Recipes: Cheap Eats

All right, y’all, it’s time for another recipes thread. I’m trying to do more cooking, and I’m looking for stuff to try. Bring it on.

Since money’s tight for everyone these days, I’ll ask specifically for recipes with inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients. Of course, the definition of  “inexpensive” is relative, so let’s just say this is not a thread for, as Buffpuff put it in an old thread, “poncey, rarified ingredients like… fresh nasturtium flowers gathered by moonlight.” If you can offer a quick estimate of how much the dish costs to make, more’s the better.

Al and I are currently on a mission to use up everything that’s been sitting in our freezer and pantry for ages, so last night, I made Ye Olde Cream of ______ Casserole.  Or, as my Minnesotan husband called it, “Noodle Hot Dish.”

Specifically, I used about 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders (cut up), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup water, half a bag of frozen veggies, some partially cooked pasta, some shredded cheese we had in the fridge, onion powder, and black pepper. (Mix up in casserole dish, cover and bake for about an hour at 375. Proportions are up to you. If you want to get fancy, wait and put the cheese on top toward the end, then bake 10 mins. uncovered.)

I only discovered about 2 years ago — when I had little besides tuna, frozen broccoli, pasta, and cream of mushroom soup in the house and didn’t feel like leaving — that I actually like variations on this casserole. Even though it’s a classic of my mom’s generation, and I ate a lot of stuff with cream of ___ -based sauce growing up (pork chops, pot roast, green bean casserole), I don’t recall her doing this kind of thing very often, if it all.  School cafeterias were the only places I got creamy-noodley casseroles, which did not leave a great impression. So I was quite desperate and fully expecting to be disgusted by the final product that first time I attempted a tuna-noodle casserole, but I found it not half bad for something made up of ingredients that have been sitting around the house for months. That led me to variations involving chicken, different soups, different veggies, etc. — only about 40 years after everyone else figured out that this is the world’s simplest way to use up odds and ends and/or make dinner when you haven’t been to the store in 2 weeks.

Oh, and what I made last night cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.50 (probably $12-$15 if you had to buy a new box of pasta, whole bag of veggies, block of cheese, etc.), and made dinner and today’s lunch for both of us. Probably could have gotten 6 servings out of it, but hey, we’re fatasses. 

What have you got, Shapelings? Something more interesting than that, I hope.

229 thoughts on “Recipes: Cheap Eats”

  1. I’ve been really enjoying cooking new things lately — Mr Machine and I had been in a months-long rut before Thanksgiving — so I am looking forward to this thread!

    This vanilla butternut squash soup is AWESOME and delicious and should only require you to buy a single squash (a buck or two depending on your stores). The other ingredients are onion, vanilla extract or bean, oil, salt and pepper. Oh, and you need a blender of some kind, although I imagine that a chunky version would be equally tasty.

    What I’m making for lunch right now is a really simple idea that Volcanista gave me when we were talking about the joy of rice cookers: set up some rice to cook in stock or water, and throw in some curry spices, butter, and frozen peas. Instant base for any kind of faux-Indian meal.

    For cheap eats, having a rice cooker is really awesome, actually. Ours cost about $30 on Amazon, and I use it all the time. When I’m in need of comfort food, I often make rice with raisins and sugar (or coconut milk if I have any, which I usually don’t).

  2. 1-1.5 cups cooked brown rice or other whole grain (quinoa is good)
    1 T olive oil
    1 small onion
    1 bulb garlic, chopped, or one tablespoon minced garlic from a jar
    1 bag baby spinach or 1 box frozen spinach
    1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half, or one can diced tomatoes
    1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    1/2 block firm tofu, drained & pressed
    sliced black olives (optional)

    Cook rice or other grain. Preheat oven to 375. Heat olive oil in skillet and add onion and garlic. Wash the spinach and squeeze dry. When the onion has become limp and tractable, add the spinach and whatever herbs you like (I use dill, oregano, basil, black pepper; there’s enough salt in the feta so’s you don’t need any of that). Spread the rice or other grain evenly across the bottom. When the spinach mixture is just barely cooked, put that on top. Put the tomatoes on top of that, cover in foil, and bake for about 20 minutes.

    Squeeze the tofu between your fingers and into a bowl. Add feta cheese. Mix together until it’s all just crumbly white stuff. Remove the casserole and add the feta cheese & tofu topping. Add sliced olives on top, and bake uncovered until topping browns, about 15 more minutes.

    This makes a lot and is very tasty. You can also add some chopped bell pepper, zucchini, or whatever else is starting to go off in w/ the spinach. The directions are written for fresh spinach.

  3. Chicken Cacciatore

    2.5 lb chicken pieces (I used thigh and drumsticks on the bone.)
    2 T olive oil
    1.5 c mushrooms (optional)
    1 m onion
    1 jar spaghetti sauce
    1 box of pasta

    1. Cook chicken in hot oil for ~15 min. or until light brown, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken, keep drippings.

    2. Add mushrooms, onion. Cook and stir ~5 min. Return chicken.

    3. Add sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for ~30 min. turning chicken once during cooking.

    4. During step 3, make the pasta according to the directions on the box.

    Makes 4-8 servings depending on how much you eat and whether you serve it with any side dishes.

  4. Not my own recipes, but I think it still counts!

    This lentil-sausage-kale soup is delicious and nutritious and cheap: (I generally use chorizo and a lot more lentils)

    Giada’s Chicken Cacciatore is a mainstay in my household:

    You can skip the wine and the fresh basil and the capers and it still tastes delicious. I serve it with pasta. We eat it for days and never tire of it.

    I also like this take on arroz con pollo:

  5. This is a favorite at my house. It’s soooo rich and creamy, and it makes about 6 servings, but we tend to eat it a lot faster than that. (It’s from Southern Living, Feb. 2007) I use leftover rotisserie chicken for the cooked chicken, which makes it even yummier. It’s also nice because you only use 1/2 packages, so if you buy all the ingredients you can make it twice.

    1 (0.6-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
    1 (8-oz.) package wide egg noodles
    2 tablespoons butter, softened
    3 cups chopped cooked chicken
    1 cup whipping cream
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    1. Remove 1 Tbsp. Italian dressing mix from envelope, and set aside; reserve remaining mix for another use.

    2. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain well, and return noodles to pan.

    3. Stir in 2 Tbsp. butter, and toss to coat. Stir in chopped chicken, next 3 ingredients, and 1 Tbsp. dressing mix. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, tossing to coat evenly, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

  6. SM, can you use a rice cooker for anything besides rice? I’ve heard great things about them but I have NO cupboard/counter space so I’m loath to invest in gadgets that only do one thing.

  7. I actually have lots. Cooking is pleasurable to me, cooking cheap is an art form that I love to perfect on. More money for pretty things. :)

    An old family favorite:
    (I never measure so this is going to be off I’m sure but the idea is here)
    1 lb ground beef (or turkey burger)
    elbow mac (a little over half of a typical bag)
    2-3 cans diced tomatoes
    (or cheat and use the diced tomatoes with garlic and onion already in it)
    velveeta or shredded cheddar
    salt and pepper
    basil and paprika optional

    In a large pot, boil macaroni, drain and sit aside. In the same pan, if using separate garlic and onion saute both for a minute until onion starts to brown then add ground beef and cook until meat is cooked through. Drain fat if needed. Dump pasta and meat back into the pan, add tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer and add cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Season as desired with salt and pepper, toss in a little basil and paprika if desired.

    Easy and cheap.

  8. My favorite, Cheap Ass Veggie Chili.

    You cut up an onion, a green bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic, sautee them in a bit of oil in a big pot, and then dump in a big can of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of black beans, a can of corn, some cumin, chili powder, and if it’s dry, add a can of spicy V8. If you’re feeling fancy, add some fresh cilantro, and some hot sauce.

    Sometimes I sub a beer for the V8, and I like it with cheese on top, but that makes it not vegan anymore, so if I have guests who are, I leave the cheese on the side so you can add it or not.

    All that probably costs about $8, since I always have the spices on hand. If you had to buy them, it would be more, but definitely under $20 for a big pot o’ chili.

    I have a pretty good cheese soup, too, but it involves some slightly more expensive ingredients, so it probably doesn’t qualify as cheap eats.

  9. I posted this on my blog the other day – was all stuff we had in the house, just hadn’t used yet (I was looking for a way to use those broccoli cuts with all the stems in them, we don’t like the stems as much as we like the floret part).
    Ok, I’ve been looking for more ways to fix the groceries we buy (I get stuck in a rut sometimes, mainly because it’s easier to cook the same old things all the time, and I hate to cook). So last night, I had set some boneless, skinless chicken thighs out to thaw, and had some broccoli cuts (Bird’s Eye Steamers) in the freezer that weren’t that great steamed (lots of stem chunks, not a lot of florets). I also had a bag of kluski noodles (man, I love those). So, I boiled the thighs in salted water, and while they were boiling, I cut up the broccoli florets and used my food chopper to mince the broccoli stem chunks (worked like a dream). When the thighs were done, I took them out of the broth to cool, put the 12 oz bag of noodles in to cook, and tossed in the cut up/minced broccoli. When the noodles/broccoli were done, I added a can of cream of chicken soup (I drained off some of the water so the result wouldn’t be too soupy), tossed in the chicken I had diced, added onion and garlic powder to our taste, and let it heat through. Turned out rather well, I thought (and DH liked it too). There was enough that we had dinner, there were leftovers for his lunch today, and leftovers for my lunch today and tomorrow. Total cost for the whole thing was less than $8 for 5 servings (and there was plenty of chicken, the 2 packages of thighs I used were on sale, buy one get one free, love meat sales like that).
    I think I might try this same dish but substituting a small roast for the chicken, using beef broth and cream of mushroom soup with the broccoli and noodles. Damn, that sounds good, maybe dinner tomorrow night…………..

    I haven’t tried the combination with a beef roast yet, maybe this weekend, since I have a small roast in the freezer that needs to get eaten soon.

  10. You know, Miss Conduct, I think it depends on the cooker. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve looked at it and thought, I wonder what else I can put in you… But I haven’t really experimented. I know that fancier ones tend to have settings for different kinds of rice, so I imagine you could cook barley or quinoa or something in it too as long as you kept an eye on things. I think the main problem would just be figuring out how long to keep stuff in there, since the time it cooks is calibrated for rice.

  11. I forgot the tomato sauce, totally optional and can be made without it but for more tomato-y goodness you can toss in a small can of tomato sauce.

  12. ok, my stand by chicken dish is thai peanut chicken. i take:
    a jar of thai peanut sauce, 2.60 at the asian market
    a small can of coconut milk, $.80 at asian market
    one red bell pepper, less than $1
    one or two carrots, less than $1
    half and onion
    1-2 chicken breasts, depending on how many people i’m feeding. 2 breasts feeds 4-6 people. adjust veggies for more
    a few handfuls of sugar snap peas cut in half, running $6 per lb right now, but that 1 lb goes into 2-4 dishes depending

    cube chicken into bite sized pieces and cook with coars chopped onion. while that’s cooking, slice carrots thin cutting the end part in half if needed for more or less uniform size. add carrots to chicken when about 1/2 way done. cut up pepper and peas. add to chicken/carrot/onion mix. dump as much peanut sauce out of the jar as you can and onto the chicken. it’s thick stuff so it might not be much. open cocnut milk and add to jar of sauce. PUT LID ON TIGHTLY. shake jar viggorously to mix c milk and sauce. pour over chicken and veggies. mix it all together and let bubble for a few minutes, until everything’s done as you like it. serve over steamed rice.

    total cost: around $10-12 to feed two with lunch left overs or 4-6 with no left overs.

    this also works with tofu, and if you buy vegan friendly peanut sauce it can be vegan.

  13. Ignore that it’s from the Hillbilly Housewife website, ignore that she’s a fundamentalist. <a href= Safari Pilaf is insanely popular at my house.

    For the non-meat-eaters, we also love kosherie, which does take some time to make, but only because it’s got so many different things. Each one is simple to make, and it ends up feeling like a feast even though it’s both cheap and vegan.

    You cook up some lentils (maybe a cup or so). You make some rice (basmati tastes best but we usually just use plain white, and I suppose brown would be good, too). You boil some elbow macaroni. You make a sauce. I like mine a little sweet, a little tangy, and not too spicy, so I do it like this:

    A small can of tomato paste
    3 cups of pureed tomatoes or tomato sauce
    1 T vegetable oil
    1 T red wine vinegar
    1 tbsp sugar
    1/t tsp salt
    1 t cumin

    Mix everything in a blender then heat in a medium saucepan until it boils, then let simmer until it thickens a bit.

    Then chop up some onions and fry them in vegetable oil.

    To serve we put some macaroni on our plate, then some rice, then the lentils, then the onions, then pour sauce over it, mix it all up, and eat. It’s dee-licious.

    Another cheap-and-easy recipe I like is bread and cheese soup. I make a loaf of whole wheat bread in my bread machine (the soup is a lot better if you use 100% whole wheat bread–white bread tends to be too mushy). Then I saute a good amount of minced garlic in some olive oil and bring about a quart of veggie or chicken broth to a boil in it, then let it simmer. Toast the bread, then cut it into squares and place it at the bottom of a bowl (about 1 thick slice per bowl is good). Put some grated cheese (Fontina is perfect, but plain cheddar or whatever cheese you might enjoy that melts well should work) on top of the bread, put some basil on that if you want, then pour the broth on top and stir around a few times until the cheese begins to melt. The caveat is that cleaning the melted cheese off your spoons and the bottom of the bowl is a pain in the butt, but if you have a kitchen brush it’s a lot easier. The soup is tasty enough to make it worth it anyway, IMO.

  14. What about lentils? I like red or yellow ones for pretty, but they don’t taste radically different from the cheaper army-green ones.

    Cook 1-2 cups of dry lentils according to package directions, usually boiled in 1-2 cups water for about 20 minutes or more (use broth if you’re feeling upscale.) Meanwhile, chop an onion finely, and maybe a garlic clove or two, and saute in a bit of oil (take your pick as to what kind–peanut has the highest smoking point, but olive never disappoints) in a small frying pan; when things are looking cooked, add some Indian spices and work them into the garlic and onions. At this point, I like garam masala, cardamom, maybe some mild yellow curry powder. I also like salt, which makes everything better. This is best of all if you happen to have WHOLE Indian spices to toast in the oil, but let’s not get fancy–ground works just fine.

    Take some diced tomatoes (I like tomatoes, so I use a 15-ounce can drained, but it’s all according), and add them to the spices and onions. Things’ll get a little golden or yellow in there, and the scent will make you swoon. When the lentils are soft, and when you’ve drained out any additional lentil water if necessary, add the contents of the frying pan to the lentils, stirring vigorously and adding seasoning to taste. If you happen to have any sauteed greens sitting around the fridge, toss them in there too.

    Makes a great side dish or main course, smells great, provides starchy comfort, good with milk if you drink milk. Not so cheap, of course, if you don’t already have Indian spices sitting around, but mild yellow curry powder lasts forever. Don’t know what it costs, but lentils, onions and curry powder are pretty cheap. Enjoy! Though, I will add, you can probably never enjoy even these lovely lentils as much as I’ve been enjoying y’all’s pages this year, so, thank you!

  15. My go-to dinner is wicked cheap.

    Olive oil or butter
    Minced shallot or small onion (~$0.30)
    Minced garlic (~$0.05)
    Can of diced tomatoes ($1)
    Pasta (any kind, really) (~$0.50)
    Basil, Thyme, Pepper, Salt
    Cheese (depends on kind and amount)
    If the spirit and sales move me, Chopped spinach

    Sautee the shallot and garlic until the shallot is translucent. Add in basil and thyme, stir. Throw in can of tomatoes (do not drain). Add pepper and salt. Stir, and allow to simmer until the liquid is just about gone (usually about 20min or less. this would be a good time to add spinach and let it wilt). Turn off the heat and stir in drained pasta. Serve with grated cheese. Put in face.

    Last week I did this and stirred the last tablespoon of goat cheese from a chevre log into the tomatoes before mixing in the pasta. YUM.

  16. Funny, I just made what I called “low tuna” (as opposed to “high tuna”) last night for like $1.50 worth of ingredients and was thinking “man… I should put this on the internet… it’s tasty!

    1 cup cooked spaghettini ($.10)
    2 tbsp butter ($.15)
    1/2 cup frozen peas ($.10)
    1/2 cup frozen onion (or fresh if you have it) ($.10)
    1 garlic clove minced ($.03)
    1 can solid albacore (or canned tuna of your liking… I hate chunk light personally) ($1.00)
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ($.01)
    salt/pepper to taste ($.01)

    Melt butter in a hot skillet until it starts to bubble but not brown.
    Add onion and peas with a dash of salt. Saute until softened.
    Add garlic, tuna, pepper and red pepper flakes.
    Saute until heated through… check seasoning and adjust as necesary

    Toss with cooked pasta and serve.
    This makes one serving, but you could really easily double or triple it to serve a crowd.

    Total cost $1.50 (according to my very loose math)

    I have a million of these! I have actually been thinking of starting a blog with cheap recipes (I define cheap as less than $2/serving but there is certainly room for interpretation there)

  17. Risotto – simmer some beef or chicken bones (hopefully free from your butcher) for a couple of hours to make a beef stock. You could also throw in any root veg/mushrooms that want eating, or do in a slow cooker. Drain the stock, and leave to simmer in a pan. Fry onion and garlic in butter and olive oil (you could use bacon or pancetta too, if you have some), stir through some risotto rice, then add a couple of ladles of hot stock; when this is mostly absorbed, add a bit more…and so on until the rice is done and the stock mostly absorbed, about 15-20mins. You’ll want about 115g of rice and 500ml of stock per person, though quantities can be pretty loose. When it’s done, stir through butter and some cheese (parmesan and/or blue cheese work well) and keep stirring till it goes creamy. Add pepper and, if it needs it, salt. Very tasty – if you make a good stock – and, while costs vary depending on cheese type etc., you can easily enough make a big portion for a dollar or so.

  18. Oh! And I just remembered that some models come with a veggie steamer insert, which sounds like a great idea.

    Yes. I used to have one like this, when I was dieting and thus steaming veggies constantly. Very useful. These days, I’m willing to cook veggies in fat again, and I have the same counter space issue as MC, so that’s gone. BUT I now have a microwave steamer thingy (sorta like this), which I love and use for everything from broccoli to fish to hot dogs.

  19. Similar to the noodle hot dish variant, every few weeks I play a game of “Compost vs. Dinner” as in: nearly all of the fridge’s perishables are consigned to one fate or the other. I win if I get a tasty meal; sometimes it’s a tie when the volume of rotty vegetables/fruit headed to the compost is approximately equal or greater than the volume of dinner. :-(

    But in the meantime, it’s a fun process. I usually end up with a stir-fry, soup, or casserole. One memorable one had tomatoes, eggplant, onion, carrot, celery, other veggies, lentils, red wine, lentils, and the best part of all, purple olives about to go off. There might have been leftover cooked noodles thrown in, too.

    Tonight I plan to roast a pan of veggies: beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, parsnips, all with a bit of olive oil and rosemary on top.

    The cost is pretty much $0 since it’s based on using what I have.

  20. Oooo, EmilyG, I’m making that tonight! I just happen to have chicken left over from a rotisserie chicken from Costco – perfect!
    Which, by the way, if you go to Costco, don’t pass up those rotisserie chickens! They cost $5 (!! you can’t buy a raw chicken for that !!) and are the best I’ve tasted, way better than any I’ve had from the grocery store. If I didn’t live 30 minutes away from Costco, I’d get one 3 times a week. The chicken plus their fresh green beans, and one of the small loaves of fresh-baked whole grain bread has become a staple dinner for us. After dinner I usually strip the meat, throw the bones in a pot of water to simmer overnight and we have great chicken noodle soup the next night!

  21. I do a veggie primavera that is similar to your casserole but very fresh. You can use any fresh and raw veggies in it, which means you can take advantage of sales, and at the right time of year, your garden.

    The fanciest part is the (optional) fresh basil, but I grow basil. I also use fresh herbs to make herb-infused olive oil, which would be expensive to buy but is fun and incredibly inexpensive to make (Hint: Pour olive oil over a bunch of herbs. Seal. Wait.)

    The cheeses, again, can be pricey, but since you can switch it up as much as you want, you can work around preferences and current prices.

    Here’s the primavera:

    1/2 pound of spaghetti, linguini, or angel hair.
    Sauteed: 1 small onion & 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
    About 1/3 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
    3 tablespoons olive oil

    Optional ingredients:
    Slivered carrot sticks or quartered baby carrots
    Sliced green peppers
    Wedges of 1 fresh tomato
    About 1/4 cup of frozen peas, defrosted
    About 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or other fresh herbs (rosemary & oregano are favorites)
    1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese, or feta cheese, or gorgonzola cheese, or grated mozzarella

    1. Cook the pasta while sauteing the onions and garlic, and any other vegetables you would prefer to be cooked instead of raw.

    2. Drain the pasta and put in serving bowl (or be low class like me and put it back into the pot–saves a dish).

    3. Toss the raw veggies, oil, and cheese over the cooked pasta immediately. Add the sauteed ingredients. Toss thoroughly to melt cheese and coat everything with everything.

    4. Serve.

    This is a very fast dish for the exhausted-after-work set. It is a favorite summer dish both because of fresh garden produce and because it uses very little heat in the kitchen, so it’s lovely for a hot August day.

    I love it because I can load it up to the point where it’s half veggie, or I can just have pasta and garlic, and it’s still basically the same dish.

  22. Yummy (Kinda) Samosas

    1 Package Puff Pastry ($4)
    2 Large potatoes ($2)
    1/4 c frozen peas ($.50)
    1/2 onion ($.50)
    milk and butter for potatoes
    curry powder

    Total $8ish for 18 puffs (I usually eat 4 per serving or 2 and a side of couscous or something)

    Thaw the pasty dough
    cut up and boil the potatoes. When done I add just a little bit of butter and milk, not as much as I would if I were making mashed potatoes. I think it helps with consistency. Then add curry powder to taste and a dash of salt (and any other spices you want)

    While the potatoes are cooking saute up the onions and add the peas to the onions to defrost a bit.

    Mix onions and peas into potatoes

    Cut the puff pastry sheets into 9 squares per sheet (the sheets are already folded in thirds so this is pretty easy.) Take about 2 tbs of filling and plop into the center of the puff pastry. Take the four corners and smush them together over the filling like you are making a little pouch. (or fold pastry square in half like a turnover-I get less spillage when I grab all the sides up and smush together). Back at 400 for 35-40 minutes or until pastry puffs.

    These look really snazzy for cocktail parties too.

  23. Oh, and those aren’t all the potential ingredients. Snap beans are a favorite at my house. Various other colors of pepper. Broccoli florets (we cook those). Ad infinitum, really.

  24. another thing i’ve been doing that is vegan is a curried root veg stew.

    i take 1-2 cans coconut milk, about 1.20 each at the asian market (i emphasis asian market cause the same cans are 3.50 at albertsons)
    yellow curry to taste
    1 japanes white yam peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
    1 large sweet onion chopped
    2-4 yukon gold potatoes cut about the same size as the yam
    squash of some kind peeled and cut into similar sized chunks, i’ve used japanese pumpkin (hard to peel) and butternut (way easier to peel) and both worked fine.
    2 or 3 carrots similarly chopped
    1 cup rice (i used medium grain for everything but whatever you have. would be great with brown rice)
    gui lan (chinese brocoli) greens, more about this stuff later
    medium firm tofu (optional)

    cook onion, and garlic if you want, in a bit of oil until onios starts to brown. add potatoes and yam and cook for more brown bits… mmm brown bits. toss in squash and carrots, c milk and enough water to cover plus and inch or two. add curry, salt and pepper to taste and any hot sauce/chilie sauce. stir well to get brown bits at the bottom all mixed in. cook until veggies are mostly done. add rice and cook covered until rice has cooked. chope greens and add at the last minute.

    a word about chinese brocoli. it’s seriously one of my favorite veggies. when you get it there are two bits that you can use making it very economical. the stalks are everything yummy about brocoli stalks while having a more pronounced flavor and crisper texture than american brocoli. i like it steamed with nothing, or maybe sliced and stir fried with garlic, soy sauce, and seseme oil. the leaves on the stalks, i tend to pull all but the smalest for used as any other bitter green (collard, swiss char, etc). there’s not much floret to these, but i think the texture and better flavor makes up for it.

  25. Long-time lurker popping in with one of my favorite cold weather meals: Italian Shepherd’s Pie

    This is best done in a skillet that can go from stove-to-oven, like a cast iron skillet.

    Take a pound of lean ground beef or turkey, along with a pound or so of pork or turkey Italian sausage, taken out of its casings. Brown the meat well, throw in a chopped onion and a pint of sliced mushrooms, toss them around and let them cook until they’re shiny. Pour a full jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce or a large can (28 oz) of chopped tomatoes, and bring that to a full simmer. If you want extra garlic, then this would be the time to throw it in.

    In a seperate saucepan, bring to a low boil 3 cups of water and 1 cup of milk, and whisk in a cup of corn meal to make a polenta. When all the corn meal is whisked in, finish with a few tablespoons of butter and about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste. Working quickly, pour the polenta on the meat sauce, then chuck the skillet into a 400 degree oven, and let it bake about 15 minutes or so, until the top of the polenta gets nice and browned.

    You can also cheat by buying the tubes of the premade polenta and just slicing it on top, but it really isn’t as good–but it makes for a fast dinner.

  26. This is exactly what I’m needing right now. I’m cutting and pasting a ton of these!

    Miss Conduct:
    We have used our rice cooker for quinoa and it works (but seems to need less water than on the stovetop).

  27. I made this recipe last year for my work’s Christmas luncheon, and everyone liked it. It’s from those A Taste of Home magazines:

    Orange Chicken (scaled down for two people)

    1/2 egg
    2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons orange juice
    1/2 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix, crushed
    3/4 teaspoon paprika
    1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
    Orange slices

    In a shallow bowl, beat egg, add orange juice. In another bowl, combine stuffing mix, paprika, orange peel and salt. Dip chicken in to the egg mixture, then into crumbs, turning to coat well. Pour butter into a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Place chicken in baking dish, turning once to butter both sides. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and juices run clear. Garnish with orange slices if desired.

    A good thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it if you want more or less orange flavor, or more or less spices.

  28. This a much less luxurious dish than Lori’s African Safari Pilaf, but runs along the same lines. It was a favorite when I was a poor college student and I’ve been hankering for it lately:

    Cook about a cup of brown lentils in water with a smashed clove of garlic, a bay leaf and a big pinch of thyme. Serve over rice with plenty of butter and salt and pepper to taste. It’s rather spartan without the butter!

    Better yet, top with brown-fried onions: slice an onion very, very thin and fry it slowly in plenty of olive oil, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward the end), until the onions are very dark brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. They should crisp up as they cool. Don’t discard the onion-flavored oil! It’s good to use in other oniony dishes.

    I think will mix some garlicky cooked spinach, chard or kale into the lentils and rice next time, along with the brown-fried onions.

  29. From my mom, who is too shy to comment on the blog herself:

    “I’m not sure if this is especially cheap, since it has you starting out with one of those whole roasted chickens you get at the store, which pound-for-pound probably costs more than buying one raw and roasting it yourself. Maybe there’s some savings on the gas bill? But there’s certainly a savings on time — and time is money, right?

    Anyway, you start with one of those chickens (sometimes I even spring for organic, since they tend to be a little meatier — making it 8.99 instead of 7.99 at Manhattan prices, but I’m sure they can be had for closer to 5.99). Pull it apart into bite-sized chunks, using your hands, and put the chunks into a pot. Then pour in enough V-8 juice (spicy version is best, but any will do) to cover it plus a little more, usually a small jar’s worth (what is that, about 24 ounces or so?). If you’re going to put it on rice or pasta, you’ll want it kind of wet. If you’re going to call it soup, which we sometimes do with the leftovers, you’ll want it even wetter. Then heat the thing up — add some bottled lime juice and maybe some Goya Spanish seasoning, and some hot sauce — and add whatever you have lying around that might go well in a chicken-and-tomato based concoction. This is really good for throwing in leftovers from your opened cans of garbanzo beans or olives (that’s where the frugality comes in, I guess), and you can also add sliced carrots, halved cherry tomatoes that are about to go bad (frugal again), frozen peas, frozen corn, or, my personal favorite, frozen shelled edemame.”

    Mom calls it “chicken V-8-sta” because she is a 1950s cookbook. Anyway it is delicious, and you can make shreddy chicken just fine with chicken breasts and a Foreman (we do this all the time), even if you don’t want to buy roasted chicken at Costco a la krismcn.

    It is amusing to me how many of our budget dishes are of the “throw lots of things in a pot” variety.

  30. I like to do a vaguely Mexican black bean and rice casserole, which we then use as burrito filling.

    2 cups cooked rice (white or brown, matters not. Barley would probably work, too)
    4 oz. jarred salsa
    4 oz. can of diced green chilies
    4 oz. can of sliced black olives (optional)
    8 oz. can of tomato sauce
    14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I like to use petite dice)
    14.5 oz can of black beans (drained)
    1 cup thawed frozen corn
    1 cup shredded cheese (4-cheese Mexican blends are awesome for this)

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Combine all of the ingredients except for 1/2 cup of the cheese in a large bowl.

    Pour it into a 9×13 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

    Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until it’s all hot and the cheese is melted.

    Tada! Dinner. It makes about 6-8 servings.

    We like to spoon it into wheat tortillas and top the mixture with some lettuce and sour cream to make burritos. YUM!

  31. MC: I have one of those rice cookers with the steamed veggie bowl, and it’s great. Most rice cookers come with a “warm” setting, and the fancier ones have multiple settings, so you can use it to cook lots of things (albeit slowly). My friend makes tea in her rice cooker!

    Living in Costa Rica, with a Nicaraguan husband, on a tight grad school budget, I eat a *lot* of rice and beans. It’s cheap, easy to cook or modify, and filling, and made of ingredients that I can find here (>75% of the above recipes, while they sound great, include ingredients that I can’t buy without a 4-hour roundtrip to the big city, if at all). There’s a reason both countries consider this their national dish!

    Gallo Pinto
    Rice (typically white rice; gringos will sometimes modify this with brown rice – much to the amusement of locals!)
    Beans (red for Nicaraguan-style, black for Costa Rican. Dried beans are typical, but you can use canned)
    Chiltoma or chile dulce (basically red bell pepper)
    Salt or chicken bouillion

    If you’re using dried beans, soak them overnight (or atleast 6-8 hours) and drain. Throw in a few stalks of celery, thick-chopped carrot, some garlic, a bay leaf or two, and enough water to top the beans by 1-2″, then boil for ~1-1.5 hours. Do *not* add salt until the last minute, or the beans will stay hard.

    Cook rice. Nicaraguan-style involves sauteeing onion (and carrot, if you like) in some oil, throwing in the rice, sauteeing for a few more minutes, adding water (use equal amounts of water and rice), then covering and simmering until cooked – this can be done in a rice cooker, too. Plain rice is fine, too – and day-old rice works great in this.

    Heat up a pan with a little bit of oil. Throw in and saute onions (if they’re not already in the rice) and pepper. Add rice, warm, then add beans with some liquid (amount depends on how saucy you like your gallo pinto), and cook until beans are warm and liquid has boiled down. When almost done, mix in chopped cilantro.

    For extra-yummy Caribbean-style rice and beans, cook the rice in some coconut milk. Tomatoes or cumin also go great in this (though aren’t traditional).

    This is typically served for breakfast, along with eggs, tortillas and/or bread and/or plantains (fried green or ripe), and sometimes some meat (fried hot dog chunks are common here, for some reason), but I love it for any meal.

  32. Oh, I forgot to mention that the casserole is even tastier if you toss in some ground cumin or chili powder.

  33. um… Viajera… YUM!!

    I’ll be making some gallo pinto with coconut milk for lunches next week, that sounds so good.

  34. Pork country ribs or shoulder roast, often on sale for under $2.00 lb (I stock up when they’re $0.99/lb) and a crock pot. Figure about 3/4 lb per person because it does cook down and usually there are bones.

    Packet of Mexican seasonings (taco, fajita, adovada, whatever’s on sale, usually 80 cents to a dollar).

    Cup and a half of water or so.

    Mix everything together and crock on low all day. When it’s falling apart, take out the meat and let it cool. Remove any bones (and large chunks of fat because I don’t like the texture, not because they’re eeeeevil). Defat the sauce. Shred or chunk the meat, return it and the sauce to the crockpot and let heat through.

    Use as taco filling, or over a salad, or just eat with cheese and salsa and sour cream or whatever. Leftovers freeze brilliantly. These cuts are often loss leaders at supermarkets around here, so I take advantage of the sales.

    I love my crockpot because it is THE thing for turning those less expensive cuts of meat into something amazing that you’d pay big bucks for at a restaurant. I’ve roasted whole chickens in it. Beans and ham hocks. Corned beef (bought on sale after St. Patrick’s Day). Pork roast with fines herbes and red wine (oh, god, that was so good). Beef chuck roast in beer, beef broth, onions, and tomato paste.

  35. Not-Lasagna

    1 lb ground chicken, turkey, or beef
    1 can black or pinto beans
    1 packet enchilada seasoning
    1 14-oz can tomato sauce
    Tortillas or tortilla chips (Pref. corn)

    Preheat oven to about 325 deg F.

    On the stove top, brown the meat, then add beans in liquid, enchilada seasonings, and tomato sauce. Simmer until beans are warm.

    In a casserole dish, layer tortillas or tortilla chips on the bottom of the pan (grease first if necessary). Layer about half of the meat & bean over chips and cheese over meat and beans. Add another layer of chips, remainder of meat & beans, and cheese. If you like, put more chips on top.

    Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Probably feeds 4-6. Feeds one person for about five days.

  36. One of my favorite recent discoveries comes from The Way the Cookie Crumbles (

    It’s basically a salad of soba noodles, peas and feta cheese dressed in a vinaigrette. I’ve also used whole wheat spaghettini in place of the soba noodles.

    For the salad:
    1 (10- to 12-ounce) package soba noodles (or whole wheat spaghettini)
    1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby peas
    6 oz feta, crumbled (¾ cup)

    For the vinaigrette (enough for 2-4 servings):
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sugar
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    ¾ teaspoon black pepper
    4 scallions, chopped

    Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients except the scallions together. Set aside.

    Cook noodles until almost done, then add the frozen peas to the pot. Finish cooking and drain.

    Add the scallions to the vinaigrette, then toss with noodles and peas until everything is coated. Top with feta.

    If you have most of the vinaigrette ingredients on hand, you’re probably going to spend under $10.

    There’s also a chickpea/butternut squash recipe on Smitten Kitchen ( that I really want to try out.

    It’s chickpeas, squash and red onion with a tahini dressing. It looks great and would also be cheap to make.

  37. Oh here’s a trick for making beans significantly cheaper than canned and better tasting… everybody probably already does this but I just discovered it a few months ago.

    You start it in the morning (I do these on sundays) after soaking the beans overnight.

    1 lb dried beans (I like pinto, but I’m sure it works with any variety) soaked, washed & drained
    4 cups water
    1 cup strong black coffee (from my morning pot)
    1 tsp salt

    combine… bring to a simmer, cover and cook until tender (about 2 hours)

  38. It is amusing to me how many of our budget dishes are of the “throw lots of things in a pot” variety.

    Peasant cooking, 101, baby! Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, eat with some kind of bread. Classic.

    I’ve been feeling cooktastic, myself, lately, which usually involves me making various variations of beans-n-rice, quesadillas, and pasta-n-sauce. I hate recipes, so I always just sort of improvise with the wok or the griddle, based on whatever caught my eye at the store or in the cupboard.

  39. Soup! It’s inexpensive, filling, and delicious. Here are my 2 faves:

    Fasolatha (Greek bean soup)
    3 Medium Carrots Sliced
    3 Celery ribs Chopped
    1 lb Navy Beans, soaked overnight
    1 Cup Olive Oil
    3 cups water
    1 Medium Onion Chopped
    1 Pinch Pepper To taste
    1 Pinch Salt To taste
    1/2 tsp granulated garlic
    1 Cup Diced Tomatoes

    * Soak the beans in water overnight.
    * Strain the water and place the beans in a pot with new water.
    * Boil for 2 minutes; strain. Repeat once more. This prevents the beans from causing gas.
    * After boiling and straining the 2nd time, return beans to pot, add 3 cups water, and simmer.
    *While the beans simmer, saute carrots, celery, and onion in a small amount of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add to beans, stir and continue to simmer until beans are tender, approx. 1 hour.
    *Once beans are cooked, add tomatoes and olive oil. Simmer again. Add seasonings to taste.

    At this point, the soup is ready. I often puree about 1/3 of the soup for a thicker consistency. This is an old Greek recipe; inexpensive, healthy, and very tasty.

    Beef Stew
    1 lb. stew beef, cut into 1″ chunks
    1 bottle cheap red wine
    4-5 potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
    1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas, lima beans, or your favorite combination)
    3 cups water
    granulated garlic
    salt and pepper

    In a medium-sized bowl, toss stew beef in a mixture of flour, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Brown beef on all sides in a stock pot over medium high heat, using a small amount of olive oil. When beef is browned, cover with red wine. Stir frequently, reducing heat to medium low. Pour entire bottle of red wine over beef. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add water and potatoes and simmer for 1 hour or until beef and potatoes are tender. Thicken stew if necessary with a flour paste or small amount of corn starch. Add frozen veggies and let stew simmer slowly. Beef stew is best served after it has been able to simmer for a couple of hours.

    I also have a recipe for Smoky Sweet Potato Soup, which is amazingly yummy. Want that one as well?

  40. My favourite quick lunch involves:

    Spicy sausages (e.g. merguez or chorizo)
    1 onion
    Some olive oil (not extra virgin)
    100mls or so of red or white wine
    1-2 tins of lentils

    Finely chop one onion and cook it in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Cut up the chorizo and add it to the pan, turning up the heat so that the chorizo releases its oil. Stir. Add 1-2 cans of green lentils in stock. Slosh in some white or red wine. Cook off the alcohol and simmer until the fluid becomes a bit thicker. Ladle into bowls. Apply to face along with crusty bread and maybe a green salad.

  41. I like to do stovetop baked beans, from Nava Atlas’s Vegetarian Family Cookbook. I believe it’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, and can be had for about $3-5 depending on what you keep in your cupboards. I like to eat it with eggs in the morning, or with cornbread for dinner.

    olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    3 cans navy beans or small white beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 C. ketchup
    1 T. molasses
    3 T. maple syrup
    1.5 t. mustard
    ground ginger
    salt & pepper
    1/4 C. water

    Saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and saute until onion is golden. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 15 minutes. Done!

  42. and bean soup. i forgot about that. you can usually get bean soup mixes for a dollar or two per lb and you only need one or two lbs. plus a 40 of brown beer. a few ham hocks or beef shanks or whatever meat on a bone you have good for soup making. potatoes and carrots.

    soak beans for a few hours, discard the floaters. cook a chopped onion until it tarts to brown. add potatoes and carrots, beer, beans with soaking water, meat and enough water to cover plus about three inches. salt and pepper. cover and simmer, pretty much all day (4 or so hours). this is SUPER hearty, fressez really well and costs maybe $15 for the whole pot. last time i made this we ate it for diner. had two tupperwear containers in the frezzer and one smallish container in the fridge. lasted about a month all totaled.

  43. I love Chicken Chili. You can make it in a crock pot or on the stove; I make a huge batch and freeze.

    1-1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped (you can also use ground chicken or turkey)
    1 14 oz. can kidney beans
    1 14 oz can pinto beans
    1 14 oz. can black beans
    (drain all the beans, reserve the liquid to use as needed to adjust the consistency)
    1 28 oz. can tomato puree or sauce
    1 large onion, chopped
    1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
    2-3 tbsp. chili powder, to taste
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. dried basil
    salt and papper to taste

    Stovetop: Brown the meat and onion in a large stock pot. Add all other ingredients, using reserved liquid from beans to thin as needed. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour.

    Crock Pot (even easier!) : Add meat and onion to crock-pot (most recipes say to brown the meat first but I never do and it works fine). Mix in all other ingredients, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

    Serve with crusty (cheap!) french bread from the store and shredded cheese.

    I think I spend less than $8 to make a batch that lasts for at least 3 or 4 meals.

  44. I can’t remember the name of this dish, but it is AWESOME.

    1 small head cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
    As many potatoes nec. to equal the cauliflower, diced
    1 cup peas
    2 t garam masala
    1 t chili powder
    1 t coriander
    1 t cumin seeds
    salt and pepper
    3 or so T of olive oil

    Start by frying the spices (except salt and pepper) in the oil over medium-high for about a minute. Then add all of the veggies, stirring to coat veggies with the spices. Add a little bit of water to cover the bottom of the pan, and put a lid on the dish. Stir every few minutes, lightly smashing the veggies. Cook until it’s done enough for you.

    I usually take the lid off about 10 minutes into it, let the water vaporize, and brown the veggies a little bit.

    This is awesome, and I eat it 2 or 3 times a week, substituting various veggies.

  45. Lexy — I never knew that about dried beans and coffee. How did you discover it? Can it be decaf coffee? Caffeine gives me migraines, and I’d be afraid of cross contamination (as silly as that sounds).

  46. savvychristine, I’m sure it can be decaf. I read a recipe for cowboy beans that included coffee and thought “huh… I wonder how that would taste with regular beans” turns out… delicious! It adds a little extra depth to them.

  47. Besides spaghetti, the thing we make the most is either pot roast or chicken leg quarters/thighs topped with a packet of onion soup mix and 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 1 hour, and uncovered for 30 minutes. We usually eat this with rice and canned green beans.

    My new favorite thing is chicken bog. It makes a ton and it’s really creamy and yummy.

  48. Oh! And this -which my Mom calls “Quick Company Chicken” is fucking awesome-

    4 chicken breasts
    4 slices mozzarella
    1/2 cup red wine
    2 cups dry stuffing cubes
    1 stick butter, melted
    1 can cream of chicken soup

    Preheat oven to 350
    put the chicken in the bottom of a baking dish, top with one slice cheese each.
    Mix the wine with the soup, and pour over the chicken
    sprinkle the stuffing mix evenly over the chicken
    pour the butter over the stuffing
    bake 1 hour.

    Seriously, this tastes like heaven. no, you cannot reduce the butter. I swear, it seems like a lot, but it is so good I scoop the “ness”, as I call it, out of the bottom of the pan.

  49. We eat a lot of lentils. Pretty much a recipe search for lentils and “slow cooker” will lead you to most of the things I’ve tried. The husband is not happy about vegetarian dishes, and I’m not happy about blowing our grocery budget on meat because we get so much less to eat that way. Compromise has us eating either chicken & lentils or pork & lentils about a dozen times a month.

  50. Kristin I make almost the exact same thing occasionally, it is super easy and cheap. It’s really good with 1/2 cup wite whine mixed in and try it with different cheese too! I love swiss… YUMM!

  51. Pasta with anchovies: tip the contents of 50g tin of anchovies in oil into a frying pan, heat and stir until they disintegrate, stir through hot pasta, add black pepper. It’s a real salt fix. Here in merrie England that’s 80p for the anchovies and 40p for the pasta to serve 2. Optional extras: fried onions, garlic, mushrooms, olives, wevs.

    I’m also partial to porridge for breakfast, which is dirt cheap and fills you up ’til lunch.

  52. Roast Veggies and Meat

    Potatoes (1-4/ person, depending on size and hunger)
    Broccoli (a couple small crowns)
    Carrots (2-4/ person)
    Meat (chicken pieces and pork chops work well, or beef/pork roast cut into smaller pieces for faster cooking)
    Seasoning salt
    Whatever looks good from your spice rack

    Baking dish
    Aluminum foil

    Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ wide slices and put them in the baking dish (I line the dish with foil first), then shake on some seasoning salt. If the potatoes are more than one layer deep shake on seasoning between each layer. Cut the carrots up roughly the same size as the potatoes and pile them on. Pull or cut the broccoli crowns into smaller treelets and pile them on as well. Spice your meat to taste and nestle it down into the veggies. Pour about 1/4 cup of water into the dish and cover the dish with foil. Poke a couple vent holes in the foil and put the dish in the oven until the meat is done and the veggies are soft (usually in he neighborhood of an hour, but it depends on how much you’re making).

    It doesn’t need any fussing with once it’s in the oven, which is my favorite thing about this recipe, and I tend to just let it cook until it starts smelling done.

    The ingredients are very customizable. When I have it around I like to put in bell pepper, and my SO doesn’t eat carrots so I omit his portion of those. I imagine onions would go well in it if you like onions. Vegetarians and vegans can of course omit the meat entirely.

    For a different effect I will cut the potatoes into eighths along the long axis, toss them with oil and seasoning and cook it uncovered. This gives the potatoes a great taste, but it makes it harder to keep everything else from drying out.

  53. My daughter taught me how to make this and we love it. I’ve also left out the corn tortilla’s and made a dip for parties (using scoop tostitos)….always well received….

    Chicken Torilla Casserole

    3 chicken breasts
    lemon pepper to taste
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can Rotel (diced tomato with chilis)
    1 lb. shredded cheese
    1 pkg. corn tortillas

    Season chicken breasts with lemon pepper and quick fry in a fry pan with olive oil
    Remove from the pan to a cutting board and combine soups (do not dilute) and Rotel in the pan. Heat till warm.
    Dice the chicken and then add to the pan with the soups.
    Cut or tear tortillas into a little bigger than bite size pieces….layer the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
    Then, layer on the soup mixture and a layer of cheese.
    Repeat the layer of tortilla, soup mix and cheese.
    Bake in a 350 oven till cheese is bubbly, around 15 minutes.
    We added a tiny can of jalapenos, but it was very spicy……so if you are not a spice lover, leave this out.

  54. Pasta! The hungry cheapskate’s best friend!

    I started making this dish when I was in school and my work hours got cut in half. I had a big jar of tahini in the fridge because I’d bought it in more affluent times to make hummus, and I wanted a creamy stick-to-my-ribs pasta dish, but I had no cheese. So I figured – if hummus tastes good on bread, maybe it will taste good in pasta?

    Boil up some pasta. While it’s cooking away, put a hefty dollop (maybe a heaping tablespoonful per person) of tahini in a big bowl. Add plenty of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (Fresh garlic works just as well but I’m lazy). When the pasta is about three-quarters done, throw some frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower and/or carrots in the pot. If I want to make the pasta go even further, I throw half a can of chickpeas in there too. Drain everything when it’s cooked to how you like it and throw it into the bowl. Toss vigourously. And if you have a tomato hanging around, chop it up and throw it in there too. It’s delicious.

