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Posts tagged ‘cheap recipes’

Use-It-Up Beef Vegetable Soup

The beauty of this soup is in it’s versatility; you can use most vegetables and any number of meat products that are available to you, and it will still taste delicious. Personally, I use up any leftovers I have from a beef roast,  and I incorporate whatever veggies I have on hand that are looking sad in the fridge or need to be used up from the garden. You can also go simple and use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables from your freezer. This soup is thick and hearty enough for a meal if you include a loaf of homemade bread or a salad. Followed exactly, this recipe will feed at least 6 people. You can also adapt this recipe for the slow-cooker. From my estimates, this recipe cost me around $2 in total to make. Please note, I did go a little easy on the meat because I didn’t have much left this time. This dish has a great tomato flavor and a bit of a spicy kick; if you don’t care for heat in your food, decrease or omit the red pepper flakes.

  • 1/2-1 lb. of leftover pot roast (or cooked ground beef or sausage)
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I use my homemade stock because it’s free, but you can also use veggie or beef stock, or water with bouillon)
  • 2 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1.5 cups of chopped veggies (either raw or frozen–use whatever you have on hand that you need to use up)
  • 1/4 box of ditalini or macaroni noodles
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire
  • 2 tsps. red pepper flakes
  • salt, pepper and onion powder to taste
  1. Bring the stock to a boil; add celery, potatoes and any raw veggies to the stock and boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato soup and any frozen pasta noodles. Bring back to a boil and continue simmering for 10 minutes.
  3. Add any frozen veggies, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, and seasonings. Continue to simmer 10 minutes more or until pasta and veggies are tender.
  4. Add beef or ground meat and heat through. Don’t worry if your leftover beef has gravy on it; this will add flavor to the soup.
  5. Serve with sprinkled parmesan or Romano cheese on top.

This leftover soup is a big hit in my house; my fiancé is super-picky and he still loves it. This is one of those recipes that has endless variations, so don’t be afraid to play around with it in order to use up any leftovers you have sitting in the fridge. It’s great for using up some of that end-of-summer zucchini surplus as well if you have a garden.

What about you? Any no-fail recipes that you use to get rid of veggie or meat leftovers?

What’s For Dinner? Super-Cheap Ground Meat, Chicken, Pasta and Potato Recipes (Based on Sales and Coupon Matchups 9/6-9/14)

Listed below are a few new recipes designed to utilize the best grocery deals that were available starting yesterday.

I was especially excited about these finds, and did some internet sleuthing to find a few new dinners to cook in the upcoming days:

  • Ground Chuck $1.99/lb (at Shop ‘n Save)
  • 10 lb bag of potatoes $1.98 (at Shop ‘n Save)
  • Helluva Good Cheese, multiple varieties, 8 oz, $1 (at Giant Eagle, with coupon)
  • Ragu Pasta Sauce and  Giant Eagle brand Pasta $2.25 for 2 jars and 1 box of pasta (Giant Eagle, with coupon)
  • 3 lb bag of boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts $5…or $1.34 to $1.67 per lb ($4 if you got them last week, at Shop ‘n Save)
  • Skippy Peanut Butter $1.69 (at Giant Eagle, with coupon)

These are recipes utilizing two or more of these great deals (these will all feed four people for under $5…some for WELL under $5…and don’t be afraid of substitutions/omissions on the ingredients…make it work with what you already have!)

Happy Cooking!!

Print Now! Sun-Bird Asian Seasonings Coupon…Have Chinese Takeout at Home for $3 or less

I’m a big fan of Sun-Bird seasoning packets…especially the General Tso’s Chicken. Add a little soy sauce, sugar and water, and you’ve got a yummy chicken dinner to serve over rice. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I prefer it over Chinese takeout or restaurant meals. Their seasoning packets are frequently on sale for $1 at supermarkets, and this coupon will take half off that price (if your grocery store doubles coupons):

25 cents/1 Sun-Bird Seasoning Packet

This makes a low-cost, delicious dinner. For example:

  • 1 Sun-Bird seasoning packet (after doubled coupon): 50 cents
  • 1 lb of chicken, from our $1.33/lb stockpiled boneless, skinless chicken breast bags (on sale at $4/3 lb)
  • 1 cup of rice, cooked in our rice cooker 25 cents (probably less expensive if you’re buying rice in bulk)
  • a bit of sugar and soy sauce 10 cents (if that)

So for around $2.50, we can feed 3-4 people with this meal, or just feed the two of us and have leftovers at the end of the night. If you add a bit of broccoli (especially if you’ve grown it yourself or purchased it frozen with a coupon), the price only increases by a few cents.

Compare that to Chinese take-out, which costs around $10 per entree, and is often concocted from stringy, dark meat and more “breading” than chicken.

