A few of our favorite frugal, family friendly recipes


Say that 5 times, fast! ha!

Eating good quality, tasty, healthyish and budget friendly food is such an important part of our lifestyle here at This Tiny Blue House. Mer has a big appetite – he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy while although I enjoy my meat and potatoes I tend to prefer more savory combinations of protein and vegetables. Our meal plans are often a mix of both and after some trial and error we’ve settled on a few recipes that satisfy both our palettes and make repeat appearances week after week.

I don’t create recipes – I modify them. So, I take absolutely zero credit for the base recipes I’m providing below. What I am offering is a few frugal hacks to reduce the cost of each dish without sacrificing the quality and taste.

I generally prepare and cook all these dishes on Sundays. I then store them in our fridge and pop them into the oven to reheat as we need them throughout the week. I cannot tell you how much easier this makes life – not only is dinner prepared but there is virtually no clean up.

Mediterranean Chicken from The Clever Carrot


[Source: 1]

First, we omit the bocconcini altogether. I’m not a fan of melted bocconcini and quite honestly this dish is incredibly tasty and satisfying without it. We then substitute 1 can of artichokes for a can of marinated artichokes (price difference is roughly 2$), using our own oil and spices to marinate the chicken. Chicken thighs are weirdly more expensive than chicken breast in this area so to save a couple of bucks we use breast. Finally, we use frozen herbs from our summer garden instead of fresh.

It produces approx 6 servings so plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunches. It’s Margs approved too. Frugal math tells me that it comes our to roughly 3$ per serving.

Cottage Pie from BBC Good Food


[Source 2]

This is probably our current favorite since it’s so savory and has such great depth of flavor. I actually found this recipe by accident, decided to give it a try and have continued to make it ever since. To save a a couple of bucks I buy the economy size container of ground beef so I can make two pies at the same time. I also use frozen mixed veggies instead of fresh and sometimes omit the cheese in the potato mash altogether. Frugal math tells me this runs about 2.20$ per serving.

Unstuffed Cabbage Role Casserole from Give Recipe


[Source: 3]

This is a great recipe that can be eaten as a side dish with a meat protein or by itself. I usually make this once a week and we use it many different ways during the week. It’s great for a quick lunch or to go along side roast chicken for dinner. To frugalize the recipe we often omit the beef altogether and add frozen white beans from our garden instead. Frugal math tells me this runs around 1.00 per serving. Also, we omit the mint because we just don’t do mint in this house.

Pasta e fagioli con Proscuito– due amiche in cucina



I actually grew up eating this at least once per week and until very recently I hated it. With the cold weather and lack of time to prepare more complex meals during the week Mer and I have really started to appreciate a hearty bowl of pasta and bean soup. To save some cash we use bacon instead of prosciutto – honestly, prosciutto just tastes funky when cooked so we prefer the bacon. We use frozen garden beans and our own homemade tomato sauce. This recipe essentially costs us a half bag of pasta and a few strips of bacon. Frugal math tells me this sets us back roughly 0.60 cents per serving.

What are some of your go to favorite meals? I love trying new recipes so I would greatly appreciate any that you have to share!

Giving credit where credit is due
[1] http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/dinner-tonight-mediterranean-baked-chicken/
[2] http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/775643/cottage-pie
[3] http://www.giverecipe.com/unstuffed-cabbage-casserole
[4] http://www.dueamicheincucina.ifood.it/2015/04/pasta-e-fagioli-con-prosciutto-di-parma-e-croste-di-parmigiano-reggiano.html






          1. Recipe #1
            Asparagus Casserole

            2 packages frozen asparagus spears, cut in half
            1 can condensed cream of celery soup
            1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
            2 cups saltine crackers, crushed (this seems to even out to about 1 sleeve of crackers)
            1 cup Velveeta, cubed
            1 egg

            In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well (use your hands, it’s easier!). Pour into lightly greased crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 3 – 3.5 hours. After cooking, dish may be held on low for up to 2 hours before serving (or just let the crock pot do it’s thing and keep it warm.) (Approx. 289 cals per serving)


            Recipe #2
            9 Can Vegetable Soup

            2 cans Hormel chili (any variety)
            1 can vegetable soup
            1 can green beans
            1 can sliced new potatoes
            1 can mixed vegetables
            1 can corn
            2 cans diced tomatoes

            Empty entire contents of every can into crock pot (including liquid). Heat on low 6 – 8 hours or high for 2 hours. You can also skip the chili and add browned ground beef if you want beef vegetable soup. (255 cals per serving)


            Recipe #3
            Kielbasa Stew (this is one of our favorites!)

