Money saving dinner ideas?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Lothlorien, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Let's get another thread going for this, since the price of EVERYTHING is astronomical these days.

    I've been crock-potting everything in site.

    Bought a big pork shoulder and put a can of beef broth and a can of College INN chicken broth with the roasted herbs/veg. and let it cook in the crock pot for hours. Pulled it apart (like pulled pork) and served it on hard rolls with some of the broth. Yum. It makes so much and I can freeze it for future meels.

    Did the same with some chicken legs/thighs and used a can of creamed soup and a can of broth. Let it cook for hours and pulled it off the bone.

    Last week, I put three chicken breast in the crock pot with a packet of taco seasoning and water. Cooked for hours and added a bit of sour cream at the end. Put it in a tortilla wrap with some lettuce/tomatoe/olives.

    What are your ideas?
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    "Big Chicken" has been on sale a lot lately (that's what my kids always called "oven-stuffers"). After the first dinner, I pick all the meat off the chicken and make quesadillas the next day. But they love sauteed mushrooms, so it's reheated chicken, mushrooms, onions, fresh garlic and low-fat cheese.

    They call it "appetizer night".

    Kills the leftovers AND fills them up!
  3. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    Seems not much meat is on sale, nor produce in this area. You see a lot of pasta and pork mostly. Chicken is very expensive. Once in a while there is a sale on hamburger meat.

    The one thing I made recently that was really good since hamburger was on sale and so were potatoes was a spin off of shepards pie.

    2 pounds hamburger meat
    1 pound mushrooms sliced
    2/3 cup flour divided
    1 carton of beef broth
    10 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut up
    1/2 cup butter, divided (could use margarine too)
    1/3 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.

    Use 1/4 cup butter and saute mushrooms until tender in frying pan. Add 1/3 cup flour to teh mushrooms and stir in until mushrooms are all coated. In a separate pan brown hamburger meat. Drain off fat. Return to pan and then add the other 1/3 cup flour, stirring to coat meat. Add mushrooms to meat and stir together. Turn heat on stove to medium and begin adding beef broth stirring continuously. Beef mixture will come to a boil and will thicken and have a sauce to it.

    In another pan, boil off the potatoes. Drain potatoes. Return to pan and add the other 1/4 cup butter (this will help them brown also besides flavoring). Mash the potatoes. At this point you can add salt to taste if you like.

    Put the meat mixture in the bottom of a baking dish and then pour the potatoes on top. Use a fork to make peaks in the potatoes. This will help to make the potatoes brown (the peaks will brown). Bake for about 30 minutes or until brown (could be less if your oven runs really hot.

    It is really yummy, satisfying and a comfort food. Even on a hot summer day. I served sliced carrot ringlets with it on the side. My kids don't like the carrots in it or else you could put the carrots in it too.

    My mother used to make something similiar to this without the mushrooms and she didn't bake it in the oven. It's not the same. Baking it in the oven makes the difference I think.

    Another idea is American Chop Suey (or American Gulosh)

    1 pound hamburger
    1 pound elbows (or you can use corkscrews, penne, etc)
    1 can whole tomatoes
    1 package onion soup mix

    Brown the hamburger and then drain. Boil off the pasta and drain. Add the pasta and hamburger together. Add in the can of tomatoes (undrained) by squishing the tomatoes up in your hand until each one is broken down into bits. Add in the onion soup mix. Heat on medium until ready. Be careful not to over heat or scorch.

    You can either sprinkle Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, velveeta, or even american cheese into it if you like (any cheese actually).

    Both of these recipes can be made in bulk and frozen and both are great for large groups or potlucks!
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I spent $75 in the produce and deli section of the store! That is half my budget and I was just geting started. The cost of milk makes you want to go out and steal a cow and don't get me started on cereal!

    Tiapet, the goulash recipe sounds good.

    I will be anxious to see any budget friendly recipes you've got!
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Been doing a lot of experimenting without using meat since I gave it up. Some dinners have really been surprisingly delicious and filling, but now that I generally cook for only H and me, there aren't much in the way of leftovers.

    I don't have any 'real' recipes, as I sort of just throw things together. But here is one of H's and my favorites:

    2-3 Tbs Olive Oil
    14 oz canned of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar
    1-2 Cloves garlic (minced)
    1/4 C finely diced onion
    1/2 Red pepper, diced/chopped
    Small handful of calamata olives - cut and pitted
    2-3 Tsp capers
    Few shakes of the italian spices (I am heavy on the basil)

    1/2-3/4 lb of cooked angel hair or penne pasta (whole wheat/grain)
    Fresh Parmesan/romano cheese

    Italian/Ciabbata bread
    Green salad

    Sautee onions in 2 Tbs olive oil, add garlic when onions are slightly soft, immediately followed by tomatoes and red pepper. Add italian seasonings. When your kitchen has a nice aroma of italian cooking, lol, add the olives and capers. Let simmer for a few minutes, uncovered.

