Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes Cooking for Two We need some real help!

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    • #267763

      I hope this is in the right place.

      So I have been seeing on here people talking about how the spend $80 a month on food for 2. Well as of now we are a family of 2 and we are at about $400 a month….. well there are 3 of us but the baby has 3 months to go before she eating table foods.

      Then the post about taking a $200 tab down to $50. Where do you get your coupons from?

      I’m so jealous. How do you do it?!?!

      We get paid bi-weekly and whats left after bills we split the 1/2 & 1/2 between food and gas. We are still struggling the closer it gets to pay day. I sat down one night and made up a meal plan for a week and when I go shopping just double it to make it last 2 weeks.

      This is what I have.
      (this is just dinner)

      Day1: Pizza
      Day2: TV Dinner
      Day3: Hot dogs
      Day4: Spaghetti
      Day5: TV Dinner
      Day6: Gill (meat, side, side)
      Day7: Grill(“)

      The sides are- Corn, G.beans, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes

      And then for breakfast and lunch, I’m sol because we cant afford to get much after that. i normally eat things like corndogs, easy mac, grilled cheese…. and cereal.

      thats it. i mean the tv dinners are $4+/- each and I have to get 8. I use coupons, I just cant find any that are for the more pricey things.

      The newspaper always seems to have the same ones that don’t help that much and you can only print so many off line.

      Oh yeah and dont for get about cat/dog food and TP, Paper towels, baby food, diapers….. and all that stuff.

      How do you do it? Whats your list like? What can I change?

      Any helpful sites other then this one? Am I missing any coupon sites?

      Please, I’m desperate for help.


    • #406079

      Sounds like you need to visit a local food bank and get some grub without cost. That’s what I do. I’m a senior on Social Security. I also use the crockpot a lot for beans, stews, soups, and chicken.

      TV dinners you cannot stretch into decent meals. You need to be thinking more frugally.

    • #406080

      One of the first things I would cut out are the tv dinners at 4.00 a piece and you are feeding two thats 8.00 you can make a meal cheaper. For the pizza are you ordering in or paying for the oven pizzas the more expensive ones can run 7 to 8 dollars? You can make one cheaper.

      It may cost a little more for the items but you can eat at least two nights for what you are paying for one. When you are buying diapers etc for the baby it is hard and it does run your grocery bill up. What I used to do is make my baby food.

      you can puree the same things you are eating before you put in the spices etc and its fine for babies to eat (at least my childrens doctor thought so). Hope this helps some. I also cook things I know I will have things left to freeze for another night or can turn into something else for the next night.

      For example a roast in a crock pot for one night so you don’t have to prepare that much when getting home from work, then turn leftover roast into a soup for the next night. Hope this helps some.

    • #406081

      I dont even know what a food bank is, would it be something like the angel food net work?

      Thats the only thing around, going by my first guess of what a food bank would be. Other then that, we live in a really really small area in Alabama. Theres not much around we have to dive 30min to the nears super store.

      The smaller stores are much higher.

      We buy her diapers in bulk (kinda) every 2 weeks. We cant afford a sams or cosco card. I dont even know where to start with making the baby food.

      I am really not a crafty person like that and I would be to scared I might harm her.

      The crock pot…. I’m not big on that kind of food but giving that I can get my hands on one I’m willing to give it a try. I’m not sure how to use them or what to put in them but I will try.

      I can ask some family members if they might have one they dont use.

      The TV dinners, I was just talking about this with my husband. I know they are high but I dont know what I could add in their place. We could by the $1 ones but then I’m scared an hour after eating it we would be hungry.

      What could I make?

      I’m not a cooker and all of my life(i’m only 20) have had things made or just went out and got something quick and easy, so I’m new (so to say) to cooking and what not.

      Thanks for all the advice so far.

    • #406082

      Angelfood is not really a foodbank, but since you are in a small place that may be all you have. Sometimes churches will do foodbanks too. Making babyfood is not really that hard all I had was a blender.

      If I was fixing greenbeans for supper I would take a few out before adding all the fatty stuff to it and but it in the blender. Blend it up to consistency of babyfood. You can fix lots of things in a crock pot- soup, meatballs, roast just to name a few.

      When you aren’t used to cooking the whole cooking thing can be scary. Try some of the recipes here on the site all you really need to do is follow the recipe like a map. It is a learning process.

      I’m not but 35 and I was in the same situation you are in when I got married the first time. We either fixed things out of a box or went out. Going out was what we did the most. I taught myself to cook.

      My x husband tells my older kids when they bring home things from my house that he isn’t eating them because I never fixed things like that for him, but it was because I didn’t know how and for some strange reason I thought cooking things from scratch was more expensive. Of course I take the opportunity to send him things I know he likes just so he can be difficult and watch the kids eat them (LOL)

      As for the tv dinners, you can fix the same things that are in the meals and it will taste better too. my boyfriend says all the time his xwife used to cook tv dinners a lot and he had forgotten what real food tasted like until he met me. You can tell the difference, if I cheat and fix like banquet salsbury steak instead of making them myself he can tell right off.

