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Off My Duff 12-28-2007 01:38 PM

Please share your CHEAPEST EVER menus
I've read all the Low Carb On A Budget threads, and know what sorts of foods tend to be less expensive than others: eggs, tuna, lettuce, etc.

But even knowing all that, I'm at a loss as to how to utilize these foods into something I can stick with day after day. We live on a very small fixed income, so there's not a lot of wiggle room for more expensive, "fancier" foods.

Will you please share your CHEAPEST EVER menus, how you make it from one end of the month to the other staying on low carb when money is very tight?

I'm climbing back on the wagon tomorrow, and could use some new ideas.

Thank you!

Jake 12-28-2007 01:40 PM


abercrombie3f 12-28-2007 01:50 PM

eggs, cream cheese, spinach, tuna

limabean 12-28-2007 01:54 PM

tons of ground beef! buy the meets when they are marked down at the grocery store and you can also eat dark pieces of the chicken and get them cheap. I also shop at Aldi's and I get bags of tilipia for $3.99 and we LOVE it. The bags come with 9-10 pieces and that is cheap. I do alot of shopping at Aldi's.

julieboolie 12-28-2007 02:02 PM

I think LindaSue has some great menus. Anything that uses ground beef is usually relatively inexpensive. I am on a budget too and eat a lot of eggs, chicken (usually available somewhere for $1.99/lb) and ground beef. The taco bake and coney island pie are good filling and inexpensive. I always make more than we'll eat and count on leftovers for bfast or lunch.

This time of year ham and turkey are inexpensive and can stretch a budget. Taco salad is a good use for ground beef too.

No real secret to it, just sticking to the basics and stock up on good meat when on sale. I always get my produce from our local farmer's market grocery. Otherwise it's frozen broc. or spinach.

Here's a week's ideas from a typical week for me:
Taco Salad-Sunday
Grilled chicken (save leftovers for chick cesar salad) and green beans - Monday
Roast beef (crock pot) and spinach salad - Tuesday (should have leftovers here too.
Chick Ceasar Salad(from the other day's chick) - Wed
Enchilada bake (LindaSue) - Thurs
Shredded chicken (crock pot)w/ salsa, sour cream and cheese (or a lc tortilla depending on what stage you're in) - Fri - save leftovers for chick. taco salad another day
Ham (leftovers for omlettes w/ cheese) and brocolli or cauliflower bake (if you have time) - Sat.

We also do "Breakfast for dinner" night (family night-games and movies) usually on Fridays.

Hope that helps. It's what we try to do. Usually there's one night out in there somewhere despite my efforts. Usually In-n-out Burger, double-double animal style protein style - our whole family eats for about $12.00.

It is certainly harder to cook and plan meals without all that filler (pasta, rice, potatos etc). Although it's more expensive, it's so worth it. For you and your family! Good luck!

wifezilla 12-28-2007 02:08 PM

Ground turkey is often cheaper than ground beef. We eat a lot of that. Do you like liver? Beef liver is cheap, and cooked correctly, tastes good too (I made some today with italian seasoning and parm).

I save the most by taking advantage of weekly sales at the grocery stores. This fall I bought 5 turkeys when they went on sale for around 39/lb. I just finished cooking the last one the week before Christmas. Recently I bought whole hams (2 of them) when they went on sale for 98/lb. I buy the 1lb bags of frozen veggies when they go on sale. It is easy to throw together a meal when you have those on hand. The more you are able to cook from scratch, the more you end up saving.

My Sams membership helps too. Buying in bulk, then rebagging things in reasonable sized portions works.

amm 12-28-2007 02:14 PM

I eat a lot more chicken than beef. I always search the sale papers to see who has boneless/skinless chicken breasts for $1.98 a pound and I stock up then! Someone already mentioned eggs and tuna... they are always great to have on hand.

Off My Duff 12-28-2007 02:20 PM

Thank you for all the good ideas. My brain always plugs up when I'm trying to plan menus, lol.

This is usually as far as I get:
Breakfast: eggs, whatever style
Lunch: salad with blob of tuna salad on top
Supper: hamburg patty with a vegetable

From there, my mind goes blank, so your menu ideas are very helpful!

I do always cook from scratch; it's just hard to dream up something to cook.

