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Frugal Meals - Recipes and Cost

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Based on a suggestion by @kiplette, let's share recipes for frugal meals (vegetarian or non-vegetarian).

It would be good to give sources for the components and a general idea of the cost.

 

Let me start with something very simple that saved me in hard times:

 

Refried (mashed) Beans and Rice, serves two, costs 2,50 Euros:

- red kidney beans: 425 ml can in Lidl or Aldi cost about 50 cents.
  (Alternative: Buy a 1 or 5 kilo of dried and precook about one cup of dry beans. Cost is similar when you add the electricity used.)

- 1 onion (say 20 cents)

- clove of garlic (fresh is better. 1 head of garlic might be 1 Euro, one clove 10 cents)

- cumin (buy it in a Turkish or Asian market, 100 grams ground are 1,50 - 2 Euros, you'll use maybe 20 cents of this)

- olive oil (cheapest half litre bottle is 5 Euros, you might use up 30 cents of it. Sure, you could use other oil, but you want the taste.)

- red pepper flakes / cayenne pepper to taste (check out Turkish / Asian markets again! Maybe 20 cents out of a bag for 2 Euros)

- salt or powdered vegetable stock

- rice: Don't get parboiled or bagged rice/Kochbeutelreis, it's horrible. Get basmati (2 Euros per kilo at Lidl/Aldi) or brown rice (healthier, 3-4 Euros per kilo, either Lidl/Aldi or the Basic Bio Market/Vollkorner/Grüner Markt). You will need 250 grams = 50 cents - 1 Euro.

 

Rinse 250 grams rice well (three times), simmer about 20 minutes in enough water to cover well. (Or measure in a cup, and add 2 1/2 times the volume in water.)

Drain the canned beans and wash once.

Fry the chopped onion gently in the oil (medium heat) until soft and slightly browned. Do not burn!

Add the crushed garlic and  ground cumin to taste, stir for a minute or two.

Add the cooked beans, pepper flakes, salt (or vegetable stock)

With a potato masher (in a pinch use an empty jar or even a fork) mash the beans over same medium heat. Add water while mashing to make a thick paste, doesn't have to be perfect.

Bonus: Add some parsley or thyme if you have it!
Once more or less mashed, stir well, cook a little longer and serve with the rice. :)

 

Who's next with a frugal recipe? :)

 

 

 

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Sounds tasty, Metall. I won't post a recipe of my own, as I don't know the prices of individual ingredients, but this book may be of interest:

 

The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes

 

I bought it some time ago when looking for a book of basic recipes and it got good reviews on Amazon. Have only tried one of the recipes so far, and it was very good: "pasta with peas, cream, bacon and thyme" (I also added mushrooms). From what I recall, you put olive oil, chopped onion, frozen peas, chopped bacon (I used parma ham), thyme (plus sliced mushrooms, for me) into a pan and cook gently as pasta is cooking in another pan, then add some cream to the veg and heat through before mixing in the cooked pasta.

 

Quote

 

Amazon says: "Jocasta Innes shows that delicious and stylish cooking does not have to rely on expensive ingredients and that budget food does not mean simply opening a tin or a packet. Frugal and inventive tips on sensible shopping, using leftovers and creating home-made versions of store-bought favourites help to cut the costs at every stage.

 

This well loved kitchen classic was originally published in 1971, a pioneering book in its use of cheaper cuts of meat, offal, pulses and veg, supplemented by foraged ingredients. It has been totally revised and updated to take into account the ever-increasing range of low-cost ingredients now available in local supermarkets, and is reissued here with a new cover design. More than 250 recipes, including soups, puddings and vegetarian meals, ranging from quick snacks to impressive party dishes, will suit every occasion and guarantee the tastiest results at the cheapest cost."

 

 

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In my student days, I bought a book by Delia Smith called Food for our Times donated in aid of Oxfam and chose this lentil and vegetable recipe to start me off. It is still one of my favourite meals, especially in cold weather, nutritious and economical.

The food stains on the page? Maybe 40 years old?

 

:P Edit: poor quality, difficult to read..will try again later...

IMG_2457.jpg

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I agree, those are both very good books!

 

I was thinking of the most basic dry (non perishable) pantry a poor student should have to cook a lot of different dishes.

