Shoestring Meals - One Dish Budget-Minded Recipes (that freeze well)

01-02-2010, 05:28 PM
I like to cook (and I'm sure you do too if you clicked on this topic)! I know how to cook many very tasty dishes, but have zero idea about the serving size or calorie value. Counting calories is a big part of my new (and permanent) life style, and as such, I have begun to weigh, measure, add, and log every calorie I consume (my new nutritional scale rocks). I am putting together my favorite one dish meals here (altered to be more healthful but still tasty), these are meals that freeze well in individual portions to offer convenience for lunch or dinner and make choosing a healthy meal easy. And to top it all off, the recipes are budget-minded! I figure that if I'm going to go through all the work of logging everything for myself, I might as well share the recipes that turn out nicely here.

Chicken/Broccoli/Rice Casserole (with a twist)
9 servings, 375 cal. per serving, $1.33 per serving

1 3/4 lbs. (28 oz.) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 lbs. (36 oz.) of frozen (thaw before using) or fresh broccoli (I got Steamfresh broccoli florets super cheap at Wal-Mart, or I would have bought fresh)
315 grams (just under 1 3/4 c.) of uncooked brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's natural whole grain brown rice)
10 oz. can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
3 c. of water
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. of garlic salt
1/2 tsp. of chili powder
1/2 tsp. of black pepper

and here comes the "secret" ingredient...

1 1/2 tbsp. of oyster sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the chicken into roughly 1 1/2 inch cubes and throw everything together in a large casserole dish and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stir thoroughly, and cook an additional 30 minutes or until rice is desired tenderness.

I portioned the casserole out into nine 1 1/2 c. servings, clocking in at around 375 calories a serving. I spent $12 on ingredients (already had spices and oyster sauce on hand), so that's $1.33 per serving.

It's very hearty and filling, and more tasty than you'd think (it's the oyster sauce)! If you have allergies (it's made from fish, not oysters, but you never know), or just don't want to buy oyster sauce (really good condiment investment in my opinion, a little goes a long way), you could probably substitute fat free low sodium Swanson chicken broth for the water to keep things flavorful.

01-02-2010, 06:29 PM
This sounds really tasty! And I'm aiming for a lean January, cash-wise as well as weight-wise, so thankyou!

KaCee J
01-02-2010, 07:19 PM
That is a great recipe, another idea I make often is spaghetti with whole wheat pasta and replace the meat with veggies, also pretty cheap and freezable!

01-02-2010, 10:07 PM
Asparagus Quiche with Potato Crust
6 servings, 185 cal. per serving, $1.50 per serving

Potato Crust:
2c. (235 grams, about 5 small potatoes) loosely packed grated red potatoes
1/4c. (75 grams) grated yellow onion
1 large egg white
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
a few drops of extra virgin olive oil

2 large whole eggs
5 large egg whites
10 slices of turkey bacon (I used Jennie-O Extra Lean 95% fat free since it's only 20 calories a slice)
1 lb. (340 grams after trimming) of fresh asparagus
1/3 c. almond milk
1 1/2 c. low-fat 2% cottage cheese
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grate potatoes and squeeze dry. I found putting them in a flat bottom strainer, putting a towel under the strainer, and pressing with a plate worked well to squeeze out the moisture. Salt and pepper potatoes lightly. Mix in onion. Lightly whisk egg white and add to potato mixture and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Lightly grease a 9 in. glass pie plate with olive oil (I put a few drops on a paper towel and rubbed the plate). Pour in potato mixture and press into bottom and sides of plate with the back of a spoon - it should reach all the way up the sides. Bake uncovered on center rack for 20 minutes or until it begins to turn brown on the edges.

While crust is cooking:
1) line up bacon slices on a cookie sheet and place in bottom rack of oven to crisp
2) trim ends of asparagus and cook covered in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat (they are done when they turn bright green and the skin begins to soften, but they should still be fairly firm)
3) combine almond milk, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl
4) in a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs

Remove crust and bacon from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Allow crust to cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

While crust is cooling:
1) finely crumble bacon (food processor works great)
2) finish cooking asparagus, and cut into 1 in. pieces

Almost there! Once crust is cool, fold eggs into cheese mixture until just combined. Fold in bacon crumbles and asparagus pieces. Pour into crust. Bake uncovered on center rack for 45 minutes or until center is firm. There will be some liquid pools on top of the quiche, don't worry, they are reabsorbed as it cools! Cool completely before serving. Quiche is best refridgerated and served cold the next day.

