p/p per week. Family of four works out to about $400 a month, which does take some strategy!

                                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                                      Oh I know, it wasn't $1000. That was just an arbitrary number I pulled out :) Point is, people think that doing $400/mo for a family of 4 is impossible, which it really is not at all. Just takes some planning and strategy like you said.

                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                        And knowing that everyone does it differently! Just on this thread we have vegetarians, low carbers, bulk shoppers, snackers, no-snackers...

                                                                                        Ooops, off subject again. I swear, one of these days the mods are just going to give me such a smackdown...

                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                          An important divide I am learning from CH is those who know how to cook, those who do not. It ripples through many topics. Those of us who cook approach the world differently.

                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                            But why would someone who doesn't cook post about cooking? You probably weren't around when rworange was posting. She doesn't cook but, boy, does she know about food. So I don't think it's that much of an "important divide."

                                                                                      2. re: Violatp

                                                                                        <food/grocery budget was $25 p/p per week>

                                                                                        $25 per person per week is probably still do-able, but much tougher. When I was a college student, I do live under $15-20 per person (me) per week for grocery, but my meals consisted of a lot of grain, fair amount of vegetables, and a very few meat -- and absolutely no expensive cut of meat. No snacks, no soft drink...

                                                                                        I don't think I would like to do that anymore. $20 per week is $20 for 21 meals (3 meals a day multiple by 7 days a week). It is less than $1 per meal. It can be done, but it would be too difficult to experience and enjoy the vast variety of foods.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          The other problem is as we get older, our dietary needs can change. We are more likely to have to watch starches, blood sugar, cholesterol or many other things. It isn't only a matter of experiencing and enjoying all the wonders of foods, though that is certainly nice too.

                                                                                          And 25$ (or equivalents elswhere in the world) just doesn't go as far as it used to. I know a lot of cheap, nutritious things to eat (have just made crêpes with chickpea flour that involve no egg or milk, and no, I'm not vegan, but they are very good and have quite a bit of protein) but still, we need our greens and other things.

                                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                                            <The other problem is as we get older, our dietary needs can change>

                                                                                            Excellent point. Part of the reason I changed my food budget has to do with the fact that I earn a lot more than I was in college, but more importantly, my dietaryneed changed too. So far all my blood work is good, but really need to start watch some of my indicators. I cannot solely eat starch as I once did in college. It would be bad for me in the long run.

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              @ 58 years old, I have at different stages of my life adjust my diet. I do watch carbs and fat due to a long family history of both diabetes and heart disease. A lot of green veggies and an apple a day...
                                                                                              In fact I found Chowhound because of the need for variety , and help expand my reference points.
                                                                                              On subject , as I said before , everyone has different needs and thus I can suggest some $10 meals, but that does not I can sustain them.

                                                                                      3. re: juliejulez

                                                                                        "Good food doesn't have to be expensive"

                                                                                        This should be a headliner for Chowhound.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          Good food does not have to expensive, but good food should not be limited to an artificially low budget. In other words, unless financially strapped, a person who value food should not make the food selection suffer. Here at Chowhound, I am sure most of us put foods high up on our priority. e.g. some may spend $400-500 for iPad, while others may spend it on Scotch.

                                                                                          As for the budget mentioned by Violatp that is a tough budget (less than $1 per meal). Can a person survive with it? Sure. I used to do that. Can a person experience wide variety of food with that budget? I doubt it. You won't even be allowed to eat Fish McBites once a week with that budget, let's alone trying medium scale restaurant.

                                                                                      1. The "Lincoln Log" roast chicken with veggies that Sam Fujisaka and I devised under the influence of rum and some trials and errors, will nicely provide a dinner for four for under ten dollars.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                            A roaster is placed on a square corral made of carrots notched to fit together like Lincoln logs, about 4 courses high. Shallow baking pan with lots of veggies- chunks of onion, root veggies - and rosemary/oo red potatoes. There's room in the corral for a few brussels sprouts to catch a little chicken fat "rain". Maybe a few asparagus spears during the final 20 minutes.
                                                                                            And it looks so purty coming out of the oven!

                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                              Veggo-what a great idea! I've only been on CH for a couple of months but have spent many happy hours reading old threads...and feel like Sam was an old friend. I can easily imagine two rum-besotted Hounds playing with carrot Lincoln Logs. I'll be trying that corral and thinking of you both. :-)

                                                                                          2. re: Veggo

                                                                                            I LOVE that idea! I usually make a roasting "rack" out of celery ribs, but now I'm going to try the carrot Lincoln logs.

                                                                                          3. A veggie fritatta or quiche can be made cheaply. Almost any vegetable can be used, and augmented with a green salad, it's a nice supper.

                                                                                            I just bought a roasting chicken for 8 dollars. I plan to serve it with green beans and roasted root vegetables, but that's what's on sale in my market. If your diet allows bread, a scoop of stuffing is a good side. Leftovers will go into chicken salad to serve in avocado "boats" (avocados also on sale, but it's good in pitas too. I will make a soup base with the carcass.

                                                                                            I also do a lot of stuffed vegetables. We don't eat rice, but we do peppers stuffed with ground beef, tomatoes stuffed with tuna, stuffed squash, etc. In the summer, I like to use Kusa (sp?)

                                                                                            ETA...many more veggie choices when ma gahden grows. I'm in NE.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                              I stuffed peppers with vegs and quinoa a couple of weeks ago. Worked very well.

                                                                                            2. I think one key to serving 4 people (and let's say two bigger eaters, two lighter eaters, adults, kids, whatever) is that if you're serving a protein, ideally it should be under $5 a pound. Everything else can be tinkered with depending on your protein.

                                                                                              Let's see, a good dish...(and I'm low carbing now, so I'm going to see if I can think of something along those lines...)

                                                                                              Okay, Trader Joe's style -

                                                                                              Chicken Curry with Spaghetti Squash

                                                                                              1.5 pounds worth of boneless, skinless chicken thighs $4
                                                                                              jar of curry simmer sauce $3
                                                                                              can of coconut cream $1.50
                                                                                              1 large spaghetti squash (probably not from Trader Joe's) $2


                                                                                              Italian sausage with sauteed red & yellow peppers and your choice of steamed side veg


                                                                                              roast chicken and oven roasted green beans


                                                                                              if sirloin steak (or similar) is on a pretty good special, make whatever version of a stroganoff you like to make using just one pound of meat and bulk it up with mushrooms, which will very likely be half the price of the meat. Serve on spaghetti squash if you're low carb. A bag of egg noodles is $2, so $1 worth of noodles for dinner (if not low carb)


                                                                                              pork shoulder can be had for under $2 a pound quite readily. You don't need to always make pulled pork. Cut it into smaller pieces and pan fry with onions, put lid on pan and turn to low. By the time the onions are nicely caramelized, the pork will be super tender and (depending on your pan) have some good browning on the bottom. Serve with potatoes if you eat potatoes or whatever veg you like if not. The onions and juices and stuff that's in the pan is absolutely delicious spooned over potatoes.

