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Quick, Easy & Cheap Recipes, Pretty Please!!

I am going to be moving into my first apartment in two weeks (I'm a sophomore in college) and I am starting to worry a bit about my ability to cook! We will have an oven with a stovetop and a microwave but not a grill of any kind. We might get a George Foreman down the road at some point but not at first. I am going to be on an extremely tight budget which is why I will have to cook instead of eating out! Of course that is best for my weight loss plan anyway!

You guys are all so great about sharing recipes (I love the Chicken Ideas thread!) so I thought I would create one for me and other busy people who aren't great at cooking but don't want to eat fattening fast food or at an expensive restaurant. I need ideas for cooking dinners that are pretty quick and simple to make, that don't require expensive or exotic ingredients, and that are fairly low calorie. Also, stuff that is good cold / room temperature the next day would be a great bonus for packing lunch!!

Thank you so much!

Thu. Aug 2, 4:51pm

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I'm 17 and usually end up cooking for myself when I'm dieting (the rest of my family's so SKINNY!). So here's some of my favorite recipes that are usually pretty easy.

a. Rice and beans.
1 cup cooked brown rice (You can make a bunch of rice from a few days before and then use as much as you want...the rice is better when fridged 'cause it fries can also use the rice in the next recipe)
.5 cup black beans (rinsed..I use the canned ones)
Assorted veggies and spices to taste.
Add the PAM (or oil) to a frying pan, add in a little garlic, and the spices you want (I use chili pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper....yum!). When the pan gets hot, add the veggies and stir them around until they soften. Then add the beans, until they're warm. Finally, add the rice and stir it about until everything's coated and warm. This packs easily too, and doesn't taste bad cold.

b. Rice pudding...and it's healthy!
1 cup rice (I use brown for everything...kind of like the white bread vs whole wheat thing)
1 cup FF milk
1-2 packets splenda
Fruit, if you want. I put in bananas.
Set the milk to boil. Add the rice and the sugar (and fruit, if you want it). Then, keep stirring (I put the heat super high....doesn't make a difference in the cooking if you watch it and it goes faster). Make sure to stir it a lot or the rice will stick and burn. You'll know when it's'll be creamy.

c. 3-4 egg whites, veggies. Do the same thing to the veggies as recipe A. Then put them to the side, fry the egg whites, and slide the veggies in. Yum!

There's more recipes in this link..and since they're for the fat smash diet, they're pretty low-cal too.



Thursday, August 02, 2007, 5:26 PM

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I like to make tostadas.

Use corn tostada shells - or fresh corn tortillas for a soft tostada.

Top with fat free vegetarian refried beans (pinto or black beans) or make your own by buying canned beans and smashing them with some fat free beef or chicken broth. Add shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onion or green onion, a little shredded cheese (reduced fat or regular but measure and track those fat grams) and some salsa or hot sauce. You might also add canned green chiles or jalapenos if you like more heat. If you weight loss plan allows avocadoes, you might a couple slices of avocado. You probably don't want to eat the whole thing, so be sure to sprinkle the rest with lemon or lime juice to prevent oxidation, cover with plastic wrap, and save until the next day.

This makes a very large and filling meal with lots of nutrients and very little fat.

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 6:46 PM

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well it's not here yet, but fall ia around the corner- and veggie or chicken soup is incedibly easy and cheap to make. And easy to store. Stew is generally alittle pricier, but stew meat is usually a cheaper form of beef...

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 7:18 PM

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This one can be a healthy breakfast or a fun dessert...

1/2 cup Golden Grahams cereal, broken slightly by hand but not really crushed
1 fat-free, sugar-free vanilla pudding cup - cold
1/3 cup no sugar added canned cherry filling

Put the cereal into the bottom of a small bowl. Spoon the pudding over the cereal and top with the cherry filling.

This is a tasty and satisfying cherry cream pie, with lots of flavor, texture, and crunchiness. I buy a can of cherry filling, store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and have it a few times during a week.

I also make this with a chocolate pudding cup, top it with a little fat-free kool whip and then I melt a tablespoon of peanut butter in the microwave and drizzle it over the top for a pretty and tasty chocolate peanut butter treat.


Thursday, August 02, 2007, 7:20 PM

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Most large supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens that are fresh, hot, and wonderful - sometimes with a variety of seasonings. They often run great specials on these or mark them down at night after the dinner rush.

I often get one of those for $5 or less. Get one of those bagged salads, and an inexpensive french or italian loaf from the fresh-baked bread section of the same store and you have a great healthy dinner. You can get all this for maybe 10 bucks with plenty of leftovers.

The next night, you can shred some of the leftover chicken, toss it on top of some of the leftover salad, and maybe add some cheese crumbles and fruit (dried cranberries or raisins, canned mandarin slices, fresh apple slices). Slice some of the leftover bread and another great dinner.

or ... slice that leftover bread loaf like a sub roll and make a sandwich with the leftover chicken and salad, maybe drizzling with your favorite lo-cal dressing.

or ... buy tortillas and make wraps with the leftovers.

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 7:35 PM

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and use the carcass to make soup!! :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 7:43 PM

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Tortilla wraps for lunch are so easy to make.
Spread with Fat free cream cheese then top with lettuce and a slice or two of lunch meat, I prefer from the deli but that is more costly. You can add veggies like tomato, onion or even a slice of cheese. I often use only 1/3 or 1/2 slice of cheese when I am making this.

