When we were newly married, we lived near an excellent Mexican restaurant. We didn’t eat there often, but when we did, I always got a dish that included refried beans. We no longer live near the Mexican restaurant, so I make them at home instead!
This recipe is delicious (and reheats reasonably well). It is a great side dish, but we often eat them as part of an entree. I use the refried beans as a filling in my tacos (in lieu of meat). I combine the beans with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole. It is absolutely delicious.
The beans are also relatively inexpensive. It costs about $1.65 to make a batch of the beans, and you should be able to get two entree-sized servings out of the batch. If you are serving as a side dish, you should be able to get four servings out of the batch. Enjoy! – Kristin
The humble egg sandwich is a fast, convenient, and relatively nutritious meal. Although this is usually something that I would consume for breakfast, I have eaten a lot of egg sandwiches for quick lunches or lazy dinners. At only 250 calories, with 11 grams of protein, the egg sandwich is also pretty nutritious and very cheap!
For many years, I had an hour-long commute to and from work every day. I often made one of these sandwiches, wrapped it in waxed paper, and ate it on the way to work.
If you want to make your egg sandwich even cheaper, use a slice of bread (or two) instead of an English muffin. (If you opt for 2 slices of bread, use a slightly larger bowl – at least 4 inches in diameter.) Although I usually top my egg sandwiches with nothing more than salt and pepper, feel free to experiment. Cheddar or pepper jack cheese, hot sauce, bacon, ham, fresh tomato, or even ketchup or mustard can liven up your sandwich.
It is a gorgeous summer day, and James and I wanted something light for lunch. We had some leftover crusty artisan bread (click here for recipe) and decided to make a lunch out of one of our favorite appetizers: easy summer caprese!
We had some fresh mozzarella, a few tomatoes that had seen better days, our trusty basil plant, and the leftover homemade bread. On a colder day, I would make make a toasty caprese sandwich (click here for recipe), but some days are just too warm for a grilled cheese!
A few notes: If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, you can use part of a block of mozzarella cheese (or even mozzarella cheese sticks). If you don’t have fresh basil, a pinch of dried basil will still be tasty! If you don’t have or want bread, this is delicious as a salad.
If you serve this as an appetizer, it will cost you approximately $0.60 per person (assuming you 4 servings). If you eat as a light meal, only plan on 2 servings. See the cost analysis below:
An quick and easy appetizer perfect for a warm summer day.
1/2 loaf of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (fresh mozzarella if you have it)
4 basil leaves, sliced (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil + more for bread if desired
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine chopped tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil in a bowl.
Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bowl.
Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with slices of bread (cut into half or quarters) or as a salad. If you would like, you can toast the bread and serve this as bruschetta! Advise your guests to put the mixture on top of the bread for optimal deliciousness!
If you don’t have much time on your hands to prepare lunch or dinner, this easy and nutritious salad might be the recipe for you! It is a quick and easy southwest style salad that we frequently make in the summer.
The salad itself is relatively inexpensive to make. Note, the recipe uses one half of an avocado. Read how to keep the other half fresh here.
Based on what I paid for my own ingredients, it costs about $1 per salad (see below for a cost analysis).
If you are a risotto connoisseur, you may be surprised to see one major ingredient missing from this recipe: wine!
Wine may add a bit of flavor, but I find the risotto to be just as delicious without the wine. Plus you cut down on the overall expense of the dish! However, if you would like, you can add a 1/4 cup of dry white wine to the dish prior to adding the vegetable stock. 🙂
I make a few different risotto dishes, including a pea risotto and a pumpkin risotto. This is perhaps the most deluxe and expensive at $1.73 a plate, but it is absolutely delicious. We had it for dinner last night with a few slices of rosemary focaccia bread, and again leftover for lunch. I regret nothing!
I am a lover of bread, and rosemary focaccia bread is one of my absolute favorites. This bread is relatively easy and ALWAYS impresses dinner guests. It turns out perfectly every time I make it, and it is unbelievably delicious.
