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Creative cost cutting meals anyone??

Posted Monday, February 16, 2009, at 2:26 PM

Meatloaf! Not Meat Goo
I did some studying about meatloaf and found some interesting facts.

Meatloaf has been around in one form or another for a long time. Genghis Khan noted the people of Hamburg, Germany chopped their meat fine and shaped it into a loaf.

Of course in hard times it becomes a staple and a way to stretch the budget.

My meat loaf is terrible. I have tried to fix it, and end up with meat Goo. Not loaf.

I like pinto beans and corn bread. Black beans and rice, and several other Uber cheapo meals.. I draw the line at Raman Noodles.

What creative ideas do you have for dinner?

What do you do to save?

What is fast and simple, does not need expensive ingredients from far off places?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

My husband and I eat a lot of sweet potatoes. We bake them and they are delicious. One large potato fills me up for lunch or dinner. Also PB&J sandwhiches or tuna are good cheap meals that are full of protein. Its sad that most healthy foods are more expensive while the fattening, frozen foods are cheaper.

-- Posted by honda14 on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 2:31 PM

hi, lesa! phillip and i enjoy "yankee" pot roast. 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 2 packs of beef stew meat (cheaper than a roast), and 1 pkg onion soup mix. in slow cooker, mix can soup, powder soup mix, 4 cups water until blended. slide in the stew meat and cook on low for 4 hrs. serve over rice or noodles. not too bad. two can eat off it for a couple days, and its easily re-heated or freezable! love you, squeez-me

-- Posted by picaboo170 on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 2:47 PM

I love meatloaf regardless, we eat a lot of chili and soup, whatever is left freeze it for another day. Shopping out at save a lot and Ugo helps out a lot. For a family of 5 we stay within about $150.00 a week.

-- Posted by michaelbell on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 3:27 PM

I'm not a big fan of meatloaf either but I found this recipe and tried it out. It was much better than the meatloaf (meat-goo) I've made before!


I've had really good luck finding great recipes on recipezaar.com.

-- Posted by LiveLaughLove on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 7:18 PM

ha! ya know my husband reminded me the mountain folks know how to budget for hard times.. they just eat possum.


-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 8:02 PM

The other white meat, hmmm good!

-- Posted by michaelbell on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 8:21 PM

I am not a meatloaf fan at all and neither is my family, but I have figured out a way to fix it so they will eat it.

hamburger, oats, crackers, sloppy joe sauce, eggs

I mix all the above ingredients together and add extra sloppy joe sauce and ketchup on top. make it with mashed potatoes and green beans. We do not have it often, but it works in a bind.

-- Posted by For the kids on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 9:31 PM

Any meal can be made good with a little imagination and creativity. Instead of meatloaf, try meatballs with a homemade tomato sauce with some fresh basil or thyme. You can add some curry powder to give a distinctive flavor to meats or vegetables. Risotto is a flavorful rice that goes well with most anything, and is fairly inexpensive to make. Grits( or in Italy, polenta) can be made for pennies and go a long way. Try taking some grits and adding some nutmeg or cinnamon. Grating some pepper jack cheese in them adds an unexpected zing to them. Grits can be paired with meats for a more traditional flair. Shrimp and grits are very lovely indeed. I tend to stay away from the prepared sauces that are on the shelves. The sodium(salt) content is pretty high, plus you miss the joy of making it yourself. Instead of going to the grocery once a week, try going several times. You never know what may be on sale that can make some tasty meals. Last week Kroger had ground turkey on sale for $.99 a pound! I use it more often than ground beef, and it is a healthy alternative. Pasta can be another inexpensive meal option. Add some chicken thigh meat, or the ground turkey with your homemade tomato sauce for a tasty treat. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. You never know what delectable morsel is waiting for you to try!

-- Posted by Chef Boy R.D. on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 9:42 PM

Chef Boy R.D. - I agree with you about polenta. I have a friend who makes polenta patties, and they are so good and filling (and cheap!).

-- Posted by cfrich on Mon, Feb 16, 2009, at 10:40 PM

There is always hamburger helper or fried bologna.

-- Posted by michaelbell on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 5:45 AM

Our meatloaf recipe is wonderful

Hamb.1 1/2 lbs.

crackers 1/2 pk

toast 2- I use end slices

meatloaf seasoning (Sav-a-lot)

tomato sauce 15 oz. ("-"-") 1/2 in mix,1/2 on top

1 med. egg

1 med. chopped onion

I mix all ingredients, DO NOT OVERMIX, makes it dry

I form them in to individual loaves and brown them on each side. Then place in pan and cover with remainder tomato sauce. Cover, cook 45 mins @350,uncover and cook 15 mins.

