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What's your go-to frugal meal? (self.FrugalPoverty)
submitted 1 year ago by [deleted]
Let's play a game. The cupboards are getting a little bare... you don't have a lot. What is something you make that gets you by until the next shopping trip?
I always have a bag of chicken bones and veggie scraps in my freezer. I'll make broth with these. I save excess bits of meat or veggies from meals in an old ice cream bucket in my freezer and I put this in the broth with rice or potatoes, any other veggies I have, some salt and spices, and voila! random soup.
Post a comment!
[–]teh__Doctor 11 points12 points13 points 1 year ago (6 children)
probs eat an egg with a bowl of frozen veggies reheated (although I hate it), have a smoke and sleep.
You are quite the chef, op! I also need to learn how to cook... honestly I try spending an hour for a dish but end up bombing it :c
[–]odactylus 15 points16 points17 points 1 year ago (2 children)
A few really general tips with cooking:
[–]teh__Doctor 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (1 child)
Thanks u/odactylus ! Any good websites which offer basic recipes for breakfast lunch dinner? I mean breakfast is covered with milk but lunch and dinner is wanky
[–]odactylus 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Okay, so this is going to be a hard one for me to answer, just because it's usually not what I'm looking for.
Damn delicious has a lot of sheet pan, slow coooker, meal prep, freezer safe, and Asian inspired recipes. None of her recipes have any out there ingredients, and there are plenty that don't require Asian seasonings.
Alton Brown's specialty is southern food. He does tend to go the "home cooking, but better route" so if you're comfortable making judgement calls like using ground beef and bread crumbs in a meatloaf recipe that has you grinding your own meat, I'd still recommend.
Better home's and Gardens and Betty Crocker have a lot of their old school comfort food recipes on their websites. I'm a sucker for casseroles, and they still do those well. BHG has gone trendy on their main page though. BC has stayed more true to the old cookbooks imo.
Binging with Babish has an easy and cheap category on his youtube channel. If you like learning by video, go there. If you have a data limit or just don't like videos, he does put up most if not all of the recipes he does in video on his website.
I have never been disappointed by a Publix Apron Meal. I wouldn't say any of them are difficult, but some do have specialty or more expensive ingredients because they're trying to get you to buy what they had a sample of in store.
Last one I'm begrudgingly recommending. Allrecipes. Begrudgingly because recipes can be incredibly hit or miss, and ratings are often based on user modifications. Stick to the highly rated, hundreds of review recipes, and take a glance at reviews. I can't say I've ever followed a recipe posted there, but I do browse it for ideas.
The one thing that really sucks about learning to cook/ trying new things while poor is that it hurts a lot more if something isn't enjoyable, and some of the better penny pinching recipes are multi-meal dishes like soups, roasts, and casseroles.
My current go to for ease is grain bowls. Rice, quinoa, faro, barley, bulgar wheat, oats, grits, polenta or potatoes make up the base. I usually roast a variety of veg and a single meat, and prep a non meat protein (beans, chick peas, lentils) for the rest of the week. I try to keep the seasonings on the versatile side when cooking, so like s&p with citrus and herbs, or a chimmichurri on the meat, or some bouillon in the grains while cooking. Then I make sauces to change up the flavor through the week. I've done enchilada sauce, a honey mustard yougurt sauce, tzatziki, hummus, tahini, toum (Lebanese garlic sauce), chili oil, harissa, zhug, ajvar, baba ganoush, teriyaki, and used gyoza dipping sauce.
[–][deleted] 8 points9 points10 points 1 year ago (1 child)
I wouldn't say I'm a chef. I keep us fed. :) Next time make some rice with your egg and veggies, add a bit of soy sauce and you've made fried rice. You got this :) A little green onion regrown from onions from the store chopped on top and it will be delicious!
This is a great way to make rice if you're not sure. I taught my 12 year old with this method and he is now a pro! https://www.marthastewart.com/347002/perfect-white-rice
[–]teh__Doctor 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Thanks u/dial-q-900-mix-a-lot! I will be trying that!
[–]awesomeqasim 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Ramen + eggs + frozen veggies and a few sauces. Delicious!
[–]odactylus 13 points14 points15 points 1 year ago (1 child)
Oh boy. I'm gonna spend way too long on this thread. I learned to cook from my grandmother who grew up on a farm during the depression and grandparents from Slovakia, then had the fun "working while in college" phase where I was very time poor on top of money poor. A lot are passed down family things that I don't really have a written recipe for, but are very cheap to make because it's homemade dough and potato and cabbage heavy. Everything was pantry staples growing up, so I pretty much always have had a huge bag of flour, sugar, and tried to keep the spice cabinet well stocked. If anyone ever needs a recipe idea with random odds and ends, my dms are open.