                                                                                              I do think that the lower your food budget gets, the more you have to go in one of two directions - either bulk it up with starches and legumes, or find cheaper proteins. And simple preparations unless you have a super stocked pantry of spices and stuff.

                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                Cheaper proteins are legumes. Beans/legumes are nutritional powerhouses of protein+fiber/complex carbs. And very cheap and very tasty.

                                                                                                1 kg of chicken (e.g.) can maybe feed 4 people in 1 meal.

                                                                                                But 1 kg of dal or beans can feed 4 people for about 3 meals. And it is cheaper per kilogram to begin with. There is just no comparison.

                                                                                                One of the simplest and tastiest dishes is chana masala, and it is also very inexpensive.


                                                                                                1 lb (about half a kilo more or less) of dry chickpeas costs under $ 2.00 where I am in the US. (I cook 1 lb at a time and we eat it over several meals, alternating with something else. It stays just fine in the fridge).
                                                                                                1 large onion (costs about 50 c)
                                                                                                1 inch ginger (a very large piece of ginger is < $ 1.00)
                                                                                                4 cloves of garlic (an entire head is 50 c)
                                                                                                couple of hot green chillies (e.g. Thai or Serrano, about .25 c)
                                                                                                4 Tbsp of chana masala spice mix (the entire packet of chana masala is about $ 4.00, and it will make about 3 batches of the dish)
                                                                                                1-2 tbsp of tamarind paste (price can vary on brand and fresh vs bottled, but let's estimate ~ .50 c for the 2 tbsp)
                                                                                                salt, water. ~ 2 tbsp cooking oil.

                                                                                                To clarify, the quantities above are for 1 lb dry chick peas, which will feed 4 people (2 adult+2 kids) for at least 2 meals. The cost for this quantity seems to be about under $ 6.00 with generous estimates above, which is for 2 meals.

                                                                                                Then add in another $ 2.00 total, for rice or rotis/tortillas, $ 2.00 for 4 servings of plain yogurt, add $ 2.00 if you want to make that cucumber raita - needs salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro in addition to the cucumber.

                                                                                                So I am guessing about $ 9.00 per meal of 4 servings. Still some room. So you can add a vegetable side dish, e.g. cabbage which is about one of the cheapest, and also tasty and healthy, it currently runs less than 50 c a lb so about $ 1.50 for a large head which will again feed a family of 4 for 2 meals.

                                                                                                And this is tasty food, no deprivation of nutrition or pleasure here.

                                                                                                It is VERY easy to eat for under $ 10.00 per meal for a family of 4 if you are eating bean-based dishes.

                                                                                                (You can lower the carbs by eating cauliflower "rice" or spaghetti squash, or making bean-based "rotis". That will increase the price.)

                                                                                                How to make the chana masala:
                                                                                                1. Soak the chick peas for several hours, drain and rinse.
                                                                                                2. Grind the onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies in a food processor.
                                                                                                3. Heat oil and saute the ground up mixture for ~ 15 minutes until golden and soft.
                                                                                                4. Add the chick peas with enough water to cover, salt, and pressure cook for ~ 30 minutes (after the pressure comes up to full, turn down the heat to maintain).
                                                                                                5. When done, turn the heat off and let the pressure come down naturally. Add the chana masala, stir and simmer, add the tamarind, stir and simmer. Taste. Sprinkle with cilantro, thinly sliced raw onion (optional), garnish with lime wedges.

                                                                                                Serve hot with rice or rotis, the cabbage, and raita.

                                                                                                There are a jillion recipes for cabbage sabzi, north and south Indian style so won't repeat here.

                                                                                                Bottom line: excellent taste, full nutrition, and low price, quite easily achieved.

                                                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                  "Cheaper proteins are legumes. Beans/legumes are nutritional powerhouses of protein+fiber/complex carbs. And very cheap and very tasty."

                                                                                                  I agree with cheap and tasty, but way too much starch for the relative paucity of protein, except for black soybeans, IMO. I can only eat beans in condiment sized portions.

                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                    if you include soybeans (shelled edamame), i think you'll find the carb to protein ratio improved.
                                                                                                    i use those all the time in all sorts of ways from edamame hummus to soups, stews, salads, etc.

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      Um, I *did* discuss black soybeans, specifically, in my post.

                                                                                                2. re: Violatp

                                                                                                  I love this "the protein must be under $5/lb" rule of thumb, thank you!


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Of course, the more I think about it, the more it seems too vague for me! I guess I should add that the pound of protein, depending on how close to $5 a pound it is, should be able to feed those four people. Something that's $4.50 a pound, eg, the sirloin I mentioned in my original post, can be sliced thinly, bulked up with mushrooms, served over something, and still serve four.

                                                                                                    $4.50 a pound for a whole chicken may not work unless you're really, really dedicated to making that chicken work across multiple meals and being able to divvy up the cost!

                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                      You know, one thing I try to do with roast chicken is tear the meat off the bones right away. If you just serve it as pieces of chicken, you're not inclined to "extend" it the way you describe extending the sirloin with addiing mushrooms.

                                                                                                      Also, I like to extend some dishes with tofu or vegan crumbles ( TVP I suppose?), sometimes.


                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        Good point. If you serve a whole chicken, chances are the whole chicken will get eaten down to the bone!

                                                                                                3. location: south of boston
                                                                                                  feed: 2 adults, 2 preteen children
                                                                                                  grocery store: local chains (stop and shop, hannafords). National chains (whole foods, BJ's and Trader Joes) as well local speciality stores

                                                                                                  1) basic spices such as salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, chili, dried herbs etc are considered free. Basic cooking oil/spray is also considered free. If you do not keep these items on hand and have to purchase whole bottles/packets your total grocery bill will be more but the individual cost of the dish will not go significantly over $10.
                                                                                                  2) During certain times of year these meals could cost well under $10 or could cost upwards of $12-15. I am never strict in my meal planning, letting the costs drive the final meal.
                                                                                                  3) I often substitute proteins based on what is on sale.
                                                                                                  4) Veggies are based on seasonality and price. I will sub frozen if fresh are not viable.
                                                                                                  5) Many items are bought in bulk and/or family size to reduce the unit price.

