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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guest Post - Frugal Family Meals

Frugal dinners don’t have to be boring or tasteless. In fact, some of my most frugal dinners are the most loved by my family. My easy, go-to meals are so inexpensive to make, that I usually splurge on a special dessert just because I have money left over in my budget. Here are my top three fabulous, frugal, family meals.

Marinara in minutes

Marinara sauce needs few ingredients and is rich in vitamins and nutrients, especially if you choose to serve it over whole-wheat pasta. My recipe is very simple. In a large frying pan, I sauté a few chopped garlic cloves in olive oil until soft. Then I pour a large can of crushed tomatoes into the pan. I add in a pinch of dried basil and salt and pepper. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes. It’s a very simple sauce that is versatile and delicious. It’s also made with pantry ingredients that are very inexpensive. A green salad and garlic toast complete the meal, and everyone in the family looks forward to this simple yet elegant meal.

Creamy chicken and vegetables

For this recipe, all you need is a cup or two of cooked chicken to make a hearty meal for a family of four. Make a simple white sauce and boil up eight to 12 ounces of egg noodles. Turn your oven onto 350 degrees and butter a large, shallow casserole dish. You can use the vegetables of your choice. I usually defrost and drain a 16-ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables like a medley of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Feel free to use fresh vegetables. Be sure to cook them until they are crisp yet tender. Now mix your drained vegetables, cooked chicken and white sauce together. Place your egg noodles in the bottom of your casserole and pour on the sauce, vegetables and chicken. Top the casserole with buttered breadcrumbs, Parmesan or cheddar cheese and bake until hot and bubbly for 20 minutes. You can substitute a can of cream of chicken soup for the white sauce if you wish, and it only adds about a dollar to the cost of your meal.

Freezer minestrone

Soup is good any time of the year, especially when it’s rich in flavor and texture. I keep a container in my freezer for any bits of leftover gravy, vegetables or meats. When it’s filled to the top, I defrost it and put it into my slow cooker. I always cut up the leftovers into bite size pieces before I freeze them, so this soup takes no time to make. Once the leftovers are in the slow cooker, I add in chicken, beef or vegetable stock and a can of tomatoes. Then I chop up some fresh veggies to add to the pot like onions, celery and carrots. After four hours or so, I take a handful of thin spaghetti and crack it into bite-size pieces. I add the uncooked pasta into the pot and let it cook for another hour or so until the pasta is tender. I serve this meal with homemade breadsticks that I make from a pound of pizza dough. Cut the dough into long strips, baste with olive oil and cook for about one-half hour at 350 degrees.

These three frugal dinners cost pennies to make, yet everyone in the family looks forward to eating these great tasting and easy-to-make meals.

My name is Nisha

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipes. I'll try them. One tip. It appears that you are putting your basil in the sauce and then cooking it for twenty minutes. Heat muddies the flavor of fresh basil. Try putting the basil in after you take the marinara off the heat. The basil will retain its crisp clean flavor and your sauce will taste much fresher.

FFXIV Gil said...

Try placing the tulsi in after you take the marinara off the warm. The tulsi will maintain its sharp fresh flavor and your marinade will flavor much fresh.

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