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What are your go to dinners?

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I'm on a tight budget myself, plus I have two kinda stepkids that moved into my house and have been living there, and I do all the cooking.  I can offer a few pieces of advice.

1)  Download the AllRecipies app for your phone.  I think it's called like DinnerSpinner or something, but it's a great place to get ideas.  You can say you want to find a "main dish", that uses "chicken", and ready in "30 mins or less", etc, etc.  You can adjust the settings and whatnot and find different things.

2)  Try to do all your shopping for the week in ONE TRIP.  I stopped going to our local big chain grocery store (Price Chopper) like every other day or every day after work because I found I was spending a ton more money than I needed to and wasting food.  I've been going lately on like a Saturday or a sunday to this store called Aldi's which is kind of like a discount grocery store.  They don't have nearly the selection of stuff the big chain does, but I've been being creative with my selections. 

3)  Plan ahead.  Do things like buy marinade for chicken or pork and stuff and packaging it up ahead of time.  That way you can just pull  out portions out of the freezer or fridge to use day to day.


Some things I make on the regular that are pretty cheap:

-Pasta with meat sauce.  Easy, obviously.  But you can change things up with the type of sauce or meat.  Sometimes it's a chicken and alfredo.  Sometimes ground beef.  Sometimes sliced sausage.  Also you can be flexible with vegetables to make some sort of primavera sauce with things like yellow or green squashes, peppers, onions, garlics, etc.

-Soup.  Yup, just soup.  You can make a big batch of soup and keep it in the fridge for the week and eat it for lunches as leftovers and stuff.  Chicken thighs (cheap) work great for homemade chicken soups, and vegetable soup is pretty inexpensive either when you look at how much you can keep eating it through the week with sandwiches and whatnot.

-Tacos.  Yup,  Taco Tuesday is a thing.  ground beef is pretty cheap at Aldi's, and I can get a big 5+ lb package of 73/27 meat for less than $10 and it'll last a while.  Plus I can use the beef for other things (see pasta above).

-Doctor up cheaper meals like macaroni and cheese or hamburger helper with vegetables and whatnot.


Good luck!

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Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 Hillshire smoked Sausage

2-3 Scallions/green onions diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic or 1/2 garlic clove cut up

2-3 tablespoons Olive oil

1 package sliced mushrooms

3-4 cups baby spinach leafs

2 cups shredded cheese

1 8-10 ounce can Rotel (found in the Mexican Food section)

4 cups chicken broth or 4 cubes dissolved chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream/ half and half

1 pound package Penne pasta or bow tie or whatever you feel like


Cut up the sausage, green onions, garlic and mushrooms (if needed), only add the white part of the onion save the green part for later, sautee in a large skillet in med high for 5 mins or until sausage has browned slightly add in spinach and let cook for about 2 min or until spinach leaves have reduced. Add in the  chicken broth, Rotel and cream, stir, add in pasta, bring to a boil, and add in 1 cup of shredded cheese, let boil until pasta is cooked about 10-15 min once cooked remove from heat and turn your oven to broil or you can bake it at 400 but broil works best you may need to adjust the oven rack to fit the skillet in. Take the remaining cup of cheese and some of the cut up green onions and sprinkle over the top of the pasta put it in the oven until the cheese starts bubbling/browning. Remove and let stand 5 min and then eat.

The longer you let it sit the thicker the sauce gets, the spinach and mushrooms are ingredients we added from the original recipe so if you dont like that or want to try different vegetables just cut them up and add when cooking the Sausage, We usually make this once a week and it looks good and tastes great the Rotel adds some heat/spice but my kids go through most of it and eat the leftovers, the above recipe makes enough for 6+ people, if you only want it for 2 half all the ingredients and it can all be cooked in one pan, if you have a large skillet. 

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We don't cook a lot, but one of my favorite meals is a vegetable with beef soup. It's quick, easy and tasty. 


4 - 8oz Cans Tomato sauce

1 - 29oz Can Veg-All. You can do Large cut or regular. I prefer the smaller pieces

1/2 - 1 lb Ground Beef depending how meaty you want it. 

1 - Onion


Open all the cans and pour them in a pot. Don't drain the Veg-All.  Hears it up and let it get good and hot while you brown the beef. 


I usually cut cut the onion in half for a pound of meat and fry it with the ground beef. 


Once the beef is done I drain it depending on the amount of fat. 


Mix the beef and onion with the soup and let it come to a good boil while stirring. Usually ready to go a few minutes after boiling, but you can let it go longer if you like it thicker. 


I usually like to eat it with some of some of the easy mix sweet cornbread.  


Another easy favorite of mine is beanie weenies. 


1 - Pack Hot Dogs

1 - Large can of baked Beans. Usually around 30oz for a full pack of hot dogs. Just about any type will do.

Brown Sugar  


I cut the entire pack of hot dogs into bite size pieces, add a bit of brown sugar to taste and fry them until they are brown. Just don't let it get too hot and burn the sugar.  Add the baked beans and stir until you have your desired thickness. 



My wife also cooks an amazing tater tot casserole, but I don't have he recipe on me. I can post it later if you want. 

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This Tater Tot Casserole is more of a Breakfast but I love it all the time.


Here's another good one while I have the recipes out. It's a crock pot meal so it's ready when you come home.


And one more since I like crock pot meals.



Finally, if you're looking to save time I recommend a pressure cooker. Takes some getting use to, but you can take meals directly from frozen to ready to eat.

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Me too. Nothing better than coming home to the smell of ready to eat food. 


Which reminds me of another good crock pot meal. BBQ. Just let a pork roast go on low all day. Come home, tear it up and add sauce. 


Ok. I think I've told you all our staples. lol. Probably didn't mean that many. 

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Another one we do that's super easy is Walking tacos, just cook up some hamburger or ground turkey with a taco seasoning pack and cut up lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, olives, onions. Have some shredded cheese and salsa or ranch, get the lunch size bags of Doritos in any flavor or corn chips crush up the chips inside open the bag and put in the ingredients you like shake it up and eat, minimal clean up and you can have it for lunch or dinner for a couple of days with different flavors/style of chips. 

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On 9/27/2016 at 4:47 PM, Dateranoth said:

That sounds pretty good. What taco seasoning do you prefer?

Just whatever the store has Lawrys is preferred but doesn't taste that much better that the store brand we just buy the packets in the spice aisle honestly it's taco meat I would spend more time making good guacamole or a quality Salsa, I usually just use ranch dressing in mine makes for a tasty taco salad, thats whats nice about this recipe is you can get alot of mileage just by changing up chips, or the other ingredients if you want to add some kick to it find a Spice called Slap your Mama, its a Cajun seasoning but goes well with a lot of foods. 

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