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nancyjane_gardener

Young lady needs ideas to stretch her limited food budget.

nancyjane_gardener
6 months ago

This young lady has a limited budget to start, has her own family, but her sister has since moved, and the niece wants to stay for her senior year!

I want to offer her some healthy, filling ideas for her family. I suggested bean dishes with veges and a small amount of ground beef or turkey. Also a Costco chicken ($5) will go a long way!

I mentioned starting some chard/kale around this time of year along with other greens for winter soups, but I'm not sure she has any gardening area.

I know, as a very young mom that hamburger helper and those types of meals got us through for the time being, but eventually we went over to homegrown veges and other good stuff which my kids have come to love!

I would love any ideas that this young lady on food stamps can use to help her, her kids and her niece have some decent meals! Thanks!

Comments (57)

  • morz8 - Washington Coast
    6 months ago

    Shop the weekly ads, of course. And while all food prices are high right now, some chain grocery stores are more expensive than others. i.e. I've found no-frills Winco stocks the same Panera soups as our Safeway at $5 less for the same quart. You bag your own groceries and they do not accept credit card payment. The last time I was there I bought a pound of strawberries and just a shy of pound delicious marzano tomatoes for 98 cents a package. I have money for food, and still love having it to spend in other directions.

    A friend has a daughter + granddaughter in a single mom household going through tough times. He picked up her weekly food box for her a few weeks ago - food bank - and showed it to me. I was amazed at how much it contained, fresh mozzarella and a brick of cheddar, fruits and vegetables, hot dogs, cottage cheese, ground chicken and the vegetables portion contained both onions and potatoes. I can remember having potato soup the day before payday myself as a kid. Milk, potatoes, onion with salt and pepper. Pat of butter if we still had that. Her box had enough food in it she's able to share some with an elderly neighbor on a limited income, a win all around.

  • l pinkmountain
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Where I live, hamburger is no bargain. We rarely eat beef. Locally, pork and chicken and ground turkey are the least expensive meats. Luckily we like all of those things. For savings, buy dried beans, cook them in a slow cooker or Instapot and freeze in pint or quart containers. A freezer is worth its weight in gold. I inherited mine. Probably can get some good deals on a used one, as some folks age out of theirs. Also home cooked beans better than the store bought ones. I make a bag of beans, freeze half and then leave the rest in the slow cooker and make soup out of it and then freeze some of that.

    Another way to save money is home baked bread and rolls. You can freeze that too. I was gifted a free bread machine by Ohiomom on this board, but I see them for sale used occasionally. That helps make bread baking easier. But if I was hosting a bunch of family for free, I would expect them to help with food prep.

    I'm no expert in the produce department, but there are ways to get large quantities from farmers for way less. It's usually the "less than perfect looking" stuff but most imperfections are minor and easily removed during prep. In some places, a CSA (a farm where you buy shares and get LOTS of produce in return) is an economical way to go, but not in all cases. Finding farms to buy from direct is a way to save, but not easy to find the farms, they are not everywhere, sometimes it requires a day trip under an hour, to a you pick or a farm that does both. There's one about a half hour away from my house, for example.

    Those are the tips I have found most doable. We are just a two person household so can't really take advantage of a lot of bulk buying, but for staples, that's the way to go if you are using a lot of something. Like rice or olive oil. Both have a shelf life so doesn't make sense to buy in bulk unless you use a lot of it, but a big savings if you do.

    We buy some type of bone-in meat thing often for a Sunday dinner, a roast of some sort, then make soup out of the carcass and bones and a casserole or sandwiches out of any leftover meat. It's a nice tradition all the way around. Turkeys can be had very inexpensively after a holiday, if you have the freezer space.

    In the end, it is really a good freezer that will change your life as far as saving money on food, IMHO.

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  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago

    I have a lot of what I call "kid'smeals" It is what I cooked in the 70's. and 80's as my boys were growing up. They feed a lot. My husband still prefers them and some do freeze well. It will take some time to post all.Some, not all use convience foods.


