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Author Topic: Cheap meals for under $10  (Read 1581 times)

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Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Cheap meals for under $10
« on: November 26, 2009, 11:55:22 AM »
After a conversation in the SB with Saerra, I thought I would offer up some ideas for recipes that I can do cheap. Cheap for me is under ten dollars for everything that I don't keep in my pantry on a regular basis. And it has to feed a family of five with left overs enough for one lunch (packed for my SO for work the next day to stop him from eating out.)

Regular pantry items include dried spices, sugar, flour, salt, pepper, olive oil (the only one I use), soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and any other sauces you use on a regular basis.

I cook, a lot. It is one of the things I enjoy as much as thinking. I am currently working my way through three cookbooks to find new things that will work for my family, because my SO has developed an allergy to soy products which stops me from making the Chinese and Japanese foods we were used to eating regularly. Not only that, there is only so many times you can eat curry every week and not get tired of it after ten years.

The most expensive items in the grocery store that are not able to be stored long term are meats and vegetables. Meats can be frozen, but only for so long. It is better to find alternatives: canned tuna and salmon (High in Omega 3 fatty acids), canned vegetables (Find the no salt added if you can), frozen vegetables (Good for mixed veggies to throw in a dish), and beans.

Beans is a great source of fiber and protein that is often left off the grocery list because of the length of time to prepare right and the after effects if you don't eat them regularly. But made into taco stew, chili, or a cold salad, they make a great way to reduce or cut out meats.

I will be taking my time with this thread, pricing at my local market to ensure the costs stay down. I know many of those here are from different areas, so the food costs will be different depending on where you are and what is in season. So look through, find something you like, make suggestions, PM me with ideas or recipes you love but would like to make more cost effective, and may we all enjoy a little home cooked food with families and friends, even on a nonexistent budget.

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2009, 01:51:12 PM »
Not sure how well it will work to your criteria, but you may find an idea or two here

http://www.epicurious.com/

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Taco Stew
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2009, 11:16:09 AM »
One of my favorite dishes as the cold weather hits is Chili. Sadly, my family has something against tomatoes that I can't seem to sneak passed them very easily. But they do love tacos, so I have come up with a chili/taco stew that works well with or without meat.

1 pound of cheap cut pork, beef, venison, or rabbit cut into 1 inch cubes
1 - 1 1/2 cup black beans
1 - 1/1/2 cup red kidney beans
(If you use canned, drain first. Dried equals about half before soaking, I think. Drain before use.)
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (Drain canned corn)
1 -2 packages your favorite taco seasoning

Add the cut meat into the slow cooker or a stew pot. You can brown the meat in a skillet with a little olive oil and salt and pepper first if you are inclined, but you don't have to. Add the prepared beans. Use the larger quantity if you are going without meat, or you just like extra beans. Add one packet of taco seasoning. Add enough water to cover everything in the slow cooker.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8. Keep an eye on the liquid level in the crock, and stir occasionally.

After cooking time, taste and add the additional packet of taco seasoning if needed. Add the corn and cook an additional 20 minutes or so. Corn should still have a nice firmness to it, not be over soft. Taste. If satisfied, serve; if not, adjust.

Find the cheapest cut of whatever type of meat you can. Pork in my area is about 80 to 90 cents a pound for a shoulder roast. I cut it up myself into chunks and divide it into about a pound each, freezing anything over a pound for later use. I sometimes will use pork neck bones if they are cheap enough. The marrow from the bones offers up some good nutrients as well as adding more depth to the flavor. If you do use a soup bone of some sort, use it alone, over night in the slow cooker, then remove the bones (If they are big enough, save for a pet to enjoy). Then add everything to the broth the bones left behind. This way there is no bones to fish out later, or to find while eating. If there is a lot of debris and fat floating at the top, skim it off. Also, don't be shy about asking your butcher department about any scrap bones and meat. Yes, it's a pain to cook, cool, clean, and then use the tidbits of meat gotten from bones, but the flavor from the broth is good and the bones hold some good nutrients in there. I can often get scraps for less than 50 cents a pound.

You can use either canned beans, or dried. Dried are much cheaper, though there is some work involved in having them ready for use. If you use dried, either soak them overnight while the bones are going for the broth, or use the package's quick cooking method. I believe that most dried bean double in volume. If anyone knows for sure the volume exchange from dried to soaked and can clarify, great.

This is the bare bones version. You can add green peppers (I get mine frozen), red peppers (again frozen), onions, garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, or anything else you would like in there.

If working with the bare bones version, you would spend:
$0.50-1.00 on the taco seasoning packets
$1.00-2.00 on the meat unless you hunted it yourself or you go without
$1.00-1.50 on canned beans or on dried beans but only use half of the dried
$0.50-1.00 on a can of corn or on a bag of frozen that you would use about half.

