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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Archives: Old Topic of the Month Threads / JULY Topic Of The Month - Beating The Budget.
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    JULY Topic Of The Month - Beating The Budget.

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    Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:59 am
    Forum Host

    These days all of us are trying to keep within a budget and sometimes its hard to stay on track and still prepare tasty meals that you and your family are still going to enjoy!

    It can be a struggle sometimes to find something that suits your pocket that's good and tasty. There are simply hundreds of recipes here on from you to choose from and enjoy!

    Tight Budget Healthy Dinner, Mexican or Italian
    Low Budget Pasta W Cheesy Tomato Sauce Casserole Style
    Budget Rice-A-Roni Meatballs

    Super Budget Macaroni Cheese
    Ham & Cheese Ramen Noodles ^_^ Cheap Budget Meal
    Kid Friendly, Budget Friendly, Simple Mock Pizza
    Hamburger Helper Budget Stretch
    Budget Pantry Fudge Cake
    Budget Friendly Chicken Pasta
    Low Budget No Bake Easy Vanilla Cheesecake!
    Moist Chocolate Cupcakes- Super Easy- Budget

    Cooking double the recipe and then freezing the other half saves on your gas or electricity costs as so many recipes can be warmed up in the microwave.

    Got any great tips, ideas or recipes come and share them here with us or start your own thread.

    Last edited by JoyfulCook on Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total
    Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:16 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    I've been living in Germany for a while and have found some great ways to stretch the family food budget, too:
    When Germans make burgers, they rarely cook the ground meat as is. They usually stretch it with a day-old roll, (you could subistute 3-4 slicees of toasted bread) that has been soaked in milk (you can use water, too) and squeezed out, add a pound of meat, one egg and their favorite seasonings. You could easily add 3-4 finely chopped mushrooms or some eggplant. Then you form then into burgers and cook them in a greased pan at medium low temperature on the stove.

    I've learned to buy with the seasons, when certain vegetables are at their cheapest. Flavor them after cooking with some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Potatoes are really versatile and 9-10 fist size potatoes can stretch any meal for a family of 4.

    Learn how to make sauce. I prefer basing it on mushrooms, sometimes onions or both. There are two ways of going about it and it requires a little bit of practice. You will need 1-2 onions and or 3-8 mushrooms, depending on size. (I try getting smaller size vegetables. The big ones usually contain too much water. At least they do here) Chop the onions/mushrooms and sautee them in 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. While you are doing that, boil up a cup of water (we have a water cooker at home. That is done in about 1 minute). Then add 2-3 tablespoons of flour stirring constantly until you see it turning slightly brown. At this point whisk in the boiling water. Add salt or broth granules, pepper and whatever herbs take your fancy. You must work quickly. I usually add balsamic vinegar to taste and occasionally a pinch of sugar.
    The other way is to use corn or potato starch. You don't need to sautee the vegetables before, but it adds flavor. Then you add a cup of water, bringing it to a boil. In a small cup, mix 1 tablespoon of starch with some cold water, so that it looks like half and half cream. Add some of the boiling liquid to the starch and then whisk the starch mixture into the boiling fluid. It should thicken up pretty quickly. If it gets too thick add some milk or hot water. Add some broth granules or salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped herbs.

    The last thing is, grade A produce is given that grade because it looks good, not because it is more nutritious. You can save money looking for second grade produce. And, although this probably only applies here where grocery stores close at 8 pm and don't open on Sundays, shop near closing time. You will surely find reduced products then.
    Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:09 pm
    Forum Host
    Thanks so much for telling us about how to beat the budget, Yes, buying food when its in season is a great way to save.

    A lot of people don't do this, but I love the seasonal vegetables and fruit, right now (heaving just moved to England) there is a glut of strawberries, lovely small sweet ones - they are delightful as are the beautiful cauliflowers that are on sale in the markets.
    Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:39 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    I think it takes some smart shopping and rethinking to keep within the budget. I was back home in May and was kind of shocked at the prices in the supermarkets. But also at the fact that you couldn't easily buy a small portion of anything.

    I remember a few years ago, there was a popular cooking show competition on tv. The most important thing I learned from it (which should have been obvious, but never hit me) was that you don't need to cook the whole head of cauliflower or cabbage at one meal. Combine it with other veggies.

    Or like the German Sauerbraten: It isn't a great cut of meat, it is really kind of tough, but when you marinade it in a vinegar based marinade and then slow cook it with onions and carrots, it is absolutely delicious. It almost melts in your moutjh and you 'll have enough left over for sandwiches or another meal.

    I'm lucky to have my grandmother's and my great-grandmother's cookbooks, so I can see how they got about with small budgets and hungry mouths to feed.

    Like I said, it takes a lot of smart thinking. Plan for the week (or the month) and shop according to that. And remember to focus on nutritional value. You cannot replace your health, or that of your children, when it's gone.
    Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:53 pm
    Forum Host
    Great replies thanks, your right it does take planning and its not always easy but living where you do also has its limitations as to what you can buy if you want to cook meals that you enjoyed before you lived in Germany - it sounds like you are doing really well.
    Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:34 pm Groupie
    Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:39 pm Groupie
    A link to hundreds of economical meals here at
    Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:43 pm Groupie
    I keep an inventory of everything in my freezer on my computer with the date purchased or expiry date. The list is sorted by Pork, Poultry, Beef, Vegetables, etc.

    Everything is sorted in the freezer; all beef is kept together in plastic bags, all sausages in another, pork chops in another, chicken in another, etc. Bacon and wieners and smaller items that can get lost are in the basket that slides across top of freezer. Frozen vegetables in another area.

    All baking items are in another section; brown sugar, chocolate chips, etc. in stackable plastic containers labeled with masking tape and the date I put them in the freezer. The masking tape makes it easy to remove the label from the plastic container. Another area is set aside for cooked items that need to be used soon using the same labeling procedure.

    It is a simple 'filing system' for the freezer, pantry and refrigerator. It took a while to do the original lists but it is really easy to maintain. As soon as I come home from grocery shopping I update the lists. When I use an item it is crossed off the list and then deleted on the computer list when I get to it.

    The inventory is the key to preventing waste from food items getting freezer burn. I plan my meals around grocery flyers and what is already on hand according to the inventories.

    All my canned and packaged goods with their expiry date or purchase date marked on the can are also inventoried, and I also list what is in the refrigerator so I don't forget to use up those fresh items too.

    It is just a matter of checking my inventory lists by date to see what should be used next. Since I have done these inventories there is almost no waste in my home.
    Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:12 pm
    Forum Host
    Hi there foodvfan, yo really are organised, its great to read all the good ideas, I have a list of what I have in my freezer but keep in in a note book in my kitchen! I always make sure that my meats and precooked meals etc are rotated too
    Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:06 am
    Regular "Line Cook" Poster
    What can you recommend for someone cooking for one? A single Soldier or student, do we have any good resources for them?
    Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:30 am
    Forum Host
    Hi there Chef-slim.
    recipes here on have, in the top left hand of the recipe page the amount of servings, you can change this to one serving and the recipe will automatically adjust itself. I cook a larger amount then divide it up into individual portions and freeze it.
    Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:36 am
    Forum Host

    I am sorry I meant to thank you for the links that you provided, yes there are so many great recipes to choose from.
    Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:56 am Groupie
    Chef-slim wrote:
    What can you recommend for someone cooking for one? A single Soldier or student, do we have any good resources for them?

    No need to give up your favorite foods. Cook & freeze. (Sweetie calls me the Queen of the Freezer.) He is working out of town right now and has a "home cooked" meal every night.

    Prepare your favorite foods/meals, divide into serving sized portions and freeze. I use microwave safe containers and small foil pans. You can freeze in muffin tins then put in plastic bags for later use. For Sweetie I put together an entire meal and freeze rather than single servings. Reheat in microwave, toaster oven or regular oven. Painters tape makes great labels. You can write on it and it removes easily.
    Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:38 pm
    Forum Host
    Thanks so much for your great reply, the microwave and I go well together, I freeze so much and to finish it in the micro is just so so easy and also as you mentioned our DH has great meals all the time - could not er better!
    Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:00 pm Groupie
    YW! I cleaned out my freezer today and realized I need to have a cooking day for Sweetie Meals. I should have mentioned that I under cook most things that I plan to freeze. I'll try to freeze anything. So far no disasters.

    I'm going to remodel my kitchen in the very near future. Kitchen Aid has a microwave which is also a convection oven! Yes, I am getting one. I am excited about the prospect of having a smaller oven for summer use. icon_cool.gif
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