Frugal Foods: Cheap Eats, Thrifty Menus, Cost Cutting Cooking Tips

Frugal Foods...thrifty cooking, budget menus, cheap eats, money saving kitchen tips, and help for cutting your grocery bill. Follow along with our everyday eating as we share how we eat well for less.

May 15, 2020

Scrambled Hamburger with Broccoli Cauliflower

I made a quick, easy, and economical lunch today, by combining a few simple ingredients we had on hand in the house.

Continue reading "Scrambled Hamburger with Broccoli Cauliflower"

May 14, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Frugal Foods from Baked Sales: Sometimes it makes more sense to buy something already made than it does to make it yourself. Case in point are the baked goods from fund raiser bake sales.

May 13, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Extra zucchini? Dry them for snacks. Wash zucchini or other summer squash. Slice thinly and spread out on your dehydrator trays. We dry them overnight, with the dehydrator set on a low setting. Sometimes, we dry them until they are leathery and chewy. Other times, we dry them until crispy and crunchy. We eat them as a low salt, healthy alternative to potato chips and other store-bought salty snacks. You can dry sweet peas, green beans, bell peppers, and assorted other vegetables for snacking, too.

May 12, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Sweet potatoes. I think of them as a fall vegetable, but the grocery store here had them on sale earlier. They were a manager’s special, priced for clearance. I’m talking whole sweet potatoes from the produce department, not the canned kind. At a dollar a bag, we bought several bags full. Some of them were perfect, and I saved them for baking. But some were rather odd, uneven shapes, and a few were starting to shrivel at the end. I tossed all of these less than perfect ones into my electric pressure cooker and steamed them. When they were done and cool, the skins slipped right off. I packaged the cooked sweet potato meat into Tupperware containers and froze it. It is now ready to use in casseroles, stews, and pies, or to heat and serve with a pat of butter and a shake of cinnamon.

May 11, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Big Savings Buying Fruit on Sale: How much can you really save by waiting for fresh fruit to go on sale before you buy it? We bought sweet, dark cherries on sale. The regular price rang up at over $14. The adjusted to the sale price, they were only about $5.00 That's $9.00 savings on only one item.

May 10, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Buy shredded cheese in large bags, if it is cheaper per ounce than the small bags. Check restaurant supply places, as well as warehouse grocers, for cheaper prices. Repackage in quart size zipper-top plastic bags and freeze them. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the smaller bags, to help prevent freezer burn.

May 09, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Parmesan cheese can take a ho-hum entree or side-dish up a level. A generous sprinkle amps the eye appeal—and flavor--of leftover casseroles, salads, soups. or vegetable dishes. It only takes a little, so even using fresh Parmesan, it is pretty frugal. But, for convenience sake, we usually use the dried Parm that comes in a green shaker-top canister. By the way, some of that in the shaker cannisters is real, 100 percent cheese. But, some of the shaker cannisters have a Parmesan cheese topping that also works fine.

May 08, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

You know how fast food hamburgers feature a special sauce? Your sandwiches at home can do the same thing. It’s easy. It’s thrifty—downright cheap. A spicy-sweet sauce, with a bit of tang graced today’s pork loin sandwiches. It made them moist and delicious! I started with about a tablespoon of hot pepper jelly that was left in the jar. To that, I added about a teaspoon of plain yellow mustard, a tablespoon of mayo, and a tablespoon of steak sauce—those are guestimates, not actual measurements. I stirred it all together, and slathered it on the bread.

May 07, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

You can sometimes get extra points on your grocery store loyalty card by doing the survey. Look on the bottom of your receipts. The grocery store here offers 50 bonus points when we do the survey—sometimes! We have to check each receipt, as some times the offer is there, and sometimes it is not.

May 06, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

To me, breakfast is my most important meal. It's often the meal you play a game on. I make sure I have oatmeal, milk, and fruit. It's the fuel you use to hopefully do your best, so eating right is a big part of being a professional athlete. I wish I paid more attention to it earlier in my life. ~ Andrew Luck

May 05, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will. ~ Robert Frost

May 04, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Sweet deal! We save on honey by buying a large container. I then refill a small bottle that we have. It cuts the price per ounce of the honey by a considerable amount. I have not found a consistently best place to buy honey. We have gotten it online, at the regular grocery store, and at farmers markets.

May 03, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

We’ve found the secret to making homemade bread light and fluffy! Homemade bread is so much less expensive than store bought bread. (The exception is if we are buying it from a thrift or day-old bakery.) But, sometimes, homemade bread just doesn’t come out as light and airy as we like. If we are making rye bread or corn flour bread, it is especially hard to get a loaf to raise high. But, there’s a simple cure for heavy loaves! Gluten. In the flour aisle at the grocery store, you should be able to find little boxes of gluten. We paid about a dollar for a box that has enough for many loaves of bread. Adding a teaspoon or so to a loaf of bread makes a huge difference in the texture.

May 02, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Flip through cooking magazines as a reminder that most foods can be combined. And, as a reminder that dishes don’t need to include traditional ingredients. I just saw a recipe for a slow cooked, soupy concoction with turkey, lima beans, and sweet potatoes—that they called “chili.” That’s quite a stretch from the spicy stew with ground beef, red beans, and tomatoes that comes to mind when I think of “chili.”

May 01, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

When there is a problem at the grocery store, politely let them know. The cashier may be able to correct it. If not, the person working the customer service counter can likely help. Another option is fill out the customer survey mentioned on the bottom of many grocery store receipts. Or, just contact the store manager by email or phone.

Apr 30, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

When I cook pasta, I cook a large batch. It is then ready to have for salads, to use as a side dish, to add to soup, or to turn into a main dish. I do the same thing with white rice and brown rice.

Apr 29, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

When ground beef is on sale for a reasonable price, we buy a large package. I cook up the entire thing into sloppy Joes. I then freeze it in Tupperware containers. Besides using it for sloppy Joes—barbeques, as we called them when I was a kid—that mix is good for all sorts of things: tacos, spaghetti, chile, burritos, stuffed peppers, goulash, Spanish rice, nachos, etc.

Apr 28, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons” ~ Alfred E. Newman

Apr 27, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Use digital coupons. No smartphone required—at least not for the stores we’ve used. You do need to register on the store’s website or get a loyalty card. The store’s website shows coupons—often hundreds. You click on each one that you want to add to your card. At checkout, the coupon is automatically applied. If you want to do the whole smartphone app thing, that’s usually an option.

Apr 26, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

There are always new thrifty things to learn and more frugal ways to do things. I recently found out that cauliflower leaves are good to eat. Cook them with the rest of the cauliflower. They are especially good roasted! Or, save them to add to soup or a vegetable stir fry.

Apr 25, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces. ~ Judith Viorst

Apr 24, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive. ~ Wallace Irwin

Apr 23, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise ~ Henry David Thoreau

Apr 22, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Go to the farmers market and buy food there. You'll get something that's delicious. It's discouraging that this seems like such an elitist thing. It's not. ~ Alice Waters

Apr 21, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

As for butter vs. margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~ Joan Gussow

Apr 20, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

What’s faster than fast food, and frugal, too? Pressure cooker one-pot meals. A cup of liquid, a cup of rice, and whatever vegetables and/or cooked meat are handy, plus some spices go into my electric pressure cooker. I push the rice button, and let it do its thing. A half hour later, I have a hot meal, ready to eat. I don’t have to watch it, or worry about it – during that cook time, I can be relaxing or getting done something else that I need to do. And, unlike getting meals at fast food restaurants, there’s no going out to get it, no waiting in line, no wrong orders, and no cold food by the time I get home. What’s more, I can limit the salt.

Apr 19, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Turn left over pasta into a thrifty main dish casserole by adding leftover protein and vegetables. Bind it together with some sort of sauce. Season to taste. A recent creation was spaghetti, Italian sausage crumbles, and green beans. For the sauce, I used shredded mozzarella cheese and sour cream. I seasoned with garlic powder, black pepper, and Italian herbs.

