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Big Batch Budget Meals

LTS3

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I'm looking for budget friendly easy to make relatively healthy meals that can be made in a big batch and holds up well to freezing. Money is going to be a bit tight for awhile so I'm trying to save where I can :sigh: I prefer not to use the oven because the electric bill will go way up. I have a slow cooker but no Instant Pot. Any suggestions?
 

Kieka

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A food sealer makes a world of difference in freezing. At my house we usually buy whatever is the cheapest in bulk and package up meal size servings to unfreeze as needed. Veggies are usually fresh and whatever looks good paired with something from the freezer. Veggies don't do as well frozen plus I live near agriculture so our prices aren't high enough to justify freezing.
  • Large batches of marinara sauce Frozen in single serving baggies and cook up pasta in the moment.
  • Bean and rice burritos freeze pretty good (really any type of burrito freezes pretty good, wrap a damp paper towel around it when reheating to soften the tortilla).
  • Chicken breast in marinade or buy whatever beef is on sale to freeze in marinade.
  • Sloppy joe meat also frozen in serving size amount.
  • Twice baked potatoes
Non-frozen, fairly cheap lunch is a can of tuna with mixed with some avacado (one avacado does 2-3 cans or get single serving guacamole from trader Joe's, again avacados where I am can be 2 for a dollar) and carrot sticks. Eggs are another favorite of mine, two eggs scrambled with leftover veggies from the night before with a piece of bread or cheese stick.
 
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LTS3

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Thanks!

Any recipes for budget meals that can be stretched further by adding a can of beans or some grains?
 

Willowy

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Non-frozen, fairly cheap lunch is a can of tuna with mixed with some avacado
I like a bowl of rice with a can of tuna and an avocado mixed in. I have no idea where I even got the idea, but it's yummy!

I made this recipe last week, and it was good and cheap (using store brands). I think I got 6 servings out of it, but I only eat one thing for lunch so my serving size is bigger. If you have several items in the meal you could probably get 8-10 servings. It was a bit bland, so add whatever spices you like. I also tossed a can of black beans in to replace some of the chicken, well, because I like black beans.
Chicken Tortilla Bake

ETA: Looking at the comments about the sodium level, I may have picked up low-sodium soups accidentally and that might account for the blandness. Too bad I already disposed of the cans.
 
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LTS3

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I'm trying to not use the oven if at all possible. I'm trying to not use as much electricity as possible :paperbag: My oven oddly uses a lot of electricity if my last bill was any indication:fear:

I stocked up on some pantry items at the supermarket today. Tonight I'm making this but with udon noodles instead of ramen and ground beef instead of pork because the supermarket never has ground pork. I can add some canned chickpeas and frozen veggies to it.
 

rubysmama

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Slow cooker vegetarian baked beans are relatively inexpensive, and if you eat a slice of bread with them, makes a complete protein.

Buy the dry beans either at the grocery store, or maybe a bulk foods store. Soak the beans overnight, then combine everything in the recipe in the slow cooker in the morning, and 8 hours or so later, dinner is ready. With lots of leftovers to freeze for future meals.

This is one recipe I make. It does call for maple syrup, which isn't cheap. But maybe you could substitute something else. (I don't do the step with the onions and cloves btw)

Vegetarian Baked Beans | Slow Cooker Recipe

I've never made this one, but it sounds good too.
Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans - The Lemon Bowl®

Beans and rice are also relatively inexpensive meals that make leftovers. I usually just buy canned beans when they're on sale, as it's less hassle that having to cook dry beans.

You can cook dry beans in the slow cooker, however, KIDNEY BEANS must be boiled on the stove first.
Do Not Cook Beans In The Slow Cooker Until You Read This

This is one of my favourite black beans and rice recipes.
Black Beans and Rice Recipe

Pasta and store brought pasta sauce is quick and inexpensive. Depending on what is on sale, I'll often add baby spinach or broccoli to add some veggies.

