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  1. #1
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Cheap Meals: suggestions?!

    I'm looking at cutting our food budget for the next year or so (trying to save up for a down payment for whenever it's time to move, so this isn't a permanent situation).

    What meals can I cook for CHEAP??

    Restriction:
    no boxes, no cans of soup (DH has an MSG sensitivity, so we have to completely skip that aisle. I can use cream of mushroom soup, but that's not cheap because it's organic, so it's about 10x more than Campbells).

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Mischief managed Digital Creative Chick cardinalskate's Avatar
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    Two things come to mind, both of the Mexican persuasion.

    Taco salad
    This is how I throw mine together:
    Chopped up head of lettuce
    5 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
    Can of rinsed black beans (or more. Mmmmm beans)
    Taco meat (made however, I guess. We use a packet, but I know there's recipes out there for your own seasoning for that kind of thing)
    We put over tortilla chips (which is another thing, that, if you had time, you could actually make yourself)
    Top with all kinds of yummies: cheese, sour cream, guac, salsa, refried beans, etc.

    Chicken tortilla soup
    Thrown together thusly:
    -One red, orange, yellow, green pepper, finely chopped
    -Onion (1-2) chopped
    Saute in olive oil. I usually throw some cumin in the pot, too (my fave spice)

    I almost always use bone-in chicken. Lots of flavor and so much cheaper. More work, but totally worth it.
    -Boil a few chicken breasts or a whole chicken (I always trim skin off before hand. Makes broth not so greasy). Toss in some onions to boil with it, if you wanna.
    -Debone chicken and cut or shred.
    -Throw chicken in pot with peppers and onions. Add can tomatoes or can of salsa.
    -Add spices. More cumin, chili powder...this is where you kinda make it your own. I toss in all kindsa stuffs.
    -Add as much of the chicken broth in as you want to make your soup thin or thick.
    -Chop up tortillas and throw them in there in the end. They plump up. (I actually don't do this, so I can't really call mine chicken tortilla soup, because there's no tortillas in there. I don't like how they get slimy, but others love it).
    -Top with all kinds of goodies. (See above)

  3. #3
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Taco salad is on the list already! The tortilla soup sounds really good, too!!!

  4. #4
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Thought I'd add a couple of mine, in case anyone else is looking for ideas!


    Manti (Turkish ravioli)
    ingredientsmeat ravioli
    butter
    minced garlic
    plain yogurt
    mint flakes
    crushed red pepper

    Directions:
    Boil meat ravioli until tender
    melt butter, add a clove minced garlic (can strain it back out after a couple minutes if you want, but there's no reason)
    put ravioli in a bowl, put a small amount of melted butter on top, followed by a large spoon or two of yogurt. Sprinkle seasonings as desired. YUMMY!


    Gozleme (Turkish tortillas)
    ingredients
    olive oil
    tortillas
    mozzarella, cut into small chunks
    feta, crumbled (MUCH cheaper to crumble it yourself)
    fresh spinach (broken up if large leaves; if you use baby spinach it's already perfect)
    tomatoes (optional)

    directions
    heat up griddle/frying pan. grease with a small amount of olive oil. Put a tortilla on the hot pan, put a small amount of the fillings, and fold in half. Turn over when the cheese starts to melt and tortilla is getting light brown.

    I don't always cook Turkish food, but these are two simple, cheap favorites here

  5. #5
    Mischief managed Digital Creative Chick cardinalskate's Avatar
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    Gozleme Mmmmmmmmmm

  6. #6
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    If you've had a real one, Kate, this might be a pretty sorry substitute. But as it's been 10 years since I had a real one, this does a pretty good job

  7. #7
    I've been cooking a lot more things from scratch lately - but I'm doing it more from the health angle (cutting out preservatives, refined grains, HFCS and the like) so I haven't paid attention to cost. But I have a hunch a lot of that stuff is cheaper than the packaged varieties. Bread for sure! Next time I have my recipes out I'll have to look and see if I have any ideas for you.

  8. #8
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Thanks, Michelle! My mom always baked bread for us and I think I'm about to start consistently doing it too. It tastes so much better, is SO much healthier, and I know it's cheaper, too. Just makes more dishes, but c'est la vie!

    I'm excited that I'm starting to consistently make yogurt, since it's so healthy and we all enjoy it. Milk is certainly cheaper than buying yogurt, and only organic or really expensive Greek yogurt doesn't usually have gelatin in it, so this is by FAR the cheaper way to do it!