    My Dad's Meatlof

    1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

    3/4 cups uncooked quick oats

    3/4 cup ketchup

    1 egg

    1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix


    Topping

    1/2 cup ketchup

    1/4 cup dark brown sugar

    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

    1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I use Frenche's)

    Pre heat oven to 350*. Mix all of the above, not including topping, in a large bowl. Mix well, making sure to get the soup mix combined well with the rest of the ingredients. Shape into a loaf shape and in a large greased baking pan.

    Meanwhile mix topping ingreadients in a small bowl. After 30 minutes remove meatloaf from oven and spread with topping. Return meatloaf to oven and bake for another 30 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160*.

    Let stand for about five minutes before slicing.

    Slices can be stored for up to five monthes, thightly wrapped.



  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago

    Tom's Spaghetti

    1 24 oz jar Rao Tomato Basil Sauce (you can use whatever brand. I used other brands before.)

    7 to 8 oz thin spaghetti

    1 lb extra lean hamburger

    1 oz package of mushrooms, sliced, if wanted (can omit)

    1 oz olive oil

    Spray skillet with Pam, add olive oil. Brown hamburger, add sauce and add mushrooms, if wanted. Cook noodles in water and drain, Combine sauce and sphagetti. sprikle with parmesean cheesen if wanted.

    Doubles easy. Freezes well.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Casseroles, soups and stews are my way of stretching proteins and creating more servings from less.

    Pasta bakes with sausage or ground meats and cheese, rice with veggies and meat, chili, etc. are some of my faves. Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients. Ground beef and chicken are the least expensive meats, usually. Frozen veggies and fruits too, are often better quality and less expensive than fresh - plus they can keep longer.

    Aldi and Walmart offer the biggest savings on groceries, along with a lot of the staples at Trader Joe's.

    Good old BettyCrocker.com has some budget friendly recipes and tips.

  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Hamburger Macaroni ( Called Chop Suey in America's Test kitchen cookbook)

    I have rewrote the recipe to be easiier to follow

    2 Tablespoons oil

    1 onion chopped (1/2 cup)

    1 stalk celery, chopped

    ! red bellpepper, chopped

    1 pound lean ground beef

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1 15oz can tomato sauce

    1 15.5 can diced tomatoes

    1 1/2 cup chicken broth

    8 0z(2 cup) 3lbow maccroni

    Brown onion, celery, and bell pepper, until softened, Add beef and cook until done, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rest until done,

  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago

    Pot Roast

    This is more expensive to begin, but makes several meals.

    Shoulder Roast or chuck roast

    Brown in stock pot and add water

    Cook until pull apart donem adding carrots and potatoes in th elast hour.

    Cook rice to add to meal

    First meal, just straight roast and vegetables

    Second meal, Brown onions, make "hash". with potatoes, carrots, rice, and ec.

    Third meal, roast beef sandwhich.



  • morz8 - Washington Coast
    6 months ago

    Sherry, even today I will save the liquid or drippings from a roast and make gravy for hot beef sandwiches on toast with the leftovers. I appreciate having the excess meat for a fast second night dinner when I've had a busy day. Learned early on, if you cook the potatoes in with roast last hour they are quite flavorful and dice to make a wonderful hash skillet dinner.

  • beesneeds
    6 months ago

    How much of a cook is she? What kind of a shopper is she? How many people is she feeding?

    A costco chicken is great, but sometimes the better shopping option is to get a raw chicken and cook it. The cooked chicken is great, but it's wiser to stretch the chicken and make stock with the carcass instead of buying stock or boullion cubes. Some folks are good with roasting and making a stock. Some are more of a eat the meat and scrap the carcass level of cooking. And various levels of cooking between. And that's OK.

    Good shopping habits help a lot, using sales, coupons, bulk buying if you can. Don't be afraid of seasonings, and stocking a lot of them. Beans and rice are great, seasonings can make them Mexican, Italian, French, Asian, ect. Seasonings can be a more expensive thing sometimes, but can go a far way in uses. If she's into gardening at all, fresh herbs and greens are among the easiest to grow and tend, and save pennies for something else at the store.

  • krystalmoon2009
    6 months ago

    When i was feeding 6 adults, I would buy pork loin at Sam's and cut my own porkchops, london broil when we wanted something similar to steaks, whole chickens i cut up myself. Potatoes or pasta for side, Large bags of frozen vegetables. 2 adults were really picky, no beans and they didn't like many vegetables.

