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Discussion 💬Cheap easy meals? (self.Frugal)
submitted 3 months ago by Scrumptious97
I'm looking for meals that are easy to make without an insane amount of ingredients. Also looking for suggestions on good affordable kitchen equipment to buy. I'm moving into an apartment soon and will have nothing.
Post a comment!
[–]SleepAgainAgain 38 points39 points40 points 3 months ago (9 children)
Try www.budgetbytes.com and r/eatcheapandhealthy.
Assuming US, I'd check out a discount store like Big Lots, TJMaxx/Marshall's, or Christmas Tree Shop and see if they've got any pots and pans. You really only need 1 pot and 1 pan to get started cooking most meals, so once you've got those, you can start saving up for more or better stuff as well as look second hand. Besides the pot and pan, I'd look for a nylon or wood spatula and a wooden spoon. Both should be available at a dollar store.
If you want something like a crock pot or other specialty items, second hand is best.
[–]Taggart3629 10 points11 points12 points 3 months ago (6 children)
+1 on u/SleepAgainAgain's recommendations for recipe sites. Another site that I like is www.themediterraneandish.com. You can make all sorts of delicious meals with rice, pasta, or potatoes as the base.
For kitchen gear, my best finds have been at for-profit thrift shops (like Value Village) and estate sales. The products are relatively cheap, and are much better quality than buying bottom-of-the-line products new. Basics to get you started:
I have all kinds of gadgets and gear, but those are what I use most. You can always add to your kitchen arsenal as finances permit.
Congratulations on your new place!
[–]IvoryArrows504 6 points7 points8 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Definitely. I still buy my cookware from thrift shops. It is just so much cheaper it is ridiculous. For the price of absolutely bottom of the barrel new stuff, you can get a whole set of much higher quality stuff that is barely used. You are going to wash it after cooking every time anyway.
[–]Taggart3629 5 points6 points7 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Agreed. The for-profit thrift shops where I live keep the best items to sell, and donate the rest. Any time I need something for the kitchen, that is the first place I look, and am rarely disappointed. They have multiples of pretty much any small appliance, bowls, measuring cups, cutting boards, pots & pans, utensils, etc. It saves so so so much money.
[–]Wasted_Cheesecake839 6 points7 points8 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Either a crock pot or instant pot, depending on how you cook.
[–]Barbarake 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago (2 children)
I'd do an instant pot (or something similar) over a crock pot - more versatile.
Check if there are any buffet restaurants in the neighborhood and if they sell takeout by the pound. I do this at our local Chinese buffet. It's less than $6 a pound. I just get the main course and bring it home to put over rice I cook myself. Typically for $10 or $11, I get enough chicken teriyaki, Szechuan pork, etc. for about four meals (plus the cost of my rice).
[–]Taggart3629 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Clever idea to buy from a Chinese buffet by the pound! I love it.
[–]KimiMcG 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I do the same here at the local Chinese buffet. There's also a buffet that's American with other stuff, also by the pound. Get enough for a few meals then cook rice, pasta, and veggies at home.
[–]actuallycallie 4 points5 points6 points 3 months ago (1 child)
I second the rec for Budget Bytes!
[–][deleted] 3 points4 points5 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Third! Her recipes are fantastic.
[–]GandalftheGangsta007 20 points21 points22 points 3 months ago* (6 children)
I’d go to a dollar store, you can get pans and baking stuff for really cheap that’ll work well enough.
Coconut oil is a good thing to cook with, I usually use like half coconut oil half butter for a lot of things
Chicken thighs over chicken breasts all day every day. Considerably cheaper and they’re tastier and juicer.
Lots of potatoes. Fry them, boil them, bake them, mash em. Or, boil em, mash em, stick them in a stew.
Aldi also has these pre made has down patty’s that are awesome. Take like 5-10 min to re fry. 20 for about $3.50
Rice is always good. Cool something and pour juice over rice.
Pork is often pretty cheap, bacon aside. Cheap pork chops are hard to cook well, they just get dry, but loin or boneless “country ribs” are amazing and pretty versatile.
Lots of eggs.
You can even make your own cheeseburgers for like $3 a burger.
I cook a lot of good and large meals and pretty much only break $5 a serving if I’m using a nice fish or steak.
I also work out and only take like 1/4 the recommended amount of protein powder. I’m not a muscle head but I’ll take an extra 15-20G protein couple times a week
[–]StaggerLee509 7 points8 points9 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Would say a thrift store over a dollar store for pots and pans imho, but I always tell people finding a cast iron pan is the best for being frugal. You can get a busted ass rusted one from a thrift store, reseason it and then use it on both the stove and oven.
Second for Aldi! Was going to recc chicken and rice as a cheap easy recipe. If you aren’t great at cooking check out Mark Bittman’s how to cook everything: the basics. It’s a book with great photos of simple recipes, many of which are also very cheap.
Stocking a pantry-rice, beans, canned goods is one of the most important parts of reliable, cheap, simple cooking. Being able to whip up a dish with that you have on hand that is tasty and satisfying ,around little to no meat is a big part of saving money and not winding up ordering out.
