Inexpensive Meals

Article by Diet Bites

Getting Back to the Basics


There are eons of cooking shows on the tube which feature blown-up recipes containing a baker's dozen [or more] ingredients these days - from goat cheese to goose liver to truffles and so forth. Many of these items are not common to the average American home chef.

Furthermore, these ingredient items tend to be very expensive. And the more items added to the recipe, the higher the cost of the end result.

My husband and I often sit down to a meal and as we're eating, one of us will say something to the effect of, "This is much better than anything we could have gotten at a fast food or fine dining restaurant."

And as we are on a very limited personal budget, most of the food that is served on our two-member family table is very basic, very simple and very inexpensive.

Fact is, good food doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

Eggs & Other Breakfast Foods

What's wrong with having typical breakfast foods for lunch or dinner?

Take the egg. It's one of nature's purest foods. Sure, it's high in cholesterol - but enjoying in moderation makes the egg a very health choice. It's mined with protein grams - and assists in quelling the appetite. Try eating one for breakfast - or for that matter, a fibrous serving of oatmeal and see how long that you continue to feel full. It should be for a long spell of time, much longer than if you'd had a roll or a slice of toast.

With this said, let's look at a few inexpensive meals that center typically around the morning hour - but which can be readily used for other times of the day. Fact is, breakfast foods are economical and comforting to eat.

Scrambled Eggs - Add a little salt and pepper and a dash of milk to prepare. Serve with whole grain toast and a slice or two of bacon that has been microwaved.

Cheese Omelet - Prepare the eggs as if you are going to scramble them; pour them into a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray or a teaspoon of margarine that has been melted. When set on one side, flip and as the other side cooks, add a half a slice of cheese and also - sauteed vegetables if you wish. Fold and enjoy. If using more than one egg, cut the omelet in half and share.

Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat - Both make very hearty and cheap items to eat, any time of the day.

Waffles, Pancakes - Enjoy with sliced fruit and whipped topping OR low fat whipped cream [15 kcals a serving] rather than syrup. Or, opt for Karo's reduced sugar syrup. It contains zero sugar substitutes and only 130 kcals per serving.


Lunch & Dinner Suggestions

Boxed Mac & Cheese, Cocktail Sausages - The boxed variety of macaroni and cheese is very inexpensive and you can squeeze more servings [thus reducing calories] by adding other ingredients.

These include sauteed vegetables such as zucchini, mushrooms, onion and broccoli. For another protein, add slices of cocktail sausages - such as Hillshire Farm's Little Smokies which contain only 160 kcals per five sausages.

Calories per servings tend to be less than 300.

Beans & Franks - Opt for the light franks and catch them when they are on sale. Slice thin and cook the slices on tin foil in a toaster oven - or a regular oven to bring out the flavor. Add to canned or home-cooked beans of your choice.

Beans & Cornbread - This wonderful comfort food is quickly becoming a food of our past. With so many people on the go these days, it's rarely on the menu unless it is in canned form. What a shame because it is one of the most economical meals on the planet.

Burritos - What a wonderful way to use the pot of cooked beans after they are enjoyed with cornbread! Simple fill a flour or corn tortilla shell after it has been warmed - and enjoy. Be sure to season the beans using ground chili powder and a bit of your favorite Mexican salsa.

Spaghetti - Due to our limited budget we enjoy our pasta with sauce. My husband often tops his with parmesan cheese which can be stored in the refrigerator. To extend our meal, we often sauteed vegetables such as eggplant or mushrooms that we add to the sauce.

Cheese & Franks - Remember the leaner franks above? There are eight to the package and you'll only need about four to prepare with the beans. Take the other four and make a slit down the center. Poke in some cheese and broil. Serve with your favorite side items.

Pigs in the Blanket - Wrap biscuits around cooked reduced fat breakfast sausage [packaged in a sealed roll]. Bake in the oven until golden brown as directed on the biscuit package.

Tuna Salad - You know how to make it - mix with finely chopped lettuce and add a spoon of pickle relish and chopped onion if you wish. Add reduced fat Mayo [we like Miracle Whip]. Toast the bread before adding the filling.

Soup - You can take almost any vegetable and turn it into a delectable soup. For example - if you have leftover mashed potatoes, add milk and reduced fat margarine and a dash of pepper and you'll have a delicious potato soup. Have a can of pumpkin on hand? Add milk or reduced fat Half & Half, ground cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spice and a spoon of margarine - delicious!

Stuffed Potatoes - What's wrong with having a simple baked potato stuffed with vegetables that you like? A great mix to top your potato with is: salt, pepper, low fat margarine, sauteed mushrooms or broccoli and a dollop of reduced fat sour cream. Like bacon bits? The commercially purchased ones are low in calories - as is microwaved bacon. Crumble a strip onto your potato if you wish.

Poor Man's Eggplant - Slice the eggplant and dip the slices into one beaten egg. Dredge through Panko Breading Crumbs that have salt and pepper added. Use just a tab of peanut oil to cook to a golden brown stage. Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil away. Top with 1 thin slice of reduced fat white cheese such as gruyere or mozzarella. Add your favorite warm pasta sauce or marinara.

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