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    6 months ago

    Here's some inexpensive basic meals. Of course, the more you dress them up with the added ingredients, the more they cost.


    Cold pasta salads with a peanut sauce or light marinara sauce. Add lightly cooked veggies such as frozen peas or broccoli or/and pepperoni or ham. Cutting the meat into small pieces helps make a small amount satisfying.


    Hot noodles with peanut sauce and vegetables. A frozen pea and carrot mix is usually low cost.


    Hot noodles with marinara sauce. A small amount of browned pork sausage can be a low cost addition.


    Beans, rice, and tortillas made into burritos, tacos, tostadas, or southwest bowls. Lettuce, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and shredded cheese are nice additons. Keep costs low by using small amounts of the more expensive added ingredients (usually cheese and tomatoes around here)


    Stir fry rice: Rice, soy sauce, veggies (peas and carrots or broccoli work well), add a small amount of pork or chicken if available


    Bean soup


    Oatmeal, top with cinnamon, half of a sliced banana, or brown sugar


    Eggs




  • plllog
    6 months ago

    It takes a bit of upfront cash, but baking your own is a massive money saver. It does take time, however. So many people got into sourdough during the pandemic , it should be easy enough getting instruction in how to get stared. Maintaining a starter is a good science project for the kids, and the yeast is free but for the flour to feed it. Requiring a bit more skill and a rolling pin is home made pasta. Egg noodles for soup is dead easy. Papardelle a little harder, but worth the effort. And a scratch made birthday cake is all the better for being made with love.

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    6 months ago

    I made all of the foods listed (without any of the additions) in my earlier post in early 2020 with $10 of food from Dollar Tree when items was still $1.00. It included these 10 items:


    1 pound oatmeal

    20 ounces masa harina (for making corn tortillas, etc.),

    2 pounds brown rice

    1.5 pounds spaghetti noodles

    1 dozen medium eggs

    1.5 pounds pinto beans

    1 quart whole milk (shelf stable pack)

    10 ounces peanut butter

    24 ounces pasta sauce (tomato based)

    14 ounce bag of frozen peas and carrots (only item not shelf stable)


    It is mostly basic food. It requires some cooking and time to prepare. It provides about 2000 calories a day for one person for a week and also meets a week's protein needs. Similar items in larger sizes are available at Walmart now for only slightly higher price per unit than these 3.5 year old prices. I can not find much of the list at Dollar Tree now even with their increased prices. I would definitely up the $ a bit and add some fruits and vegetables if I had to eat only from this.


    I tried using only these foods for a week in 2020. The individual meals were okay. They would be better with the suggested added seasonings and more vegetables. The constant repetition was not so fine. The lack of fruits and vegetable was not fun for me. I ended up adding some fruits and vegetables and seasonings after the first 4 days to keep it doable and healthy for me. I am not much of a meat eater so missing that was not an issue. It took awhile to make and cook the foods, definitely a consideration for many with hectic lives.


    For the family you are looking to help it would be good to know how much cooking is feasible. Many with low food budgets are also stretched thin time wise and need to make food choices with that in mind. Also, the amount of room for refrigerated and frozen food may make it important to look for shelf stable choices. I would certainly want them to eat more variety than the list above. It is mainly a suggestion of widely available foods that provide calories and protein at relatively low cost and that can be combined into a variety of meals.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    6 months ago

    The Guardian newsaper does a series of £1 ($1.30) meals. If you google that you'll find lots of recipes. If the person is genuinely short of cash, meals requiring long cooking times are not necessarily economical, depending on the price of gas or electricity where they live. Also many people on low incomes do not own a freezer. Does she? Does she have a microwave? They are often working long hours too, so, especially since she has several children/youngsters at home, she probably doesn't have time or energy to bake bread.

    Over here Jack Munroe is well known for developing meals on a low budget. This is her website COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP – by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'

  • Elizabeth
    6 months ago

    I hope her sister and neice can help with the food budget. Those food stamps probably will not stretch for two extra people.

