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Cryssi 10-05-2013 12:29 PM

Cheap Low Carb
I know we have amazing threads all compiled in Cheri's post but a lot of those are several years old so I was thinking we could do a more recent one.

We recently had a ex-coworker and his family move in while they are trying to get back on their feet. So, I have 8 people I am feeding on a budget of about $650 a month. One tends to be a bit of a...big eater. They will contribute when they can, but this is where we are right now.

I really want to get back to LC because I feel best on it but need super cheap.

I can only handle so much eggs (don't really care for them) and tuna and other fish is out (ew).

The only one LCing will be me, but I need meals that will feed everyone.


FatCat 10-05-2013 01:18 PM

When I buy meat, it is usually 'bargain' meat. Our local store marks down meat that hasn't sold for a couple of days and they want to move it to make way for fresher stuff. Not a thing wrong with it, in fact, when I did have more money I'd buy my ribeyes that way and let them age even longer. It brings out the taste in them and makes them even more tender.

I buy a lot of hamburger and chicken from Aldi's. I don't buy the cheapest burger, I don't want to spend money on grease. My burger has to be at least 80/20, and 90/10 starts to get a little dry, and is much more expensive. The frozen chubs of burger are cheaper than fresh burger, and I've only run into some bad quality at one store, so I no longer buy their brand. I've paid more $$$ for lower quality chicken at the name-brand grocery store than I have at Aldi's.

My canned mushrooms are a lot cheaper at Aldi's than at the grocery store....that goes for canned veggies too. And I see no difference in quality.

There are some things I wouldn't buy at Aldi's, but most of those items are too high carb for me to buy anyway. I did buy some SF Blueberry pancake syrup, and didn't read the label. I paid for it too....spent most of the day close to the bathroom....seems that it used Malitol for it's sweetener. I tossed the rest of the bottle.

dgidaho 10-05-2013 01:35 PM

That is very kind and commendable of your family! You CAN do this without derailing your own needs. I'm sure others will chime in here with far more experience and expertise than I can provide but here is my two cents worth:

They are not "visitors" like evening guests. They should lend a hand in the kitchen to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. If it has not already been established, duties need to be split up.

Many meals can be adapted to low carb. My family does not eat low carb, but I do. (Two are underweight and all feel healthy eating carbs--except me.) Here are some reasonably priced meals you can easily make and still stay on track:

Chili: I make it all in a big pot, then dish out a few servings for my own dinner (and lunch the next day) before adding in the beans. Everybody else loves the beans, as do I :(, and they make the chili go MUCH further. They can eat theirs over tortilla chips or fritos to make it go even further.

Spaghetti: I make my own sauce (or buy the lower carb store brand) and add hamburger or meatballs to it. It is eaten over noodles for everybody else. I eat mine over something else--zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, miracle noodles....

Tacos: chicken or beef---doesn't matter---I eat mine over a bed of salad, while everybody else eats theirs with flour tortillas. I top it with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole as "dressing". If you have cheese dip as a side dish, eat yours with broccoli and/or cauliflower.

Hamburgers: just eat it as a patty, or add bacon and cheese to the top. We have begun grilling our bacon. It is almost mess-free and definitely hassle-free! Just place the slices on a piece of foil with the edges crimped up and toss it on the grill with your meat. It will not roll up as it cooks like it does when pan-frying. While everybody else puts lettuce and tomato on theirs, I just eat my "sides" as a salad.

"Big Mac in a Bowl"---all I can say is "WOW!" If you like Big Macs, you will love this salad! I was surprised how my family lapped it up! It's quick, inexpensive to make, quite filling, and definitely yummy! They were excited when I made it again. The recipe can be found here on lowcarbfriends.com. Just do a quick search.

