HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it
TELL US

Frugal, Tasty Recipes for Families on Public Assistance

PesachBenSchlomo May 30, 2013 02:11 PM

Anyone who has tried to feed a family on the allotment from SNAP (what we used to call Food Stamps) knows how very difficult it is to maintain a healthy diet and cook appealing meals while on a pittance of a fixed income.

I use a lot of grains and legumes; I try to use Kale, Chard and other leafy greens, I try to use meat as a condiment rather than a main ingredient; all of this helps, but I would love to get some suggestions for some perhaps more inventive frugal, healthy, appetizing meals.

  1. chartreauxx Jan 5, 2014 02:41 PM

    don't know if this thread is still relevant for the OP, but i have a couple more suggestions to add.

    1) ask your supermarket fish counter if they have any fish heads, collars, etc they aren't using. sometimes, you can get these cheap or even free. asian supermarkets usually sell them anyway (and they're not pricey), but more mainstream western supermarkets frequently just discard them. fish heads and collars actually make surprisingly good eating (in soups/stews or just on their own) and are NOT priced accordingly.
    2) corn chowder. potatoes, onion, creamed corn (i use canned), salt, pepper, milk cream or half/half, and i often also use some combination of the following: carrots, bell peppers, chicken, sausage, bacon, ham, sweet potatoes, frozen shrimp, whole-kernel corn, sweet potato, garlic, spices you like such as cayenne or thyme, peas, celery, or whatever other meat, produce, herbs, etc you might find on sale or have on hand.
    3) in line with #2, clam chowder is not too expensive if made with canned clams (also needs butter, flour, milk/half+half/cream, salt, pepper, potatoes, onion, celery, and optional bacon/ham in addition to canned clams).
    4) black bean burgers. black beans, bell pepper, onion, 1 egg (optional, as binder), bread crumbs, spiced/herbs/hot sauce as have/desire. great on a bun, can also be used as a burrito/taco filling, served with rice, etc. handles a slice of cheese on to beautifully as well.
    5) west african peanut stew/soup. oil, onion, garlic, ginger, optional chicken or sausage or ham or whatever, pepper/hot sauce to taste, salt, pepper, stock, sweet potato, canned chopped tomatoes, leafy greens, and peanut butter. makes a big pot, reheats well.

    good luck, and i hope all 'hounds are doing ok after the recent benefit cuts.

    1. mcf Jan 5, 2014 12:26 PM

      I don't know that this is limited to folks on public assistance, but I thought the information and shopping list and cost breakdown could be useful information no matter where one shops, assuming availability of shopping facilities with such variety in one's area: http://www.5dollardinners.com/20-meal...

      1. p
        PandaCat Nov 3, 2013 07:03 PM

        Been there- done that. I don't know where you live but in my area (inland northwest) Amish stores have a lot of good deals on things like whole grain pastas and other healthy foods. (Yes- they all accept EBT) Look into that.

        My go to was a roast chicken Sunday night- with potatoes and a veg. Then pasta dish Mon (using the chicken), fried rice Tue (using leftover chicken) and then soup Wed made from chicken carcass. Look up recipes for bean and rice meals using brown rice and dry beans. Both are cheap and really pack in nutrients.

        I don't know where you live, or if this is a possibility, but I forage for food in the woods (even now when my budget isn't so limited). Ifind lots of greens, mushrooms (only if you KNOW 100% they're edible), berries, etc. If you have wild roses, look for the red berry-like hip left in the fall. Pick them, wash them, and cook them. You can make them into jam or jelly and they're packed full of vitamin C. I you don't have time to make jam, just reduce them to a strong concentrate and add a Tblsp to vegetables, cere

        Shop the sales- plan weekly menus around the sales. That is usually a good strategy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PandaCat
          parkerjaxmollymo Nov 3, 2013 07:55 PM

          All great ideas! I'd love to forage for food, and wish I had the time and energy for it! I have 3 babies under 2 years. Most of my meals and simple and fast. I do menu plan, and try to offer a varied diet to my family. I'm looking for interesting ways to prepare chicken legs. We eat chicken 1-2x a week.

        2. parkerjaxmollymo Nov 3, 2013 06:44 PM

          Since finding this thread, I've learned so many things! One of my favorites so far is everything to do with a whole chicken. So far these are the zip top bags I have labled in my freezer:
          Breasts- so many things
          Wings- hot wings
          Thighs- stir fry
          Tenderloins- treats for my dogs:)
          Back bone, wing tips, carcass- stock
          SO... my question is?? What do you guys make with chicken legs? Any ideas, recipes, will be appreciated!

          1 Reply
          1. re: parkerjaxmollymo
            MidwesternerTT Nov 3, 2013 07:19 PM

            A quick search on drumsticks came up with this older discussion - lots of good ideas there.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8930...

          2. parkerjaxmollymo Oct 28, 2013 04:35 AM

            I realize this is an older post but I've really enjoyed it so I thought I'd chime in:)
            This recipe is from a patient I used to take care of.. I must admit when she put this in front of me I was very skeptical! And it has turned out to be a family favorite.Very simple delicious dish!
            Debbie's pasta
            lb of macaroni pasta
            2 cans of diced tomatoes
            butter
            salt/pepper

            drain cooked pasta just shy of al dente, reserve a cup of pasta water. Add back to pot, add the rest of ingredients, reserved pasta water if it needs it and stir! I add about 2 tbsp. of butter but obviously it is to taste. My patient would thin it by adding butter. I think the salted pasta water is just as tasty.
            I have added to the original recipe: 2 cans of northern beans, and tomatoes with green chilies.

            2 Replies
            1. re: parkerjaxmollymo
              DuffyH Oct 28, 2013 06:17 AM

              I grew up eating the same pasta. It was Mom's end-of-month budget stretcher, served as an entree. Sadly, my memories of it are not fond ones. I've always thought it to be rather bland. Mom still loves it, though, so my brother and I are likely in the minority.

              Mom could feed 4 of us on ½ pound of macaroni and one can of tomatoes, plus some buttered bread, which was always on the table. If she had it on hand, she'd also add some lettuce and Wish-Bone Italian dressing.

              1. re: DuffyH
                parkerjaxmollymo Oct 28, 2013 06:27 AM

                I agree with the bland part, but only the original! The chilies and beans give it a llittle something extra! And who doesn't love salt and butter:)

            2. j
              Joebob Aug 2, 2013 12:41 AM

              I apologize in advance for not reading the previous 501 replies in case it has been recommended before, but one can make a gallon of excellent, healthy, cheap ginger-carrot-cauliflower soup if one has access to fresh ginger. It can even be made vegan if desirable.

              1. j
                janolson Jul 30, 2013 09:59 PM

                I've enjoyed the responses to your message and have learned a lot by reading them. I'm not on SNAP but have recently needed to reduce my food budget drastically. I've had good experience with Supercook.

                http://www.supercook.com/

                There, you enter the list of what you have in the way of ingredients, and the Supercook returns a list of recipes from across the web that use what you have. I find this encouraging--it helps me focus on what I have instead of what I don't.

                Someone mentioned that winter squash are cheap in the autumn. Winter squash also keep really well if you can keep them cool without freezing. I just used (in July) a pumpkin I got last November, and I still have some Delicata squashes. If you have a good place to store them, try to pick up extra when the price is right.

                http://www.sproutpeople.com/

                Sprouts are a great way increase the nutritional value of meals. See Sproutpeople for instructions on sprouting almost anything, a health food store for seeds, and the bulk food department of a grocery store for beans. I have used a quart canning jar (a pasta sauce jar would work) with a piece of plastic mesh bag (often used for packaging produce, like garlic or oranges) attached to the jar with a rubber band.

                I've been experimenting with seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten (available in the bulk food section of a grocery store). My favorite seitan recipe approximates Italian sausage, thanks to the fennel seed and crushed red pepper; the recipe makes 6 "sausages" and I freeze them, then use 2 or 3 at a time for the two of us. I've used these with eggs and hashed browns for breakfast, in a cassolet for dinner, and in a stew (with winter squash and carrots).

                Last year I tried a vegan diet. I'm keeping a notebook of the vegan recipes I've used and how we like them. I suggest you do something like that, and include the date you made something--that may be useful in the future for knowing what produce is in season, or when grocers are clearing their shelves for the new season's goods. I'd like to read such a cookbook! Maybe you could publish it and get some royalty income!

                2 Replies
                1. re: janolson
                  chartreauxx Jul 30, 2013 10:23 PM

                  another one (incidentally vegan!) that i've been doing a lot lately is spicy peanut noodles. i make mine with spaghetti; the sauce is just peanut butter + soy sauce + brown sugar to taste + sriracha/any hot sauce to taste. i add carrot slices or matchsticks and edamame (look for sales on the frozen, pre-shelled ones).

                  boil noodles.
                  microwave 0.5 cup pb, .25 cup soy sauce, sugar and hot sauce in a small bowl, 30 seconds - 90 seconds depending on your microwave. blend with fork. if you want it saucier, just add more pb, soy sauce, and/or some warm water.
                  microwave carrot and edamame till just crisp-tender.

                  toss the whole mix together, eat. makes a pile of food for not much money, filled with protein and healthy fats. whole wheat noodles are usually about $1.50/box here, so you can make a whole pound of spaghetti with sauce for not much cash. ($1.50 pasta + $0.53 PB + $0.26 soy sauce + a few cents in hot sauce/sugar, + $0.25 carrots + $0.75 edamame is no more than $5 for a meal). you'll have extra PB, soy sauce, carrots and edamame. depending where you shop and what package sizes they sell, you'll only use about 25% of the carrots and edamame, which will total cost about $0.75/lb and $3 for the sizes i purchase. you'll definitely also have extra peanut butter and soy sauce. however, i find these "extras" pretty easy to repurpose, and it's still not THAT expensive. has the added benefit of being vegetarian/vegan.

                  1. re: chartreauxx
                    j
                    janolson Aug 1, 2013 03:01 PM

                    Thank you, chartreauxx. This sounded so good that I made it for dinner last night with "planned overs" for lunches today.

                2. s
                  scunge Jun 11, 2013 07:55 AM

                  As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 50's my family was money poor.My Sicilian born grandmother fed us well always fresh vegetables ,legumes,and the cheap meats. I was embarrassed when the food was labeled as " Peasant". Now when I read the recipes in the magazines and on line that are either called health foods or vegan etc. the dishes are the same. I just now mix it up with foods that are not necessary from my childhood and "DON"T ALWAYS" buy organic and I eat healthier than I did.Speaking of health I've lost 50 + lbs by mostly cook my own stuff. I prepare foods according to my whim and what I have at home .I shop in ethnic stores (Asian,Central American /Carribian ,Indian/Middle Eastern etc on the cheap.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scunge
                    a
                    acssss Jun 11, 2013 08:16 AM

                    What a great post!
                    "...either called health foods or vegan etc." - I agree! I smile at how "chefs" today make risotto out to be something speciale - and charge an arm an a leg for it.
                    BTW - congrats on losing the weight (wow!) and I bet not only did you lose the weight but your nutrition quadrupled by cooking your own stuff as well.

                  2. h
                    HillJ Jun 11, 2013 07:51 AM

                    PBenS, I also wanted to make a small OTish observation about my own frugal ways. When I cook I play music. It's amazing how much music in the background can elevate meal preparation. Keeping the festive in your inventive frugal, healthy, appetizing menu can transform a budget-friendly meal into a feast!

                    1. DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 07:20 AM

                      This isn't a recipe at all, but more of a tip. When I make enchiladas, since it's just me and the Dude, I always have extra filling. I use it for quick burritos. The first time I did it, I was surprised that it made just about the best burritos ever. The consistency of the filling is perfect when wrapped in a warm tortilla.

                      Heat the filling, warm the tortillas, spoon the hot filling on the tortillas, fold, then nuke for about 30 seconds. Simple, delicious and ready in under 10 minutes.

                      1. PesachBenSchlomo Jun 11, 2013 07:09 AM

                        I just discovered Farmers Market Nutritional Coupons (FMNP) for which people who receive SNAP are eligible. This is really wonderful for people like me who are not near a farmer's market that participates in other programs. Each State's agriculture department has its own regulations, so you need to Google this.

                        1. chartreauxx Jun 10, 2013 08:35 PM

                          well, it's not gourmet, and it's so drop-dead easy it's barely a recipe, but it does make a big sheet pan of food for about $6 and 30 minutes of your time.

                          1 box zatarain's spanish rice mix
                          1 can diced tomatoes
                          1 can black beans
                          1 can sweet corn
                          "mexican blend" cheese (i usually buy the big bag and use it for quesadillas or something in addition)

                          cook the rice with the tomatoes as per box. when it's done mix in the beans and corn. dump it in a baking pan you've oiled or PAM-ed or whatever. top with cheese; bake @ 425F for 10-12 minutes. serve with salsa, and sour cream or guac/avocado if budget permits. otherwise, it's fine on its own or with a splash of ketchup or hot sauce.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: chartreauxx
                            JonParker Jun 11, 2013 01:03 AM

                            That actually sounds pretty good. It woud be even cheaper for me, since I cook black beans a pound at a ime with epazote and freeze them in 2 cup portions. I'd also sub frozen corn (aren't we high and mighty) for canned.

                            I love these cheap and easy but delicious recipes, and I'll be adding this one to my repertoir. Thanks.

                            1. re: JonParker
                              DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 05:56 AM

                              Sub white rice and spices for the box and it gets even less expensive. Or use white rice and Rotel for the first two ingredients. It does sound tasty.

                              1. re: JonParker
                                DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 07:06 AM

                                JonParker,

                                I've long wanted to cook my own beans for more than just soups, but with only 2 people to cook for, I didn't know how to freeze them. Do beans hold together well when frozen?

                                1. re: DuffyH
                                  JonParker Jun 11, 2013 08:43 PM

                                  Yes. I use a 2 cup measuring cup to portion them into freezer bags, and they hold up fine.

                              2. re: chartreauxx
                                h
                                HillJ Jun 11, 2013 06:05 AM

                                Couldn't you also add small pieces of cut chicken thigh or drumstick meat directly to the pot and let that cook along with the rest of the ingredients?

                                1. re: HillJ
                                  DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 06:38 AM

                                  I cut the tenderloin off chicken breasts and save them in a freezer bag until I have enough to add to a meal. That recipe would be an excellent use for them.

                                  If the rice/tomatoes are cooked in a sauté pan, there'd be no need for the baking dish. Less clean-up!

                                  1. re: DuffyH
                                    h
                                    HillJ Jun 11, 2013 07:44 AM

                                    Excellent tips! That's what I was thinking too. Piggybacking diff. riffs on one main dish is a terrific meal stretcher.

                                    When our fishmonger is running a Mgr special I run over to pick up a supply, save a bundle money wise and then make paella for our large group. This rice recipe would easily work as a mock paella.

                                2. re: chartreauxx
                                  h
                                  holypeaches Jun 11, 2013 06:42 AM

                                  I do a variation of this with white rice and spices. Two additions I make; if I feel like it are sauteed diced onion or steamed broccoli. I like the addition of chicken thighs and might experiment with baking them with the rice.

                                  1. re: chartreauxx
                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 11, 2013 06:58 AM

                                    That's a great idea, and needs no defense. It certainly is a recipe, and gourmet shmourmet, but for budget minded folks, perhaps sub cooked dry beans and bulk white rice.

                                    1. re: chartreauxx
                                      DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 07:04 AM

                                      It needs a name. What do you call it?

                                      1. re: DuffyH
                                        chartreauxx Jun 11, 2013 07:52 AM

                                        i call it "ghetto-mex", but you could call it whatever you like. my boyfriend sometimes calls it "amanda rice". :-)

                                        1. re: chartreauxx
                                          DuffyH Jun 11, 2013 08:19 AM

                                          LOL! I think I'll call it Arroz al Horno con Frijoles. It'll look better in my menu planner.

                                      2. re: chartreauxx
                                        weezieduzzit Jun 11, 2013 07:05 AM

                                        The beautiful thing about rice bakes is their flexibility- all sorts of leftovers and bits and pieces can be incorporated.

                                        My Grandmother made one called Texas Hash: cooked ground beef, rice, chili powder and garlic powder, sauteed onions, green peppers and maybe a few other things in a casserole dish tightly wrapped with foil and baked until the rice was done and had soaked up all the liquid. When I was making it a lot in my college years and 20s I upgraded the water to stock, the green peppers to red if I had them, and leftover veggies I had on hand. Total comfort food.

                                        1. re: chartreauxx
                                          a
                                          acssss Jun 11, 2013 07:29 AM

                                          Sounds great! Substitute the rice for regular rice ($2.50 for 5 pounds at Walmart) and no cheese would take it down to $3 and be much less fattening :)

                                        2. t
                                          timothina Jun 10, 2013 07:10 PM

                                          In the winter, squash is really cheap. I roast an acorn squash, cut in half. I then crack an egg in the middle, and put in back in the oven until the whites are cooked. Great.

                                          Also, spaghetti squash with tomato sauce.

                                          Long, thin roasted squashes are great stuffed with leftover grain/bean mixtures.

                                          Orangette has a fantastic braised green cabbage. Put on some parmesan and an egg!

                                          Lastly, radish greens are also edible. Eat the radish, and then sautee those greens (after careful washing) with chiles, garlic, and raisins.

                                          Also, pasta with (frozen) peas, green onions, mint, and chile is fantastic.

                                          I find growing herbs in a window makes more for cheaper and tastier meals. If this helps, I'll post more.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: timothina
                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 11, 2013 03:27 AM

                                            "... chiles, garlic, and raisins ... peas, green onions, mint, and chile ... " Yes! Post more!

                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                              JonParker Jun 11, 2013 04:09 AM

                                              If those ingredients appeal to you then go to your library and check out a copy of "Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen." This is the book that took me from a recipe follower to a cook. You too can turn modest ingredients into world class cuisine. Bayless is my cooking mentor.

                                              1. re: JonParker
                                                PesachBenSchlomo Jun 11, 2013 06:53 AM

                                                I was a regular at his first, modest restaurant in the East Village where I lived in the late '80s. It did not take long for him to go off to be a Star.

                                          2. g
                                            gimlis1mum Jun 10, 2013 05:28 PM

                                            I was thinking of you today as I wandered the produce aisle, trying to remember some more recipes that use inexpensive veggies and/or get more bang for your buck.

                                            Do you have a waffle iron? I have a recipe for "carrot muffin" waffles which is very good. I make a batch at night and freeze them, then in the a.m. make a sandwich with toasted waffle, a slice of cheese, and sliced apple or pear. It's a really yummy breakfast.

                                            I sometimes make the same recipe but substitute peeled, finely shredded broccoli stems for the carrot & add a little grated cheese to the batter. Those are just great on their own, or with some egg salad for lunch. Nice way to get some extra veggies in the diet & get the most out of the broccoli.

                                            If you don't have a waffle iron I think it would work OK to add a little extra liquid to the batter & make pancakes. I'll post the recipe if you're interested :-)

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: gimlis1mum
                                              PesachBenSchlomo Jun 10, 2013 06:24 PM

                                              Very interested. While my main desire in starting this thread was to instigate a Potato Debate, I don't mind getting some good recipes too.

                                              1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 07:09 PM

                                                <While my main desire in starting this thread was to instigate a Potato Debate,...>

                                                I do believe that statement is honest-to-god the funniest thing I've ever read on Chow.