Apr 18, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Thrifty Ground Beef: Get the family pack of ground beef. Fry up hamburgers patties one night for dinner. Fry the rest of the burger, breaking it up into pieces as you do. You can keep clean-up to a minimum by using the same pan for both. The scrambled beef is good to use casseroles, tacos, chili, etc.

Apr 17, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Chicken legs are cheap! Here’s how I fixed a large package of them, with great success. I put the frozen drumsticks in my electric pressure cooker. Next went in one cup of water. I then generously sprinkled them with poultry seasoning. I set it to cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. It did a natural release and sat for about half an hour. After they cooled, I removed the meat from the drumsticks. That gave me a container of picked chicken meat to use for sandwiches, casseroles, or other dishes. The bones, skin, and cartilage went back in to the pressure cooker. I covered them with water, and again cooked on high pressure for 30 minutes. So, in addition to the boneless, skinless pieces of chicken, I now have rich, flavorful chicken stock.

Apr 16, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Canned food to the rescue, again. The gnocchi failed. Big time. Not sure what went wrong, but I ended up with a pan of paste. I’ve made them before—well, not really made, but cooked the packaged kind—and they turned our great. They’re usually a quick to fix, inexpensive side dish. This flop could have been a lunch disaster. But, because we keep an assortment of canned foods on hand, it wasn’t a big deal. I opened a can of potatoes to go with the meat and vegetables we were having for dinner, and all was good.

Apr 15, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

At a recent bake sale, I bought a loaf of date nut bread for $1.75. There's no way I could have purchased the ingredients for that price. Coupled with milk, it made a fine and frugal breakfast for us. You do need to watch, because at some sales, the prices are outrageously high. Many times, though, you can get some frugal deals.

Apr 14, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Apple sauce! Today, I get to delight in the sweet, spicy aroma of slow simmering apple sauce. Last week, the Manager’s Special in the produce department was a bag of apples for 99 cents. They were smooth, shiny, crisp, Gala apples. We loaded several bags full into our shopping cart. My husband and I looked at each other, and without saying a word, added several more. We’ve been eating these apples raw every day for nearly week. But, they are so big, that we often just share one. I noticed this morning that a few of them are losing their shine. So, it’s time to make apple sauce. I opt for simple. I wash, core, and roughly chop the apples, and put them into my slow cooker. I add some spices and about a cup of water, and let them slowly cook all day. I had a homemade spice mix with cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves that I used today. If that wouldn’t have been handy, I’d have just poured in some cinnamon. This will be so tasty, and so much cheaper than buying cans, cups, or jars of apple sauce.

Apr 13, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Sun Tea! Make iced tea easy and cheap. Fill a half gallon jar with water and add four tea bags. Set it outside for a few hours, preferably in the sun. Chill or serve over ice. If you are serving over ice, you may want to add another tea bag to the jar, as the ice will dilute it. Use generic or store brand tea bags, and this costs just a few pennies per jar. If you like if flavored, you can add lemon or lime juice, a little flavoring extract or syrup, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Apr 12, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Sour grapes! They looked so plump and pretty, but, oh, those green grapes were sour. I saved them by adding them to a fruit salad. Mixed in with bites of sweet, fresh pineapple and chunks of crisp apple, the grapes were fine. I didn’t use a sauce or dressing on the salad. It was simply the fresh fruit stirred together and chilled. What’s more, it made a colorful—red, green, and yellow--side dish to the sandwiches we had for lunch.

Apr 11, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Smorgasbords are a thrifty option, especially if eaten at home. I don’t mean going to the buffet and getting an order to go. I mean serving a smorgasbord of leftovers. We pick and choose, depending on our personal preferences, from what’s set out for the meal.

Apr 10, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Save your coffee cans. They can be used for all sorts of things, especially the metal and plastic ones. But, save one for coffee. Bricks of ground coffee are sometimes less expensive than ground coffee that comes in cans or canisters. An easy way to deal with an open brick is to pour it into a coffee can. Also, we sometimes find dented cans of coffee, which are sealed and fine until opened. But, the plastic cover may be cracked or the can may be bent in a way that doesn’t allow the lid to fit correctly. Again, just transfer that coffee into one of those saved cans.

