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 Post subject: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:22 pm 
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Brain Made of Raw Seitan
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Since the Grocery Spending Issues was resurrected recently, I thought it would be cool to start up another thread just about our frugal meal triumphs. That includes recipes from books, stuff you've made up, interesting combinations of prepared ingredients, or even new and exciting ways to eat ramen. Share your successes so we all have new ideas for inexpensive stuff to make!

Your definition of a cheap meal may vary depending on where you live and your household size, but for me I'm defining it as sub US$5 for two adults, because my household consists of two adults. Makes sense, right? I'll start:

From a recipe: I love, love LOVE the Arabian Lentil & Rice soup from AFR. Not only is it super-delicious, it is sooooo cheap to make. I'd estimate the cost of ingredients at about $3-$4 for a big pot of the stuff, which easily feeds two with lots of leftovers.

Prepared foods: My boyfriend got some "Meatless Meatballs" from Trader Joe's, so I decided meatball sandwiches would be a good idea. We cooked ten meatballs in about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce and tossed some frozen peas in, then served it over two hollowed-out sandwich rolls (one for each of us). Not a gigantic feast, but a very filling and quick lunch. Approximate cost: About $3 for two

How about you?


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:30 pm 
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Ive found that almost everything in AFR is either cheap or can be modified to be cheap. Just another reason I love it so much.

When lasagna noodles are on sale for .99, a big pan of lasagna is pretty cheap. $2-3 for the tofu ricotta, $1 for a batch of Vcon marinara (I guess it helps that I buy my crushed tomatoes at Costco), and then I add whatever veggies need used up. It might be safer to estimate $6-7 for a big pan of lasagna, but it makes enough to lots of meals.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:08 pm 
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Krautfleckerl - pasta with cabbage:
http://www.vegventures.com/2010/02/12/k ... e-austria/
(Usually quadrucci pasta is used.)


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:31 pm 
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I made a stir fry with tofu, carrot and cabbage and topped it over coconut rice for $1.63 a serving.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:34 pm 
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My favorite cheap staple meal is roasted root vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes - basically the cheapest vegetables you can buy) + baked tofu + brown rice. Not exciting, but always satisfying and feels like a complete meal.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:40 pm 
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Homemade soups. I make a big batch and freeze most of it. So a bag of beans and a few veggies will make about five meals for two people, for around $5 bucks. We like soup.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:42 pm 
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Brain Made of Raw Seitan
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Any soups in particular you like to make?


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:44 pm 
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ashley wrote:
My favorite cheap staple meal is roasted root vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes - basically the cheapest vegetables you can buy) + baked tofu + brown rice. Not exciting, but always satisfying and feels like a complete meal.


We eat this a lot too. Love those roasted veggies. I always put in extra carrots to give to the doggies.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:54 pm 
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Limone wrote:
Any soups in particular you like to make?


I like the Bob Mills 15 bean soup bag of beans, I think that's what it's called. If I can buy it cheap at Big Lot's. The regular ones at the grocery stores are good but are more pinto beany. I made lentil soup a couple of days ago and had it and an avocado for lunch. Avocado's are .75 cents at walmart and are super good this year. Anyway, I don't like how the veggies taste when I cook frozen soup, some tend to get mushy, so I usually make a soup base w/o veggies and then when I take it out of the freezer and into a pot I throw the veggies in and let them cook then. That also kinda makes each frozen bag of soup different depending on what veggies I have on hand.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:54 pm 
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My favourite soup is the Yellow Split Pea Soup in Q&E Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food. I don't know what it would cost to make in the US, but assuming I already have liquid smoke on hand (which I almost always do), it costs me no more than £2 for the entire pot, which is about 6 decent-sized servings. I usually eat it with bread or a roll, so even if I buy a single roll for 40p, it's about 75p per serving.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:01 pm 
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Whatever-needs-using and beans soup. If you use a stovetop pressure cooker, you reduce cooking time and therefore electricity use, thereby reducing your bills as well. I cook beans in quite large amounts, then use them in soups and salads over the next few days.

I take single servings in tupperware (actually, recycled VegPot containers) to work and heat them up there for my lunch.

Beans take about ten-fifteen minutes of electricity use, and soup takes as long as it takes for the pressure cooker to pressurise, then I switch the hob off and use the residual heat of the hotplate to cook it through. So... five minutes or less? As a rule of thumb, use one vegetable per serving (except "flavour" things like onion and garlic, which should go in everything ever), so for a 3-serving batch, I could use a carrot, a parsnip and a sweet potato, and then about 200g (a generous cup?) of beans.

