Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Budget Meals (No Ketchup Required)

A few weeks ago, I was searching for some great low cost meals. About 2/3 of them began with a cup of ketchup. One lovely recipe for 'tomato' soup was literally ketchup and water. OK, I'm sure it was cheap but exactly how healthy is a combo of sugar, chemical sugar and processed tomato product?

So I decided to mix and match and find some unique meals that would be healthy and would not send us to the poor house.

My first weapon--beans. Beans are such a cheap, low cost protein and they are healthy to boot.
I sauteed red and green peppers with some cumin and oregano. Then I added minced garlic, followed by canned tomatoes with hatch chilis and some kidney beans.

I served it with grated cheddar cheese and a few tortilla chips. My kids loved it.

Second weapon--multi-purpose ingredients. I love getting a whole chicken (the organic ones are on sale at Whole Foods this week) and making something like this. The next day, we pull off some of the meat and make sandwiches by heating up the meat with some BBQ sauce. And then I take the bones and make a stock. Then with the remaining meat I make chicken noodle soup with it. Three meals from one chicken (granted I have to buy one of the bigger birds but there are six of us here!).

Also, when I menu plan for the week, I search for items with similar ingredients (such as peppers, parsley, etc.) so I can use all of.

Finally, I keep lots of veggie cuttings. You know the leaf side of the celery, the extra carrots or spinach that seems to be on its last leg? Don't throw it out! Keep it all together and make it into a veggie soup! First saute your veggie cuttings than add a little red wine, diced tomatoes (canned is fine), some veggie broth and finally some beans. And if you want to add some carbs, you can add some pasta or potatoes. All from stuff you were going to trash. Pretty cool, huh?

So there are some menu ideas to help keep the grocery bill down and you don't have to use any ketchup :)


Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey Lisa
I know in the past you've mentioned that you try to keep your family off HFCS, which I know is in ketchup. Just wondering... do you try to limit it or eliminate it? I understand it's not the best stuff in the world, but wouldn't it be okay in moderation? Just wondering!

Jules from "The Roost" said...

I love your way of thinking when it comes to cooking for your family! I will pass this on. Thanks girl!

mah-meeee said...

love the chicken three meals deal... will definitely try that one.

though i have a question about beans. do you buy them canned or dry? if dried, how long do you soak/pre-prepare them?

thanks for the tips again!