Your Questions About Family Budget Meals

John asks…

What are your suggestions for budget meals for a large family?

I have five children and although my husband and I both work and receive good incomes, we want to save to buy a house. Therefore, I am looking for your secret delicious home-baked recipes – dinners / cookies / whatever you can help with that is really cost friendly.

richmama answers:

Try using some cheaper cuts of meat in your stews and casseroles.

Mutton is cheaper than lamb but still very tasty when braised or slow cooked and Turkey steaks are cheaper than chicken, or go for chicken and turkey thighs rather than breast.

One idea is to use less meat and more vegetables and use vegetables that are in season. So here in the UK at the moment carrots, onions, cabbage, potato, swede, turnip, leeks, kale and parsnip are all in season.

Very cheap is a traditional broth, Buy a ham hock, unsmoked bacon or gammon joint. Soak in water for a number of hours, 5 should do to remove saltiness, pour away the water and boil in fresh water for 3 hours, reserve this water if you used a ham hock on the bone as it will make a nice stock.

Add diced swede and carrot, shredded leek,(or anything you like) vegetable stock cubes and pearl barley. Shred the meat off the bone using a fork and add this to your mix, simmer for 20 minutes and finally add some chopped herbs of your choice (sage for me). Season to your taste with black pepper and salt.

Serve with bread

Should cost no more than £5 (approx $7) for 4 or 5 servings just add more ingredients for the 7 of you.

Sharon asks…

Healthy meals for a low budget family?

Due to me losing my job we are on a very low grocery budget for a family of four. My goal is HEALTHY meals (probably less than $100/week) Any Ideas to keep it from NOT getting boring (other than chicken and frozen veggies for dinner!). What about healthy snacks? I have a snack hungry family (2 children under the age of five!) THANKS! Is Save-A-Lot as great as people say? Or is Wal-Mart and Kroger the way to go?

richmama answers:

By cooking at home, you’re already making a huge step towards healthy eating. Your own home cooked meals can be nutritious as well as yummy. Down here, we have a super-walmart, and the prices can’t be beat (I have a family of 6…and it includes a 13 year old boy with a bottomless pit, so I know where you’re coming from).

Here’s some low-cost, healthy foods…
Lean ground beef (97% lean) or ground turkey
multigrain pasta (my kids love Barilla Pasta Plus or the new Ronzoni Smart Taste)
reduced-fat cheeses (low fat string cheese is a great snack)
brown rice
potatoes (when not loaded with butter, they’re very good for you, especially if you can get your kids to eat the skin…mine actually like it).
Beans..all kinds..black, kidney, navy, garbonzo, red

My kids always have the following in the house to choose from for snacks:
granola bars, fresh fruit, lowfat yogurt cups, graham crackers or animal crackers, string cheese, multigrain goldfish crackers

Here’s a great website with tons of recipes for healthy recipes even your kids will like:
http://www.rachaelray.com

****Green Minestrone****

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil EVOO)
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 can white beans (cannellini)
1 can garbanzo beans (cecci, or chickpeas)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup ditalini pasta or mini-penne pasta
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces triple-washed spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped, or any other dark greens
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese, plus extra to pass at the table
12-16 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded, or 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves

Preparation
Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, about two turns around the pan, and pancetta or bacon. Sauté for two minutes and add the onion, celery, garlic, zucchini and bay leaf to the pot.

Season vegetables with salt and pepper, to your taste. Sauté the vegetables for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the white beans, garbanzo beans and chicken broth to the pot.

Cover the soup and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and green beans to the soup and cook for eight minutes, or until pasta is just tender. Stir in the spinach to wilt, about one minute. Stir in grated cheese and ladle soup into bowls. Top soup with torn or shredded basil or chopped parsley.

