Ideas for dinners

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Chrissteeena, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. Chrissteeena

    Chrissteeena Companion

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    :help: I need ideas!!!!! Money is really, really, really tight right now. It probably will be for quite a while... but our eating shouldn't suffer from it. I just need ideas of things I can make on the cheaper side. We just keep eating the same things... hot dogs, a burger, soup, pasta...... occasionally if it's on sale we have chicken cordon-blu but it's rare. I am sick of the same things over and over again. Julius doesn't eat ham or pork and neither of us eat seafood. I am clueless as to what to buy. He keeps saying that to make 'real meals' is going to be way too expensive. :help: Any one have any ideas? :whistle: If I have to eat soup one more time I may just freak out LOL:whistle: (oh and it's on sale this week buy 1 get one free ha!)
     
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  3. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Any kind of Mexican food is cheap and easy. When I was younger and broke, I used to make a big pot of homemade pinto beans (they are delicious and very filling). With those you can make refried beans - I make them without adding fat by just smashing them. Then you can serve them in tortillas, etc.
     
  4. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Breakfast for dinner! Eggs and bread are inexpensive and you could make omlettes, french toast, etc. That's what I always make for dinner if I've been making the same old things all the time and want something different.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I'm not a big meat eater, so I do a lot of vegetarian meals. They're generally quite a bit cheaper as well.

    When I want meat, I'll usually stretch it out for several meals. Last week I bought a package of three boneless chicken breasts, and I ate pretty much all week from it. I boiled the chicken first. Then I used canned biscuits to make dumplings. I had enough dumplings for supper and lunch the next day. I made a chicken casserole (also two meals)that only needed a can of cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, the chicken, and a box of stuffing mix. I also made chicken salad that I ate from four times.

    Of course, don't think I want chicken again for awhile!

    It's also a lot cheaper to actually COOK than to use pre-packaged or prepared items. You could probably find some recipes for cheap meals online.
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    A grocery store nearby has meat on sale 2 for 1 just about every week. I try to get it then.

    I made this last week. Kind of like stuffed cabbage:

    Brown ground turkey with onions (if you like them). Add cooked rice and a can of stewed tomatoes. Steam some cabbage leaves (on stove or in micro). Layer cabbage leaves, then meat/rice mix, pour most of a can of Campbell's tomato soup over it, top with more cabbage leaves. Pour some soup on top. Cover and bake.

    You can use the same filling and stuff it into green peppers, top with the soup.

    Make a big pot of rice and beans and use it as a side dish all week. The rice and beans together makes a good protein. My neighbor from Puerto Rico taught me how to make the beans. I use the canned, but you can make them cheaper with the dried beans, just soak them overnight.

    Black beans - first saute onions and green peppers, I add in some chorizo sausage. Add large can of black beans, one bouillon cube, some steamed potato chunks (in microsave), a bay leaf, some thyme, a little garlic. Add any other spanish seasoning you like (sofrito, recaito, cumin, adobo). Simmer, uncovered.

    If you like turkey sausage, it is pretty cheap and cooks quickly. Just saute with onions and green pepper, maybe some sliced cabbage, mushrooms, anything. Serve over rice. I add either tomato bouillon or even ketchup to the mixture to add liquid.

    Buy the cheapest chicken parts you can and boil them until cooked. Take the meat off and use for chicken salad, chicken tacos or enchiladas, or in soup. Save the bones and liquid for soup, or just the liquid to cook your rice in.

    A ham and cheese sandwich seems more like dinner when you add some sliced sweet pickle, then pan fry the sandwich until the cheese is melted and the bread is browned.

    In a pinch, we make warm tuna pasta salad. Boil pasta shells or elbows or bowties. Add large can of tuna (drained), chopped celery, mayo. Stir. We love it. Add shredded carrot for more nutrition.

    Sometimes when I'm lazy, I just make up a plate of nachos.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Study the weekly grocery store ads. They cycle through the staple items every 4-6 weeks depending on the store. Once you've figured out the cycles, buy enough to get through to the next time those items go on sale. If you combine that with coupons, you can buy "real" food fairly cheaply. I love to cook so I make big meals, but I feed me and my three boys for around $300 a month, including my diet coke addiction.

    Most meats go on sale regularly. I can buy chicken for $1.29/lb, lean ground beef for $1.19/lb and London Broil for $1.99/lb. I buy in bulk, then freeze in dinner size portions. I also buy staple items in bulk, then transfer them to storage containers.

