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NEEDED: Frugal Nourishing Meal Ideas for One

frugal meals

Are you single and broke, but want to eat well?

My niece lives on her own in Seattle and has asked for help in trying to eat less processed junk. She does eat a lot of eggs (they’re good for her, cheap and fast), but usually falls back on pasta and boxed dinners too often. I suggested she buy a whole chicken since she can get a lot of nourishing meals out of that, or she could use the single serving idea at this Meatloaf recipe, but I need MORE IDEAS from you!! I hope you’ll help. :)

Here’s what I’d really like: Meals ideas that are…

  • Affordable
  • Relatively low-carb (She’d like to lose weight.)
  • Nourishing (I explained that in order to lose weight, she needs to feed her body nutrients so it won’t hang on to every bit of fat it can in survival mode.)
  • Complete with LOTS of details because she’s in college and hasn’t cooked much her whole life. Please be very specific when suggesting recipes, don’t assume anything is obvious.

Thanks for your help everyone!

photo credit


  1. The meal I made tonight wasn’t too costly. I made soup with ground turkey, last week I used ground bison. First step would be to dice carrots (2-3), 1 onion, 2 sticks of celery, and 4 cloves of garlic. Put coconut oil into sauce pan then place the vegetables in there and saut

  2. When I lived alone, most of my meals were a variation on what has lovingly been termed, in my household, the ‘man meal’:

    Ground meat (chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, buffalo)
    Garlic (as much as one likes… I use about 5 cloves because I LOOOVE garlic)
    Feta cheese
    A bunch of greens (kale, chard, spinach, beet tops, collards, anything)
    Butter or lard, for cooking.

    Cook the chopped garlic over medium heat until it starts to release its aromas. Add the meat. When the meat starts to release its juices, turn the heat up to medium-high. Break the meat up so that it’s not just one big block, and when it’s almost ready, throw in the chopped greens. Cook until it’s all cooked. Sprinkle with feta, salt, pepper… it’s low carb and delicious.

    Variations are as follows:
    Try adding Moroccan spices and preserved lemons, with yogurt and harissa on top.
    Try squeezing lemon over the top just before turning the heat off.
    Saute up some broccoli before adding the meat (for about 5 mins).
    Crack an egg in when everything is almost ready and scramble it all together.
    Add soy sauce and bok choy (and even 5-spice) and leave out the feta.
    The variations on this really are endless….

  3. Buy a crockpot. Or two. You can get them at Goodwill for about $7, and they are lifesavers! Make chili (there are a million recipes online), or cook up whatever hunk of pork is on sale, and freeze your leftovers for later. My favorite crock-pot website is (I’m not affiliated, I promise! I just love it!)

  4. I think the key to this is that you need to be willing to eat leftovers. Also – if you aren’t that keen on leftovers – freeze single portions & then take one out a week later, etc.

    One thing some single girlfriends of mine did is that they’d all cook a meal & the portion it out in single portions & they’d all trade. With 5 girls – they got 5 meals. Neat!

    • This is a great idea – or a spin off of it – make a couple nice dishes (lasgna, pot pie, soups, meatballs, stuff you like but makes alot) – and divide it up and freeze single portions. Make your own “tv dinners” – nourishing, cheaper to cook in bulk and easier to deal with then having to actually cook every night!

  5. I second the comment about the crockpot. If you get a big one, you can put a whole chicken it. Just rub it with olive oil and season w/ salt (kosher or sea), and pepper. You can add another herb if you have it – I usually use rosemary or thyme, then put the whole thing in the pot. Don’t add any additional liquid. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure about the cooking times, though. I set the crockpot on low and then check back in about 5 hours and it’s done — it might have been done earlier, I’m not sure, though. The nice thing about this cooking method is that the chicken will stay moist even if you cook it for a long time. It gives off a lot of broth and actually starts to braise itself after awhile. You can add root vegetables or large pieces of butternut squash to the pot, but do it towards the end of the cooking time. If you throw them in at the beginning, they will turn to mush.

  6. Not sure if she has any freezer space, but the baked oatmeal freezes so well. I always freeze ours in individual portions.

    Scrambled eggs with baby spinach and feta cheese — wrap it in a tortilla for a more of a sandwich.