****Noodle Bowls****
3 quarts packaged or canned vegetable stock or chicken broth
1 pound whole wheat or multigrain linguine
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks or chicken breast cut for stir fry
8 scallions, cut into bite-size pieces on an angle
2 cups shredded carrots, available packaged in the produce section at the grocery store
1 package shiitake mushrooms (about 24 mushrooms or 10 ounces), coarsely chopped
1/2 head bok choy, trimmed and shredded
1/2 pound snow peas, cut in half on an angle
Chopped fresh cilantro and/or chives, for garnish (optional)

Preparation
Heat three quarts of vegetable stock or chicken broth to a boil in a soup pot. In a separate pot, cook linguine according to package directions and drain.

Add chicken to boiling broth. Poach chicken five minutes in broth.

Ladle soup into four deep bowls, equally distributing broth and chicken. Divide veggies into four equal amounts and place in the bowls. Divide cooked fresh pasta into four equal amounts and place into the bowls. Cover bowls and allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. Gently incorporate noodles up from the bottom of each bowl and serve.

Noodle bowls may be garnished with cilantro and or chives for an extra herby zing.

Mark asks…

Budget Meals for Family w/ 5 kids.?

There are 5 growing children in my house.
Two are 16 almost 17 (twins)
One is 15
One is 11
One is turning 7 this friday
As you can see, they’re growin children. I have a budget for food shopping because my husband is out of a job. I need to know what I can get from Pathmark or Thriftway that cost no more then 20 dollars and will feed a family w/ 5 kids.

richmama answers:

Anything with hamburger, such as spaghetti or casseroles, tacos, are inexpensive and easy to make. Look up an online recipe source and you can find alot of great ideas. Good luck!

Donald asks…

How do I grocery shop/make meals for a vegetarian/non-veg family on a budget?

Any tips or advice welcome!

We have a family of 3, I am a vegetarian and my hubby is not. I am still offering my toddler meat along with the fruits, veggies, legumes and grains that are part of her meals.

I am looking for:
-What to get at the grocery store? What do you, as a vegetarian, normally buy?
-Vegetarin meals and recipes that work with a tight budget.
Meals that I can make vegetarain for myself and add meat for my family
-Any tips and advice you have!!

Thanks so much!
Well, Pete, we may disagree on this but personally I don’t believe in forcing anyone to eat anything they don’t want to eat, or depriving them of things they do want to eat – esp my family.

Being a vegetarian is a personal choice and people have all sorts of reasons for becoming one. I’m not going to shove someone down a path that they really should go down on their own.

Thanks for not even answering my question. :/

Sorry to sound rude but your comment kind of irritated me.

richmama answers:

Rice is cheap and goes a long way, also lentils can be prepared many different ways and are cheap and healthy. Potatoes are also cheap and filling. Bananas have lots of energy and are also very cheap.
Try your local farmers market for cheap fruits and veggies.

Also at my grocery store they have these vegetarian meal-in-a-box, from Fantastic World Foods, they have stuff like veggie burgers, and veggie taco meat, vegetarian chili, couscous, hummus, falafel etc, they are delicious, they only cost about 2 dollars and they make a lot of food, and they are quick and easy to prepare.

As for cooking in the interest of both vegetarians and non vegetarians, some foods that might work well for you could be: pasta… You could make tomato sauce with ground beef on the side that the meat eaters in your family could add to the pasta later to make Ragu’, or you could make pasta alfredo with broccoli and have chicken for the others to add to the pasta.
Tacos or burritos are another food that would be good for everyone, you could have rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, cheese, beef/chicken, and just have it all out and everyone makes their own with what they want in it.
Also, buy eggroll wrappers at the grocery store and make your own eggrolls super cheap, just stuff yours with cabbage, carrots, sprouts or other veggies, and add chicken or pork to some for the rest of the family, you can make a bunch and then freeze them (before you fry them) also, I’ve found that if you are creative you can make a lot more than just eggrolls with the wrappers, I like to make my own jalapeno poppers or pizza bites in them too

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