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Thread: Recipes for poor people

  1. #1

    Unhappy Recipes for poor people

    Okay, so I just got laid off at work.

    After spending about 2 minutes feeling sorry for myself, the next 2 days getting fired up for new employment opportunities, my next concern making financial adjustments to our daily lives, including how much we spend on food. DH and I have always eatened whatever our heart desired. We were never financially wreckless, but because I love trying new recipes, cost was never the primary concern during menu planning. As DH puts it, happiness is priceless

    But now, with half of our source of income temporarily (I hope) gone, happiness can't come in the form of seafood, veal, and lamb everyday anymore...

    Anybody out there have any good recipes to share for people on a budget? I know that most of us are probably budget minded when we make our shopping lists, and I am now certainly watching the ads more closely, but do you have any RECIPES that you go to during financial cut backs? Some of the recipes I already have, and plan on using more of, is Lasagna (seems costly, but yields many servings), Beef Stew (several kinds of stews actually).

    Anybody else have anything cheap-but-tasty to share? Ground beef recipes and chicken recipes come to mind... Liver and Onions (less than 99 cents a plate, but we both love liver. I know, not a favorite for everybody) Any other ideas/recipes??

    We (and our wallets, and our tastebuds) thank you in advance!!

    Okay, back to churning out those resumes

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Euclid, Ohio
    Dahlia, sorry to hear about the layoff!

    I'm not really good about checking the ads, but I'm trying to change my evil ways. I think that is how a lot of people do their meal planning. They look to see what items are on sale and then pair it up with a recipe.

    Good luck job hunting.
    ...Wag more
    Bark less

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Marietta, Ga
    Planning is the key.

    Check the sale ads, and stock up on sale items if/when you can. Then look for recipes based on what's on sale.

    Soups & Stews are nice for the winter and they always yield at least 2 meals for my family of four.

    "Mommy, Can we Please, Please, Please have spinach for dinner?" DD2(age 6)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Near Fresno, CA
    Try this site: CL BB Desperation Dinners

    Sorry to hear about your job.... I'm sure the next one will be better than the last!

    "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."

    A.A. Milne

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Denver, Colorado
    Sorry to hear about your job - that really stinks!

    Will keep thinking about inexpensive things to make - one thing that comes to mind is buying chicken whole and cooking it that way. You can make your own chicken stock and many times its cheaper than buying boneless/skinless.
    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed
    door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

    Helen Keller (1880–1968)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Bowie, MD, USA
    There were some discussions a while ago about budget cooking, here's a few. I hope they help.

    Budget Cooking

    I did it! I made my food budget

    OK- Bring on you cheap dinner ideas!!

    Here is my food bill and my menu for the week

    Does meal planning save you money?

    I'll keep an eye out for more.

    Good luck on the job hunt!

    Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

    --Helen Keller

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Falls Church, VA
    Adding a meatless night or two to the rotation has always worked for me. The meat is the most expensive part of most of the meals that I cook, so making something with beans is a great money saver. Also, seek out an ethnic market for doing your produce shopping; prices are half of the large chains', and the selection is huge.

    I used to live on $16 bucks a week after bills were paid, and there was a lot of lentil soup with homemade oatmeal bread, and spinach/chickpea curry with rice during that time of my life.

    Frankly, it wasn't all bad.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Been through the lay-off thing and the job hunting thing a few times now. Something will turn up. In the meantime, dried beans are so darn cheap and healthy for you. Just figure out how you like them the best in salads, soups, with rice. You can't go wrong with good fresh veggies(real food) and pasta.

    Jenn-I'm thinking your oatmeal bread and spinach/chickpea curry sounds good budget or no budget. All of us can probably stand to save money on food here and save up for those Trader Joe's runs!

    BACON - A Los Angeles librarian reports she finally found it necessary to revoke a gentleman's library card. Because her repeated letters to him, telephone calls, and face-to-face pleas still failed to break him of the peculiar habit of using strips of raw bacon as bookmarks.

    -Boyd's Book of Odd Facts

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    New Orleans, LA
    Another tip:

    I'm not sure if it's just because of the neighborhood I live in, but often times I find huge bargains in the Spanish aisle of my Pathmark! Like Vitarroz and Goya brands are cheaper than their progresso or ronzoni counterparts. I often get my canned tomatoes, beans, rice and pasta in the Spanish aisle. Also as you probably know dried beans and legumes are cheaper and go farther than canned. Farmer's markets or small produce stores often have cheaper prices than large chain stores.

