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You and ex may consider instead of pre-made meals, just stocking the freezer and pantry with some cheap basics from which a variety of different meals can be derived.

For example:

Freezer items:

bags of frozen diced peppers

bags of frozen diced onions

frozen fish fillets--look for sales and stock-up then

frozen shrimp (I know, shrimp is pretty pricey relatively speaking, but salad shrimp isn't that expensive)

shredded cheese (again, look for sales and stock up)

Pantry items:

cans of chopped, diced, or crushed tomatoes

plain instant rice (also consider rice-a-roni mixes)

pasta in different shapes like rotini, elbows as well as spaghetti

jars of mayo or miracle whip (light or fat free if there are health/diet concerns)

bottled salad dressing

cans of tuna and salmon

macaroni and cheese mix

noodles--kluski noodles are heartiest

canned mushrooms

spaghetti sauce


My suggestions for what you can do with these items:

Spanish Rice or Shrimp and Rice:

For spanish rice, following basic directions on rice box for cooking it, along with the rice, add a can of tomatoes (you may need to reduce the water a bit if the tomatoes contain alot of liquid) and frozen onions and peppers. For shrimp and rice, when cooking process is nearly done, put in the shrimp as not to overcook them.

Tuna Macaroni and Cheese

Cook according to directions, adding diced onions along with the macaroni. Stir in canned tuna and canned mushrooms before serving.

3-Way Pasta (this is for individuals in the family to prepare as they like when they like)

Boil 1 lb. pasta like rotini or elbows according to directions and drain. Keep the plain pasta handy in the refrigerator, and add according to individual preferences:

--Spaghetti Sauce over hot pasta

--Mayo, Miracle Whip or Bottled Salad Dressing (like Italian, Honey Dijon is pretty good in this as well) over cooled pasta for pasta salad

--Butter and cheese stirred into hot pasta

Salmon and Noodles

Prepare hot noodles, stir in canned mushrooms, sour cream and butter and canned salmon.

Of course, Bisquick has alot of uses. I posted some inexpensive, easy recipes here--like cinnamon rolls and pizza. Not exactly bakery- or pizzeria-quality, but not bad and certainly not as expensive.

As far as the actual stocking process, just some common sense stuff like watching for sales and sticking with store brands can make a difference budget-wise.
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