SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Building Inexpensive Meals | Family Economics

By Tiffany

Buying groceries for a family is expensive. It’s possible to save money by using coupons and shopping grocery store sales, but there’s another way to save – build your meals with inexpensive ingredients. Recipes that feature beans, rice, eggs or pasta keep the dollar amount per serving very low.

These meals are often vegetarian or meatless, but they don’t have to be. If your family likes meat, try adding less than what the recipe calls for. Let the grains or beans star as the bulk of the meal, using the meat to add a bit of flavor and protein. A small amount of ground beef or Italian sausage can be added to plain marinara sauce. Or add a bit of ham to scrambled eggs to give them more flavor.

Serving a salad and vegetable side dish will increase the nutrition and keep the meal low-cost. I also like to stretch a meal with bread or muffins. A good loaf of bread will satisfy even a hungry teenage boy.

Here are a few recipes to try:

Quick Pasta Sauce
• olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
• 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
• 1 tsp. each of oregano, basil and thyme
• ½ tsp. sugar
• salt and pepper, to taste
• ¼ - ½ lb. ground beef or Italian sausage, browned (optional)

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are soft. Add the crushed tomatoes and seasonings. Stir in the browned meat, if you’re using it. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Mexican Beans and Rice
• 2 cans of dark red kidney beans
• onion, chopped
• garlic, minced or crushed
• oil
• 1 cup salsa
• 1 Tbs. chili powder
• 1 tsp. cumin
• brown rice, cooked
• shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onion and garlic. Add the beans, salsa, chili powder and cumin. Stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes, until hot. Serve over the brown rice topped with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

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