                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                  g
                                                  gimlis1mum Jun 10, 2013 07:39 PM

                                                  lol!!!

                                                  The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's "Waffles From Morning To Midnight," which is a wonderful book in general & has lots of tasty waffle recipes of both sweet and savory varieties.

                                                  Found the recipe online here: http://www.food.com/recipe/carrot-muf...

                                                  Notes; I have made this in variations, depending on what was in the cupboard. The waffles are good even without the currants, pecans, or coconut. If you have some whole-wheat flour you can use that (sub about half of the regular flour) to increase the fiber content of the waffle.

                                                  After you've mixed the waffle batter, let it rest for about 15 minutes. It "sets up" (for lack of a better term) and is easier to spread evenly on the waffle iron.

                                                  If you are planning to eat them right away, transfer each waffle as it is cooked onto a cooling rack placed onto your oven rack, with the oven set to 180F. This will keep the waffles warm while you finish the batch. It also crisps them up a bit...but if you want to freeze them, let the cooked waffles cool on a baking rack, then freeze in plastic bags. I don't wrap them individually since they usually get eaten within a couple weeks, but for longer storage I'd probably wrap each one in foil then put into ziptop bags.

                                                  My little boy has a milk allergy so I make these with almond milk and olive oil and they taste fine (I do notice a difference in texture with the almond milk vs. regular milk, tho).

                                                  For the broccoli-cheese variation, sub 2/3 cup of finely shredded broccoli stems for the carrot, and omit the spices, coconut, currants and pecans. Add 1/2 cup (or more) shredded cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, or maybe some curry powder if you have it.

                                                  Good stuff.

                                                  ETA: for the wafflers out there, this is a pretty thick batter. I generally use a generous half-cup of batter in my waffle maker but these babies take closer to a cup per waffle. This recipe usually gives me 5 full-size round waffles (and sometimes a little mini one that I eat when the kids aren't looking).

                                              2. JonParker Jun 9, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                Here's another super awesome tip that I just learned tonight. Wholesome Wave has a program that DOUBLES the value of your SNAP benefits when you spend them at local farmer's markets. It's not available everywhere (hopefully that will change with time), but there's a map on their web site that shows where it's in place. http://wholesomewave.org/dvcp/

                                                What an amazing program!

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: JonParker
                                                  d
                                                  debbiel Jun 10, 2013 04:03 AM

                                                  I mentioned that somewhere upthread, the double SNAP at farmers markets. It is really a great program. It only doubles up to a certain dollar amount, but that's still significant. Folks who don't have that available at their markets, whether on SNAP or not, might try to push the market coordinators to work on getting it.

                                                  1. re: debbiel
                                                    JonParker Jun 10, 2013 07:00 AM

                                                    Yeah, it's fantastic. I didn't know if it had been mentioned here (and didn't want to read all 500 posts to find out), but it bears repeating. I looked around their website but couldn't find any info on how it's funded and how to get it at your market.

                                                    1. re: JonParker
                                                      d
                                                      debbiel Jun 10, 2013 08:29 AM

                                                      What? You didn't want to read through 500 posts on bean and chicken thigh recipes and the Great Potato Debate of 2013? :) I hope my tone wasn't scolding. I really just meant, "Yeah! Yeah!"

                                                      It is funded through Wholesome Wave. Possibly some states supplement. I'm also not quite sure how individual markets get connected. To nudge, I would:
                                                      Look at farmers markets near me to ask them how it was done
                                                      Contact the Farmers Market Association in my state
                                                      Talk to Food Bank in my area
                                                      And of course, talk to my own farmers market coordinator.

                                                      1. re: debbiel
                                                        a
                                                        acssss Jun 10, 2013 11:43 AM

                                                        "The Great Potato Debate of 2013" - very cool!

                                                2. c
                                                  Chowrin Jun 9, 2013 04:27 PM

                                                  So, we're 455 replies in. And I've got the hubris to figure that I've got something new to say.

                                                  Know how much your cooking costs! For me, it's 50 cents to warm the oven. And that's money SNAP don't pay for. (plus more in the summer to dehumidify the house afterwards.)

                                                  So, do the damn math, know how much each type of cooking costs you. And then buy a pressure cooker. Cooks better, in a third of the time.

                                                  If you're really strapped for money, consider buying (making) dips -- sour cream will feed you -- garlic and onion and a dash of spice (dill, hot pepper, anything) will serve.

                                                  Buy matzah after Passover, eat it the entire summer.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 9, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                    It's not hubris when you're correct. What you said was important and neglected. I am cavalier about using my electric range, but I sweat the utilities bill every month. Thanks for mentioning it.

                                                    Unfortunately, "buy a pressure cooker", while very sound advice, is one of those things one cannot do on $585 a month ($385 in PA, $200 in SNAP)

                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                      Caroline1 Jun 9, 2013 08:47 PM

                                                      Psssst! Ben Schlomo! I have a friend who picked up a doozy of a pressure cooker for two bucks at a garage sale. One would sure help take the kinks out of y our utility bill. '-)

                                                      1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                        tcamp Jun 10, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                        My pressure cooker was $3 at Goodwill. Slow cooker $2.50 at another thrift shop.

                                                        1. re: tcamp
                                                          DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 06:35 AM

                                                          +1. My local Salvation Army store almost always has at least one slow cooker on the shelves. Coffee makers, too, are very common.

                                                        2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                          c
                                                          Chowrin Jun 10, 2013 04:05 PM

                                                          True. Ask for it for your birthday. ;-)

                                                        3. re: Chowrin
                                                          Caroline1 Jun 9, 2013 07:27 PM

                                                          My ovens are pretty efficient but WOW! I do my stove-top cooking on an induction hotplate instead of my beautiful GE smooth top electronic built-in cook top, and boy! does THAT ever save me money!!! Tons of it! But I no longer cook for a family. But an $80.00 induction hot plate will pay for itself unless you generate your own electricity.

                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                            DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 06:27 AM

                                                            Caroline1 - Have you noticed if your kitchen stays cooler with the hotplate?

                                                            I really hate sweating over my smoothtop electric range in summer. I'm planning to switch to induction next year and have been hoping my AC won't have to work so hard to overcome a hot kitchen.

                                                            1. re: DuffyH
                                                              Caroline1 Jun 10, 2013 06:34 AM

                                                              MUCH cooler! So I'm also saving electricity by not making the air conditioning work harder. Good point!

                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 06:47 AM

                                                                This is welcome news, thank you. :)

                                                        4. Atomic76 Jun 8, 2013 05:30 PM

                                                          Haluski - It's basically egg noodles, with braised cabbage and caramelized onions and lots of melted butter. Some people serve it with crumbled bacon, but I like it meatless with some romano cheese on top.

                                                          I regularly see 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes on sale for $1 or even less. With a little bit of olive oil, and a few fresh ingredients (garlic, parsley, onion) you can make a really great sauce that tastes much better than the jar sauces. Plain old spaghetti is always good, but you can always mix things up by adding some veggies, turkey sausage, etc...

                                                          Roasted chicken thighs with potatoes is simple and inexpensive. I will often see 5lb bags of potatoes for only 99 cents around here. You can get creative with the dry rubs to change things up.

                                                          Alfredos are also easy and inexpensive, plus very rich and filling. You can add frozen spinach and/or a frozen vegetable blend to make it into a primavera.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Atomic76
                                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 8, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                            I had never heard of Haluski, and it sounds divine. I love caramelized onions, and I am fetishistic about cooking them verrrry slowly. What do you braise the cabbage in? Stock?

                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                              Caroline1 Jun 10, 2013 05:57 AM

                                                              If you don't already have it, and you love caramelized onions, here's a Marcella Hazan classic Italian recipe that is right up your alley! And if you don't use expensive imported parmesan, it's an inexpensive dish too.

                                                              http://www.alagraham.com/2010/05/smot...

                                                              From reading your posts, I have concluded you do a lot of "scratch cooking," which is almost without exception the cheapest way to eat, so with that in mind, there are TONS of very very old cookbook archives on the web that are just packed with cheap recipes. If you're interested I'd be glad to provide links to some of them.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                PesachBenSchlomo Jun 10, 2013 08:23 AM

                                                                I would love that, thanks. And it is my firm belief that Marcella Hazan is a major star in the small constellation of home-cooking gods, along with Julia, James Beard, and maybe a half-dozen more.

                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                  Caroline1 Jun 10, 2013 08:25 PM

                                                                  Just so you know, PBS, I have not forgotten the on-line recipe books for you. I've been away all day and promise to get the URLs collected in the next day or two and will post them then. But for a teaser, here's one chock full of recipess adapted for wartime shortages, so it’s a gem! It’s at Project Gutenberg (they have a lot of old recipe books) and from there you can save it to your hard drive:

                                                                  Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them (1918), by C. Houston Goudiss and Alberta M. Goudiss

                                                                  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15464/...

                                                            2. re: Atomic76
                                                              a
                                                              acssss Jun 9, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                              I LOVE cabbage. I buy green and purple cabbage a lot and make slaws, pickled cabbage, and definitely braised - I love it with tomato sauce and caramelized onions!! I make my own pasta and will try this next time I make them (don't like butter; don't like bacon - but everything else sounds great)

                                                              1. re: acssss
                                                                tcamp Jun 9, 2013 11:58 AM

                                                                I'm a cabbage fan as well. I make "asian" cabbage slaw about once a week for lunches and recently got hooked on this recipe:

                                                                http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2009/0...

                                                              2. re: Atomic76
                                                                h
                                                                happybaker Jun 9, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                                Atomic - I never knew that dish had an official name - we just called it cabbage and noodles!

                                                                And we ate it never with bacon, almost always with cottage cheese stirred in at the last minute.

                                                                This website says it's a Pittsburgh thing to do the cottage cheese, and we did live there when I was a kid. But I'm a person of mixed Eastern European jewish heritage - who's parents also hung out with Irish, Polish, Italian and Hungarian neighbors, so I never knew which nationality our food came from. I just knew it was good!

                                                                http://pittsburgh.about.com/c/ht/00/1...

                                                              3. Betty Jun 8, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                                I was just thinking about this today as I was working in the garden, how, if I were in such circumstances, how grateful I would be to know that lambsquarter, (a green--a weed that is common here) is so good to eat I don't pull it when it appears in my garden every summer. I know it helped my family make it through hard times in the past.

                                                                But really, to be honest I was mostly thinking about how my family always grew onions, and how much I grow & use of the allium family. Onions cooked down or broiled, with a little fat of some kind is one of the best things ever. On flatbread, in a sandwich, with greens, as a side. It seems like I start everything by chopping onions. I'm pretty sure if I were on SNAP I'd buy a bag of cheap onions. Chopped they freeze well, too.

                                                                Not inventive, I know. But, on the inventive side, if you have any place to plant things, I have recently been delighted to find that planting the root end of romaine lettuce produces usable regrowth. I didn't have as much luck with celery, but I will definitely keep planting romaine ends-- now even composting them seems wasteful. This photo shows one of them I am letting go to seed-

                                                                 
                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: Betty
                                                                  a
                                                                  acssss Jun 8, 2013 04:58 PM

                                                                  I read what you wrote and ran out and bought Romaine lettuce! They were also having a sale - $0.99/lb - so double winnings! I washed the leaves, and put them in paper towels but instead of throwing out the bottom (I feel so stupid for all the lettuce bottoms I threw away throughout the years) - put it in water. I seriously cannot wait for the first leaves to regrow - this is amazing!!

                                                                  1. re: acssss
                                                                    Betty Jun 9, 2013 07:50 AM

                                                                    I hope it works or you- if your summer is hot you might keep it in partial shade. I started with three romaine and two celery, kept them in water a few days, and when I saw growth, stuck them in the garden. The one that did best had been grown in a local garden, the other two were pre-bagged at the grocery. They worked also, but not as abundantly.

                                                                    1. re: Betty
                                                                      a
                                                                      acssss Jun 9, 2013 09:17 AM

                                                                      Can't I just keep them in water and cut of the leaves as they grow?

                                                                      1. re: acssss
                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 9, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                        I don't think I ever make cabbage, except with corned beef, so obviously I need to start. Do you mind saying more about pickling and braising cabbage? And is there a nutritional difference between green and purple? (e.g. anthocyanin in the purple?) My mom used to make stuffed cabbage (she was a Ukrainian Jew) but I confess it was not my favorite.

                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                          a
                                                                          acssss Jun 9, 2013 09:44 AM

                                                                          Sorry, I moved my comment - because it was under the wrong entry (it jumps if I don't refresh the screen).
                                                                          Anyway, I buy a green (or purple) cabbage and dice it up and add some olive oil, salt, vinegar (not a ton like most) and lemon juice, plus chopped up parsley, garlic (which I leave whole) and chili peppers (which I leave in chunks - so that later it will be easier to take out and not burn your mouth). I put it in a pickling jar (or just in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap) for about three days - delicious!
                                                                          Braising - I cut up green cabbage in rather large chunks and heat in a pan (no oil - nothing - just a hot iron clad pan) - and when it starts to brown, I add broth (usually just two cups of water and 1 tbl Osem consomme - which I like because it doesn't leave chunks and isn't as expensive as regular broth). I also add 1 can tomato paste (heart healthy and delicious) and my usual spices: turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and sometimes a pinch of cinnamon. I leave the cabbage to simmer for about 45 minutes (the caramelized onions can be added when it is done)

                                                                          1. re: acssss
                                                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 9, 2013 10:20 AM

                                                                            Thanks for taking the time. Sounds really good. "turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and sometimes a pinch of cinnamon.": that's my kind of spices. The tiniest shaving of nutmeg can do nice things, but you have to be careful to keep it quite minimal.

                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                              a
                                                                              acssss Jun 9, 2013 10:31 AM

                                                                              Agree with the nutmeg.
                                                                              Spices are more than just for taste - they are nature's medications (the way to avoid illness rather than just cure it). I use those five on almost everything I make in addition to onions and garlic :)

                                                                  2. tcamp Jun 8, 2013 12:52 PM

                                                                    I just made something very frugal, and hopefully delicious.

                                                                    Kale rolls (due to an abundance of kale in my CSA box. Sauteed a bit of leftover ground beef along with sweet onions, beet greens, fresh garlic, pine nuts, and raisins. Lots of spices, then stirred in about 1/4 cup of brown rice and some water. Steamed the kale leaves in the microwave, cut off the really thick ends, rolled 'em up, and put them in a pyrex dish sitting on a bed of tomato sauce. More sauce on top and they'll go in the oven for dinner.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: tcamp
                                                                      a
                                                                      acssss Jun 8, 2013 12:59 PM

                                                                      Sound incredibly delicious and healthy!!
                                                                      For those on a tight budget and can't afford beef, they can always exchange the beef for chicken and either leave out the pine nuts or replace them with sunflower seeds.
                                                                      I love the steamed kale in tomato sauce!!

                                                                      1. re: acssss
                                                                        p
                                                                        pine time Jun 9, 2013 08:56 AM

                                                                        Sunflower seeds are a great sub for pricey pine nuts, as are walnuts (especially toasted). As I wrote elsewhere in this thread, I often buy small amounts from the bulk bins, including pine nuts--maybe just 1/4 c at a time, pending what the budget looks like that week. Toasting them, too, helps to stretch the flavors.

                                                                      2. re: tcamp
                                                                        w
                                                                        writergeek313 Jun 12, 2013 09:43 AM

                                                                        This sounds really good! You could also substitute beans or lentils for the meat in the filling to make it an even more affordable meal, or to stretch a smaller amount of meat.

                                                                        The kale I've been getting from my local orchard market is the curly kind, which wouldn't be so good for stuffing, but this recipe could also work with collard greens.

                                                                      3. s
                                                                        schrutefarms Jun 8, 2013 12:51 AM

                                                                        I make what I think is a great stew; rough-chopped potatoes (skins on) carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, whatever, simmer (lid on) with some olive oil, and serve over rice. Should be cheap, and nutritious! The more tomatoes, the more of a broth.Salt is definitely needed!

                                                                        1. Breadcrumbs Jun 7, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                          A trip to my local Italian bakery last night reminded me of another money saving tip.

                                                                          Italian delis, bakeries and supermarkets will often sell their prosciutto ends and parmesan ends for next to nothing. Last night I picked up a 260g piece of prosciutto for $1.09 and the bags of parmesan ends were $1.

                                                                          I use both in soups and since the piece of prosciutto I got yesterday was so big, I'll dice it and use it in pasta.

                                                                          Sometimes there's so much cheese left on the parmesan end that you can still grate it or, use a veggie peeler for small pieces.

                                                                          I find a little parmesan goes a long way in terms of adding a cheesy flavour. We love it in pasta but also in omlettes and potato dishes.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                            DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 02:35 PM

                                                                            I grate my own parm and save my parm rinds to toss into soup and Sunday gravy (all day pasta sauce). As you mentioned, it adds such a nice flavor, and is an excellent use of a trash item.

                                                                            1. re: DuffyH
                                                                              t
                                                                              Tom34 Jun 7, 2013 04:03 PM

                                                                              My mom used to do that. Nothing went to waste. Not much of that kind of cooking anymore. Hey, wouldn't that make an interesting cooking show, cleaning out the pantry, frig & freezer!

                                                                              1. re: Tom34
                                                                                JonParker Jun 7, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                                                That's actually something I do -- make up a "Chopped" basket out of unrelated ingredients that have been hanging around for a while, and force myself to create dinner out of them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's always fun though.

                                                                          2. a
                                                                            acssss Jun 7, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                            A friend of mine was over last night and we were discussing this thread and she got up and made right in front of me (and it was absolutely delicious) microwave potato chips!
                                                                            She took one russet potato (which I bought on sale 10 lbs for $2 - but they are usually 10 lbs for $5 - in both cases comes out to be about $0.10-$0.25 a potato), sliced it paper thin, spread out the slices so they weren't touching and sprinkled them paprika and salt - then microwaved them for 6 minutes - potato chips! Healthy, delicious and easy on the waistline and wallet too!

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: acssss
                                                                              DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 07:53 AM

                                                                              I've done that, too, but it takes forever. Six minutes to get a handful of chips is too long around here. But we don't normally use chips as snack food, more often they're served with burgers or sandwiches to several people.

                                                                              I look on it as a bit of a parlor trick, more of a 'gee, whiz' thing than a practical money saver. But they ARE good. :)

                                                                              1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                a
                                                                                acssss Jun 7, 2013 11:00 AM

                                                                                More than a money saver - it's only 80 calories for a 10 oz potato - while chips, every 1 oz is 140 cals!! I would even wait an hour to enjoy chips while not gaining the weight :)
                                                                                Anyway, it bothers me to overpay - and the companies making chips are ripping people off - it costs them about a penny to make an oz of chips and they sell it for $1

                                                                                1. re: acssss
                                                                                  juliejulez Jun 7, 2013 11:06 AM

                                                                                  Uh I'm not sure where you got your nutritional info from but 1 oz of plain raw russet potato is 22 calories. So a 10oz would be more like 220 calories, not 80. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/v...

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                    a
                                                                                    acssss Jun 7, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                                                    Different sites will have different information, but you know what? I'll take your word for it! I still prefer 220 calories for 10 oz vs 1370 (using the same site you did) for 10 oz of Lay's potato chips!! Still a big difference.