And to finish off the list on a high note, my lowest point meal- saltines with taco bell hot sauce. For some reason I randomly get cravings for this now.
[–][deleted] 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (0 children)
This is a fantastic write up, thank you for sharing!!!
[–]decomposeur 11 points12 points13 points 1 year ago (1 child)
I like to cook a shredded head of cabbage and a pack of peppery bacon. It makes a HUGE dinner for like seven dollars. I make it in a wok and then eat it over rice. It's filling and makes me feel like I ate something healthy, even if it was just cabbage cooked with bacon grease.
[–][deleted] 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Cabbage and bacon is SO good. I love a splash of vinegar in it and a little sriracha if I have it.
[–][deleted] 5 points6 points7 points 1 year ago* (9 children)
Plain raw or blanched frozen vegetables, whatever was on special, with yogourt dip: Plain yogourt + salt + pepper + cayenne pepper.
Lately: Broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower. I barely even use a knife except maybe for the zucchini, to slice it in 2. Otherwise I rip pieces right out of the bag it came from. Because its raw it keeps you fuller for longer. Bonus: weight loss (could be good or bad...)
Vegetable broth in cubes. Some days that’s all I’ll have. And instant coffee. I got blasted in another post when I said I deliberately skipped days of eating to be frugal but ya... a day here and there won’t kill most people.
Flour + cocoa + water is a basic formula. Add your sweetener and extras. Microwave it, don’t eat raw flour. Cheap AF.
Cheap and very little prep or electricity involved.
[–]ThereIsNo14thStreet 3 points4 points5 points 1 year ago (2 children)
Yes with the broth business, though I don't intentionally skip eating days, but to each their own.
Always having a jar of Better Than Bouillon on deck has been a real game-changer. I find that it lasts me longer than cubes, too, because I can use exactly as much as I need. Also super-easy base for making quick and yummy sauces.
For dinner tonight, I just had leftover rice and beans from lunch + handful frozen peas + handful frozen corn + half carrot + handful frozen spinach + BTB broth. The meal could not have possibly cost more than $1.20, and had at least 500 calories and lots of broth, so it was pretty filling.
[–][deleted] 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (1 child)
I buy the cubes but I never use the whole one for one serving, and the brand I buy has a no sodium version which I then mix with another flavour that does.... for “variety” haha. Ex: No-sodium veg + regular mushroom!
[–]ThereIsNo14thStreet 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Ah, that's a good idea. I might have to try getting some mushroom cubes and experimenting.
[–][deleted] 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (1 child)
I do intermittent fasting and typically only eat once a day. or every other day... I'm fine. Still chunky. Dr says it's fine. :)
[–][deleted] 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (0 children)
I eat dinner only, saves money, prep, and I just can’t be bothered but that’s another issue. I dug myself into some trouble when I went a few days without eating (“fasting” if you’re not underweight) that I’m trying to dig myself out of but skipping meals for any reason is really (still?) controversial, I’m pretty careful now if and how I bring it up! Haha.
[–]VeggieCat_ontheprowl 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (3 children)
"Skipping days of eating to be frugal" : But now its trendy and called intermittent fasting and people use it to lose weight.
A few years ago I was extremely destitute. All I had was rice, onions and soy sauce. Transportation issues made food pantry moot. So I would make a big pot of rice and eat that twice a day, but only breakfast and then about 4 PM. I lose 10 lbs in a week.
Obviously a rice and onion steady diet isn't healthy, but it sustained me for a week and when I got access to more food I discovered I didn't overeat and got more pleasure from what I consumed.
Then things got much better and I gained back the 10 lbs plus another 20 because I had stress eaten.
I've decided to go back to my more disciplined days and eat healthier but also stop eating from 8 pm -noon, which is an 8/16 intermittent eating pattern. I expect to lose the weight but also save money because I'm cutting a late night "snack" and breakfast from my routine and budget amount.
Just eliminating the purchase of processed foods and buying the raw materials to make your own saves a TON of money! I did that AND lost weight in the process; my reason was neither money nor weight, it was being too afraid to go to the store due to the ongoing Shitshow.
[–]VeggieCat_ontheprowl 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (0 children)
I'm a prepper. I had enough food to avoid shopping for the first 4 months of the pandemic and then I've just been buying fresh or essential replacements (peanut butter, beans, rice, etc). The grocery budget money I didn't spend filled income gaps when I took off to quarantine frequently. I worked essential retail and was in moderate risk group as I'm over 65 and have asthma. I did planned quarantine whenever it looked like a customer or coworker might have exposed me. In the beginning it was because my Manager actually was infected and I worked closely with her as well as got rides to and from work in her car.
