Ask the Readers: What Is Your Favorite Frugal Food?

Photo: Jeff Belmonte

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Liza, KK, and Elena for winning this week's contest!

Tasty food doesn't have to cost a lot. You can save on fresh ingredients at the grocery store, or save time by cooking in large batches, or get creative with leftovers to make a meal last — whatever it takes to get your favorite food on the table!

What is your favorite frugal food? Is it a dish you make yourself, or an ingredient that you often use? Do you have a recipe to share?

Tell us about your favorite frugal food and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, March 25th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 25th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
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Good Luck!

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I like to do whole wheat pasta with lemon juice, garlic salt, and pepper. For an extra splurge I add a little feta cheese.

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My favorite frugal food is leftovers of any kind. I purposely cook with the intent of having at least two meals from one recipe. It saves time and money and not using them is wasteful and is just throwing money away.

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From-scratch Red Beans and Rice. I found an amazing recipe from a cookbook at the library. It's one of our staple favorites.

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Rice and pasta!

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Jackie Oei

Grilled zucchini and soft scrambled eggs... yum!

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Chili made with venison. The husband ususally gets a deer each year.

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Alissa A

I love mac and cheese!

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Anything dried that I can buy from "bulk barrels," like dried beans, lentils, peas. Filling, versatile, and cheap!

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Ann Hardman

I just love black beans. I eat them with everything - on top of salads, in a wrap, on top of nachos, or food-processed into a black bean hummus. Love 'em.

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Jan j

A whole roasted chicken provides several meals including soup.

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i love homemade kale chips. totally good for you and addictive! cut out the stems, wash, put olive oil and salt on a baking sheet and 10" at 350! awesome. and cheap!

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Tiffany S.

My favorite frugal meal is salmon. I buy Aldi's frozen Sea Queen Wild Caught Salmon on sale for $3.99 (4 pieces per bag) and a fresh lemon for about 20 cents. I just defrost the salmon, put it in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over the salmon, and add a few little pats of butter and cook in the oven....delicious! and healthy!

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Homemade chicken & dumplings. It's delicious, and the pepper adds a nice little kick to it.

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Black Bean Turkey Burgers $.50 serving
This recipe is my current favorite money saving meal.
12 oz ground turkey
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can drained black beans
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
Form into burgers and cook with a little oil. Serves 6!

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Organic carrots from Costco. Healthy and cheap! :)

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Tortillas! Eggs and veggies wrapped in a tortilla, roasted veggies in a tortilla, beans and rice and hot sauce in a tortilla, anything leftover in the fridge wrapped up with some cheese in a tortilla! It can stretch little tid-bits of leftovers into a meal and I am less likely to waste food if I have some yummy flour tortillas in the house.

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Jessica McNally

Eggs! Perfect for any meal and a great cheap source of protein. My favorite breakfast is a poached egg on toast layered with slices of avocado.

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Spaghetti....and top it with commercial tomato veggie sauce or pesto....

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Lisa Under the Redwoods

Pasta! It is cheapand can be combined with so many other ingredients.

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Lisa B.

I would have to say tofu for versatility and nutritional value.

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Breakfast for dinner is our cheap & easy go to meal. Eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, quiche, casseroles. Simple. Filling. Inexpensive. And best of all, the ingredients are always available from the fridge or pantry.

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When I met my husband, he mentioned to me his love for corn. He loves to have corn with everything. Then one day I thought " Which is the easiest and most costly way to make eat a delicious dish or corn?" Thats when I though "Corn Casserole!" This is the easiest and most delicious food to make. Using my store has Buy one get one free. The recipe is:

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

I guaranteed you will be happy with this casserole! Delish! And my husband thinks im the best corn casserole maker :)

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Cindy, how long do you cook this, and at what temperature? It sounds good and I would like to try it.

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Eggs! They're even more frugal for us since we have a couple of our own chickens. You can make breakfast - even for dinner when times are tight.

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Eggs! They're affordable, versatile, yet somehow seem rich and indulgent. Breakfast, lunch, dinner...I could eat them all the time!

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Potato soup is my favorite frugal food. Warms you up and it's relatively cheap!

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J. Pario

Green onions are a favorite frugal food because they will keep growing in a little water and can be re-harvested. There's a post about it on our blog:
The big debate is really whether they are properly green onions or chives....

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TVP is my favorite frugal food. For the price, or less, of about a pound of animal protein, I can buy a pound or TVP that rehydrates into a little over three pound of low fat protein. It absorbs flavor, like tofu, so rehydrating it with flavorful liquids like spicy tomato sauce or stock gives it any flavor I need. It comes in little granules that are a good stand in for Taco Bell style ground beef, kibbles for soups, and nuggets which I used to rehydrate with chicken stock and bread for my kids' "chicken" nuggets. They will keep in a jar on a shelf for ages, always ready to toss into a last minute meal.

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Joey G

A Mediterranean dish -

Tilapia - very inexpensive fish yet delicious and healthy
Bell peppers, corn, olives, tomatoes, garlic, onions - (chop, chop, chop) labor intensive but not wallet intensive
Olive oil - to taste (the more olive oil, the more mediterranean)

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It may be lame, but I really like mac n cheese :) I add a little sugar...thats my secret!

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Kelly C

My favorite frugal dish is salad, there are just so many things you can do with a salad, you can add fruit, or nuts or beans or chicken, you can have salad every day of the week and never eat the same salad twice!

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I love beans cooked all kinds of ways!

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Split pea soup.

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I love pasta! I make a box or more on Mondays and then eat it all week with whatever leftovers are in the refrigerator.

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frugal is fun

Peanut butter with just peanuts! On apples, bananas, crackers, wheat bread, (sauce) over stirfry vegetables and brown rice or soba noodles, in oatmeal cookies, in smoothies, on toast or just out of the jar.

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I would have to say pasta! Cheap and kids love it!