  • l pinkmountain
    6 months ago

    I also worked while being on a low cost budget and at one time, without a freezer. You can still freeze some things in the freezer attached to the fridge. Just need to rotate it out frequently. But it is great for cooking up thing on the weekend when you are not working, and then freezing it for use later. Brown rice was my classic for that. If you can find a used pressure cooker, that saves both time and money in the "cook your own" department when it comes to whole foods like beans and grains. Home made bread is a day off thing if you work and best to make a couple of loaves and freeze it if you have a crowd, not any more time than one loaf other than the last shaping. If you aren't into bread making, then eat whole grains instead, much more nutrition for the buck than breads. In some towns however, there are places that specialize in selling the past its prime baked goods which are fine for a crowd if you serve them within a day or two. You can freeze rolls and just pull out a few at a time, again, even if you don't have a full size freezer. I'd honestly try to find a freezer from a charity if I was stable enough to have one. People do get rid of them when they move, etc. We have such charities in my home town, often they are associated with Habitat for Humanity. Ours is a stand alone.

  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago

    Yes, we need to know cooking skills and desires. Sugestions will be different if she cannot or does not want to cook. You can still save money with convience foods, it is just a bit harder, but sometimes easier to buy.

  • sushipup2
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Know where to shop. I recently compared the price of a jar of spaghetti sauce at several places. It was $4.59 at Acme, $3.59 at Giant, and $2.69 at Walmart. Target will also have better-than-grocery store prices on staples.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    6 months ago

    Wow, Floral - I went down a rabbit hole on that site! She's a very eloquent writer, with some harrowing personal experience.

  • chloebud
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Just thinking I used to keep these in the freezer since my kids liked them. Nice to have on hand.

    South of the Border Stuffed Shells*

    24 Jumbo Shells (I used Barilla)
    1 16-oz. jar picante sauce (such as Pace)
    1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
    1/2 cup water
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
    2 tsp vegetable oil
    1 tsp chili powder
    1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
    1 cup (4 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese

    Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. (Do not overcook.)
    Mix picante sauce, tomato sauce and water in small bowl. In a skillet, cook onion and ground beef in oil over medium heat until meat is browned and onion is tender (if using non-stick skillet, use only 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil). Remove from heat and drain off fat. Add chili powder, chopped green chilies, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1/2 cup picante sauce mixture to meat mixture.

    Preheat oven to 350. Pour half of remaining picante sauce mixture in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Fill each cooked shell with 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture and place shells in baking dish. Pour remaining picante mixture over top of shells. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover, add remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

    This recipe can be assembled and frozen. Thaw and bake as directed.

    *My Notes: I used the (mild) Pace and tomato sauce for the filling (no water) and under the shells. For over the shells, I used just the Pace; you might need a little extra. I add garlic and corn to the filling. Also, a little more chile powder and salt/pepper. These are good served with toppings of sour cream, cilantro, chopped green onion, olives, more cheese, or whatever you like. I would freeze the stuffed shells in a single layer on a baking sheet then transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag.

  • plllog
    6 months ago

    One thing I forgot when I advocated baking one's own bread, which doesn't take a lot of active time, just around the house time, is that the kids are probably getting a couple of meals at school daily, and much less need for sandwiches. Homemade costs about half, however.

  • claudia valentine
    6 months ago

    nanc, nice of you to ask for her. So many good suggestions. Having some cooking skills is handy and it still takes some skill just to do simple things . And, it also is good if you have a decent place to prepare food.

    I know that food is expensive, but so many ways and forms that we buy it is are very expensive ways to buy it. But lots of people dont have much choice.

  • beesneeds
    6 months ago

    I like making bread. It's just two of us. So sometimes I pull out the bread machine and make a 2 lb batch of dough, and split into two loaves. One for now, one for the freezer. Overnight no-knead bread is super easy. I use the mixer sometimes too, parker house rolls and english muffin bread. I just scored a set of mini loaf tins like the ones I used to use in bakery- super cheap at a new church store that just opened. I need to review my old baking folder, lol.

