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Economical Recipes

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Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Economical Recipes Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I'm new to the forums but I've been watching the site for a while now. I have a challenge for you all: I'm on a student budget, but I love to cook, what are some recipes that I can create that yeild cheap ingredients and easy preparation?

I'm not a vegetarian but I don't mind eating vegetarian meals once in a while. Any suggestions are welcome!
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Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 8:17 pm    Post subject: Rice + anything... Reply with quote

Hey C,

I am a grad student so I know about tight budgets. I am assuming your living arraingements provide you with a kitchen from which to operate.

Okay, not sure if you like Asian cuisine but I was raised in a Asian household and swear by rice so that is my bias.

Get yourself a rice cooker- if you have access to Asian market, these little babies are cheap and super handy for making perfect rice everytime. They come on various sized (I have a big one (1.5 liter) b/c my momma had one - they come in smaller sizes). I think you can get one online as well.

Here is a good candidate for $25 USD:

Now as far as dishes:

Stirfry: Easy, cheap as you want, flavorful.

Chicken: recommend you buy chicken strips (for easiest prep); breasts
Pork: Once again strips or steaks which can be cut into strips.
Beef: roast tip; cubed or strips.
Seafood: If you are feeling extravegant go with shrimp and/or scallops.
Meat can be expensive, so the cheapest bet is to do chicken. You could do a veggie stirfry, but those are no fun (I am a big believer in meat).

Veggies: You can do a melange of your favorites, which is the beauty of stirfry. My usual suspects for veggies:
Broccoli, green peppers, white onions, carrots, peas, baby corn.

Fresh tastes best but cutting can be time consuming- often I will cheat and just buy a frozen mixed veggies at the store- sure winner and pretty cheap.

Mixing utensil (chopsticks if you want to be legit
Rice cooker (you can use a normal pot to cook rice; recommend you use 1 part rice, 2 parts water. Be sure to cover the pot as it is the "steaming" that makes for good rice. Put on medium-high heat for about 15 -20minutes depending on your temperature. Do not stir or disturb the rice during the cooking process.)

Spices required:
Soy sauce (3 tbl spoons)
Fish sauce (if you don't know what this is, no worries, you can substitute normal salt) (2 tsps)
Pepper (to taste)
Beef or chicken bouillion (not necessary but nice to have)
Olive oil (2 tblspns)
Corn starch (1 -2 tsps)

Prep: Cut veggies into bite size portions (about 1 - 1.5 inches). Marinade meat (chicken) in olive oil and add salt and pepper with 1 tblspn of soy sauce. To add some pizzaz you can add white wine (about 1/3 cup). Let meat set in fridge for about 20 minutes.

On medium-high heat, put olive oil in skillet and if you have some minced garlic, cook until you can smell the aroma. After skillet is heated, add meat. Cook chicken (with marinade) for about 6 minutes and remove from skillet but leave the drippings in the skillet. (Don't worry if chicken doesn't look all the way cooked b/c we're going to add it back in to finish the cooking process.)

In a 1/3 cup of cold water, mix corn starch (to thicken the stir fry broth) and bouillion, if you have any, and put it into the skillet. Add veggies (if you are cooking with fresh veggies, stagger the cooking times of veggies that will take longer, e.g. carrots, potatoes, etc. Add in things you want to be firm at the end, like broccoli) When veggies are about 80% cooked to the way you like it, add back in the meat. Stir it up and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Viola, you have just made a stir-fry.

Nice thing about stir-fry is that it keeps for a while and makes for good leftovers. You can also get nuts and put in all kinds of things that you like, sesame seeds, chili peppers, tofu, etc.

Hope that was useful.
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Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great, thanks so much. I've pretty much mastered how to make instant rice Teasing, so a rice cooker isn't really necessary. I also got a wok for Christmas and I love making vegetable stirfries in it. Thank you for all the sauce ideas! Smile
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Joined: 21 Dec 2005
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 1:28 pm    Post subject: Secret cheap college ingredient Reply with quote

Ramen noodles. Not only can you eat them directly (with the little flavoring packet) when you REALLY want something fast, but there are a million ways to use them with other recipes. For instance, a simple teriyaki sauce is just:

(feeds 2 -- halve for a single serving)

1/2 cup soy sauce (wonderful thing about this is it keeps forever, even in a dorm room closet)
1/2 cup sweetened japanese rice wine (called mirin -- also keeps forever as far as I can tell)
2 tablespoons sugar.

Combine all over low heat and simmer for a few minutes. Combine in a wok or pan with cooked, shredded chicken and (cooked) ramen noodles and whatever stir-fried veggies you want and it's easy, cheap, and extremely good!
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Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ramen is easy to dress up! fork scramble an egg with a little soy in a non-stick pan. When cooked, dump it in a bowl. make ramen, but ass a handful of peas and carrots near the end. pour over the egg.

I like to toss spaghetti with a can of smoked oysters all smashed up. Lemon juice and fresh parsley finish this off. In summer while fruit is cheap it's worth it to learn to make sweet biscuits and custard for shortcakes.

Flan is a good breakfast.

Quiche is a good way to use leftovers. A crust is nice, but you can make them in foil baking cups with no crust of you want.

rice pudding is cheap, easy, and good (notice how many egg dishes there are? eggs are generally less than 10 cents each)

When you find ground beef on sale make a big batch of chili and freeze some. Chili can be served over rice, with macaroni, or miked with corn and baked with a cornbread top.
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Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 9
Location: Phoenix, Az

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was poor I had a crockpot and I use to throw a game hen in with a potatoe and carrots and 1/4 of an onion and let it simmer all day on low and when I came home my dinner was made. Rice is a wonderful food eats lots of it.