If you like soup, there's tons you can make in the slow cooker, and adding a can of kidney beans makes minestrone. Here's one recipe I like: http://www.kraftcanada.com/recipes/zesty-minestrone-104589

Black bean soup is also good.

As is lentil soup. When Linda and Paul McCartney were on The Simpsons, they ran his lentil soup recipe at the end. Here's the video that includes it.

Hope that helps give you some ideas of meals you can try. And, yes, they're all vegetarian. ;)
 
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LTS3

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Thanks! I don't mind the occasionally all-veggie meal but I don't think I could ever go full vegetarian. I know I can add meat to an otherwise veggie based meal.
 

Willowy

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My oven oddly uses a lot of electricity if my last bill was any indication
From what I can find, most electric ovens use 2 kWh per hour, so, depending on your electricity costs, that's only 20-30 cents per hour. . .so it shouldn't do anything crazy unless you had it on all day (that would be $7.20 a day if left on 24 hours!).
 

Uncled

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Make a batch of chicken vegetable soup in your crock pot, freeze meal size portions in your freezer. Chicken is usually a good deal, most grocery chains have a weekly sale on whole birds or chicken parts. I often see crock pot cookbooks at thrift stores if you don't already own one, I just happen to prefer books over my tablet sometimes.
 

rubysmama

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Thanks! I don't mind the occasionally all-veggie meal but I don't think I could ever go full vegetarian. I know I can add meat to an otherwise veggie based meal.
Oh, another thing you can make is mini pizzas on naan bread, or pita bread. They freeze well. Mine, of course, are meat-free, but you could probably load up on veggies, and add a bit of meat if you wanted.

And not a big-batch freeze meal, but peanut butter sandwiches are pretty cheap. I like them with strawberry jam, or sliced banana. You can also make egg burgers, either on hamburg buns or English muffins.

Chickpea salad sandwiches taste just like tuna, but are less expensive. One variation: Mock Tuna Salad Recipe
 

LittleShadow

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One summer time go-to for me is elbow pasta, canned tuna, and finely chopped broccoli, with mayo or miracle whip, a little mustard, and if you use mayo or taste and think it needs it, a little lemon juice. Think pasta salad, except this dish actually is a full meal. If you're stretching it, you may have more pasta, but usually I make it with a serving of tuna per serving of pasta, rounded up to the nearest can, and one to one and a half servings of veggies to each serving of pasta. You can use finely chopped cauliflower and/or carrot too, but broccoli tends to be best.

Boil pasta, drain. Add tuna. Stir. Add finely chopped veggies (I like to use frozen veggies that I put in the food processor to rice), still frozen or half-thawed is fine as long as you use veggies you can eat raw. Stir. Add mayo/miracle whip and a squirt of mustard, stir well. Taste. If it needs more "something", try a bit more mustard. If it needs more acid, add lemon juice. If it's dry, add more mayo/miracle whip. Chill and serve cold.

I usually end up eating the first serving hot because I'm impatient, but in general, you can serve it chilled like you would pasta salad. I eat this a lot when it get hot out and I don't want hot food. It "feels" like a side, but has all the nutrition of a proper meal, especially if I round up and add a bit more of the tuna and veggies, and the pasta makes it filling!
 

Jem

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Here is a recipe for taco soup.
And if you don't like the "soup" idea, you could always add instant rice to it to absorb all the liquid and make it more of a casserole. Or omit the water and simply precook the rice. Then mix in the rice after.
I'm sure this could also be made in a slow cooker.

Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cans (19oz / 540ml) black beans rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can tomatoe sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
2 cups water
1 cup shredded cheese.

Instructions:
Brown meat with onions in a large saucepan
Stir in all remaining ingredients (except cheese). Bring to boil, cover. Reduce heat to med/low, and simmer 5 mins stirring occasionally.
Serve topped with cheese.
 

LittleShadow

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Oooh, that taco soup recipe reminds me of a similar one I have! You use one can of kidney beans instead of one of the cans of black beans, and you add a small drained can of sliced black olives. Also, garnish with crushed corn chips in addition to the cheese. Mmmmm....I need to make this again....
 
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