View Full Version : Cheap & Healthy (or not) Eats! Share?

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01-27-2011, 02:43 AM
Inspired by the Taco Bell thread.

I'm all for trying to save money and eat healthier. Raising a teen and having his friends drop in, I've started making homemade pizzas, shopping the sales and making fresh food.

So - tell me your secrets. What's a great, cheap eat for you? Healthy is good, money saving and potential for leftovers is better...

Spill? :watch:

01-27-2011, 02:52 AM
Beans,chili,soups,large pots of pasta and sauce,fried rice,stir fry.Cook a whole chicken or turkey and use the leftovers in other things.Same with pork or a beef roast.

01-27-2011, 03:08 AM
turkey is usually good for leftovers. chilli is great, but my chilli usually goes fast
lagansa - i can never make just a little - even trying to cut down, I seem to make 2 large 13x9 pans.

My dil and niece belong to a cooking group. The first Saturday of the month, they get together with 10 of their friends and each brings enough of a receipe to share - to make frozen food for the month. 12 people = 12 frozen meals. A nice way to have different meals, yet only "invest" in one receipe.

Making homemade soups is a good way to extend a meal.

01-27-2011, 03:12 AM
I have so many bad eating habits but occasionally I do make my own stuff and eat healthier. I love making my own fries by cutting the potatoes into big wedges and tossing stuff like chilli, garlic, cayenne powder, parsley flakes or whatever else I feel like and then bake. I usually shake and bake some seasoned chicken legs and thighs. Of course serve with a healthy serving of ketchup!!! Yeah I know really healthy menu, :EVILLE:

01-27-2011, 03:14 AM
Buzz,steam a bag of broccoli and you're good to go lol

01-27-2011, 03:21 AM
meatloaf is also to make ahead and freeze. I used to make homemade meatballs and freeze them in portions suited for our family pasta night. I think that with bread crumbs, eggs, other seasonings - 1 pound of hamburger or sausage would make approximately 40 meatballs. Then I baked them before freezing.

01-27-2011, 06:40 AM
Raising a teen and having his friends drop in, I've started making homemade pizzas.

If you'd like to have something easy on hand to feed teenagers, I recommend these Freezer Burritos (http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Freezer-Burritos). They're easy to make, easy to heat up, and just the kind of thing that most teenagers love.

01-27-2011, 09:57 AM
Urgh, I hate having such a small freezer! (But Holley gave me a chilli recipe that was awesome!)

Beans are great, as well as tomato-based sauces that can be used with pasta, meats or pizzas.

01-27-2011, 10:17 AM
I have a recipe for homemade hamburger stroganoff that is to die for.

Granted, it sounds like it would be something like Hamburger Helper redux, but it's not - it's not expensive, it's made from scratch, it has all kinds of good stuff in it, the recipe makes a ton of it (since there's just two of us I separate it into batches of three servings and freeze what we don't eat the first night), and it makes a great midnight snack :D .

If anyone is interested in it, I'll be happy to either PM or post it :)

01-27-2011, 12:48 PM
I've started saving the last bits of roasts (beef or pork) and throwing them in the freezer. When I have enough, I chop the bits in a Cuisinart and use for meat sauces, chili and lasagna.

When ground turkey or ground beef is on sale. I'll buy extra, pre-brown it, and freeze it in 1/2 lb. packages, frozen flat and thin. It cuts the prep time for sloppy joes or skillet dinners in half. Like Cyn, I have home made versions of most of the popular shortcut meals.