    If one has the time, preserving is a great way to save too. I do a ton of preserving. I dehydrate many veggies, fruits, and some meats. Dehydrating does not take much time to set up and store, but the run time can be a while. Right now it's green beans in season, so I'm packing up pint bags and vacuum sealing them for the freezer- usually less than 10 minutes from on the vine to in the freezer. The bags cost me more than the beans there. Tomatoes are also coming in from the garden. Half pints of juice done last week, pints of hearty sauce canned today, and now Italian sauce is made and cooling to be canned tomorrow, those will be half pints. Not sure of the cost there, been reusing the jars for years. Maybe about a buck a gallon for the cost of new lids and the few ingredients I didn't grow.

  • floraluk2
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    All of the above ideas seem highly impractical to me for the questioner since they require equipment which a hard pressed young person probably doesn't have. In fact I don't have most of that stuff myself. Bread making machine? No. Stand mixer? No. Dehydrator? No. Vacuum packer? No. Vacuum bags and canning jars? No.

    A feature of living on a shoe string is that one doesn't have the facilities or capital to buy in bulk, can, bake, grow etc. It's a vicious cycle.


    To answer the question helpfully it would be good to know what facilities this woman has at her disposal.

  • Olychick
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I'd also question how much time and energy she has if she's raising small children and the guardian (now) of a teenage girl. She may be different than the young people I see, but the type of cooking suggested here may be a generational misstep with how young people today view cooking and food. Not everyone, of course, depending on how they were raised, their interests and time available, plus the tastes of their kids and other family members.

    I think Mexican is always quick and easy and economical...canned refried beans or black beans on tortillas, with the usual taco toppings, chopped tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives, a little cheese, shredded cabbage, etc.

    Baked potato bar...baked potatoes with the usual toppings, greek yogurt instead of sour cream, no meat necessary in either of these meals.

    Breakfast for dinner is cheap and often well received; waffles or pancakes and some chicken sausage or turkey bacon.

    Pasta, as others suggested is quick and tasty. I like spaghetti or rice noodles with peanut butter sauce, with lots of veggies, either warm or cold as a salad. Fresh spring rolls are inexpensive and filled with veggies; you can add chicken or a few thinly sliced shrimp or even tofu is great and a good meat substitute. Kids LOVE making them. A nice dipping sauce - most kids love to dip.

    Lots of kids love eating edamame...another good protein source and not too expensive.

    My grandson and his friends loved when I made sweet potato jojo's...just sliced the yam style potatoes into biggish french fries and brushed with a little oil and baked until soft in the center and crispy outside. Good source of nutrients and filling and not expensive either. I used ground turkey to make meatballs and added lots of finely ground mushrooms to stretch the turkey and make the meatballs more moist. I flavored with better than bouillon for a richer, meatlike flavor and saltiness. The kids loved those, too, and I rounded out the meal with steamed broccoli.

  • plllog
    6 months ago

    It's true—the biggest way to save money on food is not to pay for others to make it for you, When I was young and on a very limited budget, I learned to make everything from 100% scratch. Food prep can be family bonding time, or a dismal chore, depending on your outlook.

  • beesneeds
    6 months ago

    I learned to be on a shoestring a long time ago. Dehydrating started with the pilot light in the oven since I couldn't afford to run it, a DIY fan in a cardboard box setup, then a second hand dehydrator, then much later a new one I found on sale. Dehydrating can be done on a screen outside, or on an old towel or pillowcase in the sun for herbs and some dryer produce. Hanging herbs in bundles to dry only takes the cost of thread to tie and hang it- and sometimes kids have fun making herb bundles. Green beans, mushrooms, apple slices, and small peppers can be dried on thread, strung like christmas garlands. A new decent dehydrator can be a hundred or two now a days I know, sometimes cheaper if you can find it on sale. It's an upfront cost.

    I started bread by hand, no-knead is easiest for it, even kids can make it depending on their age since all it is is stirring really. Spoon breads are really easy to make too. Then I found a new second hand bread maker for 10 bucks, and it expanded my ability to make regular bread on the regular. Much later I got a stand mixer (it was a graduation gift)- and another new second hand bread maker to replace the one that went dead the first time. I can still make regular bread by hand if I want to.