Those are some just off the top of my head. I'll come back with others as they pop into my head. You can do this! Just keep checking back here---I'm quite certain many others will add their own ideas! :)

MtherGoos 10-05-2013 01:37 PM

I'm not really a big fan of eggs either, but I find that if I get creative with them, they're not really so.... eggy. LOL If I mash hard boiled eggs in a bowl and mix it with some mayo, mustard, and relish for an egg salad, it really doesn't taste like eggs at all.

You can get big packages of chicken legs, or chicken thighs for fairly cheap. I love cheese, and if I buy the Extra Sharp Cheddar, it goes a long way because the flavor is so strong.

Like FatCat, I watch for the meat that is a couple days old and they're marking it down, and grab whatever they mark down and put it in the freezer. Our freezer is FULL right now, and it's all stuff I've picked up as they mark it down. I can often get nice big pork steaks for under $1 each, or packages of chicken thighs for under $1. I plan our meals around whatever I have in the freezer.

Cryssi 10-05-2013 01:47 PM

Some great ideas!

I wish we had Aldi. We had one when I lived in MO and I loved it!

dgidaho 10-05-2013 01:52 PM

As FatCat said---frozen chubs of meat are frequently cheaper. If you have a membership at Sam's or Costco (or a friend has one), they have frozen 10# sticks of hamburger that are reasonably priced--at least they are here. They are usually divided into 1# sticks. Also watch for an inexpensive cooked ham (or turkey). They will usually shave or slice it for you in the deli to make an incredibly huge mound of lunch meat--and it costs so much less than the packaged lunch meat! These make great dinners with inexpensive hamburger rolls (hot ham & cheeses), or grilled sandwiches (like a grilled cheese, but with meat--very filling). You can eat the ham and cheese rolled up in lettuce or atop a salad--or even chopped up into a ham salad. If you are craving the sandwich yourself, just make some jiffy bread. It takes about two minutes. Google "jiffy bun" and go to the low carb news blogspot. (You can also use these if you'd rather eat your hamburger on a bun.)

And watch your local sales circulars. Our local supermarket, which is relatively expensive overall, often has incredible sales on meat.

GailyGail 10-05-2013 01:55 PM

Cryssi, you are a wonderful person and such a sweetheart for helping out your friend and ex-colleague. That is a really nice thing to do. Sometimes outdoors Farmers Markets have good deals on fresh veggies. If that fails, the frozen mixed vegetables you can buy at any grocery store can be made to taste good with either butter or olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a little parmesan cheese mixed in. All low carb and all good for everyone.

You can also make homemade cheese sauce (super easy -- like heavy cream, cheese, salt & pepper) and make them mac and cheese while you put it over cauliflower or broccoli for yourself. You can also buy a nice big pork butt that will feed 6-8 people pretty easily -- those are delicious when you slow cook it.

Good luck! You are truly an angel.

Key Tones 10-05-2013 02:03 PM

i had a big freak out a few years ago when we had a financial emergency due to layoff.

I survived on super-cheap grocery store roasted chicken. I realized chicken was inexpensive and the ones that were already cooked are some sort of loss leader for the grocery stores around here. Someone always has them on sale.

Eggs are better as omelets. Frozen vegetables are cheaper than fresh and don't spoil so you save even more. I microwave some vegetables to go in the omelet as it cooks.

For the others, I would feed them a LOT of potatoes. They are the highest food on the satiety index, meaning they are very filling (but do not mash them, that interferes with the effect). Safeway has 10 pound russets everyday for only $3.50. I would definitely serve baked potatoes every night. They would have to be living on chicken, potatoes, and frozen vegetables if I were feeding them. Also bag fruit is cheaper and less goes to waste if sliced up and served.

In my area, some of the drug stores and gas stations have super cheap milk. They put it in the back of the store to get you to walk through to hopefully buy other things. Another loss leader product for them.

Mexican beans and rice flavored with some inexpensive spices mixed up on your own would really cut corners as well.

You are a very kind person.

