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.

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.

Mar 27, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

I don’t like gourmet cooking or “this” cooking or “that” cooking. I like good cooking” ~ James Beard

Mar 26, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

I try to keep hard boiled eggs, peeled and ready to eat, in the fridge. They are perfect for those mornings we need a quick breakfast. With a piece of toast or a granola bar, a piece of fresh fruit, and a cup of milk, a complete breakfast is on the table in a jiff. And, if we are extremely rushed, they can be eaten on the go.

Mar 25, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Food is not just eating energy. It's an experience. ~ Guy Fieri

Mar 24, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Franks to the rescue! Keep a package of wieners handy in the freezer. They can fill in for breakfast sausage, a quick snack, or meat with a meal. While not the best nutritionally, they get points for being cheap, easy, quick to fix, versatile, keep well in fridge or freezer, and most people like them.

Mar 23, 2020

Frugal Foods Quote of the Day

Food is not about impressing people, it’s about making them feel comfortable. ~ Ina Garten

Feb 07, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Pot Roast Beef and Vegetable Soup: When we make a beef pot roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes, the last of it goes into making a batch of soup. I dice up whatever meat and veggies are left, and put it in the slow cooker, along with whatever juices accumulated while cooking it. Then, I add additional vegetables and seasonings to fill out the soup, and let it simmer.

Feb 06, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Morning Mix Cereal: "Morning Mix" -- another name for corn flakes, o's of oats, cinnamon flavored squares, and a few granola clusters all dumped into a large glass jar when the boxes are close to empty. Of course, you can use whatever dry cereals you have. We keep a jar going all the time, adding to it whenever we get close to finishing the box or bag of cereal. When the jar starts to get full, we eat this custom mix instead of opening a new package.

Feb 05, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Mix cultures and call it fusion! Here’s an example from a recent lunch: Indian rice, Chinese General Tso’s chicken, and Honduran pastelitos. The chicken and pastelitos were leftovers from lunches out the previous days. The rice, I cooked from scratch. Not the most frugal way to create a meal, but certainly thriftier than not using those restaurant leftovers.

Feb 04, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Menu planning—it’s something I usually don’t do. However, when I have an excess of perishables, menu plans help me prevent waste. Once in a while I find myself with lots of bread products. Other times, it’s produce. Sometimes, it’s just an accumulation of things gathering in the refrigerator. Writing out menus helps me prioritize what I need to use first.

Feb 03, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Make homemade bread! We’ve done the math, and it costs us less than 30 cents a loaf! That’s for a basic, all-purpose loaf of bread that is excellent for sandwiches, toast, or just eating plain with a little butter. It’s quick and easy to make using a bread machine that we bought at a thrift store for $1.00.

Feb 02, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Leftover meatloaf? Crumble it into bite size pieces. Add it to pasta sauce and serve over spaghetti or other pasta. Add in leftover vegetables, too.

Feb 01, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Leftover baked beans? Add to chile con carne, use for fillings in enchiladas, burritos, and tacos, add to casseroles, or add to soups. You can also add them to sloppy joe or barbecue sandwich meat.

Jan 31, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Label Your Frozen Foods: Label the containers you put into your freezer with the date and contents. I use a white board erasable marker. It washes off when I wash the container.

Jan 30, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

It takes a lot longer to cook rice casserole in the Crock Pot Express electric pressure cooker than it does to cook plain rice. Plain rice, I simply hit the Rice button, which is 12 minutes on low pressure. For a rice, chicken, and tomatoes casserole, I upped it to 15 minutes—and the rice was still hard. (I started with cooked chicken, so raw chicken wasn’t an issue.) The Stew button gives a much better result, cooking it on high pressure for about 25 minutes.

Jan 29, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Is it cheaper to buy already made chip dip or to make it yourself? If you buy the large, economy size carton of sour cream, and add in some chopped veggies or seasonings that you already have on hand, it can be cheaper to make your own. However, if you are buying expensive powdered dip mixes to use, it’s likely cheaper to buy the already made kind. Compare the price of store-bought dip with plain sour cream (or whatever you would use as the dip base), and the cost of any add-ins you’d use.

Jan 28, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

If you are making potato salad or macaroni salad, and run out of salad dressing, substitute tartar sauce. It has a lively, tangy flavor. It often already has dill weed, pickle relish, or minced pickles in it.

Jan 27, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

High quality protein. Cheap. Easy to make. Versatile to use for any meal. I’m talking about beans—pinto beans to be exact. I cook them up in large batches, usually in the slow cooker or the electric pressure cooker. I prefer to soak them, because it is supposed to make them easier to digest, but it is not necessary. I’ve been known to cook them just in plain water. Usually, though, I add onion, garlic, peppers, cumin, coriander, and bay leaf in some combination.

Jan 26, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Hang on to that pickle juice! The pickles are gone, but that doesn’t mean you should toss that jar of pickle liquid. Use it in all sorts of salads, as part of the salad dressing: coleslaw, potato salad, egg salad, chicken salad or tuna salad for sandwiches, pasta salad, vegetables salads, etc. We especially like the sweet tang that comes from sweet pickle juice, but I use the liquid from bread and butter pickles and dill pickles, too.