Plus, it couldn’t be simpler to cut up and brown the chicken and add the sauce…all while the rice cooker is casually doing it’s thing to give us perfectly cooked rice…no matter what.

If General Tso’s isn’t your thing, Sun-Bird has a variety of other seasoning packets, including Kung Pao, fried rice, sweet and sour, etc.

Crock Pot Madness!! Southwestern Pulled Pork Tacos (Feed You and Your Honey for Two Days for $5 or less!)

Best Pulled Pork EVER!!

Here’s another easy, breezy Crock Pot recipe guaranteed to save you money and time!! Although we usually pile up the pork in soft flour tortillas, this is also great rolled burrito style and heated an additional ten minutes in a toaster oven or oven, or served on buns as a sandwich. It has a great Southwestern tang, and just a little bite! Seriously, I’ve had sooo many people ask me for this recipe after trying it at our house. The flavor can’t be beat!!

This goes great with a simple side of Mexican-style rice, or any rice and bean dish.

All prices reflect what I paid for the ingredients; this may differ for you based on your grocery shopping habits, coupon usage, creative substitutions/omissions/etc.

Southwestern Pulled Pork Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast (if it’s on sale for BOGO), otherwise I use a boneless pork butt roast, which is generally the cheapest cut of pork available. The slow-cooking process makes it taste like a dream! $3.00
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce FREE (I have a TON of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce I got free with coupons!)
  • 1 can diced green chiles, or 1 cup fresh green chiles seeded/chopped finely. FREE, used chiles from my friend’s garden.
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (you could use a little onion powder in a pinch, or to save money) 25 cents
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 40 cents
  • 1/4 cup chili powder 5 cents
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 1 cent??
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 1 cent??
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (secret ingredient…cost negligible)
  • A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • Soft flour tortillas or buns (I use tortillas, have many packs of 8 I got on sale for 50 cents a pack, so 25 cents…make your own and save money! I want to learn how!)
  • Shredded Mexican/Colby-Jack/Cheddar cheese (optional) 50 cents
  • Sour Cream (optional) I just use a smidge to dip… 10 cents

The Super-Easy Procedure

  1. Mix all ingredients except for tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and pork in the bottom of your Crock Pot. Add the pork and give it a flip so it’s coated all over with the sauce. (note: if you want more heat, feel free to spice it up and add more diced chiles and/or hot sauce.)
  2. Cook on low around 8 hours. Go to work, go to school, live your life. 🙂
  3. Gently pull pork apart inside Crock Pot with two forks. It should shred apart easily.
  4. You can remove pork to a serving dish before shredding  if you want to control the amount of sauce you have in your tacos/burritos/sandwiches.
  5. Enjoy the delectable aroma emanating from your house/apartment. The neighbors are jealous.
  6. Serve on flour tortillas or buns, and add cheese and sour cream as you see fit!! Really though, just the saucy meat is delicious enough if you don’t want to add the extras!!

Total Cost: around $4.63!! Will feed two people for two days or more!!

Cooking For (one) or Two…6 Tips to Beat Family-Oriented Packaging and Recipes

No financial help for dinner for deux??

Is it just me, or are the cookbook/online recipe/portion size people completely against singles, couples without children and two-person households???

Everything I pick up to buy in the store is designed to feed a family of four or more. Well, HELLO, there are only two of us!!

Every recipe I find in my cookbooks or print out online serves 6-8 . For someone as math-phobic as I am, sitting in front of a cookbook with a calculator and trying to figure out the necessary measurement adjustments to feed only two hungry people produces panicky breathing and a sweaty brow. Forget about it if it’s a recipe that I’m getting out of one of my many British cookbooks I got on super-sale from Barnes and Nobles.

The metric system AND division?? Sorry honey, we’re ordering pizza tonight!!!

It’s sad that Singles and Twosomes (or smaller families, even) sometimes end up throwing away or wasting food because, due to the American status quo, it’s easier to purchase and cook their food in the same manner a larger family does. It often seems impossible not to.  It often just doesn’t get eaten in time and into the trash it goes. What a waste.

BUT WAIT, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!! Frustrated about this two-person-family prejudice, I did a little research, and came up with the following tips:

