We have published two cookbooks in the past two years that are specially designed for frugal families. Here is a list of common meals and an explanation of how they are easily expandable (i.e. we can make a lot of it) and how they are inexpensive to make.
1. Marinated Pork Ribs. We typically find pork ribs on sale at our local supermarket. We buy up a bunch when they drop below $1 per pound. We marinate them and grill them. We all love pork ribs served with mashed potatoes.
2. Crock pot meals. Mom has a knack for mixing up basics such as a can of soup, rice/potatoes, and some meat. These are nice for if we are on the go for the day, because we can come home to a meal that has been cooking without supervision. Popular varieties are Tater Tot Hotdish, Chicken n’ Rice and Elk n’ Potato Layers.
3. Italian Pasta. With the help of a Sam’s Club size can of tomato sauce, we can easily feed our family and others. We spice and stretch the sauce with hamburger, then serve it over spaghetti, macaroni, or egg noodles. We often substitute hamburger with shredded zucchini that makes it stretch the penny.
4. Tacos. We buy large packages of tortillas and corn chips for these. Many hands in the kitchen are needed to help shred cheese and chop our lettuce, tomatoes, and olives. With beans, hamburger, and sour cream, everyone designs their own burrito. Another favorite is taco plate or salad, which combines all ingredients to be served over chips. We buy nacho chips at Sam’s Club also to save money.
5. Soups and Salads are a snap when simple things are on hand. Egg, tuna, and chicken salads can be made into sandwiches or sides by adding pasta or bread. Soups are common and fun because they can consist of any dried or canned veggie simmered for awhile.
6. Meat pies are old fashioned and don’t require many side dishes. After it has pressure cooked, any beef, elk, pork, or chicken can be chopped into a crust with gravy and vegetables.
7. Rolling Meals. A good tip to help stretch meals is to roll them into each other. Start with Spaghetti one day, and use the leftover sauce as a base for chili the next. Any chicken n’ rice can be spiced up into an asian meal the next evening with soy sauce.
8. Pizza. Another favorite is Pizza. Many crusts work well if they are rolled out and topped with leftover Spaghetti sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Add any topping you like from pepperoni and sausage to pineapple and onions.
9. Breakfast can be difficult on rushed mornings. We have come to avoid breakfast cereal due to the amount of sugar and air. Oatmeal is far more nutritious and it is warm and filling. Donuts and cake are not to be pushed away in our house. After all, they contain equal if not more nutrients than most cereals, and are easy to serve. On the weekends, we make what we call a “Big Breakfast” consisting of meat, eggs, toast, and potatoes.
10. Bread. I find myself looking for extra time to make a fresh biscuit or bun for a meal. Experimenting with different recipes will help, and chilling the dough ahead of time is also helpful.