      Most things are really not that hard to cook. If there is something i want and I am not sure how to do it, I just find a recipe and go from there. There are things that still give me a problem from time to time, like fried chicken (I can never get the batter to stay on there).

      I just fix them every once in a while and i am getting better at it.

    • #406083

      I just did a simple search for Alabama food banks and found this link
      Alabama Food Bank Association, Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Auburn, Selma, Dothan, Mobile showing that over 30 million pounds of food are made available to the needy in your state. You need to do some investigating.

      You state that you are not a cook, but if you want to save money or stretch your dollar farther, you will need to learn. It comes gradually, but you have to start. Maybe one or two meals to start.

      Nothing fancy. Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches is always good.

      I actually ‘can’ and freeze much of the food I get from the food bank because I cannot eat it all before it gets old. I also learned how to dehydrate produce so nothing is wasted.

    • #406085

      @mcnerd 95408 wrote:

      I just did a simple search for Alabama food banks and found this link
      Alabama Food Bank Association, Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Auburn, Selma, Dothan, Mobile showing that over 30 million pounds of food are made available to the needy in your state. You need to do some investigating.

      You state that you are not a cook, but if you want to save money or stretch your dollar farther, you will need to learn. It comes gradually, but you have to start. Maybe one or two meals to start.

      Nothing fancy. Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches is always good.

      I actually ‘can’ and freeze much of the food I get from the food bank because I cannot eat it all before it gets old. I also learned how to dehydrate produce so nothing is wasted.

      Dehydrating produce? That is a new one to me, sounds interesting and money saving. I’m going to have to look into that one myself.

      Thanks for the idea

    • #406086

      WOW, mcnerd thanks for that link. I didn’t even think about searching it. I looked over it real quick because I’m about to head to bed but I am going to check that out 1st thing in the morning.

      I really appreciate that.

      I have been looking around, like going back as far as I can and I have found a lot of really good things. We get paid thru. so I’m going to try a few of them out.

      I have been writing them down and now that I have sat here for a few hours, I’m coming up with stuff. Its exciting!

      Before, when I would sit down and try to figure something out, I would get overwhelmed, frustrated and just give up. I have really gotten somewhere tonight and I feel much better about it.

      I’m going to take up cooking…..I think (I’ll try). My husband might like that. Once I get a little better at it.

      He always tells me to let him cook because I burn water, so it might be scary at first but he works all the time so I guess I should at least cook.

      Thank you guys so much for helping me out, my list was a little crazy after looking back at it now. Well I’m going to bed, its going to be hard to get up in the am. its late for me.


      thanks again, let me know if you guys have any other neat things because i still could use some more.

    • #406087

      there are so many crock pot recipes on line just look there and as far as baby food its real easy if you have a food chopper

    • #406088

      To learn how to cook is rather easy. If you have a Cooperative Extension Office call them sometimes they will offer cooking classes. You could also start at the library, get a child’s cook book to start with-they have pictures, simple explanations to walk you through step by step.

      Making things from scratch costs less than half to make it from a box-even Mac and Cheese. You might not be a big fan of the beans and such but if you are trying to stretch the money then having a couple of meals that are beans will really help.

      Baby food is simple, once you learn to cook you just puree the food before adding anything like the spices or butter and she will love it, plus it is healthier without all the preservatives. With the diapers, you could save a tremendous amount of money if you use cloth diapers, of couse if you work and she goes to a daycare or is babysat then you will not be able to use cloth diapers.

      Don’t be scared to learn to cook. You might mess up a few meals but it is a learning process and you have to start somewhere-just think you will be able to save your daughter from being in this same situation if you learn to cook and teach her to also as she gets older.

    • #406203

      Just remember – not everything cooks on a high heat. Don’t turn up the heat to make it cook faster. And use a timer so you don’t forget you have something cooking.

      Good luck – everyone has to start somewhere

    • #406209

      Everyone is right. You have to cook to save the $. It sounds like you eat a lot of convience foods and I can tell you that you can make them for much less and they are much more healthier.

      I have a small family, only 3 of us and I spend about $40 a week on groceries. I really don’t use too many coupons unless I can get the item practically free. When shopping I am not brand loyal.

      We eat out maybe once every other month. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are made at home everyday (and I work too). Slow cookers are a God send for those busy days.

      If you are new to cooking, try some slow cooker meals. They are easy to prepare and you can use inexpensive cuts of meat. Another benefit is that they usually make enough, for small familys like ours, to freeze half for another time.

      I have found this website has great recipes and many are easy! And as Kim said dont be scared to learn:)

      Jaime OH

    • #406210

      Have you tried the Angel Food Ministries? My friend was telling me she picked up her food yesterday and she spent $80.00 and she has enough food for a month and they are a family of four!! I hope you are able to find help!!

      God Bless!!