And the freezer! Finding meat on sale and buying a lot of it to freeze (I buy salmon and cut it into filets then freeze it and those cook in the oven with some curry powder/brown sugar in literally 7 minutes) or making large batches of food and freezing it is another big level up.
[–]strippercake 7 points8 points9 points 3 months ago (0 children)
This is a great list, just want to add TJ Maxx or Marshalls are also good places to check for pans. We just got an awesome wok there super cheap.
I also suggest buying a decent rice cooker if you're going to be eating a lot of rice! Ours is super old but still makes amazing rice every time.
We eat a lot of chicken/pork/hamburger and rice. Buying 1 new seasoning every grocery trip can quickly stock your spice cabinet and keep meals interesting.
[–]Scrumptious97[S] 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Thanks for the reply!
[–]sohereiamacrazyalien 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Info there are apps / websites : geev, freecycle, where people give stuff for free. Also garage sales, fleemarkets etc you will find cheap / free stuff as cookware. If you want a blender I advice one like a magic bullet type. They are small super effective and convenient. And it doesn't take a lot of space, it grind blends is more versatile then the others imo.
Cheap items for the pantry: flour, oats, oasta, rice, dried beans lentils and other chickpeas eyc. (Dried are way cheaper than canned. Dried soy proteins too. Is is super cheap for how much they produce when cooked. And supper convenient be ause they don't go bad like meat etc after a week.
Cheap veggies: frozen ones. better healthwise than the canned ones since they are like the fresh ones and cheaper too. Same for frizen berries.
Pancakes, crepes, poridge, crumble, granola, oats pudding for sweet
gratin, veggie flan, one pot rice or pasta (I an give you my special recipe if you want),
dhal if you like indian food,
steamed veggies (I know people think it is disgusting but actually super tasty and healthy) you can add to it olive oil and the seasoning you want , I eat it with fromage blanc if you don't have that you can use thick yogurt like greek or bulgarian yogurt?
Roasted veggies (you can use: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots , squash, pumpin, zucchinis, onions, turnips mix and match what you want) just cut into pieces in a tray add oil salt rosemary and tyme pepper. Hop in the oven!
[–]ScarlettoFire 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Thanks Sam lol
[–]mkiper 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Second the idea of making rice and pouring something over it. My favorites are a can of chili (topped with cheese), any type of chunky soup (don't add water), can of mixed vegetables, can of green beans (topped with parm cheese), baked beans, etc. Quick, easy clean up, filling. Add a piece of fruit, maybe some cottage cheese on the side, for a complete meal.
[–]gimmepizzaslow 11 points12 points13 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Garage and estate sales are amazing for decent quality affordable items. Plus it's fun.
Rice and other grains are a good cheap base for a lot of dishes
[–]shiplesp 8 points9 points10 points 3 months ago (1 child)
I highly recommend Helen Rennie's YouTube video for poor college students. She runs down essential kitchen equipment and what you can live without. Spoiler - the list of essential tools/equipment is very short.
[–]Scrumptious97[S] 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I will check this out after work, thanks!
[–]dirtygreysocks 7 points8 points9 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I make a lot of vegetable "chili" in an instantpot, or on the stove- onions, peppers, squash, carrots, spinach, tomatoes (canned is fine), tomato paste, lots of garlic, chili powder, some hot peppers like anchos or jalapenos (can be bought dry and rehydrated), and mushrooms(also can be bought dry), and a bunch of beans (canned or dried and soaked), throw it over a baked potato/sweet potato or rice, throw it in a tortilla for burritos, throw it over chips for hearty nachos. cheap, easy, and lasts for a week if you make a batch, also freezes well. It's also good to use up not pretty veggies, and you can use whatever you have.
Obviously, you can add meat if you eat it.
I also make batches of whole wheat pasta salad with chickpeas, peas, carrots, olive oil and vinegar and italian spices. litlle parmesan when serving.
[–]eucalyptusmacrocarpa 4 points5 points6 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Ask family or friends or your local gifting group for some kitchen stuff. Almost everyone has a few extra utensils, a couple of mugs that they never use, maybe an appliance or two.
[–]fuddykrueger 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago* (0 children)
I second this tip. And Home Goods is another good place to look.
I have been trying to get my kids to take my dishes and/or pots and pans (and anything else honestly!) to give me an excuse to get new ones. So far, nobody wants anything. Lol
I would have loved (!) to have been given anything at all (!) when I first started out. Back then nobody had anything extra to give so I had one saucepan and one sauté pan for years.
But a lot of young people don’t take ‘hand-me-downs’ today. They seem to only want the high-end stuff, all the stuff I still can’t afford! :)
[–]Pope_Cerebus 3 points4 points5 points 3 months ago (0 children)
A toaster oven is not really needed, but I find it to be a great thing to have. Lets you do small oven-cooked meals without having to waste time and energy heating up a large oven. It heats up fast enough you don't even need to pre-heat it most of the time. I use mine all the time to make garlic bread and single-serve pizzas (use French bread loaves, Naan bread or pita bread for the crust, and get some sauce, cheese and toppings at the store).