                                                                                    1. re: acssss
                                                                                      juliejulez Jun 7, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                                                      I think that site uses info from the USDA. True that they are better than eating fried potato chips, but still not super healthy alone :)

                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                        a
                                                                                        acssss Jun 7, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                                        I don't eat potato chips hardly ever. I suggested it for people who eat them a lot and want to save $$$ and have a more healthy choice (the less cals is just a cherry on top I suppose)

                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                          d
                                                                                          debbiel Jun 7, 2013 11:46 AM

                                                                                          I guess it depends on what you mean by healthy, but I think of potatoes as packing a pretty fantastic nutritional punch. A great source of many vitamins and minerals.

                                                                                        2. re: acssss
                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 02:33 PM

                                                                                          Let's be fair. Nuked chips have 0 fat. You're comparing them to original Lays. Comparing them to Lays Light tells a slightly different story. 75cal/oz = 750 for 10oz.

                                                                                          Still more than thrice your nuked chips example, but a better comparison.

                                                                                      2. re: acssss
                                                                                        DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                                                        < I would even wait an hour to enjoy chips while not gaining the weight :)>

                                                                                        But would you dole out chips a handful at a time to a gang of 4 hungry grandsons wanting some chips with their burgers? Would you spend an hour making enough chips to feed them? I wouldn't, and don't. One of the reasons chips are expensive relative to ingredients is that the labor is done for us.

                                                                                        I don't think a company that invests hundreds of thousands of $$ in a physical plant, equipment and labor is ripping us off. If the bag were sold at cost, we'd love it, but the company would make no profit and have no reason to remain in business. And you can bet your boots it's more than a penny per ounce to produce, because of the plant, labor, etc... The potatoes are the least of the cost to the manufacturer.

                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                    acssss Jun 7, 2013 05:26 AM

                                                                                    Aldi's is having a sale this week on onions, corn, tomatoes on the vine and mushrooms - oh, the things I can make with these items!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: acssss
                                                                                      k
                                                                                      Kontxesi Jun 7, 2013 05:58 AM

                                                                                      Everyone's been saying such good things about Aldi's. I wish there was one around here to check out! We just got a Trader Joe's a few months ago, but I still haven't been in.

                                                                                    2. a
                                                                                      acssss Jun 6, 2013 02:59 PM

                                                                                      I heard that you can replant ginger root, celery roots, green onions, potatoes, and even pineapples - has any one tried this?

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: acssss
                                                                                        DuffyH Jun 6, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                                                        I'm growing 2 white pineapples in Tampa. My bro brought them from his house in Waikoloa, HI. They're less acidic than yellow, at least as sweet as DM Gold. The bad news on pineapples is that it takes 1-2 months in a glass on the counter to get roots started after you've twisted (never cut) the top off, then it goes into a big pot (or the ground) where it grows for 2 whole years. THEN you get a single fruit and the cycle begins again. They don't like cold winters, either. Each pineapple plant needs about 2' of room, hence the big pot.

                                                                                        In order to be self-sustaining, you need to plant every pineapple you buy for a period of 2 years. You're going to need a big garden plot. :)

                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                          a
                                                                                          acssss Jun 6, 2013 04:38 PM

                                                                                          Actually I eat about 1 pineapple a month, so I can plant one every month for the next 24 months - then have a garden of 24 of them - and replace each one I eat with another (new) one - so I will have pineapples for a lifetime... Winters here are cold - so I guess I'll have to wait until I retire in FL :)

                                                                                          1. re: acssss
                                                                                            DuffyH Jun 6, 2013 07:25 PM

                                                                                            acssss - That's the exact way to do it. My bro has them planted along the side of his house. We thought of that, but then the dude really didn't relish the idea of covering that many plants for the 2-3 frost warnings we get every year. And really, at about $3 each, we figured it wasn't a hardship to buy them.

                                                                                            When you retire and start your pineapple farm, just remember to twist off the tops, then strip leaves until you've got about 1-1.5" of core showing. Make sure none of the leave are under the water, the top part of the core should be above the water. Put it in a bright place, keep changing the water, and wait. And wait. Wait some more. Ok, you've got several inches of roots. NOW you can plant it. And watch how fast it grows! They're like aloe; turn your back and it's huge. :)

                                                                                            1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                              a
                                                                                              acssss Jun 7, 2013 04:21 AM

                                                                                              Thank you so much for the advice, and I cut and pasted your advise in my hard drive, as our retirement is a long way off (and who knows, by that time they will probably increase retirement age). By the way, $3 for a pineapple??? They sell pineapples for $1 at ALDI's. I remember you telling me that there is no ALDI in your area - maybe you can get a group of people together and send them a letter :)

                                                                                              1. re: acssss
                                                                                                DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 07:47 AM

                                                                                                Well, slap me silly! I asked the Google Machine, and sure enough, there IS an Aldi in Tampa. Two of them, in fact. One is only about 20 minutes away. Now that's a far cry from the 3 minutes to get to Sweetbay, but still a lot closer than the hour drive to the MacDill AFB commissary.

                                                                                                I will go see what's what next week. :)

                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                  acssss Jun 7, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                                                                  Yeah!! Please post next week on how it went. I'm curious!

                                                                                      2. Caroline1 Jun 6, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                        Here's a frugal recipe idea for you, and they don't come much frugaler than this! I just made it for lunch. When you have chicken -- roast, rotisserie, whatever - save the bones/carcass in a zip lock bag in the freezer. When you have two or three, put them in a pot with half a chopped onion, seven or eight baby carrots, a stalk of celery and one unpeeled garlic clove and simmer for at leat a half hour. Take out the bones and let them cool, then pick them clean and return the meat to the soup. Today I used about a half a cup of barley and let it simmer for forty five minutes before adding a generous amount of orzo and a dash of thyme, plus salt to taste. It was delicious with lots left over, soooo

                                                                                        Tomorrow, avgolemono soup! I will create a little chicken stock using either the canned stuff or some Tones chicken base, heat it well, then beat two or three eggs, add a bit of soup to temper the eggs, then add the juice (and some zest is nice too), then blend that stirring constantly but NOT boiling! We don't need to cook the eggs! Then blend in the left overs from today with all of the orzo in it (rice is traditional in avgolemono, but I like orzo better), and voila! Two kinds of "bone soup!" Now that's frugal! '-)

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                          Caroline1 Jun 10, 2013 06:25 AM

                                                                                          I'm adding a footnote to my comments on chicken bone soup... The avgolemono was fantastic! So, for anyone who doesn't know how to make it, here's how: make your chicken soup and cook lots of orzo in it, then, when the orzo is cooked, turn off the heat. Whisk 2 or 3 or 4 (depending on how much soup you have) with the juice of two lemons or limes. Temper the egg mixture by slowly stirring in a ladle or two of the hot soup, then stir the egg mixture into the soup and stir constantly over very low heat until the soup thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Do NOT allow it to boil or it will curdle and separate. It will still taste good but one look at it and no one will want to eat it! Made right, it's like a custard soup. DEEElicious!

                                                                                          In fact, since we're talking inexpensive recipes, I'll share the way I learned to make avgolemono when I lived in Greece. Well, all except the part about wringing the chicken's neck yourself...

                                                                                          Boil a large whole well plucked chicken in a fairly tight fitting pot (limited swim room) with just enough water to cover the chicken by an inch or two. Add some onions and a lot of whole scrubbed or peeled carrots and boil until chicken is tender but not quite falling off the bone. Remove chicken and place all of the carrots in a "nest" shape in a roasting pan (they will be your roasting rack). Drizzle or rub olive oil all over the chicken's skin and season with salt and pepper. Pop it into a very hot (400 to 450F) oven to brown and crisp the skin, but be careful not to burn. Meanwhile add a bunch of orzo (rice is traditional in Greece, but I can't find a good rice for this recipe in the U.S., so orzo it is!) and cook until the orzo is done, then proceed with the avgolemono as above. Serve the chicken and carrots on a platter to be carved at the table, and the avgolemono soup as the first course. Add a tossed green salad and you've got a very reasonable but incredible meal! Oh, yeah... A good crusty loaf of bread couldn't hurt either. Enjoy!

                                                                                        2. u
                                                                                          ultimatepotato Jun 6, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                                          I live alone, and while not on assistance I have been restricting my food spend drastically to channel funds to other areas. What I do - I pick a base product that I can get cheap - pasta, couscous, barley, lentils, black-eyed beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, brown rice, rice noodles, dried egg noodles.

                                                                                          Then I figure out what proteins I can afford for the week - eggs, halloumi, greek yoghurt, paneer, chicken thighs are the usual suspects, alongside any decent specials on other meats and fish I see.

                                                                                          Then it's all up to the herbs and seasoning options I have at home - I grow thyme, basil, flat-leaf parsley, chives and mint on my windowsills and have a cupboard full of dried chilli flakes, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, hot sauce, dried coconut, soy sauce, maggi liquid, stock cubes, cardamom, cloves, tumeric, garam masala, vinegars etc. I am lucky though - this collection has been built over time and I know how dauntingly expensive it is/would be to buy it all in one go.

                                                                                          One of my recent cheap meals - I got a end-of-day cooked chicken leg (full leg, not just drumstick) for 50 pence, took that home, heated up some chicken stock I'd made and frozen weeks before, cooked a handful of rice noodles which went into the stock with some mint, chilli and some scraggly spring onions and shredded the chicken over the top. Imposter pho.

                                                                                          I keep my vegetable count up by eating raw carrot and cucumber by the pound (these two are particularly cheap in my area at the moment) and utilising frozen peas and spinach for hot dishes (palak mattar paneer is paneer and peas with spinach). It's asparagus season here at the moment, so I get "luxury" things too. Onions, garlic, mushrooms - I'm one of those crazy ladies standing there reading the "per kilo" prices to figure out which option is the cheapest.

                                                                                          I might split a deal with a friend who lives nearby - like if it's a two for one deal on butter or cheese I'll split it with her so we get 50% off, rather than double the item.

                                                                                          I'll cook large batches of food on a sunday and have that as my lunch for the week (pasta with tomato, eggplant and basil sauce, thanks to a marked-down eggplant and the basil from my windowsill this week), then have a light meal when I get home from work - an egg on a piece of toast and some fruit.

                                                                                          Snacks? Popcorn. A bag of popping corn is so cheap, stores well and can be made up in bulk and seasoned in batches.

                                                                                          The adjustments for me - I have to reign myself in from buying what I see without thinking about it. Like the other day I went into a shop for some lentils and saw a boned chicken leg with sage and onion stuffing. It was £4, but it looked SO nice. Pulled myself back mentally by reminding myself that £4 could buy me several vegetables, a bag of apples and a piece of raw chicken. I appreciate however that it's very different when that isn't even a consideration, because the money simply isn't there.

                                                                                          How to I get around feeling deprived? I like to make my meals as "luxurious" as I can on the cheap. I like silly, expensive treats like starbucks frapps, so I brew coffee and blend at home with milk and ice. or I'll brew up fruit-flavoured tea and steep with lemon and honey, then chill it, so I have a nice sweet cool drink for when water just won't cut it. I'll cut my meat money to the bone (hur!) so I can have a nice piece of cheese. I'll have the same breakfast every day of cornflakes, milk and cheap fruit so I can have a few pounds more for fun meals.

                                                                                          Above all - I've lost any shame I ever had in asking. I ask my butcher if they have any soup bones on the cheap, or any ends from butchering prime cuts. I'll ask at my grocery store when they put out the end-of-day discounts. I'll ask my fruit and veg shop if they do any "seconds" or "end of day". I'll ask at the fish counter what has to go today and is there any discount. What's the harm in asking? I do it once and they tell me what their policy is - saying no won't stop me shopping there (unless they are really rude about it, which hasn't happened).

                                                                                          33 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ultimatepotato
                                                                                            a
                                                                                            acssss Jun 6, 2013 09:54 AM

                                                                                            Shame? What shame is there to lose? You should feel no shame at all in trying to save money. You seem to be a smart buyer by asking the butcher for the ends - he's probably going to throw it away anyway! The only shame are with the suckers who waste - food and money. That is why this thread is so popular - because EVERYONE - whether on public assistance or not - should try to save! It's good for the environment, good for the country - maybe if more people were like you, countries around the world would not be is such deep XXXX.
                                                                                            I say... good for you!

                                                                                            1. re: ultimatepotato
                                                                                              girloftheworld Jun 6, 2013 12:22 PM

                                                                                              shame? heck the butcher use give me the tenderloin trimmings because i would ask and i would make them into the best gound hamburgers....then oneday I went in and he was chargeing for Tenderloin groundbeef and I was cut off :(
                                                                                              same thing happened to my duck fat source... he use to give it me for free now he sells it..at least he thanked me for the idea..

                                                                                              1. re: ultimatepotato
                                                                                                r
                                                                                                Rasam Jun 6, 2013 07:44 PM

                                                                                                Ultimate potato has some great ideas, especially for making your own luxury: it's a great way to combat impulse purchases and remind yourself that you deserve the best, but the best does not have to be expensive and store-bought.

                                                                                                Just one point: beans, lentils, dals, chickpeas, soybeans, etc. are protein sources in their own right, and are not just a base for animal proteins.
                                                                                                While the amount of protein in each of those varies, these are absolutely adequate protein sources in a vegetarian diet, and come with added benefits of fiber, complex carbs, vitamins and minerals, no cholesterol, etc.
                                                                                                And these cannot be beat for inexpensive. :)

                                                                                                1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                  JonParker Jun 6, 2013 08:30 PM

                                                                                                  And best of all, they're delicious.

                                                                                                  1. re: JonParker
                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                    Rasam Jun 6, 2013 08:45 PM

                                                                                                    Totally yes :)

                                                                                                    Should go without saying but bears repeating :)

                                                                                                  2. re: Rasam
                                                                                                    u
                                                                                                    ultimatepotato Jun 7, 2013 05:05 AM

                                                                                                    Too true - and because of those protein sources, I eat a largely vegetarian diet. Someone asked me about what they could make for their "meat free" day last week - I laughed and said "one day? If I ate meat any less often theyd take my omnivore card away!"

                                                                                                    1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                      PesachBenSchlomo Jun 7, 2013 05:21 AM

                                                                                                      I eat very few meals that don't contain beans, lentils, chickpeas and rice. If I had my druthers, though, I would be eating pork fat simmered in lard, with a side of Boston Cream Pie.

                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                        mcf Jun 7, 2013 08:04 AM

                                                                                                        The problem with using those beans (except soy) for protein sources is that much of it is not bioavailable and it's attached to way too many carb calories you'd have to consume to get adequate protein.

                                                                                                        Especially bad for those diabetes, but the calorie issue is pretty universal for those attempting to use starches for protein sources.

                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                          r
                                                                                                          Rasam Jun 7, 2013 10:05 AM

                                                                                                          Sorry, I am not diabetic, and I have been vegetarian and very healthy for most of my life as have many of my counterparts, so whatever protein is bioavailable has nourished us just fine, even now when we are no longer young.

                                                                                                          I did vegetarian South Beach (I Freudianly typed South Bean just now) last year successfully to lose a few extra lbs from holiday binging, and will do that again this year. The lbs all packed on from sugary treats, not from my daily daal-roti.
                                                                                                          I omitted the rice, chapatis, potatoes, sugar, etc. I added some cheese, but rarely ate eggs as I don't really like them.

                                                                                                          In my experience there is no problem at all with using beans for primary protein sources. Of course, people not immersed in a vegetarian tradition have a hard time with this.

                                                                                                          1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                            mcf Jun 7, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                                                                            I was vegetarian for years, too. Unfortunately, it caused me to develop numerous conditions that went away as soon as I started eating animal proteins and cut back starches severely.

                                                                                                            About half of all folks are either overweight, insulin resistant or diabetic, which is why I mentioned the issue with trying to eat enough protein from starchy foods; requires much more in the way of carbs and calories.

                                                                                                            1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                              DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 02:20 PM

                                                                                                              <Of course, people not immersed in a vegetarian tradition have a hard time with this.>

                                                                                                              This is quite true. One of the lovely things about humans is that we're born to be omnivores, able to get by on a variety of foodstuffs.

                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                Rasam Jun 7, 2013 07:14 PM

                                                                                                                Very true DuffyH: we are capable of digesting all types of foods, and can get all the nutrients we need from a variety of food, including all-vegetarian diets.

                                                                                                                And since this thread is about tasty and frugal (and healthy), vegetarian foods 100% fit the bill, lighter on the pocket and the planet, no deprivation but a world of tasty.

                                                                                                                McF: As Pubmed archive searches suggest, people who eat vegetarian (presumably not poor folks who cannot get enough food of any kind) tend to have as healthy or healthier outcomes, depending on which article you read.
                                                                                                                (Articles supporting vegetarian diets, and high-protein Mediterranean diets, both exist.)

                                                                                                                Of course, averages conceal individual variations, YMMV either due to personal idiosyncratic reactions, or to inadequate nutrition.

                                                                                                                The global rise of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are complicated, and are paralleled by the rise of so many different food trends: sugar, HFCS, fast/processed food, decline of traditional foods, rise of meat consumption, high-stress lifestyles, lack of physical activity, etc etc that is difficult to point to specific causes.

                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                  DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 09:06 PM

                                                                                                                  <The global rise of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are complicated, and are paralleled by the rise of so many different food trends:>

                                                                                                                  Rasam, you missed one U.S. trend that's been 40+ years in the making; giant portions. I well remember when McD's sold one size burger, one size fries, one size soft drink. Dad ate 2 burgers, 1 fry, 1 drink. Mom, Bro and I had 1 of each. This was dinner, not lunch. We would leave the restaurant with full tummies. That combo is still sold today, but it's a Happy Meal.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                    mcf Jun 8, 2013 06:37 PM

                                                                                                                    When was that? I worked at McD's in the 70s, they had quarter pounders and big macs. To this day, I can say in all honesty that I have never eaten a McD burger in my life.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                      DuffyH Jun 8, 2013 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                      This was in the early-mid 1960's. IIRC, the Big Mac came out sometime late in the 60's, and the quarter pounder a few years later.

                                                                                                                      Really? I've eaten many McD burgers. IMO, there's nothing wrong with them, no more so than a burger cooked at home. Same bun, a 3oz patty, pickle, onion, catsup, mustard. I've got no problem with that burger, nutritionally speaking. I prefer Wendy's revamped burger, but that's merely a taste preference.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                        mcf Jun 9, 2013 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                        Yes, really. Only things I ever ate were fish sandwiches if I made them myself, and one hot apple pie, on one occasion.

                                                                                                                        I was never tempted to eat the burgers.

                                                                                                                        Back then, I did eat an occasional Whopper with cheese.

                                                                                                                    2. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                      r
                                                                                                                      Rasam Jun 8, 2013 10:46 PM

                                                                                                                      True true. Nothing happy about a happy meal :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                        DuffyH Jun 9, 2013 01:26 AM

                                                                                                                        Oh, I wasn't dissing the Happy Meal. Quite the contrary. I was just pointing out that it used to be a more or less standard adult meal.

                                                                                                                    3. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                      mcf Jun 8, 2013 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                      Diets rich in animal proteins and fat are the only ones that prevent or reverse diabetes. It's been epidemic exactly since implementation of the low fat, grain based food pyramid.