                                                                                                  These are off the top my head but most of our every-day-week night meals are in the $10 range

                                                                                                  -whole wheat pasta with meatballs, cheesy garlic bread, salad

                                                                                                  -virtually all pasta bakes-lasagna, spaghetti pie, mac and cheese, broccoli/chicken ziti, american chop suey. Served with brad and salad

                                                                                                  -stir fried chicken/pork/beef with assorted veggies, served over rice

                                                                                                  -burgers (chicken/turkey/beef) with oven baked fries and fresh veggies

                                                                                                  -roasted chicken, rice, veggie
                                                                                                  *(4 servings less than $10 but total cost is more depending on size of chicken. I usually repurpose the leftover meat into quesidillas served with salsa and dirty rice

                                                                                                  -make your own soft chicken/beef/bean tacos served with guacamole, salsa and sour cream

                                                                                                  -loaded nachos

                                                                                                  -spinach and cheese stuffed chicken breasts, rice pilaf and veggie

                                                                                                  -homemade pizza (I make the dough but you can still do under $10 with dough purchased from a local pizzeria or frozen bread dough at the grocers. If you have a TJ even better)

                                                                                                  -french toast, sausage and fresh fruit

                                                                                                  -carrot/ginger soup with bread/butter. In fact most veggies soups I make are pennies a bowl
                                                                                                  *creamy cauliflower, broccoli and cheese, black bean, veggie chili, etc

                                                                                                  -home made fish sticks or chicken tenders, sweet potato fries and veggies

                                                                                                  -frittatas and/or crustless quiche served with potatoes and salad

                                                                                                  1. Just posted this over on the Best Lentil Recipe board, then thought maybe it should have been here. Eating Well magazine claims the price is $1/serving. I just know it's danged tasty.

                                                                                                    Adapted from Eating Well/ Feb. 2013

                                                                                                    Moroccan Lentil Soup

                                                                                                    12 servings

                                                                                                    2 tsp EVOO
                                                                                                    2 c chopped onions
                                                                                                    2 c chopped carrots
                                                                                                    4 cloves garlic, minced
                                                                                                    1 tsp ground cumin
                                                                                                    1 tsp ground coriander
                                                                                                    1 tsp ground turmeric
                                                                                                    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
                                                                                                    1/4 tsp ground black pepper
                                                                                                    6 c vegetable or red. sodium chicken broth
                                                                                                    2 c water
                                                                                                    3 c chopped cauliflower
                                                                                                    1 3/4 c lentils
                                                                                                    28 oz can diced tomatoes
                                                                                                    2 Tbl tomato paste
                                                                                                    4 c chopped fresh spinach
                                                                                                    1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
                                                                                                    2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice

                                                                                                    Heat oil, add onion & carrots, cook until softened, about 10 min. Add garlic, cook 30 sec. Add spices, stirring, about 1 min.
                                                                                                    Add broth, water, cauliflower, lentils, tomatoes & tomato paste. Bring to boil. Simmer, partially covered, about 45 min. Stir in spinach, cook about 5 min.
                                                                                                    Just before serving, stir in cilantro & lemon juice.

                                                                                                    Certainly could sub other veggies. I up the spicing some, too.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                      Seconding the deliciousness of this recipe - I made it when I first got the magazine and it is very tasty. I love lentils anyway but when spiced up a bit as in this recipe, they are just terrific.

                                                                                                      This soup, plus some homemade bread or naan is well under $10 for 4.

                                                                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                        Last night, Mr. P. had it with home made (well, from the Gits mix) idlis, which he loved. I had cornbread. We need to be eating more vegetables, and this is a delicious solution. We like it quite tart, so I add more lemon at the end.

                                                                                                    2. Good cheap meals:
                                                                                                      -Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
                                                                                                      -Spaghetti Carbonara
                                                                                                      -Carnitas tacos (Trader Joe's Carnitas and Salsa)

                                                                                                      1. How about salmon croquettes made from canned salmon with a side of pasta and a salad?

                                                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                          What are you paying for a can of salmon these days? What brand?

                                                                                                          1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                            This is a valid question. I have had to look for decent canned salmon. And it is mostly more expensive that what I had been buying in the Midwest.

                                                                                                            The best buy on red Salmon used to be Deming's red salmon. I can't find it in Vancouver, WA. I finally found a decent can at WF, which was not cheap but would make an inexpensive dinner for two. (I now buy the small cans for the two of us.) For a larger family, I don't know. It might be a lot pricier than it used to be.

                                                                                                            Also, we have found very nice canned white salmon at Costco. We buy several cans at once. It still isn't cheap, and the cans are smaller than the old fashioned small cans, which means eeking 4 salmon patties out of the contents is hard.

                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                              Thus my question...I too have found it expensive here in NYC...but have been buying the Costco brand as well. I love a simple bed of lettuce, some chunks of tomato, a couple of thin slices of white onion, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a piece of some crust bread,, and a wonderful warm weather dinner.

                                                                                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                I think your salad sounds divine. I like to make a salad, dress it, and put the salmon on top. I do like the Costco stuff, but it isn't oily like the red canned salmon I bought for so many years.

                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                  I've recently bought wild pink canned salmon at Costco. I like it, but I don't remember what I paid.

                                                                                                            2. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                              $2.29/14.75 oz. can at Aldi, there Northern Catch label. Stamped Alaska Wild Salmon USA. It's...*fine.* If someone feels some particular affection toward a pricier brand, this probably wouldn't be the same, but I find it's perfectly suitable for my needs. Generally speaking, things I make with canned salmon tend to be tarted up with a lot of other strong flavors, so I honestly can't tell much difference. And it's perfectly adequate just with some lemon right out of the can. It's generally what I stock now; I like the price.

                                                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                What else do you like to make from canned salmon? (and does it fit into the $10 requirement? hopefully yes...)


                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  Canned salmon, paprika and mayo mixed with greens is a a simple hot weather salad.

                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    My usuals with canned salmon are pretty basic: salmon cakes and salmon salad, and typically vary in composition since they revolve around using up various bits and pieces of aromatics around the kitchen - peppers, celery, onions, herbs and the like. The about-to-go-wrinkly red pepper will end up with some chopped onion, the last rib of celery, a little mayo, some binder in the case of the cake...and boom, supper. We'll typically have the cakes or salad on a bed of fresh spinach, with whatever vinaigrette we're feeling like throwing together. Easy, and I'd ballpark it as under $10 no problem, depending upon how many odds and ends one has, versus buying specifically for the dish.

                                                                                                                    Another thing we do with canned salmon is a simple soup that my old-timey Finnish family members always made: canned salmon (liquid and all), some potatoes and onions, seasoned simply with black pepper and allspice, in a milk or cream broth, garnished with a little dill. Satisfying and easy, and pretty cheap (although this time of year I'd probably be paying more for the precious little plastic shell of dill than for the can of salmon!).

