Ideas for Frugal and Easy Cooking

Posted by Madison on September 22, 2008

Photography: Borscht to Be by Noël Zia Lee

One of the best parts about My Dollar Plan is the community of readers that is developing. When I told you that I needed to learn how to cook, you came through with lots of recipes, links, tips and more.

Once you know how to cook, you can combine cooking at home, using recipes that favor frugal foods, and working on trimming the grocery bill to create the “three-legged stool” of frugal cooking. Put it all together and you get the following guide to frugal cooking.

Cooking Resources

  • Frugal Cooking. Check out Hillbilly Housewife, a frugal recipe site focusing on low-cost, home-cooking from scratch. “Our favorites are the lentil chili and [the] lentil veggie soup, with dumplings!” – Alexia
  • Learning to Cook. “Cooking is ‘hard’ at first, and gets significantly easier over time. It’s also fun and creative.” Here are sites to get started: 101 Cookbooks, Simply Recipes, and the Food Network. – deepali
  • Healthy Eating. Check out the Hungry Girl site and Hungry Girl Cookbook with low calorie recipes and food tips for anyone watching their waistline. In addition, to eat whole, traditional foods and avoid processed foods, recipes at Feelgood Eats will point you in the right direction.
  • Free Food and Family Magazine. You can subscribe to the Kraft Food and Family Magazine for free or check out the archives on their site.

Recipes from Readers

Easy Chicken and Rice Dish

  • 1 Box of rice (a roni-type rice), any flavor
  • 2 Chicken Breasts (halved or diced)
  • Shredded Cheese
  1. Open the rice and sauce mix, pour it into cake pan or glass baking dish. Add the amount of water required on the box to the rice. Stir.
  2. Lay the chicken on top of the rice. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  3. Cover with shredded cheese, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

“I double the recipe, because we’ve got 5 people in our house full time, but the recipe is the same. You can change the rice flavors to suit your mood. You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. I serve it to company or just to the family. Everyone loves it.” – Momma

Italian Chicken and Green Beans

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Open 2-3 cans of green beans and drain. Pour the contents into a casserole dish, top with 2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts.
  3. Top with a can of Italian seasoned tomato sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is done.

“You can adjust the beens and chicken to your need. My kids wouldn’t even eat green beans until I made them this way.” -Tonyia

Tritip Sandwich

  • 1 tri-tip
  • 1 jar salsa (I use Herdez, but any will do)
  • 1 pack lipton onion soup mix

Put all ingedients into a crockpot, cook on low for 8 hours. Stir meat to shred. Serve on hoagies with your choice of cheese. -Tonyia

More Frugal Recipes

Tips and Tricks

Make food last longer. 27 Great Tips for Around the House Great tips to avoid food going to waste. For example: separating your bananas will slow down ripening and storing cheese in aluminum foil will keep it fresher and avoid mold. Who knew?

Make bread and pizza dough. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has a basic recipe for simple crusty bread and pizza dough. In a few minutes you can make a batch for two weeks which can make 2-3 pizzas, and 3-4 loaves of bread. It “saves a boatload of money!” – pidgeon92

Barbeque all year long. Even in the winter! “Kids love the hot dogs and burgers and I’ll even throw some on for lunch time too.” – The Passive Dad

Saving Money

Frugal recipes are even cheaper when you can buy the ingredients at a discount. Here are some of the methods that I’m exploring to cut down on our grocery bill.

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Comments to Ideas for Frugal and Easy Cooking

  1. Thanks for including my recipe! I’m glad you’ve found such great resources. I’ll be perusing a few of them myself.

    Momma’s last post: One Hour With Teri Gault – Part Ten


  2. casserole dishes are great because you can just put it all in the casserole, stick it in the oven and no more cooking.
    I think that using foods like rice, pasta, or mashed potato flakes are a wonderful way to stretch your dollar. They’re cheap filling, and nutritious, you just have to watch the carbs.


  3. Awesome. I bookmarked it to my delicious so I’ll always be able to get to this.

    @Liz, I’m quite big on using rice for filling. Brown rice, since it’s so much healthier. Like the tofu in peanut-ginger sauce that Madison linked to (thanks!!) goes really well over brown rice. Sometimes I add a little chicken bullion to the rice since I’m not a vegetarian. Tastes even better.

    Mrs. Micah

  4. Could the Easy Chicken and Rice Dish be made with regular old rice? I am trying to avoid boxed, packaged food and this recipe sounds great!!


  5. @ Lisa: I don’t see why you couldn’t use regular rice. However, I think that you might want to add some seasoning since the sauce mix from the box was used in the recipe.


  6. OK thanks Madison….I guess just use my regular 2:1 ratio for water and rice. I agree with adding seasoning.


  7. I read the recipe for Easy Chicken and Rice Dish and was struck with inspiration. My niece makes a recipe called Chicken Bruschetta Bake that she got from I thought what if I combined the two? So here it is:

    Chicken Bruschetta with Rice
    1 box Rice a Roni
    2.5 cup water
    2 or 3 shredded carrots
    frozen or canned corn 1.5 cup
    1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
    1 tsp basil
    6 oz shredded mozzarella
    1 box Stove Top dressing
    19 oz canned tomatoes
    2 clove garlic, crushed

    Mix Rice a Roni, water, carrots and corn in a 13×9 baking pan.
    Spread cut up chicken over rice mixture. Sprinkle with basil. Spread cheese over top.
    In a bowl, mix Stove Top, tomatoes, and garlic just to moisten bread crumbs.
    Spread over cheese. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes more.

    I tried it out yesterday, and it was delicious. Next time, I may delete the rice a roni and try plain rice with seasoning in order to cut down on the sodium content.

    The Simple Bachelor’s last post: Eating Healthy

    The Simple Bachelor

  8. Chicken and rice are great for you and cheap as heck. The biggest (and easiest) way to save money on food is to not go to restaurants. You’ll be amazed by how much you save, plus it gives you time to learn some new recipes.

    Homemade strawberry jam

  9. Chicken? Chicken is expensive as all get out. Being a vegetarian I could show you frugal!

    Great post though!

    Tucson Bass Player

  10. Thank you so much, I enjoy reading about other vegansas it gives me the strength to continue. I have about a thousand vegetarian feeds in my google reader, but another can’t hurt!! I did manage to find a good lentil recipe here, but I’ll be sure to try yours too. Thanks!

    Darrin Nicolet

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