When potatoes go on sale, they make an excellent base for frugal meals. They can be used as the main dish, side dish or the soup. They can be baked, boiled, hashed, scalloped, mashed or stuffed. Below is a meal that uses this versatile vegetable in both the main dish and soup. Enjoy!

Spanish potato
Ingredients:
4 large baked potatoes
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed
6 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:
Bake the potatoes at 425 degrees F (or microwave) until tender in the center. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the center of the potato with a spoon, being careful not to cut into the skin. Place the pulp in a large mixing bowl.

In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain the beef. Place the beef in the same mixing bowl as the potato pulp. Add the chili powder, onion, garlic, Tabasco sauce and tomato sauce. Mix well.

Stuff the potato shells with the potato-meat mixture. It will be heaping out of the skins. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cheese over the top of each potato. Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet and return to the oven for two to three minutes to melt the cheese. Serves four.

Cost per serving (1 filled potato): 59 cents

Per serving: 33g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 20g protein; 18g fat; 351 calories.

Carrot and Potato Soup
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
15-ounce can stewed tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:
In a large (4-qt) pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Saut for three minutes or until the onion is soft and clear, stirring frequently.

Add in the water, broth, carrots, potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Remove soup from heat and let it cool slightly. Pour into a blender or food processor. Add to blender the buttermilk, ginger and horseradish. Blend until creamy.

Add in the tomatoes. Blend for very short bursts (three seconds each.) Use the "pulse" feature on your blender if you have one to blend the tomatoes in without removing the chunks of tomatoes completely.

If desired, serve with a teaspoon of sour cream in the center of each soup bowl. Serves four. Note: The carrot can be replaced by an equal amount of pumpkin or butternut squash flesh.

Cost per serving (2 cups): 66 cents

Per serving: 30g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 10g protein; 7g fat; 206 calories

Fruit Salad
Ingredients:
8 ounce lemon-flavored yogurt
2 bananas, sliced
8-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
2 green apples, diced (not peeled)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl combine the yogurt with the vanilla and nutmeg. Add the fruit and toss. Serve immediately. Serves six.

Note: If there are leftovers that need to be used up, put the mix in a blender and make a smoothie.

Cost per serving (1 cup): 35 cents

Per serving: 16g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 2g protein; 2g fat; 80 calories

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