I am a person who is always looking to save money. On everything. Food included. I have come up with a sort-of system. It’s based on items costing a dollar. For reference, I will use one of my favorite stores (Dollar Tree) as an example. Note that these recipes were for times when I REALLY wanted to keep costs down. Regular, routine meals were a little more extravagant. I always splurge for special occasions.
When I was married and cooking for a family of five, I tried to keep the cost to $ plus 1 – hence, the total of $6 for us. When I lived with my sister and her family (we were four people) I kept these meals to $5. Of course, none of this is etched in stone, and some of the extras I usually had on hand.
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS – I would get a box or two of pasta (sometimes Dollar Tree had boxes that were more large in size, 24 oz. instead of 16). Let me say next that my family has always preferred frozen meatballs to homemade ones (despite many recipes being tried). I would usually use two bags of meatballs. If I was wanting more leftovers, I would buy three. Lastly, I would get a jar of the spaghetti sauce they had on the shelf (my family was not picky). If we needed more sauce or wanted garlic bread with the meal, those were things I usually had on hand. This was always a successful meal that my family enjoyed.
CHICKEN SANDWICHES – A quick, easy meal. Two packages of the Chicken Patties that are round, look like burgers and fit on the same rolls. If we had lettuce on hand, we would include these on the sandwiches. The same with cheese. Use or not use. If you are lucky, you will find the potato rolls at DT. They usually sell fast, so you may end up with regular rolls. No wories, those are good too. To go along with this meal, you could always grab a bag of shoestring fries or those little tater tots. Mmmmmm.
BREAKFAST FOR DINNER – At Dollar Tree, this can be accomplished in different ways. You can get a box of pancake mix, one bottle of syrup, if you don’t mind turkey bacon, for $1 you can fry that up, a bottle or two of 32 oz. apple, orange or cranberry juice. And add a bag of frozen fruit. I always liked having strawberries, but that’s just me.
Also you can get two boxes of waffles (they have a few varieties), the bacon, the juice and the fruit.
And then the eggs. My local Dollar Trees usually have packages of 18 mediums – the potential here is endless. You can get a loaf of bread and turn these eggs into French Toast. You can get a package or two of bagels and make egg sandwiches. You can scramble a bunch, add them to shredded hash browns with some cheese and make a casserole.
SOUPS – Again, many options. Say, for Chicken Noodle Soup – one or two containers of broth (beef or chicken. It doesn’t matter). One or two cans of canned chicken. A can of carrots. Cook all together, make pasta on the side. Combine it all. Pair it with those scare-the-hell-out-of-you pop biscuits (or whatever you find, or have at home).
Chicken with White Bean – one of my favorites. Again, one or two cans of canned chicken. One or two containers of broth. A can of canned spinach. A can of white beans (or if you want to be real frugal, in advance soak and use those hard beans). Rolls. Breadsticks. Saltine crackers. Whatever you have to perk up the dish…