I know that prices will vary depending on location. And I would welcome input to be added for area pricing as to how much this dish with or without the extras cost. Either way it should cost you less than $10.00 and it will yield left overs even with my family of five enough for one packed lunch. Serve alone or over rice, garnish with cheese or sour cream if you have any. I have even substituted the meat for meatballs a time or two. Play with the recipe to find which additions work for you and enjoy.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2009, 11:22:07 AM by Moonhare »

Offline MoonhareTopic starter


Offline Lilias

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2009, 12:26:23 PM »
You might also want to check out Living on a Dime, for tips on saving on meals and more.

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2009, 02:35:07 PM »
Here is another site, though I will have to look over their recipes to find if they fall into the $10 or less category.

http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/category/recipes

And another:
http://www.msfrugal.net/frugal-recipes
« Last Edit: November 27, 2009, 04:30:15 PM by Winter Moonhare »

Offline Nabeshin

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2009, 11:55:03 PM »
Wow, this is all really useful. My roomate's been less willing to cook lately and I'm getting tired of ramen and chicken noodle soup, so I'll definitely be giving this a shot. Thank you for the great ideas!

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 12:31:25 AM »
Ok, I hate to add this one, but it will be a very very cheap meal. I use it for lunches here at home with me and the kids.

Ramen $0.17
1/4 small bag of frozen peas and carrots at a bag for $1.00
and one egg for $0.12

this meal is less than a dollar.

Boil water, and drop in ramen and frozen veggies for three minutes. Put soup base into the serving bowl, pouring the hot water from pot over the mix and stirring. Lift noodles out of the pot and place into the hot soup. Drain the veggies and place in the bowl as well. Drop in an egg. You can fry the egg if you don't like yours runny.

This provides carbs, protein, and veggies. It also rounds out the saltiness of the soup bases that come with ramen. If you don't like the soup bases, use broth.

If you get tired of boiled noodles, try boiling them with the packet, then draining them. Fry them in a pan with a little oil, not stirring. It will come out like a noodle pancake. Break into pieces and serve with a fried or poached egg and the veggies on the side.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 12:32:31 AM by Winter Moonhare »

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2009, 12:50:47 AM »
Another thing that cuts the saltiness is a drizzle of honey (think sweet and sour), and a sprinkle of ginger.  You can also crack the egg in with the boiling noodles, as long as you are prepared to watch it (the egg tends to make it foam up more).

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2009, 02:58:10 PM »
Congee is something that my SO makes frequently for the kids when they are not feeling well or if it is cold out in the mornings to warm them up. It is basically a runny rice porridge with anything added that you like. We add left over chicken pieces, or salmon when someone is sick. This makes a great breakfast for very very cheap. Make on a weekend, and then save in serving sizes for the rest of the week to have in the mornings.

3/4 cup uncooked rice
9 cups water (Can also replace one or two cups of water with broth)
1 teaspoon of salt

Combine all in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low for 1-1 1/4 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add flaked chicken, salmon, or whatever you like.

If you have left over rice, it is easy to make this out of the left over rice and save on the cooking time. I make about 4 cups of uncooked rice every other day. That's about 8 cups of cooked rice. Take about 2 cups of cooked rice, add 1-2 cups of broth and about 1-2 cups of water, and salt to taste.

Just bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and let simmer until it is broken down into a loose soup like consistency.

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 07:17:58 PM »
This is the meal I made tonight. I am going to have to think of the cost of everything I put in there, and how much I put in.

Meatloaf:

1 pound ground beef = $1.49 (Yes, I know it is cheap. It's why I drive over an hour one way to the commissary)
1 cup fresh parsley (chopped small)= $1.00
2 eggs = $0.24
1-2 cups Panko breadcrumbs = $1.00

Mashed potatoes:

5-6 medium to large potatoes $0.50
1-2 teaspoon butter $0.13
1-2 tablespoons fat free milk = $0.10

Sweetened Carrots:

1-2 cups sliced carrots = $0.25
1 teaspoon butter = $0.07
1 teaspoon sugar = $0.09

Gravy:
1/2 cup beef broth = $0.40
1 can cream of mushroom = $1.49
2 teaspoons plain yogurt = $0.10
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar = $0.15
1/8 teaspoon fresh pepper
Salt to taste

So about $6.50 for two slices of meat each, potatoes (I made rice too as my SO and one daughter don't eat potatoes, but at $0.80/lb, I think I can make them plenty), gravy for the meat and potatoes, and carrots to feed two adults and three kids, plus one serving of left overs. I even have gravy left over for biscuits and gravy in the morning.  :D

I have tried Alton Brown's meatloaf recipe, without the family liking it much. This is what I came up with for meatloaf and meatballs and they love it. Quick and simple, and it freezes well if you make bigger batches.

