Easy, Low Cost Recipes for Seniors

low cost recipes

If you’re anything like most people, when times get tough, you want comfort food. You want those meals that take you back to good times in your life, or even to your childhood, when you got your favorite foods – and you didn’t have to cook them yourself! What you might not have realized during your childhood is that the old-fashioned comfort food you ate may have been made from some of the cheapest groceries your parents could buy. After all, feeding a family can get expensive!  

That’s one reason why there are so many excellent recipes out there that can be made on a budget of just a few dollars a day.

And that matters, especially with today’s inflation. During June 2022, groceries rose by 12.4% over their price during the same month last year[1]. Groceries might be more expensive, but cutting back on food can actually be dangerous – for older adults, the nutrition you need might increase as you age.

A study in the National Library of Medicine reported that as individuals grow older and become less active, their metabolism slows down, they require less energy, and their ability to absorb and use nutrients becomes less efficient. Some medications can exacerbate that, such as inhibiting the body’s absorption of B vitamins (which are essential for energy)[2].

Older adults also deal with a loss of appetite, changes to the way they taste and smell food, a decline in general oral health, and difficulty for those who have impaired mobility – for instance, those with arthritis might find it difficult to open jars or chop vegetables. But one of the key components of poor nutrition comes down to the availability of healthy foods – or the ability to afford them.

If you are living with a lack of good nutrition, you can wind up dealing with other health problems too. For instance, anemia can result from a lack of vitamins or iron (among other causes). Anemia is defined by The Mayo Clinic as “a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues.” It can make you feel tired and weak. That can lead to falls, which can be serious enough to land you in the hospital with severe injuries. Though going with a senior life-saving alert system is strong peace of mind, the ultimate goal is to prevent anemia in the first place. Good nutrition can help you battle the potential issues of anemia, as well as prevent other problems.

We recently created a blog post on how to save money at the grocery store. Now we’ll take it a little further with recipes that can stretch a dollar until it squeaks!

Foods to Stretch Your Budget

There are many foods that have been traditionally seen as money-savers, and there is good reason for this: they are some of the cheapest foods on the market yet they provide excellent nutrition. It also just so happens that many of them are the comfort foods we remember from our childhoods. That’s not a coincidence!

·         Potatoes. One of the most versatile vegetables out there, potatoes can be enjoyed on their own or as a backdrop for the rest of the meal. They can be served boiled, mashed, baked, fried, and more.

·         Eggs. Another incredibly versatile food, eggs can be prepared in a multitude of ways and tend to be pretty cheap, especially if you buy them in larger quantities.

·         Oatmeal. Typically known as a breakfast food, oatmeal can be healthy on its own or to serve as a blank canvas to add spices, fruit, nuts, and other toppings to change it up.

·         Beans. If you purchase the beans in a bag, soak them overnight, and cook up the whole batch the next day, you’ve got several meals for only a few dollars.

·         Rice. The same is true for rice, which serves as a filling and nutritious addition to anything else you might want to eat with it. If you want to eat it on its own, jazz it up with veggies and an egg or two for fried rice.

·         Pasta. Incredibly filling and with a wide variety of options, pasta makes a fitting meal in and of itself – just add some sauce – but it also makes for another backdrop to blend with other foods, such as tuna and peas.

Of course, keep in mind that what’s cheap at the grocery store depends upon your location and the general price of that particular food at a certain time. For instance, strawberries are in abundance in the United States in the spring, which means they will be much cheaper in April or May than they are in November or December. When looking for fresh foods, always choose those that are in season.

When you go to the grocery store, intend to take your time. Rushing through the process means you might not take the time to compare prices, or you might reach for what is simply most convenient, though that could cost more. So go to the store prepared with your list in hand, coupons if you have them, a medical alert pendant just in case of emergencies, and the intention to compare price labels to find the best possible deal.

Affordable, Delicious Recipes

So what about those recipes that help stretch your dollar? We’ve got more than a few great recipes for seniors.

Crockpot Bean Goulash

·         ½ lb. ground beef

·         2 stalks celery, cut into small pieces

·         1 diced onion

·         4 cups cooked beans

·         1 tbsp. vinegar

·         ½ tsp. dry mustard

·         ½ cup barbecue sauce

·         ½ cup brown sugar

Brown the beef, celery, and onion. Once the beef is browned through, add all other ingredients. You can then simmer the goulash in a pan with a lid, add it to the crockpot and cook on low for two hours, or bake it in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or so. This makes about six servings.