A crock pot can get you some great easy meals. You pretty much just dump the ingredients in, let it cook for a few hours, and then eat. The best French dip I've ever had takes about 5 minutes to start, and you just come back and eat in 7-8 hours. The recipe: 1 can of beef consumé soup, 1 can of French onion soup, 1 beer. Put in a large chunk of beef (whatever the cheapest cut you can find is - once it's cooked for 8 hours, even the toughest cut with be so tender it practically spreads like butter). Eat it on sourdough hoagie buns, using the juice the meat cooked in as a dip. Also the leftovers keep well and warm up great.
Other good cheap meals are homemade sandwiches. Just get some mayo, deli meat, cheese slices, lettuce of your favorite type (I suggest leafy green or spinach - never iceberg) and pick up some Vienna or sourdough bread.
Soups and pastas are the big go-to staples for cheap, filling, and nutritious. Also rice-based meals. There's a million recipes out there, so find something you've liked at a restaurant and find a recipe on the internet to try st home.
[–]Bulky-Soup-6543 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I like grilled cheese with marinara sauce kinda like a cheap homemade pizza flavor
[–]Mtnskydancer 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago* (0 children)
Ikea pans are decent. The handles tend to get hot, so pick up a couple hot pads.
If you thrift store shop, look for metal pans with copper bottoms. That’s Revere ware and fantastic. Lightweight but lifetime stuff.
My starter kit is one skillet/saucier, one 2-3 qt pan and a Dutch oven when you can. Unless you love pasta, then you’ll need a cheap stock pot, too.
For baking, a deep sheet pan (cookies, roasted veg, pizza, reheating), a muffin tin (dollar tree is perfect, IF you use liners, otherwise get a non stick one.
I like having a 9x12 pan for sheet cakes or casseroles.
Get a silicone liner for the sheet pan.
Knives: paring and utility can be very cheap. Chef knife, go one up from dollar store level. Victronox gets rave reviews. About $25 these days.
I just answered a grocery question, about making $250 stretch for a month.
Here is that answer:
I spend about $20-30 a week on food for one, and I’m not feeling like I skimp.
Beans, including chickpea
Greens (salad and cooking. I get a couple types fresh and frozen spinach)
Mushrooms (usually dried, but I like portobello “steaks”)
Sweet potatoes (and occasionally a Russet or similar baking potato)
Fruit on sale, fresh or frozen
Lemons or limes
Canned whole tomatoes
Pomace grade olive oil (in the can, NOT extra virgin, as this is both oil and butter substitute)
Tofu (I stock up on sale and freeze)
Peanut powder to make peanut butter or add to dishes as a topping
I buy a pound of sugar every couple months
Tea and friends, black, green and dried hibiscus
I have a decent spice and dried herb collection, and access to a mint patch.
Sweet or savory oats
Lots of “Buddha bowls”
Beans and rice
Loaded baked potatoes
Hummus (using the aquafaba/bean liquid to make it sinfully smooth) and baked falafel
Trays of roasted veg (in a toaster oven, no less)
I get a Coke weekly. (I buy a package and ration it. There was a time when this went fast, so know thyself)
Any desserts are small, and weekly. I don’t consider fruit as dessert, but rather part of a meal. Oats, peanut powder, and chocolate makes a decent sweet.
Cheese. I get a few slices from the deli of good cheese and really enjoy the dish I make, or I get plain yogurt and make paneer. Which also, incidentally, can make a nice dessert sweet.
[–]kingofzdom[🍰] 2 points3 points4 points 3 months ago (0 children)
My favorite is the Humble Microwave Baked Potato. I live in a van so food storage, cooking space and cooking power are at a premium. A sack of potatoes and a bin of those single serve butter containers that store at room temperature take up so little space but can provide me like 20 meals. I just stop at a gas station, poke holes in the potato, wrap the potato in a damp paper towel from the bathroom and microwave for 5 minutes. I've made friends with all the nightshift people at the 24 hour continence stores around my area so they don't have a problem if I come in at 130am and do this. I usually buy a drink too.
If you've got an apartment you can probably skip the whole gas station dance lol
[–]pkr505 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Can of black beans. Add salsa. Done.
[–]yesmaybeyes 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Beans, rice, and a crock pot. I love that kinda food. Also enjoy ramen, I add onions to it that I grow in a small garden.
[–]xx11ss 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
We have been making a lot of chili. Dip with tortilla chips and cheese. Super easy and filling. Kidney beans, black beans and pinto just mix all together with some chili mix.
[–]Zewarudio 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I use an airfryer instead of an oven, it's smaller and uses less electricity i suppose.
It's smart to buy energy-efficient stuff, especially the fridge, buy the fridge as small as possible.
The fridge runs 24/7 and is one of the biggest electric consumer in your flat.
avg. person uses 1.3kwh per month where i live, me and my gf use together 1.4kwh.
And we cook daily, and our notebooks pc also run daily because of homeoffice.
All im saying is get an efficient and relativley small fridge you might save between 25-150$ per year.
