Disney Information Station Logo

Go Back   The DIS Discussion Forums - DISboards.com > Disney Trip Planning Forums > Budget Board
Find Hotel Specials & DIScounts
facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates
Register Chat FAQ Tickers Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 08-19-2014, 11:14 AM   #1
DIS Veteran
Join Date: May 2008
Location: GA
Posts: 652

Need very low cost meal ideas!

Hi! I am in desperate need of some very low cost meal ideas. I wrecked my truck 2 1/2 weeks ago. My BF was not hurt, but I was and because of some of the tests and procedures I had to have done, he lost a good bit of work time (the drs were very specific about me having an adult with me at the tests and would not let either one of my boys go with me (one will be 18 in Oct, the other 18 in Nov) so he had to take off work to be with me and was there for the surgery.

This loss of work, in addition to having to come up with the deductible for the insurance has really hit our household money wise. I really don't want to have to ask my parents for help.

We cancelled the vacation we had put money up for and used it to buy school supplies for the kids, which was MUCH more than we planned--approximately $500 for the 3 kids. No one got new shoes. Deductible is paid along with most of the other bills, the remaining will be paid with his next 2 checks.

We are really lacking in food money. We bought a bulk supply of meat, so we are good there, but everyone is really getting tired of potatoes or mac and cheese along with a vegetable. While at this point no one is going hungry, it is very tight and will be until I get paid on 9-3. Any ideas on really cheap meal ideas? We have about $50 to feed 5 people until then. In my freezer I have a supply of pork chops, cube steak, chicken quarters and hamburger meat.

The kids eat breakfast and lunch at school now thankfully so its just me and my BF eating breakfast (usually a piece or 2 of toast for me because of diabetes, I can't skip) and lunch (we eat sandwiches or leftovers if there are any).
pls5286 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 11:25 AM   #2
A tag from the TF is better than a personalized licence plate
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Southeast US
Posts: 7,626

Hamburger casserole

1 lb ground beef cooked
1 can of chicken noodle soup
1 can of chicken broth
1 cup of rice
salt and pepper to taste - after cooking

Place all ingredients in a covered casserole dish and cook 1 hr on 350 in the oven. Check at 45 minutes to see if you need to add a bit of water if it's too dry.

My grocery store has a shelf in the produce aisle with marked down veggies/fruits that are just at the end of their saleability. Check to see if yours has that and find bananas to make banana bread for breakfast, veggies for a stir fry with your pork chops (cut into strips) or make into a soup, etc.
HM is offline   Reply With Quote
Register to remove

Join Date: 1997
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,000,000
Old 08-19-2014, 11:25 AM   #3
DIS Veteran
crisi's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 22,791

A favorite around here is baked eggs in creamed spinach. You get a can or a frozen pack of spinach, add some milk (cream if its in the budget) and salt - nutmeg if you have it. Cream the spinach and then cook eggs in it.

Chicken Briyani would be different - if you have curry. Its just rice, peas, chicken - and spices. Likewise, with the potatos there are a ton of Indian dishes heavy on potato - where because you've spiced it differently it doesn't taste like "potatos again." Also, try Thai.

Chili is easy and cooks up with any of the meat you have. You can do chili a zillion ways - from a white chili to something with a can of corn in it.

It may be tight to do it now, but a spend in the spice aisle - or even better - the ethnic section of your supermarket (cheaper in the ethnic sections - cheaper still if you run around town to ethnic grocers) - can make the same ingredients taste a lot different when you get stuck.
crisi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 12:30 PM   #4
Only took one try and voila
Likes to be barefoot at every possible occasion
pjlla's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: South Central NH
Posts: 9,965

You need to look at what is most affordable for your area and for your tastes. I could suggest rice and beans or oatmeal, but if your family doesn't like either, it isn't a good idea for you. Look at unit prices.... carrots, onions, apples, and potatoes are cheap around here.... but berries are expensive. It is produce season so you should be able to find summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers fairly inexpensively.

That being said.... adding carbs to almost ANY meal will stretch it a bit further... instead of just a bowl of chili, add extra beans and whole wheat pasta to make 4 servings of chill serve chili mac for 6 or more! Round it out with cornbread (homemade or a mix) or even just toast or crackers.

