I was about to post a comment on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog about frugal eating. I thought of cabbage. Cabbage is an incredibly inexpensive vegetable. You get a LOT of food for a little money. It is high in vitamins, fills you up and is low in calories. These are cool graphs describing its nutrition. My mother-in-law got ulcer relief by drinking cabbage juice made with a juicer.
It has been a staple in the diet of many cuisines. I didn't grow up eating all that much of it, considering my mother was raised Mennonite. The only dishes I remember are borscht and cabbage rolls. She loves sauerkraut but we never ate it. I like it a little bit as a garnish like pickles. Cabbage is great in salads. Kalyn's Kitchen has great Thai cabbage salads and coleslaws. Cabbage is surprisingly good sauteed with bacon. Many Chinese dishes contain stir-fried cabbage.
I threw together this borscht recipe from memory. I am totally guessing at the amounts of things. That's how I cook :) This recipe is intended for a 6-8 quart dutch oven pot. I only know how to make an enormous stockpot of this soup. When I make soup I tend to just keep adding and switching to a bigger pot. This is the kind of borscht eaten in summer because most of these ingredients are available then. It is also known as Ukrainian borscht.
beef stock or water
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
1 large beet, peeled and chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional for low-carbers)
1 pound beef stew meat, diced (cooked or uncooked)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 can tomato paste
salt, pepper, sugar
This can be made with uncooked meat, added in the beginning or with cooked meat added with the cabbage. Pork or chicken could be substituted for beef. Other root vegetables like turnips could be included in this recipe.
Put 1 tablespoon salt, carrots, onion, beets, potatoes, (raw meat) into a dutch oven with 1 quart of water or stock. Cook on medium heat until vegetables are soft and meat is cooked. Add (cooked meat), green pepper, cabbage, fresh dill, tomato paste. Add water/stock to fill the pot if more is needed. After cabbage is soft, taste soup to adjust seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes 1-2 teaspoons of sugar balance the flavors.
Serve borscht with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. The freezes well except the potatoes get a little weird.