ArdMaine 12-28-2007 02:41 PM

Ohhhh, I just went grocery shopping. I have realized that Super Wal-marts groceries are WAAAAAAAY cheaper. a Wedge of Parm cheese under 2 bucks! At the grocery it would be Double! I bought plumrose bacon for $1.69 and Hormel Deli ham, $2/lb! They also seem to carry more low sugar and low carb products than the grocery stores in my area.

Another HUGE $$ Saver for me is the Asian market!! The Produce is soo much cheaper, and actually fresher!!

Today I got a HUGE head of green leaf lettuce for .99, a Bunch of brussels sprouts 1.99, 16 oz of fresh strawberries 1.99, avocados .89 each 5lbs of onions for 1.99 a big bag of radishes .79, a head of cabbage for .99. I love the asian market. The Olive oils and vinegars are cheaper, too.

I buy my meat in bulk fromthe local butcher shop. I get a $79 package that includes: 5 lbs Chicken breasts, 5 pounds Thighs, 1 whole chicken, 1 pork roast, 1 pot roast, 5 lbs Pork chops, 5 lbs hamburger, 3 lbs thick slab bacon, 2.5 lbs Stew beef, 2.5 pounds natural casing franks It's a GREAT Deal!!

I guess the key for me is Variety. I am much more apt to fall off plan if I have fewer options.

Mindy5936 12-28-2007 03:00 PM

If you watch the ads you can get whole chickens for cheap. I bought one for $0.43 a pound last week. You can really stretch those into a few meals depending on your family size. For me it lasts almost a whole week and eat plain or...make chicken salad, heat it up with a little hot sauce or peanut sauce and butter. If you save a little chicken you can make broth with the bones, then add the chickena dnwhatever veggies you have around, this really stretches it! In the last week I bought a chicken for $3.54 and did everything but the soup, and thats only because I'm being lazy.

BarbDe 12-28-2007 03:03 PM

Chicken wings are a staple for me, and caesar salad. Yumm.

KellBell1234 12-28-2007 03:17 PM

I'm definitely on a budget too, and what I find saves me the most is to plan my 2 week menu out in advance - breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks, I read the sale ads to plan it out based on what is on sale. If I find a good deal on pork chops I'll make them a couple different ways during the 2 weeks, if hamburger is on sale, I'll stock up. I also always have bags of frozen chicken in the freezer (boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs from Aldi's and their chicken tenders are great too, plus their leg quarters are really cheap and good too!) Aldi's is lifesaver for meats (although I don't care for their hamburger, I get that somewhere else) cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, salad mix and such. I have to shop their and fill in at Cub Foods for anything else I can't find or don't like from Aldi's. So grocery day takes some time, but with my menu plan in place I can look at my 2 weeks of dinners each morning and decide what I want to make that night. Breakfast is usually eggs or omelet, or mock danish (I keep cereal, toast and waffles on hand for the family), lunch is usually a salad with some protein of some sort, or meat cheese roll ups of some sort (I keep soups, and sandwich fixins on hand for the family, and I can make use of the meat cheese part of that too).

Now granted sometimes, I just don't feel like cooking or nothing left on the menu looks appealing at that time and we'll go out, or I'll improvise.

Here are some of my dinners I make alot

Hamburgers/layer salad (no bun for me)

tacos (taco salad for me)

Philly cheesesteak sandwich (no bread for me - do it in a bowl - yum!)
Grilled chicken ceasar salads

meatloaf (low carb or course) baked potatoes for the family along with broccoli for me and everyone else

Tuna melts - I put them on english muffins for everyone else and do mine either in a bowl or on a low carb tortilla if I happen to have them on hand, or I make tuna muffins.

2 6 oz cans of tuna well drained
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
2 oz shredded cheddar
salt and pepper
pinch of old bay seasoning
Mix well, spoon into 6 well greased muffin tins, bake at 350 for 30 min.
this isn't my recipe I got it from someone on this board (can't remember who though, sorry!) and it's really good and cheap and easy!