Jan 25, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Graciously accept and use gifts of food. We were recently gifted the makings for breakfast: pancake mix, butter, syrup, eggs, and milk—and even canned whipped cream for a special topping.

Jan 24, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Freeze extra milk. When we have freezer space, and milk is on sale, we buy extra. If the jugs are filled way to the top, we may open them and take out about a cup. But, most of the time, we just put the unopened gallon or half-gallon plastic jugs straight into the freezer. I try to give the jug an occasional shake during the thawing process. I’ve heard that milk can’t be frozen, but we’ve never had a problem with it.

Jan 23, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Eggs! One of the best frugal food around. High in protein. Inexpensive. Versatile. Easy to cook. I like to keep hard cooked eggs in the fridge for snacks and for making egg salad sandwiches. We also sometimes use the egg salad as a dip for chips or raw veggies.

Jan 22, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Add leftover beans to soup inexpensively up the protein content. Try this with minestrone, chili, or vegetable soups, or those with other beans in them.

Jan 21, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Easiest way I’ve found to make hard boiled eggs is to use my electric pressure cooker. Technically, they are hard cooked eggs or hard steamed eggs. Whatever you want to call them…. Doing them in the electric pressure cooker makes them easy to peel—I think that’s the main advantage. But, it is overall easy. I put a trivet in the electric pressure cooker, add the eggs, and add a cup of water. I cook them on high pressure for five minutes and let do a natural release for about 15 minutes.

Jan 20, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Dehydrate those extra veggies! We sometimes end up with a surplus of fresh vegetables. Freezing and canning them are two good ways to preserve them to enjoy later. But, I don’t always have the freezer space. And, I don’t always have the time to can them. So, we dehydrate them. It can be done in the oven at low temperatures. However, I find it worthwhile to have an electric dehydrator. We wash the vegetables, slice them, and spread them out in single layers on the dryer trays. It can then be a “set and forget” process for the next twelve or so hours.

Jan 19, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Custom blend your very own all-purpose seasoning! Instead of buying the expensive premade seasoning mixes, make them yourself. Use salt, if you want seasoning salt. Don’t use salt, if you want salt-free seasoning. Use your favorite herbs and spices that you already have on hand. And, if you have a seasoning that you don’t care for by itself, you may find it works well in a seasoning blend. Our custom blended all-purpose seasoning differs each time I make it. When I get close to the end of a jar of spices or herbs, I add them to the seasoning blend, making room for a new, replacement jar in the cabinet.

Jan 18, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Cook up a large batch of potatoes. Use them throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We slice or cube them to fry for breakfast, or grate for hash browns. They are the staple side dish with most any meat and vegetables meal. I also use them in soups, burrito fillings, and salads.

Jan 17, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Clean out your produce bins. The crisper drawer in the fridge, the potato bag, the fruit basket…wherever you store your produce, go through it. Check for anything that’s gone bad and get rid of it. A bad piece can cause all of it to go bad faster. Pull those pieces that are looking a bit wrinkly or overripe and use then soon. It’s a good day to make salad, soup, cooked fruit sauce, or a stir fry.

Jan 16, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Check out the smaller, local grocery stores! They can have surprisingly good deals. We find meats are oftentimes better at the smaller grocery store than the big supermarkets. They often have a good selection of regional or ethnic foods, as well. And, shopping at the local store is an experience unlike shopping the mega markets.

Jan 15, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Canned convenience food to the rescue! A change in work schedule meant my husband was home a half hour before I expected him home for lunch. So much for ham and vegetable stir fry I was planning to fix for lunch. Instead, I opened up canned ravioli. While the ravioli was heating in the microwave, I made some quick garlic toast. We most always have a basket of fresh fruit on the table, and that worked just fine for a side dish. With a mug of cold milk, we had a fast and frugal, reasonably healthy lunch. We keep some store brand canned convenience meals in the larder, for just such occasions. They are considerably cheaper than purchased frozen meals.

Jan 14, 2020

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Eating in courses isn’t just for fancy restaurants. It’s a great way to make sure the foods that need to be eaten first actually are eaten first. Hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, salads, and soups are great ways to serve the foods I want eaten first.

Dec 23, 2019

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day - Cheese!

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.

Dec 06, 2019

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.

Dec 05, 2019

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.

Dec 04, 2019

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

70. 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.

Dec 03, 2019

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.

Dec 03, 2019

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.

Dec 02, 2019

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.

Dec 01, 2019

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.

Nov 30, 2019

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Menu planning—it’s something I usually don’t do. However, when I have an excess of perishables, menu plans help me prevent waste. Once in a while I find myself with lots of bread products. Other times, it’s produce. Sometimes, it’s just an accumulation of things gathering in the refrigerator. Writing out menus helps me prioritize what I need to use first.

Nov 29, 2019

Frugal Foods Tip of the Day

Make homemade bread! We’ve done the math, and it costs us less than 30 cents a loaf! That’s for a basic, all-purpose loaf of bread that is excellent for sandwiches, toast, or just eating plain with a little butter. It’s quick and easy to make using a bread machine that we bought at a thrift store for $1.00.

Nov 28, 2019

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.

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