You can also omit tomato sauce and replace with 2 packets of brown gravy, 1 in mix and 1 made as gravy and poured on top for salisbury steaks.

Hope I didn't forget anything!

-- Posted by truckindaddy on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 6:57 AM

Also made a burrito casserole last week, WAS WONDERFUL!

1 1/2 lb hamb

1 pkt taco seasoning (add water from packet directions)

1 large jar of mild salsa (hotter if u want)

1 package mexican blend cheese

4 large soft taco shells OR 8 small

brown and drain meat, add taco seasoning and water,simmer. Soften shells in microwave(to make plyable), place mix on shells and fold. Place enough salsa to cover bottem of pan. place burritos on salsa, cover with remaining salsa and top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 375 for 30 mins. Left cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Cheap and was great with a salad.

-- Posted by truckindaddy on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 7:05 AM

Any suggestions for those of us who don't eat beef or pork? I only eat poultry or fish.

-- Posted by honda14 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 8:12 AM

I make my own version of Shepherd's Pie. I take hamburger meat (cooked and drained) and add corn, peas, carrots and green beans to it. If you like onion and tomato, that can be added also. I mix the veggies and meat. I put that into a baking dish. On top I put mashed potatoes. Then I bake it for about 20 minutes. My husband adds cheese to his when it's finished. Taco soup is really easy too! Hamburger (cooked and drained) with taco seasoning. I only add corn to mine, but you can put black beans, onion and tomato. Mix veggies and meat and add to tomato soup. Simmer until soup reaches a slight boil. Remove from heat. Add cheese, sour cream, and corn chips and enjoy. I also put taco sauce in mine when it's done. It's quick and simple and doesn't make as big a mess as traditional tacos.

Honda14, the taco soup can also be made with boneless chicken.

-- Posted by candasons07 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 8:32 AM

honda14, you can make your own crispy chicken strips. use the pre-cut boneless chicken breast tenderloin or you can cut it yourself. take a half sleeve of ritz crackers (more or less depending on number of strips) and crush into a bowl. add grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese and season to taste. while your crushing crackers, melt 1/2 stick butter or margarine in the microwave. dip chicken into margarine and then cracker mixture to coat. lay in casserole dish. use remaining crumbs on top. bake 350 for 30 min. No preservatives!

-- Posted by picaboo170 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 10:32 AM

Thanks picaboo170....that sounds delicious!

-- Posted by honda14 on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 10:44 AM

man you guys are awesome!! I am gonna have to try some of these suggestions for certain. I am not someone who loves to cook so these suggestions rock big time.

LOve love love to you all!

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 11:21 AM

Check these out:


-- Posted by tgreader on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 1:22 PM

Honda, there are so many ways to prepare fish or chicken, it is hard to pick just a few. Good fresh fish is hard to get locally so you may have to do with frozen fish. Tilapia can be purchsed fresh at Krogers most of the time. Do not use the ready made seasoning things off the shelf. Try just a little salt, black pepper, and coat the fish in olive oil. Garnish with some cilantro and lemon or lime juice, and you have a wonderful meal. I tend to stay away from the catfish as it has a higher fat content and can harbor some undesireable things such as heavy metals. Yes I like to eat catfish too, just in moderation. Chicken can be prepared in much the same way. Try a little ground cumin or smoked paprika on it. I also do not use and Tyson products.

-- Posted by Chef Boy R.D. on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 8:45 AM

My kids always loved this dish when they were little - I called it Poor Man's Chicken Parmesan:

1 package chicken fried steak (or chicken fried chicken) (if you buy it at Sav-A-Lot, you get a 6 pack for about $2.50)

Jar of Spaghetti sauce

Package of Spaghetti noodles.

Cook spaghetti, heat sauce. Heat steaks in skillet with a tablespoon or so of oil.

Put cooked noodles on one side of plate, heated steak on other. Top steak with slice of mozz cheese, then pour sauce over both, and add parm cheese to all! Yum Yum!

-- Posted by SoldierMom on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 3:20 PM

Hey Sis. Lesa! The kids and I LOVE Tuna Noodle casserole! I can never make enough. Just boil egg noodles, drain. Mix in drained tuna, cream of mushroom soup and peas. Crush sour cream & onion chips over the top & bake for about 10-15 minutes! Quick, easy, and very filling! YUM!!! Have a Blessed Day!

-- Posted by JadeMyst on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 8:46 AM

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Clutter, Cats and Kids
Lesa Cox
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Lesa Cox has owned a cleaning service and a bookstore; now, she repairs and maintains computers for the elderly and others on a fixed income. She enjoys animals, gardening, books and fixing old cars. She and her husband have one son, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.