                                                                                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                      Very interesting, I must try that Salmon soup. Thanks.

                                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                          Use the Google for "kalamojakka" and you'll find so many recipe variations. We always went cheap and straightforward, but it's pretty good in its more elaborate and gussied up forms as well. With canned fish, a great pantry meal. Hope you enjoy it! (Don't skimp on the allspice.)

                                                                                                                          ETA: is you want the more upscale variations, you'll have to also search "kalakeitto." There are as many variations are there are cooks (and fish), it seems, but it's an instance of canned salmon working really well.

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                              TDQ, I know you like Booya, so Mojakka culture might be right up your ethnic group foodways alley! Enjoy! ;)

                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                        I make salmon patties, use as a protein in a salad, and I have in the past creamed it and topped opened biscuits. I really don't know why you could not make a salmon pot pie.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                          You're so right, sueatmo...creamed salmon is wonderful! A pot pie is a great idea. My younguns, when they were young, loved creamed salmon (on the *stiffer* side, covered with mashed potatoes and baked. So, um...a fisherd's pie?

                                                                                                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                            Don't forget that canned salmon cab be used for great quiche.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                              Fish pies (or fisherman's pie, whatever) have existed for eons. Try a layered dish with mashed potatoes, a layer of other vegetable, a layer of tinned salmon. I like this with seethed leeks.

                                                                                                                        2. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                          Aldi, only recently opened here in Long Island..I will check it out.

                                                                                                                        3. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                          I've been buying canned salmon at Costco lately. It's Bear & Wolf Alaskan Pink Salmon and it's really quite good in salmon croquettes. There are 6 6-ounce cans bundled together. I'm sorry, I don't remember exactly how much it was last time I bought it, but I'm guessing it was about $12-13. I see that Amazon is selling the same pack for $19.69. http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Wolf-Salmo...

                                                                                                                      2. all of these can feed 3 or 4 people for $10

                                                                                                                        lentil/split pea/ kale soup-takes 10 minutes of effort with whole wheat bread
                                                                                                                        vegetarian chili made with black beans and shelled edamame served over frozen brown rice
                                                                                                                        pasta and steamed sugar snap peas (from costco) with savory sauce made from spiced, blended, silken tofu.
                                                                                                                        grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (can even be made with the aged gouda that costco sells and still can come in under budget)
                                                                                                                        vegetable soup made with shelled edamame, mixed vegetables, spinach and or kale, whole wheat french bread

                                                                                                                        ratatouille, ricotta al forno, and whole wheat french bread
                                                                                                                        black bean and cheese burrito made with whole wheat tortillas wet with enchilada sauce
                                                                                                                        tofu and peppers with chinese black bean sauce over brown rice
                                                                                                                        tofu and peppers with chinese sweet and sour sauce served over brown rice
                                                                                                                        entree salad made with mixed lettuces, cabbage, kale, dried cranberries, shelled edamame, sliced almonds, served with raspberry vinagrette.
                                                                                                                        pasta with spicy peanut sauce
                                                                                                                        guacamole omlettes served with warm tortillas
                                                                                                                        entree size greek salad

                                                                                                                        1. I think it depends on your location whether certain meals can be made for $10.00 or less. I live where beef and some other meats is expensive except when there is a sale so regularly I couldn't make a beef entree meal for $10.00. I love beef oxtails and tongue, for example, which you might consider cheap cuts of meat, but you can't buy it here under $5.99 lb or more and how many oxtails are in a pound? That's right, not enough to make a meal and get full off of it and by the time you buy side dish ingredients, you're over the $10.00. Same thing with seafood, veal and lamb.

                                                                                                                          On the flip side, I can buy chicken leg quarters cheap @ 7.90 for a 10 lb bag and eat it everyday for over a week (for two in my household, if I didn't tire of it). A few days ago, I did buy a family pack of ground beef for 1.99 lb (about 3 1/2 lbs and will make burgers and meatloaf) and chicken breast with skin & bone for .88 cents lb (family pack of about 6 lbs) that will last awhile for two. In those instances, I can splurge on sides and still be under the ten bucks.

                                                                                                                          But you asked for a list of meals so here are my contibutions

                                                                                                                          Chicken breasts stuffed with smoked gouda/spinach/roasted poblanos; toasted rice cooked with a base of roasted mirepoix puree and chicken stock (bouillon cube if necessary) and frozen peas

                                                                                                                          I agree with the salmon croquettes; I made some just last week with a can of salmon (2.79 at Walmart) with onions, bell peppers and celery leaves; served with a side of hash brown potatoes with cheddar and peas. Served two for under $6.00 and had leftover hash browns for breakfast patties. Croquettes can also be made of other meats like cheap chicken/pork

                                                                                                                          Pasta of your choice with alfredo sauce (jarred or fresh) topped with oven dried proscuitto crumbled over the top (just enough to garnish; garden salad with choice of dressing *TIP- sometimes I just go to the garden salad bar at my local grocer's just to get a few things for my salad IF I already have the lettuce and or other items for things like a few cuke slices or tomatoes etc instead of buying an entire cuke or carton of tomatoes...it saves money!

                                                                                                                          We know that dried beans are inexpensive - they can be utilized in a myriad of ways and filling. Bean cakes, chili, soups, etc can be paired with a side and good bread usually for under your budget.

                                                                                                                          Soup, soup, soup! I love gumbo and make it often; if you have a Dollar Tree and or Walmart (Sam's, Costco, etc) you can buy frozen packages of mixed veggies for a dollar or a little over...some broth, tomatoes, seasonings and some random bits of meat and you'll have a pot of gumbo to last for days. Pair it with cornbread or other bread and a side like rice or other veggie.

                                                                                                                          I need to mention here that I've had a garden for the past few years and it helps with my food costs. I use the okra, tomatoes, green beans and other veggies for my gumbo and soups; I use carrots, onions, celery for my stocks, etc. I plant extra and freeze it to use in winter.

                                                                                                                          This week, pork shoulder roasts are on sale for .99 cents/lb. Tons of possibilities for a roast @ about $6.00+; pulled pork, pork and apple stew, sliced thin for pork steaks, thinly sliced and pounded/stuffed for roulades or chicken fried pork with gravy & biscuits, pork fried rice topped with an egg - all from the same roast.

                                                                                                                          Turkey wings - I bought a 5 lb box for $5.99; we put some on the grill to cook halfway then I jerked them (put them in sauce) and finished them in a slow cooker. They were so so good! Smokey and a little spicy from the sauce; served them with my sweet potato hash and green beans (frozen from the garden) cooked with a little bacon.

                                                                                                                          Breakfast for dinner is something we do about every two weeks - omlettes or scrambled with good extra sharp cheddar, sausage and/or bacon, grits or potatoes cooked with onions and toast or french toast can be had for about 10.00 or less.

