My favorite Frugal Recipes for your Family

Here are some of my favorite frugal recipes that make use of lower-cost ingredients such as canned tuna, beans, potatoes, and less expensive cuts of beef.




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Cooking with Vegetables
  • Potato soup A hearty filling soup; a favorite frugal recipe at our house. In a large saucepan melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add 1 stalk celery, sliced and 1 clove garlic, minced and cook until tender - about 5 minutes. Stir in 4 cups chicken broth, 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed, and 2 tsp. dill. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. With a potato masher or the back of a spoon, lightly mash about half of the potatoes in the broth.
    - In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, 1 Tbsp. flour, salt and pepper. Stir into potato mixture; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Makes 4 -6 main dish servings. (Note: If you like cheesy potato soup, you can stir some shredded cheese into the soup before serving.) 


  • Chicken and black bean tacos This chicken taco recipe uses canned black beans to stretch one chicken breast half into 6 servings! Can't beat that for a low cost meal!

  • Bean & cheese burritos These are easy to make and very inexpensive. You probably have the ingredients already on hand!

  • Vegetarian chili This nutritious chili uses vegetable juice as a base. You will never miss the meat!

  • Four-bean enchiladas This is one of my most popular frugal recipes - these tasty enchiladas cost only about $1. per serving to make and are hearty and nutritious!

  • More vegetarian recipes

  • Spinach & lentil soup Rinse and drain 1 cup dry lentils. In a large saucepan combine lentils, 5 cups water, 1 medium chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup sliced carrot, 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel, and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
    - Add 1 cup cubed fully cooked ham and cook another 15 minutes. Stir in 2 cups fresh spinach until wilted and serve. Makes 4 - 6 main dish servings.

  • Lemony flank steak Two frugal recipes in one! Use leftovers for the stir-fry recipe below.
    Using a 1 1/2 pound flank steak or boneless beef sirloin steak, score the meat by making shallow cuts at 1-inch intervals diagonally across the steak in a diamond pattern; repeat on the other side. Place the meat in a plastic bag in a shallow dish.
    - Make marinade by stirring together 1 tsp. lemon peel, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. oregano, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Pour marinade over meat, seal bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
    - Drain meat, reserving marinade. Grill steak on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 12 to 14 minutes for medium doneness, turning once during cooking and brushing occasionally with the marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Wrap and refrigerate or freeze half of the steak for another meal (see Beef & Noodle Stir Fry below). To serve remaining steak, thinly slice across the grain. Makes 2 meals, 3 servings each.

  • Beef & noodle stir-fry (Use the grilled flank steak from recipe above) Cook 4 oz. fettuccine according to package directions; set aside.
    - Mix together 1 cup beef broth, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1 tsp. grated ginger root and a dash of pepper. Set aside.
    - In a large nonstick skillet heat 1/2 tsp. sesame oil until hot. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes: 1 medium summer squash, sliced, 1 small green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces, 1/4 cup sliced green onion, and 1 clove garlic, minced. Remove vegetables from skillet.
    - Add 1/2 tsp. sesame oil to skillet and stir-fry meat until heated through. Push meat to the sides of the pan. Stir the soy sauce mixture and add to the center of the pan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cooked pasta, vegetables and 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to coat with sauce. Cook and stir until heated through. Makes 3 or 4 main dish servings.

  • Salmon or tuna cakes This is a frugal recipe that I have been using for years!
    Combine 1 7 1/2 oz. can of salmon or tuna, drained, with 1/3 cup saltine crackers, crushed (about 5 saltines), 1 beaten egg, 1 Tbsp. dry minced onion, 2 Tbsp. milk, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Shape into 4 flat patties. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet and cook the patties on both sides until golden brown.



Help with stretching your meat budget:

Marinate tougher (and less expensive) cuts of meat to make them tender. Or use a slow cooker to make the meat fall off the bone. If you can't afford lean ground beef, drain the fat off regular ground beef after cooking and then put it in a strainer and rinse it.

To stretch your meat supply and make a healthier meal, bulk up your burger patties with mashed-up kidney beans, shredded zucchini, or whole-grain rice.



More frugal crock pot meals : All of these great frugal recipes for the crock pot are quick and easy to make and cost less than $2. per serving!


  • Beef and bean chili Nothing beats hearty chili on a cool evening - except maybe having it ready and waiting when you get home from work!

  • Crock pot lasagne recipe The easiest way to make lasagna! Instead of using all afternoon and every pot in the kitchen, you just assemble this lasagna in the crock pot and come home to a delicious meal!

  • Lentil soup A healthy and money-saving soup that takes very little preparation time and will be ready for dinner when you are!

  • Crockpot beef stroganoff An economical version of an elegant dish! It is made with inexpensive stew meat and is tender from simmering all day in the slow cooker.


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