Key Tones 10-05-2013 02:09 PM

A cheap, filling dish for the others - filling and if you buy those super big blocks of cheese (grocers here put them on special all the time too) and shred it yourself.

Mix the cheap shredded cheese (2 cups) with a can of cream of potato soup (easy to find on sale for about a dollar) and one container of sour cream (also easy to find on sale for around a dollar to $1.25). Mix this in with about three pounds of sliced peeled potatoes and bake for an hour on 350.

If you spike it with a little ham it can be a main dish.

People go crazy for this; I bring it to pot lucks and it is so cheap to make.

LolaGetz 10-05-2013 03:00 PM

No advice, just kudos. What a generous and loving heart you have. Your kindness is inspiring. When I feel despair about displays of selfishness and cruelty too often observed, it is so wonderful to come across someone like you who acts in such a selfless and beautiful way toward your fellow man. You make me feel better about the world.

dgidaho 10-05-2013 03:22 PM


Originally Posted by LolaGetz (Post 16631851)
What a generous and loving heart you have. Your kindness is inspiring. When I feel despair about displays of selfishness and cruelty too often observed, it is so wonderful to come across someone like you who acts in such a selfless and beautiful way toward your fellow man. You make me feel better about the world.

Agreed! :)

at_last 10-05-2013 03:31 PM

We have our kids and their families over twice a month for dinner, so I have a little experience in cooking for a crowd where everyone is high carb but me. It's usually not too difficult to modify.

One of our favorites is chicken enchiladas. I start with a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts. Boil or crockpot until done, then shred with two forks. Add most of a can of enchilada sauce - we like the mild green sauce but if you like spicy go with the red (save a little to top the enchiladas with). Stir in most of a container of sour cream (again saving a little to top) and a couple of cups of shredded cheddar cheese.

At this point I pull some out for me, either wrapping it in some cabbage leaves or just putting it in a small casserole dish. Then in the main pot, stir in a can of cream of chicken soup. Use to fill flour tortillas and put in a baking dish. Top with remaining sour cream, sauce and a little cheddar cheese. Bake until bubbly.

Also, breakfast for dinner. French toast is cheap. Serve with scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage. I make pork rind french toast for me.

coffeebear57 10-05-2013 03:31 PM

One thing i make that is easy to stretch and good for all is the egg roll in a bowl.aka crack slaw..wonderfully low carb but very filling for others as well...and can be modified for taste
God Bless You

ShrinkingAmber 10-05-2013 06:50 PM

I was just thinking I couldn't find an updated topic like this. So, thank you!
The last one I was reading showed ground beef someone said it was $1.50/lb!!!! HA!

Yesterday I got 6lbs of chicken thighs (bone in as I found out later) for $8. One and a side dish filled me up last night and I cooked 2 more to eat throughout the week.

Canned tuna (though not my favorite thing) is cheap too. Found it for 88 cents a can this week.

Cryssi 10-05-2013 06:54 PM

I apparently need to learn to like bone in chicken and chicken thighs, thats a great price!

Strawberry 10-05-2013 11:23 PM

Cabbage is extremely cheap and filling. It's great in soups and stir fries.

Have you spoken with the family about their contribution to this deal? I think you are so sweet to offer to help them, but I honestly don't see how your budget is going to realistically feed everyone. $2.62 per person per day is really steep. I would think that if they aren't paying rent, they could at least contribute something to meals.

shelby'snana 10-06-2013 12:29 AM

very sweet of you to do this for them ! I agree they need to pitch in and help in any way they can. Too hard for y'all to shoulder all the burden.

watcher513 10-06-2013 01:30 AM

I bet there are a bunch of recipes at Linda's Low Carb Recipe site that would work very well.

Maureenlw 10-06-2013 03:11 PM

How sweet of you to help them.

You are working with a tiny budget for that many! You can do it!

I eat a lot of flax seed muffins. I may or may not use sugar free syrup depending on if I want them plain or just savory. Linda's site has the recipe and flax meal in CT at Job Lot is under 4 dollars for 16 oz.