This quiche yields 6 satisfying slices, and at only about 185 calories a slice, it's totally guilt-free deliciousness! Cost of ingredients was about $9, so that's $1.50 per serving.

I was pleasantly surprised with this quiche. It doesn't quite have all the cheesy custard goodness of traditional quiche, but it's a nice compromise for not using the heavy cream and several cups of whole milk cheese that most recipes call for! Topped with a sprinkle of hot sauce or a thick slice of fresh tomato, it's super yum. If you don't have almond milk on hand (you should, it's a great low calorie milk and soy milk alternative...we're talking only 40 calories for a cup, yes, a whole cup), I would substitute with an extra 1/3 c. cottage cheese (but keep in mind the calories per serving will increase just a little bit).

01-02-2010, 11:04 PM
That is a great recipe, another idea I make often is spaghetti with whole wheat pasta and replace the meat with veggies, also pretty cheap and freezable!

I love pasta dishes too, especially for lunchtime as the carbs are a nice kick of energy. And pasta does freeze very well!

01-02-2010, 11:22 PM
Oh yay!! These both look wonderful! I have been thinking about making my lunches ahead and freezing portions. These should be great additions to my recipe book. Thank you!

01-06-2010, 01:06 PM
Wow! Thanks for this recipes. You can really make a lot of servings at once.. which makes it easy.

01-09-2010, 03:45 PM
Creamy Sweet Potato Soup
10 servings, 121 cal. per serving, less than $.50 per serving

2 lbs. sweet potatoes (the big ones w/ orange flesh), peeled and chopped
10 oz. (just under 2/3 lb.) celery, peeled and chopped
10 oz. (just under 2/3 lb.) carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small (2 1/2 in. diameter) yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
3 c. chicken broth (I like low fat reduced sodium Swanson)
3 c. water
1 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
salt to taste

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients except buttermilk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Allow to cool uncovered (should still be warm, but not burning to the touch). Blend in a blender in batches until smooth and poor back into the stock pot once the entire mixture is blended. Bring mixture back up to a slow simmer and add in buttermilk. Simmer for 5 minutes longer and it's done.

I portioned the soup out into ten approx. 1 1/2 c. servings, clocking in at around 121 calories a serving. I spent under $6 on ingredients (already had spices and buttermilk on hand), so that's less then $.50 per serving.

I like to throw a dollop of sour cream on it if I'm eating at home. Pairs well with turkey if you're looking for a larger meal.

The recipe could be altered to vegetarian if you substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and replace the buttermilk with 3/4 c. almond milk. And a note about buttermilk since I find many people give it a bad rap or associate it only with baking...yes, buttermilk is hard to drink on its own (sort of like drinking watered down really sour sour cream), but it is low calorie (100 calories per c.) and can be low fat. It's fantastic with vegetables and potatoes, delightful in smoothies, super in homemade salad dressings (adds great tang w/ creaminess), and so on. Plus, it generally has a nice long expiration date so it doesn't go to waste.

01-24-2010, 09:44 PM
Chicken and Chard Pasta Fagioli
10 servings, 285 cal. per serving, $1.50 per serving

1 large yellow onion, diced
3 c. carrots, grated
2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (reduce amount if you don't like spicey)
1 lb. of swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped
5 c. chicken broth (I like low fat reduced sodium Swanson)
3 chicken bouillon cubes (so flavor isn't diluted by water)
5 c. water
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
16 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5 c. cooked (poached works) chicken breast meat shredded
10 oz. pasta (I used Barilla Plus farfalle multi-grain because it was on sale, go for ditalini or tubetini for the traditional fagioli shape)

Place a large stock pot over medium-high heat with a splash of broth to wet the bottom. Add onion, carrots, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and cook, mixing often, for 4 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Add in swiss chard, mixing often, and cook until wilted. Add broth, bouillon, water, tomatoes, and beans and bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes. Add pasta, bring pot back to a boil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. If at any point after adding ingredients there is not enough liquid to just cover them, add more water! I'm sure I added another 2 or 3 cups during cooking as needed.

