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  #1  
Old 04-11-2008, 06:14 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Poor people food (for food snobs)

There is, I kid you not, cheesy lentil bake in the oven.

How did it come to this?

I have got to stop spending money. We have got to stop eating out. We have also got to start eating from the pantry instead of hitting the grocery store for fancy expensive ingredients. But I don't wanna!

I need recipes for cheap (but fresh and tasty and unprocessed!) food a man will eat too. I have this More With Less cookbook that makes me feel like a dumpster diver who doesn't deserve to have meat and cheese, like, together. Unfortunately, like most cookbooks, it lacks a review mechanism like Allrecipes has. I fear for the cheesy lentil bake. Especially since my onions were rotten and I'm going to throw in some frozen soup vegetables because I don't have anything fresh in the fridge. Don't ask me why I seem to have at some point purchased a bag of soup vegetables that includes frozen tomatoes, because it's weirding me out.

The thing is, I cook a lot. I love food. We eat out all the time. I do hate coming home after work and having to cook some depressing lentil thing (nothing against lentils in general), and I'm not good at eating leftovers. I also have trouble with going to the grocery store and spending a bunch of money on one awesome dinner, and then not eating the leftovers. (Trying to do the once a week grocery shopping thing, and I've been doing that Grocery Game stock up coupon thing, but it's not my habit.)

I don't mind recipes that take a long time - I really love all-day stuff, but it isn't practical for coming home after work. I do have a fancy fuzzy logic rice cooker, a pressure cooker, and a crock pot. I hate nasty meat. I don't want to see uggy bits of fat hanging out on my dinner, but I also don't mind doing a bit of prep work. Generally speaking I don't mind, like, cutting up a whole chicken - but it really seems like we never actually eat the dark parts. Also, I know a lot about cooking - this isn't a new college kid "what do I do with this strange raw meat?" thing. In May I'll start getting boxes of random seasonal produce from a farm share.

Ideally I'd like good dependable recipes I can make with pantry stuff - things go bad a lot at my house because I'm flighty and don't stick to my plans very well. I'd also like help with leftovers and weekly menu planning so things WON'T go bad. (This is cooking for two - me and Himself.) And freezer cooking.

Update - I just stirred the lentil bake. Yeah, it looks like you think it does.
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2008, 06:34 PM
HongKongFooey HongKongFooey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
cheap (but fresh and tasty and unprocessed!) food a man will eat too.
My wife and I make Shepherd's Pie in double batches, one to eat, one to freeze. Definitely fills the above criteria. For quick lunches we make spaghetti with olive oil and fresh Parmesan - Parmesan cheese is the one "expensive" ingredient we always have on hand, the kids love it. A few herb plants are cheap to buy and easy to maintain so you can have fresh basil, etc all the time.
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2008, 06:42 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I do have fresh herbs around, and a huge collection of excellent Penzey's spices, FYI. We do angel hair with butter and parm/asiago sometimes.
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  #4  
Old 04-11-2008, 06:52 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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You have a crockpot and a pressure cooker. That's all you need for wonderful, cheap food. Think stews, soups and chilis. Cheap cuts of beef and whole chickens cook up wonderfully in these devices. Start hitting the local farm stands for fresh vegetables. Hit Costco for massive amounts of chick and beef. Break out the Penzey's, and go to town.

For really good, really cheap recipes, ask around your local church Ladies Group or local bookstore for locally-produced cookbooks. I have a couple my mother gave me that are 50-60 years old, and the recipes are still just as tasty as they were then (good and bad). Modernize them to your liking with spices. Or dig out the recipe books that say things like "Italian Country Cooking" on the cover.

Make large batches and freeze whenever possible. I don't recall if S.C. has Trader Joe's, but wine adds so much to a dish, and Two-Buck Chuck won't break the bank when you cook with it.
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  #5  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:03 PM
krisolov krisolov is offline
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I'll offer a classic bean and meat dish named by my daughter. It's highly adaptable, does well cooked briefly or for a long period of time, and has beer in it. The possibilities are left to you.

Jail Food

2 cans beans, any type (pinto, black, black eyed peas, red, kidney, etc…)
1 pkg sausage or ground turkey, seasoned liberally
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 onions, chopped small
1-2 bay leaves
½ green or sweet red pepper chopped small (optional)
1 bottle beer

Spice mix- up to ½ tsp each of
Paprika
Chili powder
Cumin
Thyme
Oregano
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Old Bay or Cajun seasoning

Brown meat in saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic and cook over medium until vegetables are softened. Add beans, spices and beer. Simmer for 30 minutes or all day, adding liquids and spices as desired
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  #6  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:04 PM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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I had a financial crisis a couple of years back and had to start cooking on the cheep (after I realized I couldn't actually live on raman noodles). I made a simple cheep menu for me and my then girlfriend (now soon to be wife) to help get us through. It is flexible and all the ingediants play off each other so you don't have to do a lot of expensive grocery trips.


