This weekend I had a phone call from my sister, Victoria (you may have seen her posting recently) also known affectionately by the kiddos as Aunt “Bick“. She is the one person in the family who I have fully converted to my frugal ways! (not that anyone is a spendthrift-she is just my “little grasshopper”)
She is recently returned from a 1 year tour of duty in Iraq with her Army Reserve Unit, and is going to spend a few months staying at home full time (no kids) and working on her writing career. She and her husband have been spending the weekend on a frank discussion of finances (which makes me so proud) and she had called me for advice on frugal meals. To quote her “I used to know all this, but after a year away I’m having a hard time thinking of some good frugal meals”.
I thought that we could all help her out! After all I have wonderful friends and readers with really great ideas. Here are some of my own favorite frugal meals, with links where appropriate. Please feel free to add on more ideas in the comments-and if you feel moved to write a post of your own I will give you plenty of link love here by adding in a link to your article on the bottom.
Note: Assumptions are that meat is bought on sale and used in moderate portions.
Note: Remember that starches always stretch out a meal. Potatoes, rice, and breads (biscuits are my favorite-yum) add a lot of bulk to a meal.
Note: Veggies in season are much cheaper than buying out of season veggies. Bick is in Alabama, so I am assuming that the early gardening season is well underway there-salad greens etc are probably not that expensive right now.
Biscuits and Gravy-Homemade biscuits, homemade gravy or little packets for gravy, 1 cup or so of chicken. Alternately use a cookbook and make a basic white sauce, add browned/boiled ground beef and some powdered beef bullion, salt pepper. (This particular article explains how to make just about any kind of gravy you could want!)
Fried Rice-Usually can be made from leftovers of all sorts of “widowed” veggies in the fridge.
Curry-Uses up leftovers, can be bulked up with whatever veggies or beans you have on hand, and only requires the addition of those little cubes from the store. (if I knew how to do the spices by themselves it would be even cheaper. I buy a jar of cilantro mild curry paste every couple of months for about $2 and probably get about 5 or 6 batches of curry out of it.)
Baked Beans-Homemade from dried beans done in the crockpot are cheap and easy. Add on homemade biscuits and a salad and you are golden. Baked Beans also freeze very well, so one can make a huge crockpot full and then freeze in baggies.
Beans and Rice-Again, using dried beans makes this even less expensive, and you can use either homemade biscuits or homemade cornbread. Using sausage is of course the yummiest, but you can always use just a link or two for flavor, or use ground beef, or leave it out!
Homemade Pizza-Yummy. Frugal. More healthy than the delivery stuff, better tasting than the cheap cardboard ones you buy in the freezer section. You can make crusts ahead and freeze them for future use, and with the addition of a bread machine even EASY. Need I say more?
Spaghetti-an oldie but goodie. You can add whatever is on sale-browned ground beef, leftover shredded chicken, pork or beef (from another meal of course!) meatballs you made ahead and froze. Even TVP. Or you can leave it plain. Throw in a couple of chicken wings or thighs while it’s cooking and you can call it Chicken Cachitorri (or however you spell it-I’m so far off even spell check can’t help me)
Spaghetti Pie-can be made with leftover spaghetti. Personally I like to mix the spaghetti with the egg, butter, parm. cheese, press it into the pie plate, and then bake it on it’s own for a bit so it forms more of a “Crust”. Then I layer the other stuff on top and cook again. To me that gives it a different flavor than other pasta dishes.
Burritos/Quesedillas/tacos-If you fill with mostly beans and go light on the cheese and meat they can be very frugal. Some people even make their own tortillas, but I haven’t gotten around to trying that yet.
Breakfast for Dinner-Scrambled eggs, omelets, pancakes and sausage or bacon, french toast. Biscuits and sausage gravy. All of these are pretty darn inexpensive and a yummy treat-especially if you don’t ever actually make these things for breakfast.
OK, I’m sure there are tons more ideas that just haven’t popped into my head yet. Let’s all help Bick out and post some more! Remember, if you decided to write about some more ideas, just post a comment and I’ll give you some link love right here at the bottom of the article.