    I lucked out and grew up learning canning- mom did processing with us kids helping her. Along with scratch cooking and gardening. So when it was a choice between food and the mortgage, I found canning jars at rummage sales and thrift stores and started some canning. And fridge processing. Along with other cheap eats and savvy. Now I'm years later and can afford to buy a new case, but I still use jars I got years ago. Something like canning jars can be a bit of an upfront cost, but they get reused- like pans and dishes can cost money, they get reused too. I tend to do small batch canning. Fridge items can be made too, like pickles, salsas, jellies- and one can use recycled store glass jars for that instead of canning jars.

    Vacuum sealing is a true luxury. I was able to pick up my first sealer for under 50 a decade or so ago- now I sometimes see that model at thrift stores new for 20-30. I got an upgraded model a few years ago, that one was around 80 on sale. Now they seem to run around 100 to start. I get pint bags by 50 count for 8-10 bucks. I use rolls more for dry goods. I wait for sales and it too is upfront cost.

    Some things can be done real cheap, some things can require some up front cost. Some of them take time to build up, or may require acquiring a taste for. Like dehydrated or dried goods aren't for everyone. It takes a skill set to know how to use too. Upfronts can take some time to pinch up the pennies and be worth it. Like saving for a freezer or other kitchen goods. Sometimes saving and stretching isn't enough, and you have to invest in your poverty. What the investment is can depend. Time, money, education/learning skills. Shopping savvy.

    Gardening can be done cheap and easy. Recycled cups on a windowsill for herbs or other little grow. Dollar stores have cheap seeds. I happen to like the microgreen packets. I use recycled mushroom containers to grow in. If one has outdoor space, container to in ground gardening can be done depending on the outdoor space. Victory over hunger, a mantra that has helped me in the lean times. Victory gardens win the hunger war, or at least help the battle. Even the littlest gardens.

    I'm a long way from the kid that started the shoestring, it's true. But for me these practices and things were what helped me save, stretch, and invest in my poverty. It's accumulated from a vicious cycle into a healthy one over the years. I still keep these habits, and glad for it. Food costs are rising, among a society that has lost a lot of pratical skills and willingness to spend on them against easily gotten store versions that they were raised to use. The full blown route I've taken with food isn't for everyone, but parts of it could be helpful to the OP's young lady.


  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Someone made a comment that we did not know how much she could cook and how much time she had to cook. so, here for the non cook with no time.

    1. Frozen vegetables are fine. They are cheaper than fresh, and have as much or more vitamins, IF you buy the big packages. Do not buy the little steam ones.

    2. Potatoes and rice are cheap and easy to cook.

    3. Mom could not cook and Dad used those canned biscuits. They are okay. The first real biscuits I made could of been used for a hammer. Keep on keeping on.

    4. Stay away from premade meals in the meat department or frozen meals. buy the boxed stuff like Hamburger Helper. Yes, it cost more than from scratch, but it is cheaper than eating out or frozen. The Hamburger Maccaroni I posted above is really a Hamburger Helper from scratch.

    5. If you are off work on Sunday, cook one big meal that can be reused. That is why my Dad always had a beef roast on Sunday.

    6. Soups and stews are cheap and can be stretched. More vegetables or add rice or bread.

  • bbstx
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Sherry, I agree with you about frozen vegetables. Often they are frozen very close in time and distance to where they are harvested, thereby maintaining the nutrients and condition, unlike fresh vegetable that are hauled all over the place and left to sit in less than ideal conditons.

    And the Cleveland Clinic has this to say about tomatoes:

    …actually, when it comes to tomatoes, canned tomatoes are going to be healthier than the raw version. Canned tomatoes have been heated, and that increases the amount of lycopene in them that the body can absorb, which is good for eye health.

    I just checked my Walmart app. In my area, Pillsbury Grands canned biscuits are about 20 cents each. Frozen Pillsbury Grands are 13 cents each. I think frozen biscuits beat canned biscuits hands down, if she has the room to store frozen biscuits.

    btw, I did this comparison not to be argumentative, but because it piqued my curiosity. I was amazed to discover that frozen biscuits are so much less than canned biscuits.

