Miserly Meals

by Jonni McCoy

When I first embarked on my frugal lifestyle, I heard critics say that they would never live frugally since it meant having to eat "frugal food." Many people believe they cannot serve healthy food to their family while on a tight budget. I am here to prove that "frugal" and "healthy" can be one and the same.

The keys to cooking healthy frugal meals are how you shop and how you cook. I discuss shopping tips in my book Miserly Moms. In my new book, Miserly Meals, we look at ways to save grocery money by modifying the menu. After all, how can we save money if we have steak several times per week? We need new recipes that call for simple ingredients, but still provide an appealing and healthy meal to the family. Each recipe in my book costs less than 75 cents per serving, has a nutritional breakdown to show that it is healthy, and is easy to prepare.

In the sample menu below, I offer you recipes for a complete meal-main dish, side dish and dessert - for $1.01 per person. I hope that with the help of my recipes, your frugal cooking will be an enhancement to your family's budget, not a frustration.


Serves 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (or 1 pkg.) dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt


  • 8 oz. chicken breast, cooked & diced
  • 2 T. water chestnuts, drained & diced
  • 1 T. onion, chopped
  • 2 T. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt

Combine the dough ingredients in a bread machine (set on "dough" setting), or combine by hand and knead until elastic. Divide the dough into 6 balls. Roll each into a 6-7 inch circle on a floured surface.

In a separate bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Take one sixth of the filling and place in the center of a dough circle, fold in half, and pinch edges shut. Repeat with the other circles. Place calzones on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 295
Fat 8 grams
Cholesterol 22 mg
Carbohydrates 42 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 13 grams
Sodium 479 mg

Other Filling Ideas: Combine any meat, cheese, tofu, vegetables and spices to make the filling. Avoid much liquid (i.e. use marinara sauce instead of fresh tomatoes). Note: To make a quicker version of this recipe, purchase ready-made unbaked piecrust. Divide each circle in half, fill and bake. Cost per serving (1 calzone): $0.34


Serves 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

  • 4 cups diced raw vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, red bell peppers, jicama, zucchini, celery, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (see recipe in Mix chapter)

Place all of the vegetables in a 2-qt saucepan and cover with water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are still crisp but tender. Remove from heat, drain, and run under cold water. Place the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well blended. Add the vegetables and toss. Cover and let chill overnight in the refrigerator (to enhance the flavor).

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 171
Fat 18 grams
Cholesterol 0
Carbohydrates 3 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Protein 1 gram Sodium 55 mg

Variations: Add shoestring-sliced cheese or salami, fresh parsley, black or green olives, or jalapeno pepper. Cost per serving (3/4 cup): $0.56

For more savings: What Successful Shoppers Know About Groceries


Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

  • 3 cups diced fresh or canned fruit (apples, peaches, cherries, berries)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 T. butter

Find Savings: Get Free Samples and Coupons From the Brands You Love

In a bread loaf pan, or 8x8 pan, spread the fruit around the bottom, distributing evenly. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a pastry blender so butter is evenly mixed in. Crumble the topping over the top of the fruit.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 300
Fat 12 grams
Cholesterol 31 mg
Carbohydrates 46 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 4 grams
Sodium 254 mg

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
Variation: Add chopped nuts to the topping for added flavor and texture. Cost per serving (1 cup): $0.11

Jonni McCoy is the author of Miserly Moms - Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy and Healthy Meals For Less.
Visit the Miserly Moms Website at www.miserlymoms.com
"The advice given in this column is based upon personal information and experience. For further information on the disclaimer, please visit this address: www.miserlymoms.com/

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