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Inspiration for cheap dinners please?

(119 Posts)
MrsKoala Sun 28-Jul-13 20:48:56

I have recently moved somewhere eye wateringly expensive (think $4 for a tin of kidney beans shock ) so am searching for some nice cheap dinner ideas.

There are no cheap things here so veggies, meat, pasta, bread (oh god the bread! $4 for a cheap sliced loaf) flour, everything is extortionate and i can't bulk out with 'filler' as the filler costs just as much as everything else!

Out of meat, mince beef is cheapest (so i am living off chilli/bolognese. A whole small chicken is $28 so not able to roast and stretch out either. I have actually cried in the supermarket blush


AdoraBell Mon 29-Jul-13 03:38:10

shock I think Mr Koala needs to do shopping and cooking for a year or two, just until he understands the cost of everything.

My geography is appalling, I admit that up front, but I've heard of Canadians going over the boarder for groceries from the USA, would that be an option?

Can't think of anything more constructive to add, sorry.

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 03:38:14

Cheers Garlic - Where we live there are no cheap cafes. The cheapest you may get would be about $8 and then remember tax and 20% tip shock . The low supermarket if way too far for me to get to but the one i go to is no frills

Secrets - We have a dollarama where i managed to spend $50 the other day on cleaning stuff and tins like tuna and toms - Altho nothing actually seems to be a dollar. Usually $2 or tinned toms $1.25.

Notafood - Chicken seems to be the most expensive so about $7 per breast (depends where you go). Sausages are 5 for $5 so we have them about once a week and i buy a massive gammon steak for $3 which i cut in half for us and serve with egg fried rice once a week. i usually avoid pork products but it's what we are no living on. That and minced beef which i get for about $8 a kilo.

Also i have to make the babies food which is probably where a lot of my budget goes.

Stupid - Pay probably does reflect this but neither of us are working so it isn't balancing out at the mo.

scripsi Mon 29-Jul-13 03:39:35

mrskoala relatives of ours were in Vancouver and they did much of their shopping in the US (as you mentioned). Can DH go over the border without you to bulk buy essentials while your visa is being sorted out? Otherwise is there any way you could order some essentials from the US for delivery in Vancouver? Even with postage it might be economical (depending on customs charges). Or get friendly with neighbours/co-worker who are travelling over to the US for shopping? If your DH is working can any of his colleagues advise him?

Feel annoyed on your behalf about your DH's comments about the chicken and veg curry/meat etc: seriously suggest that he has to get real!

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 03:44:17

oooh thanks Garlic - i'll have a squinkle. We may need to hire a car and do a bulk shop somewhere.

I can't go over the border till my visa app is approved so it will be an option, but not for a few months yet.

The other night i spent hours trawling stores and calculating costs and lugging the stuff back, then i made what i considered a decent chicken and veg and chickpea curry and rice for about $10 and DH asked if there was any naan (no! 1 costs $5) and then sat and picked out the chicken and went to throw the rest away. I told him i would eat his left overs for my lunch. I was also so furious and frustrated at how much effort had been wasted. angry I stormed off to bed and just felt like crying blush

garlicagain Mon 29-Jul-13 03:44:36

Ah, that No Frills is more encouraging! You can't do all your shopping on a two-bus hike, though, can you? Not unless the buses are door-to-door and you can take a bloody big wheely bag with you hmm

AdoraBell Mon 29-Jul-13 03:49:04

Oopsblush missed the fact you can't boarder hop yet, sorry.

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 03:49:43

No garlic so i go twice a week. which is a right pita.

garlicagain Mon 29-Jul-13 03:51:50

It sure sounds like a pita sad I'm rather annoyed with your DH, too! Best of luck with getting him real ... Does he not cook or shop? Time he started, innit grin

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 03:52:14

Dang, Mrs.Koala! Food seems exorbitant in Canada! how are eggs? If there are no allergies in your family could you do many egg based meals? Often when I am low on $$, I make a nice chilled pasta salad with hard cooked eggs, tuna, onion, and celery. You could certainly adapt to suit your family. (oh and mayo to taste)
Could you make some heart soups? I know you are missing your processor, but what about chilli type things?
I am indignant on your behalf.

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 03:53:28

Oh dear..not heart soups..ick! HEARTY soups...

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 04:01:50

eggs work out about 60c each i think so i was thinking of a fritata with bacon/chorizo type thing.

I get things like 2 frozen fatty oven pizzas for $5 but both of us are a bit podgy and could do with shedding a few pounds, however, maybe one night a week it wont hurt. It's so annoying healthy food and lean meats cost so much. sad

I have a hand blender for baby food so i can use that for soups when it's colder.

