5 Cheap Meal Ideas


If you’ve been reading any of my other recent blog posts, you may know that I am currently on the 10-day master cleanse, so it may come as a surprise to you that I’m posting about food.  I’ve been wanting to post this for a while and since I’m still able to think, talk about and look at food without feeling like an animal about to go for its kill, I thought it would be a good time to get it out of the way.

Times are tough for many people around the world.  I’m an American living in Ireland and although I find the food to be quite expensive here, I’m also hearing how expensive food has become from my family back home.  We have good weeks and we have bad weeks here and on the bad weeks, I have to get thrifty with the grocery cost.  Here are some cheap meal ideas.  They won’t win you any gourmet cooking awards, but they will help reduce the cost of your food bill.  Also, I can tell you that you can buy all of the ingredients for these items in Ireland.  

#1.  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Condensed Tomato Soup:  You can buy bread here for as cheap as 69-89 cents a loaf if you shop at stores like Aldi and Lidl.  I spent 54 cents on a can of tomato soup from Tesco and you can be 15 slices of processed cheese for 64 cents at Tesco.  Butter is actually your biggest cost here.  In case you’ve never made a grilled cheese before, heat up a fry pan on medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of two slices of bread.  Put one piece of bread butter-side down in the frying pan and lay one to two slices of cheese on top of it.  Place the second slice of bread butter-side up over the top.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Be sure to check frequently, because there’s nothing worse than an overcooked grilled cheese sandwich.

#2.  Grilled Peanut Butter Sandwich:  Grilled peanut butter sandwiches are delightful.  There’s nothing better than that warm, gooey peanut butter in the middle and the fried butter taste that comes with it.  You make these the same way, but put smooth peanut butter in between layers instead of cheese.  I personally like Tesco brand smooth peanut butter.  It tastes the most like Skippy or Jiffy in the U.S.

#3.  Classic Hotdogs and Potato Chips/Crisps:  You can buy a 12 pack of hotdogs from Lidl for less than 2 Euro.  Hotdog buns at Lidl are only 99 cents for a 6-pack.  A jar of pickles (can be chopped up for relish) can be purchased just about anywhere for 89 cents and condiments are also cheap (particularly at Lidl and Aldi).  I also make sort of a homemade ranch dressing using Creme Fresh (89 cents at Lidl), 2 Tablespoons of chopped chive, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  This can be used as a salad dressing or on the hotdogs.  I simply boil my hotdogs until they’re done.  

#4.  Garden Salad:  I love to eat salad.  Of course I don’t eat healthy salad, but if it is your only meal, it’s okay to incorporate all of the food groups.  Everyone’s salad is different, but here is what mine consists of:  Freshly chopped lettuce (lettuce is 89 cents a head at Tesco), chopped cucumber (69 cents a piece at Tesco), sliced green olives (I get a huge jar of green olives at Lidl for less than 3 Euro), ranch dressing (can buy in some Tescos in Dublin area or make recipe above), shredded cheddar cheese (I buy 500 grams of shredded cheddar for less than 3 Euro at Lidl), diced tomato (always cheap), diced onion (always cheap again) and cottage cheese (if I have it – can be purchased for less than a Euro at many local stores).  You can make your own croutons out of old bread by tossing bread cubes with butter and seasoning to taste.  

#5.  Buttered Noodles:  If you’ve ever gone into a Noodles & Co. in the states, you may have seen or even tried buttered noodles.  Sounds weird, but can be excellent.  Pasta is cheap in this country.  You can usually buy a bag of penne for less than a Euro (particularly at places like LIdl and Aldi).  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, melt 1 cup of butter in a frying pan.  Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of Italian seasonings, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper.  Melt completely, but do not burn.  Shred Parmesan cheese.  To serve, fill bowl with hot pasta, pour plenty of butter sauce over the top and sprinkle generously with cheese.  Again, the Parmesan and butter are going to be your most expensive purchases, but you should be able to get more than one of these meals out of a blocck of Parmesan.  It depends on how much cheese you like and how many people are eating.  

The Great Bacon Hunt in Dublin


By Beth Lytle

bacon_main

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while since I posted on here.  When you visited me last, I was living in Frankfurt, Germany and I was busy telling you what it was like as an American living in Germany.  Well, it’s been a busy year.  Since then, I relocated to Dublin, Ireland.

Now that I’ve been here a year, I’ve decided there are a lot of things I have to say about Dublin.  For one thing, even though I didn’t have problems getting around Frankfurt as an English-speaking person, it is, of course, much easier in an English-speaking country.

One thing my family has learned since being here is that we’re not big fans of rashers, the UK/Irish version of bacon.  Since bacon is one of our all-time favorite foods, I began doing some research on the subject.  I’ve also discovered where you can find bacon in Dublin.  Even though there are not many places, you can actually find bacon all over Dublin.

Here’s a bit of background information about bacon.  It will help you understand why an American might find rashers to be a bit off.  In the United States, the majority of bacon is prepared from the pork belly.  In other parts of the world, it is prepared from several different cuts of meat, usually from the back and sides.

So, let’s get on to where you can find the bacon you’re looking for in Dublin.  There are three main places we buy our bacon from here.  The first place is Tesco, but it’s not just any Tesco.  In fact, many Tesco’s do not carry what we’re looking for.  The Tesco we buy it from is the Tesco on Navan Road (next to the Maple Centre).  What we buy there is actually called Pancetta.  It looks and tastes like American bacon.  The brand we get is Sol.  It can be found usually in an end cap of a refrigeration aisle across from the deli section.  Despite the fact that we always find it there and that we order our groceries from that particular store, it does not show up on Tesco’s online ordering.

Maple Centre

Next, you can buy bacon from the Fresh Market in Smithfield.  Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t.  You’ll find it to the right of the refrigerated Polish section if they do have it.  As far as I can tell, they stock two different brands.  The brand names are Espina Bacon and Campofrio Bacon.  We just found these brands, so I haven’t tried the Campofrio brand, but I cooked up the Espina brand yesterday.  It claims to be lower in fat and was okay, but even when cooked at a low temperature, it cooked up pretty crispy.  So far, my preference is the Pancetta from the Navan Road Tesco.

Fresh Market Photo

Finally, you can get bacon from Marks & Spencer.  They have a couple of different types of brands.  Unfortunately I haven’t bought any from there lately, so I don’t have the brand names or photos.  We get it from the M&S at the Jervis Shopping Centre.

Jervis Shopping Centre

Have you found other places in Dublin that you get your American-style bacon?  Post a comment letting us know where!  I will make changes to this article as I come across more information, because, yes, bacon is that important!

About the Author

Beth Lytle works with The Site Gardener as copywriter and editor, project manager, and marketing director.  She also works on several other ongoing projects, including Seen It MagazineTranscription Connection, her Winded Gypsy expat blog and varying small projects.  Connect with Beth on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.

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