(Closed) What are your low cost weekly meals?

posted 7 years ago in Cooking
Post # 32
834 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013 - The front lawn of our church

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@Miss Joker:  Pasta is super cheap. I can get a bag of pasta for $.99 and a can of spaghetti sauce for $1.19. (make sure you by the metal can, not the glass jar.) You can season it up however you like it. 

Tuna is cheap and you can find good variations to make it taste really good:) This is a good lunch option.

Grilled chesse and tomato soup is one of our favorites and it’s super cheap. 

Another good one is chicken and rice. Heat 2 cans of cream of chicken soup with 1 small shredded chicken breast. You can adjust the amount of chicken however you want. When I really need to make the chicken stretch I just use a little, but if you have extra, you can use a lot:) Serve it over rice or mashed potatoes.

Chili (and really most any soup) is super cheap and you can make a pot that will last a couple of nights, or for DH to take for lunch. Again, if you have meat to put it in, great, if not, it’s ok. Find a bakery and see if you can get the day-old bread at a discount. It goes well with soup, and you can usually get it really cheap. It’s not anywhere near moldy yet, but the bakery can’t sell it. 

I like to make something I call “Shepherd’s Pie.” basically you put canned vegetables (whatever you like) in the bottom of a casserole dish. Pour brown gravy on top (not till it’s soupy, just moist) and then cover the top with mashed potatoes. Bake it until it’s heated all the way through and the potatoes are lightly browned. To make this meal faster, you can heat the veggies on the stove-top. It will only take about 15 min. for the potatoes to brown in the oven.

Another good thing to do is to consider what ingredients you’ll have left over from each meal, and plan a meal that will use them.

For instance, on Monday, DH and I had taco salad. I had tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, and black olives left over. Later that week, we had something I call Tijuana Dip. Put a couple cans of refried beans in the bottom of a dish. Sprinkle whatever toppings you have on it. I like ground beef, black olives, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese. Heat it in the oven, and then serve it as a dip with the tortillla chips. The last day that week. We had King Ranch. Combine a can of cream of chicken soup, a cup (ish) of sour cream, and about a cup and a half of salsa. Add some shredded chicken, and layer it with crushed up tortilla chips. Top with shredded cheese, black olives, and sour cream, and bake until it’s heated all the way through.

Remember that frozen veggies are much cheaper than fresh. I know they’re not as healthy, but you have to decide how much you’re willing to sacrifice to stay on your budget. 

Basically, my biggest advice would be to supplement all of your meals with something other than meat. Almost everything I have has either potatoes or rice in it. You have to be a little creative so it doesn’t get boring, but this can save soooooo much money! DH and I never eat more than one chicken breast in a meal, unless it’s a special occasion where I already decided to “splurge” on the meat! 

Sorry for the long post. DH and I never spend more than $100 a month on groceries (including eating out) so I have a lot of tips that have helped me:) 
















Post # 32
1119 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Cottage pie is super easy and feeds us two to three times over. 2lbs ground beef, browned and drained. Add a chopped onion, some garlic, and a sprinkling of gravy mix (sounds weird, totally works, trust me) and cook together for a while. Lay it in the bottom of a casserole dish. Make mashed potatoes (we go from scratch) and make them just a bit wetter than usual. Top the meat with the potato completely, leaving no meat uncovered. Sprinkle with cheese if you like, and bake at 350 for half an hour. Gets the potato on top a bit crispy, the moisture keeps the meat from drying out, and it’s delicious. Serve with gravy and whatever veg you like (we prefer our veg on the outside of the pie).

I like to make burrito bowls like you find at Moe’s. A bunch of basmati rice, cooked with a bunch of chili powder, cumin, tumeric, and garlic. Use two chicken breasts, either cut up or shredded. An onion and bell pepper sliced up thin and sauteed fajita style and seasoned heavily with taco seasoning or chili powder. Just layer it all in a bowl with some jalapenos and sour cream and cheese. But we’ve always got those ingredients on hand.

Unstuffed bell peppers! a pound of ground beef, 2/3 of a cup of basmati, 1-2 tomatoes depending on size, an onion, and whatever seasonings you like (we keep it simple with a bit of Worschestershire and pepper). Brown the beef, drain the fat, add the onion and sautee til the onion is translucent and starting to carmelize, add in the tomatoes and rice, the Worscehestershire and pepper, and about 1.75 cups of water and let it all simmer til the rice is done cooking, then toss in a chopped up bell pepper and top with a bit of cheese.