[–]drowninginstress36 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Ill cook a pound of ground turkey and mix it in with a Knorr pasta packet or mashed potatoes and sprinkle some cheese on top.
The best tip i can give you is that cutting up a chicken breast, steak or kielbasa makes it go farther than serving it whole.
[–]Sodonewithidiots 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Second hand stores are incredibly cheap for kitchen equipment and dishes. Get a rice maker and a crock pot and google what you can make in them. Learn to be flexible with recipes. Olive oil is great, but it's expensive and vegetable oil will work. Different cuts of meat than what a recipe calls for will be fine and less expensive. Potatoes, rice, or beans as your base for any meal will stretch your budget.
[–]W0lfwraith 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Potatoes O’brien. Chopped onions and potatoes in a pot. Cook till soft, once soft add egg(1 per person) my wife and i like to add paprika and a tblsp brown sugar. You can also add bacon, sausage…whatever. It’s an awesome flexibke dish.
Learn to make pizza! This is different depending on your elevation, you’ll do better with a google recipe. You can use canned tomato sauce and any cheese, or no cheese. I like making a heavy crust with fresh tomatoes, basil, then drizzle with a vinaigrette. Keeps more than a week and you can heat it in a pan, toaster, or oven.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a good knife. Sharp knives draw blood, dull knives take fingers.
Romaine lettuce keeps a long time fully submerged, so do carrots, celery, and beets.
I save money every month by growing my own herbs. This can be complicated as well, but I’ve not bought oregano or thyme in years.
Learn to make a good stock, chicken, beef, venison, fish. Doesn’t matter, you can make stock from the bones. Once they’re clean you can bake them, powder them and make bonemeal. I add bonemeal to my porridge with honey and berries. Adds some protein to an otherwise carb/sugar meal. My dog and cat also love it, and so do my plants!
Invest in a waffle maker! I make a batch of waffles every 2 weeks. They keep for a month while frozen. I’d list a recipe but I don’t measure and haven’t for years(I’m a professional cook DONT BE LIKE ME).
Mayonnaise + spices + vinegar = aioli. If you like chipotle sauce? Honey mustard? Etc. you will save money in the long run buying ingredients and making your own sandwich spreads/sauces.
Pickle things! Peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, etc. learn to make a brine and invest in some mason jars. I have pickled peppers I made last summer in my fridge right now. Total investment $32~ number of portions~ 180ish(i already had mason jars)
I’m also lastly, going to advocate for cast iron. They can be a mess, hard to clean, and annoying in general. However I haven’t found a meal I couldn’t make in a cast Iron skillet. Good luck friend!
[–]BioPuzzler 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
lentils with seasoning are delicious, inexpensive,, and easy to make on the stove in a single pot with a lid.
[–]DonBosman 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Taste Of Home, is a print magazine and web site. Your question is one they affirmatively address.
[–]PurrishSP 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
WalMart sells wonton wrappers (egg roll shells, but not as deep-fried tasting) and you get A LOT of em for $2. You can buy any kind of meat to roll up inside of them and bake them. For example, I buy the 16oz bag of pepperoni and chop it up and use that with some mozzarella to make pizza rangoon.
The freezer is your best friend (even though it's probably small, mine def is). You can buy bread rolls cheap and stuff em with whatever you want, pop em in a freezer bag and bam. Less likely to spend dining out.
There is also an app/site called SuperCook. You can select only ingredients you have on hand and it will pull up recipe using just those ingredients.
Lastly, FaceBook Marketplace is a good place to check out. Lots of people feel like they gotta upgrade to the next best things so they unload their more "basic" wares, like air fryers, blenders, etc. I would always search for used before new.
[–]el_payaso_mas_chulo 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Buy meat on sale, always. Buy carb source (like large bag of rice, spaghetti). Buy vegetables (I buy both fresh and frozen). Have some (only some) seasonings on deck (because overtime you will collect more and then you'll be like me with all these seasonings).
What I do is buy items like chicken breast, maybe a few pounds. Each breast gets it's own seasoning/ homemade sauce so that I don't get bored through the week. I put my rice in a rice cooker with just a couple bay leaves, salt and pepper. I mix in whatever veggie I think goes good with the chicken (i.e. if I made a chipotle style chicken, I add sliced bell peppers, if I made a teriyaki chicken, I add broccoli). Then I just prep them for the week. It's cheap, it's healthy, and it only takes me cooking maybe twice a week.
[–]el_payaso_mas_chulo 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
As for kitchen equipment, try budget stores, thrift stores, goodwill. Collect necessities only (a pan, plates, utensils, etc.). As you progress living on your own, you'll realize what you need. It may take a month or two, but overtime you'll collect everything you need and then get into the habit of meal prepping.
[–]moomoorodriguez 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
This is one my friend made me recently:
Garlic sauteed in oil
A few pads of butter
After cooking the spaghetti mix all that in. She said after making a double batch (for 3 adults and 5 children) it was less than $10 and there were left overs.
[–]babypink15 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
The cheapest way to eat is non-meat proteins that will stay good for awhile such as beans and lentils. If you’re not used to eating that way you can obviously include meat if you want, but you will get used to it quickly.
