Are you sensing a theme yet? It's "soup." Even though it's 75 degrees here, I'm still craving winter foods. I guess it's that time of year.
Prep work for beef stew involved taking some frozen stew meat out of the freezer. (Stew beef, bought in bulk at Sam's Club and broken down into roughly 3/4 lb pkgs for easy freezing.) Standard soup procedure, I threw an onion and some garlic in bacon fat and let that cook down. Then I added the thawed beef and let that sear a little while I added seasonings (BBQ rub, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne, dried red pepper flakes, cumin, etc.). Add one big can of tomatoes and some broth. I also added about 3/4 cup of dried mushrooms, reconstituted in some Long Island red wine (I threw the wine in, as well). Let cook maybe twenty minutes. Add about three handfuls of frozen peas and half a box of orzo. When the orzo is done, so is the soup!
I could also have added carrots and celery to the first step, but I didn't have any. They're nice additions to soup if you have them on hand, but if not, I usually find the soups don't suffer.
Cost: the beef was $2.99 a pound, and I probably used about a pound. So $3 for the meat, another $1 or so for the big can of tomatoes, let's say fifty cents for the onion, garlic, peas and seasoning, half a box of orzo would be about 75 cents, and let's say another $2 for the dried mushrooms and wine. Roughly $7 total, which is one of the more expensive soups I make, but it also made six servings. A little over a $1 per serving.