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Old 08-28-2014, 08:25 AM   #1
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I need some simple, inexpensive, healthy menu ideas

I have been gradually changing my eating habits as the cost of food increases and I'm looking for some simple, healthy, low cost recipes that I can add to my rotation. I would like to stay away from recipes with starchy fillers and focus on recipes that feature fresh or frozen vegetables and small amounts of meat or other protein.

Here are a couple of examples of what I have in mind.

Braised Peas And Ham With Eggs Recipe | Food Republic

Sauteed Escarole with Garlic and Cannellini Beans Recipe : Food Network

Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:47 AM   #2
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Boiled smoked ham hocks with root veggies. For a family, I made it with a smoked picnic shoulder. (New England dinner) Living alone, the ham hocks are cheap and just enough meat for one. They usually come with two in the pack in the meat section. A lot cheaper than a whole shoulder.

Loose hamburger sautéed with onions, drain the fat, and make pan gravy. Serve over mash potatoes, seasoned rice, or whatever meets your fancy. Add frozen peas or veggies of your choice. It doesn't take much meat. This gives you four veggies if you count the 'taters.

Of course American Chop Suey. Elbow macaroni, a can of crushed tomatoes, and some hamburger. You have a starch, meat and a veggie. You can add green peppers to it for color.

The old standby Tuna Casserole with peas.

Hope some of this helps or rattles your brain into thinking of more foods you like.

Make a list of all foods you really like. Then cross of all the expensive ones.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:09 AM   #3
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Try these recipes Aunt Bea, there are several pages of them and fit into a healthy lifestyle:
Mediterranean Diet Recipes - Allrecipes.com
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:09 AM   #4
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Take a look at CWS's breakfasts in the breakfast thread
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:52 AM   #5
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1. vegetable curries with indian fry bread or rice.
2. Finely chop a small eggplant and mix it with equal quantity of ground beef. Make cottage pie with it or cook your favorite recipe as usual. This will give you enough for more than one meal but much cheaper and very delicious.
3. Use half an onion instead of a whole one when you can..
4. Buy cheap tomatoes, cut in half on a foil lined baking tray, drizzle with oil, S+P, herbs, garlic or what you fancy and roast in the oven until the edges singe. Leave to cool. Put into zip lock bags and gently squash with a rolling pin. Freeze flat and use as pasta sauce as you need. Cheaper and better than tinned.
5. Buy a whole chicken, cut into 6-8 portions. Use or freeze as required. Use carcass to make fantastic soup base or stock.
6. Use ox heart cut into bite sized pieces for super stew instead of more expensive beef cuts.
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Old 08-28-2014, 11:39 AM   #6
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Lightbulb

What about a simple stir fry, using very little protein and loads of veg?

I find bags of Broccoli Slaw for under $2 at most grocery stores,

then thinly slice a piece of b/s Chicken, or some Flank Steak or what about some Shrimp for a splurge
sometimes I add rehydrated shitake mushrooms (very inexpensive at the Chinese Market) or a can of Straw Mushrooms for some added umph,

stir fry everybody,

add in your favorite stir fry 'sauce' (either bottled or homemade), a splash of Ponzu is tasty...

this can be served along or over rice or noddles.

I found a couple of different frozen stir fry in a bag at the megamart as well as the nicer places, like TJ's or WH for a bit more $$. Really, any frozen veg will do, snow peas, asparagus, whatever your household likes.
Some even included a sauce packet. Easy Peasy
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Old 08-28-2014, 11:57 AM   #7
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I need some simple, inexpensive, healthy menu ideas

Tortillas, both corn and flour, are cheap and can live in your freezer. They can sub for bread, used for rollups, make chips, etc. I rediscovered personal pizzas, and by baking the tortillas a bit to crisp them, then topping with whatever you have on hand and baking again, they come out great. I make my own sauce with a little can of tomato paste, some chicken broth, a bit of sugar, and Italian seasoning. Store brand mozzarella.

Our grocery store often cuts prices on perfectly good produce like broccoli and mushrooms simply because they're past their prime. Broccoli salad with kidney beans, dressed with low fat mayo or yogurt, vinegar and a bit of sweetner, sunflower seeds and raisins or craisins is delicious and cheap.

I love making and eating soup of any kind, and keep a bag of leftover veggie scraps in the freezer. I also chop and freeze onions, celery and carrots in a ziplock for instant soup mix.
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:18 PM   #8
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I really appreciate the replies on this!

I can adapt some of the ideas to my situation by eliminating the rice, potatoes, pasta, etc...

Addie's New England boiled dinner is already in the rotation. I leave out the potatoes and for the meat I use a vacuum packed ham steak, kielbasa or German sausage. It is based on a thread from TATTRAT and adapted to my peculiar way of doing things!

"Boiled Dinner," TATTRAT Style

This immediately caught my eye on PF's Mediterranean Diet link.

Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach with Garbanzo Beans) Recipe - Allrecipes.com

GG, I will check the breakfast thread and see what stands out.

MM, I like the sound of a vegetable curry, do you have a simple TNT recipe that you could share?

Kgirl, I have used the broccoli slaw for salads, never tried to cook with it. The idea appeals to me because I could use half a package for a hot meal and the other half for a cold salad. I can't wait to look over the items in Trader Joe's, ours opens October 3rd!

Dawg, Looking for the quick sale vegetables is a great tip! The 1950's grocery store that I go to on Sunday mornings has a rack of musgoes in the produce, meat and bakery department, I frequently find good deals, I wish all the stores did that.

Some of these ideas will help me keep my self imposed grocery budget of $35.00/wk on track. It is getting tougher and tougher to maintain. I notice the pantry slowly thinning out and on weeks when I need to replace a big ticket item from the pantry it just about sinks the budget. I'm lucky to have access to the farmers market and a no frills grocery chain called PriceRite for my fresh vegetable purchases.

Thanks again and if you think of any other ideas please pass them along!
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:53 PM   #9
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If anyone can do this, you can AB! You've inspired us so many times with thrifty cooking.

We have a Dollar Store here that's just unbelievable with high quality fresh produce, refrigerated items, not to mention canned and dry goods. It's hard to find a parking place there lately.

I don't know if you have anywhere like that there, but it's sure worth the hunt, even if you have to spend some gasoline to drive to one.
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
If anyone can do this, you can AB! You've inspired us so many times with thrifty cooking.

We have a Dollar Store here that's just unbelievable with high quality fresh produce, refrigerated items, not to mention canned and dry goods. It's hard to find a parking place there lately.

I don't know if you have anywhere like that there, but it's sure worth the hunt, even if you have to spend some gasoline to drive to one.
I appreciate the encouragement.

I still follow my basic plan. As prices creep up I find I start making a few poor choices. I'm trying to correct that by coming up with a handful of healthy items to fill in. Addie's idea of making a list of possibilities is a good one. I started doodling with a list of inexpensive low carb vegetables and then look for a main dish that features them.

I don't have an elaborate dollar store. I do have an outlet store near my home that sells all sorts of items nearing the use by date. This time of year they have a large amount of produce from local growers that need to move it or lose it. I stop in if I see a new item advertised that catches my eye.

It's all just a big tasty puzzle.
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