    Once you're organized, you'll be amazed at how cheaply you can feed yourselves.
     
  8. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    If you can get a roast on sale; it can go a long way...I put mine in a crockpot and then make several dishes from it...1. serve in tortillas 2. add a little BBQ sauce and serve on hamburger buns or toast 3. add veggies and beef stock and make a great soup 4. add some egg noodles, peas, carrots & gravy and the obvious...5. serve with potatoes and gravy for a great meal! :)
     
  9. Blue

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    Stretch your meat by making casseroles, pasta, and meat pies. Meat and veggies with curry sauce over rice.
    Hot dogs as meat on homemade pizza.
    Use Bisquick for impossible pies.
    Stir fry chicken with lots of veggies.
    Use sauces to give variety. I simply put Teriyaki sauce on chicken the other night, and broiled it. Delicious. I served it over rice. BBQ sauce can take a meal in a new direction.
    I use cream of chicken (mushroom) soup and mix with cooked chicken and veggies, top with potatoes and have chicken pot pie.

    Buy a whole fryer, and bake it like a turkey. You will have a lot of meat to use. I use chicken in my pasta sauce, both cooked whole chicken, and ground chicken.

    As mentioned, Mexican food is cheap. I find that you can use:
    meat, fried beans, and rice, combine it differently, season it and have a large variety of dishes. Look at some recipes and see what sounds good. Here is one of my husband's favorites:
    1 can tomato sauce
    1 can black beans
    1 can corn
    1/4 cup taco flavoring

    Mix above together and top with

    1/2 cup (or so) of crushed taco chips
    1 cup cheese

    Bake in oven until hot. Top with sour cream, etc. if desired.

    Cheap, easy, fast, and so yummy.
     
  10. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    ...and don't be embarrased to ask for help. Go to a food bank if you are hurting. That is what they are for.
     
  11. Chrissteeena

    Chrissteeena Companion

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    Jan 16, 2010

    Thanks everyone for some awesome ideas. =) I think I am going to end up doing a breakfast for dinner one day this week. My bf works out in Orlando one day a week for an internship and doesn't get home until almost 10p.m. (1 1/2 commute back to Tampa). Soooo I think I may have some of his fav. banana pancakes ready for him when he gets home. Mexican sounds pretty good also ... =)
     
  12. Chrissteeena

    Chrissteeena Companion

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    I am going to try this for a dinner this week. Pancakes though.. maybe french toast for me (brought back memories of my mom making it when I was little). I love the egg idea but I have to be very careful .. if I eat too much w/o having enough lactaid pills my stomach is in knots for days.... stinks being lactose intolerant.
     
  13. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    We had waffles for dinner tonight. I make turkey bacon for protein, and canned fruit. Even though I find it not diet friendly, it sure was good and satisfying.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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  15. teach1st

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    Jan 17, 2010

    I make a tater tot casserole that lasts us 2-3 days.

    tater tots
    2 pounds of ground beef (we use turkey meat, you can get it frozen for about 99 cents per pound here.)
    1 big can of cream of mushroom soup
    1 box of cream cheese (optional)
    shreded cheese (my family has used sliced cheese in the past)

    tater tots on bottom, then meat and cream mixture. Cheese, tater tots again and then cheese again. Bake until tater tots are finished.

    It is really good and it lasts us awhile.
     
  16. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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    One of my favorite cost effective dinners is red beans and rice.

    I take sausage (keibasa) and brown it with a little olive oil and cajun seasoning. Then I add a can of kidney beans (red) drained and a can of black beans (drained) to the sausage. I let it marinate and cook for about a half hour, stirring often. Last time I made it, I added a package of frozen gumbo style veggies. Then I cook up some rice and once it's cooked, I add it to the pot, and stir well. Then I let it marinate together before serving.

    I've been trying to menu plan, so I don't overspend at the grocery store. It's been nice to go in with a plan! I visit this website to get ideas: http://orgjunkie.com/menu-plan-monday

    Also, look at the ads for your local grocery store and then plan menus around that. That's been very helpful! MM brought up a good point, buy things that you use often in bulk. It might seem like a stretch at first, but think about, you won't have to buy those items for awhile. I do this often with Kroger's frozen veggies. They are great recipe starters! Try to look around your pantry and see what you can use for new meals, just google eat from the pantry challenge.

    I'm single and live with a roommate, so I can't buy things in bulk as much as I want, we share freezer space, but I can already tell a big difference. I use my crockpot often, and heat up leftovers for lunch.