Ok, this first one doesn't 100% meet your criteria, because it requiers Kraft Mac and cheese, but I spent a good bit of time in 2006 with almost no money and the following is tastey, fast, filling, surprisingly nutritious, and (if you use coupons) you can feed 4 people with it for about $3.50 and have leftovers.

White Trash Caserole:
1 box Kraft Mac and Cheese delux (with the cheese pouch, not the powdered cheese mix)
2-4 cans tuna fish (depenind on how you much food you want)
any veggies you like (fresh or frozen, no canned veggies)

I think bell peppers, pea's, onions, chopped carrots, and brocoli are what I put in most nights. I fequently just used a frozen vegetable medly or two.

Make the mac and cheese per box instructions. before you add the cheese drain the tuna and add to taste. If veggies are fresh add them now, if frozen cook them with the pasta.

Add the pouch cheese. If you like it spicy add franks red hot sauce.

It's crazy good, I promise.




Mexican food is fantastic, fast and cheep too.

A can of pinto beans or black beans and a couple of cups of rice cooked in chicken broth instead of water with your favorite salsa stirred in is great.

I then would make burritos for days.

Burritos
Mean of your choice
Rice (premade see above)
Beans 1 can
Veggies (bell peppers, onions, garlic)
Cayan Pepper
Cheese (optional)
1 can of tomatos
Flour burrito tortillas

Get your biggest pan and cook the meat in an approriate fashion (depending on the type of meat) with tomatoes. Add Veggies, add beans and tomatos. Add rice. Stir well. If too juicy at this point drain liquid and save for later. Add cheese and cayan to taste.

I think the above could be made for as little as $4 with coupons.


Enchiladas are great too:
I make them pancake style instead of rolled because it is faster. It's also a different feel.

Vegetable oil (NOT OLIVE OIL)
corn tortillas
shredded cheese of your choosing
grilled chicken (optional)
Red Ranchero Enchilada sauce that you love (I like old el paso, but whatever)
fried egg (you heard me)
Onions


Ok so you slice and clairfy the onions (save some choped but uncooked for garnish) and you get the enchilada sauce boiling hot. Preheat your oven to 200.

You then take your oil and put about 1/4 inch into a pan (wear an apron). Take tongs and lighly (lightly) fry the tortilla. Dunk the tortilla (with the tongs) into the boiling enchilada sauce and place on a warm serving plate. Onions on top of the tortilla. Cheese (and chicken if you want) on top of the onions.

Repeat with another tortilla. Fry, dunk, stack tortilla on top of the cheesey tortilla, onions cheese. I would say 3 tortillas worth is going to be a lot of food for an average hungry adult.

For the last tortilla do not put onion on only cheese (no chicken either) ad place an over easy/medium egg on top. Cover with more cheese and stick into a 200 degree oven until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and place just a small amount of enchilada sauce on top of the whole thing and a little raw chopped onion.

Serve.

No leftovers, but I am guessing you can get a more traditional enchilada recipie for that.

Total cost for the meal (maybe) $5 if enchelada sauce is expensive. Serve with a side of beans and or rice if you really want to.


Pasta is always fast, cheep and easy. Especially if you make it all about the sauce.
I would give you a recipie, but honest to god I don't really know what I do. I take a jar of plain sauce and add stuff till it tastes right. Usually I add cayane, oregeno, half a head of garlic, a whole onion (both chopped and sweated until they are sweet) some grilled chicked, salt and pepper and a bit of red wine. Play with it, you can't really go wrong.


Also, seach for the old crockpot threads. There are some great cheep and easy recipies in there too.

Hope this helps. I lived off the above menu for about 5 months back when I was a struggling artist and I had about $50 a month total to feed 2 people on. It can be done.

Last edited by NAF1138; 04-11-2008 at 07:07 PM..
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  #7  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:07 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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The crockpot is your friend. The rice cooker can be a good buddy, too. Not eating leftovers is not your friend. Try packing them immediately either into work lunches or single/double serve freezer portions. Then they take the place of convenience foods, and any home cooking usually compares well to those.

You didn't use the rotten onions, did you? If you did, my advice, based on previous gastronomic/gastrointestinal experience, is don't eat the lentil bake.

I have the More with Less cookbook, too. I haven't made a ton of stuff out of there, but don't recall any disasters. If you have the luxury of adding good spices and olive oil to the recipes, I expect you'll get pretty good results.
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  #8  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:11 PM
Ace309 Ace309 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAF1138
Enchiladas are great too:
... No leftovers, but I am guessing you can get a more traditional enchilada recipie for that.
Easiest way is to layer the tortillas in a casserole dish and stack them like lasagna, but otherwise follow the recipe. Easy as hell.
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:12 PM
DoperChic DoperChic is online now
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Here's one that my family loves. I've got a fairly picky husband, so if he likes this, it's gotta be good.