            3 – 4 medium potatoes cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (we use red potatoes and leave the skin on)
            1 lb kielbasa, sliced (if you really like kielbasa, get 2)
            2 cans (15 oz each) green beans, drained
            1 medium onion, quartered
            1 clove garlic, minced
            2 cans cream of mushroom soup
            1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

            Layer ingredients in crock pot in order isted above. Cook on low for at least hours. (Note: Has been cooked for as long as 11 hours.) (427 cals per serving)

            These are all things we have tried and like enough to have made many times. In most of them, you could likely substitute fresh produce for canned, but for us we are short on time as well as patience! I hope these can help thos of you looking for crock pot recipes! Enjoy!

  1. What I do is base recipes on the ingredients, especially proteins. With mince meat it’s cottage pie, bolognaise, those kinds of dishes. With chuck cubes I make up recipes a bit more. Last week I mixed the chuck beef with gravy granules, onion and garlic granules, smoked paprika and a splash of balsamic, then layered sliced potatoes on top with more paprika and olive oil and baked in the oven for around an hour. It was lovely. With the chuck I also make a traditional recipe from my cultural background. It’s Middle Eastern and called ingriye’e. I fry aubergine first and set aside. I fry onions and the beef cubes and add in 2 tins of chopped tomatoes. Then the special flavour which is the sweet and sour taste, it’s half a cup of lemon and sugar and you mix it in with some salt and pepper. Add aubergine. The taste has to be balanced. Cook until ready and serve with rice. With chicken I make marinades out of sauces and spices, throw in some shelled garlic cloves to roast in and eat with the chicken and into the oven for an hour, serve with rice. Add veggies as and when

    1. The chuck recipe sounds awesome. I’ll have to try it – I’m never successful at cooking chuck cubes unless it’s in a stew!

      And the eggplant dish you’re talking about – I think I’ve actually tried that. A good friend of mine makes it but uses pom juice for its tart flavor. She also makes something similar using artichoke hearts. She basically stuffs the base of the artichoke with ground beef, rice and pine nuts that are prepared in a tomato/pom juice mixture then bakes it in the oven – It’s so so good. It’s such a wonderful mixture of flavors.

  2. I have a cabbage that has unfortunately been sitting in my fridge for several weeks that I need to use! Along with three bell peppers that are on their last leg. So, that unstuffed cabbage casserole was a good reminder for me to use it up! I’ll just throw in those bell peppers too!

  3. The Mediterranean Chicken looks really good! I’ll definitely be adding that to next week’s meal plan.

    One of my favorite Go To meals would be fajitas. I keep tortillas on hand (they freeze well!), and use whatever meat we have. Chicken, beef, shrimp, even ground meats. Although, I guess that’s more of a taco?? Saute some sliced peppers and onions, top with whatever you happen to have in the fridge! It cooks super quickly on the stove or you can pop the meats into a crock pot with some salsa and shred when you’re ready to serve.

  4. These sound really good. We have a similar unstuffed stuffed cabbage dish and love it. I don’t have the recipe on hand but we have a white chicken chili recipe that takes 15 minutes, is healthy and can be made as spicy or mild as you want. My 4 year old loves it.

  5. I love to cook ahead on the weekends and just warm up things during the week. Or, I’ll do a couple of recipes, wait a few days and eat it all, then do a couple more. Like today, I made cheddar broccoli soup (using 1/2 frozen broccoli and 1/2 frozen zucchini shreds) and we ate it for both lunch and dinner. There is enough for a meal tomorrow, or in a couple of days. I also made muffins, and my daughter is making another batch of a different kind and we ate those twice today and will freeze the rest for breakfasts.

    Your recipes look good.

  6. This is so great! I also modify recipes all of the time. I think one of the best ways to save money in the kitchen is learning how to substitute ingredients. Use what you have!

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