  1. Rescale/downsize recipes you are printing online.  I love browsing the web for recipes. Problem is (and it took me a shamefully long time to realize this), most recipes are written to accommodate a family of four or more. We would always end up with a TON of leftover food that often got chucked in the trash. However, a lot of recipe sites, such as allrecipes.com, allow the user to adjust the recipe to the number of servings they would like to make. No muss, no fuss, one click of the button and ingredient measurements are automatically adjusted to fit your needs!!! Love it! However, on smaller sites that don’t offer this option, you can always bust out the old calculator to split recipes in halves/quarters/thirds/etc. If you like math. I don’t, so I’m an allrecipes devotee. All Hail Allrecipes.com!!!
  2. There are a growing number of cookbooks out there geared towards the two-person family!! Yeah!! Just do a quick search on amazon.com for two-person cooking or two-person recipes and you should have a pretty nice selection of books to purchase. Sure, it’s cheaper to print free recipes from the internet, but there’s nothing like having at least a small collection of cookbooks on display in your kitchen. Ones that you actually use. Not glossy, expensive decoys to make your husband’s boss think you’re a domestic goddess when the extravagant meal you just placed before him is really take-out from the french restaurant down the street served on Grandma Audrey’s wedding gift china.
  3. Ok, you still have leftovers galore…FREEZE THEM or LUNCHBOX THEM. This is my method. If whatever we had for dinner is an easy freeze, say chili or soup or lasagna, I portion it out into 2-person sized meal servings, wrap it in saran wrap, pop it in a freezer bag, date and label it, and toss it in the freezer. Some crazy, busy night when there is no time to cook and you are starving, you will thank me!! If it’s something that’s not great to freeze (fettucine alfredo for example), It goes into Mike’s hot thermos for lunch the next day. I bought him a fantastic thermos that keeps food hot or cold for 7 hours. The lid is a serving bowl, and there’s a stainless steel spoon tucked inside of it. Lunch is served!!
  4. Start with a whole chicken. Or pot roast. Or pork roast. Whatever. I do this all the time, and not only is it great for two-person or small families, but it will save you tons of money as you can get three meals out of the deal. Using the chicken as an example, I’ll cook the whole bird (usually in the crock pot, which saves my valuable time, and saves money on utilities, AND keeps the house blessedly cool in the summer since I don’t have to turn on the inferno of an oven) on the first night, using a recipe I’ve found online or in a cookbook, and serve it up with some tasty sides, maybe a veggie and a potato or rice. The next day, I’ll repurpose the leftover chicken into another dish, maybe some chicken enchiladas, or a white chicken chili, a recipe in which I can further stretch out the remaining chicken with beans or rice or other ingredients. The third day, if there is still some life left in the old bird, I’ll do the same, but with a different dish. Usually by this time there’s not much left, so it may just be a chicken and bean soup (heavy on the beans). At the very least, I can use the chicken bones and carcass to make an awesome homemade chicken stock, and base another soup from that, or freeze it for later use. Whoo! There are similar scenarios with other meats, but that’s another blog post! And, if you scored your bird or roast when the grocery store was having a BOGO sale (like I do) you just ate for three days (and ate well) for probably under $10.
  5. Bulk bins are a two-person household’s friend. Seriously, if I have to buy one more $6 jar of tarragon that I need for a recipe, I’ll scream. I know I’m never going to use it again before it expires and dies a slow, tasteless death in my pantry. Check out ethnic stores, health food stores, and even some grocery stores for bulk bins where you can purchase as little or as much of spices, beans, lentils, rice, etc. as you need by weight. Really a lifesaver if it’s an ingredient you know you don’t use regularly.
  6. Watch what you buy at the grocery store. It’s hard to find smaller packages of ground meat, pork chops and chicken. We twosomes can combat this in two ways. One, it’s OK to ask your butcher if he can accommodate you with whatever sized package of meat you need. That’s his job. Butchers at the grocery store are often underutilized by clueless shoppers. Your friendly butcher can point you in the direction of meat markdowns, cut large pieces of meat for you to order (usually for free), and get you that one pound package of ground meat you’re looking for when the meat section cooler is full of huuuge six pound family-size bulk portions. Two, it can often be in your best (financial) interest to buy that huge, six pound family-size bulk portion. Heft it over your shoulder and take it home. Open it up, and divide it into smaller portions, big enough for several two-person meals. Wrap it up, date it, and freeze it. You’ll often snag a deep discount buying the bigger packaging, and now you won’t have to buy any ground meat for a while.

And, if all else fails, don’t forget about Fido or Fluffy. I’m not opposed to feeding Joey the occasional table scrap or two. He is healthier that I am. I don’t like to waste food when people and animals struggle to survive in some countries, so if my cat gets to eat the last scoop of Chicken Tetrazzini, so be it. I’m not gorging him on the stuff, it’s more like a treat. And he still eats his dry food just fine. If you have one of those pets that would rather pout and starve for a week than go back to his regular food after consuming even a lick of yummy people food, then you might want to abstain from doing this.

So Singles,  Twosomes and smaller families, don’t dispair!! There are ways around Minivan mentality! Hopefully these tips will help you to reduce or eliminate the food waste that often happens when twosomes are forced to buy or cook big-family style. I’ll be back with more tips, tricks and recipes later. Right now, I’m off to score some big freebies on a shopping trip, tell you all about it later!!