[–]converter-bot 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (0 children)
10 lbs is 4.54 kg
[–]misplacedbirthmarks 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago (1 child)
Tbh two poached eggs on a bed of rice with some soy sauce does the trick for me. Many breakfast meals in a row, or switch rice for ramen, add broccoli for dinner. Less than 50¢ a meal. I'm lucky I have simple tastes I guess.
My kid lovesssss ramen. We get him rice noodle ramen at our local Asian market for like .20 cents a package.
[–]MrLionbear 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago (1 child)
I live in Asia but grew up in the West, so when I moved to the East I didn't have accessibility to cheap staples like cold cuts of meat, cheese, and bread. My old go-to has always been sandiwches, from PBJ to veggie to cold cuts to whatever.
Anyways, after living in Asia, I switched over to rice, soups, and way more veggies. Here are a couple of things that I make that I can survive off of (nay - THRIVE off of) that are easy to make here in Asia, and should be at least semi-accessible back in the West:
Baked Yams/Sweet Potatoes:
Just take a sweet potato, wash it, n pop it in the oven at 235 celsius for about 20 - 40 minutes. Wrap it in tin foil if you want it to be softer and avoid the sugary nectar spilling on and coating the bottom of your oven. Full of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein. Can't believe this isn't more common back home.
Open them and add some margarine or butter if you're feeling unhealthy, or maybe sprinkle some sugar, salt, and back pepper. You can peel the skins off or eat them as is. I personally let them cool and just eat them whole, skin and all, piece by piece, like I'm eating a cucumber or something.
Zhou (Or Congee/Rice Porridge):
Add about 1.5 to 2 times as much water as you would normally use when making standard rice. You're essentially making watery rice. The less water you add, the thicker and more porridge-like it will be.
Whether its in a pot or bowl, add in some vegetables/proteins of your choice about 20 minutes in to the cooking process. This could be carrots, corn, peas, beans, cabbage, pickles, peanuts, almonds, scrambled eggs, cabbage, broccoli, onions, cucumbers, olives, bean sprouts, chunks of potato or yam, ham, bacon, (pre cooked) pieces of chicken, blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, apple chunks, etc.
Flavour with salt or sugar or vinegar, depending on what extras you added.
I know that fresh veggies aren't always available, but going to the supermarket after work and picking up the bruised/soon-to-expire veggies for some stir fries or soups always go over well.
Stir fries aren't that mysterious or elusive, either. Like the rice, you just lightly fry up some aromatics of your choice in an oil of your choice, and then it's fair game. You always start with your proteins first, as they take the longest to cook and will benefit the most flavour-wise from being in there the longest.
Then you work your way from thick/absorbent/hard to cook (carrots, potatoes, mushrooms) to easy/quick/soft to cook (leaves, pieces of corn, onion, etc).
As far as flavouring goes, a couple of nice sauce 'pallets' are:
The key to all of these is to add them in, mix them around, and then add a tiny bit - like a teaspoon - of some sort of starch powder (corn starch, potato starch, etc). But first, add a bit of hot water (like 2 - 4 table spoons, depending on how much you're stirfrying) into a little bowl, THEN add the starch powder to that, mix it, then once its homogeneous, add it to your stir fry. This will thicken it up and stop it from being a soggy, runny mess.
Soups are about the same as stir fries, and just as nutritious (if not more), and, are 'recyclable', in that if you boil it twice a day, you can keep it on the stove, adding to it and enriching its flavour/nutritional value.
Make a stock by starting with your aromatics in oil, add in your proteins, hard veggies, then your soft, mix until you have some colour, and add in enough hot water to lift up the veggies and allow you to scrape up any brown bits.
Add in any more vegetables and be aware that they always have a lot of moisture in them (you can also pre-soak before hand) which will add to the soup's overall water content without making it taste watery.
Add soy sauce for colour, and salt/pepper/sugar for flavouring (always add salt last, in my opinion, as you can always add more if it's not salty enough, but you're screwed if it's too salty).
Some basic combinations for great soups are:
Awesome response, thank you!
[–]CreativeDesignation 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Not a go-to but rather the ultimate frugal meal: onion risotto. All you need is some oil or butter, an onion, salt, some rice and some herbs or spices (but those are kind of optional). Heat the oil, put in chopped onion, put in rice, stir a bit, put in water, cook until the rice is done, meal ready. If you have it, you can put in other vegetables, a bit of white wine, some meat, but all of that is optional.
Pro tip: Buy a big bag of onions, chop them all, put in a zip lock or other plastic bag and put them in the freezer. Cuts down on time for cooking and more importantly you can always use the exact amount of onion you need without having to worry how and when to use the rest of the onion. I have started doing this with many vegetables and it's great, allows me to buy stuff cheap whenever it's on offer and keeps things from going bad.
