Thursday, January 19, 2023

What are your best cheap meal ideas?

In response to my recent post "Shopping, ug!" on the subject of inflation and availability, one reader wrote: "Prices are going up and have gone up every week I’ve been shopping. My husband and I both work and we have not gotten pay increases. The grocery bill is really hurting our family right now. I’d love to get ideas on cheap meal ideas for a family."

Cheap meal ideas – I think that's an excellent topic to bring up.

Already a few readers have chimed in. One wrote: "I have 5 children & when they were all home I would make economical meals that stretched. I made some of my own sauces, etc. You can check out budget101 for ideas, along with searches for frugal recipes. I made up meal plans of what to do with hamburger, chicken, etc. I had summer meal plans & busy night ones. It worked for me."

Another reader: "Also check out Living on a Dime website; they have a huge amount of frugal tips and recipes (for free), along with their 'dining on a dime dime' cookbooks (e-book or hardback) available, excellent resource, all of their resources have helped me immensely."

Yet another reader wrote: "Snacking, aka, refrigerator grazing, can sabotage any budget. Plan snacks, not just meals. And find a way to incorporate them into your overall nutrition plan for your family. Don't make other snacking easily available. Something else that can sabotage the budget is everybody's other half. Spouses who shop together are more accountable to the process and each other. Family meetings. The whole family needs to get involved in the planning and budgeting process and the why's and how's. I was listening to a program about an Indian tribe once, and at tribal meetings, children also had a voice. Sometimes it's the voice of a child who helps guide the way."

I think frugality is on everyone's minds these days. Please comment and provide your favorite ideas for eating on the cheap. It will help all of us, not just this one reader.

47 comments:

  1. Budget bytes is one of my favorite websites for this. Also smitten kitchens kidney bean red curry. And oatmeal in all shapes and flavors for breakfast (overnight oats, baked oatmeal, oatmeal pancakes, stove top oatmeal with any kind of fruit or nuts)

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  2. We have expensive tastes because we are trying to be low carb, but I always meal plan based on the local store sales. I'll stock up on whatever BOGO meat is available this week. Intermittent fasting, i.e. skipping breakfast and maybe lunch too, certainly keeps the cost down as it cures your metabolism!

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  3. instead of golfing, tennis, or week end sports activities,
    we spent our weekends (before i retired) baking, cooking, gardening, and preserving.
    learn to make your own bread, buns, rolls and bisquets.
    making your own laura bars and healthy snacks.
    you pay for the convience of pre made, pre packaged
    foods and junk snacks. the more you can make and do for yourself, the further your budget will stretch
    buy bulk and break it down to smaller sizes.
    the kids are up and gone, but we still buy the family packs of meat and dairy and repackage into "for two"
    size packs.
    we are blessed with a large productive back yard, so we grow most of our own fruits and veggies. but even if you can only grow salad makings in a container garden on your balcony or poarch, every penny that you can grow is one penny that can be used for something you cannot produce yourself.
    we have gotten lazy and spoiled, and forgotten how grandpa and grandma lived to get thru the depression.
    we may have no choice, in the very near future, but to relearn those life skills. those who start now will be ahead of those who wait, expecting "somebody" to do "something".