Here's my take:

- rice (two kilos)

- plain cooking oil

- olive oil (cheapest)

- vinegar

- canned beans (4 cans)

- canned diced tomatoes (4 cans)

- dry spaghetti (two packs)

- mashed potato powder (one pack)

- vegetable or chicken/beef stock (powder or cubes)

- spices: salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin. Nice to have: curry,  cinnamon, powdered ginger (if you like ginger).
  Get spices in the Turkish/Asian markets, much cheaper than in the German stores! Spices make frugal dishes much happier!

 

All of the above add up to about 25 - 30 Euros. This will last a while (about 14 very basic meals).

 

Now go forth and start shopping the cheapest vegetables - look for sales!
For meat buy chicken legs - Turkish stores sell them fresh for 2 Euros per kilo! (Or frozen at cheap supermarkets)

 

 

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Lidl up here has started flogging off some of the fruits and veggies in the last hour - half hour before closing. They do half price. Is that true down in Bavaria?

 

Rewe up here is the only place I have seen so far which has a 'Tesco' style of reduction - they reduce items coming to their sell-by date right down to cents if necessary. It is not daily, or even weekly, but sometimes amazing bargains can be had. Again, I don't know if that is country-wide. 

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Jack Munroe has UK priced recipes which are tasty.  Some you would have to ignore because of UK ingredients or substitute.  She does vegan, vegetarian, and carnivore stuff.

 

https://cookingonabootstrap.com/

 

It is also worth remembering that some people living in very cheap accommodation have limited cooking facilities, limited fridge space, no freezer, and few utensils, blah blah blah.    A bit like cooking when you are camping without a vehicle.   Jack does a lot of wonderful things involving cheap tinned stuff and microwave stuff.  She does use lots of herbs (fresh when grows them on her balcony in summer) spices and garlic but over time these are well worth the investment.

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Two For One Chicken: serves two, makes two different meals! Cost: 7 Euros in all

This is a  little more involved, but hey, you get meat and loads of flavor out of the effort. :)

 

Meal 1:

- Go to Turkish store and buy 1 kilo of fresh chicken legs -preferred! - or frozen in supermarket. Should be 3-4 legs: 2 Euros

- Get white rice, you will need 500 grams (a double serving , you'll see why): 1 Euro

- Curry powder (buy at Asian store): you will use 30 cents of it

- Salt, pepper

 

Thaw chicken if necessary (put unopened frozen bag in warm water). Pat chicken dry.

Loosen the skin a little by pushing fingers under the skin, it should separate easily.

Rub curry powder, salt and pepper UNDER the skin (between skin and meat).

 

Bake chicken legs in the oven at 200 - 220 degrees Centigrade for 20-25 minutes for crispy skin.

Chicken must be done! It's OK if the joint breaks apart easily, if you can flake off meat with a fork, if juices run clear.

(If you have the luxury of a meat thermometer: it should read at least 75 degrees Centigrade).

Bonus:

- Buy a kilo of carrots for 2 Euros at cheap supermarket. Slice one pound in thin slices and roast in oven along with chicken, can actually cook in the chicken juices: 1 Euro

 

If you don't have a stove, slowly fry in a big pan on the stove along with veggies. Simple pans don't cost a lot.

 

While roasting the chicken, cook 500 grams of rice: 1 Euro

Serve chicken, roast veggies, and HALF of the rice. Save other half of rice for meal 2.

This is a very hearty meal, you might not need all the rice.

 

Meal 2:

Don't throw away the chicken bones, gristly bits, grease, skin etc.!

The next day, put all the chicken bones&leftovers in a pot, add a dash of salt and pepper, cover with water, and let simmer gently with lid on for 2-3 hours to make very good chicken stock. Add a little water if it gets too low.
The stock should have a good chicken taste. If it's weak, cook a little longer.

 

- Get an onion (1 kilo should be less than 2 Euros) and slice it: 20 cents

- slice the rest of the carrots (500 grams): 1 Euro

- Strain off stock. NOW you may throw away the bones ;)

- Cook veggies in chicken stock with curry powder or garlic or thyme until soft: 30 cents

- Add yesterday's rice and warm it up. Adjust with chicken stock to either a thick soup or a rice dish.

