Quick and Inexpensive Meals

The old iron stove took much lonnger to coook meals than our modern applicnaes. Still, we want faster meals.
The old iron stove took much lonnger to coook meals than our modern applicnaes. Still, we want faster meals. | Source

Be Prepared to Reduce Preparation Time

To provide a meal for four in about half an hour, try one of the five following lower cost recipes that use cheese, vegetables, fish, chicken or lean meat, and wild rice. Any of the four can be prepared for dinner and the egg meal is delicious for any meal. The Salmon Chowder is especially one of my favorites.

Cooked meat and chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days in order to quicken preparation times in these dishes, allowing you to put the cooked meat right into the recipe. If I know I will be rushed the next day, I cook rice the night before and store it in an air tight refrigerator container and have had good results with this as well.

If You Can't Make Sushi...

Make chowder
Make chowder | Source

Superfood - Salmon

Salmon Chowder

Serves 5

Good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Dietary Fiber & Omega-3 fats


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Cups frozen O'Brien Potatoes (has browns, onion & green or red pepper)
  • 1 (14 oz) can lo-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 (12 - 13 oz) can skim evaporated milk
  • ½ Cup frozen sliced carrots
  • 1 Cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 (7 oz.) pouch or can of chunk salmon, well drained
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp red cayenne pepper (optional)


  • Heat oil a medium-size pot;
  • Add frozen hash browns and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients, stirring well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Immediately reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve with crusty bread.

NOTE: Broth- and tomato-based soups are lower in calories and fat content than creamy and cheesy soups. If you enjoy cream soup, substitute evaporated skim milk in your recipes in place of cream or whole milk to reduce calorie content without losing flavor. For canned soups, look for those soups that are lower in sodium (450 mg or less per cup), lower in saturated fats (under 2g per cup), and contain about 100-130 calories per serving.

Cheeses | Source

Macaroni and Cheese from Scratch

Serves 4.


  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese - use lo-fat and/or lo-salt if you wish, or even a milk-substitute based cheese.
  • 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour or rice flour for thickening
  • 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 8 ounces shell or elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups 2%, 1%, or lo-fat milk


  • For a bit of bite & heat, add 1/8 teaspoon powdered red pepper.
  • For a variation, reduce milk to 1.5 cups and add 1/.2 cup lo-fat sour cream.


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cook macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente - 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Whisk milk and flour together in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Continue to stir milk over medium heat until the cream (béchamel) sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add salt, pepper, and 1-1/2 cups of Cheddar cheese to the sauce.
  • Continue stirring until the cheese melts so that nothing burns or sticks.
  • Remove form heat, add cooked macaroni to the pan, and stir until well mixed.
  • Pour the macaroni and cheese into a casserole or baking dish.
  • Spread remainder of the cheese on the top, followed by the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake approximately 25 - 35 minutes. Check at 20 minutes for doneness and every 5 minutes afterward; don't let it burn. The top should be golden brown and the center should not be runny.

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Harvesting wild rice in the 1800s.Ojibwe pouch for gathering wild rice.
Harvesting wild rice in the 1800s.
Harvesting wild rice in the 1800s. | Source
Ojibwe pouch for gathering wild rice.
Ojibwe pouch for gathering wild rice. | Source

Teens & Native Americans Restore Michigan Wild Rice Crops

Wild Rice Entree

Serves 5-6

Good source of Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron


  • 1 Box (6-7 oz.) prepared long grain & wild rice mix
  • 1 Pound leanest ground beef - substitute turkey or sausage if you like.
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • ½ Cup skim or 2% milk
  • 1 Can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 Cups frozen French style green beans, thawed; or 1 can, drained


  • Cook rice mix according to the package directions.
  • In a non-stick frying pan sprayed lightly with cooking spray, over medium heat, brown ground beef and onion.
  • Remove from heat and drain excess grease.
  • Combine cooked rice, beef, milk, soup, and green beans in a baking dish.
  • Cover the dish and microwave on high for 5 - 6 minutes, until heated through.
  • If you prefer oven baked texture, bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

NOTE: For lean meat choices, look for the words "loin" or "round" on packages of beef or pork and avoid the highly marbled cuts of meat. For ground beef, use 95% lean beef or chuck or substitute ground turkey breast or chicken breast. Frozen soy crumbles are available if you are vegetarian and they often are good in flavor in these sorts of recipes..

Egg Bake for Breakfast or Dinner

Serves 4

Eggs can be a good protein source. A single large egg contains ~ 70 calories, 5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 210mg cholesterol, 70mg sodium, 7g of high quality protein and significant amounts of several vitamins & minerals.


  • ½ of a 24-oz. bag of frozen O'Brien style potatoes (hash browns, onions & green pepper)
  • ½ Cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 3 Tbsp skim milk
  • Pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Spray an 8" by 8" pan with cooking spray.
  • Break up the hash browns into the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the has browns.
  • In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and pepper with a fork.
  • Pour egg mixture over the hash browns and cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 about minutes or until eggs are set.
  • Serve with any type of salsa you like.

