12 Frugal Recipes


Josh and I enjoy finding ways to be frugal in order help us reach our financial goals. We even did a challenge to see how little we could spend on groceries one month.

It’s our desire to live a simplistic, healthy life with a minimal pantry, leaving the smallest footprint on the earth that we can. I’ve put together a pretty sweet collection of recipes that hold true to all those things. Some are from whole-food bloggers, some from vegetarian restaurants, some from friends and family. These are a few of my staples I come back to again and again.

People know if they’re coming to my house there will be smoothies, green pancakes, and oatmeal. It’s a given. When we stopped eating cereal for breakfast, we cut out all that sugar as well as the hefty price-tag. Give it a try for a week and see if you feel the difference! No sugar crash in the afternoon, and noticeable savings on the grocery bill.

We rarely, if ever, eat out – both for health and financial priorities. Because of that I’ve developed a system for cooking from scratch every night. I tend to use crock-pots a lot. I make brown rice and dry beans in the morning, and chop the veggies whenever I get a chance. I cook in large quantities so there’s always leftovers when we need to grab something quick. Now that I work 3 nights a week, I’ve also been making more than one thing at once. It takes about the same amount of time to throw together two meals as one. For instance, as long as I already have the cutting board out, I’ll go ahead and cut up all my veggies for a couple meals.

I also freeze dinner leftovers in mason jars, leaving a little room at the top for expansion. This is “frugal takeout” at it’s best – an easy lunch or dinner always at the ready. If you can develop a system that makes frugal made-from-scratch food just as easy as convenience foods, you’ll never have an excuse to eat out. (Unless it’s date night! And even then, gift cards are awesome!)

So here’s a little taste from my table. My not-so-secret favorite frugal recipes.

12 of My Favorite Frugal Recipes:

Green Pancakes

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
We take our pancakes seriously around here.

3 cups white whole wheat flour (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

1 tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp baking powder (look for aluminum-free. I also use Trader Joe’s)

3 cups chopped kale

4-6 cups water

Butter or olive oil for pan

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a blender, combine the kale and water. You may have to do two batches if your blender is small. Blend until completely smooth.
  3. Add kale liquid to dry ingredients. Add more water if desired until consistency is how you like it.
  4. Cook on a heated pan or griddle, about 4 minutes each side.
  5. Serve with butter, real maple syrup, yogurt, trail mix, or PB and J on top. Serves 4-5

My Everyday Smoothie


1 banana (fresh or frozen)

1 cup chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)

1 cup chopped kale (fresh or frozen)

1 cup mixed greens (romaine, microgreens, mustard, turnip, or collard greens.)

3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 C milk or milk alternative

2 C water, or enough to blend

1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (optional)

Ice cubes (optional)

  1. Place ingredients in large blender and pulse until banana and ice are broken.
  2. Switch blender to high and wait a few minutes until completely smooth.
  3. Pour into a quart-size glass. Best if enjoyed right away. Otherwise it will thaw and separate. Serves 1-2 depending on how large you like your smoothies.

My Everyday Oats

(My favorite combination right now: molasses, flaxseed, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, grass-fed butter, cinnamon, sea salt, allspice, and raisins. Peanut butter, cocoa, and sea salt is runner-up though.)

IMG_01021.5 C Plain rolled or instant oats

1 Tbsp Honey or maple syrup

1/8 C Raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash of sea salt

Splash of milk or milk alternative

Delicious optional toppings:

1/2 chopped banana

2 Tbsp flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped dates, fresh blueberries, or canned pumpkin

1 tsp coconut oil, butter, or natural peanut butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Dash of nutmeg or allspice.

  1. Combine oats and desired toppings in a bowl.
  2. Cover in about a cup of boiling water. Stir until cooked and absorbed.
  3. Add a splash of milk and fresh berries if using. Makes 1-2 servings. Can be eaten right away or refrigerated and eaten cold later.

Vegan Chili

Company must be coming! House smells like chili.

1 lb dry beans

2 onions, chopped

2 green peppers, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic

2 cans diced tomates

1 can pureed tomatoes

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp oregano

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

  1. Rinse dry beans and place in slow cooker with 1/2 gallon of water. Cook on high for 5 hours or until soft.
  2. Drain cooked beans and return to slow cooker.
  3. Saute onion, green peppers, and garlic in butter or olive oil until onions are soft.
  4. Add onion, peppers, and garlic to slow cooker with beans. Top with tomatoes and spices.
  5. Cook on low until fragrant. Top with cheese, sour cream, crackers, or cornbread. Serves 5-8. I often double for a crowd.

Vegetable Curry

5 C frozen vegetables or whatever fresh veggies are in season

1 onion

5 cloves garlic

1 can diced tomatoes and their juice

1 C water or stock

2 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

4 C cooked brown rice

1 can coconut milk

  1. Saute onion and garlic until nearly translucent.
  2. Toss in chopped vegetables, tomatoes, stock or water, and spices.
  3. Simmer until veggies are cooked and sauce is fragrant.
  4. Serve with brown rice and top with coconut milk. Serves 5

Chana Masala

2 cans chickpeas, or 4 cups cooked dried chickpeas

1 C water or stock

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 C butter

1 onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1 C diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp grated ginger

  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 6 hrs.
  2. Serve with brown rice and top with cilantro if desired.

Corn Chowder

(Inspired by More With Less)

1/2 C water or stock

2 C potatoes, diced.

1 C celery, chopped.

2 C milk

1 can whole kernel corn

Sea salt and black pepper.

  1. Combine ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for about 5-8 hours until potatoes are soft.
  2. Stir in several handfuls of kale right before serving (optional) and puree with emersion blender. Great with buttered bread and cheese. Serves 6

African Sweet Potato Soup

(From Living Well Spending Less. Whenever sweet potatoes are on sale, I make a huge pot of this and we enjoy it for days.)

Baked Beans from Scratch

(From 100 Days of Real FoodI make these more frugal my replacing the maple syrup with about 1/4 C brown sugar or coconut sugar.)

Simple Kale Salad

(Inspired by Rae Hedlund. This salad travels amazingly well. I make it for work every day in the morning and it’s still great at lunchtime.)

3 cups torn kale, or enough to fill your bowl

1 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt

1/2 apple, chopped

2 Tbsp raw, shelled sunflower seeds

2 Tbsp raisins, optional

  1. Drizzle olive oil over kale. Massage until leaves start to wilt slightly.
  2. Sprinkle (generously) with sea salt, and top with chopped apple, sunflower seeds, and raisins if using. Serves 1.

Leftover Bread Pudding

(Adapted from Zero Waste Home )

3 C stale bread, cubed

4 eggs

2 C milk or milk alternative

1 C brown sugar, coconut sugar, or honey

3 Tbsp melted butter

1/2 C raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place cubed bread in a 8×8 baking dish
  3. Whisk other ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Pour over bread and bake for 40 minutes. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Custard

(Adapted from More With Less)

1 can pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1/3 C brown sugar or coconut sugar

1.5 C milk or milk alternative

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour into buttered 8×8 baking dish.
  4. Bake 45 minutes or until set. Top with yogurt or a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. Serves 4-6



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  1. These all look like recipes we would love! We eat veg about half the time, but I have trouble staying full without animal proteins in the mix. I am going to try this chana masal recipe for sure!

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