                                                                                                                      There is no health advantage of vegetarianism except for one type of heart attack, but no all cause advantage overall.

                                                                                                                      I've been reading PubMed on this for two decades almost.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                                        Rasam Jun 8, 2013 10:55 PM

                                                                                                                        So have I (read Pubmed), and diets that rely heavily on animal proteins, and lack fiber, and other elements are associated with a variety of health problems.
                                                                                                                        This is a one-off, but look what happened with Paula Deen, who didn't stint fat or animal protein. She grew very overweight and developed type-2 diabetes.

                                                                                                                        I can agree that over reliance on simple starchy foods is bad for health. But that type of eating is not the same as a vegetarian diet.
                                                                                                                        And the association between diabetes and heart disease makes heavy relying on animal proteins to prevent or reverse diabetes not so straightforward.

                                                                                                                        Again, in the spirit of this thread which focuses on frugal, tasty, and healthy, vegetarian food fits the bill.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 9, 2013 01:37 AM

                                                                                                                          I can't speak to which type of diet is better, but I can tell you that there is one and only reason that Paula Deen is obese; she consumes more calories than she burns. That's true for all of us.

                                                                                                                          Now there may be genetic or metabolic factors that limit her ability to burn calories, but there's no getting around the truth that calories in excess of use will result in weight gain. It's unavoidable. Overweight people are more likely to develop diabetes regardless of diet.

                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                            Caroline1 Jun 9, 2013 11:57 AM

                                                                                                                            Duffy, I'm not responding to your comments about Paula Deen specifically, but your comments to the effect that anyone who is overweight is simply consuming too many calories is simply not true across the board. There ARE diseases that CAUSE uncontrollable obesity. A specific example is a very rare disease called Adiposis Dolorosa (aka Dercum's Disease) for which there are medically documented cases of people with this disease who could not loose weight through diet management so they underwent gastric bypass or lapband and still did not lose weight. There are other diseases that take control out of the obese person's hands. Obesity is NOT a simple straight forward one-size-fits-all problem Science and medicine are making progress in understanding this incredibly complex issue, but we ain't there yet. By a loooooong shot! Which is not to say that the fast food, fried food, 32 oz soda routine is ever going to help anyone loose weight. Unless they're feeding it to the garbage disposer.

                                                                                                                            Just for the record, obesity is NOT a simple problem. However, there *IS* something radically wrong with the American food distribution and pricing system. When itinerant workers have to feed their children at McDonald's because they can get all the kids hamburgers cheaper than they can cook from scratch, there is truly something amiss here.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                              DuffyH Jun 9, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                                                                              Caroline,

                                                                                                                              I agree 100%. That's why included the following in my post:

                                                                                                                              "Now there may be genetic or metabolic factors that limit her ability to burn calories, but there's no getting around the truth that calories in excess of use will result in weight gain. It's unavoidable."

                                                                                                                              <...your comments to the effect that anyone who is overweight is SIMPLY consuming too many calories is simply not true across the board.> (caps mine)

                                                                                                                              I know for a fact that obesity has many factors beyond diet, and can include hormonal changes, meds, disease and the big one, genetics. I never said there was anything SIMPLE about it.

                                                                                                                              I still stand by my remarks about calories in vs calories out. If we burn fewer calories than we consume, we WILL gain weight. That isn't my opinion, it's a scientific fact that cannot be avoided and is true for every animal on the planet. That other factors can limit the ability to burn calories doesn't alter the equation.

                                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                mcf Jun 9, 2013 04:20 PM

                                                                                                                                "I still stand by my remarks about calories in vs calories out. "

                                                                                                                                But it's really not consistent with the rest of your comment.

                                                                                                                                There are way too many variables, and there are folks who gain weight due to exercise instead of losing, hypercortisolemic folks often do. Both exercise and food restriction raise cortisol, and in those folks, it's a loaded gun.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                  DuffyH Jun 9, 2013 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                                  mcf - <But it's really not consistent with the rest of your comment.>

                                                                                                                                  Yes, it is entirely consistent. The ONLY way to lose weight is to burn more calories than one consumes. If you read what I wrote, you'll see that's all I claimed. Nowhere did I write that burning more calories than one consumed would CAUSE one to lose weight. I simply wrote that if we burn fewer calories than we consume, we will not lose weight. There isn't an animal on Earth that can consume 1000 calories, burn 500 calories, AND lose weight. It cannot be done. The laws of thermodynamics are immutable.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                    mcf Jun 10, 2013 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                    But the laws you reference only apply to closed machine systems.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                      DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 11:22 AM

                                                                                                                                      You're right. I apologize for the error.

                                                                                                                                      Still, will you tell me if you think it's possible to lose weight while consuming more calories than we burn? That's what I'm saying cannot be done.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                        mcf Jun 10, 2013 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                                        I'm not trying to be cute with you, it's just the wrong question. Different calories have a different cost even in metabolically normal folks. That's why studies so consistently show that low carb/higher fat dieters lose more weight while eating many more calories than high carb/low fat dieters. Fat doesn't stimulate fat storage the way carbs do, and protein does to a lesser degree.

                                                                                                                                        I'm saying that the answer isn't the calories, it's the macronutrient breakdown and then it's the individual's metabolism. That's not to say there isn't a caloric level beyond which a non carb eater will gain weight, only that it's not energy expenditures measured by work/effort that necessarily decide that.

                                                                                                                                        As an N of one, I can tell you that while scrupulously documenting my food intake and weighing and measuring my food on hc/lf, I maintained my weight on 800 calories per day despite working out with weights and cardio. When I switched to lower carb, I found I maintained on 1200 per day. Exactly as study participants do. At other times, I've lost significant weight eating the exact same way while not working out. Hormones; gotta love their sense of humor. :-)

                                                                                                                                        I am not metabolically normal, but the benefits have been huge in a variety of ways we don't need to discuss here.

                                                                                                                                        Also, because I have to restrict my intake (due not to poverty, but metabolic issues), I have been very focused for years on how to wisely "spend" those calories, hence my position about starchy stuff in this thread. I've had the USDA app on my desk top for years and I read all the data for every last nutrient in the foods I choose.

                                                                                                                                        I'm much more focused on nutrition per calorie than caloric energy expenditure which is really inconsistent and unpredictable in non machine systems.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 10, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                                          mcf, I do get and understand everything you're saying. I don't doubt your experience, either. To the contrary, I've also had some out-of-the-ordinary experiences with my genetic makeup and my hormones.

                                                                                                                                          My contention, and in the end I don't think you disagree, is that even when you lost weight while keeping the same physical routine (amount of calories expended through physical effort) and at the same time increasing your caloric intake, other (interior) factors were working to expend, or burn, calories. We may not always know what they are or how they're operating, but that they're using energy there can be no doubt. Your own experience would be an example. That's why I've acknowledged that other factors do affect what would seem to be an otherwise straightforward equation.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                            mcf Jun 10, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                            I honestly don't get the point of your focus on calories when discussing macronutrient breakdowns.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                            mcf Jun 9, 2013 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                            "So have I (read Pubmed), and diets that rely heavily on animal proteins, and lack fiber, and other elements are associated with a variety of health problems. "

                                                                                                                            No, they are not if eaten without starches and sugars; all health targets and parameters improve. Further, only chemically cured meats have any association with any health consequences. Those may just be markers for Coke, fries and fried apple pies, too.

                                                                                                                            Not so, starchy vegetarian diets, which I had terrible health consequences from, as do many others. Even eating disorders happen in disproportionately high numbers in vegetarians.

                                                                                                                            You're reading conclusions or headlines, not data, methodology or subject selection, which often do not support studie's authors' conclusions.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                              r
                                                                                                                              Rasam Jun 10, 2013 05:57 AM

                                                                                                                              "You're reading conclusions or headlines, not data, methodology or subject selection, which often do not support studie's authors' conclusions."

                                                                                                                              This is disingenuous. I do read many of the details and the type of disconnect (amounting to misleading the reader) you suggest is not there.

                                                                                                                              "Not so, starchy vegetarian diets, which I had terrible health consequences from, as do many others."

                                                                                                                              Some people eat poorly as vegetarians, and end up blaming the diet. This may or may not describe what you did, but it does hold true for many others.
                                                                                                                              Basically, any poorly planned diet will damage your health. You *can* eat a vegetarian diet that is not highly starchy/simple carbs-y/sugary; that is nutritionally complete and healthy.

                                                                                                                              "Even eating disorders happen in disproportionately high numbers in vegetarians."
                                                                                                                              The association goes the other way. Vegetarian diets do not cause eating disorders. People who are prone to disordered eating disproportionately select into restricted diets, and misapply notions of "healthy eating" and take it to an extreme. The flaw is not in the diet.

                                                                                                                              The point here is, again staying to the topic of this thread, is that vegetarian food is inexpensive, tasty, healthy.
                                                                                                                              Not saying that is unilaterally better than a non-veg diet for all individuals. But it is certainly *not* a worse diet, for most people, and it meets budget and nutrition goals.
                                                                                                                              And the notion that a diet should be balanced and not laced with nutritionally empty elements holds true for all types of diets.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                                mcf Jun 10, 2013 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                Here's some well thought out discussion:

                                                                                                                                http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/pe...

                                                                                                            2. c
                                                                                                              chobette Jun 6, 2013 07:54 AM

                                                                                                              Everyone has some good ideas all ready, not much more I can add. We've been on a limited budget for quite some time. I usually look over the weekly ads. Wal-Mart will comp competition ads. A lot of stores offer online coupons to their stores, if they have a card, usually it'll load onto the card and you just scan it at the checkout and it applies to your order. Shop early in the mornings for meat discounts and you can ask the bakery if they have any day old bread, some places with sell it at half the cost. I haven't attempted to make my own bread, but like anything, usually home made is the cheapest way to go. I get 3x the groceries if I avoid processed pre-made foods, you can buy a box of dry pasta and get 2 meals out of it, where as a pre-package of mac and cheese will only spread you for one meal. A lot of it is common sense and figuring out what you need and not want. I usually buy a bunch of veggies, carrots in bulk versus the pre-cut carrots, and buy in season as others stressed, it'll save you money. Some farms will offer shares and you can pay x amount monthly and get boxes of produce delivered to you. Some farmer's markets will take snap benefits as well.

                                                                                                              1. p
                                                                                                                Puffin3 Jun 6, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                Look for large packages/bags of chicken/turkey necks/backs. Simmer gently and remove all the meat. There is a surprising amount actually. Use this meat however. Make soup stock. Freeze it.
                                                                                                                Get a couple of those 'seed spouter kits. The plastic lids with varying sized holes that screw onto mason jars. Really cheap at a dollar store. Get a bunch of seed types for sprouting from any health food store. Really cheap. That way you'll always have fresh sprouts to add to just about anything.
                                                                                                                Good luck.

                                                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Puffin3
                                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                                  Rasam Jun 6, 2013 06:52 AM

                                                                                                                  I have been reading this thread with interest, and had to chime in here.
                                                                                                                  I sprout a lot at home, things like moong beans, fenugreek seeds, all kinds of things.

                                                                                                                  You don't need to buy a seed sprouter kit. What I do:
                                                                                                                  Soak the seeds in water for 2-3 hours, even overnight if I forget.
                                                                                                                  Then, wrap the seeds loosely in a damp kitchen towel or even a thick paper towel and put them in a glass bowl.
                                                                                                                  Put the bowl in a dark place (I just put them in the oven) and leave them. Mine usually sprout just the rootlet in ~ 2 days.
                                                                                                                  I take out the bowl after about 2 days and look. I shake the bowl gently just so that things don't get clumpy.
                                                                                                                  If needed I leave them in for another half day. If the towel has become dry I dampen slightly again.

                                                                                                                  I am only interested in the seed+rootlet I don't wait until the shoot with 2 little leaves forms. That should take another day or two.

                                                                                                                  Remove the towel gently (sometimes the sprout goes into the fibres). Rinse the sprouts and use.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                    tcamp Jun 6, 2013 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                    How do you use those sprouts? I'd like to use them more and have plenty of legumes and seeds around that would be perfect.

                                                                                                                    1. re: tcamp
                                                                                                                      r
                                                                                                                      Rasam Jun 6, 2013 09:35 AM

                                                                                                                      I typically use them in raw salads (e.g. sprouts + finely diced cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, some pomegranate arils, whatever is around), seasoned with black salt, cumin, pepper, lime juice, cilantro.

                                                                                                                      Another option is "usal" a Maharashtrian recipe (google) where the sprouts are lightly cooked and then seasoned with typical spices.

                                                                                                                      Sundal is also great, lightly sauteed sprouts, seasoned with a South Indian tempering: veg oil, hing, black mustard seeds, curry leaves, dry red chillies (optional are green chillies and grated ginger), add finely diced or grated sour mango and grated coconut, salt, and lemon or lime juice + cilantro to garnish.

                                                                                                                      There are some mixed sprout sabzi recipes on the net, but they call for pressure cooking the delicate sprouts for 4-5 whistles! I am aghast as I think that will turn them to total mush. I adapt the recipe, using the spices but lightly steam the sprouts instead.

                                                                                                                      I usually use moong sprouts, moth bean sprouts, add some fenugreek sprouts but you can use just about any sprouts. I don't know about alfalfa though.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                        tcamp Jun 6, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                                                                                        Thanks very much, I'm going to get some moong started tonight.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Rasam
                                                                                                                      biondanonima Jun 6, 2013 02:23 PM

                                                                                                                      You can do this with green onions, too - I recently bought some at the market, cut off the ends and planted them in a window box. About a week later, I have 6 inches of fresh growth. I doubt I'll ever have to buy green onions again!

                                                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                        acssss Jun 6, 2013 02:49 PM

                                                                                                                        What is the max times you cut off the ends and had them grow back? I was never able more than 4 or 5 cuts

                                                                                                                        1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                          biondanonima Jun 7, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                          I haven't harvested them yet, so I guess we'll see - but even if I only get 4-5 cuts, that's $4-5 that I didn't spend at the market - makes a difference if you're on a tight budget.

                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                            juliejulez Jun 7, 2013 09:47 AM

                                                                                                                            That's how I am with herbs. The herb plants at Home Depot were around $4...I planted them in a big pot on my porch. Even if they don't grow at all, that's still way more herbs for the money than the little packages at the store that are $2-3, where you would need at least 3 of them to equal the amount of herbs in the one plant.

                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                              mcf Jun 7, 2013 10:11 AM

                                                                                                                              I planted basil, Italian parsley, cilantro and rosemary in a strawberry jar planter. It took off like crazy. Between that and the lettuces that seem to grow back overnight, it's going to be a Very Green Summer!

                                                                                                                        2. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                          mcf Jun 7, 2013 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                          I've been growing my own mixed baby lettuces in two pots this year, and we cannot cut them and eat it all before the new leaves need picking! Huge savings and it's making us eat more. I have tomato plants in the center of the same pots, one grape, one larger for slicing.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                            biondanonima Jun 7, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                            I should try this - how much sun do your pots get? I only have one window that gets anything close to full sun, and I usually use it for growing basil.

                                                                                                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                              mcf Jun 7, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                              Mine are outdoors, and tomatoes need at least 8 hours of sun daily. The herbs and lettuces not so finicky. I have some in the sun with the tomatoes, and a window box with 3 romaine, 3 red leaf on a hot tub step with filtered shade in late afternoon.

                                                                                                                              Amazing with lettuce how many plants you can fit in a small, shallow container.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                tcamp Jun 7, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                                                                                                Even if your space is limited, it is amazing how much you can grow. I grow herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos on my deck. I use at least a handful a day of various herbs and have plenty from early May through frost.

                                                                                                                                Lettuce grows well for me up until about June, then the heat either causes it to be bitter or die outright, unfortunately. I just harvested the last of it on Monday - but for a good 6 weeks, it was growing like crazy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: tcamp
                                                                                                                                  mcf Jun 7, 2013 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                  It got warm here and I noticed that the romaine and red leaf were less crisp, but still growing... the baby lettuces are not affected, still upright, firm and robustly growing in a hotter, sunnier spot.

                                                                                                                                  My Greek oregano and thyme come back as perennials in a separate planter, as does rosemary, all very hardy. If I stash the strawberry planter between the hot tub and privacy wall, I seem to be able to keep anything alive for the next spring, will try that with the strawberry planter.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                    DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                                                                                                    Aside from the savings, which is phenomenal, the major plus to growing your own is that things like green onions, cilantro, etc... are the kind of things we want for a last-minute recipe and never seem to have on hand, because they don't stay fresh for long.

                                                                                                                                    I grow basil, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, sage and rosemary. I was growing thyme until one of my cats developed a fondness for it. *sigh*

                                                                                                                                    I'm definitely going to try the green onion thing. Is there any special trick or tips when potting them?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                      mcf Jun 7, 2013 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                      I dunno, I haven't grown green onions yet. Sounds like she just stuck the root end in the dirt after cutting off the tops.

                                                                                                                                      You read my mail; I have always had fresh parslsey in an herb keeper on my fridge door, and having gotten into the habit of constant use of fresh herbs, space became an issue. So at least half the year I can pick my own. Actually, the rosemary made it t through the winter. It's so convenient to have them growing right out on the patio. Sage is one I don't mind buying for the much more occasional use. If I had a garden patch, I'd grow it, though. I might try, and see if it comes back perennially for me, the others do.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                        DuffyH Jun 7, 2013 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                        I'll try sticking some green onion bottoms in one of my patio pots. Worst thing that happens is the existing herbs get some free fertilizer. :)

                                                                                                                    3. a
                                                                                                                      acssss Jun 5, 2013 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                      Trader Joe's sells wine for very cheap. A Pinot Noir goes for $5 for 750ml. I've traveled all over the world, sipped wines from all over including Paris - Rome - Madrid - California and even shared a $1000 bottle of wine once. I know I may offend a lot of wine specialists out there, but I enjoy Trader Joe's wine for $4.99 just as much as the $1000 bottle.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                        juliejulez Jun 5, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                        You cannot buy wine with SNAP.

                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                                          acssss Jun 6, 2013 07:05 AM

                                                                                                                          I am assuming Pesach Ben Shlomo, and others on this thread, who eats knishes and shmaltz are Jewish :)
                                                                                                                          Friday night Sabbath dinners always require a nice red wine.
                                                                                                                          I suggested the one at TJ's because of the attractive price - and savings.

                                                                                                                          1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            HillJ Jun 6, 2013 07:08 AM

                                                                                                                            I wish the TJ's & Costco nearest to me sold wine. The savings is a budget stretcher!

                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                              happybaker Jun 6, 2013 08:43 AM

                                                                                                                              The kroger chain of stores (Giant Eagle, Ralph's, Dry's etc.) carry Gato Negro. Less than $5 a bottle, even when not on sale and very tasty. The Cabernet/Merlot is surprisingly good.

                                                                                                                              Another well priced mass market wine is Glen Ellen Cabernet Sauvignon. Much nicer than the price would have you believe!

                                                                                                                      2. t
                                                                                                                        Tom34 Jun 4, 2013 06:23 PM

                                                                                                                        (Tuna fish sandwhich).... Canned tuna, mayo & whole wheat bread make a delicious simple sandwich. I could eat it several times a week for lunch or dinner.