    I’ve made this in the summer with fresh produce like zucchini and cherry tomatoes, too, but it’s honestly just as good with orphans from cupboard and freezer. And tahini is one of those things that’s expensive but economical – a jar will last you months and months.

    Also? (Looks around stealthily for food snobs) It is also delicious with unsweetened peanut butter. Honest.

  55. A good chicken-noodle-soup recipe (I live off soup in the winter, as I am perpetually cold). This makes prodigious amounts, good for feeding the family and then having some leftover to heat up later, so you might need to adjust to smaller portions to feed less people or to cut down on cost:

    -1 pound chicken, cut into bite-size chunks
    -celery (to taste), cut into bite-size chunks
    -carrots (to taste), cut into bite-size chunks
    -2 of the really big, tall cans of chicken broth (or, one can and one can of water) I dunno what the fluid ounce measurement is because I suck like that
    -powdered chicken soup stock (I use Herbox brand) to taste
    -black and red pepper (to taste)
    -Amish-style noodles (can get at any grocery store, the ones that are kluski type work great)

    Don’t add extra salt, the powdered stock is salty, you’ll be grossed out!

    Put broth on to boil, add the black and red pepper and powdered stock. Once that all boils, add the chicken and veggies. Allow the chicken to cook a bit, like maybe ten minutes. Add noodles to taste… I like a lot of noodles, but I’ll warn you about this noodle type, they’re very very tasty but tend to soak up a lot of the broth especially after being left to sit in it… your first fresh bowl will be soup, complete with broth– reheated, it’ll be more like noodles-with-stuff. But it still tastes good and I like it both ways.

    For that great big amount, depending on how many ingredients we already have lying around, it’s anywhere from 10-20 bucks (20 is worst-case scenario, we’re out of everything and chicken is costing an arm and a leg per pound).

    It’s so easy, even I can do it. And I am, at best, a lackadaisical sort of cook.

  56. Haha! Angela, I used to eat pasta with peanut butter as a grad student. (Hey, it’s a grain and a legume! That makes a complete protein!) And peanut butter mixed with chilli sauce and stirred into noodles made something I could pretend was satay.
    The rest of that time, I ate potato waffles (cooked in a toaster) with 2p tesco value beans. Those were the days, or something.

  57. I’m doing a series on “Recession Food” over at The Real Potato. Here is a post on emergency pre-payday recipes— hobo stew, beans and rice, and crepes (yes, crepes!) are on the list.

    Also: matzo brei!

    Matzo Brei (recipe by Ruth Reichl)

    2 matzo crackers

    2 eggs


    3 tablespoons unsalted butter

    Set a colander inside a bowl (to catch the crumbs) and break the matzos into little pieces, dropping them into the colander. Remove the colander from the bowl and hold it beneath running water until the matzos are damp. Allow them to drain; then put the damp matzos into a bowl.

    Break the eggs into the bowl and stir with a fork just until mixed. Add salt to taste.

    Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the matzo-egg mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the egg is cooked and there are a few crispy little bits.

    Put on plates and serve at once.

    (Note: This might be blasphemy, but the spice lovers in my household ate this with a generous dollop of Sriracha hot sauce.)

  58. Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

    8 yams
    4 onions
    8 cloves of garlic
    4 qts. stock (approximate)
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    smoke seasoning to taste
    1 qt milk

    Scrub yams (I prefer garnet yams), prick them, place on a baking dish lined with greased foil. Bake at 450 degrees until quite soft.

    While the yams are baking, chop onions and cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil until very soft and beginning to brown. Add stock and simmer (note: a ham bone or ham hock makes great stock for this soup). Peel the cooked yams, cut up and add to the soup. Puree the soup. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, dried thyme, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper flakes. If NOT using bacon fat or ham bone, add smoke seasoning to taste.

    Add milk, heat to serving temperature. Adjust seasonings. Adjust consistency with additional stock, if needed. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream. Serve with crusty bread. This soup is FABULOUS and freezes well.

  59. My cheap-ass soups (one of which I think I’ve posted before):

    Frozen spinach, can of white beans (any type), onion, soup bullion, and mushrooms if you have them. The mushrooms are the only price point, and can be eliminated.

    Frozen or canned corn, 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (or a little salsa), bullion, chopped potato, milk, sour cream, onion.

    Kidney or pinto beans, can of corn, can of tomatoes, chili seasoning, onion.

    Basically, I think that if you chop and sautee an onion for awhile, you can then throw any vegetable and any bean on it with some bullion and call it a good soup. :) Beans are about 50-75 cents a can, and to me worth the ease because I can’t ever remember to cook dried ones in advance when I want them. Veggies are the same way – canned is cheap, frozen tastes better and also cheap. However, I only really like soup for lunches, so I’m thrilled to see so many recipes for dinner stuff.

  60. Potato Leek Soup
    1 lb yellow potatoes, cut into cubes
    1 leek, rinsed and cut up (or one yellow onion, sliced thin)
    1 thingajimmie celery, cut up.
    As much garlic as you can stand
    salt and pepper

    Toss in a pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn to the lowest setting and let cook for, oh, about two hours. If you don’t like it rustic, stuff it in the blender for a while, but pretty much everything goes to mooshy creamy goodness by itself.


    I made this last week when I was sick. I got seven or eight servings out of it.

  61. For those of us who cannot eat dairy, will not eat beans, must restrict our carbs for medical reasons, but are not vegans:

    Italian Meatloaf

    1lb package ground chuck (85% fat)
    1 egg
    1 cup stuffing breadcrumbs (the cubed kind)
    1/2 to 1 whole cup of tomato sauce (I make my own, but you could use bottled stuff from the store like Barilla)

    I put oregano, basil, parsley, pepper, onion and just a tiny bit of garlic into the meat and mix it, then work in the egg. Once the meat is wet, add the breadcrumbs, then mix in the tomato sauce.

    If you have a loaf pan, line it with wax paper and put the meat into the loaf pan. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. When you’re ready to put it in the oven, flip the loaf out onto a cookie sheet lined with foil. The loaf will hold its shape better this way.

    Bake at 350 for 50 minutes (give or take). Doesn’t do much in the way of generating gravy, if that’s what you like with your meatloaf, but it’s tasty and very good leftover.


  62. Then again, another aspect of cheap eats is planning. Not only do you need to have a collection of fail-safe recipes with inexpensive ingredients, you also need to plan ahead. This might sound anal, but armed with our family calendar I plan dinners for two weeks at a stretch. This makes it easier to stick to the shopping list as well. I find that keeping things such as canned beans and veggies in the cupboard, chicken and hamburger and stew meat in the freezer helps me stick to planned meals and keeps our costs low. I don’t assume that this will work for everyone, but it works well for my family.

    And one final cheap eat: Chicken Omigod (as in, “OMG! What’s for dinner?!”)

    6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
    4-5 potatoes, cut into 2″ chunks
    1 bag (1 lb.) baby carrots
    olive oil
    lemon juice
    granulated garlic
    salt and pepper to taste

    Turn oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken thighs in a 9×13 baking pan. Scatter potato chunks and baby carrots around chicken. Drizzle chicken and veggies with olive oil (I use ‘some’ but try for 1/4 – 1/3 c) and lemon juice (again ‘some’, but use same amount as olive oil). Sprinkle with granulated garlic (1 tsp for entire pan), salt and pepper to taste.

    Bake for 35-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through and veggies are fork tender. Turn chicken halfway through cooking. Serve with a salad or steamed veggies.

    This recipe is based on a Greek roasted chicken recipe which is standard in most Greek tavernas.

  63. My new favorite dish is so recipe, but it’s not really a dish, but an idea from an appetizer from PF Chang’s. And you can’t make it from stuff around the house. But, I like it because it’s so fresh and during the winter, sometimes I get tired of eating hot warm things, and need something crispy and spring like. Anyway, I bought bib lettuce, the kind that’s not on a head. Then, I made ground meat with taco seasoning, and tiny onion slices. Then using the lettuce as a shell, I filled with the taco meat, added chopped tomatoes and ranch dressing. So good, filling, but light! It takes no time at all to make. Depends on your area, how expensive the lettuce and tomato are, but I spent no more than $5 for enough for 2 people….minus ranch dressing, because I had that at home.

  64. *new favorite dish is an EASY recipe……….no idea how that typo happened..probably typing at work!

  65. Here’s my favorite easy on the wallet/clock recipe:

    Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes

    Chop up one-two red onion(s) and cook in one tablespoon olive oil. When the onions have softened add one can of chick peas plus half a cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add a quarter cup balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons of dried rosemary. Cook until all ingredients are warm. Serve over rice, quinoa, couscous for a main dish or as is as a side.

  66. You can make wraps pretty cheaply, and this can make a really filling dinner:

    2-3 cups flour
    tablespoon lard
    tsp salt

    1 pkt meat of choice (minced beef is my preference for these)
    1 onion
    2-3 cloves garlic
    handful of kidney beans or other legumes, or corn, or whatever
    tin chopped tommies, or small tin tommie puree
    2 birdseye, or 1/4 scotch bonnet chilli, if you have them
    whatever spices you have on hand – I like paprika on its own, or coriander seed with cinammon, or even more chilli and cocoa powder
    salad, cheese or whatever else you want

    for the filling:
    saute onions and garlic, add thinly sliced pepper once the onion starts to turn colour. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add meat, sprinkle spices over good and thick and cook until the meat has browned. Add beans and tomatoes or tomato paste.

    for the wraps:
    break lard up into small pieces and rub into the flour to form very fine crumbs. Add salt, then add enough water to form a firm dough. Chill the dough while the meat is cooking. Once filling is done, put a completely dry pan on over a high heat. Divide the dough into pieces about 2-inch in diameter. Roll into balls, then make a hole in each one with your thimb. Seal the top of the hole and roll again, to trap air inside. On a floured surface, roll each one out until it is almost see-through and cook them individually on the pan. Should take a minute on each side for each wrap, and they should puff up a ways, but then subside once off the heat.

    The supermarket near me sells big bags of avocados for cheap, and because no one around here eats them I can normally get a reduced bag, so I’ll generally layer salad/avo/meat/cheese in my wraps.

    I have no idea what food costs over your area but for me…

    1.5kg bag flr, 45p (use hardly any, loads leftover)
    500g block lard, 60p (use hardly any, loads leftover)
    500g tub minced meat, £1
    1kg bag onions, £1 approx?, use only one
    packet chillis, £1 or under, use only one
    kidney beans I can get a 500g bag of frozen for around 60p – use about 1/5
    spices, I dunno I always have a few knocking about
    salad, avos etc all optional

    so… the cost per meal from this, probably… £1.50 for the whole meal? For 2 people? Plus extras like cheese etc… maybe £2 – £2.50 tops if you go all out.

  67. The start-up costs for this recipe may seem daunting if you don’t have garam masala or cardamom on hand, but the investment is worth it, especially because you will get pots and pots of soup out of a small container of each spice. Adapted from, this soup is one of our favorites for winter. With a little bread or salad, it will keep you warm on even the coldest nights.

    (Makes 6 generous servings)

    2 onions, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or a scant half teaspoon ginger powder)
    6 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup red lentils
    1 can garbanzo beans, drained
    1 can cannellini beans
    1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
    1/2 cup diced carrots
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    1 teaspoon garam masala
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    In a large pot sauté the onions, garlic, celery, and ginger in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the spices and sauté all the aromatics together briefly.

    Add the broth, lentils, chick peas, cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, and carrots. Bring to a boil for a few minutes then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or longer, until the lentils are soft.

    Purée half the soup in a food processor or blender. Return the puréed soup to the pot, stir, and enjoy!

  68. I can second Lisa’s point on storing stuff. I keep a couple bags of flour, some lard, bags of dried beans and lentils, onions, and spices etc and anything that keeps well, as a stock put by. I also like to make in advance when I can – make up a big pot of chilli, or curry, or stew or soup at the weekend and portion it up, then freeze it. That way I can buy ingredients cheap and in bulk, and then I have meals set that I can have whenever, with just the extras and sides needing doing. It also means when the inevitable cessation of funds stops, that last week – 10 days before payday when I have literally no money for food isn’t an issue. So long as I have enough change to get the cats some fud, I’m sorted!

  69. One of my favorites, cheap, easy AND reheats like a dream:


    Chop up a bunch of odds and ends from the fridge, meat, veggies, cheese, whatever combo fits your fancy and place in the bottom of a well-greased muffin tin.

    Whisk eggs with a small amount of milk or cream (about what you would use for making scrambled eggs) – use about 1 egg per muffin.

    Pour the egg mixture over your chopped bits and bake for 25-30min on 325 F.

  70. I like to grab a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, some mushrooms, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, herbs, and whatever else I’m trying to use up, and throw it into a pasta sauce, which I freeze some, and eat the rest. I need to bring lunch to work, and that works just fine (with pasta, of course). Though today I’m having it with perogies, from my local Russian or Polish or ??? deli, that I don’t like and am trying to use up. Being neurotic, I tend to saute the mushrooms and onions, and roast zucchini and bell pepper before hand, but it also works to just throw it in together. I usually add salt, hot sauce, and sugar, though obviously, according to taste.

    Much of what I cook is like this, just a way to use up the veggies and not starve, yet not eat out. It rarely tastes as good, but is healthier and cheaper.

  71. MissPrism – hooray for nut butters and noodles! I too have convinced myself that peanut butter with soy, chili, and ginger makes a convincingly Thai dish with tofu and rice noodles (and maybe some bean sprouts and an egg if I’m feeling fancy). Cheap protein for studying!

    I had potato scones/waffles when I visited Scotland last year. Sweet heavens they are delicious! I can buy imported ones at fancy-schmancy shops here in Toronto but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of budget cooking, doesn’t it?

  72. Another Lentils recipe. I have no idea what anything costs – my thing is recipes that use what I have floating around, and this is one of those. I would assume it’s pretty cheap except for the sesame oil. You might want to halve it – might freeze well but I’ve never done so. It’s from the Frugal Gourmet’s Christmas book, with a few modifications (he uses converted rice, which I don’t like).

    Lentils and Rice with Onions and Sesame Oil

    4 medium yellow onions, peeled
    3 Tbs olive oil
    1 cup lentils
    3 1/2 cups cold water (maybe a little more)
    1 cup rice
    2 tsps salt
    2 Tbs sesame oil

    Dice 3 of the onions. Heat a large frying pan and add 2 Tbs olive oil (I use all 3 when not cooking last onion) and the diced onions. Saute until quite brown; set aside.

    In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, covered, and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the cooked onions to the lentils with the rice and the salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil.

    Slice the remaining onion into rings. Heat the frying pan again and sauté the onion rings in the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil until tender. Serve the sautéed onion rings over the lentils and rice (I often skip this step).
    Serves 8

    Also a fan of barley:

    Turkish Barley-Buttermilk Soup

    2 Tbs oil for sautéing
    2 large onions, chopped
    1 cup pearled medium barley
    5 cups seasoned stock (I usually use chicken broth)
    2 cups buttermilk or yogurt (whichever you have on hand)
    1 tsp dried dillweed
    1 pat or more butter

    Heat oil in a heavy pot and sauté onions until translucent. Add barley and sauté, stirring lightly, until translucent and slightly toasty-smelling. When onion is well browned, add stock and cook until barley is well done, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and slowly add buttermilk, then more stock to thin if necessary. Sprinkle in dill and add butter.
    4 servings

    This next one would probably be good in the crockpot but I never think of it in time.

    Nutty Barley Bake

    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 cup medium pearl barley
    1/2 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts
    1/4 cup butter
    1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
    1/4 tsp salt, optional
    1/8 tsp pepper
    2 cans (14.5 oz each) beef broth
    Additional parsley, optional

    In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion, barley and nuts in butter until barley is lightly browned. Stir in parsley, green onions, salt and pepper. Transfer to a greased 2-qt baking dish. Stir in broth. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
    Yield: 6 servings

    This next one freezes well, memory serves, but with five kids (including three teenagers), even if I make a big pot of it, it never sees the freezer anymore…

    Barley Burger Stew

    1/2 lb ground beef
    1 sm onion, chopped
    1/4 cup chopped celery
    2 1/4 cups tomato juice
    1/2 cup water
    1/4 cup medium pearl barley
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    for 2 Servings

    2 lb ground beef
    4 sm onion, chopped
    1 cup chopped celery
    10 cups tomato juice
    2 cups water
    1 cup medium pearl barley
    1Tbs and 1 tsp chili powder
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    for 8 servings

    In a saucepan over medium heat, cook beef, onion, and celery until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomato juice, water, barley, chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until barley is tender.

  73. My grandmother used to make this, and my mom (her DIL) picked it up. I added the apples — it’s also good without them.

    Per person:

    – 1 large or 2 small pork chops (bone-in or boneless, whatever’s on sale)
    – 1 medium onion, sliced
    – 1 medium potato, sliced
    – 1 small apple, also sliced
    – 1 small can of sauerkraut or 1/2 a small bag

    Salt and pepper the pork chops and brown them in a skillet in oil (I use olive, but any plain cooking oil is fine). Remove the pork and saute the onion until soft. Add the potato and apple, saute for a couple of minutes. Put the pork chops back in, add the sauerkraut on top, cover and cook over low heat for about 1/2 an hour, until the pork is cooked. I usually give it a stir every 10 minutes or so, to make sure nothing’s getting burned on the bottom.

    You can use any kind of apple you want, or leave it out. I would stick to boiling potatoes; bakers might be too mealy to taste good fried. I’ve also substituted kielbasa for the pork chops; slice the kielbasa into 1″ thick rounds. Come to think of it, this would probably be pretty tasty even without meat!

    If you want to get fancy, you can brine the pork chops first. This requires some planning, but the pork is a lot more tender. I generally use 2 cups of liquid to brine enough pork for 2 people to eat.

    Measure out liquid as needed into a sauepan; you can use water, OJ, apple cider or apple juice. For each cup of liquid, add 2 T salt and 2T sugar (I like to use brown sugar). If you want, you can add some mustard powder or prepared mustard (about 1 T of dry mustard powder).

    Bring this mix to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt, then allow to cool. When cool, pour brine over raw pork in a bowl or baggie, refrigerate overnight (I’ve even left it for 2 nights). When you’re ready to cook, rinse the meat very well, and don’t add any extra salt when cooking.

  74. Two recipes I cadged from the (oddly his site his blocked at my office so I can’t link to the recipes):

    One is baked kidney beans, which sounds weird but is seriously delicious. The original recipe uses chorizo and mint, but I find you can use anything (I normally use regular italian sausage):

    1) Cut up and saute two onions, about four sausages, and some garlic. I’ve also added spinach, which was good.
    2) Add two cans kidney beans, about a cup and a half of wine, chicken stock and/or water, and salt and pepper (plus whatever herbs you want).
    3) Pour into shallow baking dish and bake at 450 until liquid is mostly evaporated and the top is deliciously browned.

    Seriously, somehow this ends up awesome.

    The second recipe is great with either broccoli or brussel sprouts (my preference). Toss with olive oil and garlic, and put in the oven at 450 for about twenty minutes, or until getting golden brown. Take out and sprinkle with lemon juice and parmesean cheese. It’s amazing.

  75. Also, Lori, I know this was a million years ago (in thread terms), but I love that you make kosharee at home. I’ve never made it, but I used to eat it all the time when I lived in Egypt and you could buy a huge bowl for 50 cents. For some reason, it had never occurred to me how simple it is to make despite all the components. I need to give this a try. :-)

  76. Eeeee recipes :-)

    Red Lentil Thing #1 (seriously, that’s become its name in this household):

    Sautee an chopped onion and clove of garlic in oil or butter. Add 2 cups of water, 1 cup red lentils (the little orange ones), salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika to taste. Reduce heat to an enthusiastic simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until lentils are done. For Red Lentil Thing #2, add more garlic and a generous quantity of turmeric. Somehow the garlic-turmeric combination does a passable imitation of chicken broth.

    Fish-Leek-Potato Chowder

    Sautee the chopped white bits of 2 or 3 leeks in olive oil or butter. Add chopped potatoes and water to cover the veggies (yes, I’m real bit on the whole “measuring” thing). When potatoes are tender, add diced fish (any will do; I prefer trout, tilapia, or perch). Simmer until fish is done, add salt and pepper to taste.

    The useful thing about this recipe is that it can be a fish chowder with a little leek for flavor and potatoes for creaminess, a potato chowder with some fish for richness, or a standard vegetarian potato-leek soup, depending on your budget and vegetarian-ness (though if you don’t use any fish, you might want to throw in some herbs or mushrooms or use veggie broth instead of water to bulk it up a bit). You can also puree it before serving if that’s more your thing.

  77. Er…for the chowder recipe you should add the green parts of the leeks when you add the fish. Or a few minutes beforehand if they’re big and tough.

  78. I have been shopping at Aldi. It is made of win! It cuts about 30% off our grocery bill and at least here in Australia pretty much all the stuff is just re-badged name-brand stuff, so good quality unlike a lot of store brands. Canned beans and lentils are so cheap they’re about the same cost as dried, and saves time cooking. I also invested in a pressure cooker, I got one for 50% off at a department store sale. I don’t eat meat but My Nigel does and pressure cookers turn tough budget cuts into melty soft meat. We can make a big load of curry or stew in 20 minutes!

    Favourite cheap veg curry for a crowd or a fortnight

    Sautee in butter, ghee, or oil in a big pot:
    one or two chopped brown onions
    garlic, chili (fresh or dried, doesn’t matter – just to your taste)

    add dollop of curry paste (whatever style, korma and tikka work well with veg) and sautee for a minute

    Drain and put into pot:
    2 x cans brown lentils (440g cans…that’s what, about 14oz?)
    2 x cans chickpeas
    2 x cans kidney beans
    2 x cans chopped tomato
    2 -3 x cans water

    Stir it all up and let it simmer to the consistency you like. Serve with rice or flatbread. Freezes and reheats really well.

    If you like it meaty, only use the lentils. Chop up whatever meat you want (pretty much anything works – beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish) and let it marinate in the canned tomatoes, with a dash of vinegar, for however long you can be bothered, then add to the curry. You may need to add more water because the meat can take longer to cook than canned beans.

  79. Tamale Pie

    1 lb ground turkey ($1.70 for the kind in a “chub”)
    1 packet taco seasoning mix (.50)
    1 16 oz can tomato sauce (.45)
    1 16 oz can diced tomatoes (.45)
    1 16 oz can corn, drained (.50)
    1 small can French Fried Onions – optional ($1.50)
    1 package cornbread mix (.40)
    milk and egg according to cornbread directions (.50?)
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1 assuming $4/lb cheese)

    Brown turkey in skillet, drain fat if necessary. Add taco seasoning mix, tomato sauce, tomatoes and corn. Cook, stirring constantly, until hot and bubbly. If using, stir in 1/2 can of fried onions. Pour into 9×9″ baking dish (or similar size). Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions. Spread batter over turkey mixture. Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes, or until cornbread is done. Remove from oven, top with cheese and remaining onions. Return to oven for 2 minutes to melt cheese.

    Serves 4 – 6 for total cost of $7 or so.