    I purchase frozen, wild caught orange roughy and love it baked with some salsa on top. It cooks up quickly even if it goes into the oven frozen.

    Once you get that chicken out of the oven or crockpot, portion it up and use on salads. With my healthy homemade dressing, this makes for a nutritious and filling salad.

    Veggies dipped in hummus is often a lunch for me. I make up a veggie tray for our family and it lasts for several days.

    Eat lots of coconut oil and coconut milk — lots of energy and not a huge appetite! :-)

  7. You can also do a whole pot roast in the crockpot. You can use any cheap cut of tough meat – chuck, top or bottom round, etc. The easiest/laziest way to do it is to just season liberally with salt & pepper and put it in the pot. Add some canned beef broth (an all-natural, low-sodium brand) until it is a quarter of the way up the height of the meat — i.e., if the roast is 4 inches tall, put 1 inch of liquid in the pot. Turn the crockpot on low and leave for 4 hours. After 4 hours, put a fork in the meat and twist. If the fork turns easily and you don’t see any connective tissue in the meat, then it’s done. Take it out of the pot, let it rest, then slice thinly across the grain. Serve with the juices from the pot spooned over top.

    If the fork does not turn easily, keep checking at 30 minute intervals until it is.

    If you are feeling more industrious, you can brown the meat before putting it into the pot. You can also add root vegetables about halfway through the cooking. If you want to make it taste more like Jewish brisket, you can mix together 1 bottle of chili sauce, a quarter cup of brown sugar, and a tablespoon of onion powder and pour that over the meat as the beginning of the cooking time.

  8. Last suggestion – regarding my earlier suggestion for the chicken — you can do the same thing with lamb shanks and turkey legs. Both are cheap cuts of meat and go on sale from time to time.

  9. This is a recipe I like. I don’t know how low carb it is. It is called BBQ Veggie Joes.
    1 cup dried lentils,sorted & rinsed, 2 stalks celery, cut up, 1 chopped onion, 2 carrots, cut up, 3/4 cup ketchup, 2 T brown sugar, 2 T worstershire sauce, 2 T cider vinegar, hamburger buns

    In medium saucepan, combine lentils and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer 10 minutes. (I do this Sally Fallon’s way) Meanwhile, in a slow cooker, combine celery, carrots, onions ketchup, brown sugar (I sub rapidura), & Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Stir in lentils and water. Cover, cook on low setting about 6 hours. Stir in vinegar. Spoon into hamburger bun.
    This is more than 1 serving but maybe she can freeze some for later?

  10. Does she have access to fresh vegetables? In the summer I like to make a lot of salads – cut up cooked chicken with greens and whatever I have on hand, same with canned tuna, taco salad. I have to think some more.

  11. This is based on a recipe from the Super Baby Foods book, it just need to be converted to soak the whole grains first. I haven’t made it since changing over to real foods so I haven’t converted it myself.

    5 cups water
    2 cups any WHOLE grain – you can mix any to make up 2 cups: For example –
    brown rice, steel cut oats (not rolled oats or quick oats!!!!), barley, whole buckwheat (kasha), etc.
    2 apples, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon

    Place all items in a crockpot and stir. Cook on low overnight (8-10 hrs.)

    This makes a lot and is fast to make up! Probably 8 servings? Leftovers can go in the fridge and reheats well later.

    Good served with a little milk/butter and I don’t usually need any sweeteners but it can be sweetened with honey or maple syrup.

  12. Okay, I haven’t read much in the suggestions about preparing some of the grains/beans in a nourishing way. Kelly’s phytic acid post about why to soak is here: and it has a lot of links to how to soak, etc. Sprouting doesn’t require any special equipment other than a glass jar/bowl–getting creative is easy when one is broke!

    Adding sprouted–or at least soaked–and then cooked lentils to hamburger is a great way to stretch almost any ground meat. Lentils sprout quickly and cook quickly too, so just add them in (already cooked) when hamburger is almost done browning. This is a very frugal way to stretch what is usually the most expensive item. Bonus: sprouting or soaking breaks down the carbs, so it won’t throw off the weight-loss goals.

