tell me some cheap meals

raggie33

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i wanna reduce my food budget to 30 per month.what foods do you recomend that are good for you but cheap and edible lol.please dont say many oven meals do to it cost a lot to run a oven
 

DaGunn

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Ramen noodles.... sometimes you can find them on sale of 10 packs for $1.00. They come in different flavor broths, add an egg, some meat and vegetables and you are set.

Dave
 

Lynx_Arc

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One thing I did for cheap is buy pasta and microwave it and add in a can of vegetable soup and other canned vegetables of sorts and make a stew.
 

raggie33

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cool both good ideaa i once saw 50 pounds a potaoes for 5 bucks lol man ya could live on 5 bucks a month that way lol but i bet ya will start to hate em.i like ramon i also like spagehti im going to start to find coupons for ragu sauce and noodles i like ragu
 

Unicorn

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Well, vegetables are much cheaper than meats. Noodles and rice are a great base for any meal as they are cheap and filling. Ground beef can be mixed with soy flour to make it stretch, and soy is still high in complete protein.
 

raggie33

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im not sure about soy i bought some hambuger pattys that are frozen and they tated funny so i read ingrediets it said beef and soy flour and stuff.but lol maybe it was becuas eit used beef hearts as part a ingreiets
 

gorlank

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One of my fave quickie meals for one. Can of chili dumped over cold rice. Into the microwave, presto, yum yum.
 

Beamhead

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This goes without saying, but try to balance and mix your food intake.
Don't live on potatoes for a month.
Just want to make sure that you stay healthy we need ya here for a while. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 

Sinjz

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Chunk Light Tuna. It's cheaper than Solid White Albacore. Not as good as Solid White, but you can always mix a can of each and make some tuna salad.

Also that funny tasting beef. Don't toss it. Mix it with tomato sauce for your spagetti. You hide the funny flavor that way. I do that with ground turkey. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grinser2.gif

Get a bag of white rice. It's all starch and will fill you up. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

BB

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Don't eat a whole bunch of anyone thing. Ramen noodles are extremely high in salt and can really hurt you if you made them a primary part of your diet.

Eating lots of starches (potatoes and white rice) and white flour based products could cause you to really start packing on the weight.

I am not a dietitian (nor do I play one on TV), but I have heard that beans are pretty healthy for you (change the water a couple of times during cooking--or use Beano--to avoid the after effects).

You probably should review your options for a healthy diet with your doctor--I don't know, but you may get some chemical imbalances in your body--that could affect your medications and how you perceive the world--if you don't eat well.

-Bill
 

gorlank

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Did I tell you about the month where I lived on nothing but Utz sour cream and onion potato chips? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

spock

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as DaGunn said, ramen noodles are great. try this: open noodles and throw seasoning pack away(too much salt). cook and drain. put in bowl and add butter. sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. add some pepper. good! (to me)
 

3rd_shift

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Vitamin fortified cereal in the morning is a good way to get one's day started.
These are inexpensive and usually quite tasty. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Many of these have high amounts of sugar added though, so brush afterwards.

A Sams Club, or Costco membership can also help a lot in cutting overall annual expenses.
 

NeonLights

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Beans, rice, and potatoes can all be bought in bulk for very cheap. Many millions of people in 3rd world countries live on a diet made up of predominantly rice and beans. Macaroni and cheese can often be found for $.25-.30 per box, I prefer mac-n-chees to ramen noodles, but still hit up the ramen occasionally. If you have freezer space available to you, keep an eye out for sales on chicken or hamburger and buy a lot at one time.

-Keith
 

MrTwoTone

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If there is an ALDI store in your area,try them.We save a lot of money there and the quality is really good.
 

James S

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dried beans, or canned beans are an excellent starting point. I regularly make bean soup that way. Soak the dried beans overnight in just water in the fridge, change the water once or twice and make sure they are covered in it as they will absorb quite a bit. in the morning drain them and put them in a big pan with a couple of cans of cheap chicken broth and veggie broth (I really like to mix half and half chicken and veggie broth, makes it double yummy) and a cut up onion. If you have a can of chicken, or some of the cheap stew meat they sell at the grocery store you can throw that in too (if it's the stew meat I like to brown it ahead of time in the pan before adding the beans and broth) It doesn't matter if the meat is tough as you're going to be simmering it for several hours anyway and it will be delicious when you're done. For spices you can go easy on the salt as there will be plenty in the broth, but for beans I like thyme and basil and if you have some really cheap white wine you can throw a cup of that in too. For not much money you have a really good pot of thick bean soup that costs not much at all and you can freeze half of it for later.