I also use her hamburger bun recipe which only calls for 2 tablespoons of flax seed. I use this for sandwiches as well.

I typically eat more veggies than meat and get what it is in season. I love squash so I was fortunate for the farmer's market here in town which was very inexpensive. I had a lot of zoodled zucchini this summer topped with fresh homemade tomato sauce made from tomatoes from the garden.

Also, I try to use every bit of the buffalo so to speak with all leftovers as well as bones.

I make broth out of the chicken bones. With this I am able to make so many dishes. It cuts the acid in tomatoes so I made awesome tomato soup with the garden tomatoes.

Also, spaghetti squash seeds roast up just like pumpkin so I'd bake those too for a snack.

Now that pumpkins are coming in, I am so excited as I can use my chicken broth and make Linda's pumpkin sausage soup and it will be very inexpensive.

There is not much I buy that is packaged other than cheese so I eat very well for very little. I do buy light cream for 1.99 a quart unless Heavy cream is on sale and then I will buy that and make all sorts of lovely puddings.

I also buy chia seed and I know it sounds horrid to most, but with unsweetened vanilla hemp seed milk it makes almost like a tapioca pudding that is amazing and I will eat that for breakfast. The milk is not cheap as it is $5 or so, but to me broken down per serving it is worth it for the nutrition and this pudding.

With leftover chicken (again, soup with the bones) and then I may chop the meat very fine, add seasoning, cheese and an egg and make patties to fry. The egg and cheese extends the meat.

I also suggest buying in bulk if you can: eggs (use in puddings, coconut pancakes, ect) cheese, and cream.

I hope the above helps!

Cryssi 10-07-2013 04:04 PM

Lots of great suggestions.

Since this is soup weather, I can make lots of soups too which will stretch.

I am going to learn to like bone in chicken and chicken thighs if it kills me!

ShrinkingAmber 10-07-2013 07:25 PM


Originally Posted by Cryssi (Post 16632039)
I apparently need to learn to like bone in chicken and chicken thighs, thats a great price!

Yeah I didn't like it either. I didn't even know how to cook it. I'm also going to look into whole chickens too. Though it still freaks me out a little to have a whole chicken lol I don't know why.

erinmarie 10-07-2013 08:46 PM

Home in dark meat is great on the grill, in soups or shredded ... Low car BBQ is great on top. Made some chicken enchiladas with two large leg quarters tonight and when shredded made a very large baking pan full... Tastier in sauces or slow cooked ... I never used to like it... Until I had a family of six to feed on a similarly tiny budget of 640$ monthly. I still love chicken breasts but at that price ... You do learn to like it. I always made a huge pot of chicken and dumplings for about 3 bucks and it stretched... Not very low carb but maybe you could set aside a portion for yourself before adding dumplings and fill in with veggies???

tinamanni 10-08-2013 07:16 AM

Aldi, of course.

I think chicken soup can be incredibly cost efficient - I do mine by boiling a whole chicken with bay leaves. boil chicken until done and shred all of the meat. strain the juice and use as you brother. I put in celery and onions and a couple carrots. Also, noodles in hubbies and eggs in mine (think egg drop). Easy as that.

erinmarie 10-08-2013 07:41 AM

Making a soup from leftover broth from last nights dinner today! Held back some shredded chicken and have been keeping the bits of leftovers all week! I will throw it in a pot with maybe some bouillon and voila ! Lunch for several days... Will last longer with a salad too.

RoseofSharon 10-09-2013 10:01 PM

If these friends are unemployed and essentially homeless, they should be getting food stamps and assistance. You shouldn't have to shoulder this burden at the expense of your family! Or have to cook for them. I'd gently encourage them to apply for assistance and make their own meals. I know it is easy to let kindness come first, and it should, but part of kindness is making sure your family has enough to eat, and they are realizing the situation they are in and making steps to fix it.