Chicken, Rice, and Peas

Ingredients
  • 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast ($1.99 on sale)
  • 1 Box Rice Pilaf ($1 for store brand)
  • 1/2 Cup Instant Brown Rice ($.50)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas ($.50)
  • 2 Cups Water (free )
  • Soy Sauce (next to nothing per serving)
Directions
  1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces (scissors work well for this)
  2. Put all ingredients except for the soy sauce into a large casserole dish
  3. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed
  4. Top with soy sauce to taste

Makes about 4-6 servings at about $1 or less per serving.
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:15 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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This is a pretty cool website. You click on what you already have in the fridge or cupboard, and it suggests recipes.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:16 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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This is a pretty cool website. You click on what you already have in the fridge or cupboard, and it suggests recipes.

http://www.sogoodblog.com/2008/01/25...ng-by-numbers/
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  #12  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:28 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry
The crockpot is your friend. The rice cooker can be a good buddy, too. Not eating leftovers is not your friend. Try packing them immediately either into work lunches or single/double serve freezer portions. Then they take the place of convenience foods, and any home cooking usually compares well to those.

You didn't use the rotten onions, did you? If you did, my advice, based on previous gastronomic/gastrointestinal experience, is don't eat the lentil bake.

I have the More with Less cookbook, too. I haven't made a ton of stuff out of there, but don't recall any disasters. If you have the luxury of adding good spices and olive oil to the recipes, I expect you'll get pretty good results.
Oh, no, no! God no! We did not eat the rotten onions.

The lentil bake was... both better and worse than I expected. Better because since I added a bunch of tasty spices the flavor was pretty good. Worse because the lentils were kind of... crunchy. Himself said "This is good, but it's like something you'd get at somebody else's house. You know, when somebody else's mom cooks it and it's not anything like what you eat at home." He was, as usual, dead on.

Unfortunately, because I have an AWESOME tuna casserole, he will not eat canned/pouched tuna. (He only gave tuna steaks a try because I didn't tell him what they were.) Even albacore, he just gets turned off by the smell.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2008, 07:34 PM
Thorium Indium Potassium Thorium Indium Potassium is offline
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Pot Roast

2 lb of chuck roast
2 large cans of whole tomatoes
1 thingy of celery, cut up
1 onion, cut up
1 bag of carrots
1 package of onion soup mix.
3 large idaho potatoes

Dump them all (not potatoes) into a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. 30 minutes before being done, throw a few potatoes in a pot and make mashed potatoes.


Red pepper and sausage pasta

1 lb of pasta
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 regular sized can of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
2 red bell peppers
1 onion
1 package of italian sausage
Various spices - oregano, garlic, whatever tastes good.

Cut veggies and sausage - saute until no more pink in sausage. Dump in tomatoes and add spices.

Both of these recipes make a ton of food, which makes them really great for freezing. Plus, chuck roast and canned tomatoes are often on sale.
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  #14  
Old 04-11-2008, 08:58 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Location: SW Side, Chicago
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When I didn't have a lot of money available, there always were cheap and elegant options available: whole roast chicken with roasted root vegetables (total maybe $5-$6 to feed at least two people--what food snob doesn't eat the dark parts? That's the best part!), slow cooked stews made from tough and cheap cuts of meat (pork shoulder, beef brisket, pot roast, etc.), lots of stuff with smoked meats and legumes or potatoes. You can cook A LOT of great food for not a lot of money.

Here's a recent thread on pulled pork. For $15 or so, you can feed a couple of people for the better part of a week. And it freezes wonderfully, so if you don't like eating the same thing three days in a row (and I don't either), put it away and you'll be able to enjoy the same pork goodness for at least two months.

Here's my recipe for chicken paprikash, and here's another one for beef goulash with spaetzle. These can be considered downright elegant in certain circles. Once again, you can feed yourself silly for about $10 or so.

Eastern European peasant food is always good for this sort of stuff.

Who doesn't like bean soup? Get some dried navy beans, onion, and a hunk of smoked meat of your choice, and you're on your way to some great soup. Scroll down to "US Senate Bean Soup" for the basic recipe I use. Sometimes I'll add a rib or two of celery and/or carrot as well. But the recipe as is is great. Ham hocks are my preference, but I've also made this soup with smoked turkey leg as well. Use whatever well-smoked piece of meat you can find for a good price.