                                                                                                                          Finally, I must mention my BF hunts rabbit & squirrel and we freeze these; our neighbors hunt wildlife like bear, deer etc. I have deer ribs, sausage and other deer cuts in the freezer. We fish also...the only thing it cost us is time and a few dollars for fishing/hunting supplies (bait, bullets, etc). Deer rib are delicious; most of the time, we eat like royalty for under $10.00.

                                                                                                                          To me, a meal is balanced, otherwise it's just a side, entree, etc. A green salad with bread is not what I consider a meal. JMHO....

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                                                            I think you are hitting on the basic point which is "gimme ten bucks and I can find some really solid chow to make for you." It boils down to savvy shoppin', having a buncha spices at hand, and knowin' howta cook. Havin' a picture of Hamilton in your pocket can benefit some stomachs more than others.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                              Exactly!! I'm pretty much a bargin shopper; I wait til the sale circulars come out on Wednesdays then I make my purchases unless I'm wanting to make a dish and I absolutely have to have something before then

                                                                                                                          2. I'm not on a strict budget but I recently made Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child's recipe and wanted to know the total cost and the cost per serving. The original recipe says it serves 6. We cut the recipe in half, served it over egg noodles and it still provided 6 servings. We also and made garlic bread to go with it. With everything included, that came to $2.90 per serving. And cheapskate that I am, I used TJ's 2-buck-Chuck and it still came out wonderful.

                                                                                                                            While it is true that the whole meal costs more than $10, the per serving cost is less than a Big Mac.

                                                                                                                            1. Only once a week do I spend $10+ on a meal for our family of 6. Homemade veggie burgers on homemade buns with all the fixings only cost about $0.40/each. There is a huge variety of recipes possible. Bean-based meals are ridiculously cheap. Also, you can make a nearly free meal from a roasted chicken carcass. Put it in the crockpot overnight with just water and it makes a delicious broth. Add beaten eggs for protein, grains if you want the carbs in it too. That might cost $1.50 if you add in 2 eggs per person. Bean tacos are also crazy cheap.

                                                                                                                              1. Polenta with sauce
                                                                                                                                Any homemade pasta--ravioli, lasagna, manicotti

                                                                                                                                Noodle kugel
                                                                                                                                Potato kugel
                                                                                                                                Blintzes (homemade)

                                                                                                                                Arroz con pollo

                                                                                                                                Mussels and pasta
                                                                                                                                Clams and pasta (use canned--this was my mother's go-to budget meal)
                                                                                                                                Pasta aglio olio
                                                                                                                                Pasta with homemade pesto (skip the pine nuts!)

                                                                                                                                Any veggie curry and rice


                                                                                                                                Egg foo yung

                                                                                                                                Chicken livers with onions and a little wine
                                                                                                                                served on kasha/bulgar/rice

                                                                                                                                Marinated grilled tofu, stir-fried veggies, rice

                                                                                                                                Mapo tofu

                                                                                                                                Homemade calzones

                                                                                                                                Actually, it's time that's the determining factor, not money so much. If you have time to cook, you can make any number of traditional dishes that are amazingly delicious--

                                                                                                                                Most South Indian vegetarian dishes will be way under $10 for four--but they do take preparation.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: femmevox

                                                                                                                                  You can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts in pesto.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                    Depending on what you'll do with it, you can make all sorts of changes in your pesto. We usually do spinach, hazelnut, and asiago cheese.

                                                                                                                                2. I can make a healthy, filing, nice dinner for four for around 1 dollar..

                                                                                                                                  Fresh walleye, perch, blue gills from our local lake (free)

                                                                                                                                  Grilled fresh vegetables from my garden (free)

                                                                                                                                  Fresh fruit from my yard (free)

                                                                                                                                  Charcoal to cook the fish and vegetables

                                                                                                                                  S&P and butter

                                                                                                                                  It is the charcoal, S&P and butter that probably adds up to 1 dollar. :-)

                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                    To be fair, fishing and gardens aren't free. You have to buy the equipment for fishing, and gardens cost money to create and maintain. I wanted to build one raised planter bed just to grow a few things and I estimated it would cost around $50 just to build it... not counting the soil, seeds, water etc. Really, same for the trees unless they were there when you bought the property.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                      Hi julie,

                                                                                                                                      You are right and really nothing is "free". I pay property taxes so I guess the veggies and berries are not truly "free" and the night crawlers I bait my hook with are not "free" as well.

                                                                                                                                      Of course what you said can be applied to people who say that they can feed a family of four for under $10 by picking up a rotisserie chicken at Sam's Club. They have to buy gas to fuel the automobile they paid for to get to Sam's Club.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                      While that's great what about people living in a apt in the city or a townhouse in the burbs? Not very helpful advice for those without means of having a home on a river/lake and the space, skills and means to have a garden. Never mind if you live in area where the winters are long....

                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                        <Not very helpful advice for those without means of having a home on a river/lake>

                                                                                                                                        Go out, camp in front of a restaurant, and beg for foods. It will be free. :)

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                        Nice idea and your point is well taken. This gardening approach has several considerations. First, gardening is not free. Aside from the equipments, there is an opportunity cost associate with the time and efforts, a quiet heavy one at that:


                                                                                                                                        For example, it would actually cost me a lot more to grow to my cow than to buy the beef from a local market.

                                                                                                                                        Nevertheless, your point is well taken.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the reply, Chem. I suspected some would take me literally even though I put the smiley face at the end of my post. I am glad you were not one of the people to take what I said literally.

                                                                                                                                          You are certainly correct about opportunity cost and that is why i used the example of fishing. I do not stock the lake nor do I fish when I could be making money so my opportunity cost is zero.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                            Why didn't you mention hunting? :P

                                                                                                                                            Our ancestors were hunters and gathers, not fishermen and gardeners.


                                                                                                                                            <nor do I fish when I could be making money so my opportunity cost is zero.>

                                                                                                                                            Your opportunity is never zero unless you have nothing else to do. :) You would have watched TV, played with your dog, talked to strangers, high kicked your neighbors in their heads.... so many opportunities. :P

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                              Chem. I did not mention hunting because i knew if i said i could feed venison to a family of four for $1.25 (the cost of a .30-06 round) people would start hollering about how it is wrong to shoot bambi and we would get way off subject. You know as well as I do how it works around here. :-)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                :) Yeah, I was trying to get you into troubles. :D

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                  That was obvious. And now you have me thinking about kicking my neighbors in their heads instead of going fishing.

