Miserly Meals

by Jonni McCoy


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Making things from scratch instead of buying them pre-made can save us quite a bit of money, especially if you do it for most of your meals. The meal below, including dessert, only costs $1.32 to make per person (when the supplies are bought on sale). Compare that to what it might cost you pre-made, or even in a restaurant. And that savings is just calculated on one meal! Do this for the 90 meals (on average) per month, and you can save a bundle!

Chicken Taco Filling

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours (slow cooker)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning mix or 3 T. Mexican Seasoning Mix (see recipe below)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast

Pour the chicken broth in the bottom of a slow cooker. Dissolve the seasoning mix in the broth. Place the chicken breasts in the broth. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

After the chicken is cooked, use two forks to shred the chicken into small pieces. Use in tacos, burritos, tostadas, nachos, etc.

Note: You can substitute any type of meat, such as pork, beef, TVP, tofu, etc.

Cost per serving (1/4 lb.): $0.66

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 139
Fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 66 mg
Carbohydrates 2 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Protein 30 grams
Sodium 239 mg

Mexican Seasoning Mix

This can be used for either taco or chili seasoning.

Makes 5 mixes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup flour
2 T. chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano

Put all of the ingredients in a blender. Cover and blend until powdery for 5 seconds or less (don't over blend). Use the "pulse" feature if your blender has one. Add more cayenne powder if you prefer it hotter.

Store in an airtight container for up to six months.

Three tablespoons of this mix equals one packet of store-bought taco or chili seasoning mix.

Cost per mix (3 T.): $0.26

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 19
Fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 4 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Protein 1 gram
Sodium 128 mg

Spanish Rice

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
15 oz. can of diced Mexican style tomatoes, or 2 cups Salsa, or 2 cups diced tomatoes plus 2 T. diced canned green chilies
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until bubbling. Remove from heat and serve.

Cost per serving (3/4 cup): $0.28

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 96
Fat 1 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 21 gm
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 3 grams
Sodium 522 mg

Salad Prepared with Ginger Salad Dressing

Makes 1 3/4 cups (14 servings)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup onion chunks
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup vinegar (any type)
2 T. water
2 T. fresh ginger chunks
2 T. celery chunks
2 T. ketchup
4 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, cover and blend for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Refrigerate in a tightly covered container.

Serve over salad, steamed vegetables, stir-fry, grilled chicken, or even pasta.

Cost per serving for dressing (2 T.): $0.10

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 80
Fat 8 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 3 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Protein 0 grams
Sodium 94 mg

Chocolate Meringue Drops

Serves 28
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

2 egg whites
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. flour, white
1/2 T. water

In a mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy, but not stiff. Turn the mixer to low while adding the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, flour and water. Once added, turn mixer to high and beat until the mix is thick.

Drop mix by heaping teaspoon onto baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or until the top of each cookie cracks slightly. Remove from the oven and cool completely (about 10 minutes) without disturbing them.

These should be eaten the same day they are baked. They do not store well. They become chewy instead of crisp.

Option: For white meringue cookies, omit the chocolate. You can also add 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts to either recipe.

Cost per serving (1 cookie): $0.02

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 24
Fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrates 6 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Protein 0 grams
Sodium 4 mg


No part of these recipes can be reprinted without permission. All recipes are used with permission from Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy, copyrighted 2002, Bethany House Publishers. All Rights Reserved. Jonni McCoy is the author of Miserly Meals (2002 Bethany House), Miserly Moms - Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy (2001 Bethany House), and Frugal Families - Making the Most of Your Hard Earned Money (1998 Holly Hall). Prior to motherhood, she spent ten years at electronics firms such as Apple Computer and National Semiconductor. She presents seminars on living for less to women's groups and other conferences. She has been practicing her frugal ways since 1991.Jonni has appeared on several TV shows, including The 700 Club, and radio programs such as Family Life Today and the Dick Staub Show. She has also been featured in Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day magazines. Jonni and her husband, Beau, make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can visit her website at miserlymoms.com.

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