Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Inexpensive, Easy and In A Pinch Meals

 I think most that read this blog do pretty good as far as stretching their dollars and their pantries.  I know many read that don't comment, and we all need new ideas.  I like reminders, alternatives, and just different choices sometimes.  How about you?

Whether you are short on dollars, or the pantry is getting low, or weather is bad and you need to stay in, or you choose to stay home because of illness, or you are just bored - here are some frugal and easy ideas to stretch the budget and the pantry.


  • MACARONI AND CHEESE - pasta is very cheap and a staple in most pantries.  Cheese is a protein - so add meat or not.  If you do - chopped up hotdogs, ground beef or sausage, ham pieces, smoked sausage, tuna, leftover taco meat.............. whatever you have.  This can be a meal in itself or add a veggie as a side.   You can also add veggies to the mac - broccoli, peas, tomatoes or salsa, asparagus, etc.
  • ONE POT MEALS - can be anything.  Chicken, pork, ham, smoked sausage with potatoes, carrots, onion, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, peas...................  Put what you have in a crockpot and let it simmer together for a yummy combo.  Your imagination is the only limit to what you can fix.
  • RICE & BEANS - add meat or not.  Beans are protein.  I can make a meal of beans and rice, maybe add a biscuit or bread and a salad.  You can add corn, hominy, mushrooms, onion - anything you want.   **Use in burritos, enchiladas, put leftovers in soup or chili
  • VEGGIE SOUP - always an easy throw together pot of goodness.  Whatever you have leftover in frig - add pasta or rice to extend if needed - add meat or not - add a few cans of this or that - and season.  No limits whatsoever and it can be added to over days and can make many meals!  Hearty food!!!!  
  • FRIED RICE - super easy and tasty.  Add egg, meat or not, and any kind of veggie you have.  There are no rules.  Add a bit of soy sauce or make your own sauce.  Super good and very filling!!   ******You can do the same thing with spaghetti and turn it into lo mein!  One of my favorites
  • BAKED POTATOES - NO limits whatsoever.  Top with anything you have and make a meal of it.  I do this about once a month or more.  So good and cheap!
  • BREAKFAST - another favorite.  You can do anything and mix and match.  Eggs, waffles, pancakes, French toast, toast, biscuits and gravy, egg sandwiches, quiche, bread pudding - all cheap and easy things to make.  Cereal or oats or granola are good options.  Add fruit (canned or fresh) if you have it.
  • ROAST VEGGIES - YUM.  One or a variety - have fun with it.  Can add a small side of meat if you choose - or serve with pasta or rice.  OR make stuffed peppers with whatever you have on hand.


  • SALAD - tuna, ham, chicken, egg, pasta, rice, lettuce, potato, pea, bean, corn - salads can be hot or cold.  Many, many meals here have been salad - serve with toast or crackers for a super inexpensive meal.  Salads can be any combination of food you desire
  • PATTIES OR FRITTERS - tuna, salmon, mackerel, corn fritters, potato cakes, zucchini fritter, dressing/stuffing fritters. bean burgers - there is just no limit to what you can put together.
  • FOIL PACKETS - can be done in the oven or on the grill.  Generally  meat and whatever veggies you have - a little seasoning or butter and wrap it up and cook.  Great for camping.  Easy and no clean-up!
  • OTHER SOUPS - chili is a fall/winter favorite.  Make with meat or not.  Add pasta to stretch it or serve over rice.  Add cheese or sour cream - so many options.    Potato soup is super frugal and easy to make.  Any kind of cream of soup - broccoli, asparagus, corn, etc.   I am sure we all have canned soups on hand as well - don't dilute much - pour over pasta or rice or add them to the soup.  Jazz up a normal can of soup with cheese or sour cream - whatever you have.
  • BEANS - soup beans, green beans, any kind of beans!  Protein, flavorful and frugal.  Add some corn bread and you have one super delicious dinner.
  • SPAGHETTI OR ANY PASTA MEAL - spaghetti is about as easy as it gets.  You can add whatever you want to pasta sauce to make it more hearty - veggies or meat.  Lasagna, casseroles,  goulash, etc.  Pasta of any kind can be used for any dish - it is just pasta after all.  If you don't have one kind - substitute another type.
  • EGGS - hard boiled eggs are a yummy and filling addition to a meal.  Scrambles, soft boiled, over easy, fried, frittata's, quiche.  Add to salads.  Eat as a side dish.  Make a meals of hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, maybe a little meat, some fresh veggies and crackers.  YUM

I think we all tend to make things too difficult.  Change things up a bit and look outside the box.  There is so much you can make with WHATEVER you have on hand - spend NO money - and eat WELL.
So no matter the reason for using your pantry and freezer and using only that - no shopping - have fun!!

Experiment - do new and fun foods - remember a meal doesn't need to be 3 courses - a meal is what you have and what fills you up.  IT CAN BE ANYTHING!

I hope this inspires someone in a time when they feel they need it.  You can always whip something tasty up with what you have.  
ENJOY

28 comments:

  1. This is a great list of ideas. I've recently been diagnosed with a gastric disease, and as I recover from a flare up the list of can't tolerate foods is looking long. I've run out of ideas, but I found several here that I hadn't thought of and should be very good. Thanks! Celie

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    1. I am sorry you are having such trouble - but I am thrilled you maybe found some ideas that might work for you.
      Please take care and hope you recover well.