    However, my favorite go to meal is just browning up some chicken/pork in a skillet with some cut up peppers and onions with some rice. YUMMY! Of course, I usually use the three pepper and onion blend to save time! :)

    Good luck!
     
  17. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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  18. Proud2BATeacher

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  19. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I like hamburger pie--Brown some ground beef and onion, add in a package of frozen mixed vegetables and cook (covered) for 5 min. Then, stir in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 min. Pour into a oven-safe casserole dish, and cover with a layer of mashed potatoes (I use the box ones) or tater tots. Bake at 375 for 20 min or until heated through.

    ETA: I've also added a can of kidney beans or whatever I have to stretch the ground beef. I've even made it with beans and lentils when I didn't have the meat...
     
  20. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Here's a simple chicken curry.

    I know that chicken can be expensive, but if you cut it in cubes and serve over rice, it goes farther. I've found the best deal on chicken is Trader Joes because they sell it in smaller quantities. Although, buying and freezing the extra from the larger pack at the grocery store is probably more economical.

    2 chicken breasts - cubed
    1 can Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, or Celery soup
    1 small can of cubed pineapple
    1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
    2-4 tablespoons of curry power (to taste)

    cube, then stir fry the chicken then just add the other ingredients and simmer to blend the flavors. serve over white rice.

    You can top it with condiments like raisins, shredded coconut, and almonds.
     
  21. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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  22. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    That sounds good, Special-t. Think I'll try it.

    My mother used to make a Jiffy mix tuna casserole with cream of celery soup on top (sound like the 50s?) that I went crazy over. You made the dough, rolled it out, added tuna (with mayo?) and celery, rolled it up, and poured the soup over it. Bake uncovered.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Any recipe that calls for a fair amount of rice or beans will likely be pretty cheap. Casseroles or one-pot meals can be super inexpensive. All you need is a starch (rice, potatoes, pasta), a protein (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, beans), a vegetable (corn, green beans, carrots), and something to make it all stick together (cream soup, tomato sauce, cheese). Experiment. :)

    Here are some of the things we do for dinner on the cheap:

    Tuna Casserole
    7-8 oz. package of noodles (shell-shaped are best)
    1 can tuna, drained
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1/2 C milk
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Optional potato chips, crackers, or bread crumbs for topping

    Cook noodles al dente; drain. While noodles are draining, combine tuna, soup, and milk. Heat for a few minutes until warm. Return the noodles to the pot and combine.

    This can be served as is, or you can bake it for 15-30 minutes with crushed chips or crackers or breadcrumbs on top if you want.

    For the noodles, I recommend getting the cheap, imported stuff from the Mexican section at the store. The noodles are usually smaller and come in random shapes like shells, alphabet letters, and tiny rings. A 7 or 8 oz. bag of these noodles usually costs around 30 cents.


    Hamburger Gravy
    1 lb. ground beef or turkey
    1/2 onion, diced
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1/4 C milk
    Garlic or garlic powder
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Brown ground beef or turkey and saute onions and garlic. Add cream soup and mix well. Add milk if it seems too thick. Add seasonings to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes and with green beans or corn on the side.


    Cassie's Famous Chili (caution: makes a TON of chili)
    1 lb. ground beef or turkey, cooked and drained
    1 onion, diced and sauteed
    1-2 cans kidney beans, drained
    1 can pinto beans, drained
    1 can black beans, drained
    1 package frozen corn kernals
    1 large (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
    1-2 small cans (6-8 oz.) tomato sauce
    1 T Roasted red pepper flakes
    1 T Cayenne pepper
    Any hot spice mix you like (Mrs. Dash, etc.)
    Salt and pepper to taste

    When it comes to the spices, just add what you like to make it as hot or mild as you like. You'll know it's right because it will smell "right". Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. Serve it over rice or saltine crackers, with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and/or sour cream.

    If you need to make an even larger pot of chili, just add more beans and diced tomatoes. Both those things bulk up the meal very well.


    Lutheran Goulash
    1 lb. ground beef or turkey, cooked and drained
    1/2 onion, optional, diced and sauteed
    1 can tomato sauce
    1-2 C frozen corn kernals
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Mix it all together. Yum!
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Here's what we had last night--quick, cheap and easy. (Adding 3 cups of carrot chunks will make the met go further).