Ntombi 10-09-2013 10:23 PM

SundaySaver: National -Supermarkets & Grocery - Weekly Sales Circulars & Sunday Newspaper Ads

That site has the weekly circulars for most of the major grocery chains in the country. I check it for sales at all the stores in my area, and plan my shopping accordingly.

I can almost always find chicken parts or whole chickens for 99/lb. at least a few times a year, pork picnic roasts are on sale for 99/lb, and more often $1.29/lb. I buy family packs of 80/20 ground beef for generally about $2.69/lb, and pork chops for about $3/lb.

I try to buy fresh produce in season, which is cheaper, or else buy frozen veggies. The large store brands of frozen veggies are usually just as good, but much cheaper, and her versatile.

I also save a lot of money by using the Just For U app from Vons. (It's available for all Safeway stores). I mean, I save a LOT of money. I get personalized coupons and savings based on my shopping habits (and if I bought carby food, I'd save even more, but it's worth it on meats and produce), and I also get gas points that are redeemable at three different gas chains.

mjgh06 10-10-2013 01:21 PM

I am a super thrifty, budget conscious shopper. I have been able to maintain feeding a family of five on a $350 month budget (some months even lower). So you should do fine with $650 for 8.

If you don't have a deep freezer, make that a first investment. I buy everything bulk and on sale. I shop at two to three different stores depending on where the sales are, and then plan my meals around what I get.

Just this week, I was able to buy chicken quarters for only .49cents a lb. I bought 20lbs worth and then separate them down into meal freezer bags. I was able to also find the colored bell peppers in produce aisle on sale for 4 for $1.00. Bought what they had on the shelf, cut some up in slices, diced some, and cleaned some out whole, froze them all in small quart size baggies. Buying in bulk saves money and buying on sale saves even more. Cut it down, pre-prepare them, and freeze in meal sized bags so you can just pull one out when needed.

The stores I use most are Kroger, Walmart, and local gas stations (wonderful deals on dairy product). Meatwise- we buy majority of ground beef and chicken, and occasional pork when on sale. Veggies mostly cauliflower, squash, bell peppers, and broccoli, all mostly frozen section unless on sale or needed for a specific recipe. Oh and I don't buy namebrand unless it is the least costly.

Even though my family is not on a LC diet with me. I rarely make meals that are not LC where I have to eat different. I figure since I am the one cooking and if I truly believe this is a healthy way of eating, why would I want them to eat unhealthy. But yes, occasionally there are nights when I will cook them a pasta meal like spaghetti and I will have my Gyro salad that night. Pasta is very inexpensive so for budgets it goes a long way, same with rice. But guess what, I can now see the difference in them when they have the higher carbs. Their attitude changes and they all become a little more cranky.

alex_in_wonderland 10-10-2013 03:17 PM


Originally Posted by Cryssi (Post 16632039)
I apparently need to learn to like bone in chicken and chicken thighs, thats a great price!

Thanks for starting this thread, I subbed to the older ones but a current one couldn't hurt!

Before I went LC, I used be grossed out at the thought of boneless skinless chicken thighs, and "all that skin and fat"...I couldn't be further from that now! There are of course lots of way to cook them, one favorite of mine is from Carolyn's site "All Day I Dream About Food". You can google it and search for rosemary sriracha chicken thighs for the recipe. SO GOOD!

Also, just a suggestion b/c we are experiencing some really rough financial times, you or better yet your friends staying with you could get food from local food pantries to help out. Especially if they don't mind high carb stuff b/c they can get pasta and sauce, crackers, rice, that way. Bless you for your kindness in providing a place for them during what is surely a stressful and difficult time. :heart:

saltnpepper 10-12-2013 03:37 AM

Good luck to you Cryssi. I have no new suggestions. Just a hug.

Ntombi thanks for the link!!


LauraDavis 10-12-2013 04:48 AM

some great ideas here

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