I portioned the fagioli out into ten heaping 2 c. servings, clocking in at around 285 calories a serving. I spent $15 on ingredients (already had spices and bouillon on hand), so that's $1.50 per serving.

I LOVE this soup! It's my new favorite chicken soup! It's slightly spicy, but not hot. The 2 c. serving is a nice portion - this is not a soup where the ingredients are lost in broth, every spoonful is hearty! I topped my bowl with some freshly shredded parmesan cheese (adding another 40 calories) - it was a nice compliment.

If you are scared of swiss chard, you could substitute spinach.

02-01-2010, 12:24 AM
This thread is amazing! Thank you so much! I've bookmarked it specifically so I can try all these recipies. I've never tried swiss chard though, does it taste like spinach? Cause spinach is one thing I can't stand the taste of...maybe I could just leave it out, I really like a lot of liquid in my soups. :)

02-01-2010, 08:27 PM
This thread is amazing! Thank you so much! I've bookmarked it specifically so I can try all these recipies. I've never tried swiss chard though, does it taste like spinach? Cause spinach is one thing I can't stand the taste of...maybe I could just leave it out, I really like a lot of liquid in my soups. :)

It's hard to describe the flavor...very earthy, slightly bitter when raw. The closest thing I can come up with would maybe be brussel sprouts. If you like those, you'd probably like chard. I think it would still be a good soup without the chard, with the carrot and tomato standing out more in the flavor. Do you like mushrooms? Those would add back some of that earthy flavor to the soup if you skip the chard.

02-01-2010, 11:47 PM
Oh that's good to hear, I do like brussel sprouts! And I LOVE mushrooms, mmmm! I don't be shopping for a while, but this will be on my list to get ingredients for when I do. Thanks!

02-02-2010, 01:02 PM
I had this yesterday. This recipe makes about 8 servings but it is easily halved. A good hardy meal for cold winter nights. Just pop everything in the slow cooker in the morning and have everything piping hot for supper.

Vegetable Curry
16-oz. package baby carrots or 1 lb. carrots, sliced or cut in sticks
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 lb. fresh, or frozen green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces (or may use canned*)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
3 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste)
2 teaspoon salt
1 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon, or 2 chicken bouillon cubes

Combine carrots, potatoes, green beans, pepper, onion, garlic, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes in large bowl. Stir in tapioca, curry powder, and salt. Dissolve bouillon in boiling water. Pour over vegetables. Mix well. Spoon into large slow cooker or two medium ones. Cover. Cook on Low 8-10 hours or High 3-4 hours. Serve with cooked rice.

*If using canned green beans, add toward the end of the cooking time.

02-02-2010, 03:59 PM
Retiredone, that's sounds yummy! I'm going to try it soon. I love my crockpot. :)

02-05-2010, 09:28 PM
Baja Black Beans and Corn
12 servings, 400 cal. per serving, less than $1 per serving

two 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
32 oz. frozen whole yellow corn kernels, thawed
28 oz. can diced tomatoes (plain or with green chilis), drained
1 c. red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, diced
juice of whole fresh lime (about 4 tbsp.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 c. cooked long grain brown rice

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, cover tightly, and let sit overnight for flavors to blend (it gets tastier each day).

This dish can be served cold or warmed. My favorite way to eat this is hot over 1/2 c. cooked long grain brown rice with lots of hot sauce. I'll add some sour cream and scrambled eggs also to make a fuller meal. Tastes wonderful as a salsa or as a side to grilled fish or chicken.

02-05-2010, 10:17 PM
That sounds delicious too! If you're going to eat it hot over rice, do you leave the rice out when you mix the other things then?

02-06-2010, 12:50 PM
That sounds delicious too! If you're going to eat it hot over rice, do you leave the rice out when you mix the other things then?

I leave the rice out only because I want to make sure I'm only using the 1/2 c. of it and not more. The rice is included in the calorie approximation though!