Stir-fry is another way to stretch meat..... onions, pepper (those are both fairly cheap veggies), bean sprouts (canned are cheapest), corn (again canned or frozen is usually cheaper than fresh), a bit of meat (even the leftovers from a roast or whole chicken) served with a side of brown rice.

Speaking of rice.... fried rice is a great way to use up bits of veggies (onions, peppers, corn, peas, carrots, spinach) and a bit of meat (ham, chicken, turkey, beef) and can really stretch a little meat into a big meal.

Oatmeal for almost any meal is good if your family likes it.... stick with the larger canister of old-fashioned oats (or steel cut oats) for the most health benefits (more fiber) and the best budget deal. Skip the individual flavored packets! And put bowls of chopped apples, raisins, brown sugar, and maple syrup on the table so that everyone can make it their own way!

Fancy grilled cheese is always nice if you can find the cheese on sale.... I buy cheese end at the deli occasionally for less per pound than even the cheapest American cheese. Provolone, muenster, American, swiss.... they all make good sandwiches.... add thinly sliced apples or pesto or refried beans or tomato slices or jam to make them extra special! Add a side of carrot sticks (buy regular carrots and peel and slice them yourself.... much cheaper than "baby carrots").

Baked potato night.... a great way to use up little bits in the fridge. Everyone gets one large potato and then warm up all of the leftovers and make a small batch of homemade cheese sauce.... folks could have a chili potato or a chicken stew potato or just a broccoli and cheese potato... depends on what you have for leftovers!

Pancakes for dinner are a nice treat occasionally.... but not the healthiest choice. But sometimes it is about filling a hungry belly, right??

Be sure to avoid convenience foods unless they are practically FREE with a coupon. They give you the least bang for your buck in terms of healthy foods. Stick with whole cuts of meat (whole roasts, whole chickens), whole fruits and veggies (not the prediced or pre-peeled kind), and unprocessed carbs (regular long cooking brown rice is super easy to make and inexpensive). You can make your own bread and pizza crust easily and inexpensively and without fancy tools. IMHO you need to skip junk like cold cereal (too much junk and you are paying for tons of advertising), cold cuts (so expensive.... why are we paying $8-9/lb for sliced turkey when it is 49 cents a pound for whole turkey near T.giving??), and other things that have no nutritional value.... fancy coffee creamers (or even coffee for that matter), soda, Jello pudding packs, Lunchables. I'm not trying to imply that you buy these things....obviously you never said you did..... just putting it out there.

Anyhow.... best of luck to you. HTH.....................P

WDW 12/1974, WDW 03/1983, WDW 05/1992 (with DH on HONEYMOON ), WDW 01/2002 (first family trip to WDW), WDW 01/2004 (2nd family trip), DL and DCA 07/2005 (first family trip to DL!), WDW 06/2007... DD gets to go without us! WDW & Discovery Cove 04/2008 (First stay at Pop ), WDW 01/10 DD goes without us AGAIN! , WDW 05/10 Mother/Son trip WDW 05/11 Mother/Daughter trip !! WDW 05/13 Mother/Daughter trip #2 celebrating GRADUATION!

Last edited by pjlla; 08-19-2014 at 12:37 PM.
pjlla is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 12:42 PM   #5
DIS Veteran
aliceindisneyland's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 1,090

1 pound each of lentils and split peas will make two 6-quart stockpots of soup. It will cost about $1 per pound of either. In my family though, no one but me likes lentils and the kids don't like split pea soup! However, I love both so I eat one or the other for lunch almost every day. So my own lunches for the month cost about $2.
aliceindisneyland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 01:00 PM   #6
DIS Veteran
If I ever have a garage sale the neighbors will think I have major wine and condiment addictions
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: middle of nowhere washington
Posts: 10,992

