Eating Poor Ideas

Updated on April 19, 2010
A.S. asks from Spokane, WA
11 answers

What are some good recipes that are very very cheap and healthy for a family of 4, that we can have leftovers with? Husband lost his job so we need to figure this out soon. And how do I prepare dry beans?

beans and rice
fruits and vegetables

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answers from Gainesville on

First, I'm so sorry about your hubby's job!

Beans are super easy! Just soak them over night so they'll be ready to go the next day. I loosely follow the directions on the back. I love making red beans and rice. I usually will saute an onion and some garlic, maybe bell pepper if I've got it or celery till soft then add the beans, water, bay leaf and let it simmer and cook down. Usually takes 2-3 hours. Also, I like to toss in some turkey sausage that I've cooked in the pan toward the last for extra flavor. Black beans are easy as well. The back of the package will have great suggestions for recipes that you can adapt for your family.

Try using brown rice to get the most bang for your buck. It's going to have extra protein, fiber and vitamins to keep your family healthier and feeling fuller than white rice.

Whole wheat spaghetti is also another inexpensive great choice. Again, by using the whole wheat you also get protein and fiber! And it tastes better than the white pasta any day.

I buy a big bag of stir-fry veggies at sam's for less than $6 (and it's a huge bag!) and make a stir fry sauce using equal parts peanut butter (again protein), brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, then a bit of ground ginger and a small amount of galic powder-all things your probably have in the pantry! Stir all those together to combine and I add the sauce when the veggies are done and let it cook for just a minute or two so it thickens up. You can serve it over brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

I just started making my own refried beans by mashing cooked pinto beans then cooking some onion, garlic in the pan adding the mashed beans and some water then salt to taste. Super easy! Serve on whole wheat tortillas with some cheese, tomato and you are good to go.

I also buy big bags of mixed veggies for less than $5 at Sam's. My kids eat veggies at lunch and dinner and the huge bags at sam's last a long time.

I make a super easy chicken soup that is good for you too-cook a piece of chicken and shred it. Use a big box of chicken broth, a couple cans of beans, a couple cans of tomatoes, can of green chilies, some onion, garlic, cumin. Just dump it all in the pot and let it heat up. Use the seasonings to taste. Add the shredded chicken when it's hot and give it time to reheat in the soup. But this one is great because you can make up a lot of it and freeze it.

If you have a friend that has a sams membership you can shop with them!

Also, use coupons and compare the store sales to get the most out of your coupons. Most stores will honor other stores sales. Watch for BOGO and use a coupon, you can get things for almost nothing!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Not fun. I hate making meals when we are poor!

Have you tried ordering from Angel Food ministries? They have packages with meats, fruits and veggies designed for a family of four for a week. It's pretty cheap.

When we have no money we do a lot of repeats

fried egg on toast
egg and cheese omelet
egg salad sandwich
grilled cheese sandwich
peanut butter and jelly sandwich
turkey and cheese sandwich
1 minute oatmeal
baked potatoes
chicken and rice
baked chicken thighs
chalupas (spray corn tortillas with cooking spray and bake)
noodles with butter and garlic salt

bananas and apples are cheap fruits
we keep frozen veggies and fruits to use as sides

I hope some of this helps. Like I said, it is not fun eating poor. You can't be creative and have to eat the same things over and over. That's the position we will be in once again when school is out and we don't have the extra money from student loans :-( Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My husband and I are very frugal. We buy extra meat/food when it's on a real good sale ($1 a pound or cheaper). So read the ads!

My thoughts for you are to buy whole chickens when they're on sale (HEB sells them as cheap as 88 cents/lb.) Cook 2 chickens at a time and then prepare meals with the cooked meat:
- tacos -- reheat meat in a skillet with salsa on top. Meat soaks up salsa flavor. Make tacos/nachos
- fried rice -- rice is cheap. Find recipes online. Toss in a handfull or two of meat into your rice along with frozen peas, chopped carrot, egg
- chicken salad sandwiches -- eggs are cheap. Hard boiled eggs, chicken, celery, pickles, mayo, other favorite ingredients. Put on bread. Easy. Good in fridge for a few days.
- rice, chicken, and beans. Good protein. Toss in some cooked veggies. I like to get a can of Ranch Style Beans.The sauce in the can kinda helps coat the rice and give it more flavor and act like a 'glue' to blend the meat, rice, and chicken.