Hot dogs - on buns for everyone else and for me I slice them open a bit, put in a slice of cheese to fit in and wrap it with partially cooked bacon, bake it till the bacon is crisp - it's super yummy and not too expensive

Hope this helps some! It's doable, just takes some planning :)

Another real favorite of mine is a boneless skinless chicken breast pounded so it thin and even, take a dollop of cream cheese (the flavored garlic and herb in the tub is the best, but plain is ok to!) roll up the chicken breast to seal in the cheese, wrap with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpicks to hold together, bake at 375 for about 45 min - 1 hour - it is delectable!

KellBell1234 12-28-2007 03:19 PM

one other thing I forgot, is frozen veggies are economical and keep much better than fresh, so I always have them on hand in my freezer. I like fresh too, but sometimes it's just not in the budget!

Off My Duff 12-28-2007 03:38 PM

More excellent ideas! Thank you! This will help me make out my next shopping list...

micki641 12-28-2007 03:39 PM

We are also on a tight budget and groceries can be expensive. What I do is pick some recipes I'd like to make and post them on my fridge. I buy the ingredients when they go on sale and make the recipe when I have everything. Some of our staples are very inexpensive beef roasts, pork roasts, whole chicken legs,....just put them in the crockpot (if you don't have one, it would be a good investment, they are not too expensive (Walmart) and will pay for themselves in a very short time) along with a can or two of cream of mushroom soup and a packet of dry onion soup mix (store brand for both) and cook on low for 8-10 hrs. All you need with this is a veggie....again store brand, frozen veggies...I stock up when they are on sale. Check out the crockpot rotissire (sp?) chicken recipe. I make one almost every week and we never eat it whole, I use it for my lunches during the week or a quick, light supper. I make chicken salad with it, use the meat to top salads, I keep the bones (usually with a little bit of meat on them) in the freezer and once I have a few "birds" worth, I make homemade stock.
If you newspaper has coupons (mine does on Sundays), I look through the coupons and if I can save at least $3.00 on non-perishable or H&B items, I'll buy an additional Sunday paper for the extra coupons.

Michelle :)

wifezilla 12-28-2007 05:50 PM

I made some chicken wings the other day that were TO DIE FOR!!!!

I oven fried them until they were really crisp on the outside, and then put them in a container with low carb ketchup, worch. sauce, hot sauce and garlic and shook em up to coat them.


I think I will make some tonight since the guys are having pizza.

As for crock pots, I find them all the time at the thrift stores for around $6.

JRo 12-28-2007 06:24 PM

the first time I low carbed, I was a very, very poor grad student so I learned to be very creative.

I agree on the crock pot - they're so helpful for cooking cheaper cuts of meats (round roast, etc).

I ate a lot of chicken thighs - they're really good in stir fries because they stay nice and tender. For a great stir fry I fried in canola oil, then coated with a dash of sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

Ground turkey and ground beef are really great - learn how to cook with a lot of different seasonings. I make a ground beef that's really similar to the filling of kibbeh, one of my favorite middle eastern dishes.

Go to ethnic stores for spices. They're plentiful, fresh and cheap. I get some great stuff from the local middle eastern store, and lots of herbs from italian places.

Chicken wings are super cheap, and you can season them 100 different ways.

Get a costco membership - it will really pay for itself. I get giant bags of romaine hearts really cheap, big containers of peeled garlic, bags of fresh brussels sprouts, bulk meat and fish, tuna, etc.

gypsyangela 12-28-2007 07:14 PM

I buy frozen store brand veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, etc.) because fresh often goes bad before I can cook it. I buy meat on sale and freeze. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, they are great for quality, well-priced frozen veggies and chicken breast individual frozen in a bag. I frequently eat:
- deviled eggs
- spaghetti sauce with meat and mushrooms added served over canned/frozen french-cut green beans
- Salsa chicken - chicken breast (you could use thighs instead if you like them) made in crock pot with a jar of salsa dumped over it
- Pepperoncini beef--beef roast made in crock pot with jar of pepperoncinis dumped over it. I usually use a little of the pickling juice in the crock pot, but save the rest to pickle hard-boiled eggs-just marinate them in the juice for a couple of days

Lots of great ideas on this thread, everyone!

beautifulme 12-28-2007 07:30 PM

When I lived in a big city I only shopped at produce markets,or asian markets they were ALWAYs cheaper than the big name stores.
I now live in a smaller town.I save on produce at the farmer's market(also good in big cities),or I buy frozen veggies when on sale.
If there is a 24 hour Walmart near you,they mark down the meat around 1A.M. I know this because my friends and I are usually in there trying to buy alcohol before the 1.30 cut off and I always see the guy marking it down.
This is the time that I buy giant turkey legs(pack of 4) for 1.20.
My Boyfriend(butcher) told me that all stores mark down the meat at a certain time of the day and you should call and they will tell you when,but it's usually early in the morning(regular hour stores),and 12.A.M-6.A.m for the 24 hour stores.
If anyone is near a Jewel,or Ralph's they always have tune on sale for 39 cents.
Aldi is good for frozen meats.
And growing our own vegtables can also help.

