Eating on the cheap

This week Girl Talk Thursday is all about the cheap dinners. I sorta specialize in those.

Actually, my favorite $10 dinner is a family pack from Taco Bell with three fresco bean burritos and seven soft tacos. I eat two bean burritos (lots of fire sauce), BDub (aka my mountain man) eats a bean burrito (mild sauce for wussies) and three soft tacos. Javi eats three soft tacos and Bella eats the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and tortilla from the remaining soft taco. Can you tell we get it often?

However, some would say that Taco Bell isn't a (gasp) healthy option. For those overachievers, I offer these $10 (or less) meals:

Soup. I am soup's best friend. We go way back and I'm extremely loyal to it. I'll turn just about anything into soup and keep a "soup bag" in the freezer of bits and pieces of meat and vegetables. When that bag gets full, I toss it in a pot with some low fat, low sodium chicken broth. Sometimes I add leftover rice, barley, or noodles to give it a new twist. Sometimes I use V8 instead of broth. It's all good and you really can't screw up soup.

Brinner. Tonight I served leftover tenderloin with scrambled (organic, free range) eggs, grits, braised greens, and biscuits. I don't eat eggs, so the braised greens were for me. Those eggs cost me more than regular ones, so this meal was a little more expensive than it could be. The greens were what I didn't use in soup earlier this week.

Leftovers. We don't waste food. A pot of soup lasts two days at least. Last night's dinner becomes the starter for the next night. Many ingredients are great mixed into eggs, broiled on top of a pita round, or thrown in a salad. If I can't use the leftovers within two days, they go in the soup bag for later.

Simple meals. Often it feels like meals needs to fill your plate and consist of multiple dishes, but a great meal can be really simple. During the summer, I'll make a salad and serve it with a side of fruit and cottage cheese, or we'll have peanut butter toast with fruit and yogurt. It's a toddler meal, but it can be so refreshing after days of adult meals. We made full meals out of fresh tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob many a night last summer. Yum!

Burgers and fries. When we need a fun meal, I'll cook up some Boca burgers and serve them on a bed of lettuce (because any buns we buy invariably go bad) and pickles. We are in love with the regular freezer seasoned fries, so that's a cheap treat. Throw them in the oven and they're ready in 15 minutes. Bella won't eat hamburger meat, but she loves Boca burgers.

There's also Annie's mac & cheese (but only Javi and MM eat it), frozen pizzas (again, the girls no likey), ravioli or angel hair pasta with meat sauce, and $5 Little Ceasar's pizzas -- but don't we all eat those?

What do you turn to when you need a cheap meal?


  • jolibe

    Great ideas - I love the soup bag thing! I hate leftovers, but thankfully my hubby will take them for lunch at work. But the bag idea will help me from throwing out stuff.

  • Unknown

    Brinner! that is the best word!

  • Janine

    I have a recipe for killer homemade grilled pizza. Cheap, and easy. The dough is simple...you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry already. I always have a homemade marinara sauce in the fridge or freezer, but the jarred sauce is cheap, too. Grated mozzarella cheese, and any toppings you like, or have in the house will do! I posted the full recipe on my blog, if you're interested...here's the link url:

  • Jami

    Last year I got the big idea to grow all our own veggies. It's not as easy as it sounds. It was hard dragging all the kids there. (we have to garden away from home) It was so much work and such a small yield. We ate it all. It WAS fun, but I am thinking I will skip it this year. :)

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