    For recipes, these are coming to mind:

    Roast Chicken or crockpot chicken - one meal plus leftover chicken for soups/stews or casserole fillings

    Sticky Chicken
    Psycho Chicken

    Ground beef/turkey - sometimes can be expensive but generally less expensive than say pork or beef tenderloin etc.

    Beef Taco Rice Bake - This was good and made a lot of servings if I remember right
    Shepherd's Pie
    Hearty Lasagna
    Any type chili - you can have chili over rice, over a baked potato, or layer it on top of nachos
    A Bolognese sauce for pasta of choice

    Other recipe ideas:
    Pot Roast Americana
    Beef Stew
    Keilbasa and Perogies (both pretty inexpensive)
    Indian inspired vegetarian fare (only if you already have the spices built up)
    Cozy Orzo
    Pasta dishes with sauces ie vodka sauce or alfredo

    "Comfy? I'm chained in a bathtub drinkin' pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagut's Guide."

    - Spike, "Something Blue"

    My lil site:

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Cheap eats

    Various kinds of beans and rice are healthy and filling. When you eat beans pair them with rice and you will be getting complete protein. Beans and rice each have different amino acids in them and when paired you get all the amino acids you need to make protein. (Just a little science so you know why they are considered healthy.)

    You can make great Spanish rice with black beans, rice, onions, canned tomatoes and just a little pork, cooked, cut up in small pieces and stirred in for flavor. Quick, too.

    Good luck with the job hunt.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    I'm so sorry to hear about your job.

    I'll be back with some recipes, but pasta is always good. A can of tomatoes to start, and then add whatever you would like, wine, mushrooms, basil, etc.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    OK, so I don't have recipes, per say, but a few more ideas! (We are still poor!)

    Chili is good because you can make a veggie one (cheaper) and have leftovers.

    Pasta/pasta bakes


    Burritos/Tacos---beans are a good filler, or make cheese enchiladas, chicken quesadillas, etc.

    Drag out the waffle iron and make waffles!

    Hamburger is cheap!

    I've had the best luck with mexican and italian type food--you can add/delete anything you want and it's cheap!

    I agree with the above poster about buying tomatoes, etc. in the ethnic food aisle. Much cheaper! For some reason, Brunner's (I think that is the brand) has been 2 for $1 forever. Really good, too.

    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Sorry to hear about your job situation. I have a recipe that my mother gave me when I was in college that I still cook to this day. It uses every day ingredients that you probably already have laying around in the kitchen and and inexpensive cut of meat. I really dont know what the price per serving would be. I can tell you its super easy!!! I also have no idea the caloric/fat breakdown. The recipe calls for 2 T cooking fat, but I use just a tad of olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). I cooked this last night for my husband as a matter of fact. Its one of his favorites. I usually serve with a salad or green veggie and you have a meal. Hope you enjoy.

    Barbecued Beef Tips over Rice
    2 T cooking fat (or a tad of olive oil to coat pan)
    1 pkg. stew meat
    1 pkg onion soup mix (lipton)
    1/4 c vinegar
    2 T catsup
    1/2 c water
    1 T mustard
    worchestershire sauce (to taste)

    Heat oil/fat in deep pan and brown meat. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour sauce over meat. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours (may need to add a little more water during the process), stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

  14. #14
    Sorry to hear about your job -- but I'm sending you happy thoughts and encouraging words. You will get through this just fine -- and you might even enjoy yourself in the process Just think of all the new things you'll learn.

    People are giving some really good suggestions -- and I don't have a whole lot to add. But here are a couple of staples that I've lived on at times when the money was tight:

    • Spaghetti with homeade sauce
    • Portabella mushroom sandwiches (these mushrooms SEEM expensive, but they can be cheaper than meat)
    • Stir fry (this can be good even with frozen veggies)
    • Homeade pizza (very versatile)
    • Soup is ALWAYS a good idea
    • And... it's the oddest thing. Ramen is worth the spare change for the noodles alone (even if you don't touch the seasoning packet)

    Be sure to make as much as you can from scratch. Avoid junk food. And buy in bulk when it's feasible (and you know you'll use the products up).
    It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. --Julia Child
    BURP! Where Food Happens

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Arlington, WA
    Sorry about the job loss!. I was there 10 years ago, and it sure smarts. good luck in you hunt.