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  4. I don't know if very many people do this, but I rely heavily on wraps. You can take it to go wrapped in wax paper ( which is what was used a million years ago to send kids to school with their sandwiches, frequently pb&j's). Or you can eat it from a cloth napkin and no dishes to wash.
    What I put in mine invariably includes a premixed salad which I do buy at Walmart because it lasts a week and includes carrots and purple cabbage. I think to make it myself would cost the same and involve time and mess. I like the crunch and it doesn't need but a tiny bit of dressing.. It's only about $3 and it's a large bag. Look carefully at it and the date remembering you want it to last.
    These salad wraps make a great snack on their own with some dressing or maybe adding a little cheese.
    I like to make it with tuna or even salmon salad, or chicken salad or pork with BBQ sauce, and add the green salad and done.
    Use your imagination.
    My favorite thing is to make a wonderful thick black bean chili using very little meat,, and put in about 1/4 cup, with lettuce and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is very high in protein. With a larger wrap Mexican rice could be added and it would be a pretty hearty meal. It sure makes a batch of chili go a long way. It could also work as chili tacos.
    I also use wraps for breakfast. There are so many things to put in them!
    As we are tackling this subject, let me say I'm beginning to get ticked at the price of wraps and have been looking at you tube diy wrap recipes and found one that looks good. It used a cup of AP flour, a cup of hot sweet potato, and was mashed up, worked shortly into a dough, rolled into a log, cut into 6 pieces, turned into tortillas, and cooked on a skillet, flipped a few times until puffing and starting to brown. I think pumpkin or winter squash would work too but will have to try this first.
    There are tons of wrap recipes on you tube.
    Something else I love , apart from about all food, is spinach Florentine , which is pretty much creamed spinach with poached eggs on top. I buy the whole big container of baby spinach for about $5 which would probably last normal people a long time except that it can spoil pretty fast. I cook it all up with some onions and a tad of butter, and freeze it into servings, which for me are pretty large since I love spinach maybe even more than broccoli. Then when the urge hits, it only takes a warmup and poaching a couple of my girls precious eggs ! And yes, it can be wrapped but is messy unless you cook the egg.
    You've hit another topic out of the park!
    Just remember. Everyone's body needs protein to work. You need to divide your body weight by 2, and that's how many grams you should aim for total spaced through the day. The numbers on cans of beans or grains mean nothing if the beans and grains aren't combined because of limiting amino acids. Together they form a complete protein.

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  5. We have food allergies and still work to be as frugal as we can be. I found a bent and dent store that is about 45 minutes away, so when I am in that area I make a point to stop. I often find allergy foods there for much less. We make food from scratch, grow a garden and meat chickens, can and dehydrate in season food. I've found some road side stands that always have great produce in season and use that to stock up and preserve. I bought about 30 squashes from them for $1-1.50 each this fall and we are still eating from them. Also, we just don't allow food waste. We eat leftovers, even the tiny bits and bobs. I was given some not perfect veggies from others 'for my chickens' and we ate what was still good and then passed the rest to the chickens. We eat a fair amount of soup this time of year, as it is frugal and healthy. We buy our beef and pork by the animal direct from local farmers. None of these is special, but all together they help us keep the budget in check. My growing teens enjoy homemade cornbread, biscuits, oatmeal, and grits to help fill the hollow leg. It isn't their main nutrition, that is veggies and meat and fruit, but for snacks it helps them get filled with the carbs their growing selves need.

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  6. I have 7 kids including 5 teen boys. We’ve lived on one income our whole marriage and I consider it my job to save money. My favorite budget meals are soups. I save ham bones for split pea soup and chicken bones for chicken noodle soup. All kinds of little leftover bits of meats and veggies can be saved to use in various soups (or as homemade pizza toppings). My boys also love homemade burrito bowls which is rice topped with taco fixings (meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, etc). If you are in town close grocery stores, and can go more often, there are still decent “loss leader” sales, but you have to check the ads then hit the sales to stock up and stick to your list!

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  7. One way I stretch chicken breasts is to fillet them into 2-3 slices depending on how thick they are and then fry with egg and bread crumbs . Another way is after there cut I season with Mrs Dashes Chapotle and bake, make a cheese sauce and add 1 small can of Hatches chile and add bacon bits , and pour over the chicken .My family loves it and one piece will fill you up .

