Hunger Action Month: Doing your part

Click here to go to the East Texas Food Bank's web site.

Scroll down for some Tips and Recipes to make your budget go further.

Stretching Your Food Budget

7 foods to stretch your budget

1. Dry beans: Canned beans are certainly convenient when you're time pressed, but dry beans are a more economical choice. Soak them the night before and plan several hours of simmering time on the stove.

2. Rice: Rice and beans are a staple food around the world. Switch your family to brown rice and you've upped the nutrient and fiber content over plain white rice. And the good news is that healthier brown rice is generally the same cost as white.

3. Whole chicken: The boneless, skinless chicken breast has become ubiquitous at most supermarkets, many of which no longer employ meat cutters on the premises. But if you buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself, you'll not only save money, but you'll also get a more chicken-y flavor. Throw the carcass in a soup pot with diced carrots, celery, onions and parsley and let it simmer on the stove to make homemade soup stock.

4. Greens: Collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard and kale are among the least expensive vegetables in the produce section, but they provide a big nutritional bang for your buck. Greens are easy to prepare; wash leaves well to remove any grit, remove tough stems and chop. Steam or sauté and serve, no added fat required.

5. Peanut butter: A kid-friendly favorite, peanut butter is a versatile protein source that spans the gamut from main dishes (such as Thai Peanut Noodles) to desserts. But there's no need to get fancy. Spread on bread it's a great way to keep hunger pangs at bay.

6. Eggs: Eggs are a healthy and inexpensive protein choice.

7. Cheese: When shredded cheese is on sale, it's a great convenience. Without sales, though, chunk cheese is usually cheaper and stays fresher longer. Individually wrapped cheese slices are also more expensive per ounce than unsliced.

Budget Friendly Recipes

Costs are approximate, and can vary weekly based on sales. Condiments are not calculated into the costs. Serving sizes are based on US government figures.

Bean Burrito & Red Rice

1 cup cooked beans
cumin, garlic powder, chili powder
2 oz cheddar cheese
2 tortillas
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup diced tomatoes

Heat the beans and combine the beans, cumin, garlic and chili powder and mash, if desired, or leave whole. Divide between two tortillas. Roll up and serve. To make the rice, stir the rice and tomatoes together and heat.

Serves 2
Cost Per Person: $0.77

Snickerdoodles Cookies

1/2 c. margarine
3/4 c. sugar
1 medium egg
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 2/3 c. flour
2 T. white sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure the dry ingredients and set aside. Thoroughly mix the margarine and sugar. Add egg and then the sifted dry ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet; bake 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned.

Cost per cookie: 7 cents

Vegetable Fried Rice
2 c. dry rice, cooked and cold
3 T. oil
1/4 onion, diced
2 carrot , diced
1/2 can peas
4 T. soy sauce

In a large skillet, heat the oil and brown the rice. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve.

Serves 2
Per serving: .78

Potato Soup
4 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 potatoes , diced
2 T. oil  
1 c. milk

In a saucepan, cook the celery, carrots, onions and potatoes in oil. When potatoes are nearly tender, add the milk and simmer several minutes. For a creamier soup, process half of this mixture in the blender and return to the pan.

Serves 2
Per serving: $ 1.06

Oatmeal in the Slow Cooker
4 cups water
2 cups quick-cook or regular oats
Optional seasonings: sugar, cinnamon
Place ingredients in the slow cooker and cook over night. Makes 6 servings

Cost per serving: $0.34

Make-Your-Own Instant Oatmeal
½ cup quick-cooking oats
Dash salt
2 Tbs powdered milk

Process these ingredients in the blender to a powdery consistency. Place in a plastic bag or covered microwave-safe container, if desired.
To prepare, add 1 cup water and microwave 2 minutes. Add any optional ingredients(cinnamon, applesauce, raisins), stir and enjoy.
Make a lot of the dry mix, package and store for early-morning use!

Serves 1
Cost per serving: 0.41


Lentil or Pinto Bean Chili

1/4 onion, minced

2 T. soybean oil
1 cup dry lentils or 1 ½  cups cooked pinto beans
15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 T. chili powder

1 t. garlic powder

Salt to taste

Brown the onion in oil; stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.

Makes 2 servings

per serving: .58


Homemade Cornbread

2 eggs

1 1/4 c. milk

1/4 c. oil

1 1/2 c. cornmeal

3/4 c. flour

1 T. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 T. sugar

Combine all the ingredients and spread into a 9x9 baking pan.
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

total cost: .75

4 generous servings @ .18


Black Bean Soup

3 T. oil

1 onion

4 carrots

2 cups cooked black beans, with cooking liquid

1 t. garlic powder

Water as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

 Cook the onion and carrots in oil. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding additional water if needed. Simmer 15 minutes.

Serves 4
Cost per serving: 0.70

Skillet Mac N Cheese
2 cups water
1 ½ cups dry pasta
1 tsp butter
2 Tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 ¼ cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, bring the water to a boil. Add pasta and butter; cover and simmer 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt and mustard. Stir in ¼ cup milk and stir to make a smooth paste. Stir in the rest of the milk.

Add this sauce and the shredded cheese to the pasta and stir until bubbly.

Serves 4
Cost per serving: 0.53

Tortilla Roll-ups
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups (or a 15 oz can) cooked beans
2 cups corn
2 cups shredded ccheese
1 cup salsa
8 tortillas

Combine the rice, cheese, corn, salsa and beans. Divide among the 8 tortillas and rollup.

Serves 8
Cost per serving: 0.54

Breakfast Burritos
2 eggs
2 Tbs milk
2 tortillas
2 Tbs shredded cheese
¼ cup salsa

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk with the milk. Scramble the eggs and divide between the two tortillas. Add cheese and salsa; roll up.