    Greek Chicken and Potato Bake

    1 lb. boneless chicken breast cut into cubes(can substitute sausage chunks)
    4 cups potato chunks
    1 large onion, diced
    4-5 cloves of garlic, finely crushed
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 can diced tomotoes, well-drained
    1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)

    Combine meat, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake, covered, at 350 for about 45 minutes until meat is almost cooked through and veggies are tender. Uncover, stir in diced tomatoes and sprinkle with feta. Bake for 10-15 minutes more. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

    Toss all into casserole dish and drizzle with
     
  25. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Chili is a great idea and I'm making that tomorrow. If you want to save money just omit the meat since you're getting great protein with the beans. To stretch mine I am adding half a box of elbow macaroni (I'm using Ronzoni Smart Taste but you can use a cheaper brand). For spices I'm doing a blend of cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and a bit of salt.
     
  26. Chrissteeena

    Chrissteeena Companion

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    I've never actually eaten chili before. I think I am going to try that soon. I'm a pretty picky eater so in order for me to try new things my boyfriend has to almost force me. Though I did try beets the other day... and liked them.

    I decided to make a mac n' cheese, a veggie stir fry, pancakes and sausage, pizza bagels, a meatloaf, >something twice lol< and then we are using a gift card that we got to Applebees and actually going out on Friday night. Overall the meals didn't cost too much. I'm going to try a bunch of these meals soon. Thanks again for the ideas =)
     
  27. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    wow, the first link on that page is for www.Restaurant.com. I found my favorite Indian place has a $25 gift certificate for $10. Then I used the coupon code INDULGE from couponmom.com and got the certificate for $2. Amazing!! That rivals eating at home!
     
  28. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I have used that site before and got a gift certificate for someone for their bday but there aren't any restaurants on there in my area that I really like.
     
  29. goopp

    goopp Devotee

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    I made chili tonight because my grocery budget for the week was pretty non-existant. I make it quick and easy...
    2 lbs. ground turkey
    2 cans diced tomatoes with basil/garlic
    1 large jar of hot salsa
    1 can rotel tomatoes
    2 cans of light red kidney beans

    brown the turkey, add everything else and let it simmer.

    I serve mine over rice (brown or white) to stretch it. We always eat it that way, so I don't really like it without rice any more.

    We also eat what I call Salsa Chicken. I cut 3 chicken breasts into about 3 pieces each. Brown them in a frying pan with a little olive oil. When the chicken is cooked, top with lime/garlic salsa (or any kind, that's just what we like...Walmart brand). Let it simmer for a little while. Serve over brown rice.
     
  30. goopp

    goopp Devotee

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    The best part about chili or salsa chicken is that there are lots of leftovers. Both are low fat/low in calories, so I eat them for lunch at school. Easy to warm up!
     
  31. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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  32. Danny'sNanny

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    One thing about Restaurant.com.

    I got a $25 gift certificate for Christmas, but you have to spend $50 to use it, not counting drinks.

    I'm saving it and going out with hubby for our birthdays next month.
     
  33. Tbelle1035

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    Check out allrecipes.com. It's free, and there are tons of great recipes on it!
     
  34. TeacherShelly

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    The one I got is a $25 certificate with a minimum purchase of $35, not counting alcohol. So we'll end up spending at least $12 for dinner (not the $2 that enticed me into purchasing it!). And it is only valid for dinner. But, we've spent $12 at Wendy's for dinner before. I'd rather have a delicious Indian buffet!
     
  35. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    So true.
     
  36. Hartlepool

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    Ive always admired mash n beans as a meal !:)
     
  37. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Adding a can of black beans in with the salsa stretches this also. You can top with a little bit of shredded cheese, as well.
     
  38. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I bought a whole chicken at Safeway for $3.50. I am baking it. We will have a meat, potatoes, gravy, veggie dinner. Then I will use the leftovers for BBQ Chicken San and a Mexican dish. If there is any left, maybe a pasta dish.
     
  39. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I always buy extra chicken breasts when they are on sale. They are so versaltile! But my favorite low budget money is fried rice - rice (white or brown) with whatever leftover meat or vegetables I have. You can put a little bit of this and a little bit of that, fry it is a little olive oil, add the rice, a couple of scrambled eggs, salt, pepper, garlic or garlic salt, and soy sauce and you have a hearty meal or great to do with leftovers for lunches.
     
  40. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Save the carcass and boil it as a base for chicken soup.
     
  41. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Jan 18, 2010

    My best quick dinners -

    1) frozen ravioli, sauce from a jar, French bread, bag of Romaine!

    2) frozen skinless/boneless chicken thighs, frozen veggie, cooked rice - quick and easy to keep on hand.
     

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