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Easy Budget Meals
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Easy Budget Meals

According to the news today, by May, gas prices will climb over $4 a gallon with some cities as high as $4.95 a gallon. As gas prices rise, many are looking for ways to cut back. Spending on food is one place most will start with but, cutting expenses doesn’t mean sacrificing satisfying meals. By shopping for sales, using inexpensive ingredients and batch cooking, it’s possible to cut at least 20% from your food bill.

Removing meat from 2-3 meals weekly will result in large savings and is not difficult to do. Vegetarian meals are not only healthy but delicious.

Grains and dried beans are not only an inexpensive protein source but they make an easy and nutritious, low-fat meal. Just soak your beans in cold water overnight then cook with onions, peppers and spices.

A 1-pound bag of beans will cost you a little over a $1; add your spices and you have a meal for 4 with a cost under $5. Make a double batch and use for refried beans on burrito night, later in the week. I always use dried beans since they are a fraction of the cost of canned beans.

I like to add hamburger and smoked sausage to my beans. While a little more expensive you can still feed a family of 4 for under $10.

1 lb red beans (these are the small red beans, not kidney beans)

1 lb hamburger

1 package smoked sausage diced

1 medium red onion

1 medium green pepper

1 garlic bulb smashed

2 teaspoons season salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground red pepper (more or less for heat) I like to use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

2 cans diced tomatoes

Sort and wash beans, let soak overnight. Fry hamburger and smoked sausage and drain. Mix all ingredients in kettle, bring to hard-boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 2-3 hours or until tender or cook in a slower cooker. Serve with cornbread or over rice. Add a salad and you have a hearty meal. This also freezes well so make a double batch for future meals or lunches.

Other meal ideas under $10:

Ramen Noodle Dinner—It’s not just for college students

Cook chicken flavor ramen noodles as directed only use ½ the called for water and cook according to directions. Once cooked add chopped chicken, I use left over chicken that I chop and freeze, 1 can of sliced mushrooms and 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup. Mix well and heat until hot. Serve with a vegetable dish.

Mac and Meat

Make your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, add a meat of your choice like tuna, canned ham, chopped chicken or other meats.

Breakfast for Dinner

Many families don’t have the time to sit down for breakfast during the week, mine included, so we like our breakfast for dinner. I make omelets, scramble eggs or a breakfast casserole for dinner.

Roasted Chicken

You still get the most bang for your buck by buying whole chickens with the average cost around $5 each. After your meal, chop your leftovers and put in the freezer. Then use the leftovers for soups, casseroles, chicken and noodles or Mexican dinner. I always cook 2 chickens at once so I have plenty of leftovers for weekly meals.

Chili

When making a double batch of pinto beans, I turn the leftovers into chili. After our chili supper we use the leftovers Frito pie and chili spaghetti. Just add seasoning, tomatoes and meat for three different dinners.

Smothered Potatoes

Chop potatoes in small cubes. Fry 1 pound of ground pork or cubed smoked sausage, add 1 onion and the chopped potatoes. Add about an inch of water to the bottom of your skillet, cover and cook on low until tender.

Buying at Sam’s Club or Costco will stretch your food budget even future. Even with the club membership fees, the savings you see will pay for the cost.


Street Talk

Hi Nancy, This is a great article. Thank you for the tips.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Very good article. I too cook a lot of beans. My family loves them. Skipping the meat, thats another story. We love breakfast for dinner, especially omelets.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Nothing better than an omlet for dinner. We like to get creative with the ingredients; some are great and some...not so good...LOL. We just stocked our freezer with wild onions a couple of weeks ago and had wild onions and scrambled eggs for dinner last week...YUM!

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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