Vary what you plan by what is on sale.
Most meals can start with just a few cheap ingredients:
|Protein||Starch||Veggie or Fruit|
Vary the way you cook.
There are many ways to cook any type of food and using variations is a great way to save money. For example, cheap pork steaks can be breaded and fried, breaded and baked, cubed, breaded and deep fried, cut into strips and sauteed with veggies, cubed and sauteed-followed by simmering with veggies and noodles, ground and mixed with spices for homemade sausage, baked with BBQ sauce for sandwiches and many other ways. Same cheap cut of meat, but at least 7 very different meals.
Pork 6 Ways
Pork Shoulder Steaks are on sale this week at Safeway for $2.29 per pound and comes in a 3 pound package for $6.87. That is enough for 7 meals for 2 people (or 2 people with a child). Split the package up at home like this:
Bone each steak, cut the steaks along the major division lines. Save the largest 4 pieces for steaks(save an extra, cut in half, for a child) Make 2 packages. Reserve bones and most fat. Cube the rest of the meat. Divide into 3 parts--Large cubes, small cubes, smaller bits.
Monday: Pork gravy over biscuits, & green beans
Tuesday: Pork Steaks, lettuce wedges, chopped tomato, baked potato
Wednesday: Pork Kabobs with carrots, potato and onion, couscous
Thursday: Leftover couscous or rice stir fried with small bits of pork with candy carrots
Friday: Sweet & Sour Pork with veggies, rice.
Saturday: Pork Pot Pie
Sunday: Meat Free Day-Homemade Pizza, Soup or veggie chili.
A word about vegetables: Frozen veggies are a tremendous value if you know what to buy. My current favorite is California Mix(Broccoli, carrots, yellow squash, & green beans) in a 4 pound bag for $3.58 that I get at Cash & Carry(a restaurant supply store). When you buy mixed veggies, you do not have to use them mixed. You can pick out just broccoli or just squash so that meals look more varied than your supplies are.
4 Way Chicken
Take 1 small whole chicken(about $3.00 on sale) dust it with your favorite herbs and spices and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done. Split the chicken into 4 meals for two people: Breast meat, thigh meat, legs & wings, soup bones.
Soup bones doesn't mean you have to make soup from them. Boil the meat off and make chicken pot pie instead, YUM!
A few words about beef.
Beef has gotten dramatically more expensive this last year. Hamburger is $2.50 or more per pound so it is very hard to make it fit into a Dollar Dining menu. But, keep in mind that a serving of ground beef should be about 3-4 ounces. By controlling serving size, the cost per serving is 50-65 cents and well within the guidelines. Ground beef can also be mixed with cheaper foods to extend it and cut costs. Some examples of this would be mixing ground beef with an equal amount of grated carrots or finely chopped onions. These mixtures work well for fried burgers and they stay nice and moist. Or, mix ground beef with 2 parts of cooked rice and bake up some meatballs.
Even with recent price increases, eggs are still a great deal. At 20 cents or less per egg, you can whip up a super omelet for next to nothing and eggs and hashbrowns are a good meal any time of the day. Stock up when eggs are on sale, they will keep in the fridge for at least 3 months.
Fish & Seafood
Low cost meal ideas coming soon!
The "Other" Meats
Liver, tongue, balony, & spam...more info soon!