                                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                          1sweetpea Jun 4, 2013 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                          Agua fresca! You can take a small amount of fruit and blend it with lots of water to make a lightly fruity beverage that is healthy and extends the flavor of the fruit beyond a few bites. No need to sweeten with loads of sugar. I have done this with a cantaloupe that was a little more ripe than ideal (a bit mushy, but still sweet). It's a very refreshing beverage in hot weather, and a nutritious one too!

                                                                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 07:24 PM

                                                                                                                            Great idea! My favorite Summertime drink when I was in my 20s (the stone age) was a batido de melon: watermelon and ice and a little simple syrup whizzed in a blender.

                                                                                                                            1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                              Tom34 Jun 5, 2013 03:08 AM

                                                                                                                              IMHO, healthy options need not be expensive, contain ingredients that are logistically difficult to obtain or difficult to prepare.

                                                                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                cheesecake17 Jun 5, 2013 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                                I've been making agua fresca with watermelon and lime. I blend, strain, and save it as a "concentrate." Takes up less room, and when I'm ready to drink I add seltzer or water.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo Jun 5, 2013 05:34 PM

                                                                                                                                  I'm trying that. Never combined those two flavors.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                    JonParker Jun 5, 2013 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                                    I like red tuna (prickly pear cactus) and lime.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                      cheesecake17 Jun 5, 2013 06:11 PM

                                                                                                                                      It's soooo good. And great use of the $4 watermelon I bought last week!

                                                                                                                                2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                  DuffyH Jun 5, 2013 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                                  For better sandwiches, bake your own bread or Pita and save $. Pita is even easier than bread, and is done on the stovetop in just a few minutes, after the dough has risen.

                                                                                                                                  We dress up and stretch tuna with diced celery and onions. Adding them not only saves a little cash by making a can of tuna go further, it also ratchets up the flavor a lot. Sometimes we replace some of the mayo with mustard, another cheap and tasty change.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 6, 2013 05:30 AM

                                                                                                                                    Yes, I intend to make pita right away. I roasted two eggplants this morning to make baba ganoush. Tuna is a staple around here, as are sardines which can make a terrific pasta sauce, and are not too expensive if one is willing to buy off brands.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                      DuffyH Jun 6, 2013 10:45 AM

                                                                                                                                      Tell me more of these sardines in pasta sauce, please? I use a small amount of them in my pizza sauce, but have not tried them in other sauces.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 6, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                        Try this: saute some finely chopped shallots in a good quantity of olive oil (depending on how much pasta you're cooking). Add some finely sliced garlic to the pan, and some red pepper flakes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in well-salted water, short of al dente.

                                                                                                                                        When the garlic is golden, but not burnt, turn the heat way down and dump in your sardines. Mash them up with a fork, throw in the drained pasta along with a little bit of the water it cooked in if necessary, turn the heat back up and cook it "a la panna" until the pasta is done. I throw in some finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and stir it in right before serving.

                                                                                                                                        If I have any good anchovies (less frequent now, because good ones ain't cheap) I saute a couple anchovies with the shallots and garlic.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 6, 2013 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                          Well, that sounds delicious, thanks. And the best part? No recipe to remember! I make this already minus the fishies.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                    desertginger Jun 5, 2013 09:08 PM

                                                                                                                                    Alternatively, canned salmon is also really good for sandwiches and salads.

                                                                                                                                    I buy lavosh flat bread, mix the salmon with mayo, celery seed, celery, diced seedless cucumber, halved grape tomatoes and wrap it in the lavosh with pickles, sprouts and a slice of havarti cheese and toast in the toaster oven so the bread gets crispy and the cheese gets melty.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: desertginger
                                                                                                                                      DuffyH Jun 5, 2013 09:32 PM

                                                                                                                                      Delicious! And with the things you've added, the salmon will go a lot further.

                                                                                                                                      When I was a kid the only fish bro and I would eat were fish sticks, canned tuna and canned salmon. Mom refused to make tuna casserole, but tuna or salmon salad and salmon patties were a big hit, and the salads were a sneaky way to get us to eat more veg.

                                                                                                                                  3. k
                                                                                                                                    kariin Jun 4, 2013 07:53 AM

                                                                                                                                    Holy Monkeys! this is an awesome thread - generous, smart, tough cooks on this topic. This may be one of the best.
                                                                                                                                    I hope I have something to contribute:

                                                                                                                                    * locate more freezer space. I had to buy a refrig when the old one cacked - researched and got a BIG used Amana w/the freezer drawer on the bottom. When we moved I had a 'normal' refrig in the kitchen and put the Big Girl on the back porch, best move ever! Freezer space is so important its worth figuring out: buy and share w/a friend?? Use friends in exchange for dinner? Use gramma's? It is massively worth doing.

                                                                                                                                    Make your own soup base : a la Campbells but it's yours so no xtra salt etc. Pureed or cooked veggies, beans/legumes everything EXCEPT potatoes (don't freeze) and water broth/stock/liquid. I have bases for black bean, roasted squash, minestrone, leek and dill, chicken etc, lentil and carrot, on and on.. East to defrost, add the liquid, quick seasonings and potatoes or anything last minute. So. Fast.

                                                                                                                                    Use _only_ square, durable plastic containers. Shop hard @ garage/yard sales for Tup, etc. If going for new I've bought the new square (green tops) freezer containers from Ball and use either wash-off labels, durable erase labels or whatever labeling works for you but label!!

                                                                                                                                    Why straight-sided square containers? Uh, huge difference for me in freezer space. I didn't think it would make much difference. I was so wrong.

                                                                                                                                    Label everything. no, really. Every. Thing. If necessary, wait till the container is frozen, then stick a hunk of card or paper w/label on the top, inside. You will be happier (are these frozen egg whites??

                                                                                                                                    love all y'all c'hounds. kariin
                                                                                                                                    (_all_ y'all is plural of y'all)

                                                                                                                                    1. g
                                                                                                                                      gimlis1mum Jun 3, 2013 07:14 PM

                                                                                                                                      I skimmed though this thread, and I don't think anyone's mentioned saving meat bones to make broth? Aside from the chicken discussions, I mean...on the occasions when you find meat on sale, if it's bone-in, save the bones in the freezer. Segregate them by species or mix them all together, whatever your preference. When you've accumulated a couple of pounds you can use them to make a nice meat broth for soups, or reduce it down to make an even nice meat glaze.

                                                                                                                                      Another thought is to stock up on smoked sausage when it goes on sale. A little kielbasa goes a long way. This recipe for black bean & kielbasa stew with sherry creamed corn is yummy, especially if you spoon the creamed corn over the stew:http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/black-bean-stew-with-sherry-creamed-corn (If cream is not in the budget, just cook the frozen corn & add it to the stew).

                                                                                                                                      Have you learned to love kimchi? So many tasty, inexpensive things you can make with it: soups, stews, fried rice, dumplings, pancakes. If it's too pricey to buy, make your own from a giant Napa cabbage, a bit of radish & some carrots & green onions. I've had good success with this recipe from David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/03/... (You mentioned that your grocery store choices are limited, but maybe there's a market near you that will carry Korean red pepper flakes and paste?).

                                                                                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the link. I love kimchi, but figured I was out of luck up here. Korean red pepper flakes ... hmmm. Maybe when I go to the city to see my kids.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                          DuchessNukem Jun 4, 2013 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                          Uuuuhh, will admit to making Gringo Kimchi when all I had on hand was green cabbage, red radishes, yellow onions, and ordinary red pepper flakes, salt, and cayenne powder. Still tasted spicy wonderful. Don't rule it out. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem
                                                                                                                                            g
                                                                                                                                            gimlis1mum Jun 4, 2013 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                            I bet that would be great. I've made totally non-spicy kimchi too, basically just fermented veggies. Really love that flavor of the spicy kimchi when it starts to turn sour though...might need to make some kimchi fried rice for bfast tomorrow :-)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DuchessNukem
                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                              holypeaches Jun 6, 2013 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                                              I do almost the same thing as duchess. I add thinly sliced carrots as well. Sometimes after I pull the first bunch out I'll add a peeled tart apple, grated. You want to make sure there is enough juice to always cover the apple. It'll be ready again in a couple of days.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: gimlis1mum
                                                                                                                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 05:39 PM

                                                                                                                                            Oh! Thanks for the recipe, too. Everyone knows how to store tomato paste, right? Open both ends of the can, remove only the top, wrap can in plastic, freeze. The next day, push paste out from the bottom, wrap and keep frozen, slice off only what you need. I used to waste a whole can just to get two Tbsps.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                              1sweetpea Jun 4, 2013 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                              Hmm. Interesting technique! I usually just measure out what I need, then drop tablespoonfuls on parchment paper and freeze. Once frozen, I store in a freezer-safe ziploc bag. I think I like your idea better! Thanks for sharing that.

                                                                                                                                              Do you have any friends that have gardens? I wonder if you could offer to help tend the garden in exchange for some of the fruits of your collective labor? I have friends that have offered to share their bounty, because once zucchini or cherry tomatoes start to ripen, they wind up with far more than they can pick/eat. Too often, they wind up with zucchini the size of baseball bats that are not very appealing to eat, just because they left a few growing for a few extra days.

                                                                                                                                              On a completely different note, I was at the grocery store today and bought two fresh salmon heads. They were dirt cheap and made a delicious soup! I have no problem with fish heads, personally, but my husband isn't keen on picking at a fish head, so I picked off all the edible stuff and placed it in our bowls, then poured the soup, noodles and veggies over it. There were a few ounces of delicious salmon each, plus some assorted curious parts, which I won't detail. It was yummy! Each head cost $1.25. The veggies were simple: leek, shallot, green onion, baby spinach. The flavorings were Japanese (ginger, sake, rice vinegar, miso paste, sugar, soy).

                                                                                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 07:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                For some reason a salmon head up here is more like $4.00

                                                                                                                                              2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                Caroline1 Jun 5, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                I'm a lot lazier than you! I put all of the unused tomato paste in a ziplock sandwich bag, remove all of the air, zip closed and smooth into an even layer. Then just press lines to divide it into 4 equal sections and freeze. The sections are approximately a tablespoon each. No mess, no cleanup, easy to use! And user-friendly lazy! '-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                  biondanonima Jun 5, 2013 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I'm even lazier - I just put it in the bag and flatten it, then freeze. I just eyeball the amount I need. Pressing in the lines is probably something I could handle, though!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs Jun 5, 2013 05:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I do this as well. Just press it flat and freeze then break off as much or little as I need. I do the same thing with citrus juice, citrus zest in evoo and pesto.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                  Kontxesi Jun 6, 2013 04:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I just threw away almost a whole can of tomato paste that had started to mold in my fridge. :( I don't know why I never thought of freezing it!

                                                                                                                                                  I think out of all of the techniques shared, I like the tablespoons on parchment paper best. I might have to do that this evening.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 6, 2013 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Mine is better, because everything I do is better.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                                                                                                      juliejulez Jun 6, 2013 09:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I do mine in an ice cube tray :) But I like Pesach's idea, because like him, I'm lazy. I'm going to try that out next time I have a mostly full can of tomato paste.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                                        Kontxesi Jun 6, 2013 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                        The only thing about freezing the whole can is that I like the idea of having exactly 1 tbsp per piece. I'm precise like that. :p

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 6, 2013 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Let me take a wild guess...you really enjoy baking? :)

                                                                                                                                                3. MidwesternerTT Jun 3, 2013 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                  With teenagers visiting this summer, you may want to have snacks on-hand. This recipe for Crunchy Caramel Snack mix uses popcorn & cereal and makes a very large batch. With the listed pecans it's wonderful but it may be too pricey so consider those optional; it's still good with just the dry roasted peanuts.
                                                                                                                                                  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Cr...

                                                                                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                                                                                    Hopefulone Jun 3, 2013 04:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                    We are very careful with our food budget in an effort to pay off unexpected emergency home repairs. After making a budget, I approximated menus for each meal. (ie...breakfast- cereal/milk, fruit, coffee/tea. Lunch- sandwich & fruit, or leftovers from dinner or a hearty soup using home made stock and leftover vegetables and meat from dinner on cool days. Salad with left over bits of meat / fish and veggies on warm days. Dinner- 3 ounces of lean protein per person (chicken, fish, meat, eggs,legumes),a starch serving ( whole grain rice, pasta, occasionally potatoes or sweet potatoes, veggies (frozen if cheaper or fresh in season)
                                                                                                                                                    I "fill in the blanks" as I read the weekly grocery ads. I also keep a coupon file from weekly mailers and have familiarized myself with the every day prices @ Aldi so I know where I'm going for what.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Caroline1 Jun 3, 2013 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Anybody can feed a family with no budget restrictions. I think your challenge just makes it more fun. As a retired senior on a fixed income, the concept is not foreign to me.

                                                                                                                                                      Ethnic markets are godsends! I'm especially fond of the Asian markets near me, and 99 Ranch Market in particular. LOTS of great buys in the fish and meat departments. I'm talking stuff under $2.00 a pound! This week my 99 Ranch has boneless/skinless chicken thighs for $1.69 lb and pork spare ribs for $1.99. They always have some great buys in seafood and their produce is cheaper than anywhere else in town and always top quality, often including organic produce. Don't know if you'd be interested, but I find quail that is cheaper than chicken in my neighborhood Hispanic markets, and it's a lot more interesting!

                                                                                                                                                      Some of the dishes my kids liked when they were young are quiches, crepes, chicken and dumplings (the big fat fluffy kind), Mexican food, and even Chinese. Crepes are especially interesting because they take all sorts of fillings, they're incredibly inexpensive, and all they require is a bit of your time. They make great desserts or main courses. And quiches are a sneaky way to get kids to eat just about anything.

                                                                                                                                                      Keep in mind that some of the "classic" high end foods in fancy restaurants find their way there because their ingredients are cheaper than dirt, but it takes time and skill to make them. Use your time and skills and you've got great possibilities! Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                        JonParker Jun 4, 2013 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                        In my area we have ok Asian markets but wonderful Hispanic markets. I'm on a budget these days and do most of my shopping there. Here are a few of my faves:

                                                                                                                                                        Pork butt (shoulder). It's dirt cheap. Get a 3 lb. chunk. Do a spice rub of chile, cayenne, cumin garlic and onion powder, and whatever else sounds good. Place in a crock pot with 1/2 c. water on high for 6 hours or so. I like to add leftover pineapple core to flavor and tenderize the meat. When done, shred using your fingers (let it cool first) or two forks.
                                                                                                                                                        I get several meals out of this --- tacos one night, pulled pork sandwiches another, and maybe enchiladas another night. I also use the meat, black beans and asadero cheese to stuff roasted poblanos.

                                                                                                                                                        Beef tongue makes great tacos as well, and it's also really cheap. Oh, and making your own tortillas is not only tastier than Mission, but emotionally satisfying as well.

                                                                                                                                                        Beans are always good. If you want your black beans to take the step up from tasty to wonderful, toss in a few epazote leaves when cooking. Cook red beans with peppers, onions and celery, spices and some andouille. Cook pinto beans until tender, then mash them in bacon fat in a hot skillet until smoky and smooth.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm not a big pasta fan but I do like puttanesca -- a sauce of canned tomatoes, mashed anchovies, capers, and black olives. Add some Italian sausage if you want, but it's not necessary.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and I'm not sure if this tip appears elsewhere in the thread, but invest in a coffee grinder and buy your spices whole and in bulk. Grinding them as you need them is not only much cheaper, but the whole spices last longer and have more flavor when freshly ground.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JonParker
                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 09:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I will cook you a meal if you can find epazote within 30 miles of here.:)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                            JonParker Jun 4, 2013 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                            It's super easy to grow -- too easy in fact. It can take over if you let it. Best to contain it in a planter. But it makes the beans magical. I had always wondered why my black beans never had the "pop" of flavor that I got when I ordered them in Mexican restaurants. Epazote was the key. If you have Hispanic markets near you, they probably carry it.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: JonParker
                                                                                                                                                            tcamp Jun 5, 2013 05:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                            What a good idea of using the pineapple core! I chopped a core up last night to mix in with the compost, cursing under my breath the whole time.

                                                                                                                                                        2. k
                                                                                                                                                          Kontxesi Jun 3, 2013 06:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I made this a few days ago to use up the collards in the fridge. I was surprised at how filling it was. My fiance and I only ate one cup a piece and were full. (He usually eats all of whatever I make, so there are no leftovers. We had enough for lunches the next day.)

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/bbq...

                                                                                                                                                          Yummy and filling and cheap. (Prettier if you use one can of great northern beans and one of kidney.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. d
                                                                                                                                                            debbiel Jun 3, 2013 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                            I did not make it all the way through the thread. This might have been mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                            If you have a farmers market, go toward the end of the market hours and see what kinds of deals you can get on remaining produce, eggs, meat. Produce at the end of the market day is often deeply discounted. You might be able to buy in bulk that way and then put some up. One of our local farmers tweets Saturdays toward end of market to let folks know what he is putting on special. There are almost always a few significant meat specials.

                                                                                                                                                            You might also talk to those local farmers about cuts and parts they have difficulty selling and see what they can offer you cheap--might be stuff they aren't even bringing to market.

                                                                                                                                                            If your market doesn't accept SNAP yet, push them toward it. It's very common, at least around here.

                                                                                                                                                            1. d
                                                                                                                                                              deileend Jun 2, 2013 11:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                              My latest money-saving tip at the grocery store....The price of sliced bacon seems to have skyrocketed recently and bacon is an absolute staple at my house! I started buying the 3-4 pound boxes of Bacon Ends and Pieces. You can fry up the bacon and crumble it, and then freeze it to use just as you would sliced bacon but that 4 pound box costs about a fourth (or less) as much as sliced bacon does! I have found entire smoked pork chops in these boxes! I save all the bacon grease from cooking up the bacon pieces to add to beans and other recipes....

                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: deileend
                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I never heard of that. Who carries it?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                  lanersg Jun 3, 2013 09:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I have seen it at Trader Joes.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lanersg
                                                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 4, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, fonely there were a Trader Joes around here! Heaven!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                    sparky403 Jun 4, 2013 10:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    It's at every store - You just have to look - it's also called seasoning bacon but just ask the butcher - though it's normally pre-packaged I'm sure they can't point you too it.

                                                                                                                                                                    This was one of the first cooking tricks I learned (20 years ago or so) and I have yet to see a market that doesn't have it...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sparky403
                                                                                                                                                                      PesachBenSchlomo Jun 5, 2013 05:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks. Today is shopping day, and today I will ask (and I will also try Aldis.)

                                                                                                                                                                2. jpr54_1 Jun 2, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Years ago in the '70's I was a Home Economist for NYC Dept. of Social Services(Dyckman St. and East Side E. 94th St.)
                                                                                                                                                                  This was pre food stamps. We had surplus foods. The Home Economists at the time made a cookbook and distributed it in City Parks, Senior Centers, etc.) I still have mine-I just need to find it. It had recipes from a variety of ethnic groups.

                                                                                                                                                                  try using orzo, chickpeas, quinoa,lentils

                                                                                                                                                                  I am assuming ur Orthodox-Glatt Kosher-which hecksher?

                                                                                                                                                                  fish is also an option-as well as some cuts of meat, veal, beef and lamb.