Basically, anything involving tougher cuts of meat, root vegetables, legumes, and pasta will do well in keeping the budget down.
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  #15  
Old 04-12-2008, 11:14 AM
Hey, It's That Guy! Hey, It's That Guy! is offline
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I notice you mentioned having a large collection of Penzey's spices. Those cost an arm and a leg, and even though I really enjoy cooking, there's no way I can justify those when I can buy grocery store spices for so much less money. It's just a matter of setting priorities -- slashing your budget in some areas may add to it in others. Look for sales and deals, too. I eat a lot of pasta, but I stock up on it when any brand goes on sale for two pounds for $1 (as opposed to the usual one pound for $1), and I buy multiple jars of Classico pasta sauce (usually $2.70 each) when they run a "buy one, get one free" deal, to avoid having to eat Ragu or the store brand.
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  #16  
Old 04-12-2008, 11:45 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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For more affordable but still good spices, Whole Foods lets you buy just what you need by weight. You also aren't paying for packaging every time.
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  #17  
Old 04-12-2008, 11:55 AM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I eat a lot of pasta, but I stock up on it when any brand goes on sale for two pounds for $1 (as opposed to the usual one pound for $1), and I buy multiple jars of Classico pasta sauce (usually $2.70 each) when they run a "buy one, get one free" deal, to avoid having to eat Ragu or the store brand.
I agree with you on the pasta thing. And while I think Classico makes a great sauce if you can afford it (4 cheese in particular) I think you can get great results buy buying cheep generic sauce and adding to it. If you think of the cheep sauce as a base and add some red wine and spices and other tasteyness you can end up with a better sauce for the same price or less.
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  #18  
Old 04-12-2008, 12:09 PM
Ludy Ludy is offline
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Spices are your friend.

When I was strapped for cash I would get a can of tomatoes, and whatever veg was in the freezer or fridge put them all together in a pot and experiment with spices. If I was feeling particularly energetic I would fry up some flatbread as well.

You said that you can cook, so use this as a way to make your own recipes. Some of my best meals have been from just looking at what I had and experimenting.

Sure, some meals won't be great, but you can discover some great combinations doing this.
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  #19  
Old 04-12-2008, 01:12 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 30,168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I notice you mentioned having a large collection of Penzey's spices. Those cost an arm and a leg, and even though I really enjoy cooking, there's no way I can justify those when I can buy grocery store spices for so much less money.
And even grocery store spices are way overpriced, for the most part. Add to that they're also not terribly good half the time. If you live in a town with any sort of Middle Eastern or Asian ethnic population, go down to one of the local shops and you can get practically sacks of spice for what you'd pay for at the typical grocery. (For example, I have a half pound of cloves, and they only cost me two dollars. To contrast, if you buy in bulk, a pound of McCormick's cloves costs around $25.) And they're quite often of much better quality.
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  #20  
Old 04-12-2008, 02:00 PM
Hey, It's That Guy! Hey, It's That Guy! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
And even grocery store spices are way overpriced, for the most part. Add to that they're also not terribly good half the time. If you live in a town with any sort of Middle Eastern or Asian ethnic population, go down to one of the local shops and you can get practically sacks of spice for what you'd pay for at the typical grocery. (For example, I have a half pound of cloves, and they only cost me two dollars. To contrast, if you buy in bulk, a pound of McCormick's cloves costs around $25.) And they're quite often of much better quality.
I've read that spices occasionally get "stale," or lose some of their flavor if they sit around too long. I go through things like garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil quite regularly, but I've had the same little containers of ginger and curry powder for a year or two, and would hate to end up wasting larger quantities.
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  #21  
Old 04-12-2008, 02:08 PM
Pixilated Pixilated is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
I have got to stop spending money. We have got to stop eating out. We have also got to start eating from the pantry instead of hitting the grocery store for fancy expensive ingredients. But I don't wanna!

IMO, as long as you have this outlook you wont be successful. You need to make up your mind if saving money is important to you, or if your "snobbishness" overrules.
There are some really good recipes out there that are inexpensive, you just have to be disciplined.

When my kids were young, I had a budget of $150 max a month to feed the kids & buy formula/diapers & whatnot (I was that broke & refused to live off the state), but I did it without killing anyone.

Use your spices & tenderizers & pick food items that are versatile. A large roast breaks down by making shephards pie (or a beef potpie) with the meat & veggie leftover, and save part of it to shred up and make bbq beef sandwhiches.

I used to keep a couple of cans of beer on hand for tenderizer.... and I love beercheese soup/sauce (is really good on pasta or rice)!

Rice is a good filler - you can add veggies for a stirfry, or sauce for a meatless dish or all for a casserole.

Another big saver for me at the time was mixing a mid-lean ground beef with ground turkey & buying in bulk - mix the two then seperate & freeze what you arent planning to use w/in the next couple of days.

Onions - chop some, slice some, & throw in the freezer before they go bad. Same thing with just about any fresh veggie (carrots, peppers, etc)

Fruits - before they go bad, slice/chop and throw in the freezer. In the summertime they make a cool semi-frozen dessert & the juices when it thaws is yummy.

Once a month i would spend a full weekend with the kids cooking/prep. We made our own tortillas, breads, dinners, etc that could be frozen. This was our family time & we made it fun - not work.

It wasnt easy - but getting over the mindset of not having a chef and wait staff and knowing your laziness can only max out at sitting down while you're chopping or kneading away.... well, get over it and bring out your inner chef and bask in the glory of what you accomplish (and I dont mean the money aspect).
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  #22  
Old 04-12-2008, 02:11 PM
Miss Purl McKnittington Miss Purl McKnittington is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2002
I make fajitas with just peppers and onions and without meat, and they're just as good. No, really! Add beans and rice for protein. Three peppers (red, green, yellow) and an onion will feed three college girls with leftovers, so that ought to cover two people fine. I think the last time I did that, I spent around six bucks, but that was winter prices for peppers and I bought fancy tortillas and black bean salsa.

Save the dark meat on the chicken and the carcass and make chicken soup or chicken salad sandwiches. You might want to take a gander at the rubber chicken recipe. I'm sure you have the cookery skills and imagination to think up different ways to implement the theory.

If you at all have a green thumb, you might want to consider planting a couple tomato plants. It would cost you less than $10 now, but for a couple months this summer, you won't even have to consider buying tomatoes. Or you can do cherry tomatoes in a pot on your patio, if you don't have a yard or room for a garden.
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  #23  
Old 04-12-2008, 02:20 PM
Hey, It's That Guy! Hey, It's That Guy! is offline
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I actually think boneless skinless chicken thighs taste better than chicken breasts, and they're often cheaper, especially if you buy large quantities and end up freezing some. Where does the dark meat hate come from?
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  #24  
Old 04-12-2008, 03:23 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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For those reading this outside North America, a Crock Pot® is a brand of slow cooker.
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  #25  
Old 04-12-2008, 03:27 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I've read that spices occasionally get "stale," or lose some of their flavor if they sit around too long. I go through things like garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil quite regularly, but I've had the same little containers of ginger and curry powder for a year or two, and would hate to end up wasting larger quantities.
I was going to make a note about that. You can keep whole spices for up to 2 years in a cool dry place without much loss of flavor. However, you don't have to buy 1/2 pound at a time if you don't want to. A lot of these sorts of places will just sell it in bulk. By 1/4 pound if you need to. Or less.

Even so, 1/2 pound of whole cloves costs less than less than an ounce of McCormick's whole cloves, so it works out cheaper that way, too. If you're worried about the waste and can't buy in bulk, find some friends to split them with.
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  #26  
Old 04-12-2008, 03:32 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenoraGO
Pot Roast

2 lb of chuck roast
2 large cans of whole tomatoes
1 thingy of celery, cut up
1 onion, cut up
1 bag of carrots
1 package of onion soup mix.
3 large idaho potatoes

Dump them all (not potatoes) into a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. 30 minutes before being done, throw a few potatoes in a pot and make mashed potatoes.
"Rib" of celery.

I have a similar Crock Pot Roast recipe:

One roast
Two cans of Campbell's Beefy Mushroom or Golden Mushroom Soup, undiluted
One package onion soup mix

Throw it all in the crock pot in the morning, and by the time you come home it will be ready. Add some mashed potatoes (instant, if you must) and green beans and you will have a hearty meal with its own gravy.
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  #27  
Old 04-12-2008, 05:53 PM
Alias Alias is offline
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Eating on the cheap can be really easy if you have a few good cookbooks, and possibly some relatives you can get old standby recipes from. These two come from my grandmother.

"Tuna stuff" on biscuits is a regular at our house.

Make biscuits (from scratch, mix, or refrigerated dough). Set aside.

Mix together:
2 cans drained cans of tuna fish
1 can of cream of celery (or cream of mushroom) soup
1/2 cup of milk
Frozen peas to taste.

Heat this mixture together either on the stove top or in the microwave. Serve over biscuits. YUM. Instant comfort food.

A quick salmon loaf can be very nice and it's really easy to make too. I don't have any exact measurements for this recipe, so you might have to experiment a little.
Mix together a can of salmon, some cooked rice, chopped celery, onions and garlic. Mix in an egg to hold it all together and put it all in a loaf pan. Bake it in the oven at 350 for awhile covered in foil. When it's a little crispy on top, take off the foil, and sprinkle it with cheddar cheese. Put back in the oven until the cheese melts. Enjoy.

Also, do you get a weekly circular with your newspaper that tells you what's going to be on sale at your local grocery stores? If you do, you can frequently tailor your menu to what's on sale. It saves more than you think. Also, keeping your pantry stocked with staples like rice, pasta, onions, garlic, canned veggies, herbs, and spices makes cooking much easier, cheaper, and enjoyable. It also helps eliminate those mad dashes to the store when you don't have something for a recipe.

Last edited by Alias; 04-12-2008 at 05:54 PM.. Reason: Clarification
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  #28  
Old 04-12-2008, 06:04 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass

One roast
Two cans of Campbell's Beefy Mushroom or Golden Mushroom Soup, undiluted
One package onion soup mix
I use roughly the same essentials, but I coat the roast in a mix of flower, fresh ground pepper and kosher salt - then brown it on the stove-top in unsalted butter. Further I DO dilute the mushroom/onion soup mix - with about two cups or thereabouts of white wine ( any will do ). More and ( IMHO ) better gravy.

'course I don't use ( or own ) a crockpot. Just a big enamalized stewing pot in the oven.
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  #29  
Old 04-12-2008, 06:08 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Where does the dark meat hate come from?
Marketing, I think. Somehow, white meat has become synonymous with quality. Don't ask me why, because it tastes like unidentifiable animal protein to me with the way battery farmed American chickens taste. (Don't get me wrong, I like breast meat for certain applications, but I wouldn't accuse the average domestic chicken of having any flavor. I hate to say this, but I often feel like we've forgotten what real food is supposed to taste like. But that's a discussion for another thread.)
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  #30  
Old 04-12-2008, 07:56 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Learn to love chicken thighs. Seriously.

They are massively cheaper than breast meat (over here at least) and if you get the skinless ones, they're relatively low-fat, and they have so much more flavour. Especially if you're making soup or stock with them.
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  #31  
Old 04-12-2008, 08:03 PM
Mahna Mahna Mahna Mahna is offline
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The Boy and I are both obsessive foodies, but even with our occasional splurges on expensive free-range meats or organic ingredients, we're rarely over $150 a month for the two of us.

I agree, meat can be expensive, but there's no reason to do without. I'm not sure if you have a large freezer, but those tend to be a godsend when you're pinching pennies because this gives you the option to stock up when a good sale comes along or to take advantage of the giant-sized Costco meat offerings.

You'll save even more if you buy large cuts of meat and then do some of the butchering yourself - I've gotten entire pork loins on sale at Costco for about $10 apiece, which with a wee bit of work can be transformed into chops or roasts or a combination thereof. I also do the same with eye of round, which you can buy in large pieces and then cut into smaller roasts (it's absolutely delicious if you cook it this way ) And like others have said - don't fear the dark meat... it really is much tastier than the rubbery bland chicken breasts.

Beans and lentils can be your friends. I can't say I'd ever try Cheesy Lentil Bake (it sounds scary)... but lentil soup and lentils with sausage are both staples in our house. Add a piece of crusty bread and you've got a nice filling meal for cheap. I quite like white bean and kale soup as well - with or without sausage.

Stick to eating fruits and veg that are in season - they're much cheaper than the out-of-season imports, not to mention tastier. The farm share box sounds like it'll be a fantastic idea... occasionally, you may find yourself holding something very strange, but don't be afraid of hopping online to ask people for suggestions on how to serve kohlrabi or celeriac. You may still need to supplement with extra stuff, but if that's the case, I would suggest finding a reliable greengrocer - in my experience, they're often half the price of the large supermarket chains.
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  #32  
Old 04-12-2008, 08:13 PM
Renee Renee is offline
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Have you made no-knead bread yet? http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

It's the most gourmet looking and tasting stuff in the world, and it costs next to nothing to make. It will fancy up any meal, and make you look like you spent hours slaving in the kitchen when, in fact, it took all of five minutes to throw together. You must try it.
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  #33  
Old 04-12-2008, 09:02 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahna Mahna
or to take advantage of the giant-sized Costco meat offerings.
I was reluctant at first, but I must say Costco has surprisingly decent meat.
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  #34  
Old 04-15-2008, 07:23 PM
ForumBot ForumBot is offline
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I, too, don't see why you have to give up meat. You simply have to change your way of thinking of meat from the American style "meat with green shit next to it" mindset. Think of beef, pork, and chicken as their own flavors and ingredients like bell peppers and onions. Start butterflying those chicken breasts--the ones you get in the supermarket are HUGE. I can't eat more than half a breast in one meal that I combine with all sorts of vegetables, and I spend quite a lot of time in the gym and need protein like most people need water.

Got a vaccuum sealer someone gave you and you don't know what to do with? Splurge and pick up the largest quantity of beef, chicken, fish, or whatever, and cut it down to individual portions yourself and freeze them. Your wallet will hurt from the initial bump, but it seriously pays off in the long run. And, you always have some form of meat to throw together into a meal if you've got veggies lying around about to go bad and don't feel like running to the store.

Screw everyone else who thinks chicken breasts are bland. You're just overcooking them. The trick to grilling chicken breasts is to heat up a pan as hot as you can stand it, drop a little clarified butter in it and sear both sides for about a minute each, then finish in the oven at 500 degrees for five or so minutes. I make the best grilled chicken I've ever eaten, and it is anything but bland.
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  #35  
Old 04-15-2008, 08:54 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForumBot
Screw everyone else who thinks chicken breasts are bland. You're just overcooking them.
Ummm...no. I know how to cook a chicken breast so it's still juicy inside, thankyouverymuch. Compared to thigh, breast is, indeed bland from the typical battery farmed chicken. It's not the cooking method. I've had very good breast from farm-raised free-range chickens (my mother's family grew up on a farm), and that chicken breast actually has flavor.

I'm sure your grilled chicken is delicious. I make grilled chicken breast too, and it tastes fine. But compared with dark meat, breast meat is bland.
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  #36  
Old 04-15-2008, 09:05 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Okay, I remembered why I don't eat much dark meat.

It's freaking gross! It's full of nasty bunches of chicken fat and veins and crap! Seriously, is there anything nastier than working with raw chicken? The parts that are good are indeed tastier, but mostly it isn't those parts.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:30 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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Overnight Casserole

2 cups chopped chicken, ham, beef, tuna, or whatever
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth(bouillon will do)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Let set in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

If you want to spring for extra ingredients, a little can of drained chopped pimientos. Seasonings can be varied. This recipe is great because it is so simple.

Last edited by Baker; 04-15-2008 at 09:33 PM..
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  #38  
Old 04-16-2008, 12:22 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Seriously, is there anything nastier than working with raw chicken?
Calamari.
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  #39  
Old 04-16-2008, 12:23 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Okay, I remembered why I don't eat much dark meat.

It's freaking gross! It's full of nasty bunches of chicken fat and veins and crap! Seriously, is there anything nastier than working with raw chicken? The parts that are good are indeed tastier, but mostly it isn't those parts.
If that sort of thing bothers you, get the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They don't have veins or cartilage or anything like that. (Or perhaps I just don't notice, since I like chicken fat and nothing pleases me more than eating a chicken straight off the bone.)
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  #40  
Old 04-16-2008, 07:00 AM
DangleYourModifier DangleYourModifier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
For those reading this outside North America, a Crock Pot® is a brand of slow cooker.
Thanks, I was about to look that up. Not exactly what I thought it was. My thinking was along the lines of an earthenware pot to put in the oven.

To the OP. It hasn't been mentioned yet but I cook Thai food quite often. It's cheap and quick and keeps fairly well for leftovers. Basically you need a good red or green curry paste, some cocunut milk (can be replaced with cream quite well) and your basic flavourings - sweet (sugar), salt (fishsauce or salt), sour (lime or lemon juice, and hot (from your curry paste and extra chillis if you feel like it). You can then experiment with various combinations of vegetables, chicken or fish. Serve over rice or noodles and enjoy.
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  #41  
Old 04-16-2008, 07:49 AM
OpalCat OpalCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ace309
Easiest way is to layer the tortillas in a casserole dish and stack them like lasagna, but otherwise follow the recipe. Easy as hell.
*smack*
I make enchiladas fairly often and without fail they do not stay intact when removing them from the dish I baked them in. It never occurred to me to do it lasagna style... that would make it so much easier! And less messy to serve!
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  #42  
Old 04-16-2008, 08:13 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
I have this More With Less cookbook that makes me feel like a dumpster diver who doesn't deserve to have meat and cheese, like, together.
A different source of recipes might be in order, then (you don't have to buy a new cookbook- there are recipe sites online, after all). Cheap food doesn't have to be stereotypical poor-people food, after all, and it doesn't have to be so depressing. Polenta, for instance, is cornmeal and water with a little butter and cheese added (and you don't have to buy special imported polenta cornmeal or hand-ground cornmeal- I use the regular store-brand plain old cornmeal, and it turns out fine). It's not expensive to make, but most people don't think of it as poverty food (though that is how it originated).

If you find cheap food depressing, you're going to resent having to make and eat it, and you probably won't be able to stick with it for long. It's important to find a way of eating cheaper that you can live with.

If I were trying to cook with more lentils, say, I might try to find a cuisine that has traditionally used them. Indian dishes with lentils are good. I don't think "Cheesy Lentil Bake" sounds too appetizing, but I'd certainly go for a lentil dal, lentil soup, or lentils with sausage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
I was reluctant at first, but I must say Costco has surprisingly decent meat.
They do. They also tend to have good produce, or at least the ones near me do.

Bonus canned-bean recipe:

Maryland Flag Chili

This vegetarian chili (can be vegan) can be made entirely with stuff that keeps for a long time (the only thing in it at all perishable is the onion, and those keep a long time), so it's a good one to do when you really should go to the grocery store but you're too tired or don't want to bother. It also uses only one pot (I use a Dutch oven or big saucepan- nonstick is best, just because it's easier to clean) and one spoon. It doesn't require precise measurement of anything.

It's Maryland Flag Chili because it contains things that are red (the tomatoes), white (the white beans), gold (the corn), and black (the black beans), which are the colors of the Maryland flag, and I'm from Maryland.

It was partly inspired by the Chili Con Corny served at an on-campus cafe at UC Santa Cruz.

Slice an onion and saute it in a little olive oil in the pot you're going to use for the chili.
Add a big can of tomatoes, a can of white beans, a can of black beans, and a can of kidney beans.
Add a can of corn (you could also use frozen corn).
Add as much stock (I use vegetarian beef-flavored stock, which you can find in the kosher section of the supermarket, but you could use real meat stock if you're not vegetarian or kosher) or water as you want to make the chili the right consistency (some people like it really chunky, some like it soupier).
Heat up the chili until it is simmering.
Add salt, chili powder, and cumin to taste. If your chili powder isn't spicy enough, you could add some cayenne, too. I like to put in a splash of tequila as well, but you don't have to.
Leave it sit on the burner until you're ready to eat.

This recipe makes enough for a one-dish meal for at least three people. Mr. Neville says it is even better reheated as leftovers. You can vary the leftovers a bit by draining off some of the liquid and using the beans and vegetables as a taco or burrito filling. That feels a little more like a new dish and less like having to eat up leftovers.

Serving suggestions:

It's good with crumbled-up tortilla chips in it, and that's a good way to use up the little tortilla crumbs that you always get at the bottom of the bag.

It's also good with sour cream and/or shredded cheese.
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  #43  
Old 04-16-2008, 09:47 AM
Dolores Reborn Dolores Reborn is offline
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How about some Cajun gumbo? Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, smoked or Andouille sausage, or shrimp, or a combination. Leftover chicken works, too, just add it at the end (as you would shrimp.)

1/2 stick of butter, margarine, or 3 tbs veg oil
3-4 tbs flour
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz pkg frozen sliced okra, thawed
4-6 cups chicken stock (or shrimp stock made from heads and peels)
1 tbs cajun spice
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 lb cooked meat, chopped (except shrimp - add raw peeled shrimp about 10-15 minutes before serving, add cooked shrimp just long enough to heat through)
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir often (towards the end, stir constantly) until roux gets peanut butter colored, about 15 minutes. Don't burn it!

Add chopped veggies, and stir and cook about 15 minutes until veggies get soft. Add broth to cover about an inch above veggies and spices. Bring to a boil, add meat, reduce heat. Add more broth if you think you need it. Simmer for as long as you can stand it (about 20 minutes is ok, longer if you have time.) Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice. Garnish with sliced green onions.

This makes a big pot full, and freezes very well.

Last edited by Dolores Reborn; 04-16-2008 at 09:48 AM..
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  #44  
Old 04-16-2008, 09:57 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForumBot
I, too, don't see why you have to give up meat.
In fact, unless you're just buying potatoes and cabbage, it can quite easily end up being cheaper cooking with meat. I mean, with 99 cents per pound pork shoulder and 79 cents per pound chicken pinwheels (thigh + drumstick), it's often hard for me to eat vegetable dishes, since it ends up costing me more.

Last edited by pulykamell; 04-16-2008 at 09:58 AM..
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  #45  
Old 04-16-2008, 10:02 AM
villa villa is offline
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Non-popular meat cuts are obviously your friend here.

I love liver, for example, and "fancy" it up by sauteeing onions, garlic, and bacon, tossing in the liver cut in to small pieces (tossed in seasoned flour if I can be bothered), then finishing it off by dumping in sour cream and dijon mustard. Mushrooms work in this too. Serve on a big bed of egg noodles and pretend you are eating beef stroganoff.
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  #46  
Old 04-16-2008, 10:58 AM
masterofnone masterofnone is offline
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I feel your pain. I started a thread a while back asking for good cheap food recipes:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=443438

Thanks to all that contibuted! I tried several of them, and they were indeed good and cheap.
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  #47  
Old 04-16-2008, 11:05 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
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Zsofia, I feel for you. My husband also doesn't eat processed food, and that's fine, but between him and the kids there's a long list of things that are sure to make someone turn up their nose. The list includes but is not limited to: Beans, peas, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, zucchini, polenta, & couscous. Also, everything has to have meat in it. I pretty much have to try and cook something that will gross out the fewest people.

Anyway, I have a list of the meals I serve most frequently, and if I can fetch it while the thread's still going I'll put it up. Lots of the stuff on it comes from allrecipes.com or is so easy it doesn't require a recipe (like tacos).
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  #48  
Old 04-16-2008, 11:25 AM
Ceejaytee Ceejaytee is offline
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The greatest pot roast recipe in the universe is koeeoaddi's recipe here, made with a jar of horseradish and a can of cranberry sauce. It's completely awesome and it makes a lot for freezing and enjoying later.

The slow cooker is great and should be used as much as possible. There have been some good slow cooker threads here and here.
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  #49  
Old 04-16-2008, 11:27 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee
Have you made no-knead bread yet?
I can't.
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  #50  
Old 04-16-2008, 11:52 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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The way to handle leftovers is to package them up immediately. Then freeze.
Those small containers of leftovers in your refrigerator are not appetizing. And they do not improve with age.

Lots of good suggestions here. Try lentils again--but perhaps not a cheesy lentil bake. I learned to eat them cooked with hamhocks. Sprinkle fresh chopped onions on each bowl.

Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals does, actually, offer some useful suggestions. If her perkiness doesn't drive you to the liquor cabinet....
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