While searching for a great focaccia bread recipe, I stumbled upon a recipe posted by Gimme Some Oven. The bread I prepare is an adaptation of her amazing rosemary focaccia bread. My version uses dried rosemary (as I do not generally have fresh rosemary on hand) and divides the recipe in half.
Another great thing about this bread is that it is relatively inexpensive to make, especially considering the luxurious end result.
A luxurious and salty loaf of focaccia bread elevated with the addition of rosemary.
2/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1.25 teaspoons active-dry yeast (1/2 package)
1.75 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil + additional tablespoon for drizzling
1 teaspoon kosher salt + additional for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Combine yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add warm water to mixture.
Let yeast proof for about 10 minutes.
Add 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and one tablespoon olive oil to the yeast mixture. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook, and I use it to mix the dough on low in the stand mixer for about a minute. If you do not have a stand mixer, mix and knead the dough by hand.
Add additional flour, kosher salt, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix on medium-low for another 4-5 minutes.
Form dough into a ball and put it in a greased mixing bowl. Put a little oil on top of the dough ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise for about 45-60 minutes (I tend to wait 60 minutes) in a warm area.
Take dough out of the bowl and roll it into a circle. You can use a rolling pin, but I sometimes just push the dough down with my hands. Put the flattened dough on a baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another 20 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Poke holes all over the dough, drizzle it with a tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and dried rosemary, to taste.
Bake in oven for about 20 minutes and enjoy!
Note: This bread is best on its first day. If you are not planning to eat all of the bread on its first day, I would recommend drizzling with olive oil and reheating it in the oven prior to eating.
A few years ago, James and I took a (frugal) vacation to York, England. We had a very enjoyable lunch in an elegant tea room, located on a busy street corner. I ordered a salad similar to this one, and we spent a lovely hour talking, watching the street through the tall windows, and soaking up the atmosphere.
When our vacation was over, and we returned home, I tried to recreate the salad from the tea room. It has become one of our favorite fresh and frugal meals. We had this avocado salad for lunch today. It was delicious and cost about $1.40 per person. The only thing missing was the beautiful tea room and a fabulous cup of English Breakfast Tea. Enjoy!
If you are like me, you probably have an old, brown and mushy banana sitting in your kitchen. For some reason, you didn’t get a chance to eat it. Like me, you have already made too much banana bread, but you don’t want to let the banana go to waste.
Never fear! In 2 minutes you can get that mushy fruit off of your counter and enjoy this delicious fruit smoothie. The addition of the orange juice in this recipe really cuts the sweetness of the overripe banana. I made this smoothie with frozen strawberry, but feel free to add any frozen fruit you have on hand. It is also good with frozen pineapple, mango, blueberries, etc.
From a cost perspective, it costs about $1 to make this recipe. James and I usually split the smoothie, but most people would probably consider it to be one smoothie.
James and I had a craving for thin crust pizza. We also had leftover homemade tomato sauce, leftover fresh mozzarella, a less than fresh tomato, and a bag of tortillas. What resulted? Crispy margherita-style pizzas. Not super filling, but a delicious and light meal.
The question is, is it a frugal meal?
After completing a cost analysis, the results show a cost of $1.37 per pizza. As the portion was small, this is perhaps not the most cost-effective meal. However, the majority of our ingredients were close to expiration, so it was a good opportunity to reduce our household waste. The cost could also be reduced by changing the type of cheese (but for me, fresh mozzarella cheese is a luxury I am willing to splurge on!)
We could have used the leftovers to make more caprese sandwiches (which were more filling and cheaper to make), but it wouldn’t have satisfied our thin crust pizza craving!
Ingredient Cost per Unit
Units Required for Recipe
$0.23 per tortilla
$ 0.37 per ounce
$ 0.30 per tomato
Leftover Tomato Sauce
$2.64 for full batch
1/6 of sauce
$ 0.06 per leaf
0.23 per tablespoon
$ 0.10 per tsp
Total cost for TWO pizzas:
Total cost for ONE pizza:
Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.