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Old 05-22-2022, 09:01 AM   #1
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Help with easy, budget meals

I've been asked to teach a class on preparing low-cost, nutritious meals to a group of welfare recipients. The class is voluntary (don't need grumpy cooks!).
Can anyone help me with recipes? I have a stash of recipes from a previous class, but prices of food have risen since then, and some of the recipes just won't do.
I'm looking forward to this experience, but I also really need help!

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Old 05-22-2022, 11:04 AM   #2
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How about bean and cheese enchiladas?

Ingredients:
6 flour tortillas
1 jar prepared salsa
1 14-ounce can of beans (pinto, great Northern, etc.)
1/2 pound shredded Mexican cheese blend

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Drain beans and add to a large bowl. Stir in half of the cheese and a half cup of salsa. Place a quarter cup of the mixture in a flour tortilla, roll up and place rolls in a baking dish.

Spoon some salsa on top of the rolls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until filling is hot and cheese is melted.
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Old 05-22-2022, 11:12 AM   #3
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Less of a recipe, but more of an idea (of course, I could find one of my tried and true recipes)...how about Fried Rice? One can use up pits and pieces of left overs. Maybe you have a leftover piece of meat (chicken, pork, beef, sausage, etc), and/or an egg, some peppers, a carrot, and so on. Fried up and seasoned properly, it is delicious, filling and nutritious too.
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Old 05-22-2022, 11:14 AM   #4
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I have an entire category of Cheap and Family Friendly Meals, here's just a few:

https://mykitcheninthemiddleofthedes...-and-friendly/

https://mykitcheninthemiddleofthedes...all-casserole/

Also, if you do a search here on DC you'll find a boat load of help:

https://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f142/

Hope this helps
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Old 05-22-2022, 11:34 AM   #5
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This is a very adjustable recipe, low in cost, very nutritious and it takes about 50 minutes to cook from beginning to end. It makes a lot. It's one of my favorites and I eat it often (freeze some of it to eat at another time).

Greek Lemon Spinach Lentil Soup (a stew really)
The ingredients are:
  • 1 pound brown or large green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 10 cups vegetable broth or water (14 cups is closer to correct)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds (I don't care for these)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium Yukon gold, russet or red potatoes (1 1/4 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (unnecessary)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lemons
To adjust it, use the potatoes you have on hand, use any squash or sweet potatoes you like, use spinach or any other greens you like.
My instructions would be, put everything in the pot except the salt, lemon juice, lemon, celery, potato, squash, and greens.
Begin cooking. Then chop the greens, chop the celery, chop the potatoes, chop the squash, it takes 20 minutes to do that. Then add those. Continue to cook another 30 minutes, add the lemon juice, and salt to taste. Serve with a lemon wedge.


The original recipe is here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...-for-17-years/ but the original recipe comes from a cookbook listed in the article.


Most of the things here are very inexpensive. Going on prices where I live (wisconsin), lentils $1.00, potatoes $0.40, squash $2.00, celery $0.30, lemon $0.50 plus the spices/herbs-use what you have. The cost might be $5.00 or more. It makes a full 4 quarts, so that might be 2 cups per serving, 8 servings.


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Old 05-22-2022, 12:11 PM   #6
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Off the top of my head, here's a quick list of inexpensive, nutritious preparations, all of which can be found with the search option here on DC:
  1. Split Pea Soup
  2. Canadian Yellow pea soup
  3. Lentils
  4. Dahl
  5. baked beans
  6. Ranch beans
  7. Bean soup
  8. stir Fries
  9. Chop Suey
  10. Lo Mein
  11. Chow Mein
  12. Spaghetti with bolagnaise sauce
  13. Spaghetti with Ragu sauce
  14. Manicotti Florentine
  15. Ravioli
  16. Other pastas
  17. Country fried steak
  18. Braised short ribs
  19. Country tyle pork ribs
  20. Pork steaks
  21. meat loaf
  22. Hungarian meatballs with egg noodles
  23. Italian meatballs
  24. Asian Chicken meatballs
  25. terrines
  26. Pate
  27. succotash
  28. mixed veggies
  29. hot and sour soup
  30. egg drop soup
  31. soba noodles
  32. Mexican Volcano (meatloaf)
  33. Totiere
  34. Meat pies
  35. Pasties
  36. sloppy joes
  37. rice pilafs
  38. Chicken Soup
  39. turkey carcass soup
  40. tomato basil bisque
  41. tomato soup
  42. cobblers
  43. bread dressings/stuffiongs
  44. Bread pudding
  45. fruit smoothies
  46. blender frit ice cream
  47. baked spaghetti sqaush with marinara sauce
  48. pumpkin soup
  49. baked winter squashes with or w/o stuffing
  50. roasted pork belly
  51. ham hocks
  52. braised beef shanks
  53. braised oxtail
  54. New England boiled dinner
  55. Salads of all kinds
  56. Cole Slaw
  57. cabbage roles with tomato sauce
  58. tuna casserole
  59. corned beef hash casserole
  60. cottage pie
  61. scalloped potatoes
  62. oven fried potatoes
  63. baked sweet potatoes
  64. Boiled greens
  65. Chili
  66. Burgers
  67. Spätzle
  68. stuffed peppers
  69. deviled eggs
  70. egg salad
  71. tuna salad
  72. all kinds od sandwiches
  73. cassoulet
  74. braised chicken
  75. Roasted chicken, stuffed
  76. Honey glazed carrots
  77. shredded carrot salad
  78. potato salad
  79. macaroni salad
  80. Pita pocket sandwich with skirt or sirloin steak (one steak feeds 4 to six people)
  81. enchilada
  82. tamale pie (Mexican lasagna, enchilada pie)
  83. Carne Asada
  84. Barbacoa
  85. Pozole
  86. Gazpacho
  87. Tortilla soup
  88. refried black bens, fat dree
  89. Chicken liver pate
  90. gelatin with fruit
  91. Jell-O Salads
  92. Aspics
  93. fried apples

Ok, that should give you some ideas. Hipe it's what you're looking for.

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Old 05-22-2022, 12:22 PM   #7
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Here's another. I've only made it once but we both really liked it.


Potato Mushroom Soup


3/4 lb mushrooms
6 small potatoes diced
2 carrots diced
1 celery sliced
1/2 onion diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups chopped broccoli or spinach
enough water to cover
(1 cup plant milk, or coconut milk was mentioned, optional)
1 t turmeric
1.5 t ground dry mustard
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme
nutmeg to taste
salt to taste


Cook. Don't make it more complicated than necessary.
It's delicious.
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Old 05-22-2022, 12:27 PM   #8
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Marlingardener, it occurred to me that a little more information might be helpful.

Are you going to be demonstrating the meal prep or it is something that each person or "team" will be preparing themselves, or just recipes and discussion, no cooking at all? If there is cooking, what appliances will be available?

What is the audience? Is it young folks, older, families with kids, or just the kids?

What kind of timing are you looking to fill or is there a limit to how long it should take? Can you do some of the prep? Like cook rice or make pizza dough or something else that might not be accomplished in the time allowed?

Just thought it might be helpful to have a bit of direction.
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Old 05-22-2022, 01:06 PM   #9
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Here is an easy baked bean recipe. This goes good with corn and potatoes. The most expensive part is the honey or molasses and any meat added (optional).


4 cups of dried pint or black or red beans
Add them to a large kettle of water.
Bring to a boil.
Turn off and let sit one hour.
Drain, rinse, fill with fresh water.
Bring back to a boil, settle at a simmer until they are tender 1-2 hours.


Drain.
In a microwave safe bowl, put

1 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced peppers (red peppers are nice)
4 diced garlic cloves
Microwave them for 5 minutes until tender


3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey or sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 t salt
3 T AC vinegar
2 t worcestershire sauce
2 t hot sauce (optional)
Add it all to the beans.

Mix, and store or mix and bake in a covered 9x13 inch pan for 45 minutes at 350 deg F.
This makes 3-4 quarts and freezes well.


(I use much more onion and peppers and I don't bother to bake them, they delicious.)
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Old 05-22-2022, 01:20 PM   #10
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Ginny, I really should have been more specific. The classes are three, each lasting two hours. A local church has allowed the use of their kitchen, so the participants will be hands-on cooking. Appliances will be stove top and ovens, with pots, pans and utensils available.

Each class will be preparing three recipes, and will receive a hand-out of the recipes.

I'll not do any prep (many of these cooks are using boxed foods like mac and cheese, hamburger helper, etc.) so they will hopefully learn they can do it on their own.
I have no idea of the mix of participants, but judging from past classes, most will be young to middle-aged mothers with two or three children to feed.

Your response was most helpful. I simply did not think to include much of the needed information. Thank you.
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Old 05-22-2022, 01:34 PM   #11
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Good deal & that is helpful! Glad they will get to do hands-on and 2 hours is a nice time frame. Not too short, not too long.

The Stir Fried Rice idea might work, or even be an idea of what to do with some leftovers from things you've done in a class.

Other ideas...things to do with Ramen. You may or may not be aware that those inexpensive packages of Ramen can be transformed into very tasty meals. Or, No-Cook pasta sauces is a favorite of mine, especially during summertime. With a metal bowl or otherwise heat resistant bowl placed over a pot that is cooking spaghetti or other pasta, one can have a great meal in little more time or cost than a pot of pasta.

Learning how to stretch and launch pizza dough can be fun...and intimidating for those that haven't done it in the past. Making pizza sauce is quick and easy too.

You mentioned Hamburger Helper. I have a great Copycat recipe for Hamburger Helper. I've never tried the box mix, but what I make is likely just as easy and quick, with fresh(er) ingredients.

If you need specifics, please do not hesitate to ask!
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Old 05-22-2022, 02:14 PM   #12
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Chili Con Carne

Chili is full of beans, celery, onion, tomatoes, herbs, meat and beans. It is a complete meal. add a bit od masa Harina, or torn fresh corn tortillas, or rice to thicken it if you wish. None of the oingredients are expensive, and it's enjoyed in any weather.

Here's one of my versions.

Ingredients:
28 oz. can petite dice tomatoes
15 oz. can pinto beans
15 oz. can dark red kidney beans
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium size yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tbs. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 lb coarse grind 890/20 ground beef, or beef for stewing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp, salt
1 tsp. red pepper (optional)
3 fresh corn tortillas (optional)
1 cup cooked rice (optional)

Place ground beef into a large Dutch oven over medium heat. break into small chunks, and brown. Season with salt. When the meat is almost done, add the spices, onion, and garlic. Cook until the meat is browned. Add celery, and remaining ingredients, except for the rice or tortillas. Cover, and simmer for 1 hour. If the chili is too thick, stir in a half cup of water. Tear the tortillas into small pieces and add to the chili. Stir until they are dissolved and thicken it. Serve over the rice, or in a bowl, with cornbread or crackers on the side. Enjoy.

To make this meal even more bugett friendly, use dried beans, and cook them until soft before adding them to the chili. Follow package directions.

Chief's Pita Pocket Sandwiches
this looks like it would be a pricey meal due to the ingredients. But as one steak will make enough sandwiches for 5 people, it's really inexpensive. Here's how you make it.

Ingredients:
1 pkg. of pita pocket bread
2 Haas avocadoes
1 cup mung bean sprouts
mayonnaise
1 sirloin steak
1 ripe tomato
Ripe bell peppers (optional)

Season steak with salt and pepper Pan fry over medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side, or to your desired doneness. Remove the steak to a plate and let rest for eight to ten minutes. Remove the avodado meat from the skin, and slice crossways. Wash the bean sprouts under cold water, and dry in colander. Slice tomato.

Cut pita pockets in halt, and separate to form the pockets. Slice te steak across the grain into thin slices. Spread mayonnaise into the pita pockets, and layer with the fillings. Tis sandwich is very tasty, and had great nutritional value as well. It's quick, and simple to make. Enjoy.

Senate Bean Soup
This is the famous U.S. Senate Bean Soup. It is one of many bean soup recipes. I thought it would be a recipe due to its history, and that it is rather famous.

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe
2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.

Bean Soup Recipe (for five gallons)
3 pounds dried navy beans
2 pounds of ham and a ham bone
1 quart mashed potatoes
5 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
four cloves garlic, chopped
half a bunch of parsley, chopped

Clean the beans, then them drain. Place beans into a large pot and cover with with water two inches above the beans. Add two tbs. salt and stir.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer for three hours, or until tender. Add ham, bone and water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add chopped vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour before serving.

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Old 05-22-2022, 03:20 PM   #13
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What kinds of foods do the students have access to purchase in their neighbourhoods or within reasonable travel distance?
If they get food from food banks, what kinds of food do they get there?
Do they have enough freezer space that making a larger quantity of food to save servings for future use is feasible?
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:28 PM   #14
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Taxlady, your questions are helpful, just as Ginny's are.
We live in a poor county in central Texas with one grocery store that stocks basic foods. No pita bread, no lentils, nothing out of the ordinary. What the recipients receive from the food bank is mostly canned goods, with whatever fresh vegetables are donated by local gardeners, such as squash, field corn, etc.

The folks don't have freezer space except for their refrigerator's capacity. Making large amounts and freezing for future use usually is not feasible.

Just as an aside, after teaching one of these classes, I go home, think how blessed I am, and sometimes have a good cry.

I have copied off many suggestions from DCers, copied recipes, and will use many of them for the class. The hand-outs may be a small book!
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:41 PM   #15
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Of course, part of being frugal is using what one has. To that end, giving ideas of how to "re-use" or "re-purpose" things to create something new or different, might be helpful. Or have the students come up with ideas for same.

For lunch today, DH and I had "meatball subs"...or something based on meatball subs...LOL. I had about 1 serving's worth of sauce from spaghetti with meatballs left and I had hot dog buns. So, presto, meatball subs. I cut the meatballs in half to "stretch" them and make them more hot dog bun sized. It made for a very nice, quick, easy...and practically free lunch.