Spices are a key to eating the same things over and over like chicken. When the recipe calls for breast you can use legs or thighs. Buying whole chickens saves you money also. Get a 'big' sharp knife to cut it up with. Here is a recipe that is tasty and the spices go a long way. I got the recipe off the Shillings Sherry Extract bottle.


Large fry pan.

Brown chicken:

1 ½ Tablespoons butter
4 chicken breast halves, browned
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cover and simmer medium heat 10 minutes. Remove to serving dish.

Add to pan:

1 Tablespoon chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon tarragon leaves
4-oz can mushroom, drained (or use fresh)

Saute 2 minutes

Stir in ½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sherry extract

Heat but do not boil.
Pour sauce over chicken. Serve over rice.
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Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 97
Location: GA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject: Economical Recipes Reply with quote

How about tofu stir-fry, get some teriyaki sauce from the store or a tikka masala, or general tso's and stir fry tofu until browned and then add the sauce with baby corn and onion.
Also try chicken in the wok and brown it and add soy sauce and broccoli.Make fried rice using your rice and letting it refridgerate for an 1hr. or 2 and
cook on heated oil using baby corn, and anything else you want. Good luck.
This might help:,,FOOD_9936_28431,00.html?rsrc=search
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also a student and feel your pain, so here are a few of my recipes.

1. Chicken and rice casserole [modified from a recipes on the back of a can of soup]
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
¾ or 1 cup of minute rice
Bread Crumbs 1-2 Cups
2 slices of Swiss cheese
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (condensed)

I use an glass dish which I think is 8x8in. Add the soup and 1 can full of milk, mix with a spoon. Add the rice and the appropriate amount of water as indicated on the box. Place the chicken in the dish and put a slice of Swiss atop each. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for 30-45 mins. Remove the foil and cover liberally with bread crumbs (best if you use a food processor for this but you can make them by hand). Put back in the oven, uncovered for 10-15 mins until the crumbs are a nice golden brown.
Alternatively you can leave the rice out of the casserole, cooking it on the stovetop and severing the chicken and mushroom casserole over the rice which is the original recipe.

2. Simple side dish
Just take some small red potatoes and cube them. Place in a pot of boiling water with some butter and whatever spices you feel like at the time (basil, garlic, ect.), or just salt and pepper. Boil till tender and server with butter, makes a great side to any red meat.

I also tend to cook things that share common ingredients so that nothing goes to waste, what follows is my most practiced example of that.

Part 1. A simple roast. (Do this on a weekend.) [Modified from a food network recipe]

2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (3-pound) sirloin tip roast, trimmed
1 can condensed beef stock, preferably low-sodium
1 Onion, diced.

In a small bowl, mash the pepper, salt, and garlic together to form a paste. Spread the paste all over the roast. I use a very small 6 in. Dutch oven for this, if you have a larger one you will need more broth and onion. Place the roast in the Dutch oven and add the onion, then add enough broth to cover the roast, if this is not possible don’t worry do the best you can. Roast at 375 F until a meat thermometer reads 130 F, about an hr depending on the size of your roast. Depending on how well you were able to cover the roast with the broth you may need to turn the roast halfway through, no need to do so if just an edge is sticking out. Take the roast out and place it on some plastic wrap, wrap very, very well and then wrap that with foil an place in the freezer, if you have roommates you will probably need to be armed to accomplish this step as the smell is enticing. Reserve the broth and onions for part 2.

Part 2. Salisbury steak, not sure if I spelt that right.

2-4 Salisbury steak patties (AKA cubed steak)
Onion broth from part 1, or 1 packet of “Brown gravy mix”
1 Diced onion if using “Brown gravy mix”
1 tbsp cornstarch per cup of onion broth if using the onion broth from part 1.
½ to 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (optional)
Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or butter

Salt and pepper each side of the patties. If using “Brown gravy mix” add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a skillet and add the onions, cook over low to med-low heat for 2-4 mins then proceed. Add the mushrooms and the patties to the skillet; lightly brown the patties on each side. Add enough broth to come just shy of covering the patties, and then add the cornstarch. If using the “Brown gravy mix” add the mix and the amount of water specified on the packet. Top each patty with a slice of Swiss and simmer over low heat until the patties are cooked all the way through. Serve over rice.

Part 3. Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Roast from part 1, frozen solid
1 onion
1 Green bell pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper
Olive oil
Provolone Cheese
Deli style rolls

Slice up the onion, as well as whatever amount of the green bell pepper you wish to use, I usually use 1 side of a large bell pepper. Add the onions to a skillet and toss with about a tbsp of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 mins, about the time it takes to slice up the bell pepper. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms; reduce the heat a bit to medium-low or low. While that is cooking take the frozen roast and slice a portion of it into very thin slices. I usually slice up about a cup or 1.5 cups worth. This should have taken a few mins and your veggies are almost done, toss in the sliced meat continue to cook just until the meat is warm, be careful not to overcook. After that, take a baking sheet and place each deli roll open on it. Spoon the mixture from the skillet onto the rolls and place a slice of provolone cheese on each. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. Serve with some nice thick steak fries. This way a single roast will last you many meals, it works out to be quite cheap, and with the exception of the first step it’s all fast and easy, even the first step isn’t that bad really.
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