    It’s not light on carbs, but extremely nourishing AND frugal is homemade soaked pasta. And, it’s not as tough as you might think. My recipe starts with 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar or kombucha in a measuring cup, fill with water to total 1 cup. Add this to three cups of flour and mix–it should be a stiff dough (you may need to add a little more flour), and it will be a bit of a workout for the next step: kneading. Take the doughball in your hands and smash it on the counter (I like to rub a tiny bit of oil on the counter and on my hands), fold over away from you, rotate 90 degrees, and smash again. Repeat the foldover, turn, smash for about 5 minutes. Of course, if you have mixer, then just let the mixer do the work, but for about 8 minutes. Let this mixture sit on the counter in a glass bowl for 12-24 hours (cover with damp towel to keep dust off), then roll it out on the counter, using some flour on the counter this time: on the counter, on the dough ball. Roll away from you, always, and pick up the dough and turn it over after EVERY roll, adding more flour to the counter or the dough as necessary. Keep rolling and turning until it’s as thin as you like you pasta, then cut with a knife, pizza cutter, etc. Be careful when cutting to not wreck your countertop! You can then cook the pasta noodles (they do NOT have to be thin strips–I cut mine about 3/4 inch wide) fresh: drop them into plenty of boiling, salted water for 4-5 minutes. You don’t have to cook the whole batch at once either; I usually roll my pasta, only cooking enough for dinner, then let the rest dry (on the counter is fine!). This dried pasta will take longer to cook than regular store-bought pasta, so plan accordingly there. It will take a LOT less of this pasta to fill you up! Be sure to avoid pastry flour, because it doesn’t have enough protein to hold together for noodles. Use whatever whole wheat flour you can find, bread flour being preferred. BTW, you can freeze soaked dough, but it will be wetter after thawing, so may need some extra flour as you’re preparing to roll it out. This way, I always have soaked pasta dough ready (and it doesn’t take that long to thaw out, compared to soaking). Freeze it in portions, even!

    Simple sauces for this? EVOO with some fresh sauted garlic, tossed with chopped tomatoes. Add other veggies to this as they are on sale: chopped (and briefly sauted) squash, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower–whatever veggies sound good. Season with salt & pepper, an whatever herbs & spices tickle your fancy: (start with just a little, cuz these get overpowering fast) basil, thyme, oregano, etc.

    Finally, I can’t recommend kombucha enough for both frugality and nourishment. It also has been touted by some to help lose weight, as well as a host of other benefits, not least of which is improved digestion due to all the healthy probiotics (it definitely has a detoxing effect if you’re not used to drinking it, so start small, just a few ounces a day and build up until you can have as much as you like). Kombucha is more than one entire blog post, though, so do some research on that and let me know if you need a starter culture. I love to mix my finished kombucha with grape juice in a 10:1 (give or take!) ratio. YUM! It is a bit of an acquired taste…

    A word on cooking whole chickens in a crock pot: I always cook mine breast-side down, with a little butter in the cavity. When you get your chicken home (and thawed, if need be), be sure to check for two openings, one on each end. There may be little goodies tucked in there, and you don’t want to cook them while you’re cooking the chicken (what to do with THOSE is a whole different post!). The bigger opening that goes down inside of the bird is the cavity. Put about 3-4 tablespoons of butter (PLEASE don’t use margarine–ever! It’s just not good for you) in the cavity, rub some more on the outside (or EVOO as someone above said), salt, pepper, and put the crockpot on low. This can cook all day, and the chicken will be falling off the bone. Use the chicken for whatever meals, but throw the cooled bones back in the cooled crockpot, soak for 1 hour with 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover (at least 6-8 cups). After soaking at room temp for 1 hour, crank up the crockpot again to get it good and hot, then turn down to low and let this simmer for 24 hours. Add an onion, some garlic (2 cloves fresh, 1/2 tablespoon dried), 2 carrots (scrubbed but no need to peel), and 2 stalks celery. Now you have some good, nourishing chicken broth, which is a great base to make sauces, or even chicken soup–excellent with the pasta above. Just add some chopped carrots, onions, celery, a little salt & pepper to taste, boil the noodles until cooked, then toss in a handful of chopped chicken. Yumm!

    Good luck, and post back with your favorites! (Whew, I wrote a book! Sorry!)

    • Two things, Dani, cant agree with you more on the kombucha! Second, I also make whole wheat pasta, but used the base from chanelles healthy whole wheat cresent rolls over at simply real foods! It was also frozen dough and when I was rolling it out to make crescent rolls, i rolled it too thin and then it hit me! make pasta–it came out divine!

      Making and freezing a bunch of corn tortillas and having the crockpot chicken and some cheese makes it easy to have chicken tacos or quesadillas too!

  13. Cuban Black Beans and Brown Rice

    When I was single and broke I ate a lot of black beans and rice. It may not be low carb but it is low simple carb and certainly has good protein. It also makes a good base for other meals such as eggs over beans and rice or beans and rice and salad or roassted chicken beans and rice, etc. I would make a big pot of each and just heat them up again and again as the days went on.

    This can be done in an afternoon while doing homework or laundry. It does take some time but will last for a few days and you don’t have to stare at it while it cooks.

    So for Cuban black beans:
    Soak 1lb beans overnight in lots of water and a little lemon juice or cider vinegar (one Tbs or so)
    The next day when they are nice and plump and you are ready to cook rinse them off pretty well and start them cooking on medium heat covered with lots of water and add a Tbs of salt.
    One of the keys with black beans, I have found, is to rinse them at least once during the cooking stage. This makes them less starchy and more palatable. So I suggest rinsing them after they have simmered about 1-2 hours. Reserve some of this very black water for rice. Cover beans again with water and add another Tbs of salt.
    Now is the time to start the sofrito.

    1 Onion
    1 Red Bell Pepper –even if you don’t like red bell pepper do it anyway, it makes the dish
    Lots of garlic, as in 4 or so good sized cloves
    A palm full of cumin seeds
    Black pepper, several pinches
    Salt, a pinch or two

    Chop all ingredients into small pieces, including the spices and put in a pan to saute with coconut or other good oil.

    When onions and peppers are soft dump the whole thing into the beans and continue cooking the beans until they are soft and tastey. I’d check for salt at this stage.

    Black Rice:
    With some of that reserved water from the black beans cover brown rice till about one knuckle length above the top of the rice.
    Cook on low heat until done, brown rice takes a while so be patient. Add a little water if necessary or drain off a little if it seems wet. I prefer short grain rice.

    This will keep in the fridge for a while, if you notice you aren’t keeping up with it before it goes bad, it freezes well too.
    Let me know if you try it.

  14. Blender Pancakes
    1 1/2 tot 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oats
    Blend in blender, then cover and let it sit overnight on the counter.
    Preheat pan or griddle.
    Add to blender in the morning 1 egg, and additional liquid if you think you need it.
    Add 2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    1 tbsp sugar
    Pour and cook.

  15. Taco Seasoning
    1 tsp salt
    1tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp marjoram
    1/2 tsp oregano
    1/2 tsp paprika
    Mix together and then pour over top of 1# of cooked turkey, beef, or venison.

  16. Sunday Morning Coffee Cake

    2 1/2 cups w.w. flour
    1 cup buttermilk
    3/4 cup warm coconut oil
    Saturday morning mix the above ingredients well and leave at room temperature for 7-8 hours.
    Late on Saturday afternoon add the following ingredients to your soaked flour.
    1 cup sugar
    2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/8 tsp nutmeg
    1 egg
    Mix this really well. This will be very thick. Spread in a 9 X13 greased pan.

    Mix the following ingredients in the bowl for the topping.
    1/3 cup w.w. flour
    2 tbsp sugar
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1 tbsp coconut oil
    1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
    1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional
    Stir the topping until it forms crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

    In the morning, set the cake out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the coffee cake, uncovered, in the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes, give or take.

  17. My niece is so lucky I have such AWESOME readers, I knew you’d come through for me! Thank you SO much everyone. :)

    Keep them coming, she’s going to love this! She has to go to the school library to use the computer since she can’t afford one yet (know anyone who wants to get rid of one?), so when she sees this I know she’ll be thankful for all these great ideas!


  18. Your niece is lucky to have an aunt like you.

    I, too, suggest getting a crockpot. Get a white Hamilton Beach crockpot. It has been tested for lead and they aren’t too expenisve. Get your family to take a collection of money for the crockpot if you need to.

    And get a toaster oven! I cook in a toaster oven ALL THE TIME! I’ve seen toaster ovens at Goodwill and on Craigslist.