Last week HEB had their chicken fajita meat on sale for $5/5lbs. Basically they have large packages of meat, some are 4 lbs, some are 5. We cut it up raw and throw it in a skillet. Make tacos/nachos out of it. Very tasty meat. We bought 5 packages. Yes I get a litle bored, but I change it up and do tacos, then nachos, have ranch style beans with it one night, then refried beans with it the next. We eat other food inbetween packages of whatever we bought on sale.

And as for beans go, pour the bag of beans onto the counter and search for rocks (they get in there sometimes). Put beans (I have only cooked black, so will tell you how I cook my black beans) in a pot and cover with LOTS of water. Do this before bed and let it set overnight. Next morning, drain water. Rinse beans. Put fresh water in there with salt. In a skillet, sautee bacon, onion, and jalepeno. Pour this into your pot of beans. Cook until beans are done. I can't remember how long. Depends on how high you set your temp. I think on medium/low, it takes 3 hours or so? I have opted to buy canned beans, as cooking them on my own wasn't worth the effort. A few cents more to buy a can was worth it for us.

I know there are tons more recipes out there for beans, especially cooking them in a crock pot. Sometimes HEB sells hams real cheap ($1.19/lb). We bought two of these. THey last a long time. You could make a very healthy bean & ham soup/stew in your crock pot. Very good protein. We would make split pea soup also (very easy). The rest of the ham we made sandwiches out of. We made fried rice with ham instead of chicken.

I'm a real frugal shopper. If you have more questions don't hesitate to message me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I'd recommend looking on Oprah's website of all things. She has done a couple of shows lately (one being Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show) regarding that exact issue.

In my house, growing-up, we did a lot of much pasta I hate it as an adult. But, we always had a fresh vegetable or fruit on the side to help make it healthy. Frozen veggies are great.

I'd also recommend using a place like Sam's Club/Costco for your shopping. The fresh fruits/veggies are much less expensive than grocery stores, you can purchase large quantities of meat and freeze them for much less.

Good luck! I hope your husband finds work again soon. I was there last year, and it's really scary.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Beans and rice are a great idea. To make the beans, you need to soak them overnite. Just make sure to cover them with at least 2 inches of water. I drain mine and rinse (supposedly makes them less gassy). I like to cook mine in a crock pot. You will have more than enough for two meals - I like to freeze half of mine. One of my favorite dishes is called "Apple Bean jumble". It has pinto beans, diced apples and diced green peppers (kindof a sweet 'n sour bean recipe). What I do sometimes is serve a side of beans along with a smaller portion of meat. And, as you've already figured out, chili is good because you can make a bean only one or just add 1/4-1/2 lb of ground meat to stretch the meat. Also, make sure to use a variety of beans so your family doesn't get tired of the same ones. Bean soup is great - I add some ham when I make it for flavor. Stir fries are also a good way to stretch meat and really healthy. I just use a sliced chicken breast and lots of different veggies - peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. Also, buying things like PB and J in bulk at Sam's club (or Costco) will save you money. For packaged goods, you might consider Subscribe & Save from Amazon. You get an additional 15% off your order and while you have to indicate a re-order date, you get an email ahead of time and can always cancel or change the frequency. Also, boxed cereals are a total ripoff. Consider buying oatmeal in bulk and serving that for breakfast. And, consider that fruits like bananas are quite cheap per serving. Also, if you buy whole pineapples (Costco has them for $1.99), you get alot of fruit for the $. And, right now is a great time to start a home garden - we ate fresh veggies from our garden everynite for dinner all last summer (June-August).

I have also lost my job (I'm a single parent) and have decided that I'll stick with some of my cost cutting choices even after I get a job. Although, I do continue to buy organic as I do not think you can put a price on good health. Have you considered cancelling your cable TV service, evaluating your cellphone plan, curtailing some of your kids expenses (e.g., dance/music lessons) etc.? I feel very fortunate to have raised frugal sons - they go to the library for books and DVDs and CDs about every two weeks. So, we have almost entirely cut out those expenses.

Another area where you can save is to totally eliminate buying commercial home cleaning products - you can clean almost anything in your home with white vinegar and baking soda, which can be bought at Sam's in bulk.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Rinse and cover with several inches of water in a pot that seems maybe a little large for what you have. Cook on medium heat for about 3 hour with garlic and salt

make refried beans tostadas with chicken
tostadas with beans and chesse
nachos (corn tortillas fried with chesse and beans)

try to go buy veggies and fruit places like fiesta supermarket,el rancho supermarket .



answers from New York on

I find that I could get 3 meals from a Purdue oven stuffer. The first was the chicken itself. The next was using some of the leftover chicken to make fatitas The 3rd was a big pot of soup.

We alway buy a large porkloin. At BJ's it's usually $1.99/lb. Keep in mind that other than a very small layer of fat, its all etible. You can make a roast, cut it for pork chops, or cut small cubes for a stir fry.

Stir fry is good. You can use whatever type of meat or vegetables you have on hand. I don't have any type of recipe that I follow. I use a wok, but you can use a large fry pan, start by cooking onions in some vegetable oil then throw in the meat and continue stirring until meat is almost done (usually 5 minutes) throw in your vegetables and whatever seasoning you like. Garlic, ginger and peper are good choices. You can use a jarred sauce, or I make my own by mixing water, corn starch and soy sauce together. Bring to a boil and it will begin to thicken.

Now may be a great time to think about starting a vegetable garden.

Eggs make a quiche. If you make your own crust and just use what ever you have on hand it's not very expensive. Here's the recipe from the Frugal Gourmet
1 lb vegetables (hint - remove as much moisture as possible when using mushrooms or spinish) - (use whatever you have on hand, one of our favorites is onion and bacon, a large onion sauted and a few strips of cooked bacon with cheddar cheese)
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs beaten (leaving them at room temp works best)
3/4 cup cream (I only use 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 lb cheese (you can use less)
salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the crust, prick with fork cover with waxed paper or alumimun foil (I don't like using waxed paper it leaves an unpleasant odor), fill with dried beans (to weigh it down and prevent bubbling) bake for 12 minutes at 400.
Saute the vegetables, put the vegetables in the crust. Mix eggs, milk, cream and seasoning together and pour over veggies. Top with cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 375.

French toast.

Pasta is inexpensive (when bought on sale) and goes a long way.

Good luck.



answers from Austin on

We are super broke, too. I buy the bags of chicken (check the price per pound) frozen and use those for crock pot meals. Whole chicken is really easy. I'd stick with the smaller ones, they have more white meat and less extra skin.
I loooove red beans and rice. Lots of easy recipes for this online (I use a crockpot, but then I'm obsessed.) Add some hot sauce for the adults and sausage.
Eggs, eggs and more eggs. Scrambled, toad-in-a-hole style, however. Serve with toast or a tortilla for breakfast tacos.
Sandwiches. Canned soup.
Watch the HEB ads, they have been really good for chicken lately. Also, pair up coupons with what is already on special. EX: HEB buy coffee get creamer free. I used a coupon to buy the coffee and saved over 4$.
There are lots of coupon sites. Use them wisely, though, and don't buy anything that is still more expensive than the house brand.
One of my DH's favorite recipe's is "goulash". 1lb of ground beef, onion and a can of chopped tomatoes. Add some egg noodles and it will feed 4 people for about 5 dollars. CHeck out this website:
Good luck! It will turn around.....



answers from Dallas on

I'm very sorry about the lost of your husband's job. When I cook white beans (northern beans) and ham, I soak the beans overnight and cook them in chicken stock, it adds tons of flavor. You can also use the water/stock if you boil a whole chicken, as stated in one of the early responses. Personally, I wouldn't/don't add the ham bone, it's way to greasy. I just use big pieces of ham with the browned skin for flavor.



answers from Columbus on

To prepare dry beans, sort them first and take out any broken, discolored, or rocks! Rinse them, then cover with water and soak them over night, or for 4-8 hours. Rinse again, and cover with several inches of water in a pot that seems maybe a little large for what you have. Cook on low heat for several hours, coverd, and keep a close watch on them until you get the hang of just the right amount of water to beans ratio so that they do not burn.

We eat a lot of pinto beans that I season with just a teaspoon of bacon drippings, garlic and salt to taste. You can also do white or great northern beans with a ham bone, which is great when you can find a ham on sale, or in a pinch you can get a ham steak (small and cheap, but not as cheap as a ham bone.) Make a pan of corn bread from scratch (really easy and cheap) and you have a meal for both. Rice and beans together are a complete protien, but we add a little cheese, chopped onion, canned green chillis to top as well to keep this from being boring.

Hams and Turkeys are acutally great money savers, you need to find them on sale, and they may cost more up front, but you get many meals for the price. After you cook a turkey or whole chicken, boil the bones and make stock for soup-yet another meal from one purchase.

Save all the leftover veggies you have a the end of meal time in one ziplock bag that you keep in the freezer, add the little bit left everyday, and in a couple of weeks you have enough to put in a soup. You would be surprised what you can sneek into the soup that no one will notice...

Now is the time to plant some veggies, like lettuce, tomatos, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and green beans- these will go a long way in the near future to cheap and healthy meals. You don't need much, just some seeds (or seedlings) and some determination.


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