Makes 2
Cost per serving: 0.42

Breakfast Cookies
1 ¾ cup pumpkin puree (12 oz can)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup oil
1 ½ cup flour
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine the two mixtures. Add raisins and nuts last.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 48
Cost per cookie: 0.12

Zucchini and Tomato Bake
2 lbs zucchini, sliced ¼-inch thick
3 Tbs oil
1 tsp oil
2 cups tomatoes (canned or fresh chopped)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup crumbled crackers
¼ cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the onion in oil until softened.  Add the zucchini and cook 5 more minutes. Add the tomato and seasonings and cook 5 more minutes. Spread mixture into an 8x8-inch baking pan. Top with cracker crumbs and cheese and bake 20 minutes.

Serves 6
Cost per serving: 0.53

Hamburger Skillet Dinner
1 lb ground beef
½ cup onion, diced
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs chili powder
1 ½ cups diced tomatoes (3/4 of a 15 oz can)
¾ cup corn
¾ cup cooked beans
½ cup shredded cheese

Cook the beef, onion and pepper; drain. Add all ingredients except cheese and cook until rice is done: about 20 minutes for white rice and 30 minutes for brown rice. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serves 7
Price per serving: 0.87

Snack Bars
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
¼ cup fruit juice
1 ½ cup flour
1 ½ cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 cups eggs
¼ cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cranberries and juice. Microwave 30 seconds and let stand 10 minutes to plump.
Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients, and then stir in the cranberries and chopped nuts.
Spread into a 9x12-inch pan and bake 20 to 22 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.
Cost per bar: 0.11 without nuts

Mexican Potatoes
4 potatoes
1 cup cooked beans
1 cup salsa
1 cup corn
1 cup shredded cheese

Cook potatoes and cut into cubes.
Heat the beans, salsa and corn. Spoon over cooked potatoes and top with cheese.

Serves 4
Cost per serving: 0.71

Peach Crisp
29 oz can sliced peaches, drained
½ cup oats
1/3 cup flour
1/3  cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the drained peaches in a square baking dish.
Mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle over top.
Bake 25 minutes

Serves 6
Cost per serving: 0.47

One Pan Spaghetti
½ lb ground beef
½ onion, diced
3 ½ cups water
15 oz can diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 tsp oregano
½ tsp each: sugar, garlic powder and rosemary
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups broken, uncooked spaghetti
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Brown and drain the meat and onions. Add tomatoes, water and spices and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Top with cheese.

Serves 8
Cost per serving: 1.75

Option: use 1 ½ cups cooked beans in place of the ground beef. Cost per serving: 0.73

Chicken Creole
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 Tbs oil
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup chili sauce
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt

Cook chicken in oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. Good served over rice!

Serves 8
Cost per serving: 0.98  

Orange Rice Salad
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped nuts
2 Tbs oil
1 Tbs orange juice or vinegar
1 tsp parsley (or ¼ cup fresh)
3 green onions, chopped
11 oz (large size) can mandarin oranges, with juice
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients and chill before serving.

Serves 7
Cost per serving: 0.79

Tortilla Soup
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cube s
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn
2 Tbs diced onion
½ tsp garlic powder
½ cup shredded cheese
4 tortillas

Place all ingredients except the cheese and tortillas in a pan. Simmer 10 minutes. Cut the tortillas into strips and add to soup. Simmer 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cheese when serving.

Serves 4
Cost per serving: 0.93
Optional: add 2 cups chopped, cooked  chicken to the soup. Cost per serving: 1.27

Sweet Potato Salad
1 cup cooked, cubed sweet potatoes (canned or fresh)
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup cucumber, chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard

Combine ingredients and chill.

Serves 4
Cost per serving: 0.80

Menus and Recipes for one week






Oatmeal, banana, toast

PBJ, carrot sticks

Crock Pot or oven baked chicken leg quarters (fix extra)*, potatoes and carrots.


beans and rice; banana

Tortilla soup with chicken*

Vegetable fried rice with chicken*


Oatmeal, banana

PBJ, carrot carrot sticks

One pan Spaghetti, *corn, bread


Breakfast burrito: tortilla, beans, salsa, cheese*

Burrito with red rice*, corn

Pinto bean chili,*


oatmeal, banana,

Leftover chili,* bread, corn

Vegetable fried rice with chicken*


Oatmeal, banana

Tortilla soup with chicken*

One pan spaghetti,* bread, corn


Mexican beans*, banana

One pan spaghetti,* bread, carrot sticks

Burrito with red rice*,   corn

*= recipe included

Basic chicken recipe: using chicken leg quarters, cook the entire batch of 6 or 7 in the oven or slow cooker. One piece will be for dinner and the rest (removed from the bones) will be used in recipes calling for cooked chicken. The same can be done with a whole chicken when it's on sale.

Interesting comparisons:
Lettuce (head)=1.34
Bagged Salad= 2.78
Ground beef, regular pound= .64
Ground Chuck: .84
5-pound chub ground beef= .47
Tofu= .49
Popcorn is a cheap treat that is whole grain!
Bag of unpopped kernels= .06
Package of microwave popcorn= .14



Dry grocery items:
Quick-cook oatmeal
Bread (white wheat is on sale this week!)
Peanut Butter
Pinto beans (dry beans)
Canned diced tomatoes
Wheat tortillas
Brown rice
Tomato sauce

Bananas (5)
Carrots (1 lb)
Onions (2)

Frozen foods:
Corn, 2 lb bag

Dairy Products:
½ gallon milk
Shredded cheddar cheese (on sale, $1.25 for 8 oz)

Chicken leg quarters (on sale, .77 lb)