    If you have freezer space, I’d buy some head cheese, liverwurst, hot dogs and the like from US Wellness Meats. These meats make for nourishing, quick sandwiches on some sourdough bread.

    You can make homemade chicken broth in your crockpot. You can use the chicken broth for quick soups.

    Hope this helps

  19. Check out my blog at Real Food, My Way. I cook for one most of the time and have posts on egg tacos/huevos rancheros, stew, soup, chicken paprikash, steam sauteed greens, using a crockpot, making stock, blender batter pancakes and a bunch of other things.

    It’s not low-carb but these days I’ve been getting really into making a big batch of oat meal and bringing portions to work to eat with a little sugar, chopped apples and a spoonful of peant butter.

    In college my friends and I ate a lot of what I lovingly refer to as Hippy Slop. Sautee some chopped onion with whatever other vegetables you have (carrot, celery, zucchini), add whatever meat you have, add whatever soft veggies you have (spinach, greens, broccoli), maybe leftover rice or beans or tomatoes or whatever….. I usually eat it with some cheese over top and maybe some pesto. I mean, you’re not entertaining, your just trying to get food into your belly :) Last night I made this with sausage, carrots and celery, brown rice and leftover roasted broccoli. A couple weeks ago it was leftover kasha, mozzarella cheese, veggies, chicken sausage and pesto.

    I highly recommend she check out the Saving Dinner cook books by Leanne Ely. They are simple, mostly real food recipes designed for people who don’t know how to cook. She’s got a low carb book that is great too.

    Good luck to her!

  20. Inspired by your post, I posted on my blog about cabbage

    I was about to post a comment on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog about frugal eating. I thought of cabbage. Cabbage is an incredibly inexpensive vegetable. You get a LOT of food for a little money. It is high in vitamins, fills you up and is low in calories. These are cool graphs describing its nutrition. ( My mother-in-law got ulcer relief by drinking cabbage juice made with a juicer.

    It has been a staple in the diet of many cuisines. I didn’t grow up eating all that much of it, considering my mother was raised Mennonite. The only dishes I remember are borscht and cabbage rolls. She loves sauerkraut but we never ate it. I like it a little bit as a garnish like pickles. Cabbage is great in salads. Kalyn’s Kitchen has great Thai cabbage salads and coleslaws. ( Cabbage is surprisingly good sauteed with bacon. Many Chinese dishes contain stir-fried cabbage.

    I threw together this borscht recipe from memory. I am totally guessing at the amounts of things. That’s how I cook :) This recipe is intended for a 6-8 quart dutch oven pot. I only know how to make an enormous stockpot of this soup. When I make soup I tend to just keep adding and switching to a bigger pot. This is the kind of borscht eaten in summer because most of these ingredients are available then. It is also known as Ukrainian borscht.

    Mennonite Borscht
    beef stock or water
    3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
    1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
    1 large beet, peeled and chopped
    2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional for low-carbers)
    1 pound beef stew meat, diced (cooked or uncooked)

    1/2 green pepper, chopped
    1/2 cabbage, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
    1 can tomato paste
    salt, pepper, sugar

    This can be made with uncooked meat, added in the beginning or with cooked meat added with the cabbage. Pork or chicken could be substituted for beef. Other root vegetables like turnips could be included in this recipe.

    Put 1 tablespoon salt, carrots, onion, beets, potatoes, (raw meat) into a dutch oven with 1 quart of water or stock. Cook on medium heat until vegetables are soft and meat is cooked. Add (cooked meat), green pepper, cabbage, fresh dill, tomato paste. Add water/stock to fill the pot if more is needed. After cabbage is soft, taste soup to adjust seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes 1-2 teaspoons of sugar balances the flavors.

    Serve borscht with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. This freezes well except the potatoes get a little weird.

  21. Telah, if you tell me you’ll use a crock pot, I’ll buy you one. :)
    Love you, your favorite Aunt Kel

    p.s. Reader friends, have I mentioned how cool you all are? You never let me down…

    • My crock pot just croaked and I would love to buy one but after reading through all the material on them I’m not sure if they are really safe. If you were going to buy one – which one would you get and why??