    Another way to save, but it is so hit or miss, is to find the Manager’s Specials bin in the meat case. There is nothing wrong with the meat. It is meat that is going out of date either that day or the next. You can buy and freeze immediately or cook immediately.

  • bbstx
    6 months ago

    I finally found the IG account I have been looking for: budgetbytes She has lots of tips and tricks for low cost cooking.

  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Well, I haven't used canned biscuits since the 1970's and frozen did not exist. I have made Monkey Bread with them. and I used to make Orange Danish on Christmas morning in the 1970"s.

    The point is, they or frozen, are not bad. Use to start and learn to make from scratch later.

  • Sherry8aNorthAL
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    This is another good one. I just love Clara.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/depressioncooking

  • l pinkmountain
    6 months ago

    I just do drop biscuits with Jiffy Mix when I want something like that. I have made the home made ones but not a real high priority for me to make that from scratch. I'm pretty well known for hating to fuss with doughs.

  • plllog
    6 months ago

    Biscuits, of all things, are so easy! I get it for convienience, but not for cost savings...

  • smiling
    6 months ago

    If she doesn't visit them already, it's wise to become a client of one or more local food pantries. Depending on where she lives at present, there may be local independent pantries (some are co-located with hot serve kitchens and dining rooms), others are found at local churches on specific days of the week, and often the United Way has their own food banks rotating through locations and days of the week. With a little bit of research and a few phone calls, she might find some great options for very good quality free food that would surely stretch her budget. In additon, if there is a hospital or clinic nearby, they often employ a professional dietician who may be able to share with her some information on local food pantries. Pediatricians in our area often ask about family food security, so her children's doctor's office may also have some recent information about local food sources.


    I admire this young woman for taking a teenager into her tightly-budgeted household, it's going to impact their use of housing space as well as their eating habits. My best wishes to her for success!


  • chloebud
    6 months ago

    This is reminiscent of my mom’s pot roast with the Lipton Soup. I don’t have a crock pot, so I put this in the oven with carrots and potatoes at 225 for 4-5 hours. I also used Campbells’ Golden Mushroom Soup. This is actually very easy and tasty IF a chuck roast might be in her budget.

    CROCKPOT POT ROAST RECIPE

    3 lb. boneless chuck roast
    1 can Cream of Chicken OR Cream of Mushroom soup
    1 envelope Lipton's Onion Soup mix
    2/3 cup white wine (can also use water or chicken stock)

    Place the roast in a large crockpot and smear the can of soup (not diluted) over the top of the roast. Empty the entire envelope of dry onion soup over the top of the soup and pour the wine around the edges of the roast. Cover and cook for 10 hours on low. Makes a wonderful gravy and the meat is very tender. Serve with noodles or steamed Yukon Gold potatoes.

  • floraluk2
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    One cannot discount fuel costs when trying to live cheaply. Something that needs 4-5 (or 10!) hours in the oven is not economical in my book. We still don't know what facilities this person has but, if she has them, a microwave, pressure cooker or slow cooker would be more economical that a conventional oven. A steamer which piles three containers on top of each other is another fuel saving trick. As is part microwaving before oven baking to cut down cooking time.

  • plllog
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I think we pay a lot less for energy here. Less than a dollar for electric I think, for 5 hours.

    ETA, and you have to bake the biscuits whether they're scratch, mix, Pop’NFresh or frozen. Conservation where the oven is concerned, whether range, built-in, countertop, air frier or toaster, is to cook all one's dishes in a row, rather than cooling down then reheating. The big energy suck in heating appliances is the getting it up to temperature to begin with. The bigger question for dehydrating is if her oven will go low enough. Some don't.

  • chloebud
    6 months ago

    I agree with plllog, at least for us. I know electricity here in SoCal is considered high (maybe #2 or #3 in the country), but the only time we notice a real jump is for the ac in summer. A low oven for several hours during our cooler months has never affected our monthly bill, but maybe it’s different elsewhere.

  • bbstx
    6 months ago

    The only chart I could find on energy usage and cost of an oven was from Cornhusker Power. It assumed that the wattage of most ovens is 2660. It further assumed that the cost per kwh was 10 cents. According to Cornhusker Power, it takes $2.13 to run an oven for 8 hours. From other information I could find online, I believe that Nebraska is now closer to 11 cents/kwh, so 10% greater meaning instead of $2.13 it would cost $2.34 for 8 hours of average oven usage. (someone check my math!)