    One way to save on eggs and milk is to buy Krustz pancake mix , I use it for pancakes, waffles , pineapple upside down cake ( I add about 1/2 c of sugar ) muffins and a lot more. Dee

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  8. Biscuits and gravy, especially during cold weather! Cook bacon or sausage ( no cancer causing nitrates please), or use oil of choice. Combine equal parts fat and flour in the skillet and stir until it starts browning. I then add water a little at the time and keep stirring so that it's cooking and getting thick, then I switch to adding milk or half and half. I don't like using milk too soon because it can boil over fast or scortch or both. Anyway, when it's the right consistency add s & p and your meat, if any back in. Serve over hot biscuits. You can use chicken or salmon too, or a southern favorite, diced tomatoes for tomato gravy. Squirrel is also good. It's very filling.
    Carbs stick to us more if we eat them at night, but they sure make for a good. deep sleep!

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  9. When I was a stay at home mom. I needed to do meals inexpensively. My husband also had an expensive hobby that also gave us a lot of our social life outside of church friends. We ate a lot of casseroles combined with salads made from the greens and tomatoes that I grew in a 64 square foot garden. We ate a lot of spaghetti with a homemade sauce, a variety of chicken casseroles, and whatever fish was on sale. All desserts were homemade. My daughter often traded her homemade cake and cookies at school lunch and received the expensive treats that the other kids had.

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  10. One of my favorite multi-meal hacks is to buy a COSTCO rotisserie chicken. For the two of us it makes 4-5 meals. We usually each eat a leg and thigh. Then freeze the breasts and a baggy of the pieces which is enough for a meal. And I put the bones and scraps into the pot with a quart or two of water and make a broth. The breasts are large enough for us to share on with rice or pasta. We often put all the scrap pieces into a pot with two Ramen for a very satisfying meal.

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  11. I am 76 and have limited mobility, so standing to mix anything or stand to cook on the stove is all but impossible. I did more when I was younger and as I got older. I cook many meals of proteins at once. I cooked 8 lbs of chicken breasts and thighs in one Reynolds cooking bags. Then, I have meat for a week of lunch, dinner and sandwiches and might freeze part of it some weeks. Into the cooking bag with the meat, I cook all sorts of vegetables--potatoes, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, onions. The vegetables I cook usually last three nights. I can bake more vegetables or open a can or green beans or corn to go with the baked vegetables or to use when the baked vegetables are eaten.
    I have many allergies; Tommy does not, but he likes all the things I can eat or will eat. He is not allergic to English peas like I am, so he eats those. Green beans are the two things we eat from cans. The rest is prepared and cooked from scratch.
    This is actually very frugal and healthful. We eat fresh fruit, but both love canned peaches and pineapple.
    We are both content to eat the same thing for dinner three days in a row. And, we have been known to eat the same thing for lunch, dinner, and lunch or dinner the next day. We don't crave "something new." Sometimes, Tommy reminds me of what we need to eat when I am planning to cook. He can bend and see what is in the refrigerator!
    We both like salmon croquettes, and I like tuna salad. He loves wraps and finds things to put in them in the refrigerator.
    I am allergic to mammal products--meat, milk, and cheese. But, I can will eat them, love them. Out of 21 meals each week, about 12 are chicken or tuna/salmon.
    A can of Hormel Roast Beef and Gravy is $5.91 at the store, but I bought a case for about half that per can. A can of the roast beef, a can of green beans, and some dried potatoes, Idahoan, makes a quick, tasty, and nutritious meal for us. We eat this every couple of months when we are exhausted and do not want to spend on fast food. I mailed my daughter of the canned roast beef and she whined. I told her to wash off the gravy and put it in a sandwich. She seemed to like that idea.
    I have so many meals that are easy in oven or crockpot and cheap and tasty and nutritious.

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    1. That 8 pounds of chicken is for more than one week, more like two weeks and with most of it frozen.

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  12. I have watched a lot of "pantry challenge" videos on youtube lately, and that has helped me rethink how I use my leftovers and sort through and use a lot of things in my pantry and freezer that may have been there too long. Lots of great videos on ways to stretch your budget. My heartfelt thanks to those content creators who have helped this old girl learn new tricks. Great topic Patrice! So very important and so very wonderful to see folks helping each other out in this and many other ways. Blessings.