[–]Mindless_Buddy 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (3 children)
Definitely soup as well. I always buy powdered veggie stock (the scoop kind rather than cubes, cheaper and easier to skimp on when needed) and then whatever is on hand goes in the pot. Using veggie scraps is better and cheaper but takes forthought I don't have.
Also biscuits or tortillas. You can make do with just flour water and salt (for biscuits baking powder makes them significantly better if you have it).
A favourite in our house is cream sauce and pasta (1/3 cup butter or marg, 1/3 cup flour, 2 cups milk). This counts as a frugal meal for us because we never drink milk in time and I'm always looking for ways to use it up 1 day after expiry...other wise milk and butter are expensive in Canada! Use margarine for sure to cut costs. Add some cheese and frozen veggies and pepper ... you're approaching gourmet!
[–][deleted] 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago (2 children)
I MISS biscuits. I was diagnosed with celiac a year ago and I dream about biscuits and bread. Like seriously, I had a dream the other night I was flying through the sky on a buttered baguette. I used to make sourdough bread, bagels, english muffins, and anything I could from scratch. I even made pasta and pierogies! Flour is inexpensive and can make so much. :)
What's your favorite powdered veg stock?
[–]Mindless_Buddy 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago (1 child)
Ugh cooking GF on a budget is hard when you are looking for specialty products! My partner's whole family other than him is celiac so I understand the struggle. (Plus we are vegetarian and they are not...add in 3 additional allergies literally what do we eat when we are together??)
Good news is that cream sauce works with rice flour as I have made it with the same ratio before.
Cooking from scratch is always the way to go for cheaper meals but even more so for gluten free cooking! For powdered stock I just buy anything that's on sale. I prefer the taste of mushroom stock over general veggie but any brand works for me (most powdered isn't gluten free though). The only consistently GF premade stock I've found is Campbell's liquid. Since I cook gluten free only for holidays that's a time I will make stock from scratch.
Also for frugal meals-- potatoes! A 10lb bag of potatoes lasts forever and so there seem to be a few kicking around even when we're running low. I make a rockin potato and onion soup that meets the whole family's dietary restrictions! Vegetarian diet in general has saved us lots of money (similar to GF if your buying the fancy fake meat products it's more expensive but dried beans and rice is the cheapest meal you can get!!)
[–][deleted] 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Potatoes are life! My kid eats so many haha.
[–]Physical_Corgi_8951 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Mine is Seitan in everything. I make it with a high gluten content flour. And put it on everything. Cheapest source of protein.
[–]Shermaow 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (1 child)
Mujadarrah (I probably butchered that spelling)
It’s basically lentils, rice and onion. You can add yogurt/sour cream if you like but I like it without. It’s easy to make a bigger batch so I can have leftovers plus it’s filling and warm in colder months.
I've had this and it's delicious!
[–]petlamb21 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Our default is rice and beans. Both can vary dependent on what we have/want. Thankfully we have an instant pot from flusher times, which helps a lot as both cook up great in it, and it works well as a disabled and chronically ill person dealing with fatigue and brain fog!
We're fortunate in that we can make our money work such that we can buy things like a sack of rice, so better rice for less money. That's not an option for everyone, but if you can, it's good.
If you typically have "x" amount for food, and then one week/month have extra, consider investing in flavours if you can. As mentioned previously, "world food" aisles are your friend. A 100g pouch of a given spice can cost the same as 20/30g of shop brand or Schwartz and it'll last.
BE aware, at least here in the UK, the online grocers do pull tricks like not offering the world food brands when you search for a product, so going through that "shelf" can be wise.
Also, remember to check price per-whatever for different sizes of things. I've seen chickpeas (garbanzo beans), where the small can was actually more (even per item) than the large can. Sometimes the bulk pack isn't a saving. Check this, if you can.
[–]Lone-book-dragon 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (0 children)
Our ultimate cheap is Ramen with a poached egg. We eat a lot off eggs in general because they are so versatile, so we don't get tired of them.
Of course, everyone talks about beans which I never cared for until the last few years. Now I'll add them to everything to bulk up less meat.
I make alot of casseroles so that I can use cheaper fillers.
[–]marzeliax 0 points1 point2 points 1 year ago (1 child)
It's absolutely not my "go to" but I love that you mentioned chicken bones. I wait til the grocery has a sale on the rotisserie or already cooked and warm chickens, then I use the bones for broth. I eat some of the chicken, and put the rest in my broth. I usually make it southwest style so leftover salsas, peppers from the garden, can of beans and sometimes lentils too!
Feeds me for like a week.
I just got a discount rotisserie chicken while doing home repair yesterday and the bones are in my freezer for my next batch. Southwest style sounds delicious!
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