                                                                                                                                                  What a dilemma and a decision I must weigh carefully! :-)

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                  I'd rather eat bambi than fish from the lake near my house :) But then again, I live with a hunter. He keeps threatening to get a buck and hang his head above my dining room table. Also because of that though, I know hunting is NOT a cheap sport/hobby.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                    I agree, Julie. I live fairly close to Lake Michigan and I would sooner fish out of the river that runs behind the nuclear power plant than fish out of Lake Michigan.

                                                                                                                                                    Yep, hunting CAN be an expensive sport/hobby. That blaze orange wardrobe is not cheap. A cabin can be expensive as well. Not to mention stocking the cabin with hunting trip essentials like beef jerky, poker chips, beer and whiskey. And it might be a good excuse as well to purchase an ATV and a snowmobile. :-)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                      LOL you sound like my SO. He wants to buy a Razor (http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/...) just so he can use it for hunting. The deer and elk hunting season here in CO is only NINE days... so he spends thousands of dollars on crap to use for 9 days a year... and didn't even get anything this past year! I told him he better bring home some lovely venison this next time or else....

                                                                                                                                                      He also knows that if he gets something, he is required to buy me a big upright freezer.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                        Hmm, I didn't know you can hunt with a moving vehicle. Anyway, I don't think hunting is really "money saving" strategy. It is a hobby, not a job.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                            Actually I did a great container garden on my deck two years ago with an old large discarded kiddy pool my neighbor gave me....soil from my yard and seeds from the 99 cents only store...my cost was maybe 1.00 for seeds and of course I composted for nutrients and paid for H2O. I had a good yield of four varieties of tomatoes that trailed up my fence....squash......peppers.......and lettuces that I actually planted in a sunny area of my yard. People in urban areas such as where I live do *container gardens* some grow them in gunny sacks...tires...those big empty plastic painters buckets ( usually free recycled stuff) some people in Oakland San Francisco Sacramento etc. who live in high rise buildings grow their container gardens on the building rooftops.It can be done for a minimal investment if one is willing to dialogue with similar like minded individuals and do some networking. I also really appreciate your reference to fresh caught fish etc. My late dad fished hunted and brought home abalone from Bodega Bay......venison...rabbit....duck. I doubt he and his cronies were *licensed* back in the day:)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                              And speaking of new uses for old materials, one highly resourceful handyman I know attaches sections of old roof gutters to a backyard fence and does container gardening in these. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywIf7D...

                                                                                                                                          3. I haven't read through all 160 replies, but this was a weekly meal growing up with a family of 5 children. To this day we always request this meal when we are all together.

                                                                                                                                            pressure cooked pinto beans
                                                                                                                                            steamed white rice
                                                                                                                                            ground beef browned with onions, garlic, chile powder, cumin
                                                                                                                                            occasionally cornbread

                                                                                                                                            I know, were are the colorful veggies? But, we loved it and it kept our family fed! Usually leftovers, too.

                                                                                                                                            My parents now own a successful BBQ restaurant in Lake City, CO (summer only) They still make these wonderfully simple (and cheap) pressure cooked pinto beans.

                                                                                                                                            1. Every meal I make for our family of four is less than $10 (and there are usually enough leftovers for school lunches the next day - college lunches that is). We purchase healthy, good quality foods, but wait for sales and then stock up. I buy cod fish pieces at Trader Joe's for example for $3/lb and then make fish patties with herbs and serve over rice ($0.80/lb). We eat fish, frozen vegetables with rice, homemade pasta with homemade tomato sauce, homemade pizza, chili, couscous (made from scratch - not store bought), homemade breads (all these are VERY easy to make, VERY quick, VERY healthy, VERY cheap and we freeze them so we have it for the entire week). Most of the recipes I took off youtube.

                                                                                                                                              1. By the way.. for me... not in my neck of the woods.. is no longer relevant. If there is an item they don't have in my store - or if I can get it cheaper online - that's where I head. You can purchase wine, kalamata olives, seasonings, vinegar, olive oil, canned tomatoes, tuna, dried peas, dried lentils, pasta, etc online for peanuts compared to what they sell at the supermarket.

                                                                                                                                                1. Simple and easy fresh ravioli stuffed with ground beef the meal would easily cost you bout $8 to make and easily feed 3-4.

                                                                                                                                                  1. chessy crustles quiches cost is about $4 for a dozen.

                                                                                                                                                    1. If you amortize the cost over multiple meals, I do this all the time, with ingredients that seem out of reach to most of my peers. For reference, I'm 30 and I live in a very expensive and affluent area of Washington, DC.

                                                                                                                                                      I try to shop at farmers markets as much as possible in season (about March-November here). At first, it seemed like I could never buy the pastured, grass-fed, healthy meat there because of the prices (chickens run about $5.99/lb, ground beef $8/lb, steaks are mostly around $20-25/lb). Produce actually tends to be cheaper at the market, but you're somewhat limited. I've never seen an artichoke, avocado, or any citrus at the farmers market, and i'm not sure I could live without them.

                                                                                                                                                      But here's the thing. I found that with a little work, you can find ways to stretch what you buy into many meals. Here's a real life example from this week.

                                                                                                                                                      I bought:
                                                                                                                                                      1 chicken ($26)
                                                                                                                                                      1 lb asparagus ($3.50)
                                                                                                                                                      3 lbs potatoes ($4)
                                                                                                                                                      1 bunch green onions ($2.50)
                                                                                                                                                      1 bunch garlic scapes ($1.25)
                                                                                                                                                      1 huge bag of mixed salad greens ($5)
                                                                                                                                                      1 lb barley ($4)

                                                                                                                                                      That's $46.25 total. I used these ingredients to make the following meals.

                                                                                                                                                      Roast chicken over potatoes, asparagus, and scapes (just threw it all in a roasting pan and went for an hour at 425. My wife and I ate this for dinner on Monday night. I juiced a lemon over the whole dish before serving (that cost another $.99 at the organic store on our corner) This puts the total at $47.24

                                                                                                                                                      All week (tuesday through friday), we had salads made with a few ounces of leftover chicken, cooked barley, and roasted veggies for lunch (4 lunches for two people). I made dressing using some sherry vinegar and olive oil. I'd say I used maybe $0.50 of vinegar and $1 of oil for the week. Plus a tablespoon of expensive dijon mustard (maybe $0.25?) Now we're at $48.99.

                                                                                                                                                      For dinner on Tuesday, we had a fritatta made with leftover potatoes and some frozen spinach (another $1 for the spinach and $2 for eggs at the farmers market) Total so far is $51.99. I also took the bones from the chicken and made about 1.5 quarts of stock that night.

                                                                                                                                                      On Wednesday, we had a soup made of chicken stock, canned tomatoes ($2.50), barley, and some dried mushrooms I had in the back of the pantry (maybe another dollar) and two artichokes I bought at Whole Foods (on sale for $2.50/each). Used another $0.99 lemon for the artichokes. Total is $56.48 so far.

