Cheap & healty tips in preparing food?

strawchicagoFebruary 24, 2014

I went shopping at Sam's club this weekend and noticed they have Canadian Bacon with no nitrites (lean ham & cheap). Too bad my husband already bought Virginia ham for our bean soup.

My Mom will be 90 years old this week. Her main diet is canned fish & veggies from her garden. She ate cheap & gave money to charities. Canned salmon is wild from Alaska, cheaper than frozen salmon from farm-raised China. Canned mackerel has more Omega-3 than salmon. Wild-caught Atlantic mackerel is less than $2 per can.

Anyone have a good recipe for canned fish, or recipes to save money with cheap cuts of meat? Thanks in advance. Below is type of fish and omega-3 content per 3.5 ounces. Mackerel leads the pack with 2.6 gram of Omega-3.

Mackerel 2.6
Trout, lake 2.0
Herring 1.7
Tuna, bluefin 1.6
Salmon 1.5
Sardines, canned 1.5
Sturgeon, Atlantic 1.5
Tuna, albacore 1.5
Whitefish, lake 1.5
Anchovies 1.4
Bluefish 1.2
Bass, striped 0.8
Trout, brook 0.6
Trout, rainbow 0.6
Halibut, Pacific 0.5
Pollock 0.5
Bass 0.3
Catfish 0.3
Ocean perch 0.3
Flounder 0.2
Haddock 0.2
Snapper, red 0.2
Sole 0.1

Source: The Health Effects of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Seafoods Read more:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 17:07

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I would caution eating too much tuna and other high-mercury containing fish. If your mother weighs 130-140 pounds, it is now suggested she not consume white albacore tuna more than one can every 10-days (150# + 9-days). Chunk light tuna: 120# - 4 days, 140-150# and up every 3-days.

These are guidelines provided by the Environmental Protection Agency due to mercury. Mercury poisoning is a very REAL thing. You may want to do more research on that.

Lower on the food chain are sardines and anchovies (because they reproduce quickly) and have a lower danger level for mercury content and lots of good-for-you Omega- 3.

The link below may give you a lot of ideas. Would it help to have recipes for cooking for 1 or 2, because those are also available. I'll just have to go through my files to find the URLs.


I need to add why the difference between White Albacore and Light Chunk Tuna. Chunk light tuna is from a smaller fish and is lower in mercury than white albacore tuna.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by grainlady on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 17:31

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Wild canned salmon is much different than mercury laden tuna. Best to do some on-line research on a brand you have easy access to. I'm careful about checking labels and then still get fooled sometimes by deceitful wording.
In the link is a recipe or two. We often use a mixed grain with a similar marinade sauce...mustard lemon, greek yogurt but can change it up by using toasted sesames and Asian flavors, or fetta, olives and cucumber. Always add chopped apple or pear and halved grapes.
Another option is the same sauces but with pasta or rice noodles. Soaked flax and chia give a nice binder 'glue' instead of mayo. Chopped garden herbs and veg. Micro greens. Sprouted seeds...(i keep meaning to start that up again)

Here is a link that might be useful: canned salmon

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:12PM
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Thank you, Grainlady, for the info ... my Mom only eats sardines and wild salmon, her mind is very sharp at 90 years old. She doesn't like tuna, because it doesn't go well with rice. My Mom also eats pork & chicken. From what I read, sardines and salmon can be eaten a few times a week, but tuna is recommended only once a month due to mercury concern.

Thank you, sleevendog, for that link on canned salmon ... and the yummy dressing from that link:

1 7.5-ounce can boneless, skinless wild salmon, drained
2 Tbs. chopped dried cranberries
1 Tbs. chopped fresh chervil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tea lemon zest
1/4 tea Dijon mustard
1 tea salt
3/4 tea black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, break up salmon, add cranberries and chervil, and mix to combine. In another medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, zest, mustard, salt and pepper. Add oil in a steady stream. Add vinaigrette to salmon mixture and toss to combine.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Cheap and healthy tip? Eat less!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:43PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Your mother sounds like my mil. Recently, she has discovered Chic-fil-a. Never had one before, as a frugal depression era supreme giver/gardener. I think she has had restaurant food maybe a dozen times in the last thirty years.

She is crazy about them, she's 89 btw, and for the first time in her entire life, is experiencing restaurant food. I know that alone sounds crazy, but if your mother is only eating canned fish and home grown veggies because she knows nothing else, well, now would be a good time to introduce something really tasty.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Happy Birthday to your Mom!

I prefer rice as well but this 1947 Good Housekeeping recipe may appeal to her.

Salmon Cakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. cooked, flaked salmon
2 T. minced onion
2 c. cold mashed potatoes
1 tsp. salt, 1/8 t. pepper

Mix all ingred. together. Form patties. Fry in oil, about 3 min. each side.
Makes about 10.

Baked Fish, Cheese and Spinach   
1 c. cooked, drained spinach   
8 oz. canned salmon   
scant 1/8 tsp. dry mustard   
scant 1/2 tsp. salt, divided   
pinch sugar   
pinch paprika   
1/3 c. grated cheddar   
2 tsp. flour   
1 tsp. butter   
pinch pepper   
1/3 c. milk 

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease shallow casserole. 

Lay spinach in casserole; top with fish; mix mustard, 1/4 t. salt, sugar & paprika & sprinkle over fish.   
Bake 30 min. Meanwhile combine cheese, flour, pepper, & remaining salt in top of double boiler; cook, stirring milk in slowly until smooth & thickened.   
Pour over fish & broil until browned. 

(I've only had this with the white sauce poured over before baking so it required twice the amount. The salmon and spinach, and cheese, was a surprisingly nice combo to me. 
    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:33PM
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Thank you, Iris_gal, for those 2 recipes. Looks yummy that I got to try myself. The fish/spinach/cheese casserole is clever, and the salmon cake looks easy.

While I was at Sam's club I saw pork-back-ribs at outrageous price ... but the boneless ribs was 1/2 the price & lean. So I bought a big pack of boneless ribs for $7, sliced thin, rubbed spices, and simmered with barbecue sauce. It turned out better than regular ribs. I did the same with pork tenderloin (cheaper) ... and it's also good.

I haven't figured out how to make lean & cheap beefs like round to be tasty. My husband bought VERY lean ground beef and it tasted like rabbit-pellets in spaghetti .... maybe I should had cooked that in a slow-cooker.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Not to convince anyone to go sous vide, just saying what I do to save money and eat well.

First, cooking meat at low temperature, depends on the meat and recipes, automatically there is a 4% to 7% savings because meat shrinks a lot less.

Second, I can buy inexpensive cuts of meat and sous vide the meat to juicy medium rare fork tender.


Here is a link that might be useful: Fork Tender

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:10AM
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I was eager to grind meat for a leaner hamburger patty. Using inexpensive round steak or shoulder clod roast. Terrible. Learned to add oil after that. Then it was great.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:03PM
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You may want to try tenderizing ground beef with baking soda. I've seen them use this method in ground beef on America's Test Kitchen. -Grainlady

Here is a link that might be useful: Tenderize Beef with Baking Soda

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:26AM
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Thank you, dcarch, iris_gal, and grainlady for those great tips to use cheap & lean cut of meat. Among those methods, I like the lower-temp. & adding more oil. I used baking soda to tenderize beef in stir-fry recipes .. worked well, but the taste was odd.

We got Kentucky Fried Chicken last night .. my kid has been begging for weeks. They must had fried it at low temp.for a long time, since the meat was super moist & tender, and no fat in the skin. The skin was really thin & edible. That's much better than my homemade fried-chicken: tough meat, and skin still has fat.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:46AM
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A cheap source of protein is chicken livers.

Here's how I make them most often:

CHICKEN LIVERS AND RICE - 2 to 3 servings

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/ 2 inch slices
1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed and quartered
1/ 4 cup flour
1/ 2 tsp. salt
1/ 4 tsp. pepper
1/ 2 cup chopped onion
1/ 2 cup uncooked rice
1/ 2 tsp. dried basil, crumbled
1 whole bay leaf
1 1/ 4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley (do not omit)

Cook bacon until crisp in large skillet. Combine flour, salt and pepper and dredge chicken livers in it. Remove bacon and reserve. Brown livers in bacon grease. Remove and reserve. Saute onion over medium heat in same skillet (add 1 Tbs. olive oil of needed.) Stir in rice, broth, basil, and bay leaf. Heat to boiling; then turn heat to low. Stir mixture thoroughly, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Cover. Simmer 20 minutes without lifting lid. Spoon reserved livers over rice but don't stir. Put lid back on and simmer for another 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove bay leaf. Sprinkle with bacon and chopped parsley.

Healthy? Yes, in many ways except for cholesterol. Since our numbers are good, I'd rather occasionally have the shot of iron and vitamins.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken Liver nutrition

This post was edited by ruthanna on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 17:37

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:46AM
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That sounds delicious Ruthanna. I love all liver and onions.
How much water for the above recipe?


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Di, no water. I have modified the recipe various times over the years and forgot to check the instructions. I corrected it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:41PM
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