What are your favorite ways to make a dinner fun on a budget?

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Michelle - posted on 02/01/2012

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My kids love to do "hobo dinners". A recipe I learned from girls scouts when I was a kid. I prepare all the ingredients and them let the kids assemble themselves.

Uncooked Seasoned ground beef

Sliced potatoes

Small or sliced carrots, broccoli or other veggies your kids will eat.

Sliced onion

Salt and pepper to taste

On a piece of foil each person assembles a pile with the above items they will eat (or I ask them to eat), for example, my 6 year old gets a small handful of meat shaped as a mini meat loaf, 6-7 slices of potato and 2 carrots. Once assembled seal the foil around the meals, write the child's name on foil and cook for 45-50 minutes in 350 oven. They love them and eat it all because they made them all by themselves.

Tammy - posted on 01/26/2012

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The best way to feed your family is by making a meal plan. I sit down on Wednesday as that is when my grocery ads are in my local paper and plan out meals around my calendar.



I have a photo album that has 40 meals and an additional 20 fast/easy meals. I know that on Wednesday evenings I need a fast/easy meal so I plan for that.



When I am ready to go grocery shopping I only go to Wal-Mart. They price match so I am getting the best deal by going there and not driving all over town.



I also go to Sams Club once a month and stock up on my basics (i.e. pasta; canned goods; boxed items; etc). If they have a good meat sale I will stock up there as well and just break it down when I get home. I live 40mi from the closest Sams so I only go there once a month.



I used to go there twice a month and would split things up with my best friend but she moved to another state so we can't do that anymore.



I try and keep my meal budget to under $1.50 for each of us and I am consistenly successful at doing that. We have a family of 5 so if I can feed them all for under $7.00. That is my goal.

Kristi - posted on 02/09/2012

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I like to bake different things. if for a child, i use cookie cutters on meat and potaoes!

Devon - posted on 02/07/2012

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Brand new to this site!



I suggest: Make a meal plan and STICK TO IT, buy things like ground beef that can be split for tacos one night and meatballs/meatloaf the next, and make a homemade chalkboard where you can advertise your family dinners each day to get everyone excited for what's in store...



Devon Riesenberg

www.thejackchronicles.com

Jen - posted on 02/26/2012

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Making things like stews with lots of veggies and dumplings are both filling, and give you lots of lunch leftovers for the week :).

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Rachel - posted on 03/08/2012

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It takes awhile, but I make pasty's. make dough, then stick meat and cheese, potatoes and vegetables insides and bake. They fill you up and you can pick your fillings, inexpensive and the kids love it.

Paulina - posted on 03/08/2012

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My family love the quiche, and I replace the cream for eggs and is more healthy and cheap!! yummy!

Annie - posted on 03/07/2012

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Try www.cookstr.com. There are thousands of recipes. You can search for everything from budgets, to time, cuisine, course, etc... We don't like to eat the same things over and over so this site is great for us. I also have never had an issue making any of the recipes.

Michelle - posted on 02/28/2012

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i usually make a salad and bake up some meat....my 18 month old likes to help put the premade salad in the srving bowl and found out that she eats it all up when she has helped "make it" =)

Jovanna - posted on 02/27/2012

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OOh! Foil Dinners are super easy and fun. It's like camping but cleaner.

All you need to do is get some foil and spray it with pam, put a hamburger patty in the middle, throw some canned corn, greenbeans, baby carrots, chopped potatoes, and some green chili. Season everything how you like it, wrap it up and throw it in the oven til the hamburger is done.

My family loves them and I don't have to be in the kitchen for an hour cooking dinner.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/24/2012

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I found that getting a good housekeeping cook book that ranks the meals by health and price helped. It also has a substitution list so that you do not need to buy all of the expensive items that may be called for in many recipes. This has helped me use a plethora of veggies in ways that will make my toddlers love to eat them.

Audra - posted on 02/23/2012

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Crescent dough. You can use it for so many dinners AND desserts, and you have to use your hands in a lot of them because you're usually rolling something into the dough, or wrapping the dough around something.

Kate - posted on 02/23/2012

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I just read this great blog themiddleagedwomanwholivedinashoe.blogspot.com

she just had a blog about "white sauce", I did not know you could do so much with three ingredients!