    Turkey is awfully cheap. Celebrate thanksgiving early. then make the smokey turkeychipotle mole from CL october. makes great sandwiches, soup, burritos, pot pie. turkey ala king. Make soup stock out of the carcas. mix up some chopped up pieses with black beans & mexican style tomatoes & have over rice or mashed potatoes.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    New Orleans, LA
    oooh! lorilei you reminded me of one of my favorite recipes for weeknights that is super cheap! The asian beef and noodles! Ramen is super cheap and I have modified the recipe using other veg combos and other protein sources ie chicken, baby shrimp etc.

    "Comfy? I'm chained in a bathtub drinkin' pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagut's Guide."

    - Spike, "Something Blue"

    My lil site:

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Nashville TN
    We eat meatless all of the time and it is very cheep! I love to make a large pot of black beans then do fun things with it all week.

    Make them Sunday...Refry some then make bean tacos
    Monday Black Bean soup with salad and cornbread
    Tuesday Tostadas
    Wednesday Black bean and corn salad

    The list goes on and on. Another week I might make white beans and do lots of mediterranean dishes with them/

    If I do eat meat, it is tuna salad for lunch...also very economical!

    Nashville Restaurant Examiner - check out my page
    Check out my blog: Zen Kitchen

    "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
    Dave Barry

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Columbus, OH
    I use dried apricots instead of fresh nectarines. I like them so much better in this ... if you can buy couscous cheaply, it's a pretty cheap recipe to make:

    Nectarine & Chickpea Couscous Salad w/Cumin Dressing.

    1 1/4 cups water
    1 cup uncooked couscous
    2 tab. fresh lime juice
    1 tab. olive oil
    1 tab. honey
    1/2 teas. salt
    1/2 teas. ground cumin
    1/2 teas. ground coriander
    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
    1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
    Nectarine slices (optinal)

    1. Bring water to a boil in a med. saucepan, gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover & let stand 5 min. Fluff w/ fork; cool

    2. Combine lime juice & next 5 ingredients (juice through coriander) in a large bowl; stir well w/a whisk. Add couscous, chopped nectarines, spinach, onions, & chickpeas; toss well. Garnish w/nectarine slices, if desired. Yield: 6 serv. (serv. size: 1 cup)
    --Mary Kate--

    "In all our woods there is not a tree so hard to kill as the buckeye. The deepest girdling does not deaden it, and even after it is cut down and worked up into the side of a cabin it will send out young branches, denoting to all the world that Buckeyes are not easily conquered, and could with difficulty be destroyed." - Daniel Drake, 1833

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    North Texas
    Eggs and egg whites are excellent and inexpensive sources of protein. I remember reading somewhere that the protein in eggs is the most beneficial and efficient form of protein available. (Although I don't know where I read it or if it actually is true.)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Fresno, Ca
    I would add that in addition to farmer's markets, you should check out any small ethnic stores in your area (i.e. Middle Eastern, Indian, Chineese, whatever you may happen to have where you are.) I am always discovering that for things like sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, dried beans, chiles, spices - like cardamon or tumeric or curry, etc - they are much cheaper and you get much more than if you buy things like this at a major chain grocery store.

    The best sound is that of someone laughing in their sleep.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Columbus, OH, USA
    I agree with the recommendations for BEANS. Just cook up a big pot of them, enough for three or more times, with nothing in the cooking water except onion and garlic. Then each night you can flavor them a different way: Italian, Indian, Cajun, Mexican, etc., and alternate between rice and pasta to go with them for complete protein. Or as kwormann suggests, you can mash them one night for refried beans and/or tostadas.

    But when you do want meat, try using it as a flavoring rather than a focal point. When I was first starting out, I remember trying to stretch a pound of ground round over a week's dinners. You can do wonders with rice dishes: lots of rice and veggies, heavy on the seasonings, and the ground round becomes one of the seasonings. You can get away with using about 2 ounces of meat per person that way! As I recall, it was very filling and satisfying.