01-27-2011, 01:36 PM
Get a freezer if you can - I just bought a small one for $150 so I now have triple the freezer space (with my fridge) and can take advantage of half price bags of fruits and veggies.
Use your AirMiles card or the like - many people seem to think they are just for trips or cashing in for blenders, but we always convert our points to grocery certificates, and the result is about $400 a year. Better yet, because most of my AirMiles use has been concentrated on one store, they've decided I'm preferred customer, so I get extra bonus points and coupons all the time.
Plan ahead as many have said - one chicken can stretch to several meals, and making double the chili and similar dishes is a great help. When I'm chopping veggies and herbs, or grating cheese, I always do extra, and then they are ready in the fridge or freezer when I need them.
Prepare foods yourself - it takes just seconds to wash and chop your lettuce, grate your own cheese, slice mushrooms, etc - usually cheaper, and less handled by machines and who knows. Myself, I find such tasks therapeutic, and if you have good cutting boards and a really good knife, it's that much better.
Invest in good herbs and spices - I buy from The Spice House, and their stuff is of such high quality that you actually use less - and no need for packets that have more filler than flavour.
Waste nothing - it's amazing how many dollars go into the garbage because we don't get around to eating things and they go bad, or we think something is useless. On a chicken for example, we rotate it as we roast, so that the back and thighs turn out as nicely as the breasts - we end up picking it to the bone instead of throwing out half of it because it's unappetizing. Hubby is picky about his broccoli and doesn't like stems - so I freeze them and they become cream of broccoli soup. If you have to buy a giant bunch of cilantro, then plan several Mexican and Indian meals that week so you don't end up throwing half of it out.
Grow if you can - even just my herb garden has paid hugely, especially the perennials. Always fresh, totally organic, never any waste. Talk to FSUer mkats if you think you can't garden where you live - I'm amazed by what she's been able to pull off in a dorm room! I also grow cayenne peppers and bay leaves in summer, then just let them dry out to use all winter. Bay leaves in a jar simply don't compare!
See if you can get your son interested in cooking - tell him it's very appealing to the babes :) Lots of benefits in the form of help in the kitchen, new meal ideas as he discovers what he likes, less money spent by him on fast food while he's out.
Take your lunch (and coffee and breakfast) to work - when I worked in an office, I would make my lunches for the next day at the same time I made dinner, so efficient, less waste, better for me, and far less money spent.
Focus on healthy snacks - always have veggies and homemade dip handy, cheese cubes you've cut up yourself, nuts that you may have flavoured (gather a few recipes), edamame that you can steam, etc. Most prepared snacks cost a ton of money, and the cost creeps up fast. Plus again, better for you!

And of course, try not to break your egg cups, because the cost of Delft does add up! ;)

01-27-2011, 03:41 PM
I can't rave about a Crock Pot enough. It's so easy, it takes very little effort because prep time is minimal and you don't have to stand over the stove, and you can use cheaper ingredients and STILL get a healthy meal out of it. There are not so healthy recipes out there, involving cans of Cream of Mushroom soup and whatnot, but it's just as easy to make big batches of healthy food that can be frozen for another day.

01-27-2011, 03:49 PM
Oh btw you can also easily hide yellow squash and zucchini in spaghetti sauce and chili.I've done it with my boys who have already reached the age of rejecting veg and they never noticed lol

01-27-2011, 03:53 PM
Here are two easy cheap recipes we use all the time:

Broccoli Spaghetti

Halfway through boiling a pot of spaghetti or pasta of choice, add a few handfuls of frozen broccoli.

Meanwhile, season a few tbsp of olive oil in another pan with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, garlic (dried minced, fresh minced, powdered) or whatever you like. Once the spaghetti/broccoli is drained, toss it into the oil to coat. You can add extra oil or a scoop of the pasta water to adjust the texture to your liking.

One the plate, top with grated old cheddar or any other cheese you like.

This is hubby's go-to meal when I'm not around, and if I am, I just eat the broccoli and cheese. It's a great meal for a teen boy (or a 46 year old man!) because he can fill up on pasta, get the goodness of broccoli and the protein from the cheese, and it's easy, cheap and healthy.

Martha Stewart's Tomato Soup

I must've posted this a hundred times on various threads, but damn it's good - think Campbell's canned, only better :)


01-27-2011, 04:01 PM
Make your own hummus -- incredibly cheap, and often better than the stuff you can buy in the store.

Dried beans cook up very nicely in the crockpot or in a heavy covered pan on the stove.

If you drink coffee, consider buying one of the one-cup plastic filters, and making it a cup at a time. Not tossing several cups of coffee a day saves a bunch given the price of good coffee.

Buy food in the bulk aisle and buy pretty much just what you need for a given recipe. It is cheaper per pound, and gets you what you need without waste. I have no problem buying a small handful of walnuts and one of cranberries for our salad.

Look for marked down meat (due to expire in the next day or so) and cook it that day. My grocery store will give a refund if it turns out not to be good, and the meat is almost always just fine. After holidays, look for big savings on ham or turkey -- Last year my grocery store offered lovely bone-in hams for 49 cents a pound after Christmas. I bought two, and had them cut up one of them in to smaller pieces, and then froze everything but what we wanted right then. It made for great meals at an unbelievable cost.

Andrushka -- how exactly are you hiding the zucchini and yellow squash in the spaghetti sauce? (I like them, but Mr. BarbK doesn't.)