                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Not Orthodox,but inclined to try to keep Kosher for the most part. In the oven right now is a baking dish full of orzo and leeks in a creamy sauce of chevre, yogurt, milk and eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver Jun 2, 2013 06:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      That sounds fabulous. BTW, are you feeding kids? Is it harder or easier if you are?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 07:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Twin teenagers, but only during visitation. Every other week and a month in the Summer. They are enthusiastic about my cooking and distressed by my housekeeping skills.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Jun 2, 2013 09:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Me too re "housekeeping skills."

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                            cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I've got a husband who's very enthusiastic about my cooking, and distressed that I'm making the kid into a clean/neat freak!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                        cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        More details about this yogurt orzo dish... Please! Sounds like something we'd enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 05:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Cook 1 -1/4 cups orzo in salted water, drain and set aside *before* it is properly cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                          Saute thinly sliced leeks (I used 3) and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and wilted. I season with thyme, which I get from the front lawn of this building, Kosher salt and freshly ground Telicherry black pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                          Stir in a cup or so of green peas, 6 oz. or so of diced meat (I used the leftover porkbelly, you can use ham or whatever sounds good to you) dump in the partially cooked orzo and stir in a 3 or 4 ounce chunk of chevre, until the cheese is well distributed, and take pan off heat to cool a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                          While it cools, beat 3 eggs, a cup of milk, and a cup of yogurt. So the eggs won't scramble, i temper the egg-mixture with a spoonful of the orzo mixture at a time until I think it is safe to dump it all in an oiled 2 quart baking dish, stir well, bake at 350c for about 45 minutes. It should be bubble, golden, and starting to brown around the edge. Mmm, creamy and leeky!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                            cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, I'll try this.
                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure if there's a Trader Joes where you are- but they have frozen leeks that are excellent. About $2/bag, no prep, no waste

                                                                                                                                                                    2. v
                                                                                                                                                                      VitalForce Jun 1, 2013 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Beef liver is cheaper than almost any meat, and for me, it’s quite delicious. There are lots of wonderful possibilities beyond liver and onions, particularly in the Middle-Eastern vein. From Habeeb Salloum’s “From the Land of Figs and Olives,” this can be reduced for fewer people:
                                                                                                                                                                      Serves 4
                                                                                                                                                                      4 cloves garlic
                                                                                                                                                                      1 chopped small hot pepper
                                                                                                                                                                      ½ cup chopped parsley
                                                                                                                                                                      1 lb beef liver
                                                                                                                                                                      ¼ cup oil
                                                                                                                                                                      ½ teaspoon allspice
                                                                                                                                                                      salt & pepper
                                                                                                                                                                      Crush garlic w/ salt. Combine w/ pepper & parsley. Cut liver into small cubes or short strips, removing skin & other bits. Fry until just starts to brown. Add garlic mix, pepper, allspice. Fry for couple of minutes until done.
                                                                                                                                                                      This is my favourite liver recipe. Cheap and tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                      There are many suggestions for frozen vegetables and so on. The small compartment in a regular fridge doesn’t hold too much. If you don’t have a stand-alone freezer, it might be worthwhile investment. If you’re in an apartment, perhaps there’s a community garden in town where you can get yourself a plot.

                                                                                                                                                                      There are lots of great things that can be done with potatoes and onions, the cheapest vegetables out there when bought in big bags. Others have mentioned picking up big bags of rice.

                                                                                                                                                                      Porridge with multigrain add-ins and some chopped dried fruit is a satisfying and cheap breakfast. Chinese congee is another wonderful cheap breakfast for something a little more exotic.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Ruthie789 Jun 1, 2013 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Some cities have collective kitchens where participants buy in bulk and cook in bulk and share. Do you have anything as such in your area?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. c oliver Jun 1, 2013 12:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          You may want to check out this COTM, Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless. Loads of the recipes are available online. Easier to sub pork belly for bacon or leave out the shallots when making his oh-so-good white rice (of all things!)

                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/898999

                                                                                                                                                                          I also had a thought about kale. I only get the lacinato (?sp) aka dinosaur kale and it's not cheap. But I use the entire stalk. Slice it super thin, sprinkle with salt and 'massage' it. Changes the texture immensely. No need to remove the 'rib.' Here's a video where I learned to make this amazing salad.

                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWEK8g...

                                                                                                                                                                          While the cheese crisp is wonderful, it's still great without it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. a
                                                                                                                                                                            acssss Jun 1, 2013 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            sorry for so many responses, but I keep thinking of something else...
                                                                                                                                                                            If you like jam/jelly you can buy a pound of fresh strawberries (now in season and going for $1/lb at ALDI's) - or frozen fruit (sold for $2.20 at ALDI or $3 at TJs) - and put a whole pound bag with 1/2-1 pound of sugar - depending on your sweet tooth and bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour or two - and you have about 1.5-2 pounds of jelly - delicious, cheap, healthy, no preservatives no artificial sweeteners or food coloring, etc and you can determine the sugar amounts.

                                                                                                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                              happybaker Jun 1, 2013 08:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh yes - I don't buy jam anymore. It's more expensive and tastes worse!

                                                                                                                                                                              For me, it's two parts fruit to one part sugar. (Frozen blackberries may take more, but you can adjust as you go.)

                                                                                                                                                                              And there is no need to simmer for an hour. If you are using fresh fruit, cut it up, measure it and mix it. (With fruits that have less natural pectin you use fresh lemon as well, but that's another post!)

                                                                                                                                                                              Anyhoo, just let it sit, covered, for at least a few hours to let the sugar draw out the water from the fruit and break down the cell walls. That means you need to cook it less and, it will taste much fresher!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker
                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                acssss Jun 2, 2013 07:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                I'll try it that way. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: happybaker
                                                                                                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                                                                                                  acssss Jun 2, 2013 08:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  As I stated before, I wouldn't pay extra for the neck/backs if I can use the bones from the thighs and legs for broth. If it was the same cost - maybe I would, but the bones from the legs are just as efficient for broth. Also, I would never save the skins for chicken fat and for anything else for that matter - I go out of my way to make fried chicken in the oven so the fat drips off - to make it healthier. I can't imagine adding chicken fat to any meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Jun 2, 2013 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Losing the fat doesn't actually make it healthier, just more dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                    No prob if thats' what you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                      DuffyH Jun 2, 2013 08:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Dry chicken is a cooking technique problem, not a function of skin or no skin. I used to eat a lot of dry chicken until I learned to cook BSCB properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I do agree that leaving the skin intact makes moist chicken more fool-proof.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                                                                        mcf Jun 2, 2013 08:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't say it would be "dry."

                                                                                                                                                                                        I know how to cook moist chicken. Even if it's boneless, skinless chicken breast, the most depressing phrase in cooking, IMO. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 2, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf,

                                                                                                                                                                                          I misunderstood. When you wrote <...just more dry.> I took that to mean "dry."

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't find BSCB depressing at all. It's a wonderful blank canvas, just begging for herbs and spices and lots of different cooking techniques. It's not like it's tasteless or anything bad. I think it tastes like chicken! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Jun 2, 2013 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            No, I meant just dryer. Or I would have said "dry." I never fry chicken, I do dry roast it at very high heat, and it never comes out "dry." :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                            I find the whole idea punishing. And I much prefer thighs. But in summer, I do occasionally marinate bscb, grill it slowly til cooked, but still moist, and place it atop goat cheese rounds on a big bed of organic salad greens with nuts, tomatoes, and dressing. Other than chicken Milanese or marsala, I don't want it any other way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                              DuffyH Jun 3, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I would fry chicken, but I suck at it. Despite having tried many methods and recipes, perfect fried chicken remains elusive. Truth be told, deep frying things is not one of my better kitchen skills. I keep trying. Eventually I'll get it right. Hope springs! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Jun 3, 2013 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                I am not a lover of fried foods, so it's a skill I've never had to master, but I think it's all about oil temp and an uncrowded pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                  DuffyH Jun 3, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  < it's all about oil temp and an uncrowded pan.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yup, can't argue with that. Now that I've ditched my inadequate deep fryer, and begun using my Thermapen to monitor oil temp, I think my skills will improve. Still, fried anything isn't something we eat a lot. I've lately begun bringing oil temp up about 20º higher than specified, it seems to help, especially since my DO is stainless without the thermal mass of cast iron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think I'd do it more often if it weren't for the steam/oil facial and the sheer waste of all that oil. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                            C. Hamster Jun 2, 2013 01:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            I grilled quite amazing BSCB last night. Juicy and full of flavor from my marinade. Like Duffy says,it's a blank canvas and is pretty healthy to boot.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree that proper cooking technique is the key to a toothsome end product.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        For some cultures chicken fat is essential because of dietary laws.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                                                                                                          acssss Jun 2, 2013 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not essential, it just takes the place of butter (dairy) and/or lard (pork).
                                                                                                                                                                                          Better to do without all of the above - healthier, cheaper, less fattening!
                                                                                                                                                                                          "Losing the fat doesn't actually make it healthier"... I'm sure every single cardiologist would disagree - or any other MD for that matter - and if they don't, better find another doc:)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Jun 2, 2013 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20...

                                                                                                                                                                                            "A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat."

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's the triglycerides made by your liver and stored as fat from excess carbohydrate consumption that are a predictive marker, plus low HDL. Both corrected by higher fat and lower carb.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                              PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I find it essential in the sense that much of the pleasure of eating what I cook depends upon its essence. I don't think I would enjoy knaidlach that were made without schaltz. Or kasha varnishkes, as just two examples.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                                acssss Jun 3, 2013 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                You sound just like some members of my husband's family who live in France and use 5 sticks of butter for one small meal :) - I think they've even used the same expression - of it being essential. I've heard the mother of their household say that there are three main ingredients in French cooking - butter, butter and butter

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                  DuffyH Jun 3, 2013 12:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  + 1 There are very few things in life that aren't improved by butter. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                  PinchOfSalt Jun 3, 2013 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amen! Kasha varnishkes, in particular, must be made with shmaltz.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. a
                                                                                                                                                                                        acssss Jun 1, 2013 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've read a few posts here about buying a whole chicken vs chicken pieces. Actually, it doesn't always come out to be cheaper... because 1/2 the weight of a whole chicken is pure bones - and only 1/3 of the weight of chicken legs/thighs/breasts are bones (and you can make broth out of both).
                                                                                                                                                                                        At ALDI - the price of chicken thighs is $1.19/lb (less if on sale) - so it is better than buying a whole chicken (unless the price of a whole chicken is less than $0.79/lb).
                                                                                                                                                                                        What I do is fry the whole thighs with the skin, then remove the thighs from the pan, remove the bones and skin from the thighs - place the drippings and bones in a pot to make broth and chop up the meat and make schwarma.

                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Jun 1, 2013 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Unless you're like I and actively dislike legs and thighs :(

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                            DuffyH Jun 1, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Count me in your camp. We solve that by buying SBCB at Sam's for $1.89/lb. That's not a sale, either. Neither of us eats an entire breast at one time, so we cut off the tenderloins and slice the remainder into cutlets. We freeze everything in quart freezer bags, 2 cutlets per bag, and the tenderloins divided into 2 portions. Saves us lots of money.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I will buy cheap whole chickens, using the leg/thigh meat mixed with some of the breast for tacos, chicken salad, etc... I don't notice the flavor difference as much. I do like making my own stock, so much cheaper than Swanson, but we have limited freezer space so that doesn't happen very often.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                              a
                                                                                                                                                                                              acssss Jun 1, 2013 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't like legs or thighs - I fry them - use the drippings for soup and take off the meat - and use that in chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, schwarma, or I pound them, cover them with bread crumbs and make schnitzels.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver Jun 1, 2013 10:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Now that works for me. A few months ago I did skin-on, boneless thighs stuffed with herbs and cheese and baked. Very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                                                                                                              desertginger Jun 2, 2013 12:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I still prefer whole chickens because of the wings, backs, and necks. Save up a gallon sized ziploc bag of those in the freezer and you can make great stock. Then you can cut off the legs and breasts to use however you want. If you want boneless pieces, cut out the bones and toss those in the freezer bag with the back, neck and wing tips. Save the meaty parts of the wings for making your own hot wings. Save the skin when you don't need it and render it in batches for the chicken fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: desertginger
                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Jun 2, 2013 06:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Or save the skin to season and roast at high temp for the most delicious crispy snack ever!

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Breadcrumbs Jun 1, 2013 06:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              You've received some great suggestions here so I don't have much to add but I would like to share a wonderful recipe I recently made. It sounds as though it uses many of the ingredients you would already have an hand and it really is scrumptious.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The recipe is for Navy Bean and Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale. Here's a link to the recipe:

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://edibletoronto.com/spring-2013/...

                                                                                                                                                                                              What I also love about this recipe is how versatile it is. It's meat-free but you could certainly choose to add sausage or leftover meat if you wished. Any veggies would work and water could be used instead of stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                                acssss Jun 1, 2013 07:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                This sounds delicious. I love soups that are like a meal. Harira soup (you can google the recipe) is very similar and with a hunk of homemade rustic bread is a very cheap, very delicious and very healthy meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo Jun 1, 2013 12:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you. I make this with a few ounces of Portuguese Chourizo, Great Northern beans and Russets, but Sweet Potato sounds inspirational.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs Jun 1, 2013 02:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are quite welcome PBS. The sweet potato takes this soup from good to great in my opinion. mc bc isn't a fan of soup at all and he had second helpings. It's almost stew-like in consistency. I love your idea of adding Chorizo. Luckily I froze our leftover soup so I'll have an opportunity to try your idea real soon. Thank-you!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                                                      cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've made sweet potato and black bean stew. Topped with cilantro and a poached egg, it's a hearty meal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      (My 2yo eats it too!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Breadcrumbs Jun 3, 2013 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love, love, love the addition of a poached egg cheesecake. Smart move. I can't wait to try this! Thanks for the inspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                          cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 05:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Anytime! Enjoy :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          A poached egg makes anything better, even a rotten, crappy day

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                            c oliver Jun 5, 2013 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A favorite breakfast for me is reheated rice with a poached egg and some Asian seasonings. Love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                              girloftheworld Jun 5, 2013 06:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              oh yes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                cheesecake17 Jun 5, 2013 06:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I have leftover rice, I usually make "fried" rice. I get a lot of vegetables in that way

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ruthie789 Jun 1, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That looks delicious and nutritious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chowrin Jun 1, 2013 06:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) Know your discount grocers. If you have a Costco in the area, get a membership already! (mine has a kosher section, case ya care. yours probably does too).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Second, shop at Aldi's and/or Trader Joe's. (also discount grocers).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2) Pound for pound, chicken at .99/lb (costco prices) seems cheaper than using legumes. For 2, I get three stirfries out of the breasts/thighs, plus at least four meals of chicken soup. Per chicken ($5). Perhaps I'd get more protein from legumes, but I'm not so sure