  9. #9
    Charla, have you checked out bouillon (sp??) cubes? I caught the end of a radio interview with Rocco Dispiritu (sp? Again lol). I *think* he said something about using bouillon cubes to make soup...and I believe he said "no msg".


    I didn't want to be left out, so here I am. Thanks, Pamie!





  10. #10
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Hmm, interesting! I think I've looked and haven't found any that are safe, but we've found an organic "better than bouillon" that doesn't have anything not safe, and it's SO much cheaper than stocking my pantry with chicken and beef broths!!!

  11. #11
    Queen of Unpacking Hanging with the Chicks! SunshineTK's Avatar
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    My DH makes a delicious crock pot potato soup that is just potatoes, spinach leaves, chicken broth, cheddar cheese and a little bit of condensed milk. I would think you could play around with these to taste (we use A LOT OF spinach. But we also use a lot of cheese.).


  12. #12
    What about beans and rice? My husband won't eat them, but I eat lots and lots of beans to keep my budget down. I will get a pound of black beans, lentils, or pinto beans and cook them in the crock pot with whatever seasonings I like. Then I will portion them out and eat them with rice for lunch. Sometimes with a little cheese or Greek yogurt/sour cream on top.

  13. #13
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    Those are awesome ideas!! Andrea, I was just thinking about beans and rice, but didn't know what people actually did with them And Tracy, that sounds AWESOMELY delicious. YUM!!!

  14. #14
    Charla, I will put chunks of leftover pork in the pot with the beans, or sometimes with the lentils I'll put a little Greek or Turkish seasoning, or some cumin or curry. They're really pretty tasteless, which is good because then they can take whatever flavor you give them. Plus, packed with fiber and protein. Thus spake the would-be dietitian!

  15. #15
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    That sounds great!! And last night we picked up a turkey ham (we're not eating pork anymore but I love the taste) so I think that will be on the list for dinner next week. Yummy, hearty, healthy...sounds perfect to me!!
    (where did you find Turkish seasoning, and would you mind finding out what's in it? I think of dill, garlic and mint as being the main things in Turkish food (um, not all together!) but am curious to know what else there is. Thus spake the Turkish-food-addict!)

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Charla View Post
    Thanks, Michelle! My mom always baked bread for us and I think I'm about to start consistently doing it too. It tastes so much better, is SO much healthier, and I know it's cheaper, too. Just makes more dishes, but c'est la vie!

    I'm excited that I'm starting to consistently make yogurt, since it's so healthy and we all enjoy it. Milk is certainly cheaper than buying yogurt, and only organic or really expensive Greek yogurt doesn't usually have gelatin in it, so this is by FAR the cheaper way to do it!
    You're going to need to share your yogurt making skills with me! I'd love to get my family to stop eating all that sugar sweetened junk from the store, but except for me, none of them will give it up (and I miss it)

    Quote Originally Posted by Charla View Post
    Hmm, interesting! I think I've looked and haven't found any that are safe, but we've found an organic "better than bouillon" that doesn't have anything not safe, and it's SO much cheaper than stocking my pantry with chicken and beef broths!!!
    I recently bought some of that and it was really tasty!

  17. #17
    Charla, this is the Turkish seasoning I use. I got the taste for Turkish food when we were in Germany. http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penze...ysturkish.html

  18. #18
    coffee, photography, and cute kids. who could ask for more? Administrator Charla's Avatar
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    YUM!!! I'll have to give it a try. Thanks!!

    Michelle, I think I put my recipe up on my blog..

    ***checking***
    Yup! Here you go:
    http://joshandcharlene.blogspot.com/...oose-ends.html
    It's super-easy to make. I've stopped stirring the milk while it cooks...makes it more work to get the pan cleaned after the fact, but it takes a MUCH shorter length of time.

  19. #19
    You remind me of the babe Hanging with the Chicks! teachermom_Rach's Avatar
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    On the beans and rice kick, I make black beans and rice a lot. Depending on my mood, anywhere from a traditional Cuban recipe, to a green pepper and onion diced and cooked, add beans, cumin, cilantro and salsa (um, this is the fast way to kick up the spice!). I find that whatever way I make them, a splash of vinegar and then simmering makes them taste sooo much better.

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