Cheap Meals: A Must Have In Your Repertoire If Your Budget is Tight
Cheap meals. Seems like a no brainer for a grocery savings web site, huh? The trick is turning out cheap meals people want to eat. If you’re serving your family shoe leather because it’s dirt cheap, you and your loved ones are quickly going to lose your luster for the frugal life. Before you know it, you’ll be back to shopping your old way. You must have some cheap recipes up your sleeve that you and your family will enjoy eating.
As I’ve mentioned on my Grocery Store Ads page, shopping the meat sales and organizing your menu planning around those on-sale meats is key to grocery savings. Well, having an idea of what meats are typically sold at low prices and how to use them in cheap meals is also key.
Below is a list of low-cost meats. These cuts are typically cheap and when they go on sale? – Oh, man!
Chicken Leg quarters – You can find these guys on sale for less than $.50/pound. The down side is it’s kind of a strange cut and the spine is included on the thigh. However, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s a small price to pay -- literally.
Whole Chickens – Cost per pound on these birds are typically about the cheapest you can find next to leg quarters
Boston Butt – This is the roast you typically will make pulled pork from. It is realatively inexpensive. Barbeque season can affect the cost of this roast both ways. Sometimes you’ll find them on sale and other times the high demand will drive prices up. Watch your sales adds for deals.
Country Style Pork Ribs. These babies are delicious and easy to prepare. In addition to the cheap meal on the page linked above, you can smoke or grill these cuts. Actually there are dozens of cheap recipes for country style pork ribs. Look for some online or concoct your own – go on, you can do it. Check out my page on adjusting recipes to make them your own.
Pork Shoulder Picnic – This is another pork roast you can easily find at low prices. I don’t have a ton of experience cooking this roast. As a barbeque guy, I’m somewhat partial to the Boston Butt. Did you know that the Boston Butt is actually a shoulder roast? Well it is, so the Pork Shoulder Picnic can’t be that much different.
There are many beef roasts out there, some are less expensive than others and many can be substitutes for the other in cheap meals. If you are going through your grocery store ad and find a Beef Chuck Roast on sale then get to the store and find a Sirloin Roast on clearance because it expires in a day or two, go for the sirloin if it’s cheaper than the chuck. You can make a stew or roast with either. Go for the lower price. The actual cut won’t make that big of a difference.
Keep it Simple To Achieve Cheap Meals
A major key to cheap meals in minimal ingredients. Makes sense doesn’t it? If you want to save money, don’t put too much stuff in the pot. Now the balancing act comes in making dishes without too many ingredients that taste good.
My favorite cooking magazine includes many delicious recipes in every issue, but they all have an ingredient list as long as my arm! Sure I can substitute the chicken thighs in a recipe with leg quarters, but the long list of ingredients is going to keep the overall cost of that meal high. It really stinks to score a great deal on meat only to blow the savings on the rest of the ingredients.
Herbs and spices are expensive and buying in bulk can bite you back if you don’t use them up quick enough. I’m not saying don’t cook with herbs and spices – I have my herb/spice cabinet just like every other cook out there. I’m just saying look for recipes that don’t call for a tablespoon of everything you have in the cabinet (yeah, I know. I tend to exaggerate).
It’s also a good idea to try to find sales on those spices and buy the generic.
Recipe Software is a great tool for optimizing your use of cheap recipes. After scanning your ad for meats on sale, you can then look for other ingredients you might use for a particular dish. If you find another ingredient on sale, you can do a search in your recipe software that includes that ingredient.
For example; let’s say you found honey mustard on sale in the grocery store ad. You can then search the term “honey mustard” in your recipe software and find all the recipes that include honey mustard as an ingredient. Then all you have to do is choose one that includes the meat you found on sale and voila – a meal made even cheaper using sales prices and recipe software.
Crockpots are great tools to turn out cheap meals. They utilize the low and slow technique of cooking known for turning cheap, tough cuts of meat into tender delights. Follow the above link to my page on crockpots for more information.
As I mentioned above, a major key to grocery savings is having a list of cheap recipes if you are on a tight budget. Work with the above tips to polish your ability to put out cheap meals. I have a couple listed below and will include more as I can.
Country Style Pork Ribs
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