    Or how about tuna patties, with one can of tuna stretched out through lots of mashed potatoes? Again, go heavy on the seasonings for that satisfied feeling.

    Oh, my, the memories of my Kitchen Challenges are coming back again. Actually, I made a game out of stretching out the meat, and it became almost fun. Almost.

    Best of luck in getting back to work!


  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    You have received some very good advice Dahlia!
    Here is an old thread with lots of great lentil recipes. I made the Pastitsio I posted tonight and we enjoyed it.

    Wendy's soup is also excellent. I need to review this thread nmyself! lentils are wonderful-cheap and quick cooking. Good Luck. i am on a budget every month so know what you are talking about!
    You think you're not ever going to be able to eat another thing, but alas, you will find yourself feeling strangely peckish around teatime. The more you eat, the more you want. That's the way it goes."

    Nigella Lawson

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Originally posted by Ohioan

    Oh, my, the memories of my Kitchen Challenges are coming back again. Actually, I made a game out of stretching out the meat, and it became almost fun. Almost.

    I know the feeling . It is kinda fun...for awhile. Pinto beans have always been our "feelin' poor" staple. As others have mentioned they can be used in so many ways, but our fave is straight up with cornbread. Black beans and rice go together well (add a can of tomatoes and some cumin and chili powder and it's a great tortilla filling). Salmon patties are good for a cheap meal too (epecially good if you add a small can of drained corn). Potatoes are good and cheap---don't toss any leftover mashed potatoes you might have, either. Add an egg dredge in flour and fry in a nonstick skillet with a little cooking spray and you have potato pancakes.

    As AD mentioned, eggs are cheap and good protien! Omlettes are great (add a can of mushrooms and a little cheese and you'll forget you're eating on a budget!). Breakfast for dinner is a good idea. Pancakes are cheap to make too.

    Good luck in everything...
    "It covers your bread like a stinkyfishy tarp
    I know it isn't butter
    But I can't believe it's carp!"

    Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Houston, Texas
    I have no recipes to add, just sympathy. I've been there and know how tough it is.

    Pasta is wonderfully versatile and very inexpensive and so are beans.

    Good luck in your job-hunting adventure.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Baja Manitoba
    You've gotten lots of good advice; I just want to add one more suggestion: cook seasonally. In other words, this time of year might not be the best to try strawberry salad or grilled asparagus. Fruits and vegetables are almost always much cheaper when bought in season (of course, if you live in Florida, it's always in season ). So, this time of year, you might try using more apples, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, etc. These will likely be your best food buys.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Minneapolis, MN USA

    I'm there too!

    I've been dealing with the same food issues lately. My husband got laid off last winter and started his own company, and we've managed to do okay, but the summer was very slow for business and now we are pinching pennies. I have three kids, so I have to be creative. Here's some of what we've been doing:

    --We discovered organic quick oats in bulk at the co-op for 79 cents a pound. Luckily we all like oatmeal, because we can no longer afford boxed cold cereal. This oatmeal is quick-- just add boiling water and stir, and it tastes as good as cooked oatmeal.

    --It's cheapest to buy plain staples: pasta, grains, rice, flour, beans. I find I can buy these things pretty cheaply and cook or bake some pretty decent food. We haven't felt deprived because I can still make cookies and breads.

    --If you cook a chicken or a turkey, save the carcass. You can make really great soup for almost nothing by using carcasses. I also save vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer-- the ends of onions, carrots, celery, the parts I would usually throw away. These go in the carcass soup.

    --Everyone's said it, but beans are great, and there are so many different kinds! Our favorite is bean soft tacos with a little cheese, salsa and sour cream. Very filling!

    --One area that's hard is fruit. It can be so expensive to buy good fruit, and yet it's so healthy. We are mainly sticking to apples, which are cheap now.

    --Garden. I'm so lucky I have one. I am getting tons of tomatoes now and able to make tomato sauce and salsa very cheaply. If you don't have a garden, let friends who have one know that you'd welcome any extras they have.

    That's all I can think of now. I try to think of it as a challenge, coming up with good things to eat when you have no money. But sometimes it's just a bummer!

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    South Beach, FL

    Sorry to hear about your situation! I'm sure something better is waiting around the corner for you.

    To help save money, you may want to buy inexpensive cuts of meat and cook it in a crockpot. The slow cooking will help break down the tough cuts. There are many threads on slow cooker recipes here.

