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Old 12-28-2017, 02:01 PM   #1
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What do you do for cheap family friendly-dinner

Thereís a whole thread on what your parents served to be budget minded when things were tight.
I know I cook differently than my parents and itís a generational thing to but Iím wondering what you make to be frugal when times are lean thatís different than your parents?

I do a lot more homemade soup and homemade bread. When I was a kid Campbell soup cans and bread were fairly cheap and our pantry would be full of cans. But things are getting more expensive. So what do you do thatís different?

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Old 12-28-2017, 04:51 PM   #2
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Here is one. A big can of black beans, and a can of Rotel tomatoes with chilis. The beans are a good source of protein, without using meat. This is very filling, and you can add some rice to make it even more filling.

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Old 12-28-2017, 05:24 PM   #3
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I have now lived long enough to become my own generational difference. I am lucky that, I live within my means, though not quite as tight on the budget as previous. Still, I did learn to be frugal and it becomes ingrained to maintain careful budget practices.

I watched my mom at a young age make home made jams/jellies in summer. She did this mostly as a cost saver and we seldom had store bought. She didn’t have the patience to teach me. We had a garden, but the only thing I learned was, what are you doing, go weed or pick this colander with green beans/ peas/ etc. Not a lot of learning took place.

As a young adult I spent several summers helping at a friend’s cucumber farm (3 acres) during cuke picking seasons. As luck would have it, & unbeknown to my friend, his place was within a stone’s throw of my great aunt, a Great jelly maker. She taught me how to make crab apple jelly, choke cherry jelly, wild raspberries, canned gooseberries and beet pickles, plus how to determine when to harvest domestic and wild fruits. Sheesh, get up a four a.m., pick cukes by the pick up truckload, done by noon, a siesta and then over to Aunties some evenings to “help” her/ teach me important stuff. I realize Now, she would probably have liked to do these things earlier in the day, before it got hot, and I now realize too as I get older my energy is greater earlier in the day. What I’m saying here is, we still make jams/jellies with the fruits we grow, supplemented with an occasional crate of peaches etc. This has been a life long pastime as well as a budget saver. Grow food in your own garden if you can.

As far as budget saver meals, I make lots of tacos/ burritos/ enchilada type dishes. Stir fry is another way to stretch meal $$, more veggies, less meat. Learn to make different sauces and stop buying jarred ethnic sauces. I make 99% of my own salad dressings, could make them all, I get lazy sometimes. I buy herbs/ spices at a bulk food store. None of the above were in my cooking vocabulary 30-40 years ago. Ok, brown rice and veggies ( mostly onions and carrots) +tamari, cold rice with honey/cinnamon for breakfast. I don’t do this but should. I think Red Beans and Rice would be good. Frozen pot pies are no longer 10/$1 or whatever, and home made ones are practically a gourmet treat and not expensive I have cut way back on pastas. I think that is more a diet thing although I’m not on a diet per se. Pastas / rice are very much a meal stretcher. Pizzas with a coupon, good for several people servings, or multiple single servings. You can add you own toppings to a plain cheese pizza. I think cheese per pound is one of the more expensive things I buy.

I prefer to re-purpose meals into a different dish rather than simply have the same thing as a leftover. Sometimes this begats even more than the original dish. If it’s too much leftover-leftovers, into the freezer for awhile. I try to not have too much Tupperware surprises at a time in the frig.

I too am making more soup meals. I have been following the several DC bread (and pizza) discussions lately and they make me want to try my hand at bread making again So far, it’s just a thought, not an action verb up up and off my butt.

Other budget stretchers:
If you have a Costco, shop there for some stuff, not all. We are a family of two households so we split a lot of things.

Make grocery lists, and stick to them. Every grocer in my area has websites, so it’s easy to check who has good deals, if any. Weekly shopper ads in the mail, not so much. Their coupons are most often things I don’t use.

I am my own dishwasher and keep a supply of plain cotton dish towels.

I gave up Cable tv. Not everyone likes or wants to do this. I have always been an avid reader, so not much sacrifice for me. I Unplug the tv except during football season, although basketball and hockey have been sneaking into viewing time lately too. The reason I unplug the tv is my hand independently keeps reaching for the remote. Ok, not a meal stretcher thing, but easier on the budget.
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Old 12-28-2017, 05:45 PM   #4
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Wiskadoodle reminded me of something else. Many grocery stores have a Manager's Specials area in the meat department. It is meats that are near their sell-by dates. I always check the Manager's Specials. Sometimes I find something great for dirt cheap, other times they have nothing I want. It is hit-or-miss.

I have found USDA Choice Ribeye steaks for five bucks -- lest than half price. They may not be a bright, pretty red, due to oxidation, but they are perfectly safe, and taste just as good.

If you have a Foodsaver and freezer space, you can sometimes score big with the Manager's Specials. A few weeks ago, I found 1-pound packages of ground chuck for 99-cents. I bought six of them. Even with the cost of the Foodsaver bags, I am way ahead.

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Old 12-28-2017, 09:41 PM   #5
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Sounds like a quick easy poor mans chilli
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Old 12-28-2017, 11:26 PM   #6
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Make crepes. You can fill them with sweet or savory ingredients.

When I was a kid, I had no idea that my parents struggled to feed the 6 of us at times. Everything was so involved and distracting with so many opinions on everything (I have 4 older sisters) that crepe night, which was when my mother needed to feed the family from a nearly empty fridge and pantry, was fun.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:28 AM   #7
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Stews. They can be stretched with more vegis and potatoes.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:18 AM   #8
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I try to build my menus around basic food items that are normally inexpensive all year round. I also believe that every family should have a few basic day before payday meals that they enjoy on a regular basis. It helps save a few pennies and removes the shock and stigma associated with some budget meals. When times get tough the last thing you need to do is argue with your family over a bowl of lentils or oatmeal when they are used to pizza and wings or Pop-Tarts.

A recent addition to my rotation is crack slaw or egg roll in a bowl. It is a quick low carb meal when I'm looking for a lazy inexpensive comfort food.

You will find many recipes on the internet but this one will get you started.

Crack Slaw - Low Carb Recipe - Genius Kitchen

I never make it the same way twice. I cut back on the amount of meat and have used ground beef, sausage, diced BSCB and diced pork with good results. It is also good made with a can of drained/rinsed sauerkraut in place of the fresh cabbage.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:47 AM   #9
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I wouldn't wait until the end of the month to try the crack slaw recipe. I would start it at the beginning of the month so you could make it again mid-month. Keep you on your toes budget conscious and keep your tummy happy all month. It is really a good recipe.

I think Kayelle posted this recipe as well, which is when I first remember seeing it. Now, do as I say, not as I do. I am reminded I haven't made this in about 6 months.
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:28 PM   #10
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I plan a month a head, makes sure there is protein and carbs of every meal and then just get veggies and other stuff that will go bad.

Our menu is set from what is cheap that week, so January will be ground pork/beef , chicken filet, Christmas ham.

When parsnip, carrots and celeriac root is cheap, I buy, grate and freeze, this means I can bulk up any meal with more veggies and no one will know.
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