Strawberry 12-28-2007 10:00 PM

Some use-up-whatever's-in-the-frig ideas:

Stir fries: Any veggies, frozen veggies, cabbage, even lettuce, canned green beans, and any meat (if already cooked, add in at the last minute). The flavorings are olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic.

Along the same lines, a philly cheese steak (or chicken philly) can easily be made from sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers, and any leftover meat or chicken (even deli sliced turkey breast). Top with a slice of cheese while still in the pan to make a creamy cheesy "sauce" over it all.

Soups and chili: again, be creative in the combination of leftover meats and veggies and seasonings to use what you have on hand. There are tons of recipes out there that you can modify to your own tastes, budget, and available foods.

Off My Duff 12-29-2007 05:16 AM

What terrific ideas are being shared here! Thank you-it's very helpful.

Jake 12-29-2007 10:25 AM

Ommelettes are cheap (although are getting pricier every day). You can use anything for a filling, just keep it lowcarb, and go easy on the cheese. I like to buy hamburger on sale, and brown up a truckload of it at once. You can use it all week long, sprinkling it in salads, over eggs, etc.

Sarajewel 12-29-2007 03:10 PM

Low carbing can result in savings even when purchasing pricier groceries. Keep in mind that once you are in ketosis, your appetite is likely to be reduced meaning that you will eat smaller portions. I save a ton of money low carbing simply because I bring my own breakfast and lunch to work every day. I do it so that I can control what I eat but it does save money.

wifezilla 12-29-2007 03:31 PM

Got another cheapie for you...

Instead of buying strip bacon...buy bacon ends and pieces. Since my bacon always looks like hell by the time I get done cooking it anyway, I don't mind the irregular shapes :D

It's about half the price of fancy bacon. It comes in a 3# box at Walmart.

walkingwoman 12-29-2007 04:14 PM

Here's a cheap, easy recipe:
Green leaf lettuce
canned chop suey vegetables
chub of ground turkey (Walmart frozen section 1.34 for over a pound)
soy sauce

Brown the meat, add the veggies and soy sauce to taste. Wrap in lettuce leaves and enjoy. Sometimes I add some garlic in there too:up:

elyseelyse 12-29-2007 04:26 PM

Lets see: Gotta be my "mock" meat lovers hot pockets. Eight of these things cost less than 10 dollars!!! :)

beautifulme 12-29-2007 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by elyseelyse (Post 9695854)
Lets see: Gotta be my "mock" meat lovers hot pockets. Eight of these things cost less than 10 dollars!!! :)

How do you make these Elsye?

poopiewuv 12-29-2007 06:23 PM

I don't know if this has been said, but I buy a whole box of frozen chicken breasts when they are on sale - there are about 15 to 20 breasts in the box for about $25.00 or so.

I also agree with buying veggies at asian markets (or in Chinatown if you have one) - much much cheaper.

Jake 12-30-2007 08:46 AM


Originally Posted by beautifulme (Post 9696032)
How do you make these Elsye?

I'm interested too! Spill! :p

pooticus 12-30-2007 08:50 AM


Originally Posted by wifezilla (Post 9695637)
Got another cheapie for you...

Instead of buying strip bacon...buy bacon ends and pieces. Since my bacon always looks like hell by the time I get done cooking it anyway, I don't mind the irregular shapes :D

It's about half the price of fancy bacon. It comes in a 3# box at Walmart.

This is awesome stuff! :blush: We have a 3# box in the freezer that is sitting there forlornly...a virgin or a wallflower, not sure which...Denny sometimes goes out and pats it every now and again...I might actually depart from our brekky of yogurt and fiber one on NYday and make him bacon and eggs... :blush:

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