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  13. I recommend Glen and Friend Cooking youtube channel. He often does budget or out of the pantry dishes. Also, he does a weekly old cookbook recipe so you see those from the '30s and such for idea.

    The link goes to his Picadillo dish, a Mexican version of a dish in many cultures. And he discusses how you could change things up or what subs would work. It's ground beef, olives and other stuff which could be extended with a pasta or tortillas, etc.
    https://youtu.be/fhWl1s-EUTA

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  14. As protein is the most expensive, I find a weekly bean pot of white beans very useful. Mild in flavor they do well with most dishes. Blended they add protein to even spaghetti, and soups.

    Not a complete protein but when added to grain products or a much smaller amount of "Real Protein" (AKA Hamburger, chicken etc.) it seems pretty good.

    Plus, beans grow well in my garden.

    Extra benefit, bean leaves are quite edible cooked and a few from each plant seems not to bother the plants' ability to grow beans.

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  15. I raised 7 kids and made Oatmeal Blender Pancakes often. We love them! Easy, low mess, yummy, nutritious, filling, and cheap.

    Lentils are cheap and versatile, served over rice.

    Homemade popcorn is a good snack - try with cinnamon and sugar for sweet.

    Soups are a great way to stretch ingredients.

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  16. Plan your meals for at least a week at a time, and purposely plan in your leftovers. I live alone and can't seem to avoid leftovers, so I always make one day leftover day. If they freeze well, do so. Some easy ways to use up small amounts of leftover meat and veggies are fried rice, pot pie, soups or roasted veggies (need to be raw, not frozen). Look for recipes for sheet pan meals. Keep the majority of your meals simple - soup and sandwich, soup and good bread, breakfast for dinner - all of these are perfectly acceptable meals. Make your own snacks with filling ingredients (think oatmeal cookies). Use less meat and more beans whenever possible, such as in chili, tacos, burritos, etc. If you eat a lot of bread, make your own.

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  17. For us growing up, it was often some form of chicken or a basic meatloaf. To this day, meatloaf is still a comfort food (and very reasonable).

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  18. One of the comments was shopping with a spouse to keep costs down - not mine! I knew it was costing more when he shopped with me. He would take his own cart and come back with it just as filled as mine - but with no clue what was in the freezer or pantry. He is a major hoarder, and food is one of the things he hoards. I scramble to use things before the due dates or as close as I can get.
    So...he was hospitalized for over a month and then not able to shop with me for another 6 weeks. Lo! The grocery bill fell to half of what it was.
    While he was in hospital before Xmas I went through the pantry and pulled out enough that was still in date and donated it to a local food hamper project.
    I'm planning meals around what is in the freezers and pantry, with a goal of getting one of the upright freezers emptied.

    Also planning a garden this year, with an eye on what can be canned, frozen or dehydrated. Plus fresh eating of course - a head of iceberg lettuce here is $5.49 Cdn - each! No lettuce in our meals right now.