    Put pasta that has been rinsed with warm water to remove the starch into a large pasta bowl and toss with 1 Tbs olive oil. Pour the tomatoe mixture over the pasta and toss well. Sprinke with some freshly grated parm/romano cheese and serve immediately with a nice green salad and a loaf of italian or ciabbata bread - YUM. This is a healthy and low fat dish if you use the whole grain/whole wheat pasta.

    We've also been experimenting with the large variety of beans out there. I love making a 'stew' or chili using various beans such as red and white kidney beans along with black beans. I start with oilive oil, 1 medium onion, and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) in a pot. When they are soft, I add almost two large cans of diced tomatoes with the green chilis, one chopped green or red pepper and some jalapeno slices. Once these have blended well together, I then add a can of each bean (rinsed & drained well in a collander first to remove the starch!). To thicken it up I will sometimes add either a small amount of rice, say 1/4 cup, or barley. Or, if you don't want either of those, you can mix some flour (or finely ground corn meal) and water together and add that to thicken things up a bit. Serve with a salad and some cornbread.

    Also with beans, we make a mexican bean dish. Sautee 1/2 medium onion in 1-2 Tbs olive oil. Add 1 clove garlic, minced. Two cans of black beans, one can mushed, the other remains solid (Before using beans, rinse and drain well). Anyway, to the beans, I add a 1/2 cup chopped pepper, 1 cup of medium-spicy salsa, 1/2 can corn and let it cook up till it's nice and thick. Grate about 1 C cheddar or monterey cheese and warm up some tortillas. Serve with a salad and/or sliced tomatos, black olives, lettuce, etc. H makes burritos, but I just put it all in a bowl and skip the tortilla.
  6. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Ok. Who is inviting me to dinner? ;) I haven't had goloush in probably35 years. Might have to try that.

    Don't have any 'cool' ideas as I eat a lot of tofu. My favorite is tofu tacos. Yum. It's 8 in the morning and I could eat a few right now.

    Another favorite of the famlily (no name to it) is taking garlic, one red and one green pepper, one onion and griding them until they are a paste. Cut the tofu into large cubes and fry in butter until they are crispy. Then put the paste on and cook a few minutes longer. Then, put it over a bed of rice.

    It's actually quite filling and cheap. Tofu is typically about $1 a box, so very inexpensive. Rice? Well, you can buy a barrel of rice for next to nothing.

    Produce is VERY expensive here right now. I put $4/lb cherries out yesterday as they looked SO good. I was surprised I sold them all, but people complained all day about the price. I have to say, they were perfect.

  7. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    I make lazy mans stuffed cabbage. Get a head of cabbage, line a roasting pan with the full leaves, chop the rest. And then alternately layer with a handfull of rice, hamburger, minced onion, sprinkle brown sugar, then a layer of the chopped cabbage. Continue with the layers till full (top layer has to be the shredded cabbage. - one cup of water, 1 can of tomato juice, cover and bake at 325 for about an hour and a half or two.

    I dont have the exact amount of ingrediants - but a pound of hamburger meat is ok - you can do more or less or any of the ingrediants. I don't eat a lot of meat so if SO isn't ravinous, I do more rice than meat.

    I have been buying a lot of whole frozen chickens- I just toss one of them into the stock pot- and when its done cooking, take out the bones, rummage thru the fridge and put in whatever veggies I find along with a cup or two of rice. The boys refer to is as moms junk soup, but it lasts a couple of days, and can always manage to freeze some in containers where you can just pop it in the microwave and reheat.

  8. 4sumrzn

    4sumrzn New Member

    Well, I must admit I have been the coupon & on sale queen since I started staying at home. I will go to 3 different stores a week just to get the loss leader items & sale items with double coupons. I'll even go back to the same store 3/4 days in a row if I can get a great deal. Cereal is a big one for me....I refuse to pay more than $2 a box & that's expensive to me. Thank goodness they are all very close.....might have to start walking with the gas prices!

    Pork is normally the cheapest meat/per meal I purchase. I buy it by the whole loin & get it sliced. I buy it when I can find it for under $2/lb (prefer $1.88/lb). Many meals. Our favorite is simple.....garlic, Mrs Dash & pepper. Grill. Grill sliced onions with olive oil & pepper to go along.

    Pork chops in crock pot....pack of brown gravy mix....cream of mushroom soup....slices onions.....all day.