                                                                                                                                                      Last night we had the last of the chicken and potatoes alongside a salad of chopped spring onions, english cucumbers ($4 for three of them at Whole Foods), and a tomato ($3 at Whole foods). $63.48.

                                                                                                                                                      So that's eight meals for two for $64. Works out to $2 per meal per person using fresh, local, and expensive (very expensive for the chicken) ingredients. I've still got some barley and potatoes left, along with about a cup of chicken stock and a little bit of the meat, maybe enough for another hearty soup. Oh - and we did eat breakfast this week (don't always), but i didn't include it because it was a big batch of steel cut oats I made on Monday night and kept in the fridge all week (maybe $1 for the oats - 10 cents or something per portion).

                                                                                                                                                      I didn't always cook this way, and it was a very big adjustment. The transition from cooking meals from fresh ingredients only to building off of them took a lot of creative thought, but now that I'm used to it, it comes naturally. In the beginning, I would plan what to do with each ingredient, but now, having done this for about a year it's all improvisation. Tamar Adler's book (which doesn't need any more love on the internets) was a big help in that regard.

                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: unburritable

                                                                                                                                                        You were charged $26 for a chicken? I am in the wrong business!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                          And $2 for farmer's market eggs? $1.25 for scapes? I must be shopping at the wrong farmer's markets here.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                            The $2 was for the four eggs I used. I pay $4.50-$5.00 per dozen. Scapes are sold by the bunch usually, and bunch sizes vary...

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                            We don't know how big that chicken was. When I buy a whole chicken, I believe it is about $5 per pound (I will check when I go to the market later this morning). That's for a local chicken produced in a manner I can feel comfortable with. And those farmers are not getting rich.

                                                                                                                                                            Unburritable, your post is great. Of course, we will all see different prices in our communities (my eggs run 3.50 to 4.50 per dozen). But you've done a great job of showing how to eat for days on simple ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                              Hi debbiel, When I do purchase an entire chicken it is from a local farmer and the bird is free-range, not injected with hormones, steroids or antibiotics and the farmer assures me it is also a nondenominational chicken.

                                                                                                                                                              The most he has ever charged me was $11. $26 for a chicken seems a bit excessive to me.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                I checked prices here (not at the farmers market, which I missed this morning, but at a local natural market that sells local meat). Whole chickens go for $4/pound. It is hard to find one under four pounds (another unfortunate thing, in my opinion). Most are 4 to 5 pounds, so under the $26. I guess my point was just that "good" meat can be pricy, ranges in price by area, and in my experience local farmers are not getting rich.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't think I could get one for $11 from our local farmers, simply because of the sizes that seem to be available. But I'd be happy to find a 3 pound whole chicken!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                  "free range" "organic" here $1.89/lb today. You be ripped off.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                    No, I'm not being ripped off. This is a fairly common price around these parts. If I was watching the farmers get super rich, I would think perhaps I was being ripped off.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                      That is so unfair. A 26$ organic chicken (which was raised an hour away) is pretty standard here. I guess it all hinges on the cost of living in your area. :-(

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thymetobake

                                                                                                                                                                        Good Lord! Where do you guys live?

                                                                                                                                                                        Inorganic chicken on sale for 99 cents per pound today.

                                                                                                                                                          3. I live in Denmark and everything is insanely priced here.

                                                                                                                                                            I am also a student and my monthly food-budget is 175 dollars (i am only one person though).

                                                                                                                                                            My go-to meats are:

                                                                                                                                                            Ground beef: from that i make pasta sauce, lasagna, meatballs for pitas, hamburgers, filling for pizzas and so on. I eat a lot of oven baked potatoes and salads of grated carrots / beets with raisins or oranges.

                                                                                                                                                            Chicken (both whole, thighs and breasts). I make curries, stews, soups, pies.

                                                                                                                                                            Bacon: i use it crumbled on top of cheap vegetable soups, in pasta salads, in quiches, in carbonara and stuff like that.

                                                                                                                                                            Not to mention pasta aglio e olio, vegetarian quiches, open faced rye-bread sandwiches (with eggs, potatoes and mayo, cold cuts of meat, canned tuna or mackerel) or something similar.

                                                                                                                                                            It's not always fun, but i get by.

                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SigneGT

                                                                                                                                                              It sounds to me like you are eating very well and being resourceful. Could you tell me more about your beet/carrot salad?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                I can't complain :) My only problem is not having enough freezer-space :b

                                                                                                                                                                It varies slightly from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                                Most often it's either just grated carrots, with a bit of lemonjuice and a little sugar. And then with raisins on top. Sometimes also roasted sunflower seeds.

                                                                                                                                                                The other often-used variety is one third grated beets, one third grated carrots and one third grated apples. Seasoned with bit of balsamico, it's just beautiful :D

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: SigneGT

                                                                                                                                                                Signe, my daughter is planning to do her final university year in Copenhagen, and your post about what is available to you at your budget level makes me feel better about our planning going forward! Your final sentence does make me want to know more, though, about what what budget planning we can do on the front end to avoid an unpleasant shock. Are farmers' markets a better deal than supermarkets in DK? Any tips for eating for someone who favors organics and ethically-raised meats on such a budget? Is $175 USD a *minimal* no-frills budget amount (although it sounds like you eat a delicious diet on that, I know we all want *more* at times)? I don't mean to pepper you with questions, but any insight you have would be appreciated!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                                  As long as they're questions about food, you wont hear me complaining ;)

                                                                                                                                                                  Sadly farmer's markets aren't really a thing in Denmark. Never really caught on i think, although Copenhagen has a much better selection than the rest of the country. Recently an indoor food market kind of thing opened called Torvehallerne, i have only been there once but the prices are absolutely outrageous.

                                                                                                                                                                  Cooking is fairly "in" at the moment, but the people doing it are middle-aged people who are all pretty well-off economically. So i'd definitely recommend supermarkets, because the specialty stores are very overpriced.

                                                                                                                                                                  Luckily the so-called discount supermarkets like Netto and Fakta has pretty good selections of both organic and regular produce and meat. One thing that will be hard to find for a reasonable price will be organic chicken though.

                                                                                                                                                                  Fortunately as long as she buys local, the rules for the danish farmers are pretty strict and you can be quite certain the animals have had a pretty good life none the less.

