Eat Well, Spend Less: 30+ Frugal Meal Ideas

This week in the Eat Well, Spend Less series, we’re talking about our favorite ways to cook from the pantry.  I’ve already shared with you how to really eat from the pantry when there is absolutely no option to buy food, and how I experiment with certain “base” recipes to virtually always be able to make them with what’s in my pantry.

But, I’m not a food blogger, and that’s painfully obvious when I try to write about cooking.  So, I’m excited to share the tips from the eight other bloggers in this series, who are much better at writing about recipes and cooking techniques!

Aimee from Simple Bites shares her top 5 frugal meals, complete with beautiful pictures and recipe links.  I was intriguied  by her mention of Chocolate Chip Chili – and yes, it really does have chocolate chips in it!

I also loved her tip to buy carrots when they are cheap and roast them for use in soups.  I typically buy carrots at a rock-bottom price, then dice and freeze to use in soups, but roasting them (perhaps after freezing?) would add some huge flavor!

I identified with this statement from Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom:

Back in the day when I was seriously couponing, my pantry was bursting at the seams, but not necessarily with ingredients for eating well. Now that I have simplified… [my] pantry musts include lots of beans and rice (of course), stocks, potatoes, garlic, onions, pasta, canned tomatoes, flours, and more. Always in my freezer are frozen veggies, fruits, chicken and beef.

Read her whole post about cooking from the pantry for more great tips!

Jessica from Life As Mom‘s pictures are making me hungry.  That beans and rice looks delicious – a whole lot more tasty than what I usually think of as “beans and rice”!  Read her post about adding little “extras” to make cooking from the pantry fun and tasty.

Breakfast is a great way to cook from the pantry, and it’s fun to have it for any meal!  Katie from Good Life Eats shares five breakfast recipes from the pantry, as well as five dinner recipes from the pantry.

Katie’s 3-2-1 pasta formula is a great read if you are not comfortable cooking on the fly!

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship details five frugal must-have real foods.  I have so much to learn from Katie – I need to read through her Everything Beans ebook in depth as I hope to start cooking most of my own beans, mostly from a cost standpoint!

And, I’ve determined to re-learn how to make yogurt, and Katie’s got tips I’m going to try.  Yes, I used to know how to make yogurt, but for whatever reason, my last 2 attemps have failed miserably.  I want to re-learn so that I can make lots of frozen yogurt for summer desserts!

Mandie from Food Your Way shares some yummy-looking recipes from the pantry – minimal ingredients, but they look super kid-friendly and endlessly extensible!

I love Shaina from Food For My Family‘s post about stretching the ingredients for two meals into five.  She focuses on “using similar ingredients in multiple meals to avoid over-purchasing” – a great strategy that also reduces a lot of stress in meal planning!

OK, OK: beans and rice done up Mexican style is going on our menu soon: Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes is doing it, too!  She shared five of her favorite frugal meals, including how to make burritos for the freezer – another thing I used to do and need to resurrect!

Well, now I have a long list of things to do: make yogurt, make burritos for the freezer, buy some beans and cook them so we can have beans and rice… I’d better get to work. :)


  1. I’m with you, I learned a ton from these posts! I seriously need to take notes or else print them all off.
    One of our goals for the next couple months is finding a good freezer so that I can freeze the summer abundance of fruits and veggies.

    • We just got a small freezer off Craigslist – it’s really not very big, and we’re hoping to fill it with a side of beef, but I didn’t want a huge one because I want to be strategic in what I freeze and not just fill it ’cause I have it.

      Anyway, they are hot items on Craigslist but if you’re patient, you can probably find a good deal!