Pea soup is equally as easy. A bag of dried peas and a couple of carrots into a pot with some mixture of chicken broth and a cup of really cheap horrible white wine. A little thyme and basil and it's done. Stir either of these quite often during cooking as the beans or peas will fall to the bottom of the pan as they start to fall apart in cooking and burn if you're not stirring it. Cook unti lthe peas have come apart enough to thicken the broth and it looks like pea soup. If you're really into it you can run it through the blender or something to make it all smooth, but I like it without doing that. This is another one that is really better with some cheap stew meat browed in the pan ahead of time too.

you can do an equally good potato soup the same way. Cut up an onion or 2, and several potatoes and simmer in chicken broth until it all falls apart and is yummy. It will take a couple of hours on a gentle simmer to get there. Towards the end add some milk or cream to thicken it up. This is really good with a little bit of bacon or ham or some smoked meat thrown in if you have it.

the secret to cooking cheap cuts of meat is to cook them a long time at a low temperature wetted with some broth of some kind. So if you don't have a fancy roasting pan you can use a regular pan and just put foil over the top. I know you said no oven meals, but once in a while you're going to need a break from stews and soups /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif You can get a big cheap roast or brisket (my personal favorite) for under $10 at a decent grocery store. Throw a couple of carrots and some celery on the bottom of your pan and pour in half a can or so of veggie broth. (if you watch for a sale you should be able to get cans of chicken and veggie broth for like $.40 a can or less even at a discount place) and half a cup of really cheap wine. Then seal the whole thing up in tin foil and put it in the oven at 325 for 4 hours. Yes 4 hours! cut it so the grain of the meat is short, not the long way, meaning that you want short pieces of the grain, not not long strips of it in each bite as that will be more tender. This is really delicious! I know that $10 or so is a significant portion of your budget, but you can make this last for your protein for a long time if necessary. Cook one up at the beginning of the month and you can have a strip of it with a bowl of ramen for a really good meal instead of just the carbs in the ramen which will leave you starving and with low blood sugar feeling like crap a couple of hours later.

You can also make a really good pot of chicken and dumplings for cheap. Chicken wings and legs are really cheap and really good when cooked up. Cover them in a pot with water or broth (and again a cup of really cheap white wine) and just simmer till the bones are falling apart. Should take a few hours. Then the hard part, you're going to have to pull the meat off the bones by hand and throw away all the bones and fat and skin and stuff. But you're left with a really good pot of chicken soup. Follow the directions on the back of the box of bisquick to make dumplings. I think it's mix it with some milk and then drop them into the simmering soup (after you've pulled out the bones) cook for 10 minutes uncovered and then another 10 covered and you'll have a really good thickened chicken soup with really good dumplings on top for only a few bucks.

Investing a little extra money in a bottle of really cheap white wine and some spices like thyme and basil will really make a difference in what your cooking will taste like and they really aren't that expensive and they last a long time.

Boy I'm getting hungry just thinking about those things, been a long time since I made a pot of potato soup...
 

James S

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couple of things I forgot to mention, while you're simmering soups or stews keep an eye on the water, it will boil away when cooking for so long, so top off with fresh water every so often. If you let it get too concentrated it won't taste good anymore. And you can make a really easy killer gravy for any of that meat by skimming the fat off the juices. And then melt a tablespoon of butter or so in a separate little fry pan. When thats melted add a teaspoon or so of flour and mix until the flour has browed a nice golden color. Then add the meat juices and it will thicken up and be just really good.

And dont forget to add cut up carrots and celery and anything else you like veggie wise to your chicken and dumplings, but don't add it at the beginning or they will turn to mush before the chicken is done. It won't hurt the chicken any if you need to simmer it a few minutes more at the end to cook the carrots you just remembered to throw in. Or skip the dumplings (though you shouldn't skip them, they are my favorite /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif ) and throw in a handfull of some other pasta. MUCH better and better for you than canned chicken noodle soup. And with any of these things you can freeze half of it for another day.
 