- Salt, pepper, garlic, ginger powder, red pepper flakes to taste:(20 cents) and serve.

 

Yum!

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2 hours ago, Metall said:

I agree, those are both very good books!

 

I was thinking of the most basic dry (non perishable) pantry a poor student should have to cook a lot of different dishes.

Here's my take:

- rice (two kilos)

- plain cooking oil

- olive oil (cheapest)

- vinegar

- canned beans (4 cans)

- canned diced tomatoes (4 cans)

- dry spaghetti (two packs)

- mashed potato powder (one pack)

- vegetable or chicken/beef stock (powder or cubes)

- spices: salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin. Nice to have: curry,  cinnamon, powdered ginger (if you like ginger).
  Get spices in the Turkish/Asian markets, much cheaper than in the German stores! Spices make frugal dishes much happier!

 

All of the above add up to about 25 - 30 Euros. This will last a while (about 14 very basic meals).

 

Now go forth and start shopping the cheapest vegetables - look for sales!
For meat buy chicken legs - Turkish stores sell them fresh for 2 Euros per kilo! (Or frozen at cheap supermarkets)

 

 

I love your basic ingredients...we have similar tastes! Just a question: what is DRY SPAGHETTI???

Oh, and only one disagreement...mashed potato powder...I don´t like it. I just prefer real potatoes..but anyway!

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34 minutes ago, john g. said:

I love your basic ingredients...we have similar tastes! Just a question: what is DRY SPAGHETTI???

Oh, and only one disagreement...mashed potato powder...I don´t like it. I just prefer real potatoes..but anyway!

 

I meant packs of cheap supermarket spaghetti, not the fancy fresh spaghetti stores sell for big money here.

And the mashed potato powder is pretty good here - you can make a quick  potato soup and potato pancakes from that, too. ;)

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Oh! I have never heard of fresh spaghetti--my ignorance!!!

Ich bleibe stür: NO mashed potato powder!

:P

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Slammer‘s mud. In it‘s essence poor mans Labskaus...

Boil a few spuds, get some onions in. Add a can of cornedbeef. Let it bubble for a bit and lash it with HP Sauce before serving.

Nice with Toast 

 

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Here's my quick and easy mini Calzone recipe (makes 8 per package):

 

Buy a premade pizza dough, like Rewe's Ja! brand that comes with the tomato sauce (1.59 euros): 

https://shop.rewe.de/p/ja-backfertiger-pizzateig-mit-sauce-600g/2236174

 

Buy some dry shredded cheese, either mozarella or emmentaler (1.39 euros) :

https://shop.rewe.de/p/ja-mozzarella-gerieben-200g/7273956

 

Ricotta cheese (1.99 euros) - this is the most important ingredient:

https://shop.rewe.de/p/galbani-ricotta-frisch-250g/7314973

 

Some Pepperoni or Salami or Ham slices, both or whatever you like (1.09 euros):

https://shop.rewe.de/p/wiltmann-gefluegel-salami-light-50g/699236:

 

1) Roll out the pizza dough flat and cut with a knife so that you get 8 fairly similarly sized rectangles. I say rectangles because it's not possible to cut them in squares unless you don't care to not use all of the dough. Or you can make bigger calzone.. I usually make pocket sized calzones.

2) On each rectangle put a layer of 1-2 meat slices in center of each rectangle, or a little off-center to make the folding of the dough over easier...

3) Next put two 1-2 teaspoons of sauce on the slices, spreading a little.

4) Now put some shredded cheese on top , about 1-2 teaspoons

5) Finally put a dollop of ricotta cheese on top, also about 1-2 teaspoons

 

Now comes the skill - stretch the dough over your cheese/sauce/meat pile to close up the calzone.. sort of like making an empanada. Use a fork to press the edges together.

 

Optional: slather some of the pizza sauce on the outside and top with some grated parmesan cheese or left over shredded cheese. You can also sprinkle in ground black pepper or chiles or whatever onto the cheese/sauce/meat pile before you close.. whatever you like.

 

Bake in an oven at 180 C for 15-20 mins... keep an eye so it doesn't get burnt.

 

Tip: try to use the pizza dough when it is not too cold but not too warm.. easier to work with!

 

Take them to work - give to the kids for school snack - like a hot pocket!