Apr 09, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Save your coffee cans. They can be used for all sorts of things, especially the metal and plastic ones. But, save one for coffee. Bricks of ground coffee are sometimes less expensive than ground coffee that comes in cans or canisters. An easy way to deal with an open brick is to pour it into a coffee can. Also, we sometimes find dented cans of coffee, which are sealed and fine until opened. But, the plastic cover may be cracked or the can may be bent in a way that doesn’t allow the lid to fit correctly. Again, just transfer that coffee into one of those saved cans.

Apr 08, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Save Money When Buying Meat: Split up "Family Size" or "Economy Size" packages of meat for different uses. Buy the large, family packs of pork chops. Most stores put the pretty ones on top and the not-so-pretty ones underneath. Use those top ones to fry and have with a pork chop dinner. Cook the others in a slow cooker with BBQ sauce or with sauerkraut as you would pork hocks. Or, just cook them and then take the bones and fat out, leaving nice little pieces of great pork that you can use in chile verde, cook with rice, add to casseroles or baked beans, etc.

Apr 07, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Recrisp potato chips, tortilla chips, corn chips, crackers, pretzels, and similar snacks in the microwave. Spread about two cups of chips onto a plate or shallow dish. Microwave for about one minute. Let them cool for a couple minutes before eating. Microwaves differ a lot, so check the time after about 30 seconds to make sure they aren’t starting to burn. If your microwave doesn’t have a rotating plate, when you check them at 30 seconds, give the dish half a turn.

Apr 06, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Prep your vegetables for the week with a stir fry pan at hand! I clean and cut celery, carrots, bell peppers, and other vegetables for eating as raw snacks. The not-so-pretty pieces go into the frying pan for a vegetable stir fry. There’s nothing wrong with these vegetables. What I’m talking about are the parts that just don’t cut into nice sticks, strips, or slices. The celery leaves. The zucchini ends. That extra curved part of the bell pepper. The green onion tops. They make a great stir fry. And, they leave me with neat containers of veggies ready for snacking or quick side dishes for the week.

Apr 05, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food. ~ Hippocrates

Apr 04, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Prep peppers. When I buy fresh peppers, I like to clean them and get them ready for use right away. With mild peppers, such as bells, I quarter them and remove the stem, seeds, and white pith. Then, I cut a slice off the top and the bottom. Those irregular shaped top and bottom pieces go into stir fries, soups, and other cooked dishes. The remaining large slabs of pepper get sliced into neat strips, which we eat raw at meals and as snacks. I do the same with jalapenos. I like to prep hotter peppers in advance, too, but those we don’t eat raw!

Apr 03, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Leftover pork loin is good for all sorts of quick meals. Slice, cube, or shred it. It’s excellent for making burritos and BBQ pork sandwiches. It makes a great addition to quiche, frittatas, and egg bakes. Add it to spaghetti or rice casseroles. Make a pork and stuffing main dish with it, or add to tamale pie.

Apr 02, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. ~ Doug Larson

Apr 01, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Leftover meatloaf? Cut it into smallish chunks. Add it to gravy -- either homemade or canned. Beef, mushroom, and brown gravy all work well. So does canned cream of mushroom soup, thinned to gravy consistency. Serve over potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

Mar 31, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

I'm frugal. I'm not a very acquisitive woman. I never waste food. If you prepare your own food, you engage with the world, it tastes alive. It tastes good. ~ Vivienne Westwood

Mar 30, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Leftover baked beans? Mash and season to make a for dip for crackers or chips or vegetables. Or, heat and mix with melted cheese or cheese sauce for a nacho dip.

Mar 29, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it ~ Julia Child

Mar 28, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Kroger grocery stores sometimes have great deals on reduced price produce. There’s usually a special stand at the end of an aisle in the produce department. They have special red mesh bags for this, each bag priced the same amount. Currently, it’s 99 cents a bag. It doesn’t matter if the bag has a few apples or is stuffed with hot pepper—it’s all the same price per bag. They’ll sometimes have mixed bags, for example last week the bag had nine yellow squash and an eggplant.

See what's new on Frugal Foods.