My quick budget friendly is mac and cheese, so quick, so inexpensive!

Della - posted on 02/23/2012

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Planning a menu will always save. I shop for atleast two weeks at a time! Big savings on time and money.

Della - posted on 02/23/2012

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Set out the ingredents and let the kids help make dinner. My guys always loved to learn a new skill. If you start early you'll have little chefs before you know it. They may make an awesome pizza and pick off all the toppings but its fun!

badartworld.com

Sanelle - posted on 02/22/2012

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Mine is easy because I'm really lucky. Both my kids LOVE spag-bol. It's easy, cheap and healthy - specially if you mix some veggies in it. They will both have 2nd and 3rd helpings! And do not mind having the left overs - if there are any - the following night!

Brittney - posted on 02/20/2012

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Coupons are great! I can save as much as $60/month or more often. I buy a lot of fresh foods and make tons of pasta dishes. Mac n cheese, spaghetti, butter noodles...etc I also make my own noodles and raviolis. I tend to make things with ingredients I have on hand, so I'm not always running to the store. I buy chicken in bulk, 10 lb tubes of ground beef when they're on sale, and pork. I freeze everything until I'm ready to use it. I don't buy candy, pop, or chips.

Hattie - posted on 02/20/2012

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I am a planner as well, I plan 2 weeks at a time, and use coupons for everything that I can. ppgazette.com is a great site to get coupons. But I buy chicken in bulk, remove the fat and portion it into 3oz servings per person, then freeze the chicken for each meal in a freezer bag. We also do fresh fruits and veggies for snacks. Drinks are sugar free koolaid, since we don't drink soda unless it's special occasions. I also shop the perimeter of the store, that way we are eating healthier, less unprocessed food.

Mary Renee - posted on 02/20/2012

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I do the same, I meal plan based on what is on sale (I live in Hawaii so produce and meat are really expensive).



One of my favorite cheap and easy meals is chinese fried rice. All you need is rice, olive oil, soy sauce, eggs, and then whatever vegetable and protein you have on hand you can just throw in there. I love it and I always feel like I'm awesome because I don't have to pay for take-out to get it.



Another favorite of mine when cooking is using soups. You can use a tomato soup can or a cream of whatever soup can to take regular chicken or pork and make is super savory and usually a can of soup is only 75 cents to a dollar and I live in one of the most expensive places on earth.

Tammy - posted on 02/19/2012

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@Kim - I am not Kathryn but I make an easy meal out of the Chunky soup and rice. I prepare the rice as normal and heat up the soup.



Serve up the rice in a bowl about 1/2full and then pour the chunky soup over the top. Mix and serve. The rice absorbs the soup and makes for a great thick soup and very filling.

Amy - posted on 02/19/2012

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Well I'm only cooking for myself right now because I'm single and my baby is...a baby.

So I buy a whole chicken, roast it, carve it and freeze it in small portions.

I like to cook jasmine rice or pasta and add the chicken with fresh veggies and herbs/spices.

Beans and Rice is another cheap meal that I love.

I find that spices and maybe a little olive oil or herbs like fresh cilantro make the meal so much better.

Buying from bulk bins is also helpful. That's where I get things like rice, couscous or quinoa. Easy to cook grains!

Kim - posted on 02/18/2012

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Kathryn,



Hi.... I was wondering where can I find the Chunky Soup and rice casserole recipe?? I am always looking for a good casserole recipe..... Is this one that you can prepare ahead of time then cook when needed??



Thanks

Kim

Sedge - posted on 02/17/2012

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I need to start taking notes from you mothers. I'm a new stay at home dad, and my meals consist of last-minute, what's in the cabinets.



I'm quite bad at this, but I'm learning.





-Sedge

http://noob-dad.com

Melissa - posted on 02/17/2012

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My kids love a "smorgaesboard" dinner! I lay out all leftovers and we have a feast!! The kids just like the name!

