“Frugalicious” Recipes: The Beginning

by David Bakke

frugal recipesSimilar to my Five Minute Money manager series, I would know like to unveil what I like to call my ever-expanding list of “frugalicious” recipes. These are recipes that “taste” good on two levels. They taste good to my palate, and they are tasty to my wallet as well. In a nutshell, these are recipes that taste good and are also cheap.

But first, a few introductory notes. These recipes begin at the grocery store. And most of them are very basic recipes. As a matter of fact, you will find that most of them involve chicken and vegetables. Kind of goes without saying, because there’s not really a cheap recipe out there that has filet mignon or a piece of Red Snapper in it.

Most of these recipes will also involve “staples”. Things like rice and pasta. So, when it comes to purchasing these things, unless you have a need for organic food in your life, there is no reason to go up the price chain when purchasing these items. The store brand of spaghetti will do just as well as the most expensive one. I worked in the restaurant business for close to twenty years, and it is beyond me when people can tell you that one brand of spaghetti tastes better than another. Sure, if you only tasted the spaghetti, and it was in a side-by-side comparison, you may be able to notice some minor differences, but mixed in with a recipe I really don’ think anyone can tell.

I also think this goes for chicken as well. I have actually had people tell me that one brand of chicken tastes better than another. And honestly, I just don’t get it. What, does one company kill chickens from a better neighborhood than another company? Of course, with your veggies, be discerning and find the best quality. As I’ve mentioned before, a local farmer’s market should be your best bet.

These recipes that I will give you usually have no “amounts” to them, so you’ll probably need at least the smallest bit of cooking ability to put them together. One of the main reasons why is that a lot of time, the recipe I come up with is called a “refrigerator-cleaner-outer”. Now when I was single, this process involved nothing more than dumping all the leftovers in my fridge into a pot, heating it up and eating it (I also had a flashy name for this recipe-I called it “Dave”. My roommates loved it!!). Now that I am married with a son, I do have to get a little more creative.

Let me tell you about what I prepared for dinner last nite. My family doesn’t really like to eat the same dish more than 1-2 days in a row, so our fridge has a tendency of filling up with small amounts of various leftovers. This is probably true of most fridges. So, yesterday this I what I had in my fridge:

–about 5 oz. cooked carrots.
–about 3 cups cooked brown rice.
–1 boiled chicken breast.
–about 1 ½ scrambled eggs
–very small amounts of fresh, uncooked asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini.

This I what I did with it. Sautéed off a little yellow onion, threw in the mushrooms. Thawed out one pack of frozen chicken, cubed it and threw that in. When it was almost cooked, I added the cooked carrots, the leftover cooked chicken, the diced asparagus, and the cubed zucchini. I also chopped up some snow peas and threw those in.

I then found some teriyaki/stir fry type sauce or marinade and added that. Let it all simmer for an extra 5-10 minutes, served it over the leftover rice and topped it with the scrambled eggs.

What did I end up with? Well, it was probably a little bit of chicken stir fry, and a little bit of some kind of Chinese chicken dish. It was fantastic, and it cleaned out my fridge. Now, you might think that I contrived this list of stuff in my fridge and made the whole thing up, but this is exactly what we had for dinner last nite.

So, there you have it-the first of my “frugalicious” recipes. Soon, I’ll get into more traditional recipes where you’re not trying to clean out your refrigerator, but these types of things come in handy when the leftovers start to pile up

To learn other ways to impact your personal economy, stay tuned for my soon-to-be-published book “Don’t Be A Mule: a Common-sense Guide to Saving More, Spending Less, and Generating Extra Income in Your Everyday Life.”


1 Kris Cavanaugh November 5, 2009 at 8:22 pm

You are absolutely right — in most cases, store brand food is typically just as good as brand name food. Saving money here and there definitely adds up when you get to the register!!!

~ Kris Cavanaugh (www.begintoshift.com)

2 Lana November 6, 2009 at 4:23 am

I think lots of people will enjoy this series David. Too bad I am vegetarian now, so can’t really use your chicken recipe. It sounded awesome though. Will you have something for us – vegetarians?

3 Marina November 9, 2009 at 3:19 am

Hi David ! You are very creative and smart person ! I like this idea !
Good luck!

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