Thursday, January 29, 2009

10 Super Low Cost Budget Meals (or even free!)

So to make my food budget stretch even further, here are some meals I make that are super cheap. Most are super easy to make too.

1. Chili-4 cups of Kidney Beans (canned or dried that you have cooked and froze)
2 Palm fulls of Chili Powder
1/2 Palm full of Cumin
1/2 of medium onion chopped
1 tsp Minced Garlic or 1/2 tsp dried Garlic Powder
Optional: for added fresh flavor add red/green/or yellow pepper chopped up(or frozen) Serve with crackers of any kind. Saltines are super cheap.
How much to make: $1 if you cooked the beans yourself.
$2 if you buy canned beans

2. Noodles with White Sauce -1lb Whole Wheat Noodles
2 tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
2 tbsp Flour
2 cups Milk (or 2/3 cup powdered milk with 2 cups water)
How much to make: $1 for the noodles in bulk
Everything else should be in your pantry

3. Bread Crumb Noodles-1 lb (or 3 cups)
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
3 tbsp Olive oil or Butter
1 tsp Garlic minced or 1/2 tsp Dried Garlic Powder
Boil noodles till done. Seperate pan heat up oil on medium, add garlic, cook for 30 seconds, add bread crumbs, cook for 1 minute, add noodles and stir. Done.
Optional: Parm cheese sprinkled on top.
How much to make:$1 for bulk noodles
Everything else should be in your pantry.

4. Everything Soup- Use any vetetable that needs to be used in your fridge
Stock of any kind. (I always make mine with chicken bones from dinners in the past)
Pasta or Rice (what ever you have)
Crackers are optional. Saltines are super cheap.
How much to make: Free if you use what you have that is going bad and needed cooking.
Or you can buy whatever items you want and could cost up to $5.

5. Macaroni and Cheese-1 lb Whole Noodles of any kind
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Butter or Oil
2 cups of milk (or 2/3 cup of powdered milk with 2 cups of water)
1/2 cup Cheese of any kind
How much to make: $1.50. Noodles are $1 and about 50 cents worth of cheese. Everything else should be in your pantry.

6. Egg Drop Soup-1 egg
2 tbsp Corn Starch
3 cups of broth (homemade or bought)
Combine broth and cornstarch and heat till boiling and clear. 2 tsp of broth and 1 egg mixed in small bowl, add slowly when broth is done. Egg will cook all stringy. Done.Optional: Chives or dried chives. Sprinkle in Soy Sauce for added flavor.
Cost to make:25 cents if you use your own free homemade broth (reccomended) or could cost up to $3 to make if you buy broth.

7. Warm rice and milk-1 cup hot cooked rice (use left overs)
1 cup of milk (or 1/3 cup powdered milk with 1 cup of water)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar
dab of Butter
Put all in a bowl, mix and serve. My childhood favorite. Kids just love this one. Plus wonderful on a cold day.
Cost to make:Free if you use left over rice and powdered milk. Could cost up to $1 if buy the rice, cook it and add fresh milk.

8. Pasta with red sauce-1 lb of whole wheat noodles
1 can of pasta sauce or crushed tomatoe
1/2 can of black olives (use other half for another dinner)
Optional: Parm cheese if you have it
Cost to make: $2.25

9. Mexican Rice -3 cups Brown Rice (or white)
1 cup Black Beans (cooked, and froze. Or bought canned)
1 Palm of Cumin
2 Palm of Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Minced or 1/2 tsp powdered garlic
1 cup Frozen Corn or canned
Cook rice, add spices and garlic, corn, and beans. Add water if needed. Done. You can eat this alone, add it on lettus to make a mexican salad, put it in taco's(stretching your budget even further), or add 1 cup of broth and make a mexican soup.
Cost to make:$2 if you make and freeze your own beans from dried beans, and buy rice in bulk. Otherwise its about $4 if you bought everything canned or easy to make.

10. Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup-Bread
1 can of Tomato Soup
Cost to make:About 1.50. Super easy to make. Very filling and super yummy on a cold day.

I make these on a regular basis. This has cut cost down in so many ways. I usually make 3-4 meatless dinners a week. Since most have beans in it, we still get our protein intake. All are made with Whole Wheat or Brown Rice so you get plenty of fiber. I try to use fresh produce that last a long time. Like Carrots, Onions, and Celery. These are budget friendly because they can last up to 2 weeks in your fridge and you can use them when needed in many meals. I reccomend cooking dried beans highly. This alone saves me a bundle. $1 average for 1 lb of beans. When cooked this will make 4-6 cups of beans. If you bought canned beans, it would cost you $6 to get the same amount. I also reccomend buying your spices either in bulk or places like Walmart which are only 50 cents. We go through so much Chili Powder, Cumin, and Garlic Powder. One added reccomendation is buying in bulk. Places like Winco have bulk items for super cheap and are adding more and more healthy options like whole wheat and organic items. Also try to make your own broth and freeze it. Just need bones and water to make. Super easy. Boil water and bones on low boil for 20 minutes. Refridgerate, skin off fat that will harden and float up to the top, and freeze for later use. Done!
My monthly food budget is $400 for a family of 6. I usually have some money left over to save for splurges later.

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