So many times I get questions about stretching your food dollars and recipes for providing nourishing meals that are tasty, but don't break your budget to put on the table. When I am asked if I have any recipes for families on limited incomes with several little (and big) mouths to feed I have to laugh a little. I was raised by a woman who can pinch a penny until Lincoln begs for mercy...lol. Mama's penchant for frugality drove us all nuts at times, but now I am glad she knew how to make the most of things. I watched and listened and learned to shop carefully and to cook very economically, which has come in very handy during my life, because there have been many times I have also, lived on a tight budget for one reason or another. Even when we didn't have to be quite as careful though, I still bargain shop and cook much like I do during leaner times. It's just how I was raised and how I was taught to live.
Now, I am not an extreme coupon type of person, but I do use coupons whenever I can and I do shop the sales at the stores I frequent. I use store brands if they are less expensive and still taste good. I use name brands when they are just better or I have a coupon or they are on sale. It's all about quality and common sense. If we won't eat something because the quality is not there, what have I really saved?
Stretching the food budget is not as hard as some might think, it just takes planning. One great way to do this in an organized manner, is to make a menu for the week or for two weeks before you shop and then list all of the items you will need for each meal. Then buy only those items when you shop. My mother used to do this when we were growing up and money was tight. I have done this in my more organized days when money was tight also. Another great tip is to buy in bulk and plan a menu that uses that bulk item two or three times...like a large package of chicken breasts that are on sale or a large package of ground chuck, instead of buying it in 1 - 2 pound packages which are always higher. If you are relying on older kids or husbands in the household with getting meals started, it also helps them know just exactly what the dinner plans are and where to start. My mother used to make out a complete menu and tape it to the inside of one of the cabinet doors so everyone was aware of the dinner plans.
Here are 10 great main dish meals that are some of the most popular and most requested on the site and at my house. You can make all of these for right around or under $10.00 each and most of them with a salad or vegetable and bread are a meal. These will serve 4-6 people depending on your families appetites and some will serve more than 6. Some of these recipes make a lot of food also that can be served for more than one meal.
The cost for these recipes is based on food prices in my area, which is fairly typical for the southeastern United States. I also didn't count spices and such in these calculations. Those are basically staples or should be in your kitchen.
To get the recipes for each click on the name of the dish below each picture: