At just a little over $5.00 for the whole meal, Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole will fill your family of four up with hearty, healthy-ish ingredients.
I must admit that I hadn’t planned on joining this challenge. We were out of town for most of last week and I didn’t think I would get something made before it was time to post.
However, I got pissed.
That’s the only way to describe it. I got pissed. If you’re trying to feed a family of four, and you’re struggling, I’m sure you want something hearty that will last until breakfast. You’re not going to buy name brands. Oh no. You’re going to shop the marked down meats. You’re going hit the clearance aisle in the grocery. Did you know they have clearance in the grocery? And I’m not talking baked goods. I’m talking cans goods, dented maybe, a few bits and pieces of a product they’re trying to get rid of. Clearance!
I know because we were always on a tight budget growing up. While we didn’t live from meal to meal, we knew how to stretch a dollar for a good meal. We were cooking up fajitas before skirt steak was popular. London broil and chuck roast were often on the menu. Back then, chicken breasts weren’t cheap, so we ate quite a bit of beef and pork. And we knew how to make the cheap cuts into a gourmet meal.
How do you feed a family on a tight budget?
Dad knew the best days to hit the grocery for the marked down meat. If you haven’t experienced this, and you’re on a budget, check it out. It’s those meat packages with the coupons on them because their sell by date is either that day or the next. If you don’t plan on eating those meats for dinner, pop them in the freezer to save for later.
But don’t be deceived! Sometimes the discount amount still doesn’t quite warrant the purchase unless you’re dying for that cut of meat. We had a half off rule. Granted, this is difficult to achieve now, but sometimes you can get good cuts of meat at near half price if you know when to hit the store. Check the date on the packages. That’s a good indication of what days are best.
Every time I go through the meat section, I look for those items with the yellow sticker or the coupon on there. Lately, it’s been quite a few packages of Italian sausage. You’d be surprised what you can make with Italian sausage besides pasta.
Buying store brand! I cannot stress this enough! Yes, it’s not the name brand, but you’d be surprised at how delicious the store brand is. I mean, Cooking Light tested packaged pie crusts and found the Great Value to be the best pie crust you can buy. So, they can’t be all that bad can they? I buy store brand canned and frozen veggies, pastas when I can, sauce, soups, cheese; it’s just cheaper.
Buy in bulk. Yes, I know that the initial investment is a bit of a shock to your piggy bank, but it will thank you later. In fact, there’s a great bulk sale going on at Walmart right now. You can save up on tuna for tuna casserole. That’s a staple at our house. They have tomato soup, frozen foods, and snacks for your hungry hoards.
Shop the ads and bring coupons! Heck at one point, I joined a coupon swap group to try to get more of what I needed. Check into those! But I see what’s on the menu and then what’s on sale. Granted I might not need it this week, but it’s worth throwing into the pantry or freezer for when I do need it. So, I stock up when I can on things I know my family uses regularly.
Stretch meals with pasta, rice, beans and hearty grains. Making meatballs? Toss in some cooked rice to make the meat last longer. How do you think porcupine meatballs came about? And adding bread crumbs or oatmeal to meatloaf. Not really as a binder. It’s something to make the meat last longer and seem like more bang for your buck. Casseroles are the ultimate in this area. A few cans of tuna, some mushroom soup, milk, Parmesan (get the can, it’s cheaper!), noodles, and bake. That can easily feed a family of 6 on the cheap.
So, here’s how my meal breaks down:
0.83 Coly Jack cheese
0.75 macaroni and cheese dinner
0.17 hot dog buns ($0.67 for 8 which is roughly $0.08 apiece)
5.02 Total for the whole casserole
Since I’m assuming there’s butter and milk in the house, that’s pretty decent for a family of four. If there’s not, then it’s $6.12 ($0.91 for butter and $0.18 for milk). Of course, that’s the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter that we have on hand. There’s less expensive options for margarine out there that will keep you within the $5.50 for the entire meal.
You cannot say you will go hungry with that in your belly. And that’s one serving. With all that pasta, broccoli, and turkey sausage goodness, Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole is stick to your ribs delicious.
And by the way, don’t be fooled by the twist pasta. It’s not worth it. Just get the regular elbows. They truly were the tiniest twists I’ve ever seen. They were less than an inch tall and I was afraid they would just disintegrate when I was stirring the butter and milk to make the cheese sauce. Just get the elbows. You’ll be happier.
To get involved in the DC/NOVA area, there’s the Capital Area Food Bank. They have boxes throughout the holidays to drop off canned and dry goods. We also have the Western Fairfax Christian Ministries. They have a great food bank for those in need. Or, you can find a food bank in your area here.
I hope you’ll join us by skipping the expensive coffee today and donate to your local area food bank. And maybe time some time out of your busy day to volunteer some time. It will do your heart and your soul some good to help others in need.
- 21.75 ounces macaroni and cheese dinner
- 3/4 cup margarine
- 2 tablespoons margarine
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 13 ounces turkey kielbasa sauce, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
- 12 ounces frozen broccoli, thawed
- 2 hot dog buns
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Prepare the macaroni and cheese according to package directions.
- Stir in the chopped turkey sausage, the thawed broccoli, and 2/3 cup of cheese.
- Pour into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and bake, covered, for 20 minutes.
- While the casserole is baking, prepare the topping. Microwave the 2 tablespoons of margarine and set aside.
- Place the hot dog buns in the food process and pulse until coarse bread crumbs are made.
- Pour the butter over the bread crumbs and stir until the crumbs are coated.
- Stir in the remaining cheese and set aside.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle the bread crumbs mixture on top.
- Bake, uncovered, and additional 10 minutes.
- Cool 10 minutes before serving.
September is Hunger Action Month – a time to bring attention to food insecurity. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure in 2017. That’s 40 million people – more than 12 million of which are children – with a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
The meals below were made with a budget of $5.50 – the average amount a family of four would have for a meal on a SNAP budget. We’re sharing these recipes today to show you how far these dollars go – or don’t go – and to encourage you to donate to organizations addressing hunger issues. Feeding America and local food banks are the boots on the group helping feed your neighbors daily.
As a group, we’re supporting Feeding America’s efforts to end hunger. We are collecting donations for Feeding America here: http://help.feedingamerica.org/goto/FoodBloggers
Will you forgo your morning coffee stop and donate $5 to help feed the needy instead? There are also many great local organizations fighting hunger too, including the Capital Area Food Bank, Western Fairfax Christian Ministries, and Northern Virginia Family Service. If you’re interested in donating or getting involved in your area, check our FoodPantries.org for services and volunteer opportunities in your area.
Hunger Action Month Recipes
- Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Budget Beef Vegetable Lo Mein by Palatable Pastime
- Cheesy Black Bean Frittatas by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Chicken Caesar Pasta by Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
- Comforting Chicken and Veggie Noodle Soup & Chili and Cheese Baked Potatoes by The Foodette & Family
- Creamy Spinach & Black Bean Falutas by Savory Moments
- Feed a Family of Four for One Day in under $16 by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Italian Sausage & Tortellini Skillet Meal by Intelligent Domestications
- Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet with Buttered Rice by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Kielbasa and Vegetable Skillet by Kate’s Recipe Box
- Mindful Shopping, Cooking Frugally, and Helping Others by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Bean Pasta) by The Baking Fairy
- Pepper Jack Quiche with a Potato Crust by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Sausage Green Bean Alfredo by Cookaholic Wife
- Sheet pan crustless quiche by Frugal & Fit
- Stove-Top Chicken Noodle Soup by Blogghetti
- Veggie Burrito Bowls by Simple and Savory
Thanks to Kate of Kate’s Recipe Box for organizing this event!