    • #406216

      You can make real meals for much less and they will keep you fuller and healthier longer. hot dogs and mac and cheese and pizza and frozen dinners are not a way to live. you’ve got to ditch those tv dinners first and foremost.
      anyone can cook.

      go to your library and look up beginner cook books and start there. dry beans are super easy to cook. you just soak them overnight and boil them a couple hours the next day.

      feeling like you can’t cook is just a state of mind. all you need is to follow directions in a cookbook or online recipe and you will be cooking immediately. any terms you don’t know the definitions to can be easily found online.

      or ask here.

      as for being afraid of harming your child by preparing her food… why? all baby food is, is blended food.

      peas (with some water added sometimes) blended to a green oblivion. chicken, same thing. mashed sweet potatoes.

      mashed banana. you can freeze portions in ice cube trays (once frozen, transfer to a ziploc freezer bag) and bring the amount you need out of the freezer and into the fridge to thaw for the next day.

      a little online research will net you more links to informative cooking and baby food making sites than you could ever read in a lifetime.

      the diet you currently maintain will set you up for all sorts of health problems later. at 20, you might not be thinking about them, but rest assured your body is. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, clogged arteries….

      You would be so much better off, both financially and physically, if you ditched the college food lifestyle and developed a repertoir of recipes you learned to prepare. Start with beans and rice, lentils, oats, and pastas that don’t come with salty packets of “cheese”. Those things are pretty easy to prepare.

      It’s a living-learning experience. You will have recipe flops from time to time: just have some bread, peanut butter, and jelly on hand in case that happens. 🙂 And don’t give up.

      You win some, you lose some.

      Have you given thought to switching to cloth diapers instead of disposable? That would save you so much money. Even if you just do it at home, and use disposable on outings, the savings are substantial.

      If you’re hard-up for cash, this is something worthstrongly considering. And anyone can wash a diaper. 🙂

    • #406217

      I’ve been trying to figure out the same things as you the past few months and I think I am starting to get the hang of things…

      Last night we got a whole bunch of groceries, atleast a week – maybe 2, for $50. I think that was the cheapest yet – and with no coupons. 🙂 i spent the entire day yesterday cutting and sorting all my coupons since i got behind for a few weeks…

      then what i do next is go through the ads.

      i find this to be the most important part. i try to look carefully at all my coupons a few times a week so that i start to somewhat remember atleast some of them, so that when i look at the ads – i’ll remember if i have a coupon that matches the sale item. soemtimes i forget or dont know so ill go through my coupons to check.

      but i think the ads are what save me.

      i get out my big sharpie and start circling sale items that are really a bargain and we could use. yesterday at winndixie we got a whole bunch of canned veggies (all 50 cents each now) and a bunch of frozen veggies (all for a dollar now)… and that will do for side items. To make them taste good, you don’t need to be a chef, just have a spice rack.

      Or an all-purpose seasoning. I like to add seasonings to my veggies, then maybe some lime juice, garlic, cheese, etc. and it makes veggies taste great.

      🙂 I also got a bunch of stuff for $1 like Jello pudding and Rice a Roni mixes. These should work too.

      And we tried out the angelfood ministries for the first time last month and it lasted us until yesterday, so about 3 weeks without groceries (it cost us $50). And we still have some meat left now to go with our veggies. What I also do is take advantage of the Buy1Get1Free items, we got bagels, juice, and pasta.

      The yogurt was on sale too for 50 cents.

      But you have to be willing to get store brand (unless using coupons and matching with the sale items) and be willing to spruce it up with spices or cheese or whatever to make it taste good. Some of the angelfood stuff was not the best and I had to make it better. I marinated some of the meat (Actually…most of it)…

      and am making soup with some of the bony chicken they gave me.

      And it really isn’t hard to cook. I’m in my early 20s and have only been living on my own for less than a year and it does take time cooking but it helps to save money. Another cheap technique I found, MUCH cheaper than those frozen meals is to buy those frozen meal bags when on sale (like Voila or Bertolli) where you can just microwave them in the bag…

      they have these for veggies too which are good (Green Giant Steamers?). These tend to be cheaper if you get them on sale with coupons… and stock up!

      And if you have to get frozen meals, I love Lean Cuisines for work when I don’t have leftovers… so I just buy them in large quantities whenever they are on sale. They’re on sale for $2 now at WinnDixie (sorry I know everyone doesn;t have one but that’s where i shop!) and i fought the urge to buy them since i’ve just been using leftovers the past week.

      Since my post was soo much longer than I hoped, I’ll sum it up in 2 sentences:
      1- Look at your store ads carefully!
      2- Buy whatever’s cheapest! (store brand, brand w/coupons, bulk, etc.)

      Edit to add: I don’t think frozen dinners or mac & cheese are the worst idea, since sometimes mac & cheese is cheap and easy – it just shouldn’t be an everyday thing to live off of. It isn’t the healthiest but if your struggling, it can be necessary! IMO

    • #406221

      I highly recommend checking out yard sales & thrift stores for crock pots, blenders, etc. In the spring start a garden. It is easy to learn how. Also if you don’t have room for a large garden at least plant some herbs. Nothing beats fresh herbs. I grow Rosemary. Greek oregano. Chinese (garlic) chives & tarragon every year. I dry them in the food dehydrator, so they last all year. The chives grow all year here so I always have fresh chives. For more info use Google, it is the greatest tool their is. Good luck. BTW both of my children (adults now) grew up on home made baby food. They are very healthy & they both are good cooks. So there is hope. But YOU have to make the effort, no one will do it for you!