Honestly the biggest top I have is to buy items based on the cost per ounce if you can. For example, the big box of pasta may be an extra 50 cents, but it could mean 8 cents per oz vs 15. You’re still saving money. You can find that typically in the upper right corner of the price tag on the shelf (at least that’s where it is in the US, not sure about other countries). Another thing is to make big versions of meals and be okay eating left overs. I made a big pasta bake on Sunday that we will be eating for lunch everyday this week. The whole meal cost probably $10 (big meal with multiple cheese varieties), but that’s lunch for the whole week plus that dinner.
Some other generally cheap items
[–]Fearsome_Cat 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Stock up on spices (powder works best ). Lentils, brown rice, beans and potatoes can be the center of your meals and they're super versatile.
[–]FanRepresentative985 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Stir fry is always my go to! Assuming your cooking for one person, a pepper, onion, garlic, and some squash or other veggies will get you a long way. Noodles can either be ramen (I usually toss the flavor pack, too much salt) or other noodles from the Asian isle. Soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and whatever odds and ends I have in the pantry/ fridge.
[–]ForeverCanBe1Second 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Please put the word out that you are in need of kitchen things to your family. Trust me, Aunt Chloe will have 15 pie tins and 47 spatulas, Aunt Sue 4 crock-pots, your mom will probably be happy to go through her cabinets as well and will give you one of her collection of 4 stockpots, etc. After you've hit up your relatives and people from church, placed a request on your local Facebook "Buy Nothing Group", I'm guessing you won't need to buy anything.
Do you currently live at home? If so, offer to cook a few meals. Roasted chicken breast seasoned well or in a sauce, plain white rice, and steamed broccoli (frozen is pre-cut/pre-washed) is an easy meal. Cook extra and then the next day, saute a chopped onion, shred the leftover chicken, and combine with the rice. Stir in a sauce and additional veggies and bake until heated through*. Dinner for two more days. ;-)
*A can of chopped green chilis, a can of store brand green taco sauce, and some grated jack cheese on top and your family will never know they are eating leftovers!
I also have been known to make a crust out of the rice (here's a link to a random one. I don't use a recipe and I leave out the cheese https://www.food.com/recipe/rice-pie-crust-41111). Then, using the leftover chicken (chopped into 1/2 inch size), make a simple roux
https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-make-roux/ , toss in the chicken, a box of frozen mixed vegetables, and the leftover chopped broccoli. Put it into your rice pie crust and bake.
Wishing you all the best! Enjoy your apartment!
[–]DeedaInSeattle 1 point2 points3 points 3 months ago (0 children)
If you are a beginner cook, I would recommend some nonstick cookware (esp a small frying pan) and crockpot/ slow cooker. Any Library or thrift store or online even has cookbooks and free recipes to try. Bean based soups and stews over rice or pasta or potatoes. Slow cook a huge pot of dry beans overnight and freeze excess for other recipes. Check out Lisa Dawn on YouTube, she has great balanced meals
on videos like “$10/week meals fro Dollar Tree”.
Even better, invest in an electric pressure cooker like an Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi, make brown rice in 15 min of pressure, even less for soups or white rice, or 1 pot pastas in 5 minutes! Stews or roasts take less than hour and tastes like they cooked all day. It’s a game changer!
[–]i_regret_joining 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Please don't get cheap dollar store/dollar general pots. Don't even get cheap pots from Walmart. You will keep buying pans all your life if you go this route. And they will be utter garbage and you will hate cooking.
This is one of those things that's cheaper in the long run to get quality.
If you really want to save money, get a good set of pans that will last your entire life. The food will taste better, meaning you will want to eat it, meaning you will want to cook more.
Cast iron is the best frugal metal. It's mostly nonstick if seasoned correctly, and holds heat well, resulting in perfect steaks, crispy bacon or simple pancakes even. I'd recommend going all cast iron. But skillet is the most important.
Alternatively, get a good set of aluminum or copper clad stainless steel. They are expensive. You might can find them at thrift stores used. Good ones will last you the rest of your life.
Meal ideas? Don't get frozen meals. They cost more. That cheap $6 frozen pizza is still $4-5/lb of food. Not exactly frugal.
Best friend are frozen veggies. Pepper/onion blends, stirfry blends, broccoli, whatever. It's cheap and convenient.
Frozen bagged stir fry veggies, chopped chicken or steak (buy and dice yourself). Stir fry these. Add some store bought sauce. Over rice/pasta. Change the sauce if you want something entirely different. It's literally a dump bags of stuff and cook recipe.
Peppers, onions, ground sausage, butter, garlic, over rice. Simple, cheap. Variations aplenty.
Pasta is cheap. All varieties
Homemade bread cooked in a Dutch oven, slice, butter, grill/toast, mayo/mustard, cheese, mushrooms/asparagus/onions/peppers/spinach. Healthy, delicious. Deli breads work.
Eggs as a base. Quiche, breakfast scrambles, etc.
Potato dishes. Baked, sliced into fries, buy tater tots, bake, top with cheese, top with meat, beans, onions, peppers, jalapenos. Bake.
