In the comments on yesterday’s post, readers were discussing the rise in grocery prices, and Jennifer had a good idea:
Kristen, it seems we are all hurting from rising grocery prices, so if you ever need an easy reader-led day, how about a best frugal recipe post? It will give us all new and inexpensive ideas on how to eat cheaper, but still eat. I have one that the ingredients are few – 4 required or 5 to kick it up a notch and 2 of them are salt and pepper!!
I think this is a lovely idea.
Of course, the highest food priority is always: Eat at home.
You can practically eat lobster tails at home for the cost of fast food, so if you are currently eating a lot of takeout, then your first order of business is to eat at home.
And since learning to switch from takeout to eating at home is challenging at first, I wouldn’t stress too much about making sure all your homemade meals are super cheap.
(Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good and all that.)
But if you are already good at cooking at home, and you want to level up by choosing more frugal recipes, then hopefully this post will be helpful for you!
I’m going to share a few ideas/links of my own, and then the comments are all yours.
I know chicken broth is not specifically a meal, but hear me out: it’s one of my favorite super-frugal ingredients, it’s got a variety of nutrients, it’s made basically from trash, and it can be used in so many different recipes.
Here’s how I make chicken broth that both looks and tastes delicious.
I use it to make chicken noodle soup.
I use it in my chicken and biscuits.
I use it in this sausage and orzo dish.
I use it in this ramen noodle bowl recipe.
And many, many more.
Main dish green salad + homemade bread
A green salad topped with some type of protein makes a healthy, inexpensive main dish.
Salads are really flexible; you can use whatever greens are cheap, you can add whatever veggies are cheap, you can use up odds and ends from the fridge, and you can use a variety of proteins (hard-boiled eggs, beans, cheese, meats, nuts, seeds).
A loaf of homemade bread on the side makes it feel indulgent, and homemade bread is seriously, seriously cheap.
I know not everyone is an experienced baker, so here are some bread ideas that are good for beginners:
- French bread (lots of newbies have tried this with success!)
- No-knead English muffin bread
- No-knead batter rolls
- Garlic breadsticks
And if you are a little bit experienced, you really should try these two:
If you can’t eat grains, of course, my bread-as-a-luxurious-side idea won’t work. But then again, if you don’t eat grains, you are probably already good at making non-grain-based did dishes. 😉
Alrighty! What’s your top frugal recipe?
Note: The meal where it’s usually hardest to cut costs is dinner, so if you can, submit a dinner recipe idea.
But if you have a really good one for another meal or for a snack and you’d rather do that, then go ahead. 🙂
You can type the ingredients in your comment, or you can share a link to an online version of your recipe.
Saturday 5th of February 2022
As a kid, my mom's frugal meal was a can of Chunky Beef Soup mixed with elbow macaroni. 1 can would then feed a family of 5. I don't remember sides, but likely a piece of white bread toasted with butter and garlic salt. We will often make "scalloped" potatoes and ham with leftover ham. Essentially sliced potatoes, layered with ham, onions and shredded cheddar cheese. We make a slurry of milk and flour for thickening, and pour it over, then bake until potatoes are tender. If we make a 9x13 pan, it lasts for days.
Friday 4th of February 2022
I always try to have a plan already in place for leftovers. If we have BBQ one night, we eat the leftover Cole slaw with fish the next day. I consider chicken and dumplin’s to be a great frugal dinner. I have a meat-loving family, and even though it has very little meat, they still gobble it up. I use: 6-8 cups homemade chicken broth Leftover chicken—just 3-4 oz For the dumplins: Self-rising flour Broth I use approximately a 2:1 mixture of SR flour to broth. You can use water or milk with the flour, but the broth gives it such good flavor Once mixed, roll out as thin as you can get it on a floured surface. I use my pizza cutter to cut bite-sized dumplins and drop into the hot, boiling broth. 1 at a time—don’t dump a bunch in at once. They will clump together and not cook well. Reduce heat to simmer and let the dumplins cook for 20-30 minutes. If the leftovers get too thick, they thin well with added water.
Friday 4th of February 2022
Oh my you folk have wonderful ideas and reminders! I had to leave partway through reading, as I was making dinner (Stirfry with the refrigerator dregs!) and also mixing up Lentil-Nut burgers from the moosewood cookbook. I had cooked the lentils yesterday so needed to get the rest sorted out - a lot of chopping but I double the recipe. Got that mixed and in the fridge after supper, but not formed yet - was a long day. I wanted to mention another site that I haven't seen listed here - many of their recipes are vegan, but don't let that put you off if you are a carnivore! many of their recipes that have become part of the family rotation. The site name is misleading, too - they do much more than baking....I get their newsletter once a week which prompts me to go wander the site - always fun for new ideas: https://minimalistbaker.com
Thursday 3rd of February 2022
Such a good topic, love all the suggestions. Two frugal recipes/tips that I haven’t seen mentioned: 1. I love a good salad and hate having greens go bad in the fridge before we can eat them - it burns up my frugal heart. I’ve found that romaine hearts are still a good price and they have a nice long shelf life, so we have been doing romaine salad with whatever other veg or protein we have on hand. We also make our own salad dressings, or stretch our favorite goddess dressing from a bottle by doing half bottled dressing, half oil and vinegar. 2. Snacks and lunches seem to be my frugal downfall. But having hummus and carrots (or chocolate hummus and apples!) around helps me avoid other packaged snacks or getting take-out, which are definitely more expensive. Since it’s winter, I also try to have clementines, tangerines or oranges around for snacks, desserts or salad toppings - a larger bag is still a good deal. When I’m feeling a need for comfort junk food, French onion dip (sour cream plus onion soup mix) with veggies, crackers or pretzels is another frugal snack option.
Thursday 3rd of February 2022
100 Dollars A Month’s creamy spiced lentils with rice: https://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/creamy-spiced-red-beans-and-lentils/
This was our dinner tonight, with roasted veggies on the side! Kids all loved it. :)
And yes to someone else’s suggestion to Google ingredients together that you have on hand!