 

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If you have a family, a pressure cooker is not an expensive investment.  Making stock from bones and cooking beans really fast, energy efficient and do not steam up the house.   And many other things too, though these are the main reasons I use mine.  

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You people are so fancy with your recipes ;)  I barely cook but you can still live frugally even if you don't cook.

 

Back when I was a poor manpower worker, my breakfast and lunch would be the cheapest sandwich bread you can get.  All stores have cheap store brand sandwich bread.  Should be about 55 cents per loaf.  Buy the cheapest cheese and ham you can get to go with that.  So maybe it's not gourmet but it fills you up.  Or you can eat oatmeal, hot or cold.  Put it in a bowl, add milk, let it sit in the fridge overnight and done.  You can take it to work as well.

 

For dinner, pop your sandwich bread in the pan and make grilled cheese sandwiches or dip it in milk and eggs and make french toast or  also you can get 3 salami pizzas at Kaufland for 2.59€  Pop it in the oven, bake at 230 ish for 15 min. or so.  86 cents per meal.  If you like or can afford to, you can add extra toppings.  Or go with pasta and ketchup.  Can't fail.  I'm sure it's not healthy in the long run but it's not like you want to eat like this forever, only while you are poor.  Also, you don't go to cafe's or restaurants and don't buy water, drink it from the tap.

 

In order to figure out your budget, calculate how much you have left over after you've paid your monthly bills and split per week or even per day.  If you consistently manager to stay within your daily budget, you can allow yourself a treat at the end of the month.

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18 minutes ago, snowingagain said:

If you have a family, a pressure cooker is not an expensive investment.  Making stock from bones and cooking beans really fast, energy efficient and do not steam up the house.   And many other things too, though these are the main reasons I use mine.  

 

I second that!

Things I cook in my pressure cooker (which I've had for 15 years):

- Various beans

- potatoes

- brown rice (dry roast in the cooker until it smells toasty, add water, close and cook for 15 minutes for perfect fluffy brown rice)

- stock from any kind of bones or meat scraps

- veggie stock from vegetable scraps

- sterilize glasses of homemade marmalade (from the elderberries scrummed in the park! :D )

etc. etc.

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23 minutes ago, LeonG said:

I'm sure it's not healthy in the long run but it's not like you want to eat like this forever, only while you are poor.  Also, you don't go to cafe's or restaurants and don't buy water, drink it from the tap.

 

 

Absolutely.  If you are poor and struggling with feeding your family, what you need to do is eat cheap sliced bread sandwiches and porridge.  You will not be poor for long and then you can do the fancy stuff with fruit and vegetables and what not.   And for goodness sake, stop buying Perrier!  All this stuff about eating healthily on a budget is a lot of claptrap.

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We were very poor our first summer in Germany.  With five mouths to feed (including a big man and three rising teens), I made a lot of fried potatoes.  Potatoes, onions, and oil are inexpensive and the combination delicious.  We ate bakery loaves spread with Develey mustard.  We bought our milk from the dairy next door.  Nowadays I'd include cabbage and cubed potatoes fried with speck and a dash of vinegar.  Not super healthy, but it wasn't a lengthy austerity program, just enough to get us through two or three months.  And it was all tasty.

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8 hours ago, snowingagain said:

If you have a family, a pressure cooker is not an expensive investment.  Making stock from bones and cooking beans really fast, energy efficient and do not steam up the house.   And many other things too, though these are the main reasons I use mine.  

 

When I was living on rice and beans there was no way in hell I could have bought a pressure cooker as they actually are expensive. Which is a very real and limiting factor when you're broke. 

 

For context I had about $20 per week for groceries. How many weeks of food would a pressure cooker cost?  And what would I have eaten in the meantime? I do love my pressure cooker and yes, it would have served me very well during those lean times, but it was just not a luxury I could afford.

 

 If you're in a position to watch your cash flow you're right that good kit can be an investment, but a lot of people who pinch every penny around food aren't doing so by choice, it's dire.

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4 hours ago, lisa13 said:

 If you're in a position to watch your cash flow you're right that good kit can be an investment, but a lot of people who pinch every penny around food aren't doing so by choice, it's dire

 

That's why my posted recipes don't use fancy kit. Not even an oven in a pinch.

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