  80. Two of my favourites.

    Holycraptheseareamazing cookies (no bake)

    1 cup sugar
    1 cup corn syrup
    18 oz Peanut Butter
    6 cups corn flakes

    Put the corn flakes aside in a bowl. In a saucepan at some decent heat stir together the corn syrup and sugar together until they’re all melted together. The instant they start to boil, remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, which will melt in making an awesome sticky peanut butter glop. Pour the glop over the corn flakes and stir it in. While still soft, make little balls on the cornflake-peanut-butter-goo onto wax paper and wait for it to set. After it’s set, you have some awesome super easy no-bake peanut butter cookies.

    For added awesome feel free to melt some chocolate and dribble it over.

    And the following is one of my all-time-favourite entrees. It just tastes so good. You’ll notice that the directions are pretty vague, and I’m sorry. I’ve never seen an actual recipe. We always just sort of looked and estimated and so…yeah.


    Popeye Seed Chicken and Rice

    1-2 bottles Popeye Seed Salad Dressing
    2-8 Chicken Breasts
    Some rice, instant or not. I’m going to assume you can make rice.
    A crock pot

    Put the chicken breasts in the crock pot (frozen even, it doesn’t matter if they’re thawed), and then fill the pot up with enough popeye seed dressing to almost entirely cover them (or entirely cover them, depending on the size of the crock pot, number of breasts, and whether you’re worried you’ll burn anything). Set the pot on a medium high heat, and let it sit around, covered, for 2-4 hours, checking every once in a while to make sure you’re not burning anything.

    After the dressing looks like half (or more or less, depending) of it has been pretty well absorbed or evaporated, stir the chicken with a fork. It should be so radically tender at this point that stirring it immediately shreds it into tiny little pieces. Which is awesome, because shredded chicken is what you want.

    Make some rice. I’ll wait. And the chicken can wait, too. It’s a crock pot. Waiting is what it does best.

    Put some rice on a plate, and then glop a bunch of the yummy shredded chicken mess on top of it. Now eat it and rejoice. Because it’s unbelievably yummy.

  81. Since there has been some discussion of rice and rice cookers, I’m wondering if y’all have tried making it in the microwave? I’ll never go back to rice on the stovetop – microwave rice is as near to foolproof as I’ve found.

    1 cup long-grain rice (the plain, cheap kind – not “converted”)
    2 cups water

    Combine in 2 quart casserole dish with tight-fitting lid. (Mine is Pyrex.) *Microwave on high for 6 minutes, then on 60% power for 17 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes (this step is crucial), then fluff with fork.

    It makes perfectly fluffy rice for me every time, and no more boil-overs or scraping burned rice off the bottom of a saucepan.

    Note: The recipe as I originally found it called for 5 minutes on high, then 15 minutes at 50%, but I’ve tweaked it over the years to fit my microwave. You may want to start out with original recipe and go from there.

  82. Oh, also discovered the other day:

    1 quart diced tomatoes + 1 pint salsa = instant gazpacho :-) Add water or tomato juice if needed. It is infinitely better with homemade salsa and tomatoes canned last summer, but is probably quite good with Evil Industrial Tomatoes(TM) as well.

  83. I think you can make virtually anything out of sauteed onions and garlic, spices, beans, and miscellaneous vegetables. Here’s a basic template for, well, everything.

    And if you can’t make it out of beans and onions, you can probably make it out of foccacia dough.

  84. Ooo recipes! I’ll have to look through all of these in much more detail later. :-D

    Here is one that can be super cheap or fancied-up, and I make it all the time. I might make it this week for the third week in a row, because it’s that good.

    Baked Mac & Cheese:
    1 lb. pasta (elbows, penne, whatever. I use gluten-free Tinkinyada rice noodles now and it still works great), cooked according to package instructions
    1-2 T butter
    1 c milk (I substitute chicken broth, it’s basically just for the richness and to blend the eggs)
    2 eggs
    Some kind of cheese*
    Topping (traditionally, breadcrumbs, but I have found grated parmesan – in slivers, not super super fine ground – to be MUCH better, because it becomes extra delicious when it’s browned. But you need something or the noodles get hard. I also add slices of fresh tomato, if I have tomato, because OMG good)
    Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 350º. Drain cooked pasta, pour into glass casserole dish. Add butter and salt and pepper, stir to mix. Add whatever cheese is going into the pasta, and stir so it’s well-distributed. Beat eggs in a bowl with milk (or broth), and then evenly pour over the pasta. Top casserole with toppings. Cook until well-browned – at least half an hour. EAT.

    * Okay, so the original version of this recipe in my family came from a cheese cookbook my mom had, and it was all about being economical and called for crumbled slices of American cheese (7 or 8 slices, if I remember right). I think American cheese is pretty gross, but in THIS recipe it actually is pretty fantastic. American has lactose, though, so I don’t eat it anymore. I now substitute grated fontina, or lately fontina + crumbled goat cheese, which is FANTASTIC but not very cheap. I have a friend whose secret ingredient for baked mac and cheese is smoked gouda, and she swears by it, so that is also a good choice. I have also used havarti, which was perfectly good. I think the trick is just to use some CHEESE.

  85. Second easy, cheap recipe:

    Chicken piccata
    Some chicken breast tenders (or hammered-thin chicken breasts, but they’re more work)
    2 lemons; juice one (or half of one – a few tablespoons of juice is fine), slice the other into thin slices
    optional breading supplies (egg, flour)
    salt and pepper

    Salt and pepper chicken breasts. If breading, bread the chicken breasts by dipping in egg and dredging in flour. Heat butter in pan. Fry chicken breasts until browned, a few minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan. Add a few tablespoons of water (optional but less cheap: white wine), deglaze pan for a minute, scraping up bits of chicken with spatula. Add lemon juice, deglaze for another little while (optional: add some capers!). Put chicken back into pan, top with lemon slices, and cook for a minute or until fully cooked through. Eat. Very lemony.

  86. When making scalloped potatoes, instead of using all potatoes, alternate layers of potatoes and tart apples, such as granny smith, and use all cheddar cheese. Delicious!

    Instead of mashed potatoes, try half potatoes, half rutabagas.

  87. Christine, I think the microwave might work well for people with an attention span or for Minute Rice, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burnt brown rice in the microwave.

    It’s been 9 months since the last burnt rice in the microwave incident and I still smell burnt smell when we run the microwave for more than a few minutes.

    The rice cooker has been a dream in that regard; set it, forget it, no burns ever!

  88. Saturday Potato Soup

    I always get 8 or 9 biggish ladles out of this, but choose your own serving size. Except maybe for the bacon, the ingredients are regular staples or things that lurk forever in our pantry or fridge, so I don’t know the cost per batch . . . for us, it’s kind of a ‘bonus meal’ out of whatever we have left before we go shopping on Sunday. Hence the name.

    6 small potatoes, peeled and chunked (D&D diced, we call it)
    2 carrots (or the equivalent in baby carrots or carrot chips, whatever), peeled and cut into small pieces
    2 stalks of celery, diced however you like celery (optional, won’t ruin anything if you don’t have them)
    Chicken broth or boullion cubes (optional, but adds flavor)
    One onion (I use a large one, but I like onions)
    6 Tablespoons of flour
    1 t. salt
    dash pepper
    various flavorings (see below)
    6 Tablespoons of butter
    1.5 cups of milk (whole is best, but it will work with whatever you have)
    Shredded cheese (optional, but adds that certain something)
    BACON or decent bacon-like products (optional, but come on . . . )

    Boil these in your soup pot in about 8 cups of water (or half water, half chicken broth). Add a bay leaf or two if you got ’em and simmer in lower heat until very tender (the potatoes should smush when you test them). You have about twenty or thirty minutes to kill, so:

    Chop the onion.
    Put the flour in a small bowl with the salt and pepper. Add some flavor: oregano, more pepper, some granulated garlic if you have it (if not, add some chopped or minced garlic to the waiting onion pile or skip it), maybe some rosemary. You are using bland veggies, so be bold here.

    Cook your bacon the way you like it and set it aside to firm up.

    When the veggies are done, drain the liquid into something (you don’t need more than a cup or so, so don’t bother measuring) and put the veggies in another bowl.

    Melt the butter in your soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until hte onion goes translucent and bendy. Add the flavored flour and stir for one minute until everything goes lightly golden.

    Add the milk and stir until it goes thick and bubbly (*DON’T BOIL THIS). Fold in the saved veggies and mash a few if they don’t mash themselves. Look at the result and use the reserved cooking liquid to thin to whatever consistency you like potato soup. Taste and add more flavor if you want–I like a little Worchestershire sauce in this.

    Crumble the bacon and hoard half.

    Bowl it up and let everyone sprinkle with cheese and whatever bacon you left them.

  89. OH OH OH not SUPER cheap, but in the summer if you have fresh herbs it is, and it’s not hugely expensive, either! (And then I’ll take a break!)

    Chicken Cordon-Bleu (this came from one of the America’s Best cookbooks, so it’s a fancy chef award-winning adaptation of cordon bleu)

    Serves 4:
    -Four chicken breast halves, hammered thin (this part is time-consuming, messy, and very fun)
    -Fresh parsley, rosemary, and I think basil but I forget, finely chopped (forget quantities here – enough to coat four chicken breasts!)
    -4 slices of ham (calls for prosciutto, but cheaper with cheaper ham!)
    -4 slices of swiss cheese (calls for gruyere, but same thing)
    -salt and pepper
    -olive oil

    Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts generously. Fold each breast in half with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese inside, and hold closed with toothpick. Mix herbs with a bit of olive oil on a plate, and dredge each chicken breast packet through the herbs so they are coated. (Note that the original recipe has you oil the chicken with a brush and THEN dredge through dried herbs, but I did this once by mistake and it seemed to work better.) Heat a frying pan over medium heat, and add 1-2 T of olive oil. Fry chicken breasts in the pan (probably will fit 2 at a time, so you’ll do two batches), 8 min. to a side until well browned and cooked through. Try not to die from how good it smells when the rosemary fries in the oil, OMG. Best to do this one with a fan, because it gets smoky, and with a spatterguard if you have one, because it is spattery.

  90. And:

    Spoonfork’s Chicken Nuggets

    This is very easy to double or halve or whatever. Three large boneless chicken breasts feed four hungry people (one of them me) and a Baby who puts away five or six nuggets every time I make this I modified the recipe from one in an awesome book called One Bite Won’t Kill You that I’ve bought three times because I keep giving it away. Depending on the chicken you use and the cost of the other ingredients, this can be made for about $6.00 per the following batch.

    About 20 ounces of raw, deboned, skinned, fairly uniform chicken chunks (light, dark, whatever you like for nuggets)
    A sleeve of crackers (Ritz, Club, whatever–Garlic Butter Club are oooooooo)
    About 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (shreds or dust, doesn’t matter)
    Granulated garlic if you have it, about a teaspoon or to taste
    About 1/2 c of vegetable oil (yes, olive is a vegetable)
    Whatever dipping sauces you like–we usually don’t bother.

    Heat the oven to about 350. Put foil over one (or two) cookie sheets and spray or otherwise lube the foil–if you don’t have foil, lube the pan, but expect more clean up.

    Put the desleeved crackers, cheese, and garlic in a sealable plastic bag (or a large mortar, whatever you have) and use them as a stress reliever until you have crumbs to very small pieces. Pour into a shallow dish or keep in the bag if you prefer shake n’ bake.

    Either put the chicken in a bowl and pour the oil over it, or put the oil in a bowl and add a few nuggets at a time. coat the chicken with the oil. Coat the oiled nuggets with the crumbs (I prefer to crumb the chicken in small batches with the dish method) and line them up on the prepared cookie sheets (they can be very close, but not touching).

    Bake until golden brown (check after 10 minutes, then every five, as your oven may vary), then hack the largest one apart to make sure they’re done.

  91. One of my favorite easy foods is Ochazuke, rice with green tea. Put rice in the bottom of a bowl, top with furikake (Japanese rice seasoning), pour hot green tea over it. You can add wasabi for a slightly different taste to the broth, and you can put all kinds of meats or vegetables on top of the rice before you pour on the tea, I tend to use canned salmon or whatever’s leftover from earlier in the week. I have no idea how much this meal would cost by itself because I always have a big bag of brown rice and a couple of different flavors of furikake sitting around the house.

    My brother the chef served a cucumber salad at a party a few years ago, and I’ve adopted it as my own. This is an approximation because we never really measure as we make it.
    1 seedless cucumber (or 2-3 regular cucumbers with seeds and skin removed), cut in 1/2″ cube-ish pieces
    1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in halves
    1 can of garbanzo beans, do not drain
    1 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonaded
    1 Tbsp fresh mint, chiffonaded
    1/4 cup salad olive oil
    1/4 cup sherry vinegar
    1/4 cup feta crumbled

    Mix the salt, pepper, mint, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and bean liquid in a bowl, stir and set aside.

    Mix cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing mix. Add feta.

    This should end up with about equal parts cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans. You can substitute different kinds of beans, add onion, use different vinegar (cider or any wine vinegar should work), use a different kind of salad oil.

    Vegetarian Brunswick Stew from the Sundays at the Moosewood cookbook is amazingly tasty and I usually swap out canned or frozen for all the veggies except onions because I like to keep the ingredients on hand. This freezes very well, too. I also like the Groundnut Stew from the same cookbook, but that one involves more work.

    I also tend to make at least one batch of split pea w/ ham soup each winter and freeze some of it for later. Chop up onions, celery, and carrots, put in big pot with a ham hock. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for a while. Pull out the bone, pull meat off the bone and toss back into the pot, add split peas, cook until peas are done ~20 min.

  92. Here is a recipe I posted a while back on my cooking blog (

    For dinner last night I did a simple, but tasty chicken and rice dish. For this you will need:

    skinless, boneless chicken (I used 10 chicken thighs)
    2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic
    1/2 small onion, diced
    2 cups chicken stock (tho in this case I used turkey stock)
    2 tablespoons paprika
    salt and pepper
    1 cup uncooked rice
    1 large container of sour cream (again, in this case I used plain, whole milk yogurt)
    2 tsp oil

    Cube the chicken into small bite sized pieces. Take a big pot and put on burner over medium high heat. When the pan gets hot, add oil. When oil is shimmery, add chicken and stir it to brown. Add onions and garlic. Because the chicken is browning en mass, it will create juices and cook in that, it won’t “brown” but this is what we want (as opposed to cooking the chicken a few pieces at a time and not getting the juices and getting that nice golden brown goodness on the outside). When the chicken is cooked on all sides add the chicken stock. Season with paprika, salt and pepper and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

    After 15 minutes, bring pot to boil and add 1 cup of uncooked rice. Let boil a couple minutes then turn heat down to low and put a lid on the pot. Let it cook for 20 minutes covered. Don’t remove the lid.

    When the 20 minutes are up, add the container of sour cream (or yogurt) and let it heat thru. You can make a slurry of 1 tablespoon flour and water or use water and corn starch to thicken it.

    This recipes made LOTS. Plenty for 2nds and leftovers for lunch.

  93. Not sure if links are allowed, but if so: y’all have got to check out Digs Magazine. Their recipe index in particular is awesome. I can vouch for the size of their recipes; when they say “serves 2” they mean “serves 2 extremely hungry gluttonous people, and even then you probably have leftovers.” I have personally tried the Mediterranean Veggie Stew, the Smoked Salmon/Sugar Snap Peas/Bowties meal, Couscous with 7 Vegetables, Braised Chicken with Cabbage… All yummy. Dependable recipes and fairly cheap.

    Also, my husband is very partial to a recipe I got from for Day-Before-Payday-Hash. Roughly speaking:
    4 – 6 potatoes, cooked & diced
    1 pound precooked sausage (tried with kielbasa and bratwurst)
    1 12-16 oz. can corn, drained
    1 – 2 onions, chopped
    1 – 2 green peppers, chopped
    1/4 tsp. dried pepper seeds
    salt/pepper to taste
    1 – 2 tbsp. oil
    Optional: 4 – 6 eggs

    Put the oil in a pan and heat it up. Saute the peppers/onions with the sausage until the onions are translucent. Add the pepper seeds and other spices, along with the diced potatoes. Saute for a few minutes, enough for the potatoes to get warmed up and absorb some flavor. Add corn and cover the pan; let it steam until hot (the corn will add some moisture so it shouldn’t burn or anything).

    Meanwhile, if you want, in a separate pan, fry or poach eggs. Try not to break the yolk!

    Now, serve a plateful of hash with an egg on top. This is really easy and good.

    Also from allrecipes, I recommend the Butter Chickpea Curry recipe, which has infinite variation (I’ve made it minus chickpeas plus ground turkey, plus carrots/green peppers, minus tomatoes, minus milk, etc. [not all at the same time]).

  94. Daphne B, that sounds just like a weekend breakfast recipe we used to make when I was a kid except we’d leave out the corn and scramble the eggs into the hash instead of serving it on top. I really need to try that again. :-)

  95. For lentil-rice recipes, a Lebanese friend of mine always adds a dash of allspice and a dash of cumin. The allspice is something I would never have thought of, but it turns out fabulous.

  96. This is a variation of your “Ye Olde cream of _____ casserole
    Chicken and biscuits

    I really don’t measure anything, I just chop some left over cooked chicken, cream of mushroom or chicken soup, frozen mixed vegetables, mix it all together and top it off with store bought biscuits. Then I bake it at 350 for 25 min or when the biscuits are brown. Yummy!

  97. Skipstress, I love Ochazuki! I have it for breakfast sometimes because it reminds me of my late mother-in-law who introduced me to the dish. Mmmm…yummy.

    One of my favorite tricks for making meals more interesting on a budget is citrus. A dash of fresh lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or tangerine juice or zest can perk up all sorts of foods. Try it with roasted root vegetables, roast or pan-fried meats, noodles, rice, lentils…it works with an amazing variety of things. And a lemon costs next to nothing.

    As an added bonus, you won’t get scurvy, either!

    Another favorite of mine is to cook a pot of rice on the stovetop. Before you put the lid on, though, add some chopped up fresh or frozen veggies and/or meat cut in small pieces. By the time the rice is finished, the meat and veggies are cooked. Add a touch of soy or teriyaki sauce, and you’ve got a delicious meal.

    Again, lentils are great on a budget. Saute up some onions, garlic, and possibly some finely chopped bell peppers. Set aside. Cook some lentils (any color you like or have on hand) in a saute pan in broth (I like vegetable broth, but beef or chicken broth works just as well), or even a mixture of wine and water (Again, what kind you choose depends on personal taste and what’s available. If you’ve opened up a bottle recently and left some behind, this is a great way to use it up), add in any fresh or dried herbs you like. When the lentils are nearly done, add in the onions, etc., some leafy vegetables (spinach and suchlike leafy greens are particularly good for this, but feel free to add things like broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, or whatever you happen to like and have on hand, and a sliced, pre-cooked sausage (Kielbasa, bratwurst or some other fairly boldly flavored sausage is my pick). Cook until the veggies are cooked and the sausage is warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve up to applause.

    Trust me, I’ve done a thousand variations on the above theme and have yet to make something that wasn’t good.

  98. Peanut sauce is great, and just that and some chicken or tofu and whatever veggies over rice or noodles rocks my world. I use this recipe, and the basics are just natural peanut butter (can be a little spendy, I know, but pretty cheap if you have a Trader Joe’s or a store that sells it in bulk), brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, and soy sauce, and some kind of spice.

    Also: Ever try pasta with sardines? Seriously, a “con sarde” sauce rules, if the idea of those little canned fishies doesn’t gross you out. And if you like anchovies there’s the old pasta puttanesca standby (the name literally means “of prostitutes,” because that’s what they used to eat in Italy when they were broke, which was most of the time). Basically, anchovies, capers, some kind of tomato base. White anchovies probably are a bit less “anchovy tasting” than the cheap ones in cans, but they are also hella expensive.

  99. Easy Healthy Pasta with Beans, Dairy-Free Style

    Cook pasta of choice according to package.

    Saute lots of garlic (lots being to your taste) in olive oil. Add veggies — I like carrots, celery, bell peppers — and oregano and basil to taste (or Italian-blend seasoning) and saute until vegetables are tender. Add one can of chopped tomatoes and one can of rinsed cannellini beans, and a bit more olive oil — cook over medium heat until beans break down and become “creamy.” Add chopped spinach, and stir until cooked.

    Serve over pasta. Sorry for the lack of a good solid recipe — I change this up based on what I’m feeling like that hour.

  100. “White anchovies probably are a bit less “anchovy tasting” than the cheap ones in cans, but they are also hella expensive.”

    White anchovies are vinegar-y, and to me they don’t taste anything like canned or dried anchovies. They taste more like pickled herring. I was kind of irritated at this discovery (even though I like pickled herring) after shelling out mucho cash for them.

    “Easy Healthy Pasta with Beans, Dairy-Free Style”

    Ehhh, pasta fazool!

  101. Also: Recently I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was to make buttermilk biscuits from scratch; I had some buttermilk left over from making a red velvet cake, and I decided to try this recipe (second one on the page). I don’t have cake flour around generally, so I substitute one cup minus two tablespoons of all-purpose plus two tablespoons of cornstarch for every cup of cake flour. You don’t even need a rolling pin or a cutter; you can just pat them out by hand and cut them with a drinking glass. YUM!

  102. And if you have more time, you can try the variant described here by the guy who runs Podnah’s Pit BBQ here in PDX. Same basic ingredients, but he takes extra chilling time when mixing the butter with the flour, and rolls it thin with a rolling pin, then folds it into thirds and then rolls it into the 1/2 inch for cutting. And he bakes at 400 for 15 minutes. I tried this variant and it was even better. But if you’re pressed for time, the first recipe’s awfully good. And everything is better with hot biscuits, even some crappy old scrambled eggs.

  103. Oh, and I second pasta with sardines. The first time I made it I considered it experimental and did not expect to be all that thrilled with it, but with olive oil, garlic, Italian parsley, lemon juice and a little grated lemon zest, I was shocked at how delicious it was, even with cheap sardines.

  104. Got some dried beans? Got some stale bread or oats?

    Whiz them in a blender ’til it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs, and you have instant bean-burger or felafel mix.

    Mix 1 cup of the dry stuff with water and plenty of soy sauce, and wait 15 minutes. Roll in whatever, and fry.


    If you’re feeling rich, add nuts to the dry stuff before you blend it, or grate cheese, carrot, zucchini into the wet stuff.

  105. Peasant cooking, 101, baby! Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, eat with some kind of bread. Classic.

    I’ve become a lot more willing to experiment with my cooking since I started baking bread. If I’m not sure how something is going to turn out, I just bake a loaf of bread with it, because even if the meal ends up sucking, you can’t go wrong with a loaf of fresh-baked bread, and everybody will still be full and happy.

  106. Also, I’ve been baking French bread with Misty’s recipe ever since she did her Thanksgiving 2008 recipe post on Shakesville. You’ll want to make sure to leave about 2 hours between the time you start making it and the time you plan to eat, but I’m with Lori, a meal with fresh bread never sucks completely. Even canned soup is great if you’ve got hot bread.

  107. Oh, shush, you. DO YOU GATHER THEM BY MOONLIGHT?

    Well, you got me there. Next summer I’m going to gather them by moonlight and think of Shapely Prose.

  108. There are so many great recipes on here that I think I’ll be trying new recipes for months.

    I just fixed this for dinner with some pasta. It’s very easy to resize the recipe for your needs.