                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                          p
                                                                                                                                                                                                          pine time Jun 1, 2013 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There was some kerfuffle upthread about the cost of a CostCo (or Sam's, I guess) membership when funds are tight, but just yesterday, I saw that CostCo members can purchase a gift membership card. That might be a great gift for someone who is struggling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pine time
                                                                                                                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                                                                                                                            acssss Jun 1, 2013 12:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you go online to Sam's club or Costco and compare prices on most items, Walmart or purchasing the same thing online on Amazon in most cases is much cheaper. They are no longer the cheapest, plus you have to buy in bulk - which is a waste of money in itself IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Jun 1, 2013 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There's no comparison between the quality of products at Sams, IME, and Costco. Nor the quality of employment practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                DuffyH Jun 1, 2013 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                IME, there's not much difference. Yes, Costco does carry some less-commonly-found foods than Sam's. But those items aside (and those are FAR from being the bulk of what's available), many of the items are identical at both stores, and most of the rest are of equal quality. Sometimes better at Costco, sometimes better at Sam's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been shopping at Costco since it was Price Club, and at Sam's since the early 90's. I still shop both regularly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Jun 1, 2013 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've been with Costco as long. I dropped my Sam's and BJ's memberships as soon as they expired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chowrin Jun 2, 2013 05:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Buying three bags of potatochips (equiv) isn't bad. Neither is two quanties of sour cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not like you HAVE to buy 500 lbs of flour at once (yes, people do this at my store).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ruthie789 Jun 1, 2013 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Costco a discount grocer? Some prices are good but fruits and vegetables although of superior quality are very expensive here. Before going to Costco you need to know your prices in order to get the best bang for your buck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chowrin Jun 2, 2013 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My local grocer boasts about how much they overcharge about produce (in trade journals, natch). They're seriously proud of it. They make whole foods look like a bargain (even if it is more expensive).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                so your mileage may vary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. n
                                                                                                                                                                                                              NekoNekoFancyPants Jun 1, 2013 05:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Soups, Stews, Curries, use lots of cheap veggies, that helps stretch. Potatos are very cheap. Oatmeal cooked with fruit is very inexpensive. Of course have to do homemade burritos, beans and masa are very cheap. Lots of bananas for you fruits, typically the cheapest ones (banana ice cream yum). Making your own bread is quite inexpensive. Typically the less processed the less price so try to keep that as a guide. Almost everything you can make your own is healthier, tastier and less expensive. It sounds like your on the right track though. Just for heavens sake, stay away from the ramen its more expensive then pasta now per weight (and frozen foods).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. weezieduzzit May 31, 2013 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I generally spend about $40 a week on groceries, since I learned to coupon (and I don't mean just occasionally using coupons OR like that totally fake show, I mean using the coupon sites to buy at the lowest possible prices,) I often spend less than $40 or the $40 goes further than a week. Last week I did 2 shopping trips, one was $24 and I saved $71, the other I spent $38 and saved $91. My freezer is stuffed, I won't need to buy meat for 3 or 4 weeks. I don't eat any grains and I do eat a lot of meat since I eat VLC. Many of the meat items were organic (the store has 2 lines of natural and organic meats.) All of the dairy I bought was organic, we don't eat processed food so I'm not buying a bunch of crappy boxed and canned stuff. By learning how to not spend on things you can get dirt cheap or even free (and I'm talking quality name brand stuff,) it frees up other money to spend on quality ingredients. Now that Target has groceries and Target has their own coupons as well as mobile coupons and Cartwheel that can all be stacked with manufacturer coupons you can get good stuff stupid cheap. A site like Totally Target is a huge help. I'd suggest one for grocery stores but I don't know where you are, PesachBenSchlomo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was at Big Lots today and noticed they have "We accept SNAP" signs all over the grocery area. Its a great place to find all sorts of good ingredients like piquillo peppers, Indian sauces and chutney, etc. at much lower prices than the regular store and the variety changes all the time so you never know what you might find.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I plan my meals around what I find that looks the best and fits into my budget, not the other way around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                38 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm about 2 hours North of NYC in what used to be dairy country but is becoming apple orchards as the dairies fail. Not a broad spectrum of supermarket choices, unless one is willing to drive 40 miles. I really must do coupons.I have resisted on account of I am so damned lazy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    weezieduzzit May 31, 2013 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you use the coupon sites they do all the work for you, just browse them to decide what deals you want to do and pass on the ones you don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only one that I know of that might work for you is forthemommas dot com (I'm on the West Coast but I check that site as well, she's out of PA.) Totally Target is a huge time saver (and money saver!) Otherwise just Google "couponing" and the name of your area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you'll save enough money it might be worth it to make the 40 mile drive now and then to stock up. Like I mentioned before, saving on what you can really opens up money for the grocery budget so you can cook what you want to instead of just what you feel you can afford that week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Best of luck, we've all been there. I thought I was going to starve to death when I'd hit a slow patch in the early days of my business....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      couponmom.com is one of my favorites. She has grocery deals listed by state, and also pairs them with corresponding coupons that come from various sources, many of them are online sources, which is great if you don't have a newspaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, not sure what stores are available in OPs area, but I know my store, which is owned by Kroger, has great digital coupons that load right to my store card... no printing/clipping. Then after awhile they start sending personalized coupons for stuff I buy often. The coupons are for their store-brand items, and things like produce and meat... not just packaged stuff. Safeway does this too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chowrin Jun 1, 2013 06:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      do NOT do coupons. Drive to costco, once or twice a month. (I do it once per month, and that's about the only shopping i do, but your money may show up in different quantities than mine.).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      People drive at least 90 (probably more than 120, to be honest) miles to get to my costco (I know cause they're coming from WV, and I'm in Pittsburgh). Farmers are sharp people, they know a deal when they see one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 07:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You realize in order to GO to Costco, you have to pay $55/year right? So most folks who are receiving snap benefits likely do not have an extra $55 to pay for that. I love Costco, but I can usually do better, price-wise, at my regular grocery store if I shop savvy with sales and a few coupons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Jun 1, 2013 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And amortization really doesn't work unless you have the money upfront. We had a tenant once who never had the money to buy a cord of firewood even though there was a great woodstove in the house. So his power bills were so high.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup... honestly, even coming up with the $55 extra dollars for the Costco membership for me can get tricky, I basically have to plan and save up for it... and I'm nowhere near the poverty line in terms of income, so my disposable income per paycheck is not that much. I just have a very strict budget designed to pay off debt, so "extras" like Costco memberships have to be planned for. Just a bit over a year ago I was making $12,000 a year less than I am now, and an extra $55 was not an option at all at that point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Plus, once you factor in that extra $55, that usually makes the stuff at Costco not such a great deal unless you are really buying a lot of stuff, which a single person or a couple are probably not doing. We just have the membership because my SO likes going there, and I do like buying meat there since it is pretty cheap for the quality, especially beef, compared to my regular store. But if I were on SNAP, I wouldn't be going there, I'd just work with what the grocery store had. Does Costco even take SNAP?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Jun 1, 2013 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We're a couple and I save the cost of our $119 dual Exec membership pretty much the first shopping trip. Particulary since they send me almost the whole amount at the end of each membership year as a check to be used at the checkout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver Jun 1, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But my point is that one may not have that $55/$119 up front.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Jun 1, 2013 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I know. I wasn't responding to your statement. I was responding to this from Julie:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Plus, once you factor in that extra $55, that usually makes the stuff at Costco not such a great deal unless you are really buying a lot of stuff, which a single person or a couple are probably not doing."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I should have included it, huh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In her case, she has the income, but has prioritized its use for debt reduction. I have no reason to doubt her when she says she saves more or just as much by couponing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But for some, paying a fee to use Costco will free up more cash for debt reduction. I really does come down to what you buy and what your priorities are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c oliver Jun 1, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gotcha :) And it's just the two of us but, yes, we buy 800 rolls of toilet paper at a time! Between the Costco rebate and the Amex one, we pay for the membership.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Jun 1, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I wasn't ever figuring in my Amex reward points.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The topic of this thread is feeding a family if they're on public assistance. Someone on SNAP isn't using an Amex, nor can they buy enough to make a membership worth it... that was my entire point. And as for the rewards, you would have to spend $5500 a year (approx $458 a month) at Costco to cover the cost of the $110 membership with 2% rewards, which plenty of people do... but for someone on a limited budget, that's not happening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My monthly grocery budget is $300 for two people, which also covers stuff like toilet paper. Last month, I spent $480, but that included a $160 trip to Costco that I do every couple months, and I'm still working through what I bought on that trip, so the $160 is actually spread out over a couple months so I came in right on budget for the month of May... well, $5 over. But, I had the money to spend on stocking up. Someone on SNAP doesn't have enough money to stock up... that's why the OP said above that bulk shopping doesn't usually work for someone on a very limited budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Jun 1, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not applicable here, but the Costco Amex isn't like a regular Amex. It's just a revolving credit card which probably most people can qualify for. We also buy almost all our gas there which is a big savings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh I know that, but like you said, not applicable to this topic. I use my Amex at Costco too :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Jun 1, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The topic of this thread is feeding a family if they're on public assistance. Someone on SNAP isn't using an Amex, nor can they buy enough to make a membership worth it... that was my entire point. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, when discussing your own income and priorities, that was not your point. And that's the portion of your post I referred to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I fully understand that some folks may not have the spare cash to join. BTDT, got the souvenirs in the past.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chowrin Jun 2, 2013 05:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              costco accepts SNAP for a reason. customer demand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (try buying a car at costco, which for some reason people on public assistance think they can afford!--the car eats your budget alive, folks!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pizza's a great way to get to the point where you can bulk up. it's cheap and yummy, if you make it yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                juliejulez Jun 2, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I just wasn't sure if Costco accepted SNAP, so good to know they do. But there's still the issue of paying for the membership, which most folks on public assistance can't do. The idea of giving Costco cash cards to someone in need is great, and some folks may have a friend w/ a membership who might let them tag along. Still have to shop savvy though... like I mentioned above, I can usually do better at the regular store with sale shopping and coupons (the digital variety that I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't buy newspapers).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ruthie789 Jun 2, 2013 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One solution to Costco would be to go with someone who has a membership card.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    aimeekm Jun 2, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That wouldn't be possible using SNAP benefits. The name on the EBT card would not match the membership card.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aimeekm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruthie789 Jun 2, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, not really sure how SNAP works am Canadian...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gastronomos Jun 1, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.kosherfrugal.com/search/la...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chowrin Jun 2, 2013 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          which is a good point. back when I did couponing, i spent well over a hundred dollars a year on newspapers. Much more worth it to go to costco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        girloftheworld Jun 5, 2013 01:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        my mom use to split hers with the othe four single moms in the apartment "cube" it was kind of fun on cosco day because they would divide everything up in our kitchen and the kids would get to squish the boxes for recycling

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c oliver Jun 1, 2013 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I find the same thing at the Costco in Reno. Outside our area, it's a lot of farming and ranching and you can spot these folks cause of the volume they're buying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      weezieduzzit Jun 1, 2013 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do the math on things before I buy and Costco is never cheaper than couponing for me. Obviously, YMMV, depending on what you buy but its easy to figure out the price per ounce, per load, per roll, per serving and compare (and I wouldn't even have to pay for a memership, I could tag along with MIL.) I'm saving $600-800 every single month with coupons, which is working out to be around 75%. I have a spreadsheet from one of the couponing sites I downloaded and enter my coupons and savings into. Oh, there are coupons for lots of natural food proucts on sites like Common Kindness. I was recently able to buy Spectrum coconut oil for 99 cents a jar with a $2 off coupon stacked with a coupon from the natural food store and a sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The digital coupons Julie mentioned are the ones that save me the most money. Because it's what I buy, I'm always getting organic produce and meat coupons. I'm also always getting $10 off $50 and I can print a $5 off $50 from Recyclebank so I'm automatically getting $15 off 50 right off the bat and they calculate it on the pre- manufacturer coupon total so it's really easy to walk out of the store for $20-25 or less for at least $50 of groceries. Real groceries that make real meals. This month is National Dairy Month, too, so the store is running a special on participating items where if you spend $15 you get a $5 coupon for your next purchase so that $5 on my next trip with a $10 off 50, and 5 off 50 will be $20 off 50 before I even use other manufacturer or digital coupons and I can use that on ANYTHING.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I should really type up a receipt and what I made with all of the groceries but first I have to run to the farmers market on my hunt for the elusive rhubarb and there's a toilet paper deal for 12 pk of Cottonelle for $2 today so I have to grab my coupons and go stock up... because that will give me more money in my budget for groceries in coming weeks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mcf Jun 1, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It really does depend upon what you buy. I don't see coupons for the kinds of things or brands I buy, only very rarely. And my trip to Costco overall is always cheaper for the few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo Jun 1, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          OK, now I may be getting to be a pain, so just skip this if I am asking for too much help, but I have never done couponing in any form - do you mind just going over the basics for me? I don't really know how to find them or how to use them. I thought my customer cards at the 2 stores I shop in got me all specials. I guess they must not be getting me the proprietary ones. It sounds from what you say that it is foolish not to coupon, and I have been a fool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            weezieduzzit Jun 1, 2013 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If we get too off topic the mods will remove the posts but you can Google "how to coupon" "How to extreme coupon" "coupon in New York" and things like that and will find tons of info. Also check the sites mentioned in this thread. It might work well for you, it might not but it is worth finding out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not a fool, just "unenlightened" :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              pine time Jun 1, 2013 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are coupon inserts in most Sunday newspapers, and there are myriad on-line coupon sites. A caveat, however: I've found some of the on-line ones collect a little too much personal info. for my liking. If there's a brand I like, I'll go to that company's site and search for coupons--have found everything from a free product, to samples, to $1. off coupons. Some senior centers even have a boxful of coupons, which were cut/exchanged from other clients to share with others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Speaking of dollars, don't cringe, but Dollar Stores (99 cent stores where I live) have some frozen foods (I'm leery of those) and produce, which I've bought. Lemons at my grocery store were 3/$1 and the 99 cent store had a bag of 8 lemons for 99 cents. Not a hard choice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pine time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                weezieduzzit Jun 1, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great suggestion, Pine Time, the 99 Cents Only store here has fresh organic produce and everyone in town knows it- regardless of income- everyone from the homeless that panhandled enough money to buy something to eat to a parking lot full of Range Rovers and Mercedes. There is no stigma to shopping there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The selection of organic produce there this morning was outstanding, mostly Earthbound Farms but some other brands of organics, too. The sell by dates are 17 days out on the 1 pound tubs of greens I got (so I bought 7 of them!) They had Horizon milk today, too but I got there too late. While it's not my fave organic milk the price is right at 99 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                juliejulez Jun 1, 2013 08:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To get the store coupons loaded to your member card, just go to your store's site, and look around for a place to register your member card, all you need is the number and your information usually. Then, there is usually a button on the main page for "digital coupons". Then you can go through the list and click to add the coupons you want, and it'll load them directly to your card, so nothing else for you to do. At my store, the discount comes off after they total it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 05:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow, no scissors! Even I can do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jeanne Jun 3, 2013 09:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weezleduzzit - your amount of couponing sounds like a full time job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jeanne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weezieduzzit Jun 3, 2013 09:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jeanne, about an hour a week clipping and filing coupons if its a week of a lot of inserts and new printables (such as the beginning of the month,) 5-15 minutes on the store site to check for digital coupons, other weeks none since I check the coupon previews to see if there are coupons I want that week (this takes 2-3 minutes tops to scan the list,) maybe a half hour making my shopping lists and pulling the coupons while looking at the couponing sites I use, and then the shopping itself. I shop every 7 to 10 days usually and the prep is usually a little bit of time here, a little there. Really not much time at all for the amount of money I save (this week we only needed $20 of produce and dairy but last week I saved $169. thanks to coupons, paid $52 and change.) The couponing sites do all the work with getting the matchups together, I just go down the list for the stores I go to and pick the deals I want to do. Most of the sites even have a thing where you can check the box next to the deal and then print the list so I don't have to write it down. Nice and quick, efficient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weezieduzzit Jun 10, 2013 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For anyone that does use coupons.. there are internet printable coupons for Perdue chicken (75 cents off one package,) and fresh pork ($1 off, any brand,) right now. You can Google for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  aimeekm Jun 2, 2013 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Costco offers a value on many items but Costco is not necessarily inexpensive. Items of comparable quality, deli meats, cheeses, prepared foods are less expensive at Costco than at say Wegmans. But on a very tight food budget I don't agree that Costco is the way to go. I can always find like items at better prices on sale at a discount grocer or mass merch than everyday prices at Coscto. Even paper goods that are often mentioned, there are better per roll prices to be found elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Additionally buying in bulk ties up a significant amout of money. Buying several months supply of a staple and saving a few cents per serving/use, isn't a good investment. On a fixed income, cash flow is one of the biggest hurdles. It's why stores like Family Dollar and Dollar General are thriving. The price per use or serving is almost always higher at Dollar Stores. But smaller packages at a lower per package price (but higher per oz or unit) helps people manage their cash flow. It is not at all ideal, but is is practical. If there is only $30 left at the end of the month with a family to feed, what's the better choice, 50 lbs of rice from Costco or a variety of items from a discount store?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: aimeekm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    C. Hamster Jun 2, 2013 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              acssss May 31, 2013 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make your own bread - very easy - I make three large loaves for $0.60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make your own pitas - very easy - I make 16 for $0.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make your own pasta - very easy - I make 2 lbs for $0.50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make your own cookies/cakes - 1/10 price
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (and all of the above you can freeze)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make your own hummus - VERY easy - 1/4 price
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Grow your own herbs - very easy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ...you get my drift
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Buy spices at Webstaurant ($1.50/lb for paprika, cumin, etc)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Buy Olive oil at Webstaurant ($14 for three liter bottles)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Look for weekly sales at local supermarkets - you can get on their weekly mailing list - and eat depending on what was on sale not depending on what you want for dinner that night (this week, for example, ALDI has chicken at $1.19/lb, yellow peppers at $0.50 each, etc)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ALDI! There is one 10 miles from here, but I have never been inside. They have fresh meat? Who knew? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jw615 Jun 1, 2013 03:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Aldi does have fresh meat, but some of it is not a great deal - you really need to keep an eye on the quality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you can check the aldi specials though, they have produce deals every week, and often, those are GREAT deals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jw615
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    acssss Jun 2, 2013 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We don't eat much meat other than chicken and fish - and I buy our fish (cod) at TJ's for $4/lb... but I agree - need to be careful.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But produce at ALDI's - great for the savers among us!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last week I bought 2 large cucumbers for $0.50, three large yellow peppers for $1 (at my local supermarket it would have cost me $4), and a pound of strawberries for $1. Not to mention the flour and other non-perishable items. I go there once a month and stock up... and no membership fee!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Jun 2, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Big fan of Aldi's myself. If the OP has never been to an Aldi's, it's worth the trip just to get an real education in how cost savings can stretch your dollar on basics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo Jun 2, 2013 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm going on Wednesday, which is shopping day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          aimeekm Jun 2, 2013 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think you're going to be very impressed with Aldi's prices. Their pricing on staples almost impossible to beat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I really think that for someone who has a good handle on scratch cooking and budget stretching meals, shopping strategy is what makes the difference. Prices for staples vary widely between grocery chains. For example least expensive pasta at my chain grocery store $1.29/lb, discount/ethnic grocer $.69/lb. Least expensive onions at my chain grocery store $.99/lb, discount/ethnic grocer 4 lb/$1. I literally cut my grocery bill by more than half by shopping in markets that cater to price sensitive consumers, as Aldi does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 09:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Definitely check out aldi!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They are very cheap on staples- rice, flour, sugar, cereal, milk, yogurt, lettuce, bananas...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, tomorrow is Aldi day. It is in the same stripmall as Shoprite, my usual market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                aimeekm Jun 3, 2013 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you have a PriceRite nearby? Same ownership as ShopRite, but is targeted for the budget shopper. Less selection, but lower prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              HillJ Jun 5, 2013 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What did you think of Aldi?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo Jun 6, 2013 05:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I can see how it will help a great deal in certain areas. The dairy products other than yogurt offer sufficient choice and are very reasonably priced (similar to Mal*Wart which is farther away). I picked a few things under the house-brand labels to see how the quality compares; don't have a reading on that yet. The pasta (very useful) was very attractively priced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Jun 6, 2013 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first few visits I made to Aldi went pretty much the same way. I bought a few items to see if I liked the quality and the taste. Not everything passed. But overall I've found on basics and a few surprises (like brand names that appear on the shelves from time to time) that the cost savings helps me stretch the dollars I set aside for food shopping each week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What I don't spend at Aldi's, I wind up spending at the farmer's market or grocery store on their specials for the week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rotating my food store shopping is how I role. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        robt5265 Jun 6, 2013 09:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Aldi has amazing prices on many items. I buy butter for just over $2 a #, OJ NOT from concentrate for approx. $2.50, decent imported cheeses, fruit and many vegetables. Onions are often 3# for .79 on sale, avocado often .39. lg. eggs $1.19 a doz. Chips and pretzels etc. lg. bags, under $2. and the quality is excellent. I will add that I have been a pro. chef, in private service for 34 years this month. I am fussy and do know what Im talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: robt5265
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo Jun 7, 2013 05:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I pay around $1.49 a pound for Spanish onions at ShopRite, which seems ridiculous compared to the price you mention, but I have had a few bad experiences buying by the bag. You trust Aldi, though? At Mal*Wart bagged onions usually means bruised or sprouted or oddly-sized onions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kontxesi Jun 7, 2013 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've had the same experience with bagged onions, as I just noted up thread. But it's not even just Wal-Mart. I have that issue with all bagged onions from any store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              robt5265 Jun 7, 2013 08:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              red onions were $2.49 a # at our mainstream local chain last week. They each weighed at least a pound. I wont pay that for onions, Id rather throw a few out in the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: robt5265
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kontxesi Jun 10, 2013 05:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You definitely have to do a cost analysis, for sure. I wouldn't buy them at that price either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chowrin Jun 10, 2013 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Costco sells 10 lbs for about six bucks. And they're good onions, too (big, so you don't need to peel as much).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: robt5265
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              acssss Jun 7, 2013 05:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree and although I am not a professional chef, I am fussy about my family's food and I love ALDI's. I have no doubt that every chef in the country buys their stuff there, or at an equivalent store, to save money. It's smart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JulesNoctambule Jun 2, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I love to make just about everything I can from scratch, but I know I have the luxury of the time it takes to do all that. For so many working families struggling to make ends meet, time is even scarcer than money!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ May 31, 2013 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have you visited the SNAP website for some meal planning ideas? There's a recipe file (by ingredient), a build your own recipe book, plenty of tips and shopping list tools. Good information there to round out your meal planning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            and http://www.fns.usda.gov/fncs-recipe-box