      • Hi Elaine,
        As Tina suggested above, I’d get a Hamilton Beach. That’s the one I have now, a nice big one, and I love it.

        • My concern is the lead and other hazardous substances that I’ve been reading about. From what I’ve been reading (from links you posted in another post) all Hamilton Beach and Rival crockpots have a measurable level of lead in the glaze (and the companies admit that their levels are “within FDA guidelines”). I know the FDA allows a certain amount but I’m still not excited about intentionally putting any lead in our bodies – ya know what I mean?!
          Have you gotten the test strips and tested yours or is this just one fight you’re not putting your dog in right now? :) So many issues – so little time!! Thanks!!
          btw – my 21yodd is on her own 2200 miles from home and loves your blog – I can’t wait to send this post to her. She is working diligently at cooking real food and is doing a great job at it – but we can all use some new ideas and these are terrific. thanks!

        • Elaine, I must have read whatever Tina did, that the Hamilton Beach crock pots were OK… If not, then I don’t know WHICH one to buy!

          Glad this post will help your daughter, too! :)



    Trader Joes has wild salmon sockeye fillets in the frozen section. Buy One! (about 7.50/lb) or any other wild fish that may cost less.

    Buy a Lemon, some olive oil and butter. Maybe some dill (fresh or dried).

    Drizzle baking pan and salmon with olive oil. Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish. If you are feeling brave, “Zest” the lemon peel onto the fish. Sprinkle some dill on top. Put a few slices of butter on the fish. AND put it in the oven at 350 for about 15 min.
    SO easy. You can also do this with any fish.

  23. I’m also encouraging a crockpot. It would be a lifesaver for college, I’d think. There are a million crockpot recipes online too…

    Buy roast. Look for leaner cuts but seriously, you can shred the fat off once it’s done anyway! So buy what’s on sale and stock up if you have a freezer! Put your roast in, add about a cup of water, season with whatever you like {I typically throw a packet of dry onion soup mix in but any of the dry seasons work GREAT}. Cook on high 5 hours or on low 8-10 hours for tender meat. I like to add 2 cups of water and season it well for meat drippings!

    Now, a serving of meat is 3 ounces. So, if you bought a 1 pound roast {which is very small but just what I’d grab if I was single!}, you’re looking at 5 meals. Now, leftovers shouldn’t sit in your fridge longer than 3 days so put servings in small freezer bags, push the air out, shut it, and stick them in the freezer. They only take about a minute to nuke back to hot!

    Meal 1: Throw a chopped up red potato and a cup of baby carrots in about 60-90 minutes on the day you’re cooking the roast. Enjoy 3oz of meat with your veggies. Top with gravy if you like but it’s not really weight loss friendly :o) Now, cut up your cooked roast into 4 more servings and refrigerate.

    Meal 2: Shred a serving of roast and mix with a tablespoon or 2 of barbecue sauce {totally a personal choice}. Spread on a whole grain roll and have some fresh baby carrots with it.

    Meal 3: Shred another serving of roast. Heat up a “Green Giant broccoli and cheese vegetables for one” single serving of veggies. Scrub and pierce a potato, nuke for 4 and half minutes {you might need longer if your microwave is old}. Cut your potato in half and mash it up. Heat your roast for 30 seconds in the microwave and top your potato with roast and the broccoli cheese mix for a loaded baked potato.

    Meal 4: My family loves the Kraft Easy Mac and it’s great because it’s ONE SERVING at a time instead of cooking a whole box {who likes leftover mac & cheese anyway?}. Cook it up and dump in a serving of roast and a serving of frozen peas {thawed and nuked of course}. Yummy!!

    Meal 5: Scramble your roast into eggs with onion, any veggie you like, and a little reduced fat cheese. Top with your favorite egg topping {I love salsa, my husband loves ketchup… light sour cream is also good}. Serve with a slice of light wheat bread!

    I also recommend buying the bags of chicken breasts. Marinade them {I suggest fat free italian or low fat sesame ginger if you’re losing weight} for an hour, bake them until done {at 350 for about 20-30 minute depending on thickness}, and freeze them individually. It takes 5 minutes on a plate to heat back to hot and you now have the base for ANY meal. Top with a little spaghetti sauce and melt a slice of fat free swiss cheese {I found them for $2 a pack so look for sales} for a fast “chicken parmesan”. Chop up the chicken and throw it on salads. Cover it in a tablespoon of buffalo sauce and throw it on a roll with lettuce, onion, and other favorite buffalo chicken sandwich toppings.