    • #406222

      BABY FOOD:
      a blender, or hand grinder
      ice cube tray
      zip lock

      generally babies start on squash or pumpkin – get 1 can and make sure it has ONLY pumpkin – no sugar etc .. plop into ice cube trays, pop out into zip locks and label

      CARROTS: stick in pot of water and cook til soft

      Veggies – use frozen because there is no added salt .. toss into blender or grinder and ssmash (puree) till smooth might need to add some water .. start with green beans and peas ..

      As they age you can use your foods (even canned) before seasoning etc. Toddler food is just less mashed try using the pulse on the blender.

      FINGER FOODS: mine loved canned green beans

      Think about it for thousands of years there was no gerber baby food, and babies survived. Moms used to prechew food for babies (probably helped with the immmune system LOL). Later there was some technology so women used grinders etc. No reason why you should pay mega bucks for this mini jar of ‘chewed’ up food.

      PS: If you have a washer, tell family you want cloth diapers for presents. I had 3 babies in diapers at the same time. Had washer no dryer, used a line (30 yrs later still no dryer – hate them). Even one pack of diapers and plastic covers will help with the diaper bill. Also kids in cloth seem to train earlier.

      Ria mom of 5 (foster mom to over 30)

    • #406228

      wow, you guys do have some great ideas. With the cloth diapers, the only thing that has kept me from using them is I feel like I would use the same amount of water & soap washing them as I do buying the diapers. We buy the wal mart brand. I will defiantly give the baby food a try. I was more concerned with with sodium in the beans and what not, but if the frozen ones done have anything like that in them. Thats where I will start, because I do have a blinder.

      We have done the angel food before but it got a little hard for us to let $50-75 go at once anf not get anything in return for a few weeks because then we had to go out again and get stuff to hold us over until the food came in. I think after the holidays come and go thats something we might start back up.

      I would really like to start living a healthier life, for sure. I’m just not a big fan of beans and Veggies. I mean I eat a few veggies but not a lot. I’m going to have to fix them up I guess and teach my self to enjoy them.

      I have gotten a lot of great info and have started a plan. We will have to see how it goes later this week.

      *There was something else I was going to say but I forgot. Theres just so much.

      Thanks everyone

    • #406230

      sounds like cooking is the big issue. TV dinners are way too high in salt and fats, these end up causing health issues down the road. If you can eliminate them now you will save money now and later on medical bills.

      I have to admit I hate frying chicken, so I will occasionally cheat and buy the Banquet chicken. If you do this once in a while you should be able to get at least 2 meals from it.

      A bag of potatoes and onions is basic, a jar of garlic is another need in my house. Biscuit mix (from scratch recipe is here on site).

      Put a zip lock in the freezer for all left over veggies- this can be part of a soup, another zip bag for left over ham/beef etc for soups etc.

      Chicken will be your friend because generally its the cheapest, next is pork (check prices when shopping).

      I have a SAV A LOT, and use their hamburger patties as hamburger, it used to be a buck a pound but has gone up to $6 something for 5#. I break apart the patties and put into zips for meals. You could probably get away with 2-3 in zip for a meal.

      Think about growing some veggies this next year, even salad can be grown inside (this winter) in planter boxes in the window .. just trim for salads and sandwiches.

      Here’s basic recipes:

      BASIC WHITE SAUCE (also called Roux)
      some kind of fat in fry pan (I use olive oil, etc) just a quick splash
      some flour (I have my cooking flour in a large jar and stick the end of a big knife in it and pull it out)
      Milk (*if you don’t have milk, use coffee creamer in hot water – it works great)
      1, heat up the oil, add flour, mix to a paste ,, slowly add in milk .. let thicken
      **if you let the flour brown it becomes brown gravy

      make a roux, add in cheese .. I usually toss in some cayenne, it pops up the cheese flavor.
      **you can even use the cheapy pepper cheese spread from Dollar Tree (also good with sausage gravy)

      cook up sausage, chop into little pieces (scramble) add onions, garlic, peppers if you want.
      now make a roux using the grease in the pan .. this is great over biscuits .. If really thick use long rolls, put in sausage gravy (with hot spiced cheese) and some extra cheese, stick under broiler for a few mins

      Slice potatos thin *I usually go under 1/4 inch – if thicker you can preboil them til starting to get soft (stick a fork into one to determine doneness) .. put a little oil in baking dish (helps with clean up)
      Make a cheese sauce add onion, garlic, cayenne ..
      Pour over potatoes and bake in 350* (350* is the basic temp for most stuff I have found)
      OPTS TO ADD:
      cooked scrambled hamburger
      cut up ham into squares (I buy turkey ham at Sav a Lot and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices and freeze individually, use as needed)