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resourc...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              HillJ May 31, 2013 10:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.teamnutrition.usda.gov/Res...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              this is one of the recipes from the site I make for my family quite often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, great! Thanks for the links. I had no idea those existed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Chowbird May 31, 2013 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                First of all, shop the sales. If your local supermarket(s) put their sales flyers online, and you have regular access to the Internet, you can see what's on sale and make a list before you leave. This week, for example, my local Winn-Dixie has 2-4-1's on top round roast, boneless-skinless chicken breasts, pork country-style ribs, and frozen bagged fish fillets, among other meats. Buy and cook one and stash the "free" one in the freezer for later!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shop farmer's and ethnic markets, especially for such staples as bulk rice and different kinds of beans. (Red lentils, f'rinstance are $8 for a bag of Bob's Red Mill at Publix and about $4 for a *bigger* bag at my local Indian market).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Buy fresh vegetables and fruits in season. Right now peaches are on sale around here (then again, I'm in Florida, just south of the Georgia border, go figure). Cheap produce staples are cabbage, onions, potatoes, and bananas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For bread and baked goods, see if you have a bakery thrift store nearby.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Often the best time to buy "holiday" ingredients is just AFTER the holiday, when the market needs to clear out the Thanksgiving turkeys/St Patrick's Day corned beef /Easter hams/New Year's sparkling ciders/etc. to make room for their next shipment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you have a freezer, save scraps of chicken bones/skin and veggie peelings (without pesticides) for stock. It doesn't matter whether the chicken is already cooked or not; you'll simply need more bones and meat scraps if it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you have space, try growing your own herbs. You can also save seeds from produce and try to grow your own (this from someone who TRIED, without much success, to grow red bell peppers last year. Can't believe they go for $3.99 / lb! That's more than CHICKEN!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Team up with friends to buy in bulk and split. I've done this with 10-pound bags of rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Store bread, tightly closed, in your freezer. It'll keep near indefinitely that way. I do this with herbs, too: I'll go ahead and WASH and chop a bunch of parsley, then freeze it. Can't tell the difference between fresh and frozen as long as the dish is cooked, and it's so convenient! (This doesn't work for dishes that need extra-fresh herbs, like tabbouleh and chimichurri, though).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do the same with homemade stock: reduce and freeze. Nothing enhances a dish quite like homemade stock, especially if you have some aromatics (celery leaves, carrot and onion peelings, leek tops) to put in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save drippings from any meat you roast, refrigerate it, skim the fat off, and treat like stock. If you have a use for the skimmed-off fat, you can use that, too. (It's the secret to my chicken-and-rice pilaf: sauté the onion and rice in the rendered chicken fat, mmmmm!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Look into home canning. Some larger cities have commercial kitchens and equipment you can use free or for a small fee. (Again, teaming up with friends is a good idea!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If your fridge space is limited, keep a hermetically-sealed carton of Parmalat milk (or the equivalent) on hand. Powdered milk is generally cheaper, but, frankly, I wouldn't want to drink it. I'll cook with it, though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you drink coffee but don't finish off the entire pot, refrigerate the leftovers. They'll taste fresh for a couple of days, and you can either reheat (preferably by microwave) or make iced coffee! Ditto for hot tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you have the time, space, and inclination, you can make some items that are partially self-replicating: sourdough starter, homemade yogurt/kefir/buttermilk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remember, the barter system is alive and well! Lots of people feel too tired to cook and might be willing to make you a trade / hire you to cook for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I know you asked for recipes, but you can't really plan a meal until you have the ingredients (or at least have an idea of what you'll have on hand!). Some "frugal yet healthy" meals we often have are:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chicken & dumplings (loaded with veggies!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Spaghetti (ditto!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Quesadillas (use GOOD tortillas from Hispanic market)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stuffed bell peppers (with meat if possible, with rice or cornbread and veggies if not)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Beans & rice (many, many different kinds/flavors)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jambalaya
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Crustless quiche/frittata
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stuffed cabbage rolls (see note about stuffed peppers)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Meat & Veggie Stir Fry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Soup (ideally with warm crusty bread)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This time of year, salads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hope this helps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chowbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  weezieduzzit May 31, 2013 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "If you have space, try growing your own herbs. You can also save seeds from produce and try to grow your own (this from someone who TRIED, without much success, to grow red bell peppers last year. Can't believe they go for $3.99 / lb! That's more than CHICKEN!)."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most grocery store produce items are hybrids that will not grow true to what you bought (they may revert to a "parent" plant and may be undesirable on their own.) or may be engineered to be sterile. To grow from seeds they need to be open pollinated varieties which aren't often found in major stupidmarkets, they generally carry produce selected for its ability to be shipped well and stay on shelves for as long as possible. There are all sorts of seed trades for open pollinated/ heirloom varieties on the internet, though- just check out some gardening sites. There's even a gardening forum here on Chowhound and I'd bet a request for whatever seeds someone could spare would be met with help. Gardeners are usually a generous bunch if it means someone else will be able to garden, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are a lot of things that are super easy to grow from produce items, though- the bases of green onions put in a pot of damp soil in a sunny window or porch will continue to grow the green parts that can be snipped with scissors. It doesn't require any gardening "skill" and its nice to have the fresh taste snipped over salads, potatoes, chicken, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chowbird Jun 4, 2013 06:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks, Weezieduzzit! Now I don't have to blame my non-existent gardening skills for the Great Red Bell Pepper Failure of 2012. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JonParker Jun 4, 2013 06:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm coming to this a little late, but you should know that SNAP benefits are not only good for food, they're good for edible plants and seeds used to grow food. This might be difficult to manage on an already underfunded SNAP budget, but it is an option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From the FDA web site: "The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 defines an eligible food as "any food or food product for home consumption and also includes seeds and plants which produce food for consumption by SNAP households."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chowbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some great ideas there. I always try to render chicken fat when I buy leg quarters for soup, I save bacon grease, too, when I have it. I make lots of Mexicanish food, mostly with pork shoulder and fresh chiles (Poblanos, Serranos)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Crustless quiche! Never thought of it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruthie789 May 31, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You sound like a very organized person who likes and knows how to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 07:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My very first girlfriend taught me to love cooking when I was 17, and now I am 64.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver May 31, 2013 07:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I actually linked your post to another thread about "food insecurity." Making the point that you, as a knowledgeable cook struggles and imagine what others are up against. Congrats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PesachBenSchlomo Jun 1, 2013 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you. I meant this for others as well. I hope they find it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Chowbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So many great ideas. Thank you for taking the time and effort to leave me such a thoughtful and useful post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Leftover coffee can be frozen in cubes to make frozen coffee drinks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's pretty simple, as long as you have a blender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Someone leaves coffee over?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 10:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Me :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My husband makes me a full pot every morning, and sometimes I don't drink the whole thing. I save the leftovers for iced coffee or cubes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              acssss Jun 3, 2013 04:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and me :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love iced coffee (hate Iced tea) and I, too, freeze into iced coffee cubes for a refreshing drink on a hot day! I blend the cubes and it turns into a coffee slush - or a coffee sorbet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HillJ Jun 3, 2013 04:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Raising her hand! Summer is all about iced coffee..including Vietnamese/Thai and frozen java ice pops! Discount stores sell the pop molds all summer long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700115

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My head is bowed in shame. My intricate coffee ritual involves me weighing and grinding exactly enough coffee for my 15 oz. mug. I always drink all of it. Excellent coffee is made considerably more affordable by buying it green, and roasting it yourself on the stovetop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cheesecake17 Jun 3, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love my coffee, but I'm no coffee snob. Chock full o nuts or $80/lb, doesn't matter...if its got caffeine and tastes like coffee I'll drink it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo Jun 3, 2013 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's the ritual that's soothing. These are anxious times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PinchOfSalt Jun 4, 2013 12:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do exactly the same thing - buy green beans, roast them, weigh out a portion that is just right for my favorite mug every morning as my water heats. Once you have a little experience roasting you can have a really good cup for much less than if you went to a coffee bar or even if you bought good quality already roasted beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. mcf May 31, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the most difficult things to deal with on very limited food budgets is the dietary need for quality, bioavailable proteins. Even obese folks are often severely malnourished as a result of this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I applaud your use of fresh, in season produce, and encourage you to seek out cuts of meat on sale that you can chop or grind yourself. stewing hens, turkey, etc... if you cut them up at home, chop or grind your own, they can be as economical as grains and beans and much healthier as more than a condiment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know what facilities you have to prepare or store it, but I do those things to improve the quality of what we eat, not the cost, necessarily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And eggs are a perfect food, so many ways to use them for any meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I were in NYC I could get "old fowl" at Fairway, but out here in the sticks it's either $26 chicken as sold to the rich folk with 2nd homes (not reconciled to that idea) or whatever Halal or Kosher chicken I can find in the supermarket. It's almost always young. Leg quarters are cheap though, and I detach the back portion that they leave on, and use it for stock, along with chicken feet for collagen. Eggs I buy by the tray.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Jun 1, 2013 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Edit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                barefootgirl May 31, 2013 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our food writer did a story on this last year, after discovering that our "home economics" writer had done the same thing in 1933:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.ohio.com/lifestyle/abraham...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The BLT Pasta was very tasty, even cold after the photo shoot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: barefootgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the link.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  acssss May 31, 2013 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually kale, chard and meat (except for chicken) is very expensive. Instead, use Lentils and make Dal served with rice - delicious, healthy and cheap - costs around $2.00 serve it with rice (another $0.50) and it serves 8 people. Another suggestion is pasta - I buy a pound of pasta at Trader Joe's for $1 plus $2 for two cans of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce - and you have a meal for 8 for $3. Another suggestion is buying chicken thighs (I purchase four chicken thighs for $2 - serve them roasted in the oven over rice or cut them up in small chunks and serve in a pita pocket with hummus ($1/can) and you have a schwarma sandwich - (make your own pitas - and you'll have 16 regular size pitas for under $1)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: acssss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Today I bought orzo and leeks, to make a "creamy" (milk, goat cheese) baked casserole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I never thought of baking pita! Thanks! I make a lot of Hummus and Baba Ganoush.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pine time May 31, 2013 08:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Mr. and I were starving students when we got married, and here it is decades later and we're in a much better financial situation, but I still use some of the skills and recipes I developed way back then. Hang in there; hopefully, as the economy improves, so will your wallet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the meantime, as some have written, consider ethnic foods and ethnic markets. The Mr. is from India, and I learned a lot of my Indian recipes when we were students. Get an Indian (or some other ethnicity you like) cookbook from the library (saves money), and try some dals, curries (small bits of meat, lots of vegetables) or somesuch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spices can be expensive when bought from the grocery store, but look in the ethnic aisle (off-brands, often fine spices), ethnic markets, or those bulk-bins in "health-food" stores (I still sometimes buy a few tablespoons of a spice if that's all I need--lots of $avings there).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save leftover vegetable bits in the freezer--make stock or continue collecting until there's enough for a soup, with homemade bread (I do naan, tortillas, cornbread--all filling, wholesome and cheap).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Best wishes, and keep us informed about what you try!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver May 31, 2013 08:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great suggestion about the spices! I haven't bought anything in a jar in literally years. I'm not going to pay for the jar, the lid and the label. And they're fresher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline1 Jun 10, 2013 05:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have some "store bought spice" jars I've been refilling with bulk spices for DECADES!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pine time Jun 10, 2013 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love my decades old spice jars. Some still have the tiny paper price label--85 cents, 50 cents. Wow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowrin Jun 10, 2013 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the ones from penseys are flint. and you can get them for free if you subscribe to their newsletter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pine time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes! Indian! Some stuff I know, and I even have turmeric, garam masala, etc. (Kastulyans on a visit to NYC) but I need to learn how to bake nan and paratha.Why hadn't I thought of this? It's so worth while to ask a question here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            nofunlatte May 31, 2013 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've never been on food assistance, but as a grad student I was pretty poor. Indian was one of my mainstays! Easy to be economical with Indian food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can also make your own paneer from supermarket milk--it was a lot easier to make that I'd anticipated!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              juliejulez May 31, 2013 06:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Naan is so ridiculously easy to make... this recipe is easy and cheap: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2010/09/naan/ In fact, you might want to cruise around that blog.... obviously prices vary by area but there are some really great cheap meal ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 07:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, thanks.And thanks for the spelling hint :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  pine time Jun 1, 2013 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You can also vary the spices (if you choose to use any) on the naan to avoid taste-boredom. And aloo paratha is the food of the gods. Try puris, too. Much of Indian food springs from the masses who need filling and cheap eats (except for the richness of Moghlai food, also excellent).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  carlee134 Jun 3, 2013 11:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I love, love, love her recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MidwesternerTT Jun 9, 2013 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Disappointed with my naan from that recipe, in part because my lack of pancake-cooking skills transferred to this, too. If I try again, I'll need to add more salt and ask someone else to handle the skillet. I gave up after the 4th one and formed the rest of the dough into trefoil rolls & baked in a muffin pan, 20 min at 350 degrees.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      juliejulez Jun 9, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah mine weren't too pretty looking, rather amoebic, but they tasted good. I'm horrible at flipping things too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MidwesternerTT Jun 9, 2013 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The quick yogurt cucumber sauce at this link is an easy way to use up what's left of a 5 or 6 oz small container of Greek yogurt after making the naan. Equal parts yogurt & sour cream, with shredded cucumber, lemon juice, and small amts of cumin & parsley. Tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      corrected link is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/gree...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        pine time Jun 10, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like a raita. I've made it with straight Greek yogurt, but if I have small leftover amounts of yogurt or sour cream or buttermilk, it goes in as well. Try sprinkling some CI roasted cumin on top--just delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. u
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  unburritable May 31, 2013 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  51 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sedimental May 31, 2013 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I now naturally cook this way, it became a habit. I am a fan of purchasing high quality and expensive ingredients that are often more economical in the long run.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Duck fat is expensive and a "specialty product" in the US but it can be reused....many times! All expensive specialty spice mixes and infused salts can be easily made at home. No need to eat rice all week, but it takes a bit of practice and a different kind of thinking to think "weekly" or monthly about meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MidwesternerTT May 31, 2013 09:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While the general approach is sound, that is an insane price per pound for meat that's available at a grocer for half that, particularly for someone who must use the cash they have for paper products, etc. not covered by SNAP. Why do you believe it is "healthy meat"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        u
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        unburritable May 31, 2013 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't this to turn into a debate about meat, but I think the science is fairly clear on the difference between industrially-raised and pasture-raised meats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For chickens, see http://news.psu.edu/story/140750/2003/05/01/research/pasture-ized-poultry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (most of the other articles I've found on chickens include footage of farms that I don't want to link here, because it's not productive or relevant

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        beef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/14/AR2006031400312.html
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/10
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.npr.org/2010/04/08/125722082/the-truth-about-grass-fed-beef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/29/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, my point was that even paying very high prices for meat that I (personally) feel good about (and everyone should do whatever they want - I'm not on any kind of high horse), I can cook a full week's worth of meals on relatively little money. If I remember correctly, full chickens in the supermarket here tend to run about $3/lb, so one could feasibly save about $15 by buying meat there, maybe even more, bringing the total for the week well under $50.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Plus, here in DC, at least, farmers markets not only accept SNAP benefits, they have raised private funds for matching, which means every dollar of SNAP money is worth two at the market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again, I don't want to make any presumptions or prescriptions for anyone's life. My post was and this is meant to be illustrative of how I cook. My goal is to eliminate as much waste as possible (I even save peels and scraps from vegetables in the freezer for use in stock) to aid in getting the most out of one's grocery spend, regardless of the amount or source of the funds in question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BananaBirkLarsen May 31, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We sell pasture-raised chickens where I work for $2.99/lb, but I guess it's different in different places (I can't imagine spending $3/lb on supermarket chickens, either...). I was told recently that Trader Joe's sells organic, free range chickens for $2.50/lb, but I haven't confirmed this (and I don't know if they're actually pasture-raised or just "free range" which can mean they're just kept in a slightly larger cage). I think it's safe to say that shopping around is a good idea before spending $26 on a chicken, especially if you have a small budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That said, I agree that no waste is the best policy. Almost everything, from leftovers to bones to vegetable trimmings can have a use, and when you eat this way, it is absolutely possible to buy higher-quality ingredients, even with limited resources.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf May 31, 2013 10:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Trader Joe's sells organic pre brined chickens (I believe they're from Coleman) for $2.99 per lb and about $2.59 in NY for non brined. Costco sells a 2 pack of Coleman organic chickens for $2.59 per lb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I used every bit, saving backs and wing tips in a Ziplock bag in the freezer until I'm ready to make a rich, concentrated stock to freeze in small portions with it, or just soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            MidwesternerTT May 31, 2013 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the links. The articles actually say the key nutrients are equivalent, although there are higher trace-values for some nutrients (e.g. omega-3's) typically gotten from other food-sources (e.g., salmon).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The use-everything, cook at home approach is, indeed, the way to best stretch the food budget. As you say, even paying very high prices for meat a home-cook can make a full week's worth of meals for relatively little money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          miss_belle May 31, 2013 04:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm still trying to wrap my mind around paying $26 for a chicken. But we all spend our money differently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: miss_belle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            jayt90 May 31, 2013 05:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would invite those who pay the price for organic free range chicken to inquire about the breed and raising conditions. The organic label does not protect you or your family. Chickens raised for meat are Cornish X cross, long available in organic. They constantly gorge and rarely go outside although that port hole is available. They are ready in 10 weeks, and yes, they ate only organic grains, but they are couchers, and people pay for this.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ask your seller about Cornish X cross at a market, and look straight in the eye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jayt90
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              nofunlatte May 31, 2013 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My favorite poultry/egg vendor at the farmers market labels the Cornish X as Cornish X--no attempt at hiding anything. I personally prefer her heritage roosters--great flavor. Can't remember offhand what the price per pound is for either, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jayt90
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver May 31, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And chickens aren't vegetarians unless that's all they're offered. They're omnivores so pastured chickens are getting lots of protein. Chickens and eggs are very misunderstood products - by many people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jayt90 May 31, 2013 07:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The organic Cornish X cross chickens won't go outside for bugs seeds and grass. They prefer organic corn and grains, indoors. If you do manage to acquire a rare pastured organic Cornish X cross meat-bred chicken, it will be tough as nails. We seem to prefer the 10 week grain fed bird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jayt90
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c oliver May 31, 2013 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Too bad for the animals and for us :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jayt90
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kontxesi Jun 3, 2013 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We sell pasture-raised birds, and we've had several customers complain about them being tough. It's just the nature of the thing. The more the muscles are used, the tougher they'll be. (I don't remember what kind they are.... I remember hearing red sex links, but I think that's our egg producer.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kontxesi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        desertginger Jun 5, 2013 10:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Perfect for stewing then!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PesachBenSchlomo May 31, 2013 05:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is perhaps the most radical idea., My first thought is that I am not buying a $26 chicken, but I detect the voice of reason in your post, and now will have to rethink my resistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JudiAU Jun 1, 2013 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What a great week of meals. Wholesome, economical, compassionate, and frugal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: unburritable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    debbypo Jun 1, 2013 09:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think there's a flaw with your math.... not with your cooking. I think 8 meals for 2 is $4/per meal per person, not $2. If one was into saving money couldn't these items in their non-organic form at the grocery store or produce mart for about half that? I just got artichokes on sale at $1 each and barley Is generally about half of what you pay. I'm 'middle class' and can't buy $26 chickens. To me that's beyond my range,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: debbypo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruthie789 Jun 2, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think an experiment is in order. Try going out with $50.00 and see what you can get with it and how you balance out your basic food needs with this. It is a struggle, I am sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        desertginger Jun 5, 2013 10:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Depends on for how many people and how many meals the $50 has to cover and whether you're including pantry staples in the $50 (as in starting from nothing vs. already having certain basics in stock).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: desertginger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DuffyH Jun 5, 2013 11:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Feeding more than 2 on $50/week is going to be difficult, even with a certain amount in the pantry, unless it's just for that one week. On a regular basis it would become a challenge. Even if one of those people is a child getting a free lunch at school, that still leaves weekends, vacations, and holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As Ruthie789 noted, it would be a challenge. It's very easy if you're only eating ramen noodles, but a balanced diet?