Or, Sunday's roast chicken becomes a great chicken salad, with the addition of just a few things. Meatloaf becomes meatloaf sandwiches, and so on. I'm sure you get the idea. Even if there's not a lot of freezer space, find another way to use it.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:16 PM   #16
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Wow taxy and Ginny, good questions that I had in the back of my mind as well.
Myself, I make many donations to our local food bank. Mostly canned goods, dried pastas & beans, boxed-dried foods, canned meats like Spam® and Vienna Sausages.
I also donate frozen items like, chicken parts, hash browns/potatoes, vegetables.

Marlingardener, are these the types of items that are available through your food bank and market?

Also, your feeling is that your class this go-around are young-ish single Mom's, do they get WIC benefits? Are any other government programs? Where we lived previously, Mom's would get what every bulk items like a 5lbs. block of cheese that is about to expire.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:31 PM   #17
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With this new info, I can be of more help. I have on occasion, relied on Comods of canned goods from my tribe while going to university full time in order to help feed my family. The canned beef, and canned pork are pretty tasty, nd can be used in many ways. Here are a couple:

Open Faced Sandwiches
1 can meat, with can juices
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
Sliced bread

Heat canned beef or pork in a saucepan. Stir in corn starch. Heat until thickened. Serve on buttered toast with canned veggie of chiice.

Soups

Chicken Noodle Soup
1 can chicken with can juices
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 medium sized onion, peeled and diced
1 pkg. egg noodles
2 cups water
Place all ingredients except noodles into a large pot. Bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt, and pepper. Simmer until veggies are tender. Add noodles and cook for ten minutes more. Serve.

Beef, & Barley Soup
1 can beef
2 carrots, dices
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
Place all ingredients into a pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for twenty minutes. Serve with dinner rolls, or biscuits.

Pozole Rojo
1 can hominy
1 can pork
2 dried guajillo peppers, or can of peppers in adobo
1 can diced tomato
3 cups water
1 onion diced
Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to low boil. Remove peppers, and 1/2 cup of broth to a blender. Puree until smooth and add back into the pazole. Serv with tortillas

New England boiled dinner
4 cups water
1 head green cabbage, cut into quarters
1 medium sized onion, cut into quarters
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbs. butter
1 can corned beef
Place all ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes

Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef
15 oz. can tomato puree
15 oz. can dark red kidney beans
2 tbs. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. onion powder, or 1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 cup water
Brown ground beef in a large fry pan. Break it up into crumbles. Add onion, garlic powder, and onion. Cook until onion is softened. Add water, brown sugar, cloves, and tomato puree. Stir until thick. Add kidney beans. Serve on burger buns

Baked beans
2 15 oz. cans navy, or great northern beans
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbs. molasses
1 can pork
1 tbs. yellow mustard
add all ingredients to a pot, and stir. Heat until bubbling simmer. Serve with Cole Slaw.

Chicken Tetrazzini
15 oz. can chicken
1 carrot peeled and diced
1 onion peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
3 tbs. butter
3 tbs. all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
ground black pepper
Heat butter in high sided fry pan. Add carrot and onion. Cook until tender. Add flour and stir to form a paste. Continue cooking until paste just begins to brown (about 3 minutes). Slowly stir in milk to form a rich sauce. Add remaining ingredients. Serve over noodles, or rice.

I hope these work for your needs. You are doing a wonderful thing for those families.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marlingardener View Post
... snipped ...

Just as an aside, after teaching one of these classes, I go home, think how blessed I am, and sometimes have a good cry.

I have copied off many suggestions from DCers, copied recipes, and will use many of them for the class. The hand-outs may be a small book!
Were we live now, it's pretty such the same way and I'm like you Marlingardener.

And I really like that you'll be making up booklets for the class to keep with not only recipes, but ideas, tips and tricks on how to stretch a buck.

When does your first session start?
And could you update us all here at DC?
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:44 PM   #19
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When I took cooking in school, back in the 1960s, one of the recipes we were taught was "homemade Bisquick". I wish I had the recipe now, because it was a great substitute and could be used a lot of ways. This one was made with powdered milk, so it could be stored in a cupboard, like the store bought stuff. I'm pretty sure you only had to add water to make biscuits. Seems like a useful idea, if you can find a good recipe for that. Maybe someone here has a tried and true recipe for a homemade, quick biscuit mix.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:44 PM   #20
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baked potatoes topped with chili, cheese, salsa crema or sour cream

Breakfast for dinner ideas--
biscuits and gravy
scrambled eggs plain or with veggies and cheese stirred in
pancakes or french toast
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