Meatloaf:
Mix the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, and fresh parsley together until well blended. Yes, I use my hands. Yes, it's very messy. But I like to play with my food. :P

Form into meatloaf, or meatballs.

Meatballs: pan fry until done, drain on paper towels.
Meatloaf: Form meatloaf in a loaf pan or a loaf shape. Bake at 350 for about an hour, check internal temperature with a thermometer (if you have one, if not make a slice and see if the juices run clear. Remove from pan or loaf after it cools for a few minutes, and let rest on a plate or cutting board. Slice and serve with gravy or ketchup (My kids don't eat tomatoes or anything made of it very often).

Mashed Potatoes:
Boil cubed potatoes until soft; drain; add butter and milk; use mixer to get smooth consistency . If you are more the garlicy potato type, add three cloves of pealed garlic to the boiling water with the potatoes and just leave in when you mix with everything else. You can also add yogurt or sour cream for a little bite to them, but if you do, omit the milk.

Sweet Carrots:
Boil sliced carrots until soft; drain; add butter and sugar; stir gently and serve.

Gravy: (Ok, I know how to make gravy with pan drippings, with flour or cornstarch, but this is my favorite flavor when something doesn't give drippings to work with. It also makes a good stroganoff flavored sauce. Works well on so many dishes.)

1/2 cup broth, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 2 teaspoons yogurt, and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to a low boil over medium heat. Stir or use mixer until smooth consistency. Add pepper to taste, then salt to taste.

Be careful on the salt in this one. Beef broth tends to add to the saltiness quickly. I usually wait to salt this one after I taste it with my food.

Offline Butterflykiss

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 10:13:31 PM »
This thread is great, Moon~! Since I'm still in school AND saving up for my wedding, I've really become a penny pincher when it comes to food. You should see how spazztic I've become about using up leftovers. But jazzing up casseroles and meat loafs and Shepard's pies can be difficult sometimes, so this is a good source of new ideas for me.

* Butterfly marks this thread for further cooking inspirations!

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 10:22:45 PM »
You are most welcome.

If you like the mushroom gravy/sauce, try it on meatloaf or shephard's pie. It works well with both.


Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2009, 10:29:39 PM »
Also, when cooking meals with left overs for the next day, try to make them separate the first day, then together in a casserole the next day. Making something taste different is much harder if the ingredients are already together in something. There are many ways to take the same items, cook them separate in one meal, and then throw them all together into another.

I do this frequently with fried rice. Since we eat so much rice, I leave out about 2 cups of it to dry out a bit on a baking sheet covered with a loose dry towel. After about an hour or so, I fridge it until later.

Take any left overs that seem tasty, heat them quickly in a hot pan with oil. Remove and set aside. Take eggs, scrabble, cook, remove, and set aside. Take rice, crumble into pan with oil, heat and then add everything back in. Stir fry until hot, and serve.

This also makes great breakfast fried rice. Do sausage, bacon, scrapple, ham, or whatever meat you like, eggs, and any veggies you like or have left over and follow the above.

The main thing I have seen with fried rice is adding everything at once. It is a pain to get everything cooked evenly. Separate, then combine. ^_^

Enjoy.

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2009, 10:34:49 PM »
Oh, shephard's pie reminds me of something.

Make a pork/beef/venison roast in a slow cooker with carrots, onions, potatoes, etc. Enjoy whatever recipe you have, but make sure to have about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of left overs without the extra soup.

Keep for the next day.

Buy two pre-made pie shells. Pre-bake one shell for about 10 minutes (This will help you have a nice crust on the bottom.) Fill with left overs, add optional cream of mushroom soup, add grated cheese, and cover with other pie shell out of its tin. Poke holes for steam vents, and bake at about 325-350 until the top is nice and golden. I think it is about 30-45 minutes.

Serve.

It is a mix between a pot pie and a shephard's pie depending on if you layer it.

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2009, 11:34:57 PM »
Also, if you can make a simple pie crust, leftover meat, veggies and gravy can be baked into a 'hot pocket' (look up recipes for 'pasties', and toss in whatever for the filling.)

Offline Lilias

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2009, 04:23:04 PM »
A bit of self-advertising, but if you can put that aside, it's worth it ;) The entire month of February on my blog (link there to the left) is dedicated to cheap and easy recipes test-driven at my place. We're not rich and I'm no chef material, so yeah, the intricacy level is low. Some of them come from the Jamie Oliver 'Feed Your Family for a Fiver' campaign for Sainsbury's, a challenge to create a meal for 4 that would cost less than £5.

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2009, 05:56:30 PM »
Awesome. Add away.

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2009, 08:17:13 PM »
I'd have to check the actual prices on the ingredients (since we got these from my mother-in-law), but I'd be surprised if this was over $10, especially if you shop the dollar aisle in the grocery.

