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May 13, 2013 05:10 PM

Feeding a family of 4 with cheap recipes. Any ideas anyone? :)

Hello everyone! I'm new to the forums but been a long time reader of recipes, etc. I just joined to find out from you awesome chowsters of great cheap recipes! I already know how to make different types of ramen noodes, mac n cheese among mashed potatos, beans, rice, vegetables, soups. I'm looking more of what are great cheap recipes with ground beef and chicken especially crock pot recipes! I do make chili every now and then and sloppy joes. I'm feeding myself, my husband and my 6 year old twin sons. Thanks for taking the time to read this cat's post! :)


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  1. Use chicken thighs in a slow cooker, which should be less expensive than breasts. I make a stew wirh skinless bone-in thighs, Mexican chorizo, onion, peppers (poblano and others) and hominy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Check out this thread for $10 and less meals. Great ideas.

      1. re: foodieX2

        I have cooked chicken breast in a crockpot before and it turns out good but never knew thighs would make a great cheap way of cooking :) Thanks for that GH. Plus I just read on that thread there Foodie, I appreciate that link!


        1. re: KatnipCooking

          don't buy "thighs", buy "leg quarters"; where I live you can get 10# for .79/# on sale. Take a good knife and go right through the joint to separate, or just leave whole. I take off the skin as the joint area skin is loaded with gobs of fat. yuck. But quarters are 1/2 the price of thighs, or less.

          1. re: toodie jane

            Where I live, bone in thighs and quarters are the same price, usually around 99 cents a pound. Same for whole chickens.

            Adding that I live near Denver.

    2. I don't know if it falls into "cheap", but the ingredients certainly aren't fancy and my kids love my chicken burgers. Plus, I can assemble and freeze them individually wrapped for cooking. My almost 11 month old loves them fairly simple and we eat them jazzed up.
      I use 2 lbs white meat ground chicken and combine with a tablespoon fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. ( That's what I give the kids) I make patties and then press the patties into panko bread crumbs on the outside. I don't put breadcrumbs in them.
      I cook them in olive oil ( or oil or your choice) on the stove top until they are cooked through- firm.
      For us, I use the base recipe and might add garlic, soy sauce and ginger if we're eating Asian chicken burgers. I might top with a dusting of sesame seeds and teriyaki. I've done it with a bit of monterrey jack, sliced avocado and salsa on top too.
      There's a lot you can do with it...but the best is the idea that I can make different sizes depending on who its for, and pop out however many I might need to defrost fairly quickly.

      6 Replies
      1. re: MRS

        Hmmm chicken burgers. I never done that before. For the white meat chicken, Do you use a chicken breast to make into into patties? Cause this recipe sounds delicious! Especially since I got some panko bread crumbs and regular Italian bread crumbs. I plan to try this! Thanks! :)


        1. re: KatnipCooking

          I use packaged ground chicken- it's easier to use, a bit finer texture and I can often buy it on sale. That said, if you wanted to run chicken breast through a food processor, I don't see why that wouldn't work. You just want it really ground/fine so the taste is smooth.
          They are so super easy to prep. And then I wrap each one in cling wrap tightly and then keep freezer bags full of them.
          Let me know what you think!

          1. re: MRS

            Defiantly will! Thanks for letting me know what kind of chicken and recipe! :)


            1. re: KatnipCooking

              Just FYI the structure of the ground chicken is quite different than other ground meats I have worked with. Also, I don't like the texture when it's cooked but others quite like it. I just thought I'd mention in case you noticed a big difference from other meats. Also beware it is quite sticky :)

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                True about the texture. Good thing to mention. That's why I put the panko on the outside- kinda holds it together better.

        2. re: MRS

          I make these chicken burgers all the time. My husband LOVES them with the peanut sauce. I don't feel the need for the sauce and would rather put the calories toward something else. They are great on the grill or cooked in a pan.

        3. I wouldn't put anything but chicken thighs in a crockpot. A crockpot will destroy white meat chicken.

          For a crockpot: pork butt, beef chuck pot roast... That's all I can think if since I hate crock pots.

          Roast a chicken. You can make 2 or 3 meals out of one.

          1 Reply
          1. re: C. Hamster

            "It will destroy white meat chicken if you leave it in too long."

            It's great if you can monitor it and pull it out in 3 - 5 hours.

            Which does not work AT ALL if you are doing it and leaving the house to work.

            That's why some folks put it in frozen - it's an easy way to crockpot it and still have it edible after 8 - 10 hours.

          2. One of my favorite blogs is She has some really tasty recipes that are also cheap, and gives the cost breakdowns too. Obviously costs vary by area but overall I've found her numbers (she lives in New Orleans) to be pretty close to what I pay here in Colorado.

            One interesting thing she did recently was have a recipe for this shredded beef in a crockpot: and then gave 4 different recipes that use up that one recipe of shredded beef (those are linked in the post).

            4 Replies
            1. re: juliejulez

              This blog is splendid! Works for what I need as well plus the shredded beef looks delicious :) Thank you!


              1. re: juliejulez

                I love this site as well and sometimes just browse for ideas.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  Me too. Love the blog and her recipes are great.