      MAC & CHEESE:
      Cheese sauce with pasta, some add in a smidge of mustard to cheese sauce. Precook pasta al dente (meaning not soft mushy)
      OPTS:add bread crumbs on top before baking

      MUSTARD CHICKEN (sounds weird but good)
      I use thighs because I like dark meat and its cheaper than white breast meat. I am now doing 1 for me and sometimes 2 for the guys depending on what they have been doing that day for work. You can make up a bunch and freeze them for later. (If you put them on a cookie sheet in freezer, then bag, you have individual ones for lunches etc)
      Pull skin off, dip & roll in mustard I use brown not the bright yellow stuff, now roll in bread crumbs (can be plain or italian). stick on cookie sheet cook at 350*

      pretty much its a hamburger stew with potatoes on top with a thick gravy
      precook and scramble HB in onions and garlic, add in italian seasoning, drain grease .. add in a bit of flour – stir up. Add some worchester sauce, some beef broth (chix will work too, so will milk) toss in veggies (canned is fine) .. mealwhile make up mashed potatoes .. mashed can go on top of stuff or bottom your choice .. I dump in baking dish put potatoes on top, sprinkle some grated cheese and paprika on it bake .. IF you have little bakable containers, make some individual shepards pie and freeze and these can be a quick lunch or dinner later.

      ITALIAN – if you can make spaghetti sauce you can do lasagna, shells etc etc ..

      cottage cheese mix:
      cottage cheese (I run mine through a food mill to make the texture different)
      Basil, onion chopped fine, cut up olives, chopped and squished dry spinach from can, any cheese you have (some grated, leftover pieces of whatever, feta) .. mix well

      I don’t precook my noodles, just make sure the filling is wet .. layer of diced tomatoes and bit of oil on bottom of baking dish .. layer of noodles, cover with cottage cheese mix *I just do some plops, cover with spaghetti sauce (heavy on basil, can add in extra spinach too .. more diced tomatoes .. another layer of noodles, plops etc etc .. end with wet stuff ..bake at 350*

      flour tortilla, refried beans, veggies, meat, cheese (cheapy Dollar hot cheese) etc (good for using up left overs). Spread the tortilla with refried beans, cheese and the rest of the goodies, nuke or bake ..you can eat flat or roll (we do it flat)

      CROCK POT:
      Ask for one on freecycle. You can make soups, chili, stews, even roasts etc in them. Last time Jake (my son) cooked he made chowder, its great for saving money

      ?? QUESTIONS ??
      Do you know how to make biscuits? Pancakes (*extras can be frozen for later)?
      Pasta can be frozen in zip bags (many restaurants do this to save time)


    • #406234

      If you have cloth you have diapers even when you have no cash ..

      Once they are bought you don’t have to buy them again ..

      You can use a 5 gallon bucket for a diaper pail for rinsing .. use more than one rinse a days worth and put in the ‘ready to wash bucket’

      DO NOT BLEACH DIAPERS – ammonia from urine is not a good thing to mix with bleach .. also puts holes in diapers

      If anyone in family knits or crochets they can make covers for diapers ..

      if you sew there are FREE patterns online for make your own diapers – some use recycled t shirts LOL .. sorta cool seeing JR in his Harley diaper (do not use your dh favorite Tshirt even if it doesn’t fit anymore)

      I did spend the bucks on the velcro covers for the last baby (soon to be 20) – I had teenage boys who were afraid of poking skin with diaper pins


    • #406255
      Avatar for ab2401mos

      I agree with what everyone here has said so far…lose the tv dinners and the pizza. stop using convenience meals. I’d suggest a beginners’ cookbook like Betty Crocker, etc., but funds are tight. do you have a library nearby? if so, go check out the ‘Joy of Cooking.’ it may seem overwhelming, BUT it will give you step-by-step instructions for everything. this is a book that I think every cook — whether they like to do it or not — should have on their shelf. it even tells you how to skin game! LOL! you belong to the right group to get yourself organized in the kitchen. go to the weekly menus forum…lots of good ideas…and I’ll bet my last dollar that very few of those posters use processed (pre-mixed packages) food. download Liss’ ebook for how to organize your grocery spending and check out her $10 grocery bill. she created this a long time ago, and I think that the actual cost is closer to $15 since I can buy chicken cheaper than ground beef these days;- anyway, check out a goodwill and you can probably get a used crockpot and a blender. why a blender? I fed DD the same food that we ate. I just through portion sizes in the blender with a little formula and voila! instant baby food! DD only ate homemade food and is not a picky eater. she likes all foods. take a look at all of the food forums here…you will save and we’ll help you learn to cook! even if it is only something simple;-) who know?! you may end up liking to cook and teach us a thing or two!!! oh! go to pantry chat and find out what to stock your pantry with…a little bit at a time…until you can have it fully stocked and stop living on unhealthy and expensive convenience foods!