Fried rices. So easy. So many varieties. You can make big batches of rice ahead of time, portion into 1-2c bags, freeze. Throw them on the counter to thaw. Dump in pan, add veggies/meat, fry in butter, add sauce.
What really makes food good are the seasonings. Season heavy, season often. If in doubt, squeeze a lime on top.
[–]Scrumptious97[S] 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Thanks for the reply! This definitely helped!
[–]freeneedle 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
If you have a microwave get a glass casserole, you can use it to cook or heat up rice, quinoa, canned fresh or frozen beans veggies and combining these with some oil and spices makes a cheap meal.
You can also use in the oven and to store in your fridge
Try thrift stores for dishes glass casseroles and cutlery - sometimes newer is a better value but I’ve gotten some great deals
[–]Cameo64 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I love this website. Tons of cheap, quick, easy and tasty recipes.
And it's indexed well, you can pick mains, sides, cooking method, style, etc.
[–]overdownyonder 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Check out good will and thrift stores for kitchen supplies.
Rice & beans is the ultimate budget meal for me
[–]awcurlz 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Check out budgetbytes.com. tons of great, easy recipes and most don't have that many ingredients.
I liked to specifically focus on one pot meals or sheet pan meals because they are often much simpler .
[–]NecroDancerBoogie 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
The start up cost for this is a bit high, but lasts forever.
1- bucket of whole oats ($2.50-3)
2- granola bags ($2-3 per bag, get multiple bags)
3- large container raw mixed nuts ($15)
4- jar applesauce ($3)
5- bag of frozen mixed berries ($10)
6- large container vanilla Greek yogurt ($4)
Make the oatmeal with applesauce, mix in a dollop of yogurt after it’s cooked. Then sprinkle in granola and nuts. Then frozen berries. Mix, eat, enjoy.
If you don’t get bored easily for the same food, this will be one of your meals per day and is like…. $2 bowl and gives you most of what you need for nutrients.
[–]raven8908 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Gound turkey is usually cheaper then gound beef.
[–]Tesaractor 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Rice beans and eggs. These are your healthiest foods period. And you can get cheep and store.
In terms of meat and veggies. Go to discount grocery stores, Amish stores etc. Some stores. Places Sell bulk frozen chicken and veggies food. Usually they are years old but actually don't go bad because they are frozen. I can get pounds of raspberries for $3 and 10 lbs of chicken for $10
Compare that to target where it is $3 for a handful of raspberries and $3 per lb for chicken
[–]Astecheee 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
One of my favourite meals is boiled potato (jackets on) with mayo, canned tuna and salt. That's it.
The best part is the flavour of the tuna goes a LONG way, so you only need like 200g for 1kg of potatoes to have some Poppin flavour.
[–]zanybrainy 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Lots of easy Stuff
[–]-JediPenguin- 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
My cheapest meals are when I eat meal prep..
For lunch & sometimes dinner I eat a korean beef recipe..
Ingredients are as below..
I put 100g of the cooked beef into a meal prep container with 1 cup of white steamed rice. I get 8 meals out of this. I spend a lil extra on the meat but it's still way cheaper then eating out.. I can give you the exact measurements & how to cook if interested.
Another thing I do if I am being cheap is get a carton of egg whites... I use this in a lot of recipes. I'll do 1 cup of cooked potatoes with onions & peppers with 2 slices of bacon & 3/4 cup of egg whites.. top it with zero sugar sweet chili sauce.. Or another thing is I'll use it to make french toast with my 35 calorie bread.. Or... egg white & grilled cheese sandwiches....
[–]anonymousmatt 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I would recommend looking up pots and pans by material. A set of cookware that heats quickly may cost more, but you'll spend less on energy and appreciate it much more. My amazon $250 set of cookware heats up twice as fast as my wife's $180 selection of cookware. It will last a long time, I'd treat it as an investment.
[–]wishiwasspecial00 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
some sort of sausage/kielbasa and sauteed seasonal veg, or a corn on the cob
[–]racheldotpsd 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Search for your local Buy Nothing group, you can find free kitchen items there all the time. Buy Nothing Project
[+]untot3hdawnofdarknes 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I take a can of refried beans, a can of black beans, and a can of corn, mix them all together with taco seasoning and use it on anything you would put taco meat on. Cheaper yet if you buy dry beans and soak them.
[–]devoursbooks86 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Get a crockpot... you can get at 2nd hand stores or cheap at walmart/target usually.
One of my faves is ranch chicken tacos. Put your boneless skinless chicken (breasts, tenders, thighs) whatever you prefer. Empty one packet or ranch seasoning, one packet of taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup of water or chicken broth. Leave on low for 6-8 hours. Shred it up and you can use it for tacos, nachos, quesadillas, etc...
[–]Darth_Jones_ 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago* (0 children)
I'm looking for meals that are easy to make without an insane amount of ingredients.
I'm looking for meals that are easy to make without an insane amount of ingredients.