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 04:12:45

Oh yes, lovely frittatas, quiches, omlettes..all filling..maybe a fry up?
It is terrible when the quality food is out of reach. I only buy what is in season here (Massachusetts) so we are doing blueberries and cucumbers right now..
I feel for you. I struggle with this ..I want to give my children the best food I can afford, but the budget does not seem to stretch very far sad

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 04:19:19

Oh yes Blueberries are in season here too. There was a blueberry fair the other day and we went along, they were promoting the versatility etc. They had punnets for sale and i went to buy one and they were $5 shock (i know i keep using that emoticon but it really isn't doing the expression on my face justice). I said no thank you and walked off trying to look dignified...but part of my soul dying inside.

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 04:28:52

Secret - We were all set to move to DC in April for DH's work but he suddenly realised he hated his job and we moved here instead for him to set up a consultancy - hence no income as yet. I know, i know, we are bonkers.

I did loads of research about costs but DH (who lived here as a pot noodle eating student) and my dad (who has a friend in portland hmm ) insisted i was talking out of my arse and it couldn't possibly more than the UK which is surely the most expensive. Everyone even kept saying to us 'ooh you'll save money on food' and i kept being the voice of reason but was shouted down as being a negative nancy angry

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 04:28:56

<hugs> $5 for blueberries! I am shock also. Perhaps some kind Vancouverite will be along to let us know where the real food at decent prices are to be found..
It really is hard on the heart when you want to feed your family well, but the cheap things are often processed junk.
I can only think of simple things like eggs, jacket potatoes with fillings that suit your family, perhaps an easy stir fry?

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 04:36:42

Well, ofcourse! Why would anyone listen to your careful research? I happen to love my husband, and don't generally do the man bashing thing, but he can be a stubborn arse when it comes to doing things he wants..iykwim?
You should immediately pack your family up and move to Asschusetts. We shall drink tea, have long chats, and I will take you to all the cheap markets...(once your visa is all set of course)

Secretswitch Mon 29-Jul-13 04:37:49

That would be MASSACHUSETTS! I think I must be off to bed...I seem to be losing my cognitive skills...cheers smile

AdoraBell Mon 29-Jul-13 04:43:45

MrsKoala I know there are some other MNers in Canada, maybe it would be worth asking in Living Oversea?

I know what you mean about family etc back home disbelieving, OH keeps trying to get across to PILs about living costs here and MIL poo-pooed him by asking how 'ordinary' people cope. I told her they get left behind, which is what's happening in the countries where real food is out if reach but processed rubbish is cheapsad

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 05:00:33

Where are you Adora?

DH is the opposite and insists i don't tell PIL the truth in case they worry.

I do find it so frustrating. I just want to feed my family on healthy food. DS is 10mo and needs to have a varied diet which is going to make him love new foods and textures. Not a load of old crap. I just wont have it. I will go without, but he MUST have fresh fruit,veg, decent meat, fish and yogurt. (he is a milk refuser so i have to make sure he gets all his essentials in his daily food). If he still drank milk i wouldn't worry so much.

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 05:01:12

Oh and i'll pop to overseas now, thanks.

AdoraBell Mon 29-Jul-13 05:10:04

We're in Chile. Luckily I can get veg etc cheaply locally but I can't use a butcher because they don't refrigerate the meat cobsistantly and I have to be picky which supermarket I use for dairy, meat or fish. The things my MIL will not accept is us paying to see the Dr and for things like DD's vaccinations. Utilities are hugely expensive here so poor people simply don't heat their houses in winter, and the very poor don't send DCs to school etc etc.

MrsKoala Mon 29-Jul-13 05:16:18

Oh god it's heartbreaking isn't it.

I don't understand why parents and pils don't believe me. Is it some kind of generational selective knowledge? A kind of naivety that wont accept the world has a lot of countries (probably most outside north america and europe) worse off than them.

My parents are the same with tipping too. They don't understand why we would tip 15-20% surely a dollar is sufficient. <sigh>

WhatSheSaid Mon 29-Jul-13 05:16:40

Woah at these prices. I'm in NZ and expats here complain about the price of food but looking at your prices (and doing a quick Canadian $- NZ $ conversion). I think we've got it quite good.

The longer you are there the more you will discover the cheaper places (hopefully). People who've been there longer may be able to point you in the right direction.

Notafoodbabyanymore Mon 29-Jul-13 05:43:49

Let me have another think. We're in Perth, Australia, which is soooo expensive these days too (though doesn't sound in the league of Vancouver - yikes!) so I understand your frustration. Hope you manage to get through this tough bit quickly, and your DH wakes up!

pollywollydoodle Mon 29-Jul-13 05:58:55

if neither of you are working why is your ungrateful husband not doing some shopping?

oh and proper shock s at those prices...have you had a look at the lonely planet/other backpackers guide ? might have some ideas

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