sounds like you have potatoes on hand-how about taking the cube steaks and making chicken fried steaks w/eggs and potatoes for dinner? the chicken-we had roasted chicken the other night, and last night I used the left over pieces to make chicken w/noodles. chicken's probably the most versatile since you can just look to what sauces (or stuff to make sauces) you have on hand-bbq, orange glazed, in a simmer sauce (I use inexpensive veggies and serve over rice to stretch the meal). with the ground beef I would make meatloaf since it doesn't take allot of additional ingredients (and a big one can last enough for another night and sandwiches for lunch), chili as someone said is a good option, my mom used to take a simple Spanish rice recipe (basic ingredients-white rice and a jar of salsa) and add precooked seasoned ground beef-we ate it by the bowlful or in tortillas. with the pork chops there's the traditional way of using it, but if you just think of it as smaller pieces of pork you could use it to cut into small pieces for beans, or cook it/shred it to make bbq pork sandwiches.

the idea of baked potatoes is great-we had a restaurant near us that sold baked potatoes with a ground beef topping (flavored like stroganoff), and one with chopped up bbq chicken-both were good and very popular.
I've been BOO'ED!!!

The REAL Barkley

Wedding Groomsman - 1991
Disneyland - 1992
Maui - 1993

"King of the Closet, Guardian & Protector of Cookies Everywhre"

Does not Cruise due to C.D.P.P.
(Chronic Duck Pirate Phobia)
barkley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 01:06 PM   #7
DIS Veteran
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 7,354

Google hillbilly housewife. She's got tons of cheap recipes.
Pigeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 01:25 PM   #8
DIS Veteran
mom2cookies's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: pennsylvania
Posts: 2,229

rice with chicken gravey.
Can chicken or leftover chicken ( if you get a whole chicken, it will serve 3 meals)
Cream of chicken soup

mix the chicken in with the soup and heat it, pour over cooked rice. Can use can tuna in water if you like it.
aka avastmaygirl in vmk MayLady on MVK
VMK friends are forever in my heart. Vive' la VMK
mom2cookies is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 01:34 PM   #9
Praying Colonel
DIS Veteran
Praying Colonel's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 4,213

This is a great time of year to get local vegetables cheap. Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, kale, beets, corn, etc.

The other night DW and I had a nice meatless meal of corn on the cob, okra and tomatoes, baked green tomatoes (just like fried green tomatoes, but baked in the oven to avoid the extra fat), creamed squash and black eyed peas. Man, it was good, healthy and cheap.

Tonight is lentil soup and roasted beet salad--peel some beets and roast them in the oven, then slice them and put them on some leafy greens with a little soft cheese, some walnuts and a light vinaigrette. A light summer meal that's healthy and, again, cheap.

Something we tried a few weeks back was a recipe for a meatless taco filling we saw on Cooking Channel. Basically cauliflower, lentils, onions, garlic and spices. Cook and spoon into taco shells or tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. Makes enough for an army, and really good.

Check out your local farmer's market and load up.

ETA: Dried beans are an inexpensive source of nutrition. Red beans, black beans, lentils, blackeyed peas, etc. Great with some onions & peppers and mixed with rice.

Last edited by Praying Colonel; 08-19-2014 at 01:54 PM.
Praying Colonel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 01:38 PM   #10
DIS Veteran
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Crawfordsville,In.
Posts: 4,755

Casseroles stretch the budget. It doesn't have to be complicated. Take a soup you like, add cooked meat, add a cooked grain like rice, or do cooked noodles. Add potatoes and whatever other vegetables you like. You will have very little broth left if you fill the casserole with enough of everything. We are always filled with these meals.

Eggs can stretch the budget, too. Omelets with fillings that each person likes can be a dinner. Serve with a grain or a veggie.

There is no reason you can't have sandwiches for dinner.

Spaghetti is a cheaper meal. A salad on the side makes a good meal. Homemade pizza is not bad, either.

Just make sure whatever you buy is on sale. If possible go to grocery stores like Aldi's.

It sounds like the worse is over and I'm confident you will get through this bumps.
Bete is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 02:19 PM   #11
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Springfield, Ohio
Posts: 256

Apples and pears are now in season and can be had very cheaply...

The pork chops would pair great with a warm apple compote or a warm pear compote (I know you need to keep the sugar level down, so you can make this as sweet or not sweet as you want)...as people mentioned, a side of rice would be uber-cheap and would pair well to sop up the juices of the fruit and pork...