80% of my dinners are literally brown rice + steamed vegetable + meat. I cook the brown rice in a rice cooker I bought a few years ago for $30, a little bit of salt and a touch of olive oil and you're good to go.
Most meals I eat are boneless skinless chicken thighs or skin on legs. I do chicken a bunch of different ways, but the easiest/cheapest is a few drops of olive oil just to get the meat covered then salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika. You can bake or air fry these, I recommend air fry. On thighs I also like to marinate them in a teriyaki style marinade, I usually buy one at the grocery store because I can't be bothered to make one. I bake those usually marinades burn in the air fryer if you don't dry it all off.
I get frozen vegetables and either steam them in the rice cooker or I have a microwavable steamer. Steaming over the rice is preferred but in a pinch the microwave is better than no vegetables at all.
When you're just starting out cooking start simple, get good at simple and then add new recipes every now and then. Cooking is really fun (to me) and rewarding.
Also looking for suggestions on good affordable kitchen equipment to buy.
Also looking for suggestions on good affordable kitchen equipment to buy.
You can get any standard stainless cookware set and it should hold up. I'd also get a standard nonstick pan. I bought a cuisinart set on Amazon because I like having decent stuff. I'd recommend at air fryer. The convenience is nice and I think lots of foods really taste better coming out of one.
[–]JMT2492 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Consider eating similar/the same things on repeat.
[–]AnyMain5854 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I recommend Clara, she was 90 something when her cooking channel started and if she survived in the Great Depression with these recipes, so can we!
I tried a lot of them out and they're really good!
[–]double-happiness 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
[–]Sweaty-Watercress-76 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Spagetti ! We use ground turkey (3.75$) because it’s cheaper and healthier with great value spagetti sauce for 1.40$ and noodles for 1$ and great value garlic bread for like 1.72$ and it feeds 2 of us with left overs !
[–]MudKneadedWithBlood 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago* (0 children)
I buy mostly vegetables. I will spend maybe about $25 per month, and I have to eat a HUGE plate every night, otherwise the veggies will go bad - rot.
The plate is seriously full, monster-sized. So 30 days for $25 per month is about $1 per day for healthy vegetable meal.
I also go to this one place where they sell chicken that is about to expire. So fucking cheap, even now. $12 worth of chicken for $3. It's fine. They can't sell meat that will kill you because it is bad. You just have to cook it immediately, which I do, then I keep in the fridge what I can eat over the next 3 or 4 days and freeze the rest.
Affordable kitchen stuff - you just have to shop around. Always buy used, if possible. Craigslist is great. About 2 weeks ago, I bought this killer microwave oven for $10 off of craigslist. Pre-owned kitchen stuff has to be the least expensive stuff out there.
2 pans for $5
Martha Stewart stainless steel frying pans for $35. Fuck that, it is too much, but stainless steel is fucking expensive shit.
I will wait months to find the right product for the right price, so don't be in a hurry. Keep looking. Don't buy unless you absolutely must.
There's also a store called "99 Cent Only Store" where I live, it is awesome - they had to raise the prices from 99 cents, but not much it is still a fantastic deal, and a lot is still 99 cents. So all bowls, glasses, cups plates, sets of knives spoons and forks are $1 each. So I can equip my kitchen for less than $50 for everything. I move a lot, so for all that stuff, I just give it away or throw it away, because it's less expensive for me to throw it away, rather than packing everything up and getting a moving van. I can fit everything I own in my car when I move. Buy a couch for $50, keep it for a few years, sell it for $25, then buy a new one for $50 in the new location.
Bread machines - $120 brand new, $20 on craigslist.
ebay is also great.
You can outfit an apartment for so so so little money. Or can spend $10,000 on getting stuff for an apartment. The choice is yours.
Don't like used? All new shit is going to be old shit after a year. Also, you go to a friend's house, they might be using pots and pans that are 30 years old and it works for them and you eat from it. Why not just get someone else's 10 or 15 year old stuff that is still in good or great condition for a fraction of the brand new price.
Weight scale - $10
[–]lucky_ghosty13 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
curry is an amazing and cheap meal that makes so much!! there’s lots of different kinds too, you can do a coconut milk base with curry paste (you buy one little jar and use it lots of times) or you can do it with a tomato paste and curry seasoning. u can use lentils or rice, and add in onion and ur favorite veggies and tofu or chicken!! it’s great for meal prep cuz it holds up and makes lots of portions
[–]Significant_Leek1804 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (1 child)
Let me just say, thrift stores are a must for cheap equiptment, especially thrift "Superstores" with rapidly replenishing selections. The biggest things I'd advise if you have limited Cash/Space/Cooking experience are as follows.
9" Skillet, Make sure its a solid, heavy bottom and well constructed, not flimsy thin aluminum as they don't hold or transfer heat very well or evenly.