                  1. re: SilverMoth

                    Yeah! So far from looking at this blog, I got many ideas to give a try when I go shopping for ingredients! :)


                2. This may be too obvious but just roast a whole chicken and do the carving yourself. There are hundred of ways to spice it, make pan sauces, roast it with seasonal vegetables, put it on a bed of couscous, serve it with a side salad, etc.

                  If your family is getting too old to feed with a single chicken roast two of 'em. Use the leftover pieces and the bits you slice off the carcasses for chicken salads for lunch. And of course save the bones and vegetable scraps for stock to ramp up the flavor of future soups and sauces for basically free.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: nokitchen

                    Whole roast chicken is a great idea. SO and I are a big eaters so a small-ish chicken of 3 lbs feeds 2 of us but it's a big meal and the bones are great for stock....which I plan to make as soon as I remember to save them instead of tossing them.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      When you clear the table after dinner, just dump the carcass into your crock pot. Cover with water, and let it run on low overnight. In the morning, put a colander over a soup pot in the sink, pour all the crockpot contents into the colander. The soup pot is now full of stock.

                      Congratulations, you have homemade stock with a grand total of 2 minutes work. :)

                      1. re: tzurriz

                        Great, thanks. I once read that it's best to make stock with unflavored meat, is this true? My usual chicken is a Zuni-style with just salt and herbs. I imagined it would make a great stock but then read that article about the best ingredients for stock. Any simple roast chicken (e.g. lemon or herbs) is probably fine for stock right? I plan to roast a chicken in the next few days so will just plop it in. Do you freeze it?

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          We use any roast chicken carcass, at all. My husband smoked a chicken for Mother's day and I turned that carcass into stock. (I label that one smoked chicken stock) - and use it for more intensely flavoured applications, like gumbo.

                          I freeze mine in quart ziplock bags, but there are countless threads here on chowhound about freezing stock. I usually get 4 bags of stock out of one crockpot batch (1 carcass, minus leg and thigh bones).

                        2. re: tzurriz

                          I roasted a chicken last night and did just as you suggested and woke up to the wonderful smells of chicken stock. I usually use Kitchen Basics stock which is pretty dark yellow, but this stock is probably light to medium yellow. Do I need to concentrate it at all or can I just start using it as my go to stock? I use a lot of chicken stock so it would be great to not have to buy it nearly every few days. Have you ever tried this with leftover steak bones for beef stock?

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            If I it doesn't have enough flavor you can reduce it. Mine is hit or miss. Sometimes it is good and gets gelatinous in the fridge and other times it stays liquid.

                            1. re: melpy

                              OK, perhaps I'll give it a check when I get home to see if the consistency has changed and perhaps give it a taste. I was running to work so I had to throw it in the jars and go quickly. It looks similar to most "chicken broth" which I have bought in the past but rarely use now because I love the Kitchen Basics stock. Either way, it's such a great method and I'm sure I'll use it a lot.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                If you want a really rich stock let it go in the crockpot with the bones all day instead of straining it in the morning. I usually leave it at least 24 hours. Also if you add a tablespoon (no more!) of apple cider vinegar it will leach more of the minerals out of the bones and into your stock.

                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                  I see, thanks. I still have the chicken bones I wonder if I could plop them back in :)

                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                    I'll have to try that apple cider vinegar tip!

                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                Taste it and decide if it is concentrated enough for you. If you want a darker color, toss in an onion skin next time. :)

                                I've never tried it with steak bones, but I have used standing rib roast bones and that works wonderfully for beef stock.

                                1. re: tzurriz

                                  Thanks. I threw it back in the crockpot last night for another 12 hours. It's in the fridge now while I'm at work and I'll test it out later tonight, thanks for the tips it really was easy. I did add the apple cider vinegar although I think a bit more than you said as I added it twice when I forgot I already did and the bones at the end did in fact nearly disintegrate.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    The only bad thing that too much vinegar does is impart a vinegar flavor to the stock. Worst case scenario you use the stock in something that benefits from a vinegar taste. :)

                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                      Indeed, and as a freak-of-nature vinegar addict (I really do just choose meals sometimes because of large doses of vinegar) I'll probably love it.

                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                  if you re-roast the bones before making them into a stock, it will be more richly flavored. Also, tossing in fresh aromatics like garlic, onion and celery will help. Don't forget the salt and a splash of vinegar to extract calcium from the bones. Strain the finished broth and reduce by simmering till reduced in volume by 1/2.

                              3. re: fldhkybnva

                                I love my mother's chicken salad recipe from the 1950s. After roasting a chicken, take the leftover meat off the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add a diced stalk of celery, finely diced onion, celery seed, mayo, a splash of fresh lemon juice and a handful of cashews. If I make a larger quantity, I only add the cashews at the time of serving. Otherwise, they turn mushy. I love to toast an English muffin, place chicken (or tuna) salad on a muffin half, top with whatever cheese I have on hand and place under the broiler. Yummmmy! This is an easy, quick item to make when friends drop by unexpectedly...the tuna salad version, not the chicken salad. Always have cans of tuna from Costco on hand and English muffins in the freezer so it's very easy to do.