    The possibilities are endless. And I could keep going so I’m stopping… LOL

  24. I just remembered the whole low carb comment… Sooooo… instead of fat free or low fat, look for higher fat with less sugar. It’s typically cheaper so that’s a plus! Also, skip the rolls and eat on lettuce or find a healthy WHOLE GRAIN roll. And the mac & cheese dinner is a no go but the scrambled eggs meal is great enough to repeat!

  25. Elizabeth I saw your comment on going low fat if trying to lose weight. I found it interesting that when I started making all our food from scratch it became painfully obvious to me that any weight gain I have is tied to carbs (and mine are all whole grain since I grind my own grain.) I actually eat more fat now than I used to but it’s the expensive kind of fat – coconut oil, olive oil, good animal fats from pastured non CFL animals, backyard eggs, whole milk, butter and cream and I keep losing weight.

    We just got a wii fit and I plugged my weight goals in hoping to gain 5 pounds over the next 2 months but I continuously lose weight. I’m trying to ramp up my protein and weight bearing exercises but it’s really nice after having 2 kids and entering middle age to have this as a problem!

    If only I had shed that current diet preachings for the last 20 years – constantly hungry and battling weight gain on a low fat diet that I now believe was the root of my struggles. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to eat omelettes and cheese and bacon and drink whole milk like I did when I was a kid! It’s totally the French paradox. Those women eat dessert and cheese and still stay so slim and chic.

    I encourage anyone trying to watch or lose weight to throw the books out and instead play around with their diet. Diet advice changes every few years for a reason – no one really knows what the heck to do and the more we try to change the diets our grandparents ate the fatter we get. So I’m eatin’ like Grandma. :)

  26. I would reccommend that she take one day out of her month to make several meals that she can put in the freezer/fridge, and easily take out and cook without much thought. Things like enchiladas/burritos, mini pizzas, lasagna, casserole dishes…pretty much any frozen food that you can buy in a store, you can make at home cheaper and healthier. It’s SO worth it to take that extra time to make meals and snacks for yourself…and so much cheaper than buying. I dont really have much of my own recipes for this kind of stuff. I usually check out, and for recipes like that.

  27. My ideas:
    Learn to cook stock. Easy, cheap, endless possibilities. Tonight I made a typical broke & busy soup: 1 jar beef stock from freezer + 1 large can tomatoes (these were crushed with basil, but any would work). Then I added veggies that were laying around: 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped carrot, and a handful of dehydrated veggie chips that were broken up too small for my kids to eat (waste not, want not). I let that simmer until the taters were tender. (poke a chunk with a knife occasionally – 15-20 min). Then added a can of black beans (any beans would work) and a bag of braising greens torn into bite-sized pieces (this is just kale, chard, and beet greens). Heat until warm. We didn’t need any other seasoning for this pot, though I did shake Tabasco in my bowl. The beef stock/tomato combo lends itself to all sorts of seasonings, try different herbs & spices to your heart’s content. We had this dinner with fresh ww sourdough and loads of butter. I make of no-knead sourdough that’s ridiculously easy – if she’s not super-low carb.
    Cheese is great. Peanut butter+ apples, celery.
    Use leftover salmon to make a quick salad: mayo, capers or pickle relish, pepper, maybe lemon juice, maybe chopped celery. Tuna of course . Eat on bread or lettuce or in tomato.
    Trader Joe’s has BPA- free canned fish, tomatoes, and beans. Eden beans are also BPA- free and soaked before cooking. Ideally, you’d cook your own beans (another great use for the slow cooker), but canned beans make good “emergency food” – much better than boxes mac & cheese.

  28. I have some recipes on my website, Frugal Mama, that your niece might like. Some are carb-central, but I’m not of the vein that carbs are fattening. (My husband is Italian and we eat a lot of pasta!)

    Here are some ideas for her that are fast, healthy and low-cost:




  29. Dry beans/lentils, buy large cuts of meat on sale and cut them into smaller pieces. Pork loin roast is a great one to cut into smaller portions that can be used as scallipini or cubed/stripped for a stir fry. I currently do this as I cook for two and neither one of us is a huge leftover eater.