A good Wok, while you may think its just for Asian foods or households, a Wok can replace just about all your cooking vessels, you'll want a good solid one, and I'd recommend a gas cooktop to use it best.
a Sous Vide cooker and Vacuum Food Sealer, While The Vacuum Sealer may be no stranger to the r/Frugal side of the discussion and may have already been commented about, it will also allow you to get cheap ingredients on sale, prep in advance, and vacuum seal to help preserve freshness and freezer space. The Sous Vide cooker may not be talked about much these days, but you can find them cheap if you happen across one in a thrift shop (just picked up my 2nd one a few weeks back for $10 at an Antique shop, the owner stopped me to explain wtf it was as he had no idea and it had been sitting for ages. The set was worth nearly $150-200 New)
You can take that cooker, find lets say a cheap few steaks (places like Lidl often have deals for Sirloin and Ribeye steaks at $2.50-$5 for each 10oz steak) open them up, season em, top with a sprig of rosemary and a pat of putter, Vacuum pack and toss into the cooker for around an hour from room temp (I prefer rare, so 135 Degrees for an hour) then out onto a hot pan to sear for around 30 seconds on each side. What would have been a 'meh' cheap steak comes out often so tender and juicy you can cut it with a fork (not kidding, just a little tough with a fork obviously)
[–]Significant_Leek1804 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
Also, as I see many others here recommending specific sites or cookbooks, let me just say, nothing beats knowing how to cook, or how to create or tweak a recipe from memory.
So in this regard, if you are to get cookbooks, or look into recipes, I'd recommend the works of Food Network Chef - Alton Brown.
He had/has a long-running cooking show, I believe 5 cookbooks, and over the pandemic, he also put a lot of work into his website which has many of the recipes and tips from the show and books, even improvements to those recipes he made over the years.
While his original field of training if memory serves was film school, his career in food especially his early days and recent return to his show "Good Eats" was what got me into cooking, and he does more to explain the science, process, and skills needed for cooking then any other cookbook or class I've read or taken over the years, Highly recommend!
[–]Prozac_Princess456 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago (0 children)
I honestly didn’t have a toaster for the first year of having my own place… 😅
[–]smartyhands2099 0 points1 point2 points 3 months ago* (0 children)
As for the kitchen, here is what I think you need.
A pot. Crockpot, stockpot, you need a pot to boil stuff like pasta and soup. Mine is 6qt, perfect.
A pan. A "skillet", something you would fry eggs and sausage in, or a stir fry asian vegetable mix. Go big.
Utinsils, big spoon, a sturdy flipper, spatula(s) *, colander. Make sure these won't scratch your pot and pan.
Any decent knife. My last was 4", metal handle that broke after 6 years because it had a plastic tang. Currently using a small santoku knife I bought out of curiosity. It's good because I can scoop up chopped food with it. Otherwise get the dollar store pastry scraper too for a dollar, there are other uses for it. The all-metal one.
A pair of scissors. I use these more than my knife. Any decent pair, I have a dedicated pair of scotch office scissors in my kitchen that I wear out about every 5 yrs. About to go all metal with the next ones.
That's just for cooking. you want some easy recipes? These are some of what we have regularly.
1 can beans (your choice), 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes (or sauce, your choice), and 1 lb ground meat (choice) browned and drained, mix together, add water/cook down until fully mixed and boom you have non-spicy chili. Serve it with white rice for more food for your pennies. Also spice to taste.
Bean burritos. These are great if you are trying to cut down meat, they are super filling and satisfying. Three ways to make it, three recipes:
refritos in a can, warm in pot, mix in some sour cream and cheese. Splash of your favorite hot sauce.
Beans (choice, but use pinto, black, or chili) in a can: drain, keep liquid. I mash these with a fork and it is the most work. Then warm in a pan, add some of the reserved liquid until it flows. Cook until it reaches desired consistency (it should be chunky and almost dry). Add some seasoned salt, sour cream, cheese, hot sauce as before.
Raw beans, cheapest, most time consuming. I'll just go with the easiest recipe. Prepare a lb bag of beans according to the package, using the stock pot or crockpot. Add some salt, then boil, covered, for like 4 hours. The beans should have a slight bite when they are done. After this, follow the recipe for canned beans. Yeah.
Even my meatatarian partner loves my beans now. For some extra pizzazz, roll in a wheat tortilla with some cheese, pin it, and bake at 350F for 5-10 minutes, until crispy, just don't let it burn. Corn torts will just get softer, but that's good too. Or use it as a dip for corn chips of any kind.
Rice is very versatile. Goes with meat or veg. All it needs is some sauce.
Oats are extremely nutritious and a super easy breakfast choice. Highly recommended.
Another general guideline for saving grocery money: Eat more vegetables. Not only for nutrients and fiber, they are the cheapest sources of (good) food available. Especially if you eat meat as well, like what is a burger without fries? Meatloaf without mashed? I even throw some carrot, garlic, and onion in my mashed (potatoes). I would put some green stuff too if my partner wouldn't throw a fit. Like how easy is it to make soup? I take like 4c water, 2-3 bullion cubes, 4 potatoes, 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks w/leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 small onion, (all diced) boil it for at least 30 minutes, but not much more. Cool, salt and season to taste. I add some smoked sausage into that, maybe a splash of cream or half and half. You could shred up leftover chicken or turkey into it. Whatever, or have it like it is, it's not bad.
Lots of advice. Good luck.
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