Bulk pizza dough, Pasta Salad, Ceasar Salad, Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup, Simple Chicken Tajine (Morocco), Kofta from Curried Favors (cookbook)
Crockpot lentil soup, "skillet stuff", quick chili, black bean chili, Papillotes de Poisson, Craisin Bread/Cream Cheese/Walnut Sandwich, freeacre's advice on eating well/cheaply
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World
The criteria for recipes here are simple: the meal must be healthy, real
(no packaged mixes, though canned goods are OK), cheap
(ingredients which are either inexpensive or regularly go on sale)
good-tasting, and homemade (can be prepared by anyone with basic cooking
We welcome your answer to:
What's for Dinner at
submit your cheap, good recipes
(story, ingredients, instructions, cost-saving tips).
Barley with Tomato (for 2); Oven baked chicken breasts or pork loins; Shepherd's Pie; Garden Chicken Soup; Quick Easy Vegetable Soup; Pork Butt Stew; Chili and Corn Bread, Eggplant Parmesan; (updated 3/16/09)
Eggplant Parmesan submitted by Bill Murath
a mouthwatering photo-illustrated PDF from longtime contributor Bill Murath.
Chili and Corn Bread submitted by Jacqueline S.
When times were tight, my mother made a large pot of pinto beans. Sheíd learned the recipes from her mother. Weíd have beans and cornbread for a couple nights, then sheíd turn the leftover beans into chile. Good, very cheap, seems like a lot of steps but really pretty easy, and for me at least, beans and cornbread make wonderful comfort food. Now Iím teaching my son to cook them. My mom used to serve sliced oranges as a side dish; these days I make a green salad.
Two cups of dry beans turn into six cups of cooked beans. Thereís roughly 2 cups of beans in a one-pound bag. The following instructions assume youíre preparing 1 pound of dried beans. If you have a very large cooking pot, double or triple the recipe and freeze some for later.
Beans that work for this recipe: virtually any type of bean that is shaped like a kidney bean. Pinto, kidney, northern, black, borlotti, cranberry, white, lima, turtle, flageolots.... Beans that wonít work well: legumes not shaped like kidney beans, including lentils and peas. Dunno about garbanzos, as I havenít tried cooking them this way.
Pour 1 lb dry beans into a medium-large pot or bowl. (The beans will expand during soaking and cooking, so give them plenty of space.)
Add at least 7 cups of cold water. (Itís okay to estimate. As long as there is at least 3 times as much water, itíll work fine.)
Donít add anything else at this point. (Salt and acids such as vinegar interfere with the softening of the beans. You can add them at the end of cooking.)
Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours at room temperature. (You may want to put a towel over the pot to keep dust out.)
Pour out the soaking water. (The soaking water contains a lot of bean starches that give people gas!)
Add 5-6 cups water.
*one of the following: a smoked ham hock, 4-8 slices fried or raw bacon, a smoked turkey drumstick, a smoked pork chop, or Ĺ-1 cup chopped smoked sausage. (Bones give the beans body as well as flavor. I prefer a ham hock, but if I donít have any, Iíll use a couple raw chicken or beef bones and some bacon)
*1/2 cup chopped onion
*3 to 4 cloves chopped garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*optional (for a southern flavor): 1-2 stalks celery (chopped) or a pinch of celery seed; 1 cup chopped vegetables such as carrots;
*optional (for a southwestern flavor): 1 can diced tomatoes with can juice (or 4 chopped fresh tomatoes); Ĺ teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chile powder, 1 or more chopped hot peppers.
Set the bean pot over high heat. When the beans start to boil, lower the heat so that the beans are just barely boiling (simmering). Let them simmer for one to two hours. Stir the beans occasionally to make sure they arenít sticking to the bottom of the pot. If they stick, lower the heat. There should always be about an inch of water above the beans, so add more water as needed.
After one hour, test for doneness: take a few beans from the pot, let them cool a bit, and then bit them. If any one of them feels firm to the bite, it isnít done. Cooked beans should be somewhat squishy. Beans cooked too long, however, turn into mush.
When the beans are done, add salt. Start with one teaspoon, stir in and let sit for a few minutes, then taste. Beans typically require a fairly large amount of salt to taste good to us. One way to intensify flavor without adding as much salt is to add 1-2 teaspoons lemon juic or vinegar)
Remove any bones. If the beans contain any large pieces of meat, chop it into small pieces and put back into the beans.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Youíll need a baking pan that is large enough to hold 4 cups of food. It can be any shape. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan using a spoonful of vegetable oil or margarine.
In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup white flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and (optional) 1 tablespoon sugar.
In a separate bowl, mix 1 egg, 1 cup milk, and ľ cup vegetable oil. Beat well, until the egg is completely mixed in.
Pour the liquids into the cornmeal mixture. Gently stir until well mixed.
Scrape the cornbread batter into the greased baking pan and put the pan in the hot oven. If you are using a large pan so that the batter is only an inch or so thick, it will be done in about 12 minutes. If you are using a smalled pan so the batter is thick, it could take half an hour or longer. Cornbread is done when the edges look browned and the top is slightly puffed up. To check, insert a knife into the center. If batter isnít sticking to it when you pull the knife out, the cornbread is done.
Cut the hot cornbread into serving-sized squares. Put a slice of cornbread on a plate, top
with a scoop of beans. Some people like to add a dab of butter.
Quick Easy Vegetable Soup submitted by Johan Eddebo
Here is a quick, easy, really cheap as well as nutritious soup, using ingredients we mostly have readily available during the winter months.
8 medium-sized potatoes
one tablespoon of salt, two tea spoons of pepper and oregano each, and one tea spoon of basil
Chop everything up, place in a pot and cover with
water, add spices and salt, save basil. Heat it until
it boils, and then let it simmer until the
potatoes are done - about half an hour to forty-five
minutes - crush add the dried basil just before serving.
Pork Butt Stew submitted by Bill K.
1 4-6qt soup pot (pressure cooker bottom works for me)
2lbs pork rump roast (note; this is an inexpensive piece of meat and
can be found on sale for $1.50/lb or less)
10 slices of jalapenos (deli style, in a jar, hot (recommended))
Slice the roast into 1" slabs
When the pork is done, dice into edible portions, add water to the skillet
(to capture all of the "drippings" (note; this is where a great deal of the
taste comes from).
Put all ingredients in a pot, cover with water and simmer until potatoes are cooked.
Add salt, pepper and more jalapenos, to taste ;-).
To improve the healthfulness of this dish, put in refrigerator over-night and skim off the solids that rise to the surface. Additionally, you could remove obvious fat from the pork before browning.
Goes great with a nice baked bread
Cost is something like this, probably on the high side: Estimate of cost:
Makes approximately 8 bowls of stew.
Great warm meal for about $1 a bowl.
Barley with Tomato (for 2) submitted by Eugenio M.
pearled barley (5 ounces)
Put barley in a 4qt or 6qt Sauce Pan. (Cover the barley with 3/4 inches of water.)
Oven baked chicken breasts or pork loins submitted by Jeffrey Jensen
Here is a technique I use anytime I want something that is crispy and yummy (i.e. tastes fried), but is lowfat and carefree to cook.
4 boneless chicken breasts, pork loins or cubed steak
1) Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate bowls.
2) Pat the meat dry, and dredge in the seasoned flour
3) Dunk the flour coated meat in the eggs
4) Dredge the egg/flour coated meat in the breadcrumbs.
5) Place the now nicely breaded meat in a greased pan and
bake at 400 degrees F for Ĺ hour.
6) Sit back and have a microbrew or glass of wine while the dish cooks.
Higher or lower temps are okay (350-425), shorter or longer times
depend on how moist/dry you like your meat. Higher temps for shorter times seems to make for a crispier coating.
The advantage of this technique is that the breading/coating seals the moisture in the meat while it cooks, and results in a crispy outer breading and a nice moist interior.
A word of caution: when coating the meat, your fingers will
become covered with a gluey glop of flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
Wait until you are done with all the meat before you try to wash
it off. A wire brush and blowtorch work well for this:-)
Shepherd's Pie submitted by Colleen Mc.
This is a traditional recipe from the British Isles, and I am sure there are as many ways to make it as there are people who make it. It's a great recipe for the holidays, especially when you realize the leftovers aren't going to be eaten before they spoil. And, because it's based on leftovers, all of the ingredients can be substituted. Here's the way we make Shepherd's Pie:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Chop onions and garlic. Fry onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then add garlic and fry for about 2 minutes. I add the garlic after the onions because I mince it very fine and it burns quickly. Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and fry until brown. Drain the excess fat, then return to the stove over low heat. Mix in your leftover or canned vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes. If you are using raw carrots, you may wanted to steam or boil them for ten minutes to soften them before adding to the mixture.
In a baking dish, spread the mashed potatoes so they cover the bottom of the dish, then add your meat-veggie mixture. Top with gravy and cheese and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve hot and enjoy the warm feelings at the table and in your belly!
Stuffing instead of mashed potatoes
Any type of meat, though you may want to skip the onions and garlic if it is leftover and already seasoned. When using leftover meat, we also "pull" it apart with two forks to break it up into smaller pieces
Any vegetables you love, though I've found tomatoes get pretty soggy in the oven.
Cheese is really expensive right now, and the seasoning for the meat is enough taste
for me, so if you don't have cheese or don't want it, leave it off.
Garden Chicken Soup submitted by Freeacre
Here is another "post-collapse" recipe that I am making for today's dinner:
1 chicken ($4.40 - on sale for 99 cents per pound)
Go to garden and pick whatever vegetables you have that would work (or what's on sale at the Farmers Market). I used about 8 cups of Russian Kale and Swiss Chard and some green onions. I also used about a cup of Napa cabbage from the refrigerator, because I had to use it up, and a carrot, peeled and diced.
First, I boiled a chicken. Then, after about 45 min. I pulled or cut the meat off the bones. I saved the breast for another meal. I can make stir fry or chicken salad tomorrow. I used the dark meat for the soup. The skin can go to the pets.
So, the de-boned chicken goes back into the pot, along with the vegetables. I don't know how to calculate the cost of the vegetables. I spent a total of $45 dollars for all the seeds that I grew this year. I estimate that the vegetables that I use cost me less than 50 cents a day. You could put noodles or potatoes in the soup, but I can't afford the carbs. If you are slender, by all means, add noodles. Simmer until vegetables are soft.
I season the soup with thyme, celery salt, garlic salt, lemon grass, ginger, and lemon pepper.
So, this soup cost about $3 to make and will feed two of us at least twice. Plus, I still have the chicken breast to make another meal.
- I am serving this with a savory loaf of caraway onion rye bread hot out of the oven. Raisin-oatmeal cookies for dessert.
Freeacre's notes on eating cheap and healthy
I thought I'd send you my take on eating cheap and healthy. I tend to observe that pretty much all cultures have good, cheap, "peasant" food that most of us can diversify our diets with. Just to satisfy my own peculiar sensibilities, I also try to express my solidarity with whatever country we are currently occupying or bombing or exploiting in some way by eating their traditional dishes as well. During the current resource wars, for instance, I've eaten a lot of Tabouli and hummas. (See thegutsygourmet.net)
CHS kitchen-test note/disproving the propaganda that real food is "too expensive" and fast-food is "affordable": I bought the ingredients for Black Bean Chili (Summer/Fall 2008) at one of the local "Mexican" markets which cater to the Hispanic population. The total cost was:
1 pound black beans: $1.19
For 6 servings, that's $.53/serving. Add $2 for 4 dozen tortillas, slice up six medium raw carrots (12 oz.) for crunch and vitamins, and that brings it up to $5.60 or $ .93/serving.
If you wanted to add a pound of meat, and you buy on sale, then add another $3.40 or so for either beef (lean cut) or ground turkey. That boosts the cost to about $9.00 or $1.50 per serving for a hearty, protein- and fiber-rich meal.
Compare that to the cost of a supposedly "cheap" (and horribly unhealthy) fast-food "value" meal of burger, fries and a sugar-bomb soda for six: in California, over $30. And yet all we hear is how "poor people" (like me?) "can't afford healthy food." What rot! 93 cents beats the heck out of any fast-food garbage, it's easy to make and the ingredients are readily available virtually anywhere.
FROM WALLET TO WAISTLINE: THE HIDDEN COSTS OF "SUPER SIZING"
"A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts."
(CHS, May 2008)
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