    I also like eating good, old-fashioned sandwiches: pbj, grilled cheese, or tuna fish. There are also several threads on different ways to cook with canned tuna.

    Good luck on job hunting!

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Aurora, CO
    Dahlia, think of it as 'keeping peasant food in vogue'-Actually 'peasant food' is a very healthy way for us to eat so it could be a good adventure. When my DH (before we met) was getting his business off the ground he challenged himself to eat as cheaply as possible. Chicken parts went on sale-he stocked up. Potatoes, etc... Lots of beans and rice I think. Good luck on future employment and on creative ways to feed your family. Sue

  29. #29
    Thanks, everyone, for all the wonderful advice and encouraging words. Sorry I couldn't acknowlege anyone until now. I've been busy cranking out resumes and scouring the online job-hunting websites. (It's actually kinda funny at work right now. Every single person around me has his/her resume on the computer-screen, and company printers were spitting resumes out like crazy since the mass lay-off. I know that everyone is scrambling to get new jobs before our last days, but it cracks me up that we are all so blatant about it. )

    Anyways, I've taken notes of everyone's advice, and in fact is sitting in front of our grocery store flyer as I type. I see that rump roast is on sale (don't know any recipes for rump roast though) and so is shrimp (I should probably still nix seafood for now) and pork top sirloin. Anybody have any favorite recipes for these? Pretty please??

    I see lots of advice on beans. I have never made beans as a main-dish before, so I'm a bit nervous to go there, especially since DH is such a meat-and-potatoes man (God forbid I put tofu in front of him! ) Anybody got a good main-course bean recipe for a bean-virgin?? Or if you have a tofu main-dish recipe that doesn't LOOK like a tofu recipe, I'd love to be able to sneek tofu past him, and after he says that he loved it, I'd say "Seeeeeee??? You really DO like tofu! You just didn't know it!"

    JJnewboots and MKSquared, your recipes look delicious. I'm adding them to our menu for next week! Thanks! For everyone else who suggested ingredients, first, a very gracious "Thank you!" And second, um... Would you (pretty pleeease) attach your delicious recipes for them?

    Okay, back to the resumes...

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Western Washington
    Here is one that I got from Bon Appetit, it is really good. I lightened it up using turkey Italian Sausage, which is frequently on sale in my grocery store. This is thick, like a stew, and everyone in my family fights over this. It is not very expensive, and is sooo filling and hearty. If you prefer a thinner soup, add less pasta.

    One of our regular rotation dishes....

    Good luck with new job opportunities.

    * Exported from MasterCook *


    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    2 cans garbanzo beans, canned -- (15 ounce cans)

    1 pound turkey italian Sausage (diestel) bulk -- spicy, casings removed
    4 teaspoons fresh rosemary -- chopped
    2 large cloves garlic -- chopped
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    5 cups chicken broth -- canned
    8 ounces pasta -- (about 2 1/3 cups) orchiette pasta or other very small pasta (I use little teeny macaroni I can't remember what they're called)

    1 1/2 cups romano cheese -- grated ( I never really use that much cheese and I use Parmesan- the cheaper, domestic Parm is just fine in this, I don't throw the expensive stuff into it)

    Strain liquid from canned beans into blender. Add 1 cup beans and puree until smooth. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add sausages, rosemary, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saut until sausages are cooked through, breaking up with fork, about 8 minutes. Mix in tomato paste. Add bean puree, remaining beans, broth, and pasta. Simmer until pasta is tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Mix in 1/4 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining 1 1/4 cups cheese.

    Makes 4 to 6 (main-course) servings.

    Bon Apptit
    February 2001
    Marie Devito Crowley, Los Angeles, CA
    Too Busy To Cook?

    Epicurious Food 2002 CondNet Inc. All rights reserved.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 480 Calories; 14g Fat (26.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 83mg Cholesterol; 1687mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

    NOTES : REally hearty, very, very thick like goulash. Rich says put it into regular rotation. Kids LOVED it. Add extra broth or less pasta for a thinner soup. I also added Penzey's Italian Seasoning and increased the red pepper flakes. (Some reviewers added a can of V-8 or a can of diced tomatoes for more liquid)
    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

    - Phillipians 2

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