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Author Topic: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!  (Read 1387 times)

ILuvLucy

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Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« on: April 04, 2013, 12:25:14 PM »
I'm getting tired of chicken and pasta!  We used to eat fish once or twice a week, but just can't pay the price anymore.  I need some ideas for meals that are EASY and aren't pricey.  My H always wants meat or fish with his meal, though I have gotten away with a pasta/vegetable dish once in awhile.  DD is also a real "meat and potatoes" girl.  I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can grill outside a bit. 

I think I'm just tired of cooking every night, and am getting really bored of everything. Feeling really LAZY about it all!
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makinalist

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 09:49:08 PM »
My DH has to have meat, too, so I know what you mean.  My best tip is to buy larger cuts of meat on sale and divide up for the freezer - then you can fix it different ways when the time comes.  Pork loin is often on sale here for $1.99/lb., for example.  You can marinate and grill or lightly fry one night; put some in the crock pot with barbecue sauce another time; cut in strips for stir fry and so on.

Come to think of it, a good way to stretch meat is to cut in strips or cubes and then use in stir fry, jambalaya, or other casseroles.  We like homemade soup with cubed beef and chili with ground beef.  If you use lots of rice, beans, or pasta the dishes are still quite filling.  Leftovers mean you don't cook every night, too.  If your family wants something different the next night then freeze your leftovers for a few days later.
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milla

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 02:21:55 AM »

Do they like a stir-fry? It is quick to make, but the chopping and slicing can take a bit of time.
Do they like spicy food, like curry?
What about cottage pie (minced beef, cooked with onions and mushrooms, topped up with mash potato)? Casseroles are easy to prepare and, once they go in the oven, you don’t have to do anything.
One suggestion, if you can bear it and have the time, would be to spend an afternoon every month cooking and then freezing it in family-size portions.
Anyway, here is a link to a site that may have some ideas. It is a British site, but don’t worry about measures because they only matter if  it is a cake.
If you scroll down the page there is a 'quick easy and cheap recipe section', which you might like.
Good luck. And tell us if you find something good!
http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes

sashamy

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 08:18:29 AM »
I like to use my crockpot for meals because you can add lots of veggies to your meat dishes and no one is the wiser if you skimp on the meat. I guess what you need to make are hardy stews. Add beans to your meals because they are a much cheaper way of getting proteins and they really fill you up. Think of a hearty minestrone with some garlic bread.

I love my fish and usually buy at least a pound and have it for 2 meals for my husband and myself. I buy all my veggies fresh from a farm store near me (it is a dairy farm and they bottle their own milk and make their own ice cream) and also buy my meat from an Amish market that is operates 3 days a week. Their prices compared to supermarkets are much much lower and better in quality in my opinion. Also, lots of places near me sell eggs at half the price ofvsupermarket chains.  Don't know where you live, but perhaps you could find places like those that are not as expensive.

ILuvLucy

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 06:51:33 PM »
Thank you for these great ideas, ladies!  Yes, the crock pot is my friend.  :grin:   I love it because I can prepare dinner early, when I have the most energy.  It seems that by 4:00 or so, I'm a little tired already and don't feel like cooking.  I think my greatest downfall is being unorganized.  Quick, easy, economical meals take organization. 

I have tried to prepare more than one meal at a time, and freeze.  Sometimes that works, and sometimes my family eats both meals!!  Ugh! 
I had a quick look at the website you mentioned, milla, and it looks really good.  I'm going to bookmark it for later.

What do you think I should do about fish? I just can't pay those prices for the "good" fish, and the fish I do buy doesn't seem healthy.  (which is the farm-raised tilapia).  I was buying it until I read that it's not good for you. So now we eat no fish at all.  :(

Yes, we have lots of farms around that sell their fruit and vegetables.  I'm going to check them out again.

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Styyna

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2013, 09:54:29 AM »
Don't forget to look online for recipes. DH and I look up recipes online all the time and modify them as needed. A lot of sites allow comments where people post how they modified a given recipe and those are chock full of good ideas, too. There are whole categories for crock pot cooking, quick and easy meals, and inexpensive meals. At least one site (can't remember which) allows you to put in the name of an ingredient and it will return recipes that contain that ingredient - very cool for using something up.
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Mim

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2013, 03:41:53 PM »
My favorite meal without meat is white beans (cook from scratch to save money), olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary tossed with fresh spinach or served over spinach. Or you can put the seasoned beans in chicken broth, add the spinach till wilted, you'll have a wonderful soup.
Fresh herbs and lemon make everything better.
If you have a place for a few pots, try growing rosemary, basil, dill, cilantro and other herbs you can perk up just about anything.

milla

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2013, 12:31:50 PM »
Can you buy frozen fish? here it is cheaper than fresh fish. Don't know if it is the same in the US. It is also very easy to cook. If you buy frozen fish fillets (for example, cod) you can just make a nice tomato sauce, put the fillets on an oven proof dish cover them with the sauce and cook for 20 minutes on moderate oven (180Centigrade). serve it with boiled potatoes sprinkled with parsley et voila!

ILuvLucy

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 08:37:29 AM »
Styyna, I get so distracted when I browse recipes online sometimes --  clicking here and there -- everything looks interesting to me! But I have found many good ones. I just end up taking half my day doing it.  :rollseyes:   I especially like AllRecipes.com

Mim, I love cooking with white beans! I've only used canned though.  Will have to work my way up to dried. LOL.  I'm going to try your recipe.

Milla, I'm so glad you mentioned that.  I have purchased frozen fish.  As a matter of fact, I just recently got some frozen flounder on sale.  My only worry is all the hype about farm raised vs. wild caught.  The wild caught is usually quite expensive, but "they" say that the farm raised is not good for you?  So we end up eating NO fish at all. So confusing.  ???
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sashamy

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2013, 09:16:09 AM »
I print out all the recipes I think I would like and then tweek them to make them simpler. One example, is a roast. I get the cheapest cut like a 5 lb bottom round, trim off all the excess fat and put it atop a layer of a chopped cooked onion in a slow cooker. One or two packages of au jus gravy mix (McCormicks) dissolved in 1 to 2 cups of water ( except I use dry sherry intead for a phenomenal flavor). Pour the au jus over the roast and set crockpot 5-6 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low. When slice and serve with whatever you like or even make sandwiches. You can freeze slices with sauce and reheat later in microwave.

I buy lots of canned soups and use it as gravy for my meats and chickens for variety. These I like to do in a skillet.

 Check out the Campbells soup website, because they have great recipes. Same for McCormick spices and even sites like Perdue.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 09:24:04 AM by Lara »

milla

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Re: Help me with some economical meal ideas please!
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 02:14:30 PM »
I don't think all farmed fish is bad,  it depends on the source. I have heard some alarming stories about some salmon farms, but we regularly buy farmed sea bass and brown trout from a reputable store and they're fine. In future, people will have to eat a lot of farmed fish, anyway. As for frozen fish, often it is better than  so called 'fresh' fish, because it is frozen at sea straight after being caught, while fresh fish often lingers in the shop for a few days (at least that is what happens here).