Elaine - posted on 02/17/2012

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I like to buy whole chickens on sale and freeze them for later. Plan, plan, plan. One of the things my kids like best is empanadas. I take a thawed chicken and place it in my slow cooker in the morning. When it is done, I pick all the chicken off the bones, shred it, and mix it with diced veggies that my kids like (bell pepper, peas, onion). I let my 4-year-old spoon the filling into the center of circles of pie dough or pizza dough. Then we fold them in half, pinch the edges to seal, and bake them. You can also do this with pizza ingredients, ham & cheese, BBQ chicken, taco meat, whatever.

Jimena - posted on 02/14/2012

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i agree with tammy, if you are not pre planning your meals yet, you will need some time to adjust and get use to it, but when i started doing meal planning I did lost of dry grains(lentils, check peas) they are very yummy and cheap

Jessica - posted on 02/13/2012

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I can feed my family of 6 on about $500/$600 a month. I plan out meals and buy nothing more!! A great way for me to stay on budget is to plan my meals my budget and if I have to go to the store with the kids I budget for them. Kids are always wanting something at the store so I set aside a certain amount for them to spend once I hit it I pretend theres no more room in the cart and have them put it under the cart then at check I tell the clerk that everything in are go backs...sucks for the store but I stay on budget and my kids are happy and not throughing fits in the store (no they don't notice since i do ge them other stuff they asked for that was in budget)

i portion my meals and if i'm making say enchilladas and rice I do make extra for lunch the next day and just sketch in left over for lunch instead of coming up with a whole new lunch special since my little ones love my rice I know it WILL be eaten.

If you have noodles a great simple cheap quick meal is:

pour noodles in a large pan with a little olive oil brown noodles reduce heat add 1 can tomato sauce 1 can of water (use the tomato sauce can) and pour chicken stock until noodles are covered (as you would with corn) add a palm full of garlic powder a palm full of cumin salt n pepper to taste. cover and let simmer for about 15mins or until water mix had almost evaporated you want it almost like a sauce. then boom done!

A quick simple cheap meal with everything you'd normally have in your cabinets anyway!! :)

Terri - posted on 02/12/2012

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My husband was laid off in June and recently started a new job with a much lower paycheck. So dinner time is always on a budget. So we cook a lot of pasta dinners, omelets, meatloaf and stews. Stews are great because you can pretty much put anything in the pot especially leftovers. Whole chickens (when they are on sale) are great too because it make up to 3 meals. Warm roasted chicken 1 night, chicken sandwiches, 2nd night, chicken soup or stew 3rd night.

Angelica - posted on 02/11/2012

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I like to do things like make a taco lasagna! My daughter loves tacos but it is fun to mix it up and she always has fun helping put it together :)

Renee - posted on 02/11/2012

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We do a lot of meat sauces over rice. Makes meals stretch in our family of 16!

Christi - posted on 02/11/2012

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My kids loved hotdogs and Spaghetti you push the dried noodles through cut up hot dogs and then boil. tope with sauce and cheese It was not my favoite but they loved it

Also we like to make mini pizzas out of biscuts

Jessica - posted on 02/09/2012

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Leftovers! Or using the meat from Monday's roast for a veggie tofu meat stir-fry later in the week.

Bekie - posted on 02/09/2012

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My kids like things that taste good and are brightly colored but we don't any thing processed. I home make dressings that can be stored and will last. The kids like the berry vinaigrette and then I toss a fruit salad. Toss fresh cut spinach mango assorted berries tofu crumble assorted beans diya vegan cheese oranges and or what ever you like. Apple juice and your good to go! The part that will cost the most is the mango.

Danni - posted on 02/08/2012

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Try vegetarian meals that include beans, soya and tofu. I never thought I liked bean, soya or tofu dishes until I came across Pinterest. I am very visual, so when I seen how yummy some vegetarian meals look on Pinterest, I try them. Me ands my husband went from being meat and potato eaters 7 days a week, to adding 3-4 vegetarian meals each week. We cut our grocery bill by 1/4 just doing this simple idea. Here is a veggie recipe my husband and I love: http://pinterest.com/pin/182325484884127...

Tammy - posted on 02/07/2012

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@Antoinette my kids love tacos and I have them on my menu at least once a month. One of those staples that we can make in a jiff as well. Just brown the hamburger and the rest we just have to get out of the fridge.

