Stretching your dinner dime… dollar

Large Dollar Bill 7500x3200

There are some weeks when money is tight and we try to plan the menu around what we have in the house. Here is a sample of “go-to” recipes we like for cheap easy meals. Keep in mind these do require you to have a stocked pantry.

∞ Salmon hash: We try to eat salmon at least once a week for its health benefits. However, fresh salmon is very expensive. This simple recipe calls for canned salmon and just few other ingredients. We like to serve it with corn. Our kids, of course, love to dip it in ketchup.

∞ Caesar salad: My husband found this recipe for Caesar dressing and we love it. We serve the salad with fake chicken nuggets (or patties) and fruit. The fake chicken is not necessary, though. My husband makes his own croutons (different from this recipe).

Changes Brent made to this recipe:
Add 1 coddled egg to the dressing.
– Use 1 t. dijon mustard instead of dried mustard.
– Use wine vinegar instead of sherry.
– Instead of the directions as shown, put the first 6 ingredients and the coddled egg in the food processor. Process until smooth. Slowly pour in the olive oil.
– Double the recipe so you have leftovers for another meal. 

∞ Eggs and toast: We love scrambled eggs and toast served with applesauce or fruit. We go through a lot of eggs, though. Occasionally if we have extra cheese from another recipe, we throw it in the eggs. We usually make scrambled, but occasionally my hubby makes his fried or omelet style.

∞ Morningstar farms: This meal is not as cheap, but often does in a pinch. We like to buy these patties at Target and keep them on hand for lunches and occasional dinners. We serve them with bread, a frozen vegetable, and jasmine or brown rice.

∞ Pasta and homemade tomato sauce: We have tried out different tomato sauce recipes that call for white beans, tofu, fake ground meat, etc. We do like using the fake ground meat, but it can be costly. However, our new favorite is “Spaghetti alla Ceci” from Rachael Ray’s “Express Lane Meals” cookbook. It works well because it adds a protein that our kids can’t pick out. We serve it over spaghetti. Sides: salad and a veggie like green beans or broccoli. We also like the premade Trader Joe’s pasta sauce. It comes in hand on those nights we don’t have time to make homemade sauce. We don’t use the red pepper flakes and it still tastes great.

∞ Chick pea and broccoli stir fry with soy teriyaki sauce: This is a recipe we got from Wild Oats years ago. I will try to post it later if I can get permission.

∞ Pancakes: Served with fruit and hash browns (homemade), this makes for a fun breakfast for dinner meal (we don’t do it very often, though). Best to make the hash browns in the morning, so you don’t have to prep both before dinner.

∞ Chick pea pitas: We love these pita sandwiches. We top them with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and schug (for my husband). We serve them with steamed cauliflower. This recipe is from our favorite cookbook (that we use at least once a week), “Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook” by Sarah Fritschner. It is out of print, but definitely worth buying used. Our copy is well-loved! I am going to try to request permission to post some of her recipes.

∞ Beans and Rice: We have lots of recipes using different types of beans. You can use jasmine rice or brown rice for a healthy meal. We keep both in the house. Our favorite recipes for this meal come from the above cookbook. 

Another one of our favorites, but which can be a little more expensive is:

∞ Salmon stir-fry: All this one takes is canned salmon, oil, stir-fry vegetables, thick teriyaki, sesame oil and ginger. We serve it with brown or jasmine rice.

** For advice on creating menus ahead of time, see my post “Menu planning.”

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