02-06-2010, 06:52 PM
This is a great recipe I made and stuffed right into the freezer during a soup making frenzy a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the paper where I wrote down the number of servings I ended up with and the cost of ingredients (it is definitely budget). I'm making it again soon since it's quite yummy, and I'll update the missing information then!

Turkey and Squash Soup
? servings, 254 cal. per serving, $? per serving

2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped*
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
5 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped (use less if you don't like strong garlic flavor)
5 c. chicken broth (I like low fat reduced sodium Swanson)
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 in. cubes
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 lbs. uncooked skinless turkey breast meat, cut into 1 in. cubes
2 c. frozen whole yellow corn kernels, thawed
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste (I used just a touch of sea salt)

*Leeks need to be thoroughly cleaned, they are often filled with sand when you separate the leaves, and sand does not a tasty soup make! Try a Google search if this will be your first time handling leeks!

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add leeks, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook uncovered, stirring often, until they begin to soften and the garlic turns golden brown. If the vegetables stick to the pot, reduce the heat. You want them to "roast" to draw out flavor, adding liquid at this point would cause them to be steamed. Stir in broth, scraping the bottom of the pot to bring up the flavorful bits of garlic. Add squash, thyme, and cumin. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the squash is tender. Add turkey, corn, lime juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. Return the broth to a simmer and cook until turkey is cooked through.

A 2 c. serving, clocks in at around 254 calories a serving.

This is a very spicy soup, and actually gets better with freezing and rewarming! The broth is robust and flavorful, and the soup itself is colorful. At my workplace, anyone who filters through the lounge during my lunch never fails to comment that something smells really good.

I wouldn't change a thing! I think the spiciness from the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes is what makes this soup great, so if you don't like a little bite with your bites, steer clear of this one!

Shopping tip: Regular turkey breast cutlets are normally out of my price range unless they are marked down to sell because the expiration date is approaching. What I do to get around this is to look for sales on the large whole or half turkey breasts intended for roasting (my last score was 5 lbs. of meat on a half breast for only $9). With a sharp knife, it's quite easy to separate the breast meat from the bone. There are some ligaments/tendons that run through the breast itself, but these are easy to see and again, with a sharp knife, easy to remove from the meat. Any leftover carcass I save in the freezer to use later to make stock (carcass + a pile of discarded vegetable peelings + simmered for a while + cooling + fat skimming = homemade stock for other soups)!

02-22-2010, 12:40 AM
Roasted Red Pepper and Corn Chowder
3-5 large red peppers
*roast under broiler, turning every few minutes to get consistant blackening. once complete, place in a paper bag/covered dish and let rest 5-10 minutes. this will allow you to remove the outer portion of the skin easier.

1 medium onion chopped and sauteed in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot. after the onions turn translucent, add the red pepper cut into small pieces. you can easily add the remainder of the ingredients to your liking:

14 ounces of corn (frozen, canned, or creamed)
salt and pepper to taste
celery seed
chili powder

heat on medium low to combine the flavors. puree in a blender in batches or with inversion blender. i usually leave some of it not pureed for texture. just add water to achieve the consistancy you desire. for the creamiest version, use creamed corn - texture of cream without the fat. this recipe can be easily amended. if you don't have these spices on hand, not a problem... this soup has plenty of flavor as it is. this past week when i made it i also added some garbanzo flour - about 1/2cup (a dry hummus mix would work too) for additional protein. i have also added about a tablespoon of adobo sauce from chipotle peppers to give it a kick.
makes four portions and freezes well. you can easily double the recipe. i use whichever peppers are on sale at the farm market for the best deal.

02-22-2010, 11:31 AM
Curried Chickpea Stew

6 servings of 325cal each, high protein and veggie too!
Sorry don't know costs, but it is pretty cheap!

rinse one can of lentils underwater. put in crock pot and smash with a potato masher, add:
2 diced onions
3 cubed zucchinis
1 cubed pepper (red is nice for colour, but i use green to keep cost down)
1 diced sweet potato
1 box low sodium chicken stock (approx 4 cups)
1 tbls curry paste (as hot as you like!)
1/4 cup (yes CUP) of ground corriander
1/4 cup ground coumin
lots black pepper
2 cans rinsed chick peas

cook in 1/2 covered crock pot until it is about the consistancy of chili (6-8 hours on medium depending on your pot - i often leave overnight on low)

thanks for the other recipes!!!

