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Easy meals for a frugal chef

September 13, 2008

I stumbled upon and interesting article series at  The first step in spending less on groceries is planning, but planning takes effort, time and thought.  Enter Single Servings, a monthly column which includes a weekly grocery list, recipes, and ideas on how to prep on Sunday to set yourself up for an easy week of good meals.  I haven’t actually followed any of these plans, and I generally only wanted to try a couple of the meals suggested rather than the whole plan… but there are some good ideas.  It isn’t frugal focused, but it is plan focused, which can help with frugality. 

Anyway, here are some other easy, budget friendly recipes I’ve tried lately.  I’m not a picky eater, and will eat anything that isn’t “boring”.  All of these are easy enough for any beginner cook.

1. Mostacioli – easy basic pasta recipe.  I like it better with mushrooms (trader joe’s has cremini’s for about $2 for a nice sized bag), and you can add whatever else you like.  Here’s a similar recipe I tried that adds beans.  I didn’t think it was as good, but it does add protein.
2.  African Peanut Soup – I was skeptical of all the positive reviews, but made it anyway.  It was actually really good!  It takes a little while to make, but most of the time is just simmering, so it is pretty easy.  I halved it, but it was so good I’m making the other half tomorrow!
3.  Beans and Rice – Sounds boring, and I was scared of this just because “beans and rice” is the typical cheap-o food.  But I liked this as well, and is easy to bring for lunch.  There are many versions, basically, cook rice, add beans and whatever seasoning you like.  This is a good one to make in bulk.
4.  Clam linguine – A slightly fancier version of standard pasta.  Clams aren’t too expensive.
5.  Black bean burritos – Good and easy (add rice for extra bulk), but hard to figure out how to take to work.  I use jarred jalepenos, which aren’t as good, but are much cheaper and easier to store (won’t go bad).
6.  Homemade pizza – which can be a little more expensive to make.  However, cheese was on sale for $2 (instead of close to $4), pepperonis were on sale, and pizza sauce is under $2 at TJ’s.  It would be better if I had a pizza stone, but seriously, it was fine without one.
7.  Hotdish:  I had to include this, as a tribute to my midwestern roots.  Any casserole recipe (we call it hotdish) can feed you for days, are generally cheap and easy.  Says wikipedia, “
Hotdishes are filling, convenient, easy to make, and well-suited for family reunions, church suppers, and potlucks.”    I don’t actually make these often, but I did grow up on them.
8.  Stir fry and fried rice, which I have no recipe for, but are pretty simple.

The less I plan, the more likely we are to pick up something frozen meals at Trader Joe’s.  Or to eat cereal for dinner, college style.  Or ice cream.  🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2008 5:00 pm

    I do this. I get out my cooking books and look in my pantry and plan the week’s dinner. As there are only the 2 of us, I try to plan our meals so that we don’t waste any food (most recipes are for 4). One of the perks of it is that you don’t have the whole “what will we have for dinner tonight” debate. Because you’ve planned your week in advance you already know what you’re having. The last thing I want to do is come home from work and use my brain to make dinner choices.

  2. Bonnie permalink
    October 2, 2008 1:26 pm

    LOL at mostacioli–that mainstay of all St. Louis-area weddings. 🙂 I had homemade pizza for dinner last night, and I’ll be having black beans and brown rice for dinner. One trick: drizzle Newman’s Own dressing (the basic vinaigrette) over the cooked rice. YUM!

  3. December 2, 2008 9:39 pm

    Great Info! I am always looking for new ideas when it comes to feeding my big family. We all need resources and your have great information here. Thanks!


  1. This Week In Review… | Healthy Dinner Recipes

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