    As I was looking for that information, I was reminded that ovens do not heat continuously. After the set temperature is reached, they only heat periodically to keep the temperature constant.


    All in all, I don’t find the cost of power to be substantial.

  • lat62
    6 months ago

    One tip would be to avoid boxes of cereal for breakfast, they are soooo expensive and advertising makes them very cravable to kids - will take courage to resist :). Instead, cook a large pot of oats (I like steel cut but kids might prefer rolled) and let them warm up a serving size in a bowl on school mornings in the microwave with whole milk a pat of real butter bought on sale, brown sugar, raisins etc. It'll be delicious and filling! My mother used to cut whole milk with powdered - don't know if there is a need to go that far but us kids didn't know until later when she fessed up.


    Offer them a boxed cereal for their birthday, or a special treat from time to time.


    (I grew up on sugary cereal and we were on food stamps off and on - don't know why my mom indulged us in that junk, probably she gave in to us asking and asking - the ads are relentless - btw, my favorite was cap'n crunch, now known as ewwwww).

  • floraluk2
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Energy is clearly more expensive here. Electricity is about three times the cost by the look of it. So running the oven for 8 hours would be 6 or 7 dollars. Here that would buy the makings of another meal.


    My parents were very parsimonious having grown up poor and starting married life on rations. We rinsed the milk bottle with water and added that to the milk jug. Tooth paste tubes were cut up the side to extract the last scraps. Soap ends were stuck together. No food was ever thrown away.


    I still can't throw food out.

  • bragu_DSM 5
    6 months ago

    An instant pot might be a good thing for her. Maybe some folks could pool resources and get her one and then show her how to use it,plus there are tons of recipes on line. It saves time and is easy to use. Yes they take up a bit of space but mine sits in a corner and is out of the way. soups and stews and calico beans [family favorite] can be made and there is usually enough left over for a 2nd or 3rd meal during the week. Teach her how to make bread and pizza crust is easy. I make a 3 cup batch and get two nice crusts ... one is used the same day and the other one goes in a zip bag in the fridge. just thots here ...

  • bbstx
    6 months ago

    Bragu, I’ll bet she can get an instapot at Goodwill or by posting on her local Facebook Buy Nothing group. DD has one and never uses it! She used it when it was new and then the new wore off…..

  • plllog
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Once one has the Instant Pot, it can use a lot less electricity than stovetop or oven, depending on what's being made (i don't know about gas). It also should have less waste heat. Some people value the waste heat in the Winter. But just this afternoon, IRL, I was listening to the meh chicken picata in the Instant Pot story. ”It's just cooking.” Yeah, sear, sauté, get up to pressure, it's done. Not something I’d choose to do in a pressure cooker. Put a stew up to slow cook/keep warm in the morning and have dinner ready in the evening? That still works. :)

  • bragu_DSM 5
    6 months ago

    IP chili in a hour ... with leftovers! Mac n cheese in 6 minutes [once it comes to pressure]

  • marmiegard_z7b
    6 months ago

    You could get her the cookbooks titled, “ Good and Cheap”. It’s intended to fit a “ food stamp budget”, but might not be now, with inflation. And some of the recipes use ingredients that can get expensive.

    Still, it can be a help, to have some actual recipes for meals & snacks.
  • nancyjane_gardener
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Thank you all for this info! She has not been back in touch with me, but I have all the hints here in case she does! Hopefully these hints will help others too!


  • l pinkmountain
    5 months ago

    Since most of the good retail has closed down in my home town, thrift shops are totally the way to go for a whole lot of things. I can't believe what I find. At my old apartment, my landlady lived almost exclusively on thrift and stuff her home cleaning/personal assistant customers gave her. She had so many elegant and beautiful things. She even made money on having garage sales because she had extra storage in her garage so she saved up her finds until she had enough for a sale. She also owned another apartment building and got things that her renters left behind. It's amazing what some people are willing to just discard.