  30. Hi Kelly,

    I hardly ever post — but oddly enough had a similar conversation with my sister who is looking to going primal/low-carb.

    I posted some stuff for her online – easier for both of us – and you are welcome to send her there. here :)

    But, I don’t know from what I read if your niece has time constraints as well as budget. If she is spending a lot of time studying at home – then braised food is great as you can cook a lot of it, it is fairly cheap, and it always freezes well. I make pot roast or a brisket and then store it in portion sized glass containers. So, that we can pop them in lunch bags for work and nuke them easily.

    Quick cooking foods would have to be ground meats – since they don’t take a lot of time or bust the budget. Great idea about the chicken too. Buying a whole chicken saves heaps of money – and if you freeze up the bones you can make a great stock and then you have a few more meals. :)

    Farmers markets are great and Seattle has heaps of them from what I see here . Pikes place was also pretty affordable and if I recall correctly – sometimes they are willing to give you a deal (end of day or too large of a catch or they think you are cute. *grin* ) So, that would be a great place to go to get affordable and fresh seafood.

    Tell your niece good luck with school. I worked full time and went to school full time — so I completely understand how time just gets away from you. My only suggestion is if she is leading the same life I did – do not eat carbs in the form of pasta, bread, flour based products. It gives such a nice burst of energy that you tend to over eat because you are SO tired. :) At least I did — and it took me ages to loose all that weight! Lucky for her, she has you to help her eat well.

  31. It hit me suddenly! Omelets!
    They are high in protein and there are endless options.
    I like to saute a handful of spinach and a few onions and throw in a little cheese.
    With a piece of wholesome toast and a piece of fruit this is sure to fuel you for a few hours.

  32. Kelly – I am new to Weston A Price/Sally Fallon and your blog. I absolutely LOVE your site – thanks so much!!

  33. Kelly,
    She is probably a gourmet chef by now 😉 but for anyone else checking this page for ideas, I threw together a splendid dish the other day (and I don’t usually manage that!) I’ve lost 130 lbs so far, so I know a bit about losing weight. And while I keep most fats low, I am a huge fan of coconut products. So:
    In a casserole dish, put a layer of Boneless, Skinless chicken breast (I used 600 grams because I am on a diet that uses 100 g per meal but whatever fits will work) Then I poured half a can of coconut milk over it. In the other half of the can, I added about 2 Tbsp of curry paste (didn’t measure, sorry) and mixed that in. Once it was mixed well, I poured that over the chicken and refilled the can with water and poured that in as well. I love onion and had chopped and frozen quite a bit, so I added about a cup of that into the mix. Then I added one cup of raw quinoa and stirred it into the liquids. Put it in the oven at 350 for about an hour (which was actually a bit too long) and it was delightful! I will definitely be doing this again and again …

  34. A small deep freezer is probably the first investment I would suggest. Perhaps the extended family can all pitch in $20 and get her one for her birthday or Christmas. While cooking whole chickens is a cost saver, it becomes very boring to eat a chicken over the course of a week. Being able to freeze smaller portions to bring out at different times is a life saver. Have her check out local sources for fish. High protein, low carb and it can be baked, broiled, fried, put into chowder. Good stuff, fish. I love fish tacos with or w/o the taco shell. Steam a nice, firm white filet of some local fish until it just starts to flake. Remove the skin. Melt a little coconut oil to drizzle over it. Sprinkle with fine sea salt. Squirt with juice from a fresh lime. Top with salsa. Add lettuce if you want.

  35. I did not read the above, but I want to let you know that meat is expensive, but necessary. The trick is to keep to the only 5 ounces of (lean!) meat each day. This will help you. The way to extend your meat is to carefully look at what’s seasonal and on sale. Seasonal is cheaper and healthier for that time/year. For instance, potatoes smothered in fat won’t help you, but as long as you aren’t diabetic, you can buy potatoes quite inexpensively; same with onions, carrots, and celery. Use these as a start. You’ll be surprised where you can branch out. Also consider buying artichoke when they go down to $1.50 and eat as a snack. They’re incredible and healthy, instead of being hooked on sugar.

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