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Tacos! thats always a hit with my family. Boxed spanish rice, ground turkey meat, taco shells and cheese for the kids. Then we add the other sides like salsa and beans for the adults.

Kathryn - posted on 02/07/2012

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Simply watch Tv! I have a 3 year old that I raise alone with no support plus a 2 year old and two 4 year olds I take raise so dinner on a budget is a must. The Chunky Soup and rice casserole is the best and the kids LOVE to help me make it and DEVOUR IT!!!!

Amber - posted on 02/06/2012

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I feed a family of four on $600 a month and I do this by shopping once a month at Costco. We have an extra freezer on our back porch to put bulk items in. I buy my meat, snacks, pasta, canned goods and frozen foods at costco and package it in freezer bags myself. I make alot of soups and stews in my crockpot, chilli is a big hit, pasta with homemade sauce, mini meatloafs, and I never make more than we will eat. We dont have leftovers. I have found leftovers dont allways get eaten so that waists food. I cook only what we need for that meal. Unless I am making a soup, stew or chilli cause then we will reheat that for lunch the next day. Learn what your family will eat and cook that amount, thats why I love things like mini meatloafs and meatballs cause you only make what you need at the time. Since I have started shopping at Costco for most of our food we eat better then we ever have. and I only have to do major shopping once a month.

Renee - posted on 02/04/2012

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@Jenna, I DO THE SAME THING FOR GROCERIES :-)



I actually plan for a couple of weeks and look for sales on everything. This past month, we were able to stretch 2 weeks of groceries and what we already had into the whole month! I get so happy whenever I get a great deal on a coupon too, LOL!

Jenna - posted on 02/04/2012

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I plan all my meals for the week on the day I grocery shop and I use the grocery ads to plan my meals and therefore my shopping. I make use of leftovers when we have them by having "surprise dinners" one night where I wrap all the leftovers in foil and heat them in the oven instead of the microwave and then randomly hand them out and they get what they get. They are allowed to trade once. The kids think it's great.



And we do homemade pizza once a week--the kids get to help make them and put on their favorite toppings and it's SO MUCH cheaper than ordering a pizza. I spend about $10 on pizza making supplies that last for about 3 weeks of pizza making. And that's feeding a family of SEVEN!

Renee - posted on 02/03/2012

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Homemade Pizza! The simple dough recipe just takes time, not money (ingredients are just yeast, water, brown sugar, oil, salt, and flour). Then it's mozzerella cheese and whatever you have on hand or like on your pizza. My kids tell me it's better than takeout!

Tammy - posted on 02/03/2012

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@Kim; are you looking for meals that you can make now and eat. Or quick and easy that you can make on a Sunday and reheat as needed?

Kim - posted on 02/02/2012

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If you have the time to make tortillas by hand, burritos are VERY cheap, healthy and everyone seems to like them. Just beans, cheese, some rice and you have a complete healthy meal.



I too plan the meals for the week so that we do the most economical and efficient grocery shopping possible with the littlest waste.

Tammy - posted on 02/01/2012

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@Rochelle - We do this alot. We call them homemade hot pockets. A loaf of white bread; some butter; and speghetti sauce plus some pizza toppings. And you have a great pizza pocket.



I puchased one of those sandwich makers that cooks the sandwich and sears the ends. $10 at Walmart 4years ago and that was the best appliance that we got that day. My kids make their own sandwiches and we love coming up with new ideas. The sandwich cooks in like 5min and we can be making soup at the same time and we have a great inexpensive dinner really fast usually with leftovers that we have in the fridge anyways.

Rachel - posted on 02/01/2012

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there are a lot of dinners that can be made for under $10



my two favorites are: chicken and dumplings and chilli... bags of beans are SO cheap and with just two (like black and white or pinto and kidney or whatever you like best) you can add a can of diced tomatoes, add some spices and let it cook for a few hours. there are a multitude of chicken and dumpling recipes on allrecipes.com



we also do breakfast for dinner when I don't feel like doing anything special and with half a loaf of bread and some eggs you can have scrambled eggs with french toast and the kids will think it's a reward while it pinches pennies in your wallet!

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