    • #406257

      I just buy extra can goods etc…when on sale and before you know it you have extras in your pantry…Then find recipies for ground meat etc… on line with the veggies and pastas you have on hand. They are not only cheap but tasty.

    • #406273

      my baby just started on solids. what I do is peel one potatoe, one carrot, some squash and then add an onion or a turnip. cook it and blend it. I freeze in small portions except for that day and the following one. I also give him cooked apple or pear (he loves drinking the water where it was boiled – no sugar or salt used). It is really cheap and sometimes I double the recipe and freeze more – this was my baby’s pediatrician that recommended and though he spits a lot it is not very costly.

    • #406282

      Are onions really bland enough to give to infants and be digestible?

    • #406284

      My baby is 6 mo and no problem. My oldest, now 6, started eating soup 4 1/2 mo and adjusted fine and he had colics since he was born. I’ll be now adding more vegetables like lettuce, and again because the doctor told me so :).

    • #406305

      To save money, you have to get rid of the TV dinners. I know they seem inexpensive to you, but in the long run, cooking your own food is cheaper. Plus, not to mention that they are loaded with sodium and preservatives. That is my opinion. Have you tried making your own frozen food?? I usually make a pot of soup, and freeze half of it. Then, in a couple of weeks, voila! you have a fresh dinner in no time. Add a salad, and some rolls and you are good to go.

      I get most of my coupons from the Sunday paper. You could ask friends and relatives to let you have the coupons they don’t want from their papers. I get a few extra this way.

      Do you like to cook?? You could make up large batches of spaghetti sauce and freeze in smaller containers. Then, you would be ready for several easy dinners. First, you could have spaghetti, then use some for pizza sauce. You could also cook some chicken breasts, and top with sauce for an easy chicken parmesan.

      Check out the inexpensive dinner and dump recipes on these boards. They are wonderful!!

      Hope this helps.

    • #406310

      Everyone has some great ideas and I thought that I would add what I could.

      I’ve been in a very similar situation. I’m 26 and just started really trying to learn how to cook less than a year ago. Before that it was take-out and frozen dinners too.

      Here is what I’ve been doing. Every time I go to the store, I buy another “staple”, this could be a spice, or clearance meat. It was really hard to transition my kitchen from nuking everything to actually cooking. I also have been going to freecycle to off-set whatever costs that I could. I’ve also used my local Goodwill and Craigslist to find the things that I needed that didn’t show up too often on freecycle. (Go to The Freecycle Network to find a local group. If there is not a local group, consider starting one. It is a great resource to have)

      I’ve used books and the internet to teach myself how to cook. The resources are available, it just takes time to find them. Also, cookbooks generally don’t “age”. Older ones have great info too. This is another item that I go to freecycle for or my local used bookstore.

      Let family members know that you are trying to learn to cook. My MIL gave me a food steamer that I’ve used so much. It was one of those things that I would have never bought, thinking that I don’t have a use for it.

      I found that the best way for me to “learn” was to start easy and go from there. I’ve used a lot of heat and eat type of foods. The crock pot and a steamer are great tools for this type of cooking. Also a meat thermometer is good to have.

      I’ve been able to save money, because I am making large amounts of food when I cook. Enough for the meal, lunch and a second meal usually. This has kept me from getting fast food, and drastically cut down on the food bill.

      I must say I wish that I had 400 in a month to use towards food, but we are (again) a one income family and do not qualify for government assistance. I am planning on trying Angel Food and I’ve been setting aside 10.00 per paycheck so that it is not such a shock to our budget. Perhaps you could do the same.

      These forums are a great resource. Everyone is really friendly and there are tons of great ideas. Go through some of the older posts and you’ll be able to find a lot of cheap and easy recipes. Also, just talk to people as you meet them. You never know when you’ll meet a person who is able and willing to help. I met a woman at the grocery store last week who is sharing her canning jars with me. I am hoping to get started this spring and she is willing to guide me as I learn. It is a great thing.

      Good luck with everything. I know having a baby makes it a little harder, but if you take your little minutes through out the day, you can find what you need. You should see significant changes within a month if you focus and commit to learning.

      As an example of how I do all of this. Tonight I cooked pork ribs that I got on clearance. I looked up on the internet how to cook them and found a homemade Eastern NC sauce to make. With it I made mac ‘n cheese from the box, which we found stashed in the back of the pantry. We were out of milk for the mac ‘n cheese, so I made my own from some dry milk that I just recently bought for the first time. We had a loaf of homemade bread that I made today (In a bread machine that I got off of Craigslist for 10.00 1 week ago). I have found that this has worked well for us, and all of it was a mix and cook type thing. The only thing that I stood in the kitchen for was to stir the pasta. Very Easy and cheap!

      I hope that this helps. Remember, you are not alone in this and there is plenty of help to be found.


    • #406324

      My nephew does all the cooking for his family as his wife can’t cook. He works like 80 hours a week so once a month he arranges to get 2 days off in a row and cooks and freezes all their meals up so they can just grab and microwave what ever they need each day. Gee wish my other half could do that for me!