It's worth investing in some nice spices (go to Asian supermarkets) and a couple of different bouillon powders (I have one veg and one mushroom). So I'd put in a hearty teaspoon of Italian herbs or garam masala and a few bay leaves or juniper berries etc.

So... 20/30p worth of beans and maybe a pound's worth of vegetables and maybe 50p of herbs and spices and 20p of stock for three servings is pretty cheap. 70p a serving? That's, what, $1?

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Last edited by Gulliver on Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:01 pm 
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Oh and if you've got an Aldi's grocery store nearby, they're veggies are crazy cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:04 pm 
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rachell37 wrote:
My favourite soup is the Yellow Split Pea Soup in Q&E Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food.

Just looked that recipe up--wow, it's super-simple! I will definitely be giving it a try. Based on my memory of how much I think those ingredients cost I would estimate in the $3-$4 range here, which is definitely affordable. Actually, most bean soups are probably in that range. Hooray for bean soups!


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:20 pm 
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A bag of potatoes and a head of cabbage are staples around here. There's always cole slaw and potato salad in the fridge. We eat cheap. And then any money I save usually goes to vet bills or car repair.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:35 pm 
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Tonight I had broccoli & shelled edamame & kale (all frozen). The whole bag of broccoli was $2 and I used maybe.. 1/4-1/3 of that? and the edamame was like $2-3 and I used 1/4 of it & a 1/4 of a bag of kale which was also ~$2. Plus the dregs of a bottle of sauce that was $5, but I used maybe 1/5-1/6th of it, so like $2? For the whole thing? (for me with leftovers for lunch tomorrow going over the uneaten barley & yellow split peas from today).

Urgh, all I know is I'm currently spending about $30/week on food and I could probably go 2 weeks without shopping if I didn't eat oatmeal + peanut butter like a pro.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:02 pm 
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Limone wrote:
Any soups in particular you like to make?


AFR split pea soup and a loaf of crusty homemade bread. So good! Bags of peas are super cheap, maybe .69.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:02 pm 
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Chili is pretty cheap and even cornbread although I generally serve it with rice.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:13 pm 
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lentil soup
red lentil cauliflower curry (when the cauliflowers are on sale.)
chana masala
three spicy sisters stew from vegan on the cheap. (so good!)
a box of pasta and a jar of cheapo sauce (or make your own.)

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:28 pm 
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Tonight I made the Chipotle Butternut Squash Bisque from Q&E Low-cal Vegan Comfort Food, and it was really cheap for me. I used the last of my butternut squash that I bought in the fall at the farmers market ($1) and I had chipotles in adobo in the freezer. That plus an onion, leftover celery, a couple of carrots, and some garlic, which are all really inexpensive. The most expensive thing was the vegetable broth ($3), and I could have used my bouillon powder if I had felt like it. So it cost me, what?...around $5 to make the entire pot of soup? Not bad!

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:39 pm 
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Anything with delicious cabbage. Mmmmm delicious cabbage

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:58 pm 
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I made a baked ziti yesterday by making cashew ricotta (using almonds since they are cheaper), box of ww pasta, 28oz can of tomatoes. garlic and spices were the only other ingredients. Super delicious, super filling and made 6 good sized servings for about $6, not including spices.

I should find my school assignment where I had to eat for under $30 for a week and track it all. I ended up only eating $16 of food the whole week. Not that you need to be that extreme, but some of the things I had were curried lentil soup from VWAV, which made a GIANT pot for very little money.

I also love the double pea soup from VCON and the tortilla soup from AFR!

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:51 am 
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I make a large batch of chickpea scramble (http://vegweb.com/recipes/chickpea-scramble) and have it for breakfast for a few days, or throw some into salads for dinner and lunch. It's pretty versatile and I usually add spinach and leave out the sour cream and tomatoes.


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:15 am 
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Cheap and lazy: baked potatoes, lots of nooch, and either a can of baked beans or a can of collards and a can of black eyed peas. Not so lazy, add tempeh bacon to the collards instead of the peas.

Less nutritionally sound but still cheap and tasty, I love Lima beans and sunflower cheese sauce.

I've finally weaned myself off adding piles of EB too; doesn't need it!

Irish jokes aside, my mom and I really could quite happily live on baked potatoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:09 am 
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Yay, I'm glad this thread started! I don't really have anything to contribute, since I've been sucking at cooking frugally lately, but I will definitely benefit from these ideas :)

I do second lavawitch that AFR is generally pretty cheap - when I cook pretty much exclusively from there, my grocery bill is pretty low. Hmm, I think I need to start cooking from there more...


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 Post subject: Re: Frugal meal ideas thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:51 am 
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I just bought the nook book version of Eat Vegan On 4$ A Day... I need to try a few recipes, but they look to be very easy and cheap.

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