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Inexpensive, EASY dairy-free recipes?

kaika_dragonkaika_dragon Posts: 76Member Member Posts: 76Member Member
in Recipes
Help!
I'm struggling to find healthy recipes that actually work for my life... I am autistic, and also have a pretty busy schedule, which means that I tend to have minimal energy left over for meal planning and cooking. Also, my job pays minimum wage, so I don't have a ton of excess income. I'm very much in need of easy, relatively cheap meals which are tasty and satisfying, so I don't end up eating popsicles and toast for dinner because I can't deal with meal planning/cooking.

Two things which get in the way of this? I have a mild but noticeable dairy allergy, so I cannot eat milk, cheese, or anything like that. Also, I like sweet things, but most artificial sweeteners taste really awful to me, and often make me queasy. My daily calorie goal is about 2,000, and I often get extra from sports, so it isn't that I have to go really low on the calorie content! It's just a matter of not knowing what to cook. I get frustrated a lot, because I look through cookbooks and recipe websites, and every good-looking recipe has about twenty different ingredients, or requires three mixing bowls and every measuring cup in my kitchen. And I can manage cooking maybe one recipe like that a week, on a good week... I have decent cooking skills, but the time/energy/organization/cleanup is REALLY a problem for me.

Usually I am fine for breakfast, just because I tend to eat the same thing every day. It's dinner and packed lunches where I struggle. I often take leftovers for lunch, so if I'm good on cooking for the week, I'm fine... and if I'm not, I got nothing. Healthy snack recipes which keep for a while would also be awesome.

In summary... please, PLEASE point me to any healthy, cheap, and simple recipes you enjoy, which don't involve milk or artificial sweeteners. Or websites you like to go to for recipes like that! I go on Budget Bytes a lot, but that's about the only one I've got.

Thank you all so much in advance! Sorry if that was really long winded - I'm just frustrated! I'm eating tamales (and frozen veggies) for dinner every night this week because I couldn't deal with meal planning, shopping, and cooking.

(I accidentally posted this in Food/Nutrition originally, then realized it made more sense here... so I'm reposting this.)

Replies

  • memurph88memurph88 Posts: 100Member Member Posts: 100Member Member
    Hi!

    I've been lactose intolerant my whole life and have cut dairy out completely in the past couple of years because it just keeps getting worse as I get older. There are a lot of alternatives out there: Dairy free sour cream, DF milk, DF butter & margarine, DF ice cream (coconut), coffee mate creamer, almond coffee creamer, etc.

    My husband and I are paying off student loans so I understand needing to cook on a budget!
    We also take leftover dinner for lunch so that way we don't have to think about meal prepping for the next days lunch.

    We don't like to go grocery shopping a lot so we usually go once every 2 weeks on payday. We'll go to Costco and get lots of meat (chicken, salmon, trout, pork tenderloin (cheap!), ground turkey, etc.) and we'll freeze them in portions. Sometimes this will last us a month! Then we'll go to No Frills or Food Basics (cheap grocery stores near us) and we'll stock up on veggies (fresh & frozen), spices, milk, eggs, etc. That way we don't have to pick anything up after work and it gives us more time to cook. It also helps us control our spending.

    Here are a few cheap/yummy things we like to make
    (we usually have salad with each meal, nothing fancy - sometimes it's just some sort of lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber with oil and vinegar)

    Pasta OR Rice dish
    - mix cooked pasta (or rice), cooked ground turkey or beef (with spices or with just garlic, salt & pepper), 1 can diced tomatoes, salt & pepper
    - optional: add frozen veggies

    Meatloaf w/ roasted potatoes & roasted veggies
    - can use frozen or canned veggies if cheaper
    - I have a recipe for meatloaf if you'd like it

    Stir fry
    - diced chicken breast (or protein of your choice), chopped veggies, brown rice.
    - I use soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper (and some other stuff I'm sure, I can't think of it)

    Coconut Red Curry Rice
    - Combine 1 cup rice, 1 cup water, 1 cup coconut milk, 2 tbsp red curry paste - cook as per directions on package
    - Serve w/ some sort of protein and veg

    A go to lunch for me: Salad w/ whatever leftover meat I had for dinner the night before. Sometimes I'll throw in a little rice or potato to help fill me up.

    Hope this helps a little bit! Feel free to add me :smile:
    edited September 19
  • kaika_dragonkaika_dragon Posts: 76Member Member Posts: 76Member Member
    Thank you!! Those are super helpful ideas.

    The curry rice and the pasta dish look awesome, and easy! I also can't believe I forgot about meatloaf... I actually really like it, and know how to cook it, but I usually don't because I end up having to use my hands to get it to mix right and I hate the sensation of that. I wonder if I made a bunch at once, whether I could freeze some of it to cook later?

    I've found coffee creamers and margarines I like (and dairy free ice cream, if I want a treat), and almond or oat milk are ok, but most of the other "dairy replacement" type things I've tried are not tasty enough to be worth it. Do you have any favorites?
  • acpgeeacpgee Posts: 3,996Member Member Posts: 3,996Member Member
    Just eat asian if you cannot handle dairy. Any country east of India is essentially dairy free. If your allergy is only lactose intolerance you might be able to handle the yoghurt used in India as well. Essentially the bacteria that has made the yoghurt has already digested most of the lactose.

    Asian food outside of Japanese is pretty friendly friendly the wallet. When I make Chinese stir fries the meat stretches a long way. One chicken breast easily feeds two in a stir fry combined with a vegetable. Add an asian salad, a vegan stir fry, or an Indian braised lentil recipe with some rice and dinner is done.
  • TerythaTerytha Posts: 1,027Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,027Member, Premium Member
    Get yourself a decent set of spices if you don't have them. Spices are the most important ingredient for my lazy butt since I can vary flavors without needing to remember a lot of ingredients.