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  19. Fritatas, stratas, and stir fried rice. Also pasta primivara. I even saw a recipe once for a fritata using leftover spaghetti noodles and veggies like broccoli, zuchinni, and tomatoes. I tried it and liked it. Normally a fritata has potatoes as the filler. These things cook and serve up like a quiche, but no pie crust, fewer eggs, and fillers of starchy foods and veggies. It's food that can be made from leftovers. The bread (strata), spaghetti noodles or potatoes, (fritata) sink and form a good base. On all of these dishes you can use cheese or not. I'm partial to cheese but if you don't have it, these foods are good anyway.
    Something you rarely hear folks not from the south talk about is grits.
    Northerners like their polenta which is the same thing, just prepared differently, and they pay several times the price per pound as we do for grits.
    Southern peppers have buckets of grits like others have buckets of wheat.
    The virtues of grits are many. Cheese grits. Yum. I make mine with milk instead instead of water then add a little extra sharp cheese and 1 egg for more color and protein. Some people just load up the cheese.
    Grits casserole where you make the grits then stir in sausage, onions, peppers, and eggs, then bake. Also good with cheese.
    If you have ever heard of shrimp and grits, think of using other proteins instead of shrimp to top off your bowl of grits.
    When things are really tough with money, you can make a porridge with grits and reconstituted powdered milk. Children like this sweetened and maybe with a little flavoring. You can fill up for the morning on this.
    Grits are cheaper than pasta or rice or oatmeal as long as you don't get scammed buying packets. If you ever try it and like it, buy it in at least 5 pound bags.
    And use it for polenta.
    I personally like white grits, but they come from ground corn so they can be yellow too.
    Also, take your leftover grits, spread them in a pan, and refrigerate. It hardens. Then you can just cut them into squares or circles and fry them up. Redneck polenta. Cheap cheap cheap enough to help pay for chickens for your coop!

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    1. Yes! We like garlic cheese grits with scrambled eggs on top. And leftovers can be fed back to the chickens! Hey, I read today where supersized wild hairy freeze-proof hogs (European boars x domestic hogs) have escaped and are breeding like crazy in Canada and filtering into the USA. Woohoo! Ham, bacon, pulled pork, all piled on top of the grits for you northerners. We in the south have hairy wild pigs but they don't get bigger than about 300 lbs.

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  20. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/17/budget-cooking-new-york-june-xie-interview

    This is an amazing woman. It changes your perspective. So I use soups and eggs to stretch, but this woman really thinks out of the box.

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  21. One of the best ways to save on food in this environment is to front-load food purchases: think of it as an edible savings account. Even if you buy expensive things like frozen microwavable meals, you'll save by buying now (as your other recent post noted; a few years' worth of mayo and pesto would've been good to have acquired back in 2019).

    I've done up slides for a food storage class for my church: the elders haven't green-lighted it yet and they probably think I'm a little weird. But I have an example of 2 big jars of peanut butter per month in an era of 10% inflation. Buying 2 years' worth immediately, then monthly going forward saves 17% over a 20-year period vs. buying 2 jars every month.

    More practically, buying ingredients rather than finished products can often (not always) save. Others have already mentioned this. I bake very high-quality whole-grain bread for less than $1.50 per 2-pound loaf plus some stove heat and a grain mill.

    Rice and pasta are fast carbs, but using them as a foundation for a meal, with meat and sauce on top, is much less costly than sticking to meat alone.

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    1. I buy the large peanut butter jars, then I bring them home, transfer the peanut butter into wide mouth pints and vacuum seal them. I had just put the jars in the pantry, but I bought so much that I still had jars that expired in 2013 this spring. The top was a tad rancid so the chickens got that. Then I canned the rest with the vacuum sealer. Hubby says it keeps the taste better and it is used per jar faster. He is happy and that is all that counts.

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  22. When we were broke with 4 teen age boys, we would fix depression era fried potatoes and onions with sliced hot dogs. Sometimes canned chicken or cubed leftover meatloaf. Some tomato paste, salt and pepper and we were good to go. The boys are grown now and still think of those days as the good times, lol.

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  23. "Great Depression Cooking" and "The Hillbilly Kitchen" are great YT channels for ideas - TewShooz mention of the potato/onion/hotdog reminded me of the episode Clara had for that - it's a classic and I've made it/similar several times now

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    1. I loved Claras videos, I know shes passed on awhile back, but I found them on youtube again recently, I also subscribe to the Hillbilly Kitchen, Becky is so sweet and her recipes also from the Depresion era are similar too, love these simple but good recipes that really are so economical.

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    2. It's one thing this internet thingy helps a lot - Clara passed back in 2013 I think, yet her advice lives on...

      Becky lost her hubby last year and still posts great recipes so deserves whatever support anyone can give - I bought her book just for that...

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    3. Love Hillbilly Kitchen. For historical recipes, I like Tasting History with Max Miller, Townsends (who also uses the cookery methods of the recipes) and Glenn and Friends Cooking.

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  24. Survivalblog's Recipe of the Week archives provide a wide range of ideas, many of them using long term storage ingredients, pantry foods or wild harvested meats.

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  25. Refrigerator Soup...
    https://roamingbuffaloranch.blogspot.com/search/label/Refrigerator%20Soup

    I make this frequently from leftovers. It's good and filling.

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  26. Cornbread, dried beans, rice and bullion cubes (beans with rice or corn makes a complete protein) with added bites of leftover ham is tasty and cheap. We have a garden and I can the produce to supplement our pantry. We have fruit trees and bushes. With the right soil, a few blueberry shrubs can produce a lot of fruit. Our chickens supply added protein but mostly we prefer the eggs. Canned meats like roast beef can be added to a gravy mix and served over rice or potatoes. If you have the space and ability, a garden is the best way to supplement your food supply. It's work that pays dividends!

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  27. My goal is to only eat what we can grow or get locally. Meat is from our chickens of local farmers, veggies from our garden and fruit from local orchards. The only things we can't do this with are coffee, peanut butter, all nuts except walnuts, and things like yeast, baking powder, baking soda, corn starch and a lot of the spices. I grew sugar beets this past year and we got about 1 3/4 pounds of sugar from 15 pounds of sugar beets. As hubby said it was nice to try and learn how to do it but as long as we can get the sugar we will keep buying it. I am planting more things for the chickens such as mangles and peas and carrots. They grow well for us and it means less to buy for their feed. I really need to be successful in making anything sour dough but I haven't been so far, that is still something I am working on. Finding out I am allergic to dairy has decreased my want of getting goats back, but we still do use milk for cooking which seems to not bother me. Hubby said okay then stock up on Morning Moo since it is a good dry milk and will meet our needs. So I did and we do use it when we haven't gotten to the store for a gallon. All in all we are mainly trying to eat from our own garden and locally, it has really cut down on groceries, canning up what we can, dehydrating and freezing also. I did go so far though as to buy boneless pork loins at (10#) at Winco when they are $1.98/lb. They told me in the meat department that they were that price every other week, so that is how I shopped since I was taking hubby to the docs in the city every week. I do not like going there so make the most of each visit. I then brought the meat home and with some we made our own sausage, with others we dry canned it. I am learning to like dry canning. Works great with bacon, chicken breasts, pork loins, bacon crumbles. So glad I started canning and stocking up years ago thinking that well we do get snowed in at times so better to have and not want than want and not have. God Bless all!

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  28. On the homestead nothing goes to waste. Only eat 2 meals a day. Hard work needs fuel and that means protein and carbs in the morning, but evening meal is low carb keto-like meal.

    To save money #1. cook from scratch, no prepared convenience meals. #2. casseroles and soups a couple of times a week. #3. Grow as much as you can yourself or trade with someone who does. #4. Buy veges/fruits/food in season and preserve what you can't eat immediately.

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  29. Speaking of fried potatoes, onions and pieces of hot dog...my Mom used to make us "wienee casserole"...flour some fresh tomato slices and cover bottom of casserole dish...cover tomatoes with sliced bell peppers and onions, then cut up a pack of "wienees" and place on top...sprinkle with cheddar cheese...bake for about 30 minutes til bubbly...fed 7 kids many times, and uses fresh produce!

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  30. Due to health, I have begun making my own sourdough egg bread. The eggs and milk provide more protein, and are great for grilled cheese. Add a veggie or salas, and you have a good, cheap meal.

