Frugal Recipes

I don’t count basic pantry items in the cost of my recipes, such as the numerous spices I keep on hand. Since I buy items like this in bulk and use just a little each time, it would be near impossible to figure out how much the little I use is worth. Instead, I set aside a portion of my food budget each year for keeping items like this in stock, so to speak. Also, if something calls for a little of this (like oil), or a splash of that (like milk) I don’t count it. Other staples, like onions or rice, I might count if it is an integral part of the dish, but generally not. When you buy rice in a huge bag for $8, how do you figure out how much 1 cup is worth? Or half an onion? Bulk is the way to go, as far as I am concerned! I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Tomato and Egg Pie: I like using mini-pie pans so everyone has their own little pie. Pie crust (1 box on sale = $.99), 1 large tomato ($1/pound for seconds from the Amish nearby = $1), 7 eggs ($.10 = $.70), 9 grape tomatoes (the bag was $2 from the Amish, about 1/5 of the bag = $.40), a sprinkle of salt and oregano. Total cost: $3.09 for six servings, or 51.5 cents per serving. (I could have made 8 little pies (about 43 cents each) except I have a penchant for eating the raw pie dough….)


  • 1 pie crust (box, frozen or make it yourself)
  • 1 large tomato sliced into however many slices you need
  • grape tomatoes (# of mini pans you are using times 1.5), cut in half
  • eggs, 1 per mini pan, plus one extra
  • oregano
  • salt
  • a little water

Get your pie crust ready and put in pans. In bottom of each pan, put one slice of tomato. Scramble your eggs with a  little water. Divide evenly into mini pie pans. Sprinkle with salt and oregano. Place three grape tomato halves on top of each pie so it looks pretty. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, then reduce heat and continue to bake until liquid is evaporated, and the eggs are firm, golden, and puffy.

P.S. When I use boxed pie crust mix or make my own, I don’t bother to roll it out. I just divide it evenly among my pans, and use my fingers to push it into place!

Greek Pilaf: Rice (1 1/2 cups from a huge bag = ??), onion, spices, sunflower seeds (1/2 cup = $1.63 / 6 = $.27), and tempeh ($3.97 at 50% off = $1.98). Total cost: $2.25, or 37.5 cents per serving. I added the tempeh to add a little extra protein, but you could leave it out.


  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice – use whatever kind is your favourite
  • 1 to 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 or 2 chopped onions, depending on how much you like onion
  • 1 block tempeh, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 tbsps dried celery
  • 1 tbsp dried chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried crushed mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Soak the celery and garlic in a little hot water to reconstitute.

While soaking, cook the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the tempeh and when it starts it brown, add the reconstituted celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion are caramelized and the tempeh is golden. Add to rice. Put the sunflower seeds into the same pan and cook and shake until the sunflower seeds start to toast. Add to rice. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.

Serve hot or cold.

May also be used to stuff grape leaves, artichokes, peppers, tomatoes, etc.

Homemade Butter Chick’n with Rice: 1 can tomatoes ($1) + 1 can tomato paste ($.40) + 1 package Buffalo Chick’n ($3.99) + 1 onion, rice and spices divided by 6 servings = 90 cents / serving.

  • 1 package vegetarian chicken-style cuts. (I like using a Buffalo wing-style breaded version, but whatever you like.)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large can of small-diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • A couple of good pinches of dried minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Splash of soy milk
  • A little plain yogurt for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked rice to serve it over

Prepare the rice and the vegetarian style chick’n. (If using what I use, place it on a try in the oven and let it crisp. When done, cut into bite size pieces. You can prepare the sauce while it and the rice are cooking.)

In a frying pan, cook the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. Add all of the spices and the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has come to a boil, add the milk and turn off the heat. Gently stir in your chick’n.

Serve over rice. Add a little plain yogurt for garnish if you like.

VARIATION: Instead of chick’n, you can use chickpeas. If  you do, it would be even more economical…I get chickpeas for $1 a can, so the meal would cost $2.40 for six servings, or forty cents a serving.

North African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup: 2 sweet potatoes = $.40, 3 onions = $.38, 1 can tomato paste = $.39, plus spices, a little olive oil, some peanut butter, a squirt of lemon juice, a couple of bouillon cubes, and the last piece of kale left in the fridge. Total? 6 servings for $1.17, or 19 cents a serving. Yum.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 3 big pinches minced dried garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch of dried red chili peppers
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 or 3 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • a couple of kale leaves or a handful of spinach, sliced thin
  • squirt of lemon juice

Saute the onion until translucent. Add everything else except the last three ingredients. Stir until well-blended. Add the sweet potato and simmer about 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Use a stick blender to puree. Add the kale and lemon juice.

Coconut Curry: 1 can coconut milk $1.25, 4 tomatoes $1.50, 1 onion $.25, 1 package tofu 1/2 price + store discount $2.00, + 2 cups dry rice and spices = $5.00. Made 8 servings, so 63 cents a serving. Yum.

  • 1 package tofu
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 pinch dried red chilis
  • 1 green onion or 1 large pinch of dried chives
  • 2 pinches minced dried garlic
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 squirt ketchup
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • dash of soy sauce
  • fresh or dried cilantro for garnish

Dice the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Drain. Combine the coconut milk, water, and all the spices in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute. Add the tofu and simmer 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and onions and simmer until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and soy sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

Sweet Potato Crepes with Shiitake Mushroom Filling/Sauce: Crepes: 1 cup sweet potato pancake mix ($4.49 – 50% / 3 = $.75) + 2 eggs (2 x $.09 = $.18) + 1 cup milk ($.32) = $1.25. Sauce: 1 package dried shiitake mushrooms ($1.50) + 1 can cream of mushroom soup ($.50) + 1/3 cup milk ($.11) + garlic and salt and pepper to taste = $2.11.   4 servings = $3.36. or $.84 per serving.


Follow the directions on the package to make crepes. (I used a double recipe to make 8 crepes.)

Rehydrate the mushrooms by placing in a pot in just enough hot water to cover. When moist, add soup, milk and spices and bring to a boil.

Cover the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking pan with a little sauce. Spoon a little sauce and mushrooms onto one edge of a crepe and roll. Place in pan. Repeat until all are rolled. Spoon remaining sauce over the top of the crepes. Bake at 350 degrees until sauce is bubbly.

VARIATION: Sprinkle a little fresh parmesan or a grated mozerella before baking.


Chickpea of the Sea: After I became a vegetarian in 2008 there were certain foods that I really missed. Tuna salad was one of them. Last year I found recipes for mock tuna salad, and have refined them to this – which is a wonderful vegetarian alternative to tuna salad. And if you use vegan mayonnaise, it is vegan as well. Also very frugal – it costs no more than tuna would. I often stock up on chickpeas when they are on sale for 2 cans for $1 – I’ll buy a whole case! And everything else are just staples in my kitchen. Enjoy!

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sweet and spicy mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • a couple of shakes of ground black pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 2 celery stalks diced small
  • 1/4 red onion, diced small
  • 1/2 sheet nori

Place first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture. (I like it creamier for dipping, chunkier for sandwiches.) Use a spatula to ensure it is mixed well. Add the celery, onion and nori. (See below.) Stir well and enjoy!

How to prepare nori: Fold your nori in half. Using scissors, cut very thin strips into a pile. Pick up the pile, and again using your scissors, snip little squares of nori right into the bowl.


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