03-04-2010, 10:18 PM
Just wanted to post that I'd tried both the Chicken and Chard Pasta Fagioli and Baja Black Beans and Corn-both were excellent! I did end up with some swiss chard for the fagioli and ended up really liking it! (the only problem with that is that in my small town they don't sell swiss chard, only ended up with some cause we were an hour away and stopped at the store there...) I added quite a bit of spice to mine, and a little parm whenj it was done. Really good and even better the next day!

I made the Baja beans last night, used a yellow onion because the red one I had was so strong it was unuseable. I also used canned corn instead of frozen, it tastes better to me. I put it in the fridge overnight and warmed some up to serve over rice for lunch, it was great! Thanks for these recipies!

03-28-2010, 02:39 AM
Sounds good.

04-10-2010, 06:11 PM
Southwestern Goulash
10 servings, 257 cal. per serving, $1.20 per serving

1 1/4 lbs. (20 oz.) of lean ground turkey
1/4 to 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (plus some extra leaves for garnish)
1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
32 oz. bag of frozen chopped green beans, thawed
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. pasta of your choice (I like Barilla Plus Farfalle), cooked and drained

Cook up the pasta until it is almost done and drain. It will finish cooking with the other ingredients. Set aside for now.

In a medium stock pot, brown the ground turkey. If there is a lot of fat, drain most of it off before proceeding. Adjust heat to medium. Add the minced cilantro and onion. Cook until the onion becomes soft and opaque. At this point, throw in the remaining ingredients: green beans, corn, tomatoes, sauce, chilies, and seasonings. Mix well and bring to a nice bubbly simmer. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Fold in your pasta and continue to simmer an additional 2 or 3 minutes.

When I'm planning to freeze a bunch...I remove what will be frozen right after I add the pasta. By not finishing cooking the pasta all the way, it freezes better and finishes cooking when it is microwaved.

I portioned the goulash out into ten 1 1/2 c. servings, clocking in at around 257 calories a serving. I spent $12 on ingredients (already had dried spices on hand), so that's $1.20 per serving.

I've now made this goulash twice, and I love it...both because it's tasty and easy. The cumin and chilies add a nice kick, but I like to add extra hot sauce to mine as well as a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

04-10-2010, 06:45 PM
Lazy Gołąbki
9 servings, 312 cal. per serving, less than $1 per serving

2 medium heads of green cabbage, cored and quartered
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, whole leaves only
1/2 large red onion, diced
5 c. chicken broth (I like Swanson fat free reduced sodium)
5 c. water
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
26 oz. can condensed tomato soup
1 1/4 lbs. (20 oz.) of lean ground turkey
1 1/4 c. long grain brown rice, uncooked (NOT AN INSTANT VARIETY)
salt to taste

In a large stock pot combine the cabbage, cilantro onion, broth, water, dried onion, red pepper, basil, parsley, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a rapid simmer, mixing occasionally to separate the cabbage leaves, and cook until cabbage is tender (you should be able to cut it with your mixing spoon). While you are waiting on the cabbage, brown the turkey, drain, and set aside. It will seem like there is a lot of liquid in the cabbage pot at this point, don't worry, we need it! Once the cabbage is tender, add in the condensed tomato soup, turkey, and rice. Use your spoon to push everything down into the liquid. If there isn't enough liquid to cover it, add more broth or water until things are just covered. Taste the liquid now, and add salt if desired. Bring the pot back up to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook until the rice is tender (will vary depending on the brand of rice you use, but whatever you do, don't use an instant want this to simmer at least another 30 minutes and the instant types of rice will turn to goo if cooked that long). The rice will absorb much of the extra liquid as it cooks.

I portioned the Gołąbki out into 9 2 c. servings, clocking in at around 312 calories a serving. I spent $8 on ingredients (already had dried spices on hand), so that's less than $1 per serving.

What can I say? This stuff reminds me of my childhood...straight up Polish comfort food! It's great with a dollop of sour cream.

I'm a cabbage fan, so the increased cabbage to meat ratio in this recipe is quite nice for me. If you like a lot of meat, you might want to go with 2.5 lbs. instead.