Butter beans and rice. Soak the beans over night, drain, fill the pot back up with water. Add a mined onion (the onion is not only great flavor but the smaller you get the pieces, the thicker your over all dish will be since the starches in the onion act as a thickening agent, just like in curries). 1-2 bay leaves, about 3 tablespoons of dried parsley, and bring it up to a boil. Add in a ham bone (or just chopped up ham or chicken) and simmer for an hour or two or until the beans are soft. Serve over rice with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

But beans, rice, cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and all the rest I’ve mentioned tend to be in our typical weekly shop to begin with. YMMV.



Post # 33
1019 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I must live in an expensive place because I just cannot feed the two of us for under $600/m (and that’s me being super careful!), but I’m doing more ethnic food lately which might help. 

Lots of suggestions including using a rotisserie chicken for two meals – real cute! We never have leftovers when I buy/make a whole chicken lol

For Fiance a meal isn’t a meal unless it’s meaty plus we both have huge appetites and both have physical jobs so that defintely presents a challenge. 

Wherever possible I bulk out/stretch the meat with canned tomatoes, beans, rice, quinoa, veggies so beef stew with quinoa or barley and potatoes, chili with quinoa or on top of rice OR over a baked potato, curries with frozen veg, african chicken stew with chickpeas or lentils over rice, filipino adobo over rice, etc.

I always get cheap and sale cuts – lots of ground beef, chicken thighs, drumsticks, stew beef, pot roasts. Even the most expensive free run eggs are a good deal given their macros so don’t forget about quiches, omeletes, and shakshuka even for dinner. 

I try not to buy out of season produce but that would basically mean 6 months of potatoes, onions, and beans so we stick to apples, bananas, broccoli, cauli, and whatever pops up at a decent price and looks half decent.

I get huge bags of basmati rice and lentils at the Indian grocery for dirt cheap, and they have jugs of milk for great prices too.

Don’t be scared of canned meats! Ok, maybe not spam – but canned chicken goes on sale for dirt cheap pretty frequently and I make enchiladas and quesadillas out of it. Canned salmon makes great salmon cakes, and of course tuna if you’re into the tuna casserole thing. 

Whenever I open a bottle of wine and can’t finish it I freeze it into cubes to toss into my stews and pasta sauces. Maybe not a cheap way to flavour dishes but it must be better than downing the stuff after a long day at work 😛 

Post # 34
3212 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I try not to serve meat that hasnt been cut or altered somehow, because if I cook two chicken breasts we eat them both. If I serve up a whole half chicken breast it seems small. If I shred a roasted chicken, it lasts for usually about 12 servings mixed in with other things – chicken and broccoli stir fry, chicken BBQ pie, homemade chicken pizzas, chicken salad on green salad, chicken quesadillas… The list goes on. 

I try not to go shopping without a meal plan in place, and I plan out several meals in advance so that I can stack how I use ingredients. I buy flour on sale and make my own pie crusts, and with an instant yeast I can make pizza dough that proofs fast enough that by the time I have shredded a little cheese, chopped up my toppings and made a sauce it is ready for being made in crusts.

Post # 35
146 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I make this kind of meatloaf dish (I know all you Americans will probably say “That’s not REAL Meatloaf” but UK people don’t seem to know what it is so I can get away with it here >:D) which has three ingredients.

Bacon. Mince Beef. Readymade Stuffing.

Line a bread tin with bacon. Make up the stuffing and mix in the mince beef. Add the beef mixture to the bacon tin. Wrap the bacon over and wack in the oven for and hour on a medium-high temp. I just serve it with boiled/mash potatoes, veg and gravy made up with the fat from the meat.

Simple as hell and it tastes so good. OH (and his grandad) absolutly love this meal with a passion and constantly requestes it. Best of all it costs about £5 to make and does us dinner for about 3 nights, a couple of sandwiches with enough left of to send a chunk of to his grandad.

I want to try a variation with pork mince and apple flavoured stuffing but OH is a wimp and won’t try any of my experiments after all the others I have failed at!!

Post # 36
604 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

A few things we do:

Don’t buy convenience items. To me, everything from shredded cheese to bagged salad is a bit more expensive. I can buy a bag of romaine salad mix for $3. Or I can buy 3 huge romaine hearts which make WAY more salad than that. We purchased a salad spinner (for $19 at BB&B) to make washing/drying greens MUCH easier!

If you buy cheese, buy it on the block and shred/cut it yourself. You save money usually AND they add strange things to shredded cheese in a bag like potato starch and other things to keep it from sticking together. So basically chopping/peeling/cutting it all yourself saves a bit of money.

We have invested in an organic farm share. We pay $30 every two weeks for a HUGE cooler of veggies and that produce forms the backbone of our meals (supplimented by some sort of grain and meat usually)! We buy chicken at Costco for around $20 and it has around 6 2-packs of HUGE chicken breasts (each 2-pack is really like 2 meals for each of you).

I love to cook asian food but don’t love the price/ingredients in the storebought sauces. I make my own teryaki stir fry sauce with just some Soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chicken broth and cornstarch. Simple and delicious. It’s also super cheap (much more so than storebought sauce!).

Post # 37
1228 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Chicken thighs are super cheap. I rub them with oil, sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, bake at 375 for 40 min or so. Thighs are so much more flavorful than breasts because of the bone! You can serve these with rice and any veggie. Leftover thighs can be made into chicken pot pie or chicken soup later.

One of our favorite veggies is broccoli and cauliflower. You can use frozen or fresh. Frozen is a little cheaper sometimes and more convenient. Steam the mini-heads (not a whole head of broccoli or cauliflower, but you know, break it up). Then microwave about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of lemon juice. Add Cajun seasoning or seasoned salt to it. Then pour it on the steamed veggies and toss. This adds a great buttery-lemon flavor.

Taco salad is another good relatively-cheapy. It’s basically a green salad but instead of dressing, use taco meat (you can buy it pre-seasoned or do it yourself. I get the Jennie-O pre-seasoned ground turkey kind when it’s on sale). On top of the salad, put sour cream, the meat, then sprinkle cheese. Diced tomatoes and avocado slices make it even awesomer. Something good about this dish is that it’s an all-in-one – meat, veg all in one bowl, so you’re not running around preparing different sides. Fiances and husbands of all kinds, colors, ages, and types love this dish.


Post # 38
146 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

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ohnatto:  I love buying frozen veg. If you steam it then it taste just as good as fresh and it does tend to be cheaper as it lasts a lot longer too! Will have to try buying chicken thighs instead os breasts only problem is OH doesn’t like meat on the bone!

Also, Slow cooking is a good way of making food cheaply. You can use cheaper cuts of meat and they will still taste fantastic and dinner one night will carry over for lunch the next day. Gotta dust my slow cooker off!

Post # 39
246 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

polkadotgirl I second oyakodon!  Delish!  

Fiance and I have been trying to be better about eating out too!  We were going out for lunch or dinner (sometimes both) almost everyday.  Now we go out 1-2 times a week. 

We both love rice, so we stock up on various kinds.  We bought a rice cooker which makes everything so much easier!  Some easy rice dishes we make include:

  • onigiri– my favorite fillings are umeboshi and kimchi.  Fi’s is anko.  
  • bibimbap- so easy, this is basically just a rice bowl with whatever veggies and meat you want tossed in a spicy sauce 
  • poached eggs over rice–One of my favorite breakfasts!  I like mine with rice vinaiger, salt and pepper.  
  • stir fry over rice- easiest thing ever.  You can throw anything you want in a stir fry!  
  • crockpot mongolian beef–pintrest has a ton of recipes for this.  We usually serve with steamed broccoli.   
  • crockpot sesame chicken–again, pintrest is flooded with these recipes.  We serve with steamed broccoli, carrots, peapods, whatever sounds good that night.  

Simple noodle dishes are great too.  We love to make noodles with garlic and red pepper infused olive oil and then sprinkle parmesan on top.  

During grilling season I make cold salads that last well in the fridge.  I can make one batch that works as a side dish throughout the week.  That way all we have to do is grill the meat.  My favorite one is cucumber, blackbeans, frozen or fresh corn, cilantro, lime juice, honey and dijon mustard.  It’s so easy and the longer it marinates in the fridge, the better it tasts.  

Post # 40
2692 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

We used to spend about $100 a week or so for a fanily of 5.  We are now a family of 6 and I spend a less… it helps that everytime my il’s do their shopping, they pick stuff up dor us too.  But for a weeks worth of just dinners for us, I can spend about $40.  Yup.  

This past week we had: 

mon: leftovers I used to make veggie enchiladas

tues: baked tilapia and rice with broccoli

Weds: veggie lasagna (pasta is SUPER cheap… I make it at least 2x a week)

Thurs: baked sweet potato with tomato sauce chicken

Fri:  Breaded and fried tilapia with french fries

Tilapia is a big bag of frozen tilapia from the membership warehouse type club shopping.  The veggies are from the farmers market.  

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