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  31. Mrs. Smith's Refrigerator Soup reminded me of what a friend said many years ago. In her house they sometimes have YoYos or Musgos.
    YoYos....You're On Your Own. Musgos...open up the frig and say this must go and that must go....

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  32. We have been buying dried supplies in bulk from Azure - organic oats, grits, and beans. Canned beans, as convenient as they are, cost so much more per serving than their dried counterparts! (Plus there's the BPA in the can, and the possibility of cans expiring). So that's one of my family's biggest cost cutters, in addition to not buying prepared/"snack" foods regularly. (Dried garbanzos are cheap compared to premade hummus, for example). My teenagers like to cook/bake and are forever creating homemade granola and even homemade crackers and pasta. We buy a fair amount of canned tuna/salmon/sardines for protein as well as buying meat from local producers in bulk (half cow, whole lamb, etc).
    We also love Costco for several regular items. Their uncooked tortillas can be stored in the freezer until you are ready for them, and they have fewer ingredients/no preservatives like the shelf-stable version.
    We don't throw ANY food away.

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    1. For hummus, try dried limas. Recently I cooked some and then was trying to use them up, and tried turning them into hummus. Success, tho I can't say exact amounts of things I added.
      I googled lima bean hummus, and lo and behold, recipes! The limas are the same color as garbanzo beans and don't have much flavor on their own, and take on flavor additions very well. Plus they're cheaper and more readily available than garbanzo beans, and cook up a lot faster. I've even skipped adding the tahini and didn't miss it, or the added expense. This is a good dip depending on what you blend in. I used a lot of garlic. I got these baby lima beans in a 25 lb bag from Azure.
      Love love love Azure. I found them years before ordering and assumed it would be expensive to ship. When I finally called to talk to them there was a drop not far away. Now I go ahead and have spices and things direct shipped for light weight orders, like about 10 pounds at a time. The heavier stuff I get through the drop.

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    2. Limas aren't cheaper any more . But they're still a great sub.

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  33. Dee mentioned in the "Shopping, Ugh!" post that she has difficulty finding pasta in Arizona. Sadly, the pasta that I have found (at the warehouse stores) in Florida has often been bug infested and/or moldy when I opened the cardboard box and pulled out a package of macaroni or spaghetti. It is a little off-putting to pour pasta into boiling water and see lots of little sad insect bodies floating to the top. (I feed the pasta and bugs to the chickens so not a complete loss.)

    I looked at pasta makers online but they were pricey for something that I wasn't sure that I would use.

    Imagine my excitement this week when I came across a Marcato Atlas 150 pasta machine, hand cranked, stainless steel, from Italy, at a thrift store for $4.99. I snatched that up, purchased it (and a Craftsman scroll saw that was $10.00 at the same thrift store). When I opened the box, the pasta machine had never been used. Happy hunting! I figure that if I decide that I can do a better job with my marble rolling pin and a rotary cutter, being out $5.00 is much better than $80.

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  34. I like to use whole oat groats in place of rice. It's more nutritional including higher in protein, more filling, and not glycemic.
    It's better and less expensive to grind your own grains. For example, it's 1/4th the price or less to grind your own grits/polenta as to buy them ground. There are inexpensive grinders out there. Maybe not for ultra fine flour, but for grits or corn soaked in lime for tortillas.

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  35. While lettuce is so expensive, don't forget slaw ( home made) can still be a cheap addition to sandwiches. It goes well with BBQ pork on hamburger buns or regular bread, Reubens, fish including fish tacos, and fried chicken. And if you have to have lettuce, add grated carrots and cabbage as a lettuce extender. There are many slaw recipes around including a sweet and sour concoction that you can add poppy seeds or other seeds to, ( I like to just use a poppy seed salad dressing)a dill pickle slaw, slaw can include that lone apple nobody's showing interest in,and all sorts of things. It could star in a veggie sandwich or be the green side for your beans and cornbread. Fat free or no fat. Hot or cold. Slaw can be good, nutritious, cheap food.

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