As someone mentioned, double the rice cooked and save the extra rice and you could take any extra leftover pork (even just one chop), an egg or two, and some green onions/chopped carrots/chopped celery/chopped cabbage (whatever veggie you have on hand needing to use up before you toss) and soy sauce and oil/butter and make fried rice the next day (if you have sesame oil, sesame seeds, or other Asian ingredients, great, but if not, this will still taste good - the soy is the only must have...

And a favorite dinner in my house is Manwich mac and cheese (although you could use 1/2 Manwich sauce/half beef broth to keep the sugar level down - might need to reduce the broth a little if it gets too soupy) - taking a twist on a dish makes it an all new thing - it's under $2 to get a can of broth and Manwich sauce and you could then have 2lb of ground beef that will stretch 2 meals (one for the mac and one for sandwiches or to serve as a stuffed baked potato). Bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes are REALLY cheap now, too, and you could dice them up and add it to the sauce to stretch the base for 3 meals and to further up the health/veggie content.

Last edited by TwoMisfits; 08-19-2014 at 02:25 PM.
TwoMisfits is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 02:21 PM   #12
DIS Veteran
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 681

First thing is to see what's cheap in your area. Check for supermarket sales. Do you have an Aldi nearby? How about a food pantry? Maybe you can ask a local church or Salvation Army if they know of any programs to help needy people such as yourself.
sheetz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 02:29 PM   #13
DIS Veteran
sandgrace's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Posts: 820

Check out this site: http://www.5dollardinners.com/ there are lots of recipes for meals that are supposed to cost about $5 each.

Disneyland More Times than I Can Count!
LMT Winner Disneyland Hotel 2-2009!
Disneyworld 2002, 2004, 2014
Disney Wonder 2004, 2006, Disney Magic 2005, 2008, Disney Fantasy June 2012

sandgrace is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 03:53 PM   #14
Actually Blessedby4 now, but cant change my username :)
blessedby3's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Blue Ridge, Virginia
Posts: 7,834

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts boiled
1 box cornbread stuffing (store brand $1)
1 can cream of chicken soup (store brand $1 or less)
1 can cream of celery soup (store brand $1 or less)
1 stick butter

Mix the 2 soups together along with about 1/2 cup broth from boiled chicken
Melt butter in bowl, then add the stuffing and fluff

Layer in a baking dish:
Stuffing, then chicken, then soup. Layer again and end with a bit of stuffing on the top of casserole.
Bake for 45 mins on 350

This is a quick, cheap and easy meal for us. Add a veggie or two and some toast or rolls.

Pancakes, Eggs, and frozen sausage patties are cheap as well as grilled cheese sandwiches with some inexpensive in season fruit. Tacos (shells $1 box, store brand) are also budget friendly.
8/87-Disneymoon, offsite 7/92-DD's 1st trip 2/94-Land/Sea, Dixie Landings 10/99-offsite 4/03-CR tower MK view 11/05-POP 12/06-WL 1/08-POP, DD's Grad Trip 3/09-Poly 5/10-BLT, 1BR 6/11-POP 10/12 Bonnet Creek 6/14-Bonnet Creek/2 nights at AOA
DH(48) Me(47) DD(24)DSIL (24) DS(19) DD(15) DD(7)

Patiently (NOT) waiting for a new ticker

Check out my May2010 trip report:
Welcome Gurley Family....you are FAMILY OF THE DAY!!
blessedby3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2014, 04:59 PM   #15
DIS Veteran
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 15,167

When I was a kid, we often had rice and gravy on the last day before payday. It's exactly what it sounds like: cooked rice with gravy on top. Cheap and filling. If we had a bit of leftover ground meat or chicken scraps that got added to the gravy as a bonus.

Rice is cheaper than, and will go farther than, either potatoes or pasta. If you have chopped veggies to add to it, so much the better. You can buy a 25-lb sack of rice for $4 at asian markets and wholesale clubs. At two cups of rice per meal, 25-lbs goes a long way.
NotUrsula is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:42 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 1997-2014, Werner Technologies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

You Rated this Thread: