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Budget Low Carb $25 Seven Day, Three Meals Daily Dollar Tree Menu for One

Pretend you’re broke, or maybe you are. Maybe you paid all your bills this week and you’re left with $50. All you have in your fridge is some butter or a saved jar of bacon fat, a few packets of leftover soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant, and some salt and pepper. Do you run out and grab a few pounds of rice and beans and some Ramen or do you do your best to make yourself up a menu that fits your low carb lifestyle? My hope for you is that you pick the latter choice. I also hope this blog entry helps inspire you to see that low cost low carbing is possible.

That being said, this is a menu for one. It will make three meals a day for a week, based on the idea that you eat half for dinner and save the other half for lunch the next day. The recipes could be doubled, or they could be shared as just dinners with a second person. Personally, I found, as I cooked and ate the food, that it was more than I needed to satisfy my hunger. In fact, I bought and set aside particular items to have as snacks, and didn’t eat them. You also need access to a dollar tree that sells cooler/frozen foods, the bigger the selection, the ¬†better. These are items that are sold in the Dollar Tree stores around Birmingham, and they sell similar items in other places.

Before I start, I want to say a couple of things.

I picked Dollar Tree for a few reasons. Out of curiosity, because there are some cool, LC items you can get there, and because sometimes when you’re broke, you don’t have the gas money for going to three or four stores to buy the sale items there. That’s how broke I’ve been.

This is not a Paleo menu, it is not an organic menu, and it is not a gourmet menu. There may even be some gluten in there somewhere. There are processed meats. Nothing is fresh. It’s a menu designed to get someone through a week on a $25 budget. If you need certain things, like coffee, creamer, and sweetener, you can find those at the Dollar Tree, but the creamer won’t be sugar free. They do sell half n half, which isn’t ideal because of the milk, but doesn’t have sugar. So, if you have to have those things, throw in three extra bucks.

The recipes are simple, easy to cook, and taste good.
Snacks are pork rinds, sunflower seeds, olives, pickles, and string cheese.
You could make all of these on Sunday if you wanted, and then package them for the week.

Some of them will make leftovers, not a huge amount, but I actually ate this exact food for a week and I didn’t go hungry. I didn’t even need snacks most days. It all depends on your appetite. There will also be some items that you have left in your pantry to roll over into your next week’s menu.

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I don’t mind foraging some, so just for funsies, I went outside and cut a handful of those wild onions that grow everywhere to add to some of the recipes for bulk and for some mild, onion flavor. I like them, and they were free. However! Unless you know for certain that you have onions, don’t try this at home.

Please do your own nutritional counts.

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My grocery purchases were these:

One bag of pork rinds
Two bags of frozen veggie mix
One bag of frozen peppers and onions
One bag of frozen spinach
One package of frozen tilapia filets
One chub of frozen breakfast sausage
One two pack of frozen chicken legs
Two 3 oz packages of shredded mozzarella (Make sure it’s real cheese, not the fake stuff)
One 3 oz package of shredded cheddar (again, real)
One three pack of string cheese
3 half dozen cartons of eggs

A bottle of real mayonnaise
A package of walnuts
A jar of pickles
A can of mackerel
A can of tuna
A bag of shelled sunflower seeds
A jar of Rinaldi pizza sauce (read your labels! Rinaldi does not have added sugar.)
A shaker of parmesan (get the smaller one, the big can is “cheese product”)
A can of black olives
A package of pepperoni slices

Sunday:

Breakfast first.
You want your breakfast sausage, a six pack of eggs, and a cup of the frozen pepper mix.
Brown the sausage and scramble the eggs with the peppers, the stir it all together and keep it in a bowl. Dip some out each morning and heat it up for breakfast. Easy.

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Next up: Tuna salad

Take your tuna, add 3 Tablespoons of mayo, add some cut up pickles, the package of walnuts, and salt and pepper. Boil two eggs.

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Cook about two cups of the veggie mix you picked (these are variable, depending on your selection) I used the California blend because it was the only broccoli/cauli combo they had, then I picked out the carrots. Put half the tuna, one egg, and half the veggies for dinner, and pack the other half for tomorrow.

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Monday:
Spinach Florentine

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Preheat oven to 400.
Thaw the whole package of spinach, put it in a mixing bowl with about 1/4 cup of mayo and 1/4 cup of parmesan, plus some salt and pepper. Put it in a small baking dish and crack four eggs on top. Salt and pepper the eggs, put in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. You could shorten the baking time to 10-12 minutes if you wished for a runny yolk, but I like my eggs yolks firm. Serve half per meal for two separate meals. I had some sunflower seeds for a snack.

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Tuesday
Stir Fry

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There will probably be two small tilapia fillets in the package of fish. Cook them in a skillet and set them aside. If you have some bacon fat or a little butter, add that and some salt and pepper and dump half the bag of stir fry mix, minus about a half cup, into the pan and cook it till the veggies are soft and no longer frozen. Split it between two dishes, add a string cheese for a little extra protein and fat, and enjoy.

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Wednesday
Pizza cups
This was, by far, my favorite, and it made three meals worth of food.

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Preheat oven to 350
Take the pepperoni (notice that I bought the large, sandwich sized, slices. This is important.) and put one in each well of a twelve cup muffin tin. Add a Tablespoon or so of the Rinaldi pizza sauce to the top of each one. If there were extra pepperonis, chop them up and add a few to each up. Slice a few olives and add to each cup, I added some wild onions, you could get that bag of frozen pepper mix and add a few bits of chopped pepper and onion from it here. Put a little parmesan on them and top with the shredded mozzarella and bake for 15 or so minutes till they look right. And by right, I mean like this. Make a cup of your frozen veggies to eat with them.

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Thursday
Fish croquettes

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Open the fish and drain the liquid. I don’t bother with picking out the bones.
Empty the fish into a big bowl. Add the bag of shredded cheddar (the dollar tree bags are 3-4 ounce sized), add two eggs, about 1/3 cup of mayo, crush enough pork rinds finely to equal half a cup of crumbs, salt and pepper to taste, and I included about half a cup of wild onions. Mix it all together and shape the mix into three or four patties and cook them in a skillet till they have a nice crust on one side, then flip and do the same on the other side. I used a little bacon grease with these.

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When these were finished, I tossed a cup of frozen veggies into the skillet and cooked them in the leftover fat. Remember to divide your meal into two dishes.

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Friday
Peppers and eggs

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This recipe is as simple as it sounds. You heat and cook the peppers in your skillet, then break the eggs in and scramble them together. I learned this from a youtube show about depression era cooking.

Saturday
Chicken soup

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Take the two pack of chicken legs and put them in a medium pot first thing in the morning. Cover them with water and boil for maybe an hour, take them out, take the meat off the bones and refrigerate it, beak the bones in half and put them back in the water and simmer them all day on low with the lid on. It won’t be an extremely rich chicken broth, but it will make a nice enough soup broth. After 3-4 hours, strain it to get any bone pieces out, add the chicken back in, add about 1/3 cup of that pizza sauce for some flavor, then add about 2-3 cups of whatever vegetables you have left from the frozen veggies you’ve been eating on all week. Season with salt and pepper, and you have enough soup to last a couple more meals.

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By now, you may still have a few leftovers, like olives, pickles, mayo, frozen peppers, parmesan, pizza sauce, and sunflower seeds. You can roll these over into a few other items for the next week, and then you can buy a few other things, like garlic powder, a little bottle of cooking oil, etc. As you work these menus, you will find that you have more you can use per week, and as a result, have more variety.

The Best Deviled Egg Recipe You’ve Ever Had except for Maybe Your Mom’s…

Deviled eggs, who loves them? I do, and so does my youngest. I make a batch maybe once a week or so, because eggs are cheap and nutritious. Here is a recipe I’ve been working on for a bit, mostly because I eyeball measure when I cook, so I had to take my time and get it right.

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This low carb deviled egg recipe is the best one I’ve made. I can sort of remember eating them growing up, but holidays at my house always had a big crowd and things like the deviled eggs never lasted and Mom didn’t make them when it wasn’t a holiday. I think, too, that they were more work than she wanted to put into one dish. Boiling and peeling eggs, then cleaning them, etc when you have a crowd of twenty or so to cook for, that’s a lot of work.

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This recipe makes twelve, it can easily be doubled or tripled, or even halved. The reason you see seven eggs in the pic is because I always cook seven, even though I only use six for the recipe. Why? Because sometimes one turns out to leak or something, it never fails. I put the eggs into boiling water with a spoon and set the timer for 15 minutes, then put them in ice water for a couple of minutes. This usually helps them peel pretty easily but if the egg has an invisible crack, it will leak out and come out looking like this:

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See that one on the left? It’s still edible, so I just salt it and eat it.

You can skip this step and buy eggs that are pre-cooked. They sell them in most stores now under the brand name “NeverUgly”
Ok, not really, they do sell them, and they are Never Ugly, but I don’t know the brand.

After the eggs are boiled, you want to cut them in half and use a spoon to scoop the yolk into a bowl. Put the egg halves on a dish. Now, I like salt on my eggs, so I always throw a sprinkling of salt on the white halves. You can skip this step if you want.

Now, take a fork and mash up the yolks in the bowl. When they are mashy, add a dollop of mayo to them. A dollop is a unit of measurement my mom used. I think it’s about 1/3 cup.
Add your mayo, add salt and pepper to taste, and add a tablespoon of dried, minced onion. Lastly, you will add your secret ingredient but if I put that here, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore so I can’t tell ya. Just kidding! See the pic, it’s that love upon love of foods, butter! I add one tablespoon of softened butter per two whole eggs. What goes better with eggs than good, old fashioned butter?

Mix all that up, really, really well and fill your eggs. I’ve seen people use piping bags, sometimes a spoon, I put all of mine in a baggie, snipped the end off, and squirted it in. I did it just for the blog pics, they usually turn out pretty messy, though.

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Let them set for 30 minutes or so before eating, or even overnight! The reason is because the minced onion needs to get soft so you don’t have crunchy bits in your eggs.
I don’t garnish mine with paprika, but sometimes with a bit of pepper, because S&P are my favorite seasonings. Sometimes, I cut up tiny bits of green onion to put on them, it makes them prettier. I use a lot of green onion, I have some walking onions I got from my grandmom’s garden when she died, and it’s something I always have on hand.

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Deviled eggs

6 cooked, hardboiled eggs, cut in half to make twelve halves
1/3 cup of mayo
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon dried, minced onion
S&P to taste

Scoop the yolks from the eggs and mash them in a bowl
Add the mayo, onion, butter and S&P

Fill the wells on the eggs till they are heaped up

Garnish with paprika, a little pepper, some green onion, or nothing

Let sit for at least half an hour before serving

Enjoy!