    Hamburger cooked & drained. Mix 1 pack of onion soup & 1/2 bag of tater tots with cooked hamburger. Put in casserole dish. Mix 1 can of cr of mushroom soup with 3/4 can milk.....pour on top of hamburger mixture. Top with 1/2 bag of tots. Cover with foil. Bake at 350' until taters are done. Remove foil. Add cheese. Melt cheese in oven. ***I haven't made this in years, but remember my friends wanting me to make it all of the time & it wasn't that $$$

    Must put my thinking cap on, but am anxious to hear all of the others.
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I think there are a LOT of people who do what you do. Every few weeks we have an 8 hour sale. Stuff is dirt cheap. We are SOOO busy on those days. Meat is a big one (88/lb for hamburger, 2.99/lb for nice steaks, etc)...cereal for $1 a box, bottled water is HUGE. I swear they bring out 100 pallets during the day.

    Today is one of those days so I should be rather tired this evening. ;)

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Stores are nearby and often on my path when doing errands so I'm in the frequent shoppper crowd. The Coke vendor even recognized me not long ago (saw me at Walmart, Kroger...)

    I take advantage of the buy one get one free meat plus pay attention to the sale cycles. For instance, one store that puts out their flyer on Th sometimes has too much shipped and will run in store unadvertised specials starting Sunday. Not long ago I picked up boneless skinless chicken breasts for 99 cents a pound this way.

    This is my newest favorite source for recipes and my family really likes this one. I cook the chicken as described, shred it, then add the cream cheese, and serve on tortillas. It's not the cheapest recipe I have but they eat every last drop and that's worth something.
  11. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    One of my favorites! It's easy and it makes a lot.

    Southwestern Skillet

    1 pound ground beef
    3/4 cup chopped onion
    1 16oz can tomatoes, cut up (I get the Mexican spice ones)
    1 15 1/2 oz can red kidney beans, drained
    1 cup (or more to stretch farther) cooked rice
    11 oz can corn, drained
    2 tblsp chopped green pepper
    1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp minced garlic
    1 tsp seasoned salt

    Cook ground beef and onion till browned, drain fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, kidney beans, rice, corn, and seasonings. Heat through and serve with corn chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, olives, or whatever else you think sounds good!
  12. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Oh, Mary....sounds so good. I'd substitute the beef, but I love anything Mexican tasting.

    You guys are going to make me gain 10 pounds.

  13. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Nothing is cheap where I live... since I don't eat a lot of meat... it is even pricier.
    I will make a veggie lasagna and freeze some of it. I also will make a veggie and tofu curry and freeze some of it. Lots of Quinoa and whole grains. with stir fried veggies, edamame. Totillas... salsas. I will grill a pork tenderloin and get like 3 meals out of it. Slice some with rice and a salad, next with tortillas, next with bar-b-que sauce and make sandwiches.
    Veggie loaf...
  14. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I just fed four people (2 adults & 2 kids) with 2 chicken breasts and a tossed Greek-style salad. I sliced the chicken into strips, breaded them and fried them up. I bought a lettuce bag, grape tomatoes and onion on sale. I tossed the lettuce with a oil & vinegar dressing, topped with some feta I had, threw on the tomato & onion and added store brand black olives and mandarin oranges. husband, Duckie and Duckie's friend loved it!
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Italian sausage pasta sauce

    1 lb pork Italian sausage (I buy the ground)
    1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (with Italian seasoning)
    3-4 cloves garlic minced
    1 tsp dried basil (I substitute the jarred basil & use it to taste)
    Sugar to cut the acidity if necessary (I add 1 tbsp)

    Brown the sausage. In the meantime combine the canned tomatoes, the garlic & the basil in a blender & puree for 30 seconds or so. Add to the browned sausage. Simmer for an hour. Serve over your favorite pasta with parmasaen (sp) cheese. (I play with the seasonings each time I make it.)
    This sauce can be doubled or tripled & freezes well. The original recipe serves 3-4 people 2 dinners (unless you mix the sauce right in the pasta.

    I've played with this recipe a lot; have added seasonings to use for tacos. I expect you can play with it to have a base for chili & add whatever you use in chili.

    I use ground pork as a substitute for ground beef. Tastes great in tacos & sloppy joes. In meatloaf & chili I use half pork & half beef. It has brought down my meat prices a great deal.
  16. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    breakfast for dinner is always a favorite of mine of course my Dad would die if I served waffles and eggs for dinner.

    Also a baked potato night (meatless meal) is always fun, top with sour cream, meatless chili, leftover brocoli, cheese, salsa, my son likes it with baked beans (ick)