Coming from a large family, Moira and I know how to stretch a buck. I will happily hit the thrift stores and buy the "generics" at the grocers. There are times when buying the better brand is, well, better. If flavor and/or quality is at stake, it isn't a contest.
I love this theme in the kitchen. I have a few simple recipes for today that are all three, yay!
Let's start with stir fry. This "recipe" is great because you can use whatever happens to be floating around in the pantry and fridge and the quantity is easy to adjust.
-2 or 3 packs of ramen noodles beef and/or oriental flavor
-1lb. of ground beef
-1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies
Brown the ground meat thoroughly(drain grease if needed). Add the veggies, ramen noodles with seasoning packets to the pan along with half the amount of water called for on the packet. If you are using 3 ramens use about 3 cups of water. You can add the soy sauce now too. Stir occasionally until noodles are tender. You can add more water during cooking if it seems to need it. That's all. Eat and enjoy.
I love this for its versatility. Sometimes I use canned or leftover chicken. Leave the meat out altogether and have veggie lo-mein. If you have a different sauce--teriyaki or szechuan--that works too. Use the veggies that are in your freezer or produce bin. There are no wrong answers. You can be done with dinner in the time it takes to make noodles. Awesome.
Another thing I love is garlic bread. I make pasta simply to have said garlic bread.
-buns- I usually use hot dog buns
-butter, margarine or olive oil- your preference
-garlic in some form - I find a lot of garlic salts have too much salt in them.
Feel free to use garlic powder, granulated garlic(my personal preference) or even roasted garlic. You can also add basil or parsley along with a bit of parmesan cheese.
Spread the butter on the opened buns, sprinkle with garlic and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes until the tops are a brown as you like them. Yum.
My daughter, Willow, has a personal preference for chicken quesadillas. Again, tasty and easy-peasy!
-flour torillas, any size
-canned chicken (any meat really, leftovers work too!)
-cheese- any will do, but Willow prefers cheddar
Those are the basics, I have also added black beans, corn, refried beans etc. Whatever you like.
I start by mixing the chicken and salsa, I would add any extras(black beans, etc.) to the mix at this point as well. I fill, fold and broil mine, so it works a bit better if you warm the tortillas slightly first. To do that, I sprinkle cheese on half the tortilla and place it under the broiler for a few seconds.
Pull that out shmear some of the salsa mix on top of the cheese, add more cheese on that and fold to close. Because you warmed and melted first it will stay closed better. Pop those under the broiler for a minute or 2 to melt and crisp and you're done! This is a great recipe for kids to do on their own; provided they are able and allowed to operate the oven of course.
I like the fill and fold method as it keeps one side closed so the stuff doesn't fall out. Less mess for the younger kids. You can, of course use two tortillas and make a sandwich, then you could skip the warming step.
I hope I've given you some simple ideas to add to your kitchen repertoire. Never be afraid to mix it up and experiment! Above all, stay easy! No, I didn't mean, I meant cheap....no, I mean...oh, never mind.