35 Frugal Recipes To Help You Stay On Budget
Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or just looking to save money on groceries, these frugal recipes will help you stay on budget while you feed your family for less.
It’s always a good idea to live frugally and have a budget to work from, but sometimes it’s actually necessary.
My husband lost his job unexpectedly last month, just 10 days before Christmas. Since then we’ve been extra careful about every dollar we spend as we do our best to keep enough money in the bank to pay our mortgage until things turn around.
Related: How We’re Moving Forward After A Year Of Setbacks
This past month, we set a strict budget of $250 for food, and I’m happy to report that we are well on our way to making it to the end of the month without blowing our budget. Of course, we were able to supplement many of our meals with food we already had put away in the house (which is why putting up food and being prepared is so, so important). But still, it took some creativity and careful meal planning to make it all the way to the end. Definitely no eating out and no expensive ingredients.
But it’s amazing how cheap and easy it actually is to create delicious and nutritious frugal meals when you make them from scratch. Inexpensive, humble ingredients on their own may be just that, but combine them and the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can create (and how good it can taste!)
Related: 10 Tips to Help You Save Money At the Grocery Store
So whether you’re flat broke or just trying to save a little extra money on your grocery bill, these 35 frugal recipes will help you get good, wholesome, delicious homemade food on the table every day, which means you have one less thing to stress about:)
Cinnamon Apple-Raisin Oatmeal – The House & Homestead
We’ve practically been living on oatmeal at our house ever since my husband lost his job. This is my favourite recipe of them all.
Big Batch Granola – As For Me And My Homestead
This big batch granola recipe can feed a family of five breakfast for up to two weeks!
Oatmeal Pancakes – Adamant Kitchen
Use your leftover oatmeal to stretch your pancake batter in this frugal breakfast dish!
Perfect Frittata Recipe – Healing Harvest Homestead
This frittata recipe is super flexible and highly customizable. As long as you’ve got some eggs, you can use whatever meat and veggies you have on hand to fill out this dish.
Homemade Breakfast Sausage – The Prairie Homestead
Make your own homemade sausages out of whatever cheap ground meat is on sale or that you can get your hands on (maybe through farming or hunting or simply meat you have in the freezer).
Bean & Ham Soup – Melissa K. Norris
There ain’t nothin’ more frugal than beans, and when paired with a ham bone and a few veggie scraps, they also make a filling, tasty meal!
Easy Potato Chowder – Farming My Backyard
Potatoes have long been a staple food for many a struggling family. Whether you’re struggling or not, you’ll save big money and make those potatoes streeettch with this soup!
Easy Crockpot French Onion Soup – Hillsborough Homesteading
If all you’ve got is a bag of onions, you can still make a satisfying soup. Make this meal even more frugal by omitting the red wine/sherry and the cheese, or simply use whatever cheese you have in the house. Add in some crusty old bread (that you can even make at home yourself) and make your own beef or veggie stock out of scraps to make this a truly frugal homemade meal.
Borscht – The House & Homestead (Guest posting for Melissa K. Norris)
Beets and a few humble garden veggies & herbs like cabbage, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic and dill are all you need to make this frugal and extremely healthy meal! Add a little sour cream and serve with a side of crusty bread to add calories and take this soup to the next level.
Cream of Broccoli Leaf Soup – The House & Homestead
Broccoli soup is a great place to start if you’re looking for a filling and delicious frugal meal, but you can make it even more frugal by using the oft-discarded broccoli leaves instead (and the soup tastes just like regular cream of broccoli soup). Use the leaves off of your own broccoli plants or ask at your local market. Often times you can get them for free!
Roasted Vegetable Soup – Little House Living
Use whatever veggies you have on hand, along with a little shredded chicken to make this yummy spin on a traditional chicken and veggie soup. Or omit the chicken altogether for an even more frugal dish.
Frugal Homemade Breads, Etc.
Easy No-Knead Homemade Bread – The House & Homestead
All you need for this bread is flour, water and a little yeast. You don’t even need to knead!
Honey Whole Wheat Buttermilk Sandwich Bread – Melissa K. Norris
Bread’s expensive. Here’s a simple, frugal recipe to save you money.
Homemade Burger Buns – The House & Homestead
If I’d known that making homemade burger buns was this easy (and cheap!) I’d have started making them from scratch long ago!
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits – Melissa K. Norris
Hands-down the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten, and they cost just pennies a piece. Always best when made in a cast iron pan:)
Homemade Tortillas – Farming My Backyard
Make these tortillas from scratch using ingredients your already have in your pantry.
Perfect Pizza Crust – The House & Homestead
Simple ingredients. Perfect crust. Top with whatever you have in the fridge and pantry.
Frugal Main Dishes
Sloppy Joes – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading
Use your homemade burger buns to make this super frugal supper!