Rebus

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Beans and rice are a very good way to eat cheaply
because the protiens in them compliment each other
making a very nutritious food. Vegitables should
also be added to your diet (carrots, celery, cabbage,
squash, bell peppers, onions, brockali and cucumbers)
but don't over cook them. If you are slow cooking
something for 5 or 6 hours, don't put all of the
vegitables it at the beginning. Put them in about
1 hour before you finish cooking. Some can be put in
early so they will fall apart and help flavor the
dish. Cooking them a minimum will preserve their
food value. Remember corn and potatoes are starches
not vegitables.

-Rebus
 

geepondy

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$30 per month? Man, I can't see how that can be done. You'd have to eat a lot of something really cheap like rice. I would have to be really creative to do $30 per week but I eat too much microwavable food, lol.
 

John N

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Hey Raggie,

I'm no expert, but I have $.02 like everyone else! :)

IMO, $30 a month is a challenging target. If possible, consider examining your budgeting priorities. For example, if you payed for cable TV, I'd suggest cutting that and putting that towards food. Eating well is very critical to your health. That said, I understand it isn't always possible to spend what you'd like.

While you've already gotten a lot of great advice, I'd like to repeat some of it. :)

Most importaintly, don't always eat the same thing and make sure you get a balanced diet as possible.

While tempting, I'd very much try to avoid processed foods like mac and cheese. They aren't that great for you and if you eat a lot of them it is going to be hard to stay health and at a reasonable weight. That said, I'm not suggesting to never eat them since variety makes everything easier.

As said before, rice and (dry) beans are a good cornerstone. I suggest dry beans because they are cheaper and they go a long way. You an also easily use just the amount you want and not waste any. Soak the beans overnight before you cook them for best results. The other nice thing about beans is that there are a wide variety. For example, you could have black beans one night, lentils another, pintos another, small red beans another, etc. You can also vary the rice using white rice some time, brown others. There are quite a few different types of rice, however, some of the fun ones like wild rice tend to be a bit pricy and IMO, some of the others don't taste different enought to bother. Note that rice can be purchased in quite large quantities, so look carefully at the prices and see if you can score a good deal. You should be able to store rice in a watertight container almost forever.

(Many) veggies are also reasonably priced when purchased fresh. Be careful not to get too much so they get stale before you use them.

Regarding meats, try to avoid the already frozen stuff. Purchase something, cut it up into smaller portions and then put them in a ziplock, press out as much air as possible, seal, date them with a Sharpie and freeze them. Try to use the date and make sure you rotate stuff so nothing get's too old. Also don't get too much saved up in there or you are bound to have some of it get stale. I think it would be optimal to have small (or tiny even) portions of some red meat, chicken and fish. Even a very little meat adds a lot of dimention to your bowel of rice and beans.

Also consider adding some canned tuna or turkey polish sausage as ways to spice things up. You can treat the sausage as you would the other meats, chop it up and freeze it in sizes correct for a meal additive.

When cooking something like ramen, add a few things to make it more healthy. A few fresh beans, maybe some tuna for example.

Spices tend to be expensive, but you probably at least want some salt and pepper. Note that you can purchase whole pepper in a little container with a build in grinder. Fresh pepper is mucch better than the pre-ground kind. And it just takes a little bit to add some dimention to food. I also like soy sauce and keep in mind that you can get it in larger containers and then re-fill a small container. I tend to keep a larger container in the fridge and have kept it in there for a LONG time w/o any apparent problem, although perhaps this is not recommended.

Even though they are not as good as fresh veggies, you might want to keep some frozen veggies on hand. When you are in a hurry you are less likely to omit veggies if you can just toss in a handful. I have to admit, I really like corn, and adding some corn to ramen or rice both really add a lot of dimention IMO. I also think canned tuna makes a good quick meal crutch as well.

Also consider noodles to vary things a bit. I think maybe some yakisoba noodles instead of rice sometimes makes a nice change and you can treat it the same way. Add a veggie, and a bit of meat.

Planning your meals ahead will make things much easier. It also helps you make sure you have what you need defrosted, when you need it, or to have the beans soaked when you need them. It's a real bummer to be hungry and have nothing defrosted/soaked.

Consider taking one of the one-a-day style multi-vitamins to round things out.

Good luck!

-john
 
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