      Also a group of us went together and got a Sam’s Club membership We take turns going once a month and get for the whole group. I only pay $2 to $5 a year depending on how many join up each time.

      There are lots of places where you can learn to cook. Ask around at Church, check out books at the library, Extension service if you have one nearby can be a great help or you can find cooking info online and also booklets from different State Extension Services.

      Best of luck to you! It might take a while but you’ll learn and grow and be amazed how great you got in just a few years!

    • #406536

      I’ve been cooking for 45 years and feeding a large family for most of it. Item number one on your meal planning list should be nutrition. You’re not getting any from TV dinners and pizza. You’re getting a heart attack on a platter with all the fat, calories, and sodium (salt), and you’ll pass those tastes on to your baby when he or she starts to eat table food. Children learn to like most whatever they are fed, and I’m sure you want to provide the best nutrition for that child. Almost anything you make yourself with fresh or frozen ingredients will be far, far more nutritious. Most soups are healthy, cheap and easy. With a large enough pot, you can learn to can some easy-to-fix things like chili. Go to your local library or look around the net to find water bath canning instructions. Cook once, and heat and eat for many meals. Grow a garden if you have a space – there’s a year’s worth of nutrient-rich vegetables that cost only a few cents for seeds. You’d be surprised what you can grow in a 3 x 3 ft. space, whether it’s in a yard or on an apartment balcony. All you need is sunshine & water! You can at least have fresh salad veggies from a little garden or pots.

      Ask for what you need for kitchen tools as gifts from your family, or go to the thrift stores. Borrow books from the library – you’ll learn, and you’ll all be healthier for it for far less money. The cooperative extension people can help you, or the internet, too. Believe me, you’ll find that you ARE a creative person in the kitchen and you’ll become proud of what you serve your family and feel confident with just a little practice! No one is born with skills; we all have to develop them the same way – effort. You sound as though you yearn to learn, so go for it – nothing’s more rewarding!

    • #406537

      @mcnerd 95551 wrote:

      Are onions really bland enough to give to infants and be digestible?

      No! Most babies will hate the taste, and onions will likely give them a lot of gas and a belly ache, besides, and there’s no nutrition there, anyway. Ditto for garlic. Onions in table food given to toddlers may have to be added slowly, and I would suggest only cooked, not raw.

    • #406538

      Thanks for all the baby food making help! I have found making veggies are cheaper than making fruit. Of course it is the middle of winter in Michigan and fruit prices are high.

    • #406697


      You gave some sound advice for the younger famlies starting out… Great post site friend…

    • #406777

      Chicken Parmigiana
      (2) 6 oz. boneless chicken breasts — pound them until they are thin
      1 cup flour
      2 eggs
      1 cup breadcrumbs
      Salt and pepper to taste
      2 cups fresh or prepared tomato sauce
      2 slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese
      4 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese
      4 tablespoons of oil
      6 oz. of fresh pasta, cooked and drained
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly season the meat with the salt and pepper. Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs each in a bowl. Heat the oil in a skillet. Dip a breast into the flour, then the eggs and then into the breadcrumbs. Gently lay the coated breast Into the skillet in the oil. Do the same with the second breast. Saute each on one side until golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.
      On a baking sheet place the cutlet with the cheese on top. Heat in the oven to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and place each breast on a plate with the cooked pasta on the side. Top with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

      This lovely dish is so simple and yet so delicious! The name is simple too and means Chicken in Wine. Freeze four pieces for dinner another day.
      One chicken cut into eight pieces
      3 oz. oil
      1 cup of frozen pearl onions
      1 cup of mushroom, washed and with the stem removed
      8 oz of red wine
      8 oz chicken broth
      2 tablespoon fresh and softened butter
      2 tablespoon flour
      1 teaspoon thyme
      1 bay leaf
      1 tablespoon minced garlic
      2 slices of bacon
      Chopped parsley
      Salt and pepper to taste
      Dice the bacon. In a large skillet heat the oil and add the chicken. Brown well on all sides. Remove from skillet. Add bacon and brown slightly. Then add the mushrooms and onions and lightly saute. Remove from pan with a slotted
      Spoon and set aside. Add the butter to the oil in the skillet and melt. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add the wine and salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and cook very slowly about 20 minutes until chicken is completely done (thermometer inserted into the meat registers 170 degrees F.
      Add the bacon, mushrooms and onions back to the skillet and warm. Remove and divide between two plates. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat the pan to very hot, add remaining fourth cup of wine and stir well. Pour this mixture over the chicken. Garnish with parley and serve with very coarse, crusty bread and wine.