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    2. I use to have one of the worst cases of acid reflux. Someone told me about PH balancing my body by drinking water with a little baking soda added. It was a life changer for me. Just add a little baking soda to a glass of water and drink first thing in the morning, a few times during the day. It is up to you to determine how much to put in the water. Organic baking soda is available in the baking section of stores, but the little yellow box one is just fine. Good luck.

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    3. Thank you for that tip - I have heard about baking soda for indigestion but not acid reflux. That is great to know for me - I have that have happen from time to time. Thank you!!

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  2. I love easy fast meals and also beans and rice, so do my kids. Tonight it is sweet potato wedges, fried green beans, salad,and steak bites.Using up what we have in the freezer and some of that produce I got yesterday.

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    1. That sounds like one tasty dinner. I fry a lot of different veggies.

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  3. One thing that is a favorite go to quick meal for me is a quesadilla.

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    1. Love them too. So easy to make and uses very little really. Easy and filling

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  4. You pretty much listed everything I cook. I've never been into fancy ingredients so the meals I make are ordinary but still delicious. Just made a pot of chili this week along with a batch of buns. It provided meals for the two of us for two days while some of the buns went into the freezer. I also made a batch of hamburger/macaroni soup with lots of veg - my son doesn't care for it, so I've got enough for five meals.
    I've never made beans and rice but I know it tastes good!

    Take care and stay well!

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    1. I am a simple cook too - doesn't mean it isn't good!! I did chili today - been craving it.
      Your son is silly. Hamburger soup is a staple here and has been for years.

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  5. I love making the use it up refrigerator veggie soup, I make it at least twice a month. We share with my sister in law, she loves it. Remember all those small jars of canned salmon I got? I opened one to see one to see how it was, no salt! Yea. Auntie was diabetic and really watched so we are benefiting. Love your ideas. I do get bored with cooking. I made green beans with the bacon the other day, my first time ever! They were so good.

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    1. Veggie soup is just yum. Everything in one pot.
      WOW - that is great on the salmon. You will sure get use with that and what a savings.
      First time on green beans with bacon? Oh my, that is such good eating. Only way Mom ever made them. Glen was all about the more bacon the better!! LOL
      Glad you like them.

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  6. Another blog (which I am too lazy to look up right now) posted recently about the Dump Dinner cookbook. A library search yielded a number of books with this title, so I have requested "Fix-It and Forget-It Slow Cooker Dump Dinners & Desserts". I'm all for easy to fix meals where I can fly by the seat of my pants on ingredients.

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    1. I have a Dump Dinner cookbook as well. They are pretty great.
      I like easy and last minute ideas myself. Seems like those are the best meals!

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  7. I like when we have something different for dinner. Our everyday dinners can get ho hum boring sometimes, so it is nice to switch it up every now and then. Those sheet pan dinners always look so interesting, I may try a couple of those when the weather cools down and I will be using the oven more regularly.

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    1. It is always nice to have options that are easy and cost no more than a walk to the pantry.
      Have fun experimenting and enjoy

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  8. I can be happy with a piece of boiled chicken with no salt. Tommy is not so crazy about plain chicken, so I make delicious chicken!

    The only thing in your list that I don't like is fried rice. My favorite beans and rice dish is blackeyed peas and brown rice. Well, it is the only one I like.

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    1. I like fried chicken, but rarely make it. I make chicken in other ways a lot.
      Never tried beans and rice with those two ingredients - will give it a try.

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  9. Fast and easy. Just what I like and will probably do a great deal more of shortly.

    God bless.

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  10. I love your posts and suggestions.It does not take much to truly make a delicious and healthy meal. No need for expensive ingredients. Just be creative and make the most of what you have with wonderful flavors and herbs.

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    1. I know. Seems we always try to make things difficult and in fact it is pretty easy to accomplish.
      Use what you have, mix and match, add some seasoning and yum!

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  11. Some wonderful suggestions that truly inspired. Thank you.

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  12. Cheryl, you have come up with an excellent meal list again! No one mentioned opening a jar of sauerkraut. We love kraut with black eye peas and fried potatoes. If a recipe has an expensive or odd, hard to find ingredient, I won't make it. The Urban Farmer used to like to make all sorts of things that required a special spice or herb that we never used again. No more! A stir fry is super easy to do also...chop it up and throw it in the skillet. We sit down to the table and say, "well, we've never had this before" or "can't get this in a restaurant". Ha!

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    1. Ooooh yeah -thanks. Love sauerkraut and fried potatoes.
      I don't do anything that has odd ingredients. Not going to waste my money.
      Stir fry - excellent idea. One can use anything they have and make a great stir fry dinner - maybe a little rice and yummo.
      Thanks for those ideas.

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  13. Hi Cheryl,

    I know many people do put a tomato product in their beans and rice, there is a good reason for that, especially if your using the dish as a complete protein. The body needs a form of vitamin C in order to absorb the complete protein of the beans and rice combo. So make sure you add a vitamin C supplier to the meal.

    Nichole

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    1. I love the flavor of tomatoes with beans and rice or any cheesy meal. That is something I have always done - not sure I knew why, except I like the taste!!! Good to know I have been doing it right.
      Thanks

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