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JHUstudent's avatar

What are some groceries and/or recipes that are cheap but still tasty and healthy?

Asked by JHUstudent (692points) October 29th, 2012

I’m looking to save a little money on food. Especially when it comes to packing lunch for the work day, coming home and making dinner, that kind of thing. I just need some good recipes that are cheap, or some good combination of groceries, anything like that.

All suggestions are welcome!

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9 Answers

chyna's avatar

For dinner you could do a lot of crock pot cooking that you can put on in the morning on low and it will be done when you get home. You can buy chicken breasts and put a couple of them in with a can of cream of chicken soup or chicken broth or cream of mushroom soup. You can have that for dinner and take it to lunch or have for dinner the next day. You can do that with pork chops, or put a roast in and cover with veggies like carrots, potatoes and onions. Pour a can of broth over it. For lunch you can get a can of tuna or lunch meat and make sandwiches. Buy a big bag of chips if you want and divide in sandwich bags. This would be cheaper than buying the individual bags or buying them in the vending machine.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Pretty much anything from here: BudgetBytes

In general, I do much like @chyna suggests, I make large meals during the weekend, be it crockpot meals or just normal, large scale meals (like pizza, which I’m having now), and then eat it during the week. Works pretty well, much cheaper then eating out and you can get pretty good at cooking, which is always a good skill to have.

zenvelo's avatar

Make soup with broth and vegetables. Make a pot and get some bread and have that a couple nights in a row, it’s filling, economical, and healthy.

For lunch, Peanut Butter and Jelly is tasty and good, too.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re asking a 240# guy “what is tasty?”

My answer is, “pretty much anything, apparently.”

bookish1's avatar

I understand your concern; I make far less than minimum wage and don’t have much money to spend on food. Although I love to cook, I barely have time for it, so I generally only do it on weekends. I’ll make a huge amount of vegetable-laden rice and beans, or pasta sauce with vegetables and a protein source in it (I’m vegetarian), or lentils, soup, a Spanish omelette, casserole, or collards or kale, or various stir fries or curries, etc. (I’d be glad to provide my version of any of these recipes if you are interested). Then I’ll freeze ¼ to ½ of it, so I don’t have more than I can eat fresh (and then I can always defrost these things later when I am feeling too lazy or busy to cook!), and then I eat the rest of what I have throughout the week, for lunch and dinner. Tupperware is your friend!

The way to keep your groceries bill down is to buy basic ingredients as much as possible. With prepackaged food, you pay for convenience and (yuck) processing. Also, try to stick to store brands of everything. You can often find coupons for the store brands, too.

Here is a schematic version of my weekly grocery run:

-1–2 kinds of fresh fruit, whatever is cheapest per volume (sometimes I can even find buy one get one deals)
-1–2 sources of protein (dried beans/lentils and eggs are the cheapest, peanut butter is good too, sometimes you can find yogurt for real cheap as well)
-2–3 vegetables (spinach for salads, a head of broccoli to steam and eat through the week, kale, a sweet onion, a can of chopped raw tomatoes in juice, etc.)
-1–3 kinds of starch (usually pasta or egg noodles-store brand is SUPER cheap!, whole wheat bread, not as cheap but much more nutritious than crappy white refined bread, potatoes, tortillas or taco shells).

One of the keys to being able to cook with a modicum of variety is starting off with a good stock of spices and condiments. You don’t have to try to buy these all at once, but pick up one or two items every time you go shopping. Black pepper, basil, thyme, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, (hot) chili powder, vinegar, mustard, salsa, vegetable or meat boullion, etc. Having versatile ingredients like this ensures that you can always cook something decent at home, no matter what groceries you end up buying for the week (rather than having to go shopping for each individual meal, which is a pain and I don’t really understand why people with refrigerators do that.)

Anyway I’ve gone on a ramble here because I like food. Hope this was helpful.

Unbroken's avatar

Some good suggestions.
I found a great way to cook brown black or wild rice. Water to Rice a 2:1 ration pour rice in while heating water when boiling cover and turn down heat to simmer. Cook 20 min take off burner let sit covered for ten. Once cooled you can freeze rice in portion amounts and add anything to it frozen vegies or fresh whatever is on sale a variety of spices beans. Best to buy in bags let soak over night and cook in crock pot on low about six to eight hours. Imagination and taste, it’s all up to you. Oh I also buy meat in family size portions on sale and package them in ziplocks individually.

ragingloli's avatar

Potatoe soup, made with potatoe puree powder, just add some salt, pepper, Jagdwurst, peas, carrots and whatever else you like. Cheap and easy, without tediously mashing potatoes.

Shippy's avatar

I often buy a cooked chicken, slice it and freeze it, then keep the carcass for stock making.

I find dried peas a great base for soup.

I like to buy the freeze dried herbs since they last ages and can really make a boring dish amazing.

Potatoes are good since you can eat them so many ways. I make a great potato curry.

Dried beans, kidney beans can be a great part of a stew, or salads.

I sometimes, do this with milk. When it is a few days old, I pour it into an ice cube maker, then I just add one cube to tea or coffee, that way it is never wasted. Nor excess used.

Keeping eggs and bread is a must. (can even make french toast).

Tinned tomatoes are better as they obviously last longer.

Fresh veg’s are cheap and I buy a good olive oil, I love roasted veg’s and herbs with say brown rice and lentils.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

Shakhuka is very healthy and tasty and easy to make. It is basically eggs poached in tomato sauce. I make it using canned tomato sauce (store brand, usually one that has onions and garlic in it), eggs, and vegetable oil. You can also eat it with some whole wheat bread to add some grains.

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