      Fettuccine Alfredo
      This is another classical and beautiful dish. Serve with a salad, wine and French bread!
      1 cup of heavy cream
      2 oz. butter
      1 pound of fresh fettuccine
      1 cup heavy cream or half and half
      6 oz. Freshly grated parmesan cheese
      Salt to taste
      Freshly ground black pepper
      Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce by a fourth. Remove from heat and set aside. Bring salted water to a rolling boil and add the fettuccine. Cook until just al dente, or firm to the bite. Drain.
      In a skillet, combine the cream and butter mixture with the cooked noodles. Toss well until the noodles are coated. Add the remaining cream and cheese and toss well to mix. Divide onto two plates and season with salt and fresh pepper.

    • #407445

      There is some great advice up here already!

      I learned how to cook on my own as well and I am in my mid 20’s (one income family here too). I have enjoyed every minute of cooking and learning how to. I watch cooking shows, read cookbooks for fun, cruise recipe sites all the time, even get a cooking magazine (Cooking for 2), had a job at a school cafeteria (I can make pizza like a pro now), and have a large cookbook section in my kitchen.

      I clip coupons, plan my meals around what is on sale, shop at 5 different stores including Big Lots (watch those expiration dates) and a discount bread market for all my bread, tortillas, bagels, specialty bread, etc., stock up on extra things when they do go on sale (I found summer berry tea on sale for .50 a box so I bought 3 small cases since we drink a lot of tea), grow a herb/veggie/fruit garden in the kitchen window (I currently have mint and sage but will be adding more shortly), buy clearance meat whenever I find it and not worry about how to make it as I know I will be able to find a recipe either in a cook book or online, I also buy clearance food from the bins/shelves (Target has really awesome clearance racks for food, beauty, and cleaning supplies), and last but not least make majority of everything homemade or semi-homemade.

      Another thing is that we do give ourselves $5 each to get one item that we really want.That way we don’t feel like we are on such a tight budget and I know $10 really isn’t that much to add. I got a box of cookies and he got a thing box of full throttle energy drinks last time.

      I am very careful about buying canned items. Dents in the middle areas are fine, but if it is near the top or bottom seal forget it. I used to work in a school cafeteria and that is one of the many helpful things I learned.

      Don’t be afraid to try something new and watch the nutrition. Nutrition is super important especially for kids. Having trouble getting kids to eat veggies? Try sweet potatoes with brown sugar or mashed up with candied pecans on top. They are super cheap and much healthier than regular white potatoes.

      Something I always do is cook my ground beef with onion and garlic. It doesn’t matter what the ground beef is used for, it just gives it some great flavor.

      If you buy fresh veggies/fruits and you notice they are starting to decline, chop them up and freeze them ASAP. Frozen chopped celery can be used in soups, sandwich fillings, stews, casseroles, etc.

      A great money saver in our house is having breakfast once a week for dinner. I take a $2 package of bacon and chop it in half. Bake half of the package on a lined cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes on 350. While that is cooking you have the stove top free to make scrambled eggs with veggies and chopped lunch meat, omelets, pancakes, etc. Make sure you add a little cream/milk/evap. milk/ condens. milk/etc. to the scrambled eggs to make them creamier. Left over bacon (you can cook the other half while you eat) can be used the next day for breakfast, sandwiches, etc.

      If you ever want to chat about cooking/food shoot me a message. I have lots of great cheap ideas rolling around my head that I use all the time. I already have a friend that calls me anytime he and his wife need help in the kitchen. So I am always happy to help.

    • #407495

      @ab2401 95406 wrote:

      I dont even know what a food bank is, would it be something like the angel food net work?

      I’m not a cooker and all of my life(i’m only 20) have had things made or just went out and got something quick and easy, so I’m new (so to say) to cooking and what not.

      I love to cook. I didn’t years ago. I learned by checking out various places online. There are some sites where you type in your ingredients and it will produce a recipe for you. There are others that give you meal plans and grocery lists to make those meals. Just google what you are looking for and you will see them.

      One of the ways I learned to love cooking was to master meals at a time. For example, one of my favorites is a chicken and rice casserole. I get the meat from Angel Food, so I am not sure how much it is individually, but I think the entire meal would cost less than $4 if you priced it out. You take 2 pieces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, and 1 can of Southwest Cheese Sauce and combine them (remember to mix the Southwestern Cheese Sauce with water). You mix the rice and the sauce first, then add the chicken. Cover with foil or the lid to the baking pan, put in the over for 1 1/2 hours on 350 and go about your evening. Wuh la. You have a meal. Another good thing that is quick and easy is the McCormick Homestyle Chicken season in a bag meal. You just take the bag, mix the spices, throw in chicken, carrots, and broccoli (or any other veggies), put in the oven at 350 for half an hour or so and you are done. There are a lot of recipes like that out there.

      Finally, you should think about your health with your budget. TV dinners are filled with sodium. If you are eating pizza one night, tv dinners two night, hot dogs another night, gosh. You will be looking at high blood pressure and other problems soon. That is a LOT of sodium. I think you can find better, cheaper alternatives by looking around online. Practice. That’s all there is to it. Also, each of those meals could be eaten by the baby when the time comes around, as I have a 10 month old who LOVES the meals.

      Good luck!

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Budget Menu & Dirt Cheap Recipes Cooking for Two We need some real help!