Budget Cooking with Economical Foods

Today low budget cooking is on the minds of most people who have a family to feed. Prices of groceries seem to be rising every day and many families are having a tough time stretching their dollars to cover all their expenses. This may seem to be an impossible situation but there are many things you can do to help with this problem. Low budget cooking can be good eating. It doesn’t have to be watery stews, heavy sauces and weird casseroles.

Liver and Onions Served with GritsLiver and Onions Served with Grits is Tasty Budget Cooking

To hold down food costs, use less tender but equally nourishing cuts of meat for cheap recipes. Dealing with them takes a little skill but can be very rewarding. Often the flavor is much better. If you put a tough piece with a little water in a tightly covered pan and place it in the oven, it becomes very tender and delicious. Something to be careful to avoid is to overcook or under cook. Do not overlook making meals from some uncommon meats like beef liver; when cooked correctly this makes a very flavorful and cheap meal. Either way the meat will be tough. Check it by cutting a small piece. It should cut easily and appear tender when a fork is inserted.

Plan your menus before you shop. Learn which ingredients are the most economical to prepare. I have always started with the meat and then add the vegetables to make a well balanced meal. Three to four ounces of meat is enough for any adult in a day. By weighing it out when planning a dinner, you will see that you save money on meat alone which helps when low budget cooking.


Liver and Onions RecipeLiver and Onions Recipe

When my children were young I would plan one meal a week around my liver and onions recipe; often serving it in the gravy over rice. This was always good, very healthy and very cheap. For me, the key to good liver is to cut in small pieces and cooking it crisp before simmering.

  • 1 Pound beef liver
  • 4 to 6 large onions sliced
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt/ pepper to taste
  • Flour

Cut liver into small strips about ½ inch wide.

Mix flour with salt and pepper; roll liver strips in flour mixture.

Brown liver crisply in hot oil in large skillet.

Cover browned liver with sliced onions (I like to fill skillet with as many onions as I can get in).

Add about ¼ cup water, cover with lid and simmer on medium low a few minutes.

Turn liver over letting onions on bottom, cover and simmer a little longer.

NOTE: Add a little more water if needed; it should make a gravy to serve over cooked noodles or rice.

HAMBURGER PIE RECIPE for budget cooking

  • 1 (10 inch) Pie crust
  • 1 Medium chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon shortening
  • 2 Pounds hamburger
  • 3 Beaten eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 Pound cottage cheese
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon paprika

Bake pie crust 5 minutes at 425F degrees (Helps prevent sogginess); reduce heat to 375F degrees.

Sauté onion in shortening until golden; add hamburger and stir until cooked.

Drain off excess fat; blend in 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and dill weed.

Pour into pie crust; mix together beaten eggs, cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon salt and paprika.

Spread cottage cheese mixture over beef mixture.

Bake at 375F degrees for 30 minutes or until brown and set.

When feeding your children, put only small portions on their plates. It is easy to give more if it is eaten. Many parents fill a child’s plate like they would an adult. The leftovers then go down the garbage disposal and really make a drain on low budget cooking. This also applies to serving your children milk and juices. Teach your kids to drink water instead of costly drinks. You will be surprised how much money these little tips will save you.

Plan to prepare 3 to 4 vegetarian meals in a month. Prepare cheap recipes by eliminating the meat in a meal and this will save money. It is important to know how to prepare vegetarian style because your family needs protein to stay healthy. The grain “quinoa’ is wonderful for a vegetarian diet. Many dishes can be prepared with it. Also, below is a list of combination ingredients that will make up a full protein. Choose one from list 1 and one from list 2 and you will have a full protein. Serve with a vegetable, fruit and rolls and you will have a great meal.

List 1

  • Green peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Chick peas
  • Black eye peas
  • White beans
  • Peanuts
  • Lima beans

List 2

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Almonds
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Corn
  • Bread
  • Sesame seeds


  • 4 Slices dried bread
  • 2 Cups cooked black beans, drained of liquid (These are cheap if cooked from dried beans or use canned)
  • ½ Cup toasted almonds
  • 1 Cup chopped onion
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • Olive oil to brown burgers.

In food processer, process bread to crumbs; place in large bowl.

Process beans a few at a time to chop NOT PUREE; add to large bowl.

Process toasted almonds until finely chopped; add to large bowl.

Chop fine in processor onion, red bell pepper and garlic; add to large bowl.

Add to the large bowl nutmeg, cloves, salt, pepper and wheat germ.

Mix altogether with clean hands and shape into 6 burgers; cook a few minutes on each side until brown.

Serve on hamburger buns with garnishes; sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles and lettuce.


I don’t know about you but I love mushrooms; anyway they are cooked. This mushroom stroganoff recipe is delicious by itself or served over cooked noodles. It is meatless and goes well with low budget cooking.

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Large onion
  • 3 Large cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 8 Cups shredded spinach lightly packed
  • 1 ½ Cups sour cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ Teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • Salt/ pepper to taste

Cut onion in half, and then slice thinly so it falls in half rings.

Melt butter over medium; add onions and garlic and cook until onions start to soften.

Add paprika and nutmeg; cook until onions are tender.

Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms slightly brown.

Add stock and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and cook until liquid is reduced about 1/3.

Mix in spinach and cook just until wilted.

Blend in sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce; heat just to hot (NO BOILING)

Season with salt and pepper and serve. GOOD OVER NOODLES OR PASTA.

When purchasing meat, chicken and hamburger are generally the the best for budget cooking. These two are so versatile that you could serve only these and always have something different to eat. There are many recipes on how to cook hamburger and how to cook chicken. Shopping for these, different cuts, watching sales and buying other meats are covered more on how to grocery shop.

Another sure rule I have is “never throw anything out” when budget cooking. You will be surprised that every little leftover can be used in something. If you have a little onion, a piece of carrot, a tablespoon of green beans or whatever throw it in a freezer bag and save. These will come in handy for stews and soups and other leftover recipes when you are budget cooking.