Fancy Broccoli and Chicken Pasta

·         2 cups cooked broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)

·         1 chicken breast, cooked and diced

·         4 ounces of your choice of pasta

·         A small amount of olive oil

·         ½ tsp. garlic powder

·         3 tbsps. parmesan grated parmesan cheese

Prepare the pasta as directed on the package. Heat the broccoli florets and the chicken breast in a little bit of oil. Toss it all together in a bowl and top with the garlic powder and parmesan. This serves two people.

If you want something a little saucier, add a pat or two of butter to the heated dish.

Potatoes and Onions

·         8 medium potatoes, sliced thin

·         2 onions, sliced thin

·         3-4 tbsps. olive oil, butter, or bacon grease

·         Salt and pepper to taste

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, butter, or grease. Add the potatoes in an even layer and cook over medium heat. Add the onions once the potatoes begin to sweat a little. Using a wide spatula, turn the potatoes and onions over now and then. Cook until the potatoes and onions are tender and browned in places, then remove from the heat and adorn with salt and pepper. This makes eight servings.

Creamy Egg Salad

·         8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

·         ¾ cup mayonnaise (more for a creamier dish)

·         1 stalk celery, chopped fine

·         1 small onion, chopped fine

Simply combine all the ingredients for this recipe and add in whatever spices you might enjoy – salt and pepper are great, but so is garlic powder or dry mustard. Refrigerate the egg salad for a few hours to allow the flavors to mingle. Serve on toast as a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce as a quick side salad. This makes four generous servings.

Simple Coffee Cake

·         2 cups flour

·         2 tsp. baking powder

·         1 tsp. salt

·         ¾ cup sugar

·         2 tbsp. shortening

·         1 cup milk

·         ¼ cup brown sugar

·         ¼ tsp. cinnamon

Blend together the dry ingredients, then add milk and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into an 8x8 inch pan that has been buttered or greased. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. This cake provides nine delicious servings.

Rice Breakfast

·         2 cups leftover rice

·         ½ tsp. cinnamon

·         2 tbsps. brown sugar

·         2 cups milk

·         1 tsp. butter

Leftover rice can make a delicious breakfast. Blend all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm – do not boil! If you want something sweeter, add in more sugar. You can also put in a dollop or two of applesauce to stay healthier. This recipe serves four people.

Additional Resources for Easy and Affordable Recipes

There are many websites and cookbooks that cater to those who want to create delicious meals but stay within a limited budget. Here are a few of the best out there:

·         Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown – Free PDF Download. This amazing (and free) cookbook was created for those who are on a tight budget, and is based on the idea that a person has only four dollars to spend on food each day. The recipes are not only cheap and easy to prepare, but some of them are fancy enough to make you pull out the good china.

·         Dining on a Dime. Part of the “Living on a Dime” series, Dining on a Dime can be purchased as a physical cookbook, but there are numerous recipes on the site available for free. They are each designed to stretch your dollar and work on a very limited budget.

·         Budget Bytes. Want recipes that test your mettle in the kitchen but still keep you well under budget? This site offers up unique and fun recipes as well as a good estimate of the actual cost of the food (keep in mind that depending upon your location, your costs may be more or less than what is stated for each recipe here).

·         Hillbilly Housewife. With a wide variety of options from the fancier to the more mundane, this site offers frugal ideas and recipes that make the most of what you have in your pantry.

·         All Recipes. This enormous recipe site allows you to search by ingredient, read reviews from others, and even share your own recipes with others. This is especially good for those times when you have a leftover ingredient of some kind and no idea what to do with it.

Protect yourself in the kitchen with a medical alert watch or pendant. Look specifically for an Alert1 Medical Alert with fall detection technology. Small fall sensors in the medical alert device can detect a fall and immediately alert our Command Center– our trained professionals can then get in touch to make sure you’re ok. And if you’re not, they will send help. Always wear your emergency response solution without fail no matter where you are, even in the kitchen!

As always, Alert1 wishes you health and safety! Bon appetit!