    Oven-Fried Pork Chops

    4 pork chops
    2 T butter, melted
    1 beaten egg
    2 T milk
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 c Italian breadcrumbs

    1. Pour butter into 13x9x2 inch pan, tilting pan to coat the bottom.

    2. Combine egg, milk, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in a separate shallow dish.

    3. Dip chops in egg mixture. Then coat both sides with breadcrumbs.

    4. Bake, uncovered, in a 425F oven for 10 minutes. Turn chops. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until done.

  109. Another offering


    1 lb lasagna noodles (not the pre-boiled kind)
    1 lb ground beef
    1 container ricotta cheese (I think it’s 8 oz.)
    1 egg
    4 c shredded mozzarella (add more if you really like cheese)
    1 large jar spaghetti sauce (I think it’s 24oz.)
    Spices as you like
    Veggies as you like

    1. Brown and drain the meat. Spice as you like.

    2. Cook noodles according to box directions. Drain and run cold water over noodles.

    3. Let meat and noodles cool before lasagna assembly.

    4. Use a large casserole dish (11×14) or roasting pan at least 2 inches deep.

    5. Empty ricotta into a bowl and beat in the raw egg until creamy.

    6. Pour enough spaghetti sauce into the pan to barely cover the bottom.

    7. Layer noodles.

    8. Spread ricotta over noodles.

    9. Spread spaghetti sauce over noodles.

    10. Toss mozzarella over the layer.

    11. Sprinkle some meat over the layer.

    12. Repeat steps 7-11 until you are done, adding extra cheese to the top of the dish. Work in the veggies after the spaghetti sauce if you like.

    13. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

    Makes 12+ servings. Seriously, you might want to make two smaller pans, so you can immediately freeze half if you are only cooking for one or two people.

    This takes over an hour and a half start to finish, but it is so worth it for the massive amount of food.

  110. When I have chicken I need to get rid of, I’ll make mini pizzas on pita bread. Or if I’m not with my boyfriend, I’ll make a mini pizza out of olive oil, spinach, and feta cheese. The directions for the pizza are kinda “duh”, but here they are!

    1a. Cut up chicken into small pieces and cook it in a skillet with chicken broth/stock until done. Set aside.
    1b. If doing the veggie version, prepare chopped spinach however you see fit. I just throw the frozen stuff in the microwave. After cooking it, I usually add some olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
    2a. With your pitas already on the baking sheet, spread tomato sauce on them. Afterward, layer shredded cheese of choice.
    2b. Veggie version – spread olive oil over the pita, then add garlic powder. Put as much spinach as you want on the pitas, and then sprinkle feta cheese on top.
    3. Put in oven for about ten minutes!

    Ta-da. Done. It’s a very easy dinner to make!

    Again, if it’s just me, I have no problem eating a huge bowl of spinach with some olive oil, butter (a small amount), garlic powder, and salt in it.

    I also like making a Rachel Ray recipe for “tandoori” chicken. I’ve made it using turkey breast instead of chicken before too, and it came out rather nice. However, chicken drumsticks, thighs, or breast with skin seem to be the tastiest choice for this dish.

    Ingredients (for 4-6 ppl)

    1 cup Greek yogurt
    2 inches grated ginger root
    4 cloves garlic, grated, divided
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    2 teaspoons coriander
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 tablespoons olive oil


    If your kitchen is organized, it’s a very quick recipe. It’s not that cheap unless you already have a lot of Indian spices lying around.

    Anyway, preheat your oven to 500-550 degrees. Combine all that stuff that’s listed above (minus the chicken), coat your chicken in salt and pepper, and then coat it in the very smelly yogurt mixture. Cook for 20-25 minutes and enjoy!

  111. Last one (unless I remember something else)

    Ham and Hashbrown Casserole

    26 oz. frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed
    1 lb cooked ham, cubed
    1 can cream of potato soup
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/4 c grated parmesan
    1 c shredded cheddar

    1. Combine first 4 ingredients in lightly greased 13×9 pan. I just stir them together in the pan to cut down on dishes.

    2. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

    3. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake for additional 5 minutes.

    Makes 6-8 servings. It reheats really well in the microwave.

  112. Broiled Tomato Sandwich

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I use red wine vinegar.)
    4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
    3 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    4 slices bread, lightly toasted

    1. Preheat oven to broil. (I use my toaster oven.)
    2. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Marinate the tomatoes in the mixture, stirring occasionally.
    3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parsley, oregano, black pepper and 4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese.
    4. Spread mixture on each slice of toasted bread. Place marinated tomatoes on each slice and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
    5. Place on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese turns golden brown. Serve immediately, open faced or closed.

    * Important note *

    For this recipe, I often times use submarine rolls cut in half lengthwise, and I’ve found that the amount of mayo and spices is not enough for 4 pieces of bread. I doubt it’d be enough for regular bread.
    I’m going to mix up large batches of the mayo mixture and oil-vinegar to have on hand, so that I can easily prepare this in the future. I like the mixture of tastes.

  113. Haven’t read the whole thread, so apologies for redundancy.

    I’m with everybody on the peanut sauce thing. And though I loathe Rachael Ray with the heat of a hundred burning suns, she has a good, basic-cupboard-ingredients recipe for sauce that I use all. the. time. The Food Network print-ready recipe is for a whole (30-minute *gag*) meal and all I use is the sauce bit. Here’s the sauce, with my mods noted:

    “Satay” sauce:
    4 rounded tablespoonfuls chunky peanut butter (I use more)
    3 tablespoons dark soy sauce/Tamari
    3 tablespoons honey
    1-inch ginger root, peeled and minced (ginger powder works fine too)
    1 clove garlic, crushed (I use more–again, powder is fine)
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/2 orange, juiced

    I then throw in whatever fresh or frozen stir-fry-type veggies I have, cook some rice and eat. I’m a pesco-vegetarian, my hubby’s an anything-vore and we usually make this with semi-expensive seitan–but it’s good with just veggies or with meatses. Good fridge- or freezer-cleaning recipe, as are all stir-fries.

  114. Another quick veggie-protein addition to pasta is a can of chickpeas–drained and rinsed. I don’t even heat them up…but I love chickpeas. Box o’ pasta, can o’ tomato sauce, whatever cheese you got and can o’ garbanzos–great over baby spinach!

  115. I’m just now realising that I spelled “poppy” as “popeye” in my whole post. That doesn’t even begin to make sense. I must have been high from bacon smoke or something (I made bacon in my room forgetting that our stove has no grease catcher thingy and so, while the bacon was delicious, the entire room was all hazy and bacon-y…)

  116. My go-to is not only fairly cheap, but one I can make when I am feeling dead tired and sleepy.

    Pesto Clam Pasta, aka my version of John Hinterberger’s Clam Spaghetti
    What I consider necessary ingredients: A chopped onion, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, a can of chopped clams, parmesan cheese (canned is fine), pound of spaghetti or other pasta, dried basil and garlic powder.

    Optional: sliced olives or mushrooms (I prefer fresh mushrooms, but tastes vary); can of diced tomatoes; another can of chopped clams; spinach, broccoli, or other veggies you have laying around; red pepper flake; oregano; cilantro; white wine. Can substitute fresh basil and parmesan, in fact the original recipe strongly urged it, but hey, I’m talking about how I make it ;)

    Warm a tablespoon or so of olive oil in the pan on low and added one onion that you’ve chopped up. Let the onion cook without browning, sharing it’s juices with the oil and becoming translucent. This can take a while, which gives you an opportunity to put a large pot of water on to boil and to clear stuff out of your sink for the pasta strainer.

    When the onions are clear, put the pasta in the pot of boiling water. And add the juice from the clams to the onions, followed by some grated parmesan, garlic, and basil. These are all seasonings, so it’s okay to add some, taste, add more, taste. You can turn the heat up a bit a bit, but you don’t want it to boil away either.

    About the time the noodles are getting done, stir the clams into your sauce. Drain the noodles, then put them into the pan with the sauce and toss them around. Slather more parmesan onto the pan and serve.

    This is a fairly adaptable dish. If you have some white wine or sliced mushrooms or olives, you can add them with the onions. Most leftover (cooked or quick-cooking) veggies can be added with the clam juice. You can use whatever noodle you have on hand, and I’ve done a risotto-ish version with rice. It’s one of my Lent staples, actually….

  117. Time-Machine, what’s even better is if you read your post imagining that “seed” is the past tense of “see.” Then it becomes all about what Popeye observed while he was out shopping. :)

  118. Mini Meatloaves – they freeze well and are super easy to make.

    2 lbs ground beef
    1 box stove top
    1 C. broth
    2 eggs

    Mix ingredients. Divide into muffin sized loaves and place in muffin tin sprayed in Pam. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

    Today my muffin tin was dirty, so I just plunked mini loaves on a cookie sheet and it worked just as well.
    I use the leanest beef I can find so it turns out moist, but not greasy.

  119. Oh! Here’s another one! It’s not for food purists as it involves a lot of canned stuff, but it’s good for clearing out the pantry. This also freezes well.

    Chicken Fiesta Soup

    1 can refried beans
    1 can chicken broth of your choice
    1 can black beans
    1 can corn
    1 jar of chunky salsa
    1 can of chicken – I use left over rotisserie chicken or chicken breast from other meals.

    Start by mixing the refried beans and the broth until the beans are smooth. Throw the rest of the stuff in. Heat and eat. Especially tasty with a dallop of sour cream and cheese over crunched up tortilla chips.

  120. Weeknight chicken adobo and rice

    For sauce, combine:
    1 cup soy sauce
    1 cup white vinegar
    2 cups water
    couple spoonfuls sugar

    Bring to simmering in large pot.

    Poach chicken in the sauce:
    Once sauce is simmering, throw in several of those frozen ice-encrusted chicken breasts that come in bags.
    Let come back to simmering, cover, and leave it alone for a few minutes until the chicken pieces are just a bit frosty on the inside.

    While heating sauce and chicken, get rice started:
    Melt 2 T butter in a pot on med-low.
    Toast 1 cup uncooked rice in butter, stirring constantly.
    When rice is toasted, dump in 1.5 cups water or broth (careful of steam), reduce heat to low and cover. Cook covered without stirring until it’s, you know, done.

    Finish the chicken off under the broiler and reduce sauce
    Take the poached-but-still-frosty chicken out of the sauce and stick it on a cookie sheet under the broiler (turned to high.)
    Let chicken breasts blacken a bit.
    Meanwhile, boil the hell out of the sauce so it reduces and thickens.

    Serve chicken over rice and pass sauce.

  121. I have two standard recipes our family eats pretty frequently, both very different. The first, linguine (or spaghetti or whatever) with clam sauce is insanely fast (make the sauce while the pasta’s cooking) and really delish and kind of special tasting and quite inexpensive (if you use canned clams, that is, rather than fresh which are very expensive).

    Pasta with Clam Sauce

    1 lb. long pasta (linguine, spaghetti, etc.)
    olive oil (pref. extra-virgin)
    fresh garlic (2-4 cloves), thinly sliced
    1/2 cup white wine (I use dry vermouth ’cause it keeps longer in the fridge and it’s cheap but good for cooking)
    2 cans chopped or minced clams, drained and reserving juice
    Salt to taste (not much; clams are salty)
    Pepper to taste
    2 Tbsp. or so chopped fresh parsley (not crucial)

    Put water for pasta on to boil. When boiling, add pasta. Heat large skillet over med.-low heat, add a couple of Tbsp. olive oil. When heated, add garlic and saute over fairly low heat until pale golden and translucent. Add clam juice and turn heat to high to bring to rapid boil. Add wine or vermouth. Allow to boil for a few minutes, 5 to 10, until a little bit reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add clams and parsley (if using) and heat gently until heated through. Add drained pasta (or use tongs to lift directly from pasta pot into skillet, allowing to drain) to skillet and toss till coated. Serve. I add lots of parmesan to each bowl even though, supposedly, you’re not supposed to add cheese to seafood.

    Another dish, very cheap indeed, is very easy and quick and very kid-friendly. I ate it a lot growing up, and now my daughter adores it too (though she adores almost anything–even linguini with clam sauce).

    Baked Macaroni

    1 lb. elbow macaroni (or any short, tubular shape)
    1 large can pureed tomatoes
    3/4 lb. or so sharp cheddar cheese
    Salt to taste
    Pepper to taste
    Saltines, crushed finely
    butter, a couple of Tbsps?

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use butter or Pam to grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Boil water and add pasta. Meanwhile, grate cheese or crumble (I use my food processor; my mother used to use her blender). In a bowl, mix grated/crumbled cheese and pureed tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like this fairly peppery). When pasta is done, drain and add to bowl. Combine. Pour pasta mixture into baking pan. Spread crushed saltines over top. Dot with bits of butter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until you can see it bubbling and the top is golden brown.

  122. Erm, I forgot to say that you should make sure the chicken pieces are under the broiler long enough to cook the insides. PLEASE DO NOT SUE ME FOR GIVING YOU FOOD POISONING!! I have no money.

  123. My standard is to throw veggies and beans in a pan/wok with some garlic and onions (price depends on where you live and the season, but you can get by with frozen veg and garlic powder if need be). Toss in a can of tomato sauce and ricotta cheese along with spices (basil, oregano, red pepper, go nuts!). Stir, maybe add some hard cheese if I want, or not. Mix with pasta and yum! It’s delicious every time. Plus plenty of protein for those of us who don’t eat a lot of meat.

    Curried chickpeas is also good. You have to put up a fair amount of money for spices initially, but once you realize how little you use, it goes a looooong way. Fry up some onions until glassy in your oil of choice. Toss in garlic, cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, cloves, coriander, and cayenne. I use about equal amounts of all of them. Stir vigorously so everything get cooked well and doesn’t burn. Toss in chickpeas with some of their liquid. Cook until the consistency is to your liking. Yum! I’ve used this as a base for currying other things, like cauliflower and mushrooms. And, as I said, once you have the main ingredients, it’s super-cheap.

  124. Time-Machine, what’s even better is if you read your post imagining that “seed” is the past tense of “see.” Then it becomes all about what Popeye observed while he was out shopping. :)


  125. Orange Marmalade Fritatta Panino

    Ingredients: Bread, butter, eggs, orange marmalade, sugar, tiny bit of salt

    Toast and butter two thin slices of bread. Heat up a small skillet on medium heat, and put your oven rack up at the top setting and turn on your broiler.

    The original recipe uses only one egg, but I use two. In a cup break your egg or eggs, and for each egg add a pinch of salt, one teaspoon of sugar, and one tablespoon of orange marmalade. Whip it up with a fork or a little whisk until the sugar is all combined.

    Put a pat of butter in your skillet and swirl it around to coat the whole bottom. You don’t want this stuff to stick. Pour in your egg(s).

    As the bottom sets up pull it up at the edges with a heat-safe spatula and tip the pan so the liquid egg runs underneath. You’re not scrambling them, you’re making a flat egg pancake kind of thing. When the bottom is set and the top is still juicy take the pan off the heat and throw it under the broiler. Watch it so it doesn’t burn, and pull it out when the top is dry and staring to get brown and caramelized around the crispy edges.

    Slide it out onto your buttered toast and make a sandwich.

    So good. So easy.

    Adapted from this book:

  126. All these soups reminded me of another staple of mine. It’s a cold soup, so better for warmer days – but I’ve served it warm, or even cold over some hot rice, when I wanted something warm. I got this from a friend who picked it up working at the deli counter at a Whole Foods years ago.

    Southwestern Gazpacho
    Tomato Juice (big can, I prefer spicy)
    1 can black beans
    1 can corn (sweet, *not* cream)
    1 small-med zucchini or cucumber
    1 med onion (red, yellow, or white)
    2-3 cloves garlic
    1 bell pepper
    1-2 tsp. Cumin
    juice of 1 lime or lemon
    Other veggies if you like (I often add mushrooms, heart-of-palm, or steamed asparagus)

    Chop up all the veggies, throw into a big bowl with the rest of the ingredients. The original recipe called for the onion and garlic to be thrown in raw; I usually brown the onion and garlic (and mushrooms and zucchini, if I’m using them) in a little olive oil first. I usually top with a little shredded cheese and serve with bread or rice. It’s even better the next day, when the flavors have merged. Makes 4-6+ servings

    Oh, and another college staple:

    Marinated Garbanzo Beans
    (all amounts estimated)
    1 can garbanzo beans
    1 small-med onion
    2 cloves garlic
    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tsp basil
    1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    1 cup white rice

    Cook the rice. Meanwhile, chop up onion and garlic; saute in some olive oil if you like (the person I learned this from used raw onions and garlic). Mix with beans, vinegar, oil, basil, and red pepper flakes, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better). Serve bean mixture cold (or room temp.) over hot rice. ~4 servings. Quick, easy, and cheap!

  127. Tuna fish cakes

    14 oz of canned tuna
    1/3 cup mayo
    1/2 cup breadcrumbs, dried or fresh, doesn’t matter
    2 celery stalks, chopped
    1 small bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 yellow onion, diced
    one egg
    old bay to taste
    enough oil to sautee something in, or PAM spray

    1. heat oil in skillet – I use the 5 setting. Which is about medium I guess
    2. Throw in your chopped veggies and sautee until they are tender-crisp– about five minutes
    3. While you are doing that mix your tuna, mayo, egg, and old bay together.
    4. Once the veggies have been sauteed, add them to your tuna mixture and mix everything together really well
    5. Shape into about 12 cakes
    6. Either pan fry or bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes

    Nom Nom Nom.

  128. When I have leftovers of various veggies, I make Bear Soup (named after my dad, who originated it and is called “Blue Bear” by my mom). It is endlessly variable – the original recipe called for ramen noodles, broth of some kind (or water with the ramen flavor packets), and whatever veggies are around. Dump everything in a pot and simmer until the veggies are cooked, then add a beaten egg and stir in quickly to thicken it.

    These days, I make a slightly healthier version with barley. The barley goes into the pot with the broth (usually either chicken or turkey broth saved from the last time I cooked a whole one, or whatever I poured out of the crockpot when I cooked a roast in it last) and simmers while I chop veggies. I like to use potatoes, carrots, and celery at a minimum, since these are all things I tend to have on hand. However, I’m sure any other veggies, including a frozen mixed bag, would be good (and cheaper if you don’t have the others around). I add veggies as I finish chopping them (if you’re using potatoes, always chop and add those first, since they take the longest to cook) and simmer until the barley is done. Then I add garlic salt and pepper to taste, a beaten egg for thickening, and grated parmesan cheese (something else I tend to have around, although any other cheese or none at all will do).

    It makes for nice comfort food and uses up whatever is lying around the fridge. I can’t hazard a guess on price, because pretty much all the ingredients are leftovers from other meals. But using up odds and ends is always cost effective, so I think it qualifies as cheap eats.

  129. Oh, these are among my FAVORITE threads!

    Ok, if you have a crockpot, first of all check out this site:

    Now. I managed to make one whole chicken last me 3 weeks. I’m single, but COME ON. (I froze some of it, but ate some version of it every. Day.)

    Start here:
    That was the original recipe. My whole-chicken version (double the sauce, use a whole chicken):
    1 whole chicken
    3 Tbs EACH: soy sauce, fish sauce
    1 tsp EACH sugar, pepper
    6 cloves chopped garlic
    2 Tbs canola oil
    Cook in the crockpot on low for 6 hours. (Or on high for 4)
    Debone the chicken (easy – the meat will FALL OFF.) and put the carcass in the freezer.

    Meal 1: Just eat the chicken. SERIOUSLY.

    Meal 2: Take some of the shredded chicken and microwave it with some frozen veggies and a little extra soy sauce.

    Meal 3:
    3 heads baby bok choy (cabbage will work, too)
    2 small packages sliced mushrooms (about 10 oz.)
    1 onion, chopped
    3 celery ribs, chopped
    1 Tbs canola oil

    Put the chicken carcass back in the crockpot with another round of sauce. (I also add about a tablespoon of hot sauce.) Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

    Using a soup pot, saute the onion and celery in the oil until the onion is translucent.
    Add the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes, until they soften.
    Strain the broth into the pot.
    Heat the broth, add the remaining chicken.
    When the mixture boils, reduce the heat and tear the baby bok choy into the mixture.
    (Note: you can also make this with noodles, but I find it has so many veggies that I don’t really want anything extra in the pot. But if you do, then cook the noodles in a separate pot and add them to your soup bowl with the broth.)

    THREE WEEKS, people. That’s all I have to say about that. ;)

    (Oh, and Kate? I loveloveLOVE cream of _ casseroles. *sigh* I don’t eat them often, (the chemicals in the soup scare me) but seriously, I could LIVE off of those! Mmmmmm.)

  130. I learned to make this while living in Arizona.

    1 lb. ground beef or turkey
    1 can tomatoes and green chilis (if you can’t find that, get a can of stewed tomatoes and one of diced green chilis)
    1 can corn
    8oz shredded cheddar cheese
    1 box corn muffin mix plus the egg and milk called for on the package

    Brown the ground beef, stirring in the tomatoes and chilis and the corn. Pour this into a 3 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheese on that. Prepare the corn muffin mix as per the directions on the box, then add a good splash of milk to make it easier to spread. Pour that over the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees, for 45 min. to 1 hr.

    If you want to get fancy, saute diced onions and bell peppers in with the meat. Add any oregano, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon as it sounds or smells good to you.

  131. you have lots of comments here already, but if it hasn’t been said…here in japan i know you can bake cakes in thle rice cooker, so….i guess you could cook most anything in there. if you don’t have an oven then i guess the rice cooker is a place to start experimenting.

    anyway, i got this recipe from a friend the other day: chinese cabbage and pork. ingredients: chinese cabbage and pork. chop up both (a whole head of cabbage, about a pound of (boneless) pork) into bite-sized pieces and layer in a pot. the first layer should be the chinese cabbage. cook on low until done. the cabbage will reduce so you don’t need to add water, and it doesn’t even need salt and pepper, though i suspect a fattier pork will make a tastier dish.

    i made this the other night and added shredded carrot and served it with rice and miso soup. it was pretty good! sorry i don’t know the current prices in the US. here in japan hakusai (chinese cabbage) is in season so i can get a head for about $1.

  132. I’m a big fan of the chicken stuffing thing that’s on the back of cream of mushroom soup cans.

    Basically, take some chicken boobies, lay them in a casserole dish, put a big ol’ pile o’ stuffing down the middle*, smother the whole thing in cream of mushroom soup (or insert favorite “cream of” soup here), cover, bake.

    Yummers. And the whole thing is the cost of a package of chicken breasts, bag of stuffing and a few cans of soup. So…$20? $30 tops, depending on where you live? (meaning like $75 if you buy the ingredients at a NYC bodega? lol)

    * see the recipe on the can for actual proportions, cooking times/temps and whether or not you actually have to do anything to the stuffing first. I can’t provide any more detail than that because my mom usually makes it.

    I recommend cramming more stuffing than it calls for in the middle, but that’s because I am all about the stuffing. Seriously, on Thanksgiving I could totally forget about turkey and just eat a big ol’ heaping mound o’ stuffing (‘pparently when I talk ’bout stuffin’ I like to cut off lett’rs).

  133. I’ve been making this chicken and rice soup forever. It’s fun to try different veggies and spices. It’s quick, easy and cheap. It’s really nice on cold evenings.

    2 chicken thighs
    2 cups water
    3/4 cup instant rice
    2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 clove of garlic chopped
    , salt, onion powder and curry powder to taste.

    Pour water into a medium saucepan over med. heat.Add chicken, garlic, soy sauce and spices. Cook for 20 minutes. Add cabbage and instant rice, stir and cover. Turn heat to med. low and simmer for 20 more minutes. You can cut the chicken into pieces, but I like to leave them whole myself.

  134. Oh, I have one more. These make a great breakfast.


    However many slices of bread as you want of egg-things.
    A bunch of butter
    As many eggs as slices of bread
    Some onions, peppers, bacon bits, or sausage crumbles

    Basically, cut the crusts off the bread, and butter the hell out of both sides. Squish the bread down into a muffin tin, crack an egg in each one, and top it with whatever you want with your eggs. Bake it at 350 until the eggs are cooked, and you have breakfast egg-things you can take with you to wherever you go in the morning. They are also good cold. And bread and eggs are cheap, so if you top it with stuff you have left over, it’s a very economical dish.

  135. From my childhood: Creamed tuna on toast
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can of tuna
    Frozen peas

    I am pretty sure you don’t reconstitute the soup, just mix it with the tuna and the peas and cook it in a saucepan until the peas aren’t frozen any more. Serve on toast, sprinkle with paprika. Someday, when I am cooking dinner and Mr. Rounded is not home, I will make this for me and little one.

    From my college days:
    Zuchinni and cheese dish

    Saute some zuchinni until tender (onions and garlic make this extra yummy). Mix in cooked rice (when I was in college, I made this with white rice but I would probably mix it with brown rice now) and a can of diced tomatoes in some kind of Italian seasonings until hot. Stir in shredded mozarella cheese until melted. Eat directly from the pot (or at least that’s how I ate it in college).

    Another idea, Mr. Rounded makes dal and brown rice and serves it with some sauteed vegetable cooked with garlic that I mix in to the dal and enjoy thoroughly.

    All of these are pretty darn cheap and comforting.

    I also recently figured out how to make scrambled eggs that taste just like they did when my mom cooked them for me as a kid. The tricks, it turns out, are whole eggs (rather than the two whites to one whole egg that I usually had been doing) and a little 1% milk, and cooked in margarine, served on buttered wheat toast. I always liked my eggs cooked “hard” — so they are nicely browned scrambled pieces. Probably still my favorite meal of all time, these scrambled eggs with buttered rough wheat toast.

  136. An experiment from this weekend that went REALLY well:

    1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and then OVERcooked (with whatever liquid is left)
    chopped onion
    minced garlic
    chopped green pepper
    (optional chocolate)
    rice (cooked normally)

    I partially mashed the beans, but that’s optional. Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper and then mix them into the beans and season to taste (I used lots of cumin and black and white pepper because that’s what I like. I also experimented by throwing a little chocolate in.) Serve over cooked rice.

    bonus: it’s vegetarian as well as cheap. (I’m not, but I’m always looking for things I can serve to my sister-in-law’s boyfriend who is)

    This weekend, we’re making chili with beef shank (I think that’s the English name for the cut) that was on sale (EUR 5/kilo) and peppers from a friend’s father-in-law’s garden. I love cooking.

  137. Most of my hints for cheap eating are about the mindset more than anything else. So here’s a few overall tips:

    * Learn about the different cuts of meat. If a casserole is asking for good steak and gives a cooking time of over an hour, you can generally get away with substituting in gravy beef instead.
    * Halve the meat content of a recipe and double the vegetables instead. Veges are generally cheaper than meat (at least in Australia, they are). If it’s a recipe which has a savoury sauce, or which is intended to be served with pasta or rice, double the sauce ingredients, and serve a smaller portion of the meat sauce with a larger portion of pasta or rice. (Pasta and rice are both cheaper than meat, and more filling).
    * Learn how long things can be stored safely in *your* pantry and refrigerator. For example, my pantry has a bad infestation of food moths, so buying large amounts of staple produce (such as flour, rice etc) is a Bad Move for me, since I’ll probably have to throw out most of it after the moths get to it. On the other hand, I know things like jams, marmalades and similar have a practically limitless shelf-life (the amount of sugar in there preserves them quite well) provided the lids are on tightly. Oh, and tomato paste, which goes off almost as soon as it’s opened at room temperature, stores forever in the freezer.
    * An easy substitute for satay sauce: 6 teaspoons peanut butter (I use extra-crunchy); 2 teaspoons curry powder; 1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional); 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 2 tablespoons dry sherry; 4 tablespoons water; 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix these together, stir until combined, and use instead of purchased satay sauce. It also tastes quite good spread on toast.
    * Starches are staples. Pasta, rice, bread, beans, grains, and anything similar can be purchased cheaply and used to fill up the cracks between more expensive ingredients.
    * If you can’t tell the difference between the expensive ingredient and the cheap one, the cheap version will do the trick. Keep this in mind for substitutions.
    * It’s surprising the number of very plain recipes which taste so much better with something as simple as a teaspoon of curry powder (or seeded mustard, or chilli sauce, or worcestershire sauce, etc) added to them.
    * Keep in mind the complementary tastes rule: sugar balances salt, spicy balances bland, bitter balances sweet (as does sour), sharp balances spicy. If you’re serving something with a complementary taste alongside whatever you’re offering up for dinner, you’ll find people will feel better fed, so you won’t need to cook as much of it.
    * Oh, and if you have the right climatic conditions, nasturtiums are not only cheap, but unkillable. The seeds can be pickled as an alternative to capers, or so I’ve read. If you don’t have the correct conditions, they’re a right whatsit to find. How did they become so popular in the first place? Well, some nitwit in the UK (I’d guess) picked up on the letter of French peasant cookery without realising the spirit of it (the spirit being, cook what you have available – and nasturtiums do a darned sight better in the French climate than they do in the English one).
    * Buy what you’ll cook. This is a hard lesson to learn, particularly for someone like me (I love looking at recipes and reading cookbooks, but really, the majority of what I cook is a few dishes I have stored in the mental ROM), but it’s the most basic rule for saving money. It doesn’t matter how cheap that cut of meat was, if you don’t know how to cook it (or don’t want to cook it) you won’t, and it’ll sit in the freezer until you throw it out because you can’t remember why you bought it. Thus is money wasted, and cash thrown down the drain.

  138. Something Himself and I like a LOT:

    Use leftover chicken from a roast, or any cooked, cubed chicken. Chuck it in a casserole dish with any leftover vegetables (we use this recipe to use up Sunday lunch leftovers – see, even fatties have leftovers!), two cups of rice, a tin of chicken or mushroom soup, two cups of water, and bake on Gas Mark 6 (I’m sorry I don’t know what that is in anything else. 180 deg c maybe?) for about 40 minutes. The rice should be cooked thanks to the water. You could get fancy and put things on top of it – crushed crisps (chips) would be nice. But we like it like this. It’d be 4 portions, but we ate the entire thing on Monday since we were both famished from being stuck in the snow!

  139. I had some leftover roast vegetables [potatoes, sweet potatoes, courgette, red onion, garlic] last week which I put in a pan with four eggs and a block of goat’s cheese. Scrambled it all up and put it on toasted bagels. Delicious!

  140. Not a recipe per se, but a comment that good basic cooking skills are worth their weight in gold during times of belt-tightening (in the fiduciary sense, not the weight-loss sense). The frugal-fu advocate in me winces a bit when I see a recipe that starts with cream-of-anything, as it means that you’re buying a can of soup concentrate that costs you about 5 times as much as the ingredients of a comparable amount of white sauce from scratch (flour, fat, and milk or stock, or even water if you’re seasoning the sauce). Therefore, I reproduce (sans permission, but given that the author is Mennonite, I’m betting she’s not gonna sue me) the basic white sauce recipe from Living More With Less:

    For a medium white sauce: melt 1T. fat in a heavy saucepan, whisk in 2 T. flour and 1/4t. salt, cook while whisking until bubbly. Add 1c. of appropriate liquid all at once while continuing to whisk, and then cook until thickened and smooth. Spice it up any way you please: nutmeg for a bechamel sauce, sauteed onions and/or mushrooms and/or celery, 1/2c. grated cheese and some dry mustard for a cheese sauce, etc.

    Also, learning how to break down a chicken is a skill well worth the money. Whole roasters generally cost a great deal less than individual parts, and if you find a deal on a box with three roasters, you can break it down to make your own frozen bags o’ parts. I typically do a partial breakdown to make a bag each of wings, thighs, and drumsticks, roast the breasts with a rub to make equally freezable lunchmeat, and then cook the carcasses to make stock. Of course, all this requires having a decent amount of freezer space on hand, so YMMV.

  141. I made this recipe last week:

    It’s gluten free, and delicious! I used half the recommended ingredients and got three meals out of it. It’s potentially a bit bland for people who love very flavourful food all the time but it’s good if you’re a cabbage fan. :)

    I had a lot of cabbage left afterward, and cooked it up to make two meals.

    1/ Bubble and squeak. Take 1/4-1/2 cabbage (savoy is what I used), wash, chop roughly, and place in a large pan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered. Meanwhile, grab any leftover mashed potato (or potatoes needing to go; cook, and mash them with a little egg) and add meat, butter, cheese, or leftover veggies if you want to bulk it out. Once the cabbage is tender, remove with slotted spoon, and stir into potatoes. Coat a cutting board or plate with flour of your choice (I use potato or rice since I have celiac disease). Take chunks of the mixture with your hands, shape into a rough ball, and roll through the flour. Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan, pat down the potato-cabbage balls into patties, and cook until brown on each side. Good with leftover veg, meat, and beans. YUM.

    2/ Random cabbage goodness. I took my remaining chunk of cabbage, washed, and chopped it roughly. Then I placed it in a pan with 2 cups of hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, simmer, covered. As the cabbage is cooking, make a small amount of rice (you want about 1 cup cooked). Once the rice is done, turn up the heat on the cabbage and boil off some of the stock. When there’s just a little swimming about in the pan, add lemon juice, butter, minced garlic (fresh is best), dried onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir and simmer for a minute or so. Serve up the rice and then ladle over the cabbage mixture. NOM NOM NOM. I loved this but, again, might be too mild for some people. Good hearty food, IMO, though. :)

  142. I’m so saving this thread to go through at my leisure later because just in the last few weeks I’ve started trying to pour over cookbooks here and there to find new recipes; I’ve felt stagnant lately and cooking is part of what gets my creative juices (hah) flowing!

    So, I’ve recently gotten my crockpot out to make amazing meals and have had a few awesome meals already with it! I’m attempting to cook a whole chicken in it today; we’ll see how that does.

    But what I wanted to share (aside from the recipe later) is that in working on this crock-pot venture I borrowed a library cookbook “Fix-it and forget-it 5 ingredient favorites and couldn’t help but laughing; this post brought back the giggles. I grin because 1 of the main 5 ingredients in nearly ALL the recipes is “Cream of ___ Soup”. So yeah, you can make lots of good foods with a can of creamy soup, rice or pasta and a meat with veggies. Yum!

    Anyways, here’s my recipe for today. It is cream of broccoli soup and is FANTABULOUS in the cold winter. I like to use a hand blender to chop things up but you don’t have to; just makes it chunkier. This is only as expensive as a big bag of frozen broccoli (or fresh); some half and half, chicken stock, an onion! So per serving it is just a few dollars! :) Oh and I usually double the recipe so it makes like 8 servings for a few days of lunches too!

    Cream of Broccoli Soup

    1.5 cups chopped broccoli stems
    1/2 onion chopped
    1 whole bay leaf
    1 cup Half & Half
    4 cups chicken broth
    3 chicken boullion cubes
    3 cups broccoli florets
    1/4 cup butter
    1/4 cup flour

    1. Chop up the broccoli, put florets aside for later, dump the stem bits into pot with chopped onion, bay leaf, chicken broth.

    2. Bring to boil and boil for about 10 minutes until things are softer.

    3. Add boullion cubes and boil 3 more minutes.

    4. Start a “roue” going while things are boiling away. All this means is get a small pan/pot and start melting the butter over medium/low heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour slowly until you get a funky looking yellowish gruel type look. You don’t want to brown the mixture, just get the flour “cooked”. This will thicken the soup and make it AWESOME!

    5. When that is looking ready, stir your pot of broth and find that bay leaf, dig it out and set aside. Use your hand chopper to grind up all the chunks of broccoli and onion (or blender, or leave it whole, whatever works); put the leaf back in for Flav-ah; turn temp down.

    6. Add the half and half and stir until heated back up again, make sure that “roue” is still nice and not browned and then slowly add it into the soup, stirring. It will start to thicken slowly.

    7. Add some pepper (1/8 tsp White Pepper is actually what is called for but plain old black pepper has always worked just fine).

    8. Add your set-aside broccoli florets and simmer for 20 more minutes!

    9. Delicious with oyster crackers.

    Now I usually like it a bit chunkier and add lots more broccoli florets at the end. You could also add carrots or celery at the beginning for variation. It is great with cheese added.

    Basically it is an awesome veggie soup base that also makes a great meal :)

  143. I remembered another favorite, that I think I might be making tonight: Spiced pork chops with roasted red potatoes and green beans. If you aren’t a person who normally craves veggies, the side dish might convert you.

    Spiced Pork Chops

    6 pork chops (I like to get the thin, boneless ones when they’re on sale)
    1-1/2 tsp paprika
    3/4 teaspoon oregano
    1-1/2 tsp cumin
    1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
    3/4 tbsp butter
    3/4 cup chicken broth

    Combine the spices and rub about half of it onto one side of the pork chops. Heat the oil over medium heat. Place pork chops in skillet, spiced side down. Cook for 3-5 minutes until bottom side is browned but not blackened. While the bottom cooks, rub the remaining spice mixture onto the top of the pork chops. Flip and cook the other side.

    Remove the pork chops from skillet. Add butter and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a whisk. Turn up the heat, add the broth, and keep whisking until the sauce reduces by half. Serve pork chops with sauce.

    (I like my sauce a little thicker so sprinkle a bit of flour in with the broth.)

    Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans

    4-6 red potatoes
    4 cloves minced garlic (or about a teaspoon or two of garlic powder)
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 lb. green beans
    About 1 tbsp of the spice or herb of your choice (I use thyme or rosemary a lot)–or you can use fresh herbs

    Preheat the oven to 425.

    Wash the potatoes and cut them (as large or small as you like–I usually cut them into 8-10 pieces).

    On a baking sheet, combine the potatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Pour the oil on top and mix gently until everything is combined and coated.

    Put the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the potatoes are browned with soft insides, about 30-40 minutes. Take out and stir every ten minutes.

    While the potatoes cook, steam the green beans.

    When everything’s done, mix the green beans with the potatoes and serve.

    I sometimes make some biscuits with this, but it’s a really filling meal on its own.

  144. Sometimes we cook fancier food, but sometimes I’m in negative spoons and just throw a very quick low-prep meal into the crockpot. “Cheap” for me is spoon-cheap, not just money-cheap. These also happen to be pretty inexpensive, they reheat well, and my kid loves them. I’ve linked to examples of some of the packaged ingredients in case they’re country-specific.

    Apricot Chicken

    – bone-in chicken pieces (I prefer the dark meat)
    – half to one pack of dry french onion soup mix
    – a large tin of apricots and nectar (around 1 kg)
    Crock most of the day on low.

    Quick Chilli

    – 800ish grams of minced beef
    – 1 large tin of four-bean mix
    – 1 tin tomatoes (or stashed tomatoes from the freezer – it’s end-of-harvest right now and we have lots of these!)
    – half a jar of tomato paste
    – a good slathering of Mexican Chilli Powder
    – crock all day, top up with a little wine or stock or water as the day wears on. I put the mince in frozen, and rough it up with a wire potato masher once it’s defrosted.

    Orange Soup

    – Homemade stock from the yesterday’s roast chicken – unsandwichable scraps crocked in water overnight with an onion and bay leaf, then lifted out with a slotted spoon.
    – Butternut pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, potato, salt. Peeled and chunked. Except the salt.
    – Crock until soft.
    – Zizz with a stick blender, add a 200 ml pack of UHT cream
    – (veganise this with vegie stock and coconut cream)
    – add lots of pepper and munch with no-knead bread (NYT recipe).

    Salsa-y Beef

    – Strips of beef (alt: beans)
    – Large jar of salsa
    – Crock it.

  145. Massively easy chicken and rice

    2 cups chicken stock (I make my own)
    1 can chicken (I forgo this if I use home-made stock because there is ample chicken in that.)
    1 can of peas, drained
    1 cup of rice, cheap and long grained
    3 slices of cheese

    Bung the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer then cover for 15 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook another 5 minutes or until rice is done. Fold in the cheese until melted.

    This is one of the few recipes my entire family will narf down without complaint.

  146. I forgot my favorite easy and super-cheap recipe, which is pasta frittata. You can use leftover pasta (even sauced leftover pasta; it works well with something like pesto), or cook the pasta fresh. I particularly like it with penne.

    Then you mix the pasta with enough raw beaten eggs to kind of bind it together, and stir in whatever omelet-type fixings you like. My favorite is ham or bacon and spinach. Cook the fixings before adding.

    Pour the whole mixture into a pan and cook on the stove top for a minute until the bottom sets. Then stick in under the broiler until the egg is set.

    Slide the whole thing out like a pancake and cut into slices. (Or, if you’re me and the pasta sauce isn’t too messy, rip it apart and eat with your fingers.)

  147. I have just discovered this recipe on the cooking light website, maybe a month ago, and have already made it twice. It is a definite crowd pleaser.

    Basic Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms

    1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
    1 pound small cremini mushrooms
    Cooking spray
    2 cups chopped onion
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
    2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
    3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
    1 cup dry red wine
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I have used dried)
    2 (14-ounce) cans less-sodium beef broth
    1 bay leaf
    2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled white potato (about 1 pound)
    1 1/2 cups (1-inch) slices carrot (about 12 ounces)
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

    Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Spoon mushrooms into a large bowl. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add onion mixture to mushroom mixture.

    Place flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of beef mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned beef to mushroom mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining beef mixture and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

    Add 1 cup wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add thyme, broth, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in beef mixture. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is just tender.

    Stir in potato and carrot. Simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beef and vegetables are very tender and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

  148. French Onion Pork Chops
    SPRAY a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
    Arrange in the dish
    4 to 6 pork chops
    Pour 1 can concentrated French onion soup.
    Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.

    Serve with green beans & apple sauce.

    Meals costs less than $10.00

  149. Buy what you’ll cook… It doesn’t matter how cheap that cut of meat was, if you don’t know how to cook it (or don’t want to cook it) you won’t, and it’ll sit in the freezer until you throw it out because you can’t remember why you bought it. Thus is money wasted, and cash thrown down the drain.

    This is excellent advice, Meg. I’ve gotten sucked in many times by A) fantasies of making recipes that sound terrific, even though I have no idea how to do half of what they’re talking about, and B) walking through the grocery store and going, “Oooh, I could do… something with this!” Then I end up with food that goes bad.

    The frugal-fu advocate in me winces a bit when I see a recipe that starts with cream-of-anything, as it means that you’re buying a can of soup concentrate that costs you about 5 times as much as the ingredients of a comparable amount of white sauce from scratch (flour, fat, and milk or stock, or even water if you’re seasoning the sauce).

    I hear that and appreciate the pointers, but it doesn’t necessarily work that way for everyone. I may or may not have flour in the house, but if I do, it’s open and ancient, so I should probably replace it anyway. I do have stock in the house, but it’s canned — because making stock involves a time commitment for which I think 89 cents is a fair trade-off. I never have milk in the house unless I’m planning to cook with it, because there are only two of us, who don’t drink it, eat much cereal, or have that many recipes involving milk. When I do buy it, what I don’t cook with usually goes bad.

    I do have butter in the house, at least.

    So basically, if you’re the kind of cook — i.e., one with time and/or more people to feed — who can keep those staples on hand without them going bad, it absolutely makes economical sense to make your own white sauce. If you’re not, however, it makes more sense to spend a dollar on a can of cream of ___ — which can sit in the cupboard pretty much forever, if need be.

    Like I said, “inexpensive” is a relative term, for lots of different reasons.

  150. lauredhel, I have a crockpot but I haven’t used it in a long time because I’m afraid that my cats will try to mess with it if I leave it going all day. Am I just being paranoid?

  151. Tuna and Noodles

    1 can tuna, in water
    1 box of small pasta shells (any macaroni item will do)
    8 slices of cheese
    1tbsp flour
    1tbsp margarine
    1 cup milk
    2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
    dash of pepper (optional)

    Boil noodles in large pot and drain in colander and set aside, in same pot you cooked your pasta; melt margarine and add flour. Slowly add milk and bring to a boil. Add Tabasco and cheese slices to make a nice sauce then add the tuna. Return pasta to the pot and stir.

    Serve with peas and applesauce.

    Cost less than $10.00

  152. Spicy Chicken
    Preheat oven to 375
    4 lbs chicken breast pieces with olive oil

    In large zipper bag
    1/2 cup bread crumbs
    1/4 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp marjoram
    1/4 tsp celery seed
    1/4 tsp ground pepper

    Dredge or shake chicken in coating.
    Arrange them on a non-stick cooking sheet.
    Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until crisp on the outside.

    Serve with Broccoli Spears or Brussels Sprouts and fresh tomato slices and mozzarella cheese.

    Meal costs about $10.00

  153. (longtime reader, first time commenter.)

    i just started challenging myself to make multiple meals from the same few ingredients on my blog, yesterday i started with a roast chicken dinner (for 2) that will also be a chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup. it should feed my husband and me for a week of dinners, or at least 3 dinners and several lunches.

    i’m excited to try more of these planned-menu weeks with few simple ingredients. next week i’m going for a ham dinner, a ham & veggie fritatta and pasta e fagioli. (we love soup.)

  154. Oo I forgot about Peasant Pasta. I have no idea what cookbook this came from, but it’s an old favorite of mine. I really like lima and butter beans, and most people don’t, so I can’t say how popular this dish would be. But for what it’s worth, the way they’re cooked here changes the flavor and texture of them a lot, and I think it’s delicious!

    1 can lima or butter beans, drained
    1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I don’t think it makes a difference for this recipe if you use thawed frozen ones, canned ones, or jarred ones in oil)
    a bunch of cloves of garlic, sliced
    several tablespoons of olive oil
    salt and pepper
    parmesan cheese
    (note that all quantities are approximate, because I forget them but it doesn’t really matter)

    Cook pasta according to package instructions. Saute garlic in oil for a little while, until it starts to brown, and then add lima or butter beans. Stir and fry for a little while – I forget how long, but probably just enough to heat through but not get too mushy. Add artichoke hearts until heated through. Toss with pasta, add salt, pepper, and cheese to taste.

  155. SM, I don’t think the cats would mess with the crockpot, unless they go after the power cord. Though your cats are weird, and maybe they’d try to take the lid off or something!

  156. Sweet Machine: I’ve no idea. What do you think your cats might do? I doubt they could turn a crockpot knob. Do they tend to turn wall switches on and off, or burn themselves stupidly on things that take more than a millisecond of contact to burn?

  157. I have a crockpot but I haven’t used it in a long time because I’m afraid that my cats will try to mess with it if I leave it going all day. Am I just being paranoid?

    Our cats have never shown the remotest interest in a crock pot (and between mom and sister and I, all crockpotters, over the years we’re talking a good thirty cats or more). I did, however, have one cat who was nuts about brewer’s yeast who once knocked my bread maker off the counter (I think it was the combination of the yeast scent and the fact that the paddle was going around in there she found irresistable).

  158. Oh also, in my head I have lots of staples that don’t have written recipes but are easy and cheap to make and have lots of room for interpretation. Things like just broiling a couple pork chops with salt and pepper, steaming some broccoli or asparagus, putting a lot of butter on the broccoli or asparagus, and eating it!

    Variation on steamed asparagus that came from some unknown cookbook and is BRILLIANT:
    Steam asparagus for 8 minutes. Place on cookie sheet (I put foil on it for zero clean-up!) in single layer. Cover with grated parmesan cheese, drizzle with 1-2 T of melted butter, and broil for 1-2 minutes until just browned. AMAZING OMG.

    A standard family staple is baked ziti, which is probably true of most families. But it’s so easy and tasty that sometimes I just make a pan of it myself and then eat the leftovers for a week! It works well with the rice pasta, too.
    Instructions: Cook a pound of ziti (or other pasta, it doesn’t matter). Drain, put in casserole dish. Add a normal-sized jar of tomato sauce, stir to distribute evenly. Add some squishy cheese (normally ricotta; I substitute the crumbly farmer’s cheese for the lactose-free version) in little blobs around the casserole, squishing them in with your finger or a spoon. Put a bunch of slices of melty cheese on top of the pasta (normally mozzarella, but again, I substitute fontina because of lactose). I add the grated parm to the top here just like I do with the mac and cheese, but you don’t have to add anything else if you have enough melty cheese. Bake at ~350º for a while, maybe half an hour. More if your blobs of squishy cheese are on the big side, because then they merge with the sauce better and it is more delicious.

  159. Variation on steamed asparagus that came from some unknown cookbook and is BRILLIANT:
    Steam asparagus for 8 minutes. Place on cookie sheet (I put foil on it for zero clean-up!) in single layer. Cover with grated parmesan cheese, drizzle with 1-2 T of melted butter, and broil for 1-2 minutes until just browned. AMAZING OMG.

    I love broiled asparagus. I eat it for a snack sometimes. If you have relatively thin asparagus, you can also just toss it with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and some salt, and then broil for 6-8 minutes.

    I’d just recommend actually tossing it with the olive oil, instead of pouring the olive oil on top, because I have set asparagus on fire by just pour the olive oil over it.

  160. Jesus, my head is full of recipes, I just thought of another one!! I’d write a cookbook if they weren’t all stolen from cookbooks already.

    Butternut squash soup!!
    -Half a medium butternut squash or so, seeds removed and chopped into chunks for boiling
    -Half a pound to a pound of carrots, washed and chopped into chunks
    -10-15 slices of fresh ginger
    -an onion, or a half onion, chopped into chunks
    -couple cloves of garlic
    -cinnamon stick, a bay leaf or two, maybe a couple whole cloves or cardamom pods or something if you have them around; otherwise ground cinnamon
    -salt, pepper
    -chicken broth

    Heat a bit of oil in a heavy saucepan (how much you use depends on how much onion you have, really – just enough to saute it). When it’s hot enough, add whole spices for 20-30 seconds if you have them. I’d then remove them with a slotted spoon (they won’t blend well; but maybe leave the bay leaf to boil with the broth for a while). Saute onions, garlic, and ginger in the same oil until getting a bit done, and then add the carrots and the squash. Stir until coated with the oil and cooking a bit, maybe a minute. Then add enough broth to just cover or even not quite cover the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and simmer until squash is done (if you have left the skin on the squash, it’s done when they are starting to peel off. If you took off the skin, poke it with a fork and make sure it’s soft all the way through). Turn off, let cool for a minute or two so it’s safe for your blender. Blend (in batches if necessary), adding butter and salt as you blend and tasting it as you go. I end up adding as much as half a stick of butter sometimes – it probably depends on your taste and the quantity of squash and carrots you had, how sweet they are, etc.

    VARIATIONS: Leave out the carrots for a less sweet but still great soup. More ginger for more kick. Add vanilla and boil an extra few minutes, inspired by SM’s recipe link above! (But maybe leave out the ginger then – not sure if they’d work together. Maybe they would!)

    OR OR OR leave out the carrots and then ADD PEARS with the broth. Probably a couple pears, skinned and cored and in chunks. The pear with the squash and the butter does something magical.

  161. Yeah, Lori, good point – this is not meant to be asparagus flambe! I do really like this method of steaming first and then finishing it off in the broiler, and the browned buttered parmesan cheese is just to die for.

  162. I forgot to say that if you are using ground cinnamon instead of whole spices, add a few shakes of it with the salt and pepper, so once you’ve added the broth. Sometimes I add some ground cloves and/or nutmeg, too.

  163. “… then again I do have a cat who has been known to steal my wallet.”

    Mmm, delicious leathery goodness.

    Sorry if I suggested odd and unusual cat activities. I don’t live with cats, and am not very familiar with the capabilities of outlier kitties. My hound has gotten up to some mischief in the past, but he can’t jump.

  164. I really don’t cook that extensively or often, but a couple of my favorites:

    Salmon and Potato Cakes
    1 14.75oz can of salmon
    2 beaten eggs
    1/4 cup bread crumbs of choice
    1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes
    1 small onion, chopped finely
    1 clove garlic, also chopped finely
    Salt, pepper, Old Bay, etc. to taste
    Mix everything together, make into patties, and fry. I imagine you could probably bake them as well. They are all kinds of moist and taste like crab cakes, but are much less expensive!

    This isn’t so much a recipe as just a combination of things: frozen cheese ravioli, alfredo sauce, and one of the 79 cent packages of frozen spinach. Cooked/heated/thawed, and seasoned and cheese-ed to taste, it’s actually rather elegant-looking and very, very yummy and filling–it feeds me for at least 4 dinners.

    I got this last one off the internet somewhere, but I don’t remember where or from whom, and modified it a bit. It goes over very well at parties and potlucks, but can be an actual meal for a few people too.
    Pepperoni dip:
    1 block cream cheese
    1 can cream of onion soup
    1 stick of pepperoni, at least 6 inches long, but preferably longer (heh)
    Chop the pepperoni finely in a food processor. Dump it and the rest into a microwave safe bowl, and nuke until it’s hot and until the grease has seperated from the pepperoni and turned the whole thing orange, stirring occasionally. When it looks absolutely disgusting, you’ll know it’s done. Eat immediately with various dip vehicles. I mean it; it’s not as good when it’s cold and doesn’t reheat well at all. But ime, you won’t have leftovers.

  165. One more very simple recipe, that is awesome winter comfort food. My husband adores fettucine alfredo, and we’ve tried to find a good alfredo recipe for a while. This is the best alfredo-like recipe we’ve found.

    1 lemon
    1/4 cup unsalted butter (or 1/4 cup olive oil)
    1 cup heavy cream (or 1 cup half-and-half)
    2 pound pasta
    1 cup grated Parmesan
    salt and pepper

    Cook the pasta.

    Grate the lemon peel (get about 2 tsp of zest) and squeeze out about 3 tbsp. of lemon juice.

    Melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the cream and heat slowly. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Stir in the cheese until it starts to melt into the sauce.

    Serve the sauce over the pasta.

    I think it’s perfect with a spinach salad.

  166. Np, lauredhel! For some reason I thought that you had a cat as well as a dog.

    Other things this particular cat has stolen: eyeglasses, watch, lip balm, necklace, keys, altoid tins, pencil erasers, garlic, jump drives… I think volcanista is right in that he would steal the lid of a crock pot if he could, but he probably can’t. :-)

  167. He attempted knitting needle rubber end thingies, but was CAUGHT IN THE ACT and failed. And yes, he would steal the crockpot lid if possible. I am not quite ready to say it’s impossible, either.

  168. I forgot about the rubber thingies! He also steals yarn out of bags, but that is more typical cat behavior. The jump drive was perhaps the most impressive since he got it out of my partially closed backpack.

  169. My cats normally aren’t that bad about stealing things, but one of them is clearly obsessed with Anna Sui lipgloss rings. I bought one, and it almost immediately disappeared. Later, because they were on sale, I bought a replacement, which also immediately disappeared. The disconcerting thing is that I never found them when I moved!

  170. free:

    save all your veggie scraps from any cooking/munching you do during the week: celery tops, carrot ends, potato peels, onion skins. at the end of the week boil it all quickly (15 minutes or so) with plenty of water and some salt. voila: veggie stock, made from your “junk” food, that will beat the taste buds off anything you can buy.

  171. About the cats, don’t forget that a crockpot only needs an outlet so you could put it in any room with a door. Doesn’t have to sit on the kitchen counter.

    Kate, I’ve had good luck with canned evaporated milk in cooking. Not the sweetened kind, of course, but just regular. I like its extra weight in the sauces.

    And now for something I would never touch until I was an adult: creamed dried beef. If you don’t want to do the white sauce that is the basis, it would probably be spectacular with a can of cream of mushroom soup that you added splashes of milk to until you like the consistency. The basic recipe is on the back of the package but I always saute minced onions in the pan and then add more butter for the chopped beef, and then do the sauce. The finishing touch is as much Worcestershire sauce as you want, which if you were using canned soup would be less than I use. I usually add it until the white sauce is beige.

    This is great on toast, of course, but I love it over baked potatoes. And speaking of cheap eats, anything on a baked potato is very filling and very tasty. Another thing I do is when I’m cooking ground turkey for taco filling, I stir in two cans of refries. It stretches the filling nicely but it can be a little more gloopy than normal so if you use taco seasoning, don’t put in the water it calls for.

    The only thing I’d love more than cooking my way through this thread is to eat it all at a gigantic buffet with you all!

  172. If you make a chicken one day don’t throw away the carcass use it to make soup instead!

    You will need:

    Chicken bones (raw or cooked) skin whatever doesn’t normally get eaten

    a chunk of ginger

    1 onion

    Celery (all the stuff you wouldn’t normally eat)





    1 full leek

    1-2 cloves garlic

    various herbs to tast

    salt to taste

    Put the carcass, bones, and skin in to a large pot and cover with water and bring to a boil.

    Skim off any gray foam that floats to the top (This mostly happens if you are using raw bones and skin as well as the cooked)

    Once it’s reached a boil turn it down and let it simmer until the water starts to look cloudy and yellow-ish.

    Add some salt and taste, if it tastes like broth fish out the chicken bits to a bowl to cool

    Add all the veggies including the tough leek tops and the leaves of celery

    Add whatever herbs you feel like using I usually plop in a bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme though sage would be good too.

    Read a book while veggies cook and check on them after you finish the chapter. If the tough leafy part of the leek is tender, fish them out and throw them out. I’d say try and get the bits of celery too, but that’s nigh impossible.

    The chicken should be cool enough to touch now, so pick all the meat off the bones and shred it. Add it back in to the soup.

    Once the carrots and potatoes are done the soup is done and you can serve it or refrigerate it for later. This soup lasts about a week in our house. If it’s still there after a week lug it out of the fridge and bring it up to a boil and down again and add some canned broth if you feel like it and some noodles or rice. The boiling is to kill anything off that might have started growing in there since it’s been sitting there.

    In terms of veggies and variations, just add whatever catches your fancy or you have on hand. For instance I’ve discovered that radishes taste yummy in it as do turnips. You can also do this with turkey or any other bird you have on hand.

  173. Roasted Garlic Hummus

    Two cans of Chickpeas (or garbanzos, your preference)
    two heads of garlis
    1/4 cup olive oil
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    cheyenne powder

    2 hours before you want hummus you should start roasting garlic.
    Cut off the tops of the heads (keep the paper on) drizzle with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher or sea salt (bigger grains so you can brush off extra after cooking) wrap loosely in heavy duty foil for about an hour and a half.
    Garlic will be tan and soft and incredibly fragrant and mild.
    Brush off the extra salt and squeeze the soft cloves out of the cut end with your fingertips or use the back side of a butter knife. (I often just stop at this step and spread the roasted garlic on some crusted bread and call it a day)
    Drain and rinse your beans.
    In a blender, put about half a can of beans, a little water for lubrication, and blend like hell.
    Add second half of can and about half of your oil.
    Scrape down sides and try to make sure everything gets blended.
    Add half of your second can and the lemon juice. Blend like hell.
    Final installment of beans, plus the rest of the oil, your roasted garlic, and salt, pepper, and cheyenne to taste.

    Serve with toast points, veggie sticks, pita bread. Makes a great sanwich. Also does a similar trick as a spoonful of peanut butter if you’re in the midst of a blood sugar crash.

    Costs about $3 for the whole deal if you’re using top of the line ingredients.


    Black Bean.
    Subsitute the lemon for lime and add cumin and chili powder to your spices

    Canelini Bean.
    You won’t need to use the water in all liklihood. I find pre-mixed chicken seasoning plus a little oregano works great for this one.

    Serve hot with some cheese melted in for the best bean dip of your life.

  174. Simple, cheap, good, filling, and healthy:

    Spinach soup with chicken and rice:

    1 or 2 large chicken breast(s)
    1 liter chicken stock
    1 T oil
    2 to 3 small leeks, chopped into thin rings
    dried dill (plenty)
    coriander (a pinch)
    1 cup arborio or other short-grain rice
    3 large handfuls spinach, chopped roughly
    lemon juice

    Cook the meat in the stock for about 15 minutes, or until done. (Don’t boil rapidly, the meat will ecome tough – rather, keep the stock just under a full boil.) Remove chicken and allow to cool. Reserve broth in separate container.

    In same pot, heat oil. Fry leeks for a few minutes until barely soft. Add dill and coriander. Add stock back to pot, bring to a boil. Add rice. Cook until rice is barely done. Add shredded chicken and spinach.

    When spinach has wilted, add lemon juice, salt and black pepper to taste.

  175. Here is one of my favorite cheap quick meals:

    • one large can of tomato soup (I actually like the creamy tomato soup in a box from Trader Joes)
    • a few handfuls of pasta
    • some hot sauce if you like
    • cheese
    • salt and popper

    1. put the tomato soup in a sauce pan over low to medium heat
    2. throw in the pasta (enough that tomato soup just covers it)
    3. stir regularly as it tends to stick if you leave it too long
    4. add salt and pepper to taste
    5. when the pasta has absorbed most of the liquid take it off the stove and let if absorb some more.
    6. add hot sauce and grated cheese and let the cheese melt into the pasta.


  176. Another one:

    Pasta & chick peas

    some small carrots, grated or finely chopped
    1 rib celery, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 T dried oregano or more fresh
    optional: 1 glass white wine
    1 liter (or more) chicken or vegetable stock
    2 cans chick peas, drained
    1 cup small “soup” paste (such as ditalini)
    thumb-sized piece Parmesan (or a few T grated)
    optional: some fresh, chopped basil

    Sweat vegetables and garlic in some oil until barely soft. Add wine (if using), oregano, one can of chick peas and stock, bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Puree soup in blender, return to pot. Add pasta, cook until just short of al dente. Add remaining chick pas. Cook 5 more minutes. Add salt if needed and plenty of black pepper.

    Serve with Parmesan and basil to taste.

  177. I always keep flour around because I use it in the white sauce in my mac and cheese recipe, and also because I make bread or pie when my apartment is too cold. And it is extremely useful to learn that I can just sub white sauce in for the cream of ___ soup in my various casseroles, because I won’t eat mushrooms and my husband won’t eat celery and it becomes a huge pain in the ass. And also because we’re on food stamps, so if it’s cheaper to make white sauce, that’s totally what I’m doing from now on.

    But anyway, speaking of my mac and cheese recipe. This makes enough to feed me three or four times, if I’m just having the mac and cheese for that meal, which I usually am because I gorge myself on it before I even think of eating anything else because it’s so tasty. So probably, like, eight or ten actual servings, if you’re having other foods as well, which is probably the better way to do it.

    1 16oz box of pasta, I like the bow ties, use whatever
    1 8oz block of cheddar cheese, I like extra sharp, shredded; you can use slightly more or less cheese without screwing up the sauce consistency too badly. I like to use a bit more than 8oz if I have some of another block of cheese left over from something, because there’s no such thing as too much cheese. Unless you’re lactose intolerant. In which case, don’t make this recipe.
    2 c milk
    4 tbsp flour
    4 tbsp butter (half a stick)
    1/4-1/2 tsp salt, I eyeball it but somewhere in there
    1/8 tsp pepper, I always use way more because I love pepper
    1/8 tsp ground mustard seed
    optional–dash or two of onion powder, I find it gives the cheese a little something

    Boil your pasta according to the directions on the box, and drain it.

    While you’re doing that, stick your butter in a medium saucepan and melt it on a notch below medium. Stir in your dry ingredients when the butter is melted, and keep stirring it and cooking it until it gets smooth and bubbly. Take it off the heat and gradually stir in your milk; when that’s all mixed up and nice, put it on high heat and boil for 1 minute. You have to stir constantly while it’s boiling or it will totally burn to the bottom of your pan. Then you can take it off the heat again and stir the cheese in until it’s all melty and delicious.

    Dump the pasta in the sauce. Stir to coat and serve.

    It doesn’t microwave to quite the same consistency as when you first make it but it still tastes good.

  178. I’ve been doing this about once a month:

    Get a whole chicken (buy them on sale and freeze, I got mine for 72 cents a pound). Try to keep it under 4 lbs., they’re tastier. Rinse it, dry it, plop it in a pan. I use a 13×9 pyrex dish, but any roasting pan that it fits in is fine. Don’t truss it. Sprinkle some salt all over it.

    Take whatever fresh herbs you like (I’ve done just parsley and parsley with thyme and sage, both were delicious. My friend uses rosemary. Whatever you like, but fresh) chop them up, mix them with 1/2 a stick of butter and rub it all over the chicken.

    Put the chicken in a hot oven (450) for about 15 minutes until it’s starting to brown. Open the oven, baste the chicken, then pour a glass of white wine in the pan – NOT over the chicken, just right in the pan. This is where I put in the cloves of one or two bulbs of garlic, unpeeled. But the garlic is totally optional.

    Turn the oven down to 375 and cook it til it’s done. In my oven that takes about an hour, but your oven may be faster, you’ll have to keep an eye on it. When it’s done, take it out, cover it loosely and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then just hack it up so that it falls into all the herby, winey, buttery, chickeny goodness and dig in.

    You’ll want to have some bread on hand to soak up all the juices. if you put in the garlic cloves, just put ’em in your mouth and pull out the skins.

    I live alone, so I usually make the chicken and when it’s done i pull off the wings and eat lots of garlic and then put it in the fridge. All week I slice the breast for sandwiches or just heated with a little of the sauce. At the end of the week I through the carcass in a pot for soup and heat the last of the good saucy stuff and toss it with pasta.


    When we were kids, this was the only way to get us to eat tuna, and we loved it. The novelty of putting it in muffin cups for some reason made us think CUPCAKES FOR DINNER WOO! and it worked.

    So here’s my thing:
    Cheapo ingredients are:
    rice, tuna, egg, butter, lemonjuice, shredded cheese, pepper.

    Here are the specifics:

    2 cans tuna (in spring water, NOT oil)
    1 package shredded cheddar
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
    1 stick butter
    Lemon juice

    Drain the tuna. Mix in a bowl with cheese, egg and white rice. Shake in the pepper to your liking.

    Dole out the portions into muffin tins (lined with paper!). Bake at 350 until it all looks melty and good (maybe 30 mins?). You really only have to cook the egg, so baking time is up to you. I like the outsides nice and crunchy.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon juice to taste. I like it really lemon-y, but it’s up to you.

    Spoon the lemon-butter over the muffins after you’ve cut them on your plate.


  180. Whoa! I’m going to bookmark this to peruse later; my skimming was making me too hungry and I want to put off lunch until right before work. (no worries, I just had a salad!)

    Here’s my contribution:

    Jambalaya (great for using up leftovers!)

    Combine in dutch oven on stove:

    2 cups rice (I always use brown rice)

    4 cups water

    2 vegetable bullion cubes, 1 chicken bullion cube, 1 tsp. seasoned salt

    1 large onion, 2 stalks celery & 1 pasillo chile, chopped

    1 tsp. chopped garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

    1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. paprika

    3/4lb.-1 lb. chopped meat (I use a turkey kielbasa if I don’t have leftovers)

    Simmer until the rice is done and serve. If you like it ‘saucier’ then add a half cup more water.

    This is great if you have some celery that’s a bit wilty to use up. I also will cut up and add any slightly smushy tomatoes I have sitting around. Use whatever sort of bullion you have on hand and substitute bell pepper for pasillo if you don’t like any heat. Leftover chicken, ham and pork is wonderful in this and even better (and more authentic) if you mix them with a sausage of your choice!

  181. Only annual? Geez, this should be seasonal – I’m dying to see what people come up with during the hot months.

  182. Retrieving this completely from memory so recipe may be slightly off

    Country Chicken & Potatoes (one-dish) serves 4-6
    4 chicken leg/thigh quarters, split (or substitute just thighs, or drumsticks) – remove skin and excess fat
    peeled, sliced potatoes – 1/8 in. (suggest 1/2 lb per person)
    2 peeled, thinly sliced carrots – 1/8 in.
    2 green onions, sliced
    seasoned bread crumbs – approx 1/4 cup per piece of chicken
    salt & pepper & dried parsley

    Preheat oven to 350 and place 1/4 stick butter in glass pyrex dish (9×9 or 13×9 depending on quantity you are making) & put in oven until butter is melted
    Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Turn each piece over in butter, coating thoroughly, then into the plate of seasoned breadcrumbs. Reserve remaining bread crumbs and set chicken pieces aside.
    In the pan, add the potatoes and carrots, and toss to coat with remaining butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley to taste & stir. Sprinkle green onions and leftover breadcrumbs on top, then put the chicken on top.
    Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes.
    Remove foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes or until crumbs are nicely browned and chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

  183. This is great–I’m copying out lots of things to cook!

    At the moment I’m obsessed with butter beans (a relative of lima, but much, much tastier, available tinned or frozen)

    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 cans butter beans (spoon them out of the can to add, saving the liquid)
    2 cans diced tomatoes
    some bay leaves to taste
    olive oil
    wine if you’ve got it, a dash of vinegar if not
    tomato paste
    hot sauce
    olive oil

    Heat your pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes to prevent hot spots and burning; add olive oil and allow to warm. Add onions and cook and cook and cook over low-medium heat until you can wait no longer or until golden. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and stir around; let cook a bit. Add bay leaves. Add beans, stir and let cook a bit. Add tomatoes, wine or vinegar, salt, pepper, hot sauce. If it looks too clumpy, add the bean liquid. If still too clumpy, add water. Cook for a while, tasting periodically. You can pretty much eat it at any point; it gets more soup-like the longer it cooks. The beans dissolve a bit too.

    You can eat this on its own or over pasta or polenta.

    Polenta is good too, and easy: get some cornmeal, yellow or blue (blue polenta looks absolutely unearthly topped with tomato sauce). Use a big pot, heavy if possible. Bring to a boil 4x as much water as you plan to use cornmeal. Add a little salt, say a teaspoon. Pour in the cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking as you go. Then turn the heat down as low as your stove will allow. Put a lid on the pot (or a cookie sheet over it, lacking a lid) Stir every ten minutes. Add more water when it starts to bubble and glurp. After 30 minutes, start tasting when you stir–it should have a very distinct corn taste that has an almost wild note to it. Once it is thick but semi-liquid and just bubbles without absorbing more water, turn it off. Add some more salt and pepper and a bunch of olive oil to taste.

