It's always nice finding more cheap meal ideas! I know well what a budget is like, with six in the house, so these are very welcome! Here are a few
1.5 lb. lean ground beef
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 tube uncooked breakfast sausage
12 saltine crackers, crushed fine
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 tbsp. grated parmesan or parmesan/romano blend cheese.
(seasonings can be adjusted to taste)
Mix all ingredients well, and press into a standard loaf pan. Cook at 350° for about an hour.
Cheap, a real hit, and good comfort food. We feed six on this one. Toss in homecooked mashed potatoes, and a veggie, and you are all set. The
potatoes are way cheaper fresh than boxed instant stuff, and taste better. Peel if you want, cut into cubes, biol till a fork goes through easily,
drain, and add some milk and butter/margarine, and salt to taste. A little garlic powder, or roasted garlic, and you have garlic mashed.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
4 cups cooked white rice
cooked, cubed/chopped meat from 2 chicken quarters, or a large can, drained (leftovers work well for this!)
1 bag frozen broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix, cooked
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, diluted, or 2 cans if you want more flavor
You can do this a couple of ways. One is to add half the soup to the rice, and spread that in a large baking dish. Add the rest of the soup to the
chicken and veggies, mixed, and spread over the rice. Heat in the oven till hot. Another way is to mix it all together in a large pan, warm as
needed, and just serve.
Steak and Gravy, Crockpot recipe
Amounts here are variable, so prep as much as you personally need.
cheap round steak, trimmed
cream of mushroom soup
You brown the steak in bite-sized pieces, just browned, and toss in the Crock Pot. Cover with soup, and heat on high about 2 hours, or low for twice
that. The soup and beef make a great gravy, and it's best served with mashed potatoes.
Spam Made Tasty
Mix honey and mustard, in equal portions, enough to cover the amount of meat you want. A can takes about a tsp, of each, roughly. To taste, so
adjust as needed. Place the SPAM, or cheaper store version, on a microwavable plate, and cross-hatch the side. Spread the honey-mustard mix over the
top, and down the sides, and heat till hot in microwave. Just takes a couple of minutes, and it's pretty good.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
canned corn beef to serve your number, either chilled or warmed, depending on your preference
cabbage, 1-2 heads, based on your people numbers.
You just chop the cabbage into chunks, 1-2 inches, separate the leaves as needed, and toss into a large pot, like a Dutch oven or stew pot. Cut
butter/margarine into this, and cover with a milk/water mix. Pepper is a must, as much as you like. Boil it till soft, stirring as needed, and
watch, because it will boil over! The cabbage is super cheap, and filling. Just mix in the corned beef, and enjoy! That one, my dad called
Depression food. Good stuff!
1 large (16 oz.) bag egg noodles, cooked
2 cans tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
either peas or broccoli, to suit your taste, can or small frozen package
1/3 to 1/2 block of Velveeta or cheaper version, cubed small
Mix all, heat in casserole dish in the oven or large pan on stove top, till the "cheese" is melted. If you want, you can use crushed chips or
croutons for a topping. Very easy and cheap.
Homemade spaghetti is pretty easy, using canned tomato sauce, oregano, basil, thyme, a tiny pinch of rosemary, just a touch of garlic, and sauteed
mushrooms and onions. Please don't ask for seasoning amounts; I do it by nose. The oregano and basil are pretty generous, though. Italian bread,
buttered, and topped with garlic, parsley, and paprika, heated till warm or toasted, your taste, is a perfect complement. Toss in a simple salad, and
you are done. We use the grated parmesam/romano on the spaghetti. You can add meatballs from the freezer section if you want, or toss in some ground
Cooking your own rice isn't really complicated, either, though many don't know how. For those, it's this easy. Two parts water to one part rice, and
a tsp. of butter per uncooked rice cup, with a dash of salt. Boil the water, with the butter and salt, stir in the rice, IMMEDIATELY turn the burner
to LOW, put on a lid, time for 19 minutes, and do NOT open it at all. Should be right every time. You get a lot more for your dollar with the simple
bags than with instant or boil-in varieties. To serve it with roasted chicken, just saute some mushrooms and onion in butter, with whatever
seasonings you use in your chicken, and stir that into the finished rice. Very tasty and simple seasoned rice!!
Beans are always cheap, and pintos and cornbread is complete protein and a budget meal, plus being, in my book, comfort food!
I do chicken and dumplings, too. Boil the chicken pieces (quarters or whatever) seasoning the broth with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme to
taste (cue Scarborough Fair). Remove the done chicken from the bones, cut small and set aside. Mix up some biscuit dough (I use a baking mix), roll
out and cut into pieces about 1x2 inches. Scissors work best for this. Drop a few at a time into the boiling broth, and cook till done. Stir in the
chicken, and serve. Just adjust the amounts for what you need.
Using leftover meat in casseroles or soups is a good budget trick. Most any meat and veggies can be mixed in with rice or noodles or pasta, with some
soup and/or cheese, to stretch it out. I have made turkey soup by boiling the stripped carcass before, removing the bones, tossing in noodles and
veggies, and a little seasoning. Trimmed fat from steak (such as above) can be boiled for a broth as well. We made homemade turkey pickets this year
(idea from my eldest), using chopped up turkey, cooked broccoli, and cheddar cheese in crescent rolls. One roll for the bottom, top with the mix, and
top with another roll, press the edges together, and cook as the package directs. Super easy, and the kids LOVED these! You could get creative with
those as well.
When shopping for meat, remember that fat cooks off ground beef, so leaner cuts are a better deal by far. Avoiding convenience packaging is almost
always best, when possible. Grating or slicing your own cheese, cooking your own bacon, etc, can make a difference. If buying for one or two, and if
you can, buy the cheaper, larger packages, and freeze in portions. Be sure you calculate cost per ounce or whatever, too, because packages can be
deceiving, and the larger one isn't always the better deal. Try the store brands and generics, and use those you can handle. Often they are as good
as the big brands. Sometimes, better.