I wait until they are on sale and buy boneless, skinless chicken breast and stock up. I can grind them with food processor or grinder (dice fine first) and then you have a low fat and low cal meat filling. I get my chicken for $1.50-$1.89 a pound and hamburger is more expensive than that.
You can make hamburgers with it, tacos, oh and fajitas are not only inexpensive but reheat really well for even a couple of days.

I have a can of stewed tomatoes for soup. Add chicken meatballs.
This is more calories but I have a friend that when they make anything with hamburger they add grated potatoes to make it stretch. It is really good but it also soaks up the grease of the hamburger.
I use grated carrot, zucchini and diced onion and celery. Sometimes even cabbage. I add this to almost everything to make it stretch and my family likes it.

Enchiladas are easy, fast and not too bad price wise. Just add the above ingredients to ground turkey or chicken and cook until brown. Add tomato sauce and enchilada seasoning pkt. roll up in a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 min at 350. Also the leftovers freeze well.

Oh for breakfast I love this.
1 pkt jello flavor of your choice
8 oz yogurt
fruit to go with the jello
I make the jello wtih the amount of hot water it calls for but the yogurt and fruit are my cold water replacement. Sometimes I will add a tiny bit of cold water to this. Experament with it to see what you like best.
It is a wonderful refteshing treat for breakfast.
The whole batch using a large jello was only 200 calories and it had strawberries in it too.

That is all that is coming to me right now. good luck

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 10:33 PM

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bulk can be the way to go- but not costco kinda bulk (though that can sometimes work too.)

I assume you're in the states- were you in Canada, I'd say hit a bulk barn. I don't know what the equivalent is in the states or overseas... seasonings are seriously 11 times more expensive at safeway than at my bulk barn. $5.50 v. 50cents. I can buy soup mixes, pasta, baking supplies (flour, sugar, choc chips, baking soda and powder etc.), seasonings, peanut butter, dried fruit, snackfood, muffin mixes, cereal, and too many other things to list- all at a fraction (often 20-40%) cheaper than a normal store. Plus, with less packaging, I like to think it's better for the environment. (I often bring in my own ziplocs that I'll re-use rather than use the bags they have instore...)

So- if you have any kind of bulk store nearby, check it out. It gives you control over what is in your food (and therefore calorie content) and can be a huge savings.

Thursday, August 02, 2007, 11:00 PM

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some of the whole foods type markets have bulk for some items, but I've repeatedly been disappointed by stale or rancid things I've bought from them.

If you have a Penzey's in your area, go there for herbs, spices, seasoning mixes, soup bases, etc. Fresh, top quality, better prices than the grocery stores, and you can buy anything from small quantities to commercial bulk.

Friday, August 03, 2007, 12:52 PM

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Another place to buy bulk seasonings, teas etc is a health food store. I buy most of mine at the one in our town. It may look expensive at say 15 dollars a pound for something but you may only buy 50 cents worth.
It is worth checking into.

Friday, August 03, 2007, 4:54 PM

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Previous threads on this topic worth checking out:

Eating on a tight budget
Weight loss on a budget
Dieting on a budget...suggestions

Friday, August 03, 2007, 5:48 PM

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This one can be a healthy breakfast or a fun dessert...

Hmm, this hardly sounds like a healthy breakfast, maybe in your world but in the real world it would be a dessert.

Friday, August 03, 2007, 11:03 PM

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Zatarain's rice and beans, many varieties. When it's on sale, it's really cheap. Just follow instructions on the box. A box will be a couple of meals.

Monday, August 06, 2007, 11:53 AM

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Salad: I eat it two meals per day. For the days you're in a huge rush, grab bagged salad (choose dark, leafy greens like romaine and spinach as they have more nutritin than iceberg) otherwise, buy heads of romaine to wash, prepare. Add cucumber, fresh broccoli, baby carrots, etc.
Omelets: I use liquid egg like egg beaters, throw in some lf cheese and veggies and there's a meal
veggie burgers: Try out several different kinds to find one you like. They range in calories from 70-130 each and fat grams from 0.5-7. They're so easy-just microwave
pasta: choose whole grain and only eat the 1/2 cup portion size (180 calories) Keep healthy sauces on hand like prego or ragu marinara (no corn syrup) or classico varieties: no sweeteners whatsoever and they have as little as 50 calories per half cup
burritos: low carb, whole grain tortilla shell, add refried beans, tomatoes, onions, olives, fat-free yogurt or sour cream, salsa, and lf cheese. ( I use cabot 1.5% milk cheese, 70 calories per ounce)
brown rice and veggie sautee: keep cooked brown rice on hand (a rice cooker is great to have!) and then toss a bag of pre-packaged stirfry veggies in a pan with panspray, soy sauce, and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb. Add a serving of chunked tofu (70 calories per serving) and there's an easy meal
portabello "pizzas": buy large portabello mushroom caps, put sauce and low fat cheese, onions, green olives, whatever on top and put in oven for 20 minutes. Each one is about 175 calories for sauce/cheese.

Hope this helps! Oh, and for breakfast, keep fat-free yogurt and healthy whole grain cold cereal, fruit on hand. :)

Monday, August 06, 2007, 2:31 PM

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