    My standard is grilled chicken breast spiced with whatever I'm feeling that day and a side of steamed or grilled veggies.

    I also enjoy fake stew: brown a pound of ground beef, add diced potatoes, onions and carrots, simmer in half a cup of water until soft, then add 2 cans of maple flavor beans and BBQ sauce to taste. It makes a lot of easy to freeze leftovers.
  • memurph88memurph88 Posts: 100Member Member Posts: 100Member Member
    Thank you!! Those are super helpful ideas.

    The curry rice and the pasta dish look awesome, and easy! I also can't believe I forgot about meatloaf... I actually really like it, and know how to cook it, but I usually don't because I end up having to use my hands to get it to mix right and I hate the sensation of that. I wonder if I made a bunch at once, whether I could freeze some of it to cook later?

    I've found coffee creamers and margarines I like (and dairy free ice cream, if I want a treat), and almond or oat milk are ok, but most of the other "dairy replacement" type things I've tried are not tasty enough to be worth it. Do you have any favorites?

    You're welcome!

    I often triple my meatloaf recipe then freeze it in portions. Then I just take it out in the morning and it's defrosted and ready to bake by the time I get home from work. My husband hates mixing meat too haha he always makes me do it.

    I honestly never drink any milk, or eat cereal, ice cream, etc., so I haven't had to find replacements for that.
    There's a lot of goat cheese's out there (goat mozzarella, goat brie, goat cheddar, etc.) so I buy those when I'm craving cheese. My sister in law works at a fancy cheese shop and a lot of high quality cheeses are naturally lactose free, so she spoils me with those! I would probably never buy them myself because they're quite pricey but it's interesting to know that some cheese is naturally lactose free because of the way it's processed.

    Also, I've made "creamy" soup bases with a cauliflower/potato mix. You boil them until soft with a certain amount of liquid (water or some sort of stock) and then blend it.

    Best of luck with your cooking! :smile:
  • kaika_dragonkaika_dragon Posts: 76Member Member Posts: 76Member Member
    acpgee wrote: »
    Just eat asian if you cannot handle dairy. Any country east of India is essentially dairy free. If your allergy is only lactose intolerance you might be able to handle the yoghurt used in India as well. Essentially the bacteria that has made the yoghurt has already digested most of the lactose.

    I do like a lot of asian food! I am not very good at making stir fries though, and I need a recipe for everything except curry... Chinese food recipes, for example, are often INCREDIBLY bad about the whole thing where they list like 20 ingredients and use five different pans.

    Also, unfortunately, I am actually allergic to milk, not just lactose intolerant. Yoghurt is still a problem, as are lactose free milk, cheeses, etc.
  • ArriannewArriannew Posts: 9Member Member Posts: 9Member Member
    My son has autism and we do a lot of rice! He loves it, it's easy and inexpensive to make. It goes with whatever meat or vegis I have on hand. You can very easily saute meat and vegis in a pan while your rice is cooking. DONE!

    This is how I make rice in the microwave. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/perfect-microwave-rice-recipe-2013357

    Another thing you can do, if making meals after work is overwhelming, is to make you meals on your day off. I make all of my son's lunches (he's in the same boat is you with food allergies) once per week, then all I have to do is pull his lunch out of the freeze in the am. Microwave to heat it up when you're ready for something to eat. A good make-ahead meal is burritos. My favorite is black bean, beef and butternut squash puree. My kids just love bean and bean.

    https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/how-to-make-frozen-burritos

    Another easy meal is toasted tuna sandwiches with tomato soup. Eggs are inexpensive and easy to make as well, pair them up with some vegis for a filling and quick dinner. Tuna with pasta is fast and inexpensive. Or you could scramble some egg in hot, cooked pasta for a nice and easy dish.

    https://www.saltandlavender.com/easy-canned-tuna-pasta/
  • acpgeeacpgee Posts: 3,996Member Member Posts: 3,996Member Member
    Here's the world's easiest Chinese meal. The first thing I learned to cook as a child and a staple among students.
    https://www.chinasichuanfood.com/tomato-noodles-with-fried-egg/
  • ElizabethHanrahanElizabethHanrahan Posts: 89Member Member Posts: 89Member Member
    I am also allergic to dairy. Not knowing where you live I don't know if you have Dollar Tree or 99 cent stores. They have several "vegan" frozen snacks that are really good. If you like Indian, they have a samosa. They also have some spring rolls and pot stickers. They don't have them all the time, so I stock up when I find them. For Stir Fries I just get a frozen asian blend veg mix and add meat (even hamburger) and seasonings. The "dollar" stores also have frozen veg and potatoes. If the meatloaf texture is a problem when mixing, have you tried wearing vinyl gloves? I have eczema and wear them EVERY time I cook. You can get them in dollar stores and in regular stores, the only thing to look out for is that they are powder free so if they rip or tear or get cut, there is no powder in your food. I hope some of this is useful.
  • kaika_dragonkaika_dragon Posts: 76Member Member Posts: 76Member Member
    Thanks for all the suggestions! I did just realize I have a huge box of gloves leftover from dying my hair, so I'll probably try meatloaf again soon and see if that helps. :) I also tried the tomato and egg dish, and it was very good!
  • themombossthemomboss Posts: 4Member Member Posts: 4Member Member
    My daughter is dairy protein intolerant. We use cashew milk unsweetened vanilla for cereal or cooking, chocolate cashew for coco milk replacement. If you want cheese replacement or yogurt. We use follow your heart brand. If you live in a city with an Aldi's, they have a ton of inexpensive df options. As for quick meals look up 4 ingredients recipe cookbooks. You can add to them but base is just 4 things.
    Hope this helps
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