My favorite poor man's ingredient is a hambone. Ham's go on sale periodically, and in some cases you can get your family members or friends to save you the bone.
I put the bone in the crock pot with some water and chopped onions and cook it over night, or all day, on the lowest cooking setting until everything falls apart. I strain it in a collander, and put the stock in jars and freeze it for use in soups, for cooking beans in, and making rice for fried rice.
Then i pick apart all the meat from the bones and yuck stuff. I shred it and save it in small portions for adding to potato soup, fried rice, home made pork and beans, hash, and all sorts of meals. If theres a lot of meat on the bone i'll chop up a few cups with some mayo and sweet relish for spreading on bread and crackers for lunches. And then i save a small amount of meat after its all said and done to sprinkle on our lunch salads.
So while a ham may be a 15+ dollar investment, i can feed us lunch, dinner snacks, and often add to breakfast for an entire week, and for weeks after with the stock and what falls off the left over bone.
As an added bonus I only by nautral cured hams, no nitrates, MSG or ugly stuff, but only when theyre on sale ;)
Forgot to mention that the fatty skin left on the bone is great for freezing in small chunks- the fat can be run along a hot pan or wok to grease it and give a nice flavor. Also, the gelatin that forms on the top of the stock if you cool it before freezing and be collected and used to flavor different baked dishes, like augratin potatoes and corn bread.
Golly I love a ham bone!