NOTE: Recent of research shows that cholesterol in foods has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels and that dietary saturated and trans fatty acids have the greatest effect on blood LDL (bad) cholesterol. Most healthy people can consume 1 egg per day without increasing risk of heart disease. If your LDL cholesterol level is high, check with your health care provider or a registered dietitian (RD) for specific menu help.

Chicken Taco Soup

Serves 6

Good source of Vitamins A and C, Iron, and Fiber


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) can fat-free refried beans - regular or vegetarian
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 2 Cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 package prepared lo-sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 2 Cups water (I use spring water)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & chunked


  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat
  • Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
  • Add refried beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, taco seasoning, and
  • water; mix well.
  • Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
  • Add cooked chicken and cook 2 minutes.
  • Serve with a tossed green salad and lo-fat sour cream for a topping. A fruit salad would be good for dessert.

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Comments 24 comments

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Yummy! I've prepared home-made mac & cheese before. Threw everything I could find into it. Got raves! It's a creative dish. You can even do that with the boxed version.

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Agro Donkey 8 years ago from Ohio

Chicken Taco Soup? I have never thought of this combination of things but I am willing to give it a try. I will post my experience at a later date.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I like to changes cheese as well in the macaroni and cheese - colby jack or pepper jack cheese is nice. Once I made it with three white cheeses - white cheddar, swiss and mozzarella - very good!

Thanks for the comments.

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

I add things like baby sweet peas, Italian sausage, tuna, salmon, etc.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Yes! _ I forgot that I sometimes like frozen peas added - the sausage sounds great in it. Mushrooms are good as well. :)

guidebaba 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing Patty.

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Sauteed... in lemon, butter and thyme. Ooh baby!

lacyleathers profile image

lacyleathers 8 years ago from US

Love the Salmon recipe....I will definately be trying that one.....Love the fish....not only yummy...but sooo good for health.

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

oh MY!! I love these Patty, another thing to try in mac and cheese....get ready to be shocked....'prepared butternut squash soup' its a killer for extra flavor and creaminess and you can't tell it's from squash. it comes in the little soft boxes like chicken/beef broth at the store. Who knew?

I 'm doing the wild rice entree' this weekend!! thanks so much now i'm' starvin from reading this!

newwoman54 profile image

newwoman54 8 years ago

I can't wait to try these recipes! Thanks!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

The butternut squash soups sounds very tasty -- All these good comments have made me hungry!

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Excellent recipe ideas, Patty! I love recipe hubs. I don't know what I'll try first. Probably the egg dish. I am a big fan of eggs... or the salmon chowder. yum! Steph

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RUTHIE17 8 years ago

Everything sound so good, Patty!  I'm like Steph--don't know which to try first. 

I read the recipe for your Mac and Cheese to my husband--his comment?  "Why do you want to "mess" around with another recipe when yours is so good?" 

Now, what do you with a guy like that?! 

I'll "mess" around anyway the next time I fix it.  He's been eating sour cream in his M & C for the last year and still doesn't know it!!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Sour cream is delicious in M & C! Hope your husband likes your new twists on the dish.


Nancy 8 years ago

I read the ingredients list for the salmon, and that's not going to be inexpensive.

If I didn't have the listed items on hand it would cost at least $12 to purchase them,

that's not my idea of an inexpensive meal.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Depends where you live, Nancy. My market carries 16 oz canned salmon for only $1.50 for example. If it's all too expensive for you, of course don't make it, but don't assume it's so expensive all over the world. Some places, people catch their own salmon and grow the vegetables themselves. Look for even cheaper recipes you can afford. How cheap do you need it to be, by the way? We may be able to direct you to those recipes...

B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 8 years ago from Hell, MI

The salmon sounds good, but I still prefer fur-bearing trout! You get a great meal, and a pair of slippers at the same time!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Hilarious! And so eco-friendly.

Scott & Ruthe 7 years ago

Does anyone have a mock Taco Bell Cheese Suace? Hoping to make nachos for Basketball Sunday!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

I don't know what's in it, but that brand is a little bland for me. Can you still purchase it in the grocery store? Some times I just look at labels and leave out the preservatives. The ingredient used in the largest amount is flirted first, next largest is second, etc.

But maybe someone will read this and post the recipe!

Best wishes.

Scott & Ruthe 7 years ago

I agree, but my daughter can't get enough of it!

The new $.99 Taco Bell Nachos are quite a bargain, but it is more fun to make the concoction at home.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Yes, I purchased an order a week ago at the new Taco Bell down the street and felt the cheese sauce was disappointing, kind of chalky tasting, like a cheese substitute.

At home, I place cheese slices over corn tortilla chiips and microwave. I slice black ollives and scallions over the top and add salsa or a can of diced tomatoes with cilantro and jalepinos already mixed in. Sometimes I add sour cream.

Scott & Ruthe 7 years ago

That is a recipe that my 10 year old and I can handle! We shall give it a try. Now, if we can just find some olives...

Recipes4myson 7 years ago

Great and easy recipes that sound yummy. Can't wait to share with my son.

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