Buttermilk Chicken Strips – Melissa K. Norris
This homemade buttermilk chicken strips recipe works out to just $.65/serving to feed a family of four. Mic drop.
Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie – The Rustic Elk
Use leftover chicken pieces and veggies to make the filling for this new twist on an old classic. Top with homemade biscuits and you’ve got a filling meal for the whole family.
“Stretching A Buck” Lasagna – Little House Living
This dish uses whatever ingredients you have on hand and to make a thriftier version of traditional lasagna.
Keema Aloo (Ground Meat with Potatoes & Indian Spices) – Adamant Kitchen
If you’re looking for something a little different or craving some Indian takeout but you’re on a tight budget, this dish will satisfy your spice tooth and is, like, a thousand times cheaper than takeout. (Why is Indian food so expensive anyway? Or is it just where I live??)
Egg Roll in a Bowl – Don’t Waste The Crumbs
This egg roll in a bowl recipe uses simple, frugal ingredients like cabbage, mixed veggies (ie. carrots, onions, mushrooms, etc.) and a little ground pork to make a huge batch that will fill many hungry bellies. Most of the ingredients are flexible (aka. use what you have on hand), and the recipe fits into the Whole 30 diet or can easily be tweaked to fit the Paleo or Keto diets if you’re following any of these programs.
Traditional Ukrainian Perogies – The House & Homestead
These perogies are definitely NOT diet food! But they will fill your belly and stick to your ribs, and they’re made with some of the most frugal ingredients on Earth: potatoes, onions, cheese (optional), flour, water and eggs. Plus a little sour cream for serving. ?
Frugal Snacks & Sides
Easy Refried Beans – Little House Living
Almost nothing is more frugal than beans. Serve these ones with rice or with homemade tortillas (see “Breads”) and a few frugal toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and maybe even some homemade salsa. Or top with fried eggs for a hearty breakfast dish.
Baked Seasoned French Fries – The Rustic Elk
When you’re on a tight budget, you can’t always afford to go out to eat. But you can make some of your favourite restaurant dishes at home. Fries are a staple on most restaurant plates. Make this version at home to save money and make them healthier by baking them instead of frying.
Spicy Sweet Potato Fries – Hillsborough Homesteading
Same as above, but sweeter:) And spicier. And yum.
Butternut Squash & Kale Casserole – The House & Homestead
One big ol’ butternut squash goes a long way in this healthy, frugal and filling dish. Serve as a side or a main!
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts – The Prairie Homestead
Brussels sprouts have never screamed “high end,” and that’s because they’re not. In season, they’re super cheap to buy, and of course if you grow them at home, they cost even less. But cook ’em the right way and you’ve got yourself a restaurant-worthy side dish for just pennies a piece. (I know this because Brussels sprouts were all the rage when we lived in the city and were being served alongside fancy step dinners at all the hottest restaurants in town. I think they even won “veggie of the year” one year… Yes, apparently that’s a thing).
Pickled Beets – The House & Homestead
These are perhaps more of a condiment, but let me tell you, if you end up making some homemade perogies, you’re gonna want a side of pickled beets. Here’s how to make them (and can them too!)
Frugal Sweets & Treats
Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding – Little House Living
Bread pudding is one of the most frugal recipes you can make. You can even make it with old, stale bread! Satisfy your sweet tooth and save a few bucks.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars – Melissa K. Norris
These bars are gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free. Oh, and they only cost $.40/bar!
Rustic Apple Crumble – The House & Homestead
This apple crumble can be made with fresh apples when they’re in season or with home-canned apple pie filling. Top with a few ingredients like oats, flour, butter and a little sugar and you’ve got a frugal dessert that goes just as well with Christmas dinner as it does on the weeknight dinner table.
Frugal Homemade Chocolate Sauce – Piwakawaka Valley
Forgo the store-bought chocolate sauce full of all sorts of questionable ingredients and make your own instead. Better quality. Less money. Win-win.
Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate Mix – Hillsborough Homesteading
Once you make your own homemade hot chocolate mix, you’ll wonder why you ever bought it from the store. You probably even have the ingredients you need on hand already, so this one might not even cost you a dime!
What are your favourite frugal recipes? And what else do you make from scratch that saves you money? Share your ideas in the comments:)
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Very good points. Bless you and your family this Holiday season. Congratulations on your new arrival!
I pray you will be over this trial soon. My husband had fairly seasonal work. So our bank was food. We stocked up during the good times and ate from the pantry in the hard times. Because we went cash only and saved up for things instead of credit – we had no debt. That was a blessing after he died. So I didn’t have a hard time starting over when all the kids were gone. Cooking from scratch is the best way to save. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your recipes during this hard time. May God richly bless you. I’ve found that you can never outgive God. He always blesses back.
Yes! We always stock up in good times and then we’ve always got a reserve when we need it. I cut up my credit card before Christmas too and I don’t miss it one bit! Thank you so much for your kind comment! And bless you right back:)