                                                                                                                                                                  175 USD is a pretty minimal budget, it certainly doesn't include the occasional pizza or fast food trip (eating out is very expensive), but i get by just fine :)

                                                                                                                                                                  Depending on what your priorities are, the prices vary A LOT. En example could be a whole chicken, you can often find a 1.2 kg (about 2.5 pound) chicken for around 30 kroner (5 dollars), but if you wanted an organic one, you could end up paying 150 kroner (26 dollars) instead. Looking at the supermarket leaflets for good prices is very recommended.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SigneGT

                                                                                                                                                                    What on earth do younger people with lower incomes do, instead of cook? Eating out is obviously more expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure what you mean "instead of cook". Nothing really :b

                                                                                                                                                                      Eat pasta with ketchup or open-faced ryebread sandwiches with just about anything. Ryebread is the go-to lunch in Denmark and we eat it with just about anything :)

                                                                                                                                                              3. Hi, LD:

                                                                                                                                                                I'm too tired to do a menu, but I'd like to point out that pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt) can be had in bulk and usually at amazingly low prices.

                                                                                                                                                                My last purchase was from a Cash & Carry, and went $1.52 a pound. Good for BBQ, kalua pig, carnitas, and 10,000 other things. I buy them cryovac'd 2 to a pack and refreeze one. A 2-pack would serve a family of 4 for a couple of weeks.


                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                                                  Do you have a recipe to share for kahlua pig?


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                                                                                                    Just taught someone to make her first pot roast with meat that was on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                      i have to say, if I came across that recipe on my own, I'd totally turn my nose up at it. It sounds dreadful with the liquid smoke. You've tried this with good results?


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        Never made it, but looked it up when kok said he was too tired to post.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                                                    Also try this - is fabulous, I triple the recipe for a fiesta with family/friends.

                                                                                                                                                                    Achiote Pulled Pork

                                                                                                                                                                    2 T achiote paste
                                                                                                                                                                    6 garlic cloves, peeled
                                                                                                                                                                    1 tsp salt
                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 cup lime juice
                                                                                                                                                                    2 T orange juice
                                                                                                                                                                    2 lb lean boneless pork shoulder

                                                                                                                                                                    Cilantro-- Garnish
                                                                                                                                                                    16 to 18 warm tortillas
                                                                                                                                                                    2 large banana leaves


                                                                                                                                                                    Rough chop garlic and smoosh garlic and salt together until a paste results. Combine garlic and achiote paste enough water to form a thick, spreadable paste. Combine above mixtures with citrus juice in large bowl. Coat meat with new mixture. Rub the mixture into every part of the meat. Cover the meat.--refrigerate over night.

                                                                                                                                                                    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap pork in banana leaves--add any excess spice paste. Place pork in roasting pan with 1 cup water. Cover. Cook approximately 3 hours or until pork falls apart. You may want to add water occasionally during roasting. I like to let the meat cool and skim the fat from resulting liquid. Shred pork. Serve warm with remaining liquid from roasting. Reduce liquid if needed.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. Took someone shopping today who is on a budget. Boneless pork loin $2.49/ lb; chicken thighs $0.99/lb. $8 for 11 portions!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Because this thread keeps jumping to the top of my list and there's no "unfollow" I'll say again that I think it's the exception rather than the rule that any meal for four would cost more than $10.

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                        Someone up-thread suggested a rule of thumb would be that your primary protein should cost $5/lb or less. I suppose, of course, it depends on how much protein you have with each meal, but still, I've been employing this rule of thumb ever since I read that and I've found it pretty revealing... Lots of meats cost more than that per lb if you're not shopping carefully.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          Without having this thread in mind at the time, I just bought over a pound of boneless pork loin chops for $2.80. They were in the 30% off area. For a meal for four, that's over 4oz/pp of protein which is more than enough. I don't make myself crazy shopping (I don't coupon and other things that people do) but probably 85% of the time, I'm buying meat that's reduced in one way or another. So anyway, there's that $2.80 part of the menu, leaving $7.20 for the "rest of the story." I just don't get it. Sure, it's no problem spending more but to me it's just as easy, maybe even easier, to spend less. Just my $2.80 worth :)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                            If that were me and I werent' being budget-minded and shopping solely for what I like to cook, I'd pass on those boneless chops up for bone-in. And I'd check, too, that they weren't too close to expiration date. I really only grocery shop once a week, so everything has to last in my fridge either uncooked or as leftovers until the next shopping trip. I don't mind having one protein in my fridge that's extremely perishable (and I try to reserve that for fresh seafood), but I can't have it all be that way. And I suppose I could freeze it right away, but that just requires me to pay attention to the use by date when I defrost. And, honestly, I'm kind of leisurely about defrosting stuff so I'd rather not have to worry that something's going to spoil immediately after it's been defrosted.

                                                                                                                                                                            Not to mention that I really try to buy pasture-raised meats if I can...

                                                                                                                                                                            So, there can be a number of considerations other than price, even if one has the smarts to recognize a good price.


                                                                                                                                                                      2. My suggestion for a cheap filling meal is made with lamb shoulder blade chops. In my area of Canada, New Zealand lamb is often on sale at this time of year (spring, early summer). The shoulder blade chops are economical, and a common sale price for them in my area is $2.99 a pound. There is not much meat on these chops, so allow two per person. For dinner for four people, use eight chops. As well as being economical, this meal is incredibly easy to make.

                                                                                                                                                                        Further, in praise of lamb, you can be pretty well certain that you are eating natural pasture-raised meat. As far as I know, there are no industrial feed lots or similar modern meat-raising practices used with sheep. They live in pastures and eat grass. What could be better!

                                                                                                                                                                        Brown the chops at medium heat, for 5-10 minutes per side.

                                                                                                                                                                        Place chops, single layer, in a fairly deep casserole dish, lightly greased.

                                                                                                                                                                        On top of the lamb, put raw potatoes (no need to peel them), raw carrots and raw onions. Use three times as many vegetables as you think you will eat for dinner. (see below).

                                                                                                                                                                        Add water to the casserole dish, but just enough to cover the lamb chops.

                                                                                                                                                                        Add some kind of herb or flavouring to the dish, as per your taste. I like to add Crosse & Blackwell mint sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                        Cover the dish and cook at 350F for 1 to 1.5 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                        *** Regarding cooking three times as many vegetables as you think you'll eat for dinner, I have two reasons. One is obvious: leftovers. You can saute the leftover veg using the leftover liquid from the casserole dish.

                                                                                                                                                                        Another reason is that the chops will release a lot of lamb fat as they are cooking, which will be absorbed by the veg. Delicious! But there may be too much fat in the veg for some people if you cook only a small volume of veg. For me, cooking lots of extra veg still gives plenty of lamb flavour to the vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BrightRedMud

                                                                                                                                                                          Referring to my above post, naturally the vegetables need to chopped up before adding them to the casserole.

                                                                                                                                                                          Hopefully this post will land in the right place. I'm a bit confused with the new format.