Monday, 13 January 2014

What To Do When You're In a Dire Financial Situation Part III

Share it Please

Click here for part one and here for part two of the series.

In this post I would like to share meals that are still extremely frugal but take a little more preparation time, and contain more nutrition.  It would be a good idea to mix up your families' meals from those in this post in the series, and those from part two.

One word:  beans.  I don't mean baked beans, I mean those black, red and white dried beans you see in the bulk bins.  They're an extremely cheap and nutritious food which can be used in a wide variety of recipes.  In many developing countries beans are a staple, and even in the US - Americans eat a great deal of Mexican food, and beans will feature regularly on the menu.  You can buy canned beans, and you might choose to have a couple of cans as backup, but it is so much cheaper to buy them dried.  

It's a common misconception that dried beans take a lot of work to prepare, but this couldn't be further from the truth.   All you need to do is is place your dried beans in a large bowl of water - two or three times as much water as beans, and leave them to soak overnight.  In the morning they will have re-hydrated, and be ready to cook.

Rice and beans together also create a complete protein, meaning it's a pretty good meal. 

If you have a slow cooker, this is a perfect way to cook beans.  You could cook them with just about anything you have - canned tomatoes, vegetables you need to use up, leftovers... and serve over rice.  If you don't have a slow cooker, the same results can be achieved by cooking on the stove in a pot on low heat, but you will have to hover over it, as opposed to the slow cooker that can be left.

There are seemingly endless recipes to be found on the internet, but here are a bunch to get you started:

Chickpeas make a great meal - coconut milk, curry paste, chickpeas, cubed potato, peas, onion and chicken stock mixed together - yum!  Or here are a couple of delicious recipes:

Next is the humble chook.  Many people don't know that a whole chicken can be cooked in the microwave.  It will come out very similar to having been roasted, but it won't have cost nearly as much for the 30 minutes of microwave power as opposed to the 1hr+ of oven time.  Of course, if you can combine roasting a chicken with baking other items at the same time, this is a great idea too.

The first night is chicken served with lots of roast or mashed potatoes and whatever frozen veg you have, and if your budget can stretch, a packet of gravy (or make your own with the drippings).  However much chicken you normally serve each person, give them half as much, and bulk out their plate with the other foods.

Night two could be chicken pot pie, and night three homemade pizza with whatever other toppings you have handy.

On night four place an onion and the chicken carcass, with some meat still on it, in a large pot with 3L water and boil for an hour.  Take the carcass out (be sure you have got ALL bones out), pull any remaining meat off and put back in the pot, add 1 cup of rice and whatever vegetables you have to the pot, and boil for another half an hour.  Serve with homemade bread.

And finally, boil the meatless carcass with an onion and a carrot - cover with water and simmer for an hour or two to make chicken stock - strain and use to make more soup or freeze to use later.

You have just got a LOT of meals out of one chicken.

Legumes are another cheap eat.  Try a simple dahl, or a slightly fancier dahl and serve with homemade flatbread.  Lentils, barley and split peas can be added to soups to bulk them out.

Want CHEAP vegetarian meals that taste like meat meals?  Try these:

Here are a few more cheap meal/snack ideas to try:
  • One packet of plain crackers, crushed, mixed with one can of cream of chicken soup.  Mix together, and drop spoonfuls into an oiled frying pan, flip once, and enjoy!
  • Homemade sushi
  • Stir-fries with any vegetables that need using up, with a little oil and soy sauce, served with rice
  • Carrot and coriander falafels
  • Homemade rice paper rolls with vegetables and vermicelli

Click here for Part I of the series.
The next post in this series will be on making cheap meat meals stretch.

No comments:

Post a Comment