1 can chunk chicken (about a cup and a half of shredded, cooked chicken)
1 can 'great Northern beans', drained and rinsed (black beans would also work)
1 can corn-------------\______________(drain one of these)
1 can diced tomatoes /
3/4 of an onion, diced
about a cup of celery, chopped
about 2 tbsp of butter, margarine, or oil

Toss the raw veggies into a skillet with the butter and saute until crisp-tender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. 
Season to taste (salt, pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper)
Cover, set to Med Low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Fed four of us, can also be served with rice.

Offline Saerrael

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2009, 10:37:50 PM »
I really adore this thread, Moonhare. Thank you very much. I've bookmarked it right after you started it and am checking it regularly. You're a star, luv.

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2009, 10:44:00 PM »
Happy to help other in the same boat as myself. My SO is National Guard here, and we are on just his regular job income, and his Guard income. It's not much, but we get by.

And not everyone was raised like myself, with so little money that it was food, electric, or heat as a child. I remember having dinner in a pan over a kerosene heater, blankets on the doorways to make the room smaller, and no running water because it froze. And using flashlights and candles to get around until the electric was paid again. Coming up with a decent meal for under $10 is very very easy after that. I really don't know how my mom kept her head dealing with all that. Even with everything, we never went hungry.

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 11:23:09 PM »
There's a show on Food Network is centered around money-saving meals.  It's called Sandra's Money Saving Meals and is pretty good since she grew up with budget conscious adults like a lot of us did and at least half of her ingredients are off the shelf and the other half are fresh.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 11:25:16 PM by Beguiling Christmas Angel »

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2009, 09:44:52 AM »
Ok, I made this last night, even after messing it up royally, it still came out good. Very good in fact.

1 cup dried kidney beans ($0.50)
1 cup dried black beans ($0.50)
1 pound cheap beef, pork, or what ever. I used beef. ($1.98)
1 onion ($0.25)
1-2 celery stalks ($0.20)
1 bell pepper or a cup of frozen ($0.50)
3-5 cloves garlic ($0.20)
1 32oz of chicken broth ($1.49)
2-3 teaspoons butter ($0.20)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce ($0.10)
1 tablespoon ketchup ($0.10)
1-3 teaspoons of hickory smoke flavoring ($0.10)
water
Salt and pepper to taste
Cornstarch and water to thicken before serving ($0.10)

About $5 for all, serve over rice, or cornbread...sprinkle cheese and oh boy.

Rinse and sort the beans if needed. Add to 6 cups of water and bring to a boil for ten minutes. Set aside for an hour uncovered.

Cut the meat, onion, garlic, celery, and bell peppers into small chunks. I didn't bother to saute them first, but it would add to the flavor, I am sure. I just threw it all in to my slow cooker. Add the beans after an hour of soaking, after draining and rinsing. Add the broth and let cook over night or about 6-8 hours on high. Reduce to low, taste and add other ingredients. Adjust to taste. I like mine more smoky flavored, but it can and should be to taste. Leave to simmer for another few minutes or hours depending on when you want to enjoy. Last step is to add the cornstarch to thicken the broth. I think I used about a tablespoon or so, dissolved in a cup of water. Keep adding in small amounts until desired thickness.

I have noticed it takes a good amount of salt to get the flavor up, but with the quantity this produces, it shouldn't be a problem.

My mess up was that I added beef broth and cumin. And discovered that it brought out the flavor of the cooked celery, which I don't care for at all. So I drained and rinsed everything, put it all back into the cooker, added the chicken broth, and other ingredients, and left to cook over night. Next time, I will most likely leave the celery out.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2009, 09:48:48 AM by Winter Moonhare »

Offline MoonhareTopic starter

Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2009, 10:12:21 AM »
Here is something that makes a decent breakfast.

1 cup frozen spinach or kale, thawed, and drained. ($0.50)
2 eggs ($0.24)
1/2 cup cheese or more depending on your tastes ($1.00)
And a little oil, or nonstick spray

Heat oven to 350, oil or spray muffin pan. Mix the three ingredients together, pour equally into the muffin pan, bake for about 20-30 minutes.

You can add so much to these: sausage, bacon, onions, peppers, etc. They cool and pop out for a crustless quiche style meal. I served these this morning with bacon as a side.

You can also take lightly cooked bacon, wrap it on the side of the muffin cups, then pour for something more fancy looking. ;)

Makes a good appetizer as well.

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Re: Cheap meals for under $10
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2009, 10:18:24 AM »
Thank you, Moonhare.  Those sound delicious, especially with the bacon wrapped around.  What about half a slice of proscioutto or thinly sliced ham molded into the cup?  And for something spicy I can add a few drops of Tabasco to the eggs. 
 
I needed something different for a Christmas brunch and you've just rescued me!