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"Looking for some cheap dinner ideas? Whether you just paid rent or you’d rather stash your cash for future travel plans, saving money doesn’t have to mean forgoing delicious food. With some clever techniques and an arsenal of inexpensive pantry staples—like rice, pasta, beans, frozen produce, and chicken thighs—your cheap meals can also be your best meals. "

Lots of ideas here for dressing up the basics. Some old favorites like quesadillas, fried eggs, and mac n cheese, but also new soup recipes I'd like to try.
 

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lol most of those are reg meals and fancier then a lot of what people do. not always cheap too. but yummy looking!
 

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I think that's the point, M. You can have nice meals with inexpensive, basic ingredients. Some things are more available or cheaper depending on where you live. Sometimes a jar of something costs a lot, but you use so little the price per serving is very small. There's so many ideas there, I hope everyone can find something new to try.
 

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I can tell those chefs never lived in a small town, routinely fed a big pile of kids, had to get by on cheap food, or tried to fill up high school boys during football season. LOL! The ramen noodle salad has potential though.
 

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I think that's the point, M. You can have nice meals with inexpensive, basic ingredients. Some things are more available or cheaper depending on where you live. Sometimes a jar of something costs a lot, but you use so little the price per serving is very small. There's so many ideas there, I hope everyone can find something new to try.
yes but lots of those aren't cheap basic ingredients or I guess what is considered cheap since it is Bon Appetit lol lovely recipes and lots cheaper side but really depends where you live.
 

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It really depends on where you live. Here in Central Europe there are different prices and different eating habits.
Therefore, I can only give ideas that I know from Germany.
I always try to cook cheaply, but tasty.
My tips
  • make a meal plan
  • Shopping only! according to the meal plan
  • cook from scratch
  • cook according to the season (for example no strawberries in winter)
  • Do not throw anything away: for example, boil the bones of pork and chicken to a good broth as a basis for soups and sauces and make vegetable broth from vegetable remnants
  • Soups with little or no meat are cheap. We also have a slice of (German ;-) bread
  • Recipes with peas, beans, lentils fill you up and are inexpensive
  • Combine leftovers from meals into new meals
 

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I feel like lots of people would not have sesame oil on hand. It isn't really a pantry basic. On the other hand, one bottle lasts a long time.

One of the earlier one called for mushrooms, which I would not call cheap. Also not something I normally have on hand.

But some suggestions seem like they would be good. Or could work with substitutions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have to wonder what you guys think isn't cheap. Most of the recipes are based on noodles, rice, pasta or beans/chickpeas, with vegetables or egg on top. I realize there are seasonings that are not common in some small towns, but like Kathy points out a small bottle of sesame oil lasts a long time. (mine was 3.99, which is not a bank breaker) At the same time, a lot of things like fresh herbs, greens, and mushrooms that people in the country grow (or gather) are horribly expensive in big cities, so it balances out. There are so many options here.

And yeah, the Bon Appetit audience is likely to be more young professionals out on their own for the first time than housewives who've been cooking for 30+ years. I think there's something for everyone here, though.
 
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I think it's good inspirations even if you don't have 100% of the ingredients. Once you start cooking, you learn to improvise.

I just watched a youtube with how to use canned meat. I have canned salmon and tuna and sardines I got on super-sale and am tired of just tuna salad and sardines on toast. I won't follow the recipes exactly, but thought "oh yeah, I can put that tuna on pasta" or "maybe salmon loaf". Reminders so I'm not in such a rut.
 

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I'm not going to review the list, but fresh produce isn't cheap, no matter where you live. Not as bad if you're cooking for 1 or 2, but lots more for a family, of course. Seafood, forget it. We had the beef cost discussion on another thread here lately. Dairy is high. If you're buying uncommon condiments and seasonings for one dish and they don't get used up, that's a waste.

Kimchee was over $8/pint here recently. Ingredients to make it were very expensive, too.
Stuff like coconut milk is costly.

We use sesame oil quite a bit, and keep it in the freezer when we're not using it as much. It's tasty on lots of different dishes.

It's hard to stretch more expensive ingredients by adding starchy foods like rice and pasta and still eat healthy. Dammit! I LOVE rice and pasta. Eating healthy is expensive.

I agree it's often easy to sub ingredients as you get more cooking experience. Also agree if your style of cooking/eating fits with Bon Appetit, then a list like that may be helpful in sparking new ideas. Over the yrs I've learned my lesson about buying ingredients we don't typically use. The bulk of them eventually end up in the trash because they don't get used up. The past few yrs I've been working on getting more creative with basics we typically have on hand and/or making my own seasoning mixes so I can make small batches that get used faster, and then also don't require storage space. So far, so good.
 

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They all looked delicious....unfortunately my husband wouldn't eat 99% of them.....he is a very very plain eater....now, I would try anything.....but I don't want to cook just for myself so it's a no go for me....except for the crispy fried chickpeas....I've been roasting them for years and they are so good.....
I think lots of those recipes could be made pretty cheaply if you are a smart shopper.
Thanks for posting....
 

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In my effort to be more creative and use what I have I mixed up a bruschetta type tomato salad. Today I did another to use up a few swishy cherry tomatoes and went ahead and subbed in a small zucchini. Letting it marinate over night. We'll see.

Zucchini I fermented last week turned out really good!!! Eating those on scrambled eggs at breakfast.

For my surprise guests this weekend I made fried squash blossoms in fresh eggs with cowboy coffee (living off grid with chickens and a sad garden so did what I could). They said it was the first time they'd had fried squash blossoms. I think they are new converts.

I am not doing any thing in the article but am trying new stuff. Even if it isn't all great, it is all healthy food.
 
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