    Bay leaves, olive oil and hot sauce are probably the most important things in my cooking. Bay leaves are genuinely worth the extra if you have it–just a couple of them improve a sauce hugely and you can buy them dried in bulk or fresh fairly cheaply and keep them in the freezer.

  184. Only annual? Geez, this should be seasonal – I’m dying to see what people come up with during the hot months

    cold bean & pasta salads love… here’s an example:

    1 lb short pasta (penne, spirals, orzo, wev) cooked
    1 cup finely diced celery
    1 cup finely diced red onion
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    1 can black olives, sliced
    1 jar italian dressing
    1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

    Mix the pasta, veggies and cheese together and add in italian dressing until it reaches a consistancy that you like (I usually use almost the whole jar, but you might not like it as gooey as I do) then stir in the parsley.

    It’s also a great picnic food if you leave out the cheese it can stand at room temperature fairly safely.

  185. Lexy, I make that same thing, but with 2 cans of drained albacore tuna & 1/4 cup regular or lite mayo. Plus some grated carrot for color & extra veg. Don’t use the cheese. Sometimes I add kidney or garbanzo beans (chickpeas).

  186. I’m so glad there are other “a little of this, pour it in until it looks good” cooks here, so I know you’ll understand this dish, which is a simple orzo pilaf.

    Take a large onion and chop coarsely. Thinly slice a couple of carrots. Saute in some vegetable oil until the onion is golden. Add one boneless skinless chicken breast (or thigh if you prefer), cubed, and brown. Add about a quart of chicken broth, deglazing the pan. Bring to a boil, then add half a box of orzo or any other small pasta (I really like teeny little shells for this) and half a bag of frozen peas. If you like, add a few teaspoons of your favorite herbs (I like tarragon or dill). When the pot returns to a boil, cover and simmer on low for as long as you normally like the pasta to cook (about 7-12 minutes). It’s done when the pasta is tender and the broth is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste. Feeds 2 generously.

    I tend to make this a lot in the summer. In winter, I make a variation with barley. The differences are, cut the carrots in thick chunks and don’t saute, use a half a box of pearl barley, and about 2 quarts broth. Cook the barley 45 minutes, then add the peas and some more broth if it looks a little dry, and cook another 15 minutes.

  187. Pea soup–costs about $3 for a pot, if you don’t have to go out of your way to buy the vegetables.

    – 1 lb. dry split peas
    – 3-4 carrots, chopped
    – 3 potatoes, cubed
    – 1/2 an onion, diced
    – 2 cloves garlic, diced
    – 4 cups vegetable broth
    – 4 cups water
    – 2 bay leaves
    – 1 tsp. basil
    – 1/4-1/2 c. red wine (this is my secret ingredient)

    Sautee the onion and garlic in a little oil, then add everything else and simmer for about an hour.

    Also this is not much of a recipe but I love making French onion soup. If you’re a “throw things in the pot until they taste good” kind of person this might work for you… slice a few onions and sautee them in butter & olive oil for about twenty minutes until they’re soft and slightly browned, then mix in a little flour and basil and vegetable broth & red wine in whatever proportion makes you happy (if the onions aren’t sweet enough you can add a little sugar as well). Simmer for another 20 minutes and serve over stale French bread–which is a good way to use up stuff that would get tossed.

  188. Pork Chop Thing

    A pan with a cover — skillet, wok, whatever, so long as it’s got some space in it. I use a Calphalon ‘everyday pan’ I’ve had for ages.

    2 pork chops (I get one thick one, and cut it in half lengthwise)
    lots of pepper
    some butter
    1 crushed, chopped garlic clove
    3 or 4 small to medium mealy potatoes (yukon gold, russet, etc)
    about 1 cup beef bouillion (made with a cube)
    about half a teaspoon of cornstarch in a little water (optional)

    Slice the spuds into rounds or half-rounds, whatever is easiest.

    Heat the butter and garlic in the pan on medium-high heat until it sizzles just a bit. Sear the pork chops in it, then fish out and set aside. Dump in the sliced spuds and spread them out. Pour in the bouillion, and then slide the pork chops on top of the spuds. Cover, and turn the heat down low. Let it cook for about half an hour, or until the spuds are soft.

    Fork out the chops, and scoop out the spuds — I use a slotted spoon. If there’s a lot of liquid at the bottom, which is most of the time, I add the cornstarch slurry, and heat it up until it thickens for a quick gravy to pour over the pork chops.

    Serve up with a salad, and it’s dinner.

    Also, most lentil dishes will thicken as they cool, so leftovers can make great spreads for bread or squashy sandwiches. I make curried red lentils for just this purpose.

    Oh, and OlderThanDirt? Tinned cream of mushroom soup does work pretty good for SOS. I like speckled gravy better, though. (Speckled gravy is basically a white sauce, made with whatever fat you’ve got, flour, milk, and lots of pepper.)

  189. If my half and half for coffee is about to hit the sell by date I put it in a pan and add some milk, if I have any, pepper, salt and garlic and heat the sauce until it reduces. I add cooked pasta to the sauce and the startch thickens the sauce more. Boom! Bonus meal of quasi-pasta alfredo out of your coffee creamer.

    For those who keep staples on hand: I take a cup of flour, water and baking powder and salt and make a crust, top with spinach and olive oil and whatever spices I’m in the mood for, cook at 500 degrees and make a pretty inexpensive flatbread sammich’ dealy. You can substitute any veggies or any remnants of pasta sauce you have on hand. Add spices to the crust before baking too.

    It is amazing what a bag of flour, a spice rack and water can do when you need a meal.

  190. SM, I am so glad that there’s someone else out there with a ridiculous kleptomaniac cat. Mine usually steals socks and q-tips, but he once stole my last pair of contact lenses. He hid them in the back of my closet in a bag of yarn (I discovered several months later).

  191. I finally have time to add my version of Cheap Eats. This is a recipe I found when I was in college and have modified significantly. It’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand for when you want to make a quick meal that is super hearty and warm. Great for cold winter nights.

    Quick and Easy Minestrone

    In a large pot combine:
    1 16 oz can stewed tomatoes
    1 8 oz can french cut green beans
    1 can black beans
    1 can kidney beans
    1 package dried french onion soup mix or a few beef bouillon cubes
    1 can of water
    whatever vegetables you have in the fridge that you want to get rid of (carrots, celery, onions, etc.) If you want to use greens add them later.

    Bring this mixture to a boil and then add a generous handful of pasta (elbows, shells, or penne work really well)
    Boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.
    Add any greens you have left over for the last few minutes of the boil (spinach or kale are both delicious in this)
    Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese just before serving.

    You can switch up the beans in this easily. I love it with chick peas! You can also throw in any left-over meat you have but it totally doesn’t need it. To make it vegetarian, use an onion soup with a vegetable base (many are beef) or use vegetable bouillon cubes.

  192. Holycraptheseareamazing cookies (no bake)

    These were a staple in my house growing up, and I can attest that if you don’t take the syrup/sugar from the heat as soon as it starts to boil, they will be so hard you can barely bite them, and chewing is a whole negative calories process (haha, everyone better know I’m kidding here)

  193. emilymorgan, I sympathize! So far when my cat has stolen my glasses, he’s hid the under the bed, so I can find them again… but basically my worst fear is that he will steal my glasses and hide them where I can’t find them. Which could be, you know, anywhere, since I CAN’T SEE WITHOUT THEM.

  194. I’m gonna keep it real, here.

    Cheap? Lots of leftovers? Something everyone loves — even 2 year olds? And to have in February? In Chicago!? The thought of having a cold salad in February in Chicago is worse than that of having hot soup and a high heaping plate of steaming pasta in New Orleans in August. The horror!


    Baked spaghetti.

    Al dente spaghetti noodles.
    A can or two of tomato soup.
    Some shredded cheddar cheese.
    Grated zucchini (if you want to sneak some greens in on the unsuspecting wee ones… make ’em fine and they won’t even notice)

    Mix all the above together. Enough soup to coat, not swim. Put in a long wide baking dish. Melt a little bit of butter to pour over the top. Bake it at 400 for about 30-45 minutes.

    I can’t believe I de-lurked over baked spaghetti. *blush*

  195. Just to add to the stories of kleptomaniac kitties, mine steal too. Burton eats yarn. Natural fibers don’t seem to give him too much trouble, but that one time he ate four feet of the acrylic I was using for a kids’ toy and then threw it up in a four foot line on the living room rug was pretty memorable. He also likes to steal my ID badge, which is a pretty important item as it allows me to you know, get into the parking lot, clock in, and charge my lunch to payroll at work.

    Maureen will steal your food. Woe be unto you if you have bacon. She will sneak up to you and snatch it right off your plate. She will also drink out of my glass, and get up on my shoulder to try to get a better angle at my food if I am sitting on the bed or the floor. Really. I look like a pirate who prefers tiny orange tabbies to parrots with a little cat right on my shoulder. She is obsessed with food. Probably due to spending a good part of her life as a stray and not knowing when her next meal was coming, but she will do this even if she has just been presented with a little dish of her favorite, roasted chicken. She can always eat.

  196. Cheddar Cheese Risotto – Nigella Lawson’s recipe
    So amazingly cheesy and gooey.
    1tbsp butter
    1tbsp oil
    1/4 cup finely chopped onions, leeks, green onions, shallots, what-have-you.
    1/2 cup of white wine, vermouth, what-have you. (You could for sure sub an extra half cup of chicken broth here if you don’t have quite as well stocked of a bar as I do. *wink*)
    1.5 cups short grain rice
    1/2 tsp dijon (or whatever) mustard
    1 cup chopped cheddar cheese
    4 cups(ish) hot chicken or veg stock

    Melt butter and oil and cook onion over medium heat until soft. Add risotto rice and cook 1 minute, stirring. Turn up heat to medium high and add wine and mustard. Keep stirring.
    Ladle the hot stock and stir, letting each ladle absorb before adding the next, until rice is al dente, say 18 minutes.
    Then add the cheese, stirring and letting it all melt in.

    Serve in warm bowls.

    The only expensive ingredient here is the cheese, and you can definitely get away with using less than a cup, but seriously, why??
    You can leave out the mustard and throw in some garlic with the onions, too.
    My guess is you’d probably only need to buy a couple of these ingredients, though.
    I crave this.

  197. I can’t believe I de-lurked over baked spaghetti. *blush*

    Hi! And you know, an ex-boyfriend turned me onto baked pasta years ago, but we actually never had it (except for lasagna) growing up, so it had never occurred to me to go the extra mile like that with a regular pot of spaghetti. And now, baking it (read: incoroporating copious amounts of melted cheese) makes Al willing to eat pasta instead of bitching that he hates it (because he ate too much of it growing up), so it’s a very useful thing to know about. (In fact, I made some last week.) Even if it seems like everybody must know about a given simple, common dish, trust me, not everyone does.

    Or at least I didn’t for a long time. My mom tried to teach me basic recipes when I was growing up, but I never paid attention, and we just never ate a lot of the things other people consider classics. So I am LOVING this thread.

  198. OH. and one of my favorites that i completely forget about, maybe because i haven’t made it in awhile….my concocted version of mole. you can make it with couscous or rice and it’s very easy. Add some garlic and onion to a frying pan with a decent amount of butter in it. I think iron skillets work the best for this recipe. then, once the garlic and onion are tender, add a can of black beans, DO NOT drain them. once this has cooked a bit, add some cinnamon and a heaping tablespoon of cocoa. then, add a jar of salsa, or diced tomatoes, or whatever you prefer. sometimes i add corn. let it simmer for just a bit, until it’s all goopy and thick. then, in a small pan, toast a bit of coconut. add the coconut to your cooked rice, leave some for the final dish. in a large bowl, layer the rice, then the black bean mix, top with a sprinkle of coconut, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, whatever, and a dollup of sour cream. i have made without the fresh ingredients on top, and it tastes just as good. the coconut really does the trick. sooooo good.

  199. Okay, wait, so, about those nasturtiums. Because, I know some flowers are edible and even grown for eating (certain varieties of rose are especially prized for extra-tasty blossoms and/or hips), but a lot of them are poisonous too.

    I’m just saying, if I ever climb out of the pit of “my net worth is measurable only in negative numbers and I better not die because my family will be saddled with my school debt” and into some kind of economic place where I am splurging on something as crazy as flowers-by-moonlight (please tell me they were collected by a handsome poet named Fyodor, dressed in a very scanty ceremonial garment), I just want to make sure I live to see dessert (baby donuts).

    PS I need to spend some time wading through these comments later. This thread is pretty awesome, as I am always searching for things which are easy/quick/cheap to cook so my handy-reference dish-when-I-don’t-care repertoire has more than “soup” and “pb & j” in it.

    Muah ha ha.

  200. Lately I’ve been making two fast and easy dinners a lot: turkey chili (basically just brown the ground turkey with onions and then throw in a bunch of beans, corn and tomato sauce) and easy pumpkin soup. For the soup, I take one can of plain pumpkin, one can of chicken broth, and about a third to a half of a can of coconut milk, and stir them all together. Add salt, pepper and spices like cumin, curry, cinnamon and paprika to taste. Heat over low. Yummy and warm.

  201. *de-lurks*

    Cooking thread! YAY! Awesome idea, Kate. I’m definitely going to print and try some of these recipes, especially the soups. For some strange reason I can bake perfect bread, make a chocolate souffle to die for, marvelous grilled teriyaki kebabs… but my soup varies from almost tolerable to liquid compost. Sigh.

    Anyway! A recession is no reason to skip dessert! This recipe was one of my grandma’s favorites. Also a great way to use up those apples in the bottom of the fruit drawer that have become slightly mushy and wrinkly, but they’re not rotten yet.

    Baked Apples

    4 large apples (any variety except Red Delicious; for some reason Red Delicious just don’t cook well)
    Brown sugar
    Ground cinnamon
    Raisins and/or chopped nuts, if you have them

    Grease a square baking dish and preheat the oven to 350. Wash and core the apples, and put them in the dish. Stuff the middles of the apples with brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, raisins and/or nuts. Mound up the sugar on top of the apples a bit. Put a generous pat of butter on top of each apple and bake. Every half an hour or so, check the apples. If the tops are getting dry, get a turkey baster, ladle, or large serving spoon and bathe the apples in the nummy stuff from the bottom of the pan. Once they start looking soft and wrinkly poke them with a fork. They’re done once they’re soft enough for your taste. Let the baked apples sit for a few minutes before serving and eating, or you will burn your tongue. (Trust me. I know.)

    Om nom nom!

  202. I remembered another one – mainly cuz we’re having it for dinner tonight.

    Impossible Quesadilla Pie

    2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    1 4 oz. can chopped mile green chiles, drained
    3/4 cup Bisquick
    1 1/2 cups milk
    3 eggs

    Sprinkle cheese and chiles into greased pie plate. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cheese. Bake at 400 for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and set in middle. Good with salsa and sour cream.

    Note: This is really just a crustless quiche recipe that adapts wonderfully to whatever odds and ends you have on hand. Tonight I added leftover corn and chopped roast turkey. I’ve omitted the green chiles before and done it with ham, broccoli and swiss. Keep the proportions of cheese, milk, eggs and Bisquick – the possibilities are endless (but use a larger casserole dish if you’re adding lots of stuff – a lesson I learned the hard way).

  203. Hey, thanks to all who suggested variations on “southwestern casserole” topped with cornbread! Among the things we wanted to use up in the cupboard were:

    -1 can Ro-Tel
    -1 jar black bean dip that’s been sitting there FOREVER b/c I bought it by accident, thinking it was black bean salsa. Couldn’t throw it out, b/c I knew it would probably taste good, but also couldn’t bring myself to eat it as a dip, b/c it looked like poop.
    -1 pkg cornbread mix that came in a gift basket Al’s mom sent us for Christmas 2007, I think.

    I had no idea what I was going to do with any of those things, but combined with ground beef and cheese, I’ve got vaguely southwestern casserole! 3 birds with one stone! (I also meant to use up half a bag of frozen corn but forgot to throw it in, so I might cook that on the side.)

    Can’t tell you how it came out yet, ’cause it’s still in the oven, but I was just so stoked that one of the recipes on this thread dovetailed so nicely with our Clean out the Freezer and Cupboard project.

  204. Oh hey, two more!

    Someone else mentioned pea soup, so here is an even easier/cheaper pea soup:
    -2 cups frozen peas
    -4 cups chicken broth (can substitute one cup for cream, but I don’t eat cream)
    -Butter, salt, pepper
    -if it’s summer and you have fresh herbs, some fresh tarragon or mint work great

    Boil until peas are thawed and cooked. Blend with salt and pepper and buttloads of butter, to taste.

    And I can’t believe i didn’t think of frittatas (fritattas?) earlier!
    -6 eggs
    -parmesan cheese (~1/2 cup is probably good)
    -salt, pepper
    -maybe greens like spinach or kale, or chives, or minced garlic, or all of the above

    Beat eggs until as smooth as they get without adding liquid. Add salt and pepper and cheese and mix it in. Add chopped herbs if you’re using those, too. Heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove (cast iron really is great for this). Also preheat broiler. When pan is hot, add optional garlic and/or greens and fry briefly (just long enough to wilt the greens), then add eggs. Let sit without touching them until there is only ~1/4 inch of liquid left on top in the middle. Place under broiler for 1 minute (maybe 2 if not done – depends how close you can get to your broiler), until JUST barely done and maybe still a teeny bit gooey. Eggs should look all fluffy and moist. Turn out onto a plate, cut into wedges or squares. Delicious!!

    (Variations – you can leave out the cheese if you don’t eat dairy. Or sprinkle a bit of parm on top, or probably use other cheese in the eggs instead of parmesan. I have also put ham or little pieces of bacon or even tomato slices in these, with great results.)

  205. Viajera – you made me homesick – spent my childhood in Escazu – mmm Gallo Pinto, or just give me the whole Plato Casero….

    Also, for the non-vegetarians, please don’t discard the bones after those bone-in chicken/turkey/etc dishes. My favourite of all – bone broth soup. (I skipped a few entries, so apologies if this is a repeat) It is a crime not to reboil the bones to make a tasty broth – tip: break them in half with a hammer wrapped in a tea towel so the marrow can dissolve into the broth, and add about 1/2 a teaspoon of vinegar to the water, as it helps leach some of the calcium from the bones into the broth where it will do you some good. It helps the broth if you add some veggie bits for flavour, eg. onion skins, carrot/turnip tops, celery trimmings, etc. Of course, if you’re feeling flush, you could throw in a whole onion, carrot and celery (my mother called them the “holy trinity of soup,”) but the fresh bits from your veg chopping that you would otherwise be composting work just as well. Boil all until water is reduced by half. Strain and cool. (Optional – I don’t) remove fat which will have floated to the top. Use immediately or freeze until wanted in any recipe calling for broth, but especially soup.

    And now, I think it is time for dessert. And I have just discovered a 30-second Black Forest Gateau – or as good as …. take two slices of bread – spread Nutella (or similar chocolate flavoured spread) on one, and cherry jam on the other. Put together – mmmmmmm!!

    I haven’t visited for awhile, but glad you’re all still here.

  206. for the veggies out there (and tofu lovers!):

    Breaded and Fried Tofu

    (great when you want that fried taste, but want to eat something healthy as well!)

    1/2 cornflake-like cereal
    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1/4 tsp dry sweetener
    1/4 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 tsp onion powder

    1/2 medium-firm tofu
    1 tbsp olive oil

    In a blender or food processor, mix dry ingredients until well combined. Slice tofu into about 3/4 inch slices, and lay them in the breading mixture to coat both sides with breading. Fry them on medium low heat in a pan, flipping gently when brown on bottom. Coat with your favorite topping (I like pasta sauce!) and eat with some veggies and carbs. Super easy!

  207. Thanks to the people who suggested pasta with chickpeas! Tonight I sauteed some garlic and onion with chickpeas, dill, rosemary, and oregano, and tossed it with pasta and crumbled feta. It was great and a nice variation on pasta (which we eat all the damn time).

  208. Super-cheap, super-easy tex-mex soup:

    -1 lb. ground beef or diced chicken, cooked (if desired; you may want to double up on the black beans if you’re going meat-free)
    -1 can each black beans, kidney beans, white corn, yellow corn, diced tomatoes, tomatoes/chiles
    -1 pkg taco seasoning
    -1 pkg ranch dressing mix

    Throw everything in a pot (if you want something more like stew or chili than soup, drain the cans first) and cook on medium until beans are cooked through. Garnish with shredded cheese, diced jalapenos, lime juice, fresh cilantro, etc.; serve with corn chips.

    My husband and I just cooked up a double batch–it took about fifteen minutes (only five of which is prep time) and $15 for something that yields about ten servings. It’s a big hit at all my family gatherings because it accommodates both my nieces’ vegetarianism and my mom’s wheat/dairy allergy.

    SM, if you like chickpeas, I heartily recommend this:

  209. I’ll give a twofer — not just cheap, but simple to make.

    First up, a ‘make ahead and freeze’-friendly hearty meatless, dairyless winter soup:

    I kid you not, on its public debut I had people arguing with me that I HAD to have put salt pork in it, because they could TASTE the ham, and how DARE I tell them it was vegan? So I got something right. :->

    And for a show-off fancy company meal, the easiest souffle you will EVER make (the only thing you can do to screw it up is jump up and down in front of the oven while it’s baking — other than that, it forgives all. This has been made by people who’ve never cooked anything more complex than reheated Campbell’s Chunky Soup): Tuna Sooful.

  210. This is a great thread. I don’t comment often, but I couldn’t resist a cooking thread, and have copied loads of recipes, and thought I would share one of my own.

    Baked Ziti.

    I started out trying to find a recipe for this, but couldn’t find an exact one I liked, so I took the general idea and just kind of winged it.

    1 lb ground beef

    1 lb cottage cheese

    about 16 oz mozzarella, shredded.

    1 jar (about 16 oz) of the pasta sauce of your choice. I’m sure you could make your own if you prefer, but I don’t.

    Italian bread crumbs

    italian season (or just mix oregano, parsley, thyme and marjoram to taste)

    garlic and onion to taste.

    1 lb of ziti

    Parmesan cheese

    you will need a 9×13 pan

    preheat oven to 375

    cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

    Cook the garlic and onions until soft, add the meat and brown it, then add the red sauce.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix the cheeses, excluding the parm and enough mozzarella to sprinkle over the top. When the pasta and meat are cooked, drain the pasta (I drain the meat to get the grease off it as well) and mix the meat and pasta in with the cheese. Dump the whole shebang into the 9×13 pan and cover it with the leftover mozzarella and parmesan. IT’s really better if the parm is fresh grated or at least shaved rather than the powdery stuff. Bake until the top is all bubbly and golden brown.

    This makes a TON of food. However, I really like it because it freezes like a dream. I work as a librarian and one night a week I have to close. I make the ziti and eat it for one meal, and then let it cool and cut it into individual servings, wrap it in foil, freeze it, and have a good, filling meal rather than going to the store and buying some grody microwave thing for my dinner on those nights. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying dinner.

  211. In general, I’ll direct you to my Sparkrecipes account (if you want to spend the Sanity watchers on SparkPeople). I posted a link from my blog, just click the view all or view more (whichever it is) and then scroll down to the section that’s my submitted recipes. Ignore any diet-speak, I’m a recent convert :)

    I highly recommend the beef stew that includes cream of mushroom and red wine. I used a $5 pinot noir last time and it was really good. Fresh thyme for the last hour is also AMAZING :)

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