Frugal Menus and Recipes - Week 1

Frugal Menus and Recipes - Week 1

Choosing menus, buying food, and fixing meals your family enjoys are difficult tasks. They are even harder when you don't have a lot of money. Here are ideas for menus and recipes. A grocery shopping list is also included on this website.

When you plan meals ahead you can feed your family better for less money. You can:

Making a shopping list saves time and money. You can:

To make your own shopping list:

Weekly Meal Planner (* indicates recipe is included)

Day 1           Day 2           Day 3           Day 4     
Peanut butter   Ready-to-eat    Oatmeal (1 c)   1/2 grapefruit  
toast (2)       cereal, milk    raisins, milk  Ready-to-eat     
Banana          Whole wheat     Toast            cereal, milk   
Orange juice     toast (2)      Orange juice    Toast   
Milk            Orange juice 
Egg and cheese  Peanut butter,  Creamed salmon  Turkey ham      
puff*           jelly           on toast*       sandwich       
Green beans      sandwich       Apple           Canned pears    
Bread           Carrot sticks   Milk            Carrot sticks   
Beverage        Milk                            Milk                              
Calico Beans*   Stir-fry        Beef and        Pasta, tomatoes,        
Bread           dinner*         Cabbage soup*   cheese*          
Canned pears    Rice             with potatoes  Garlic toast      
Milk            Cucumber-       Bread/crackers   or bread       
                 tomato salad   Milk            Three-bean      
                Pineapple                        salad*
                with apple
Apple           Gelatin Yogurt  Instant          Bread           
                 Fluff*         pudding                         

Day 5           Day 6           Day 7
Ready-to-eat    French toast    1/2 grapefruit
 cereal, milk     (2), syrup    Ready-to-eat
Bran muffin*    Orange juice     cereal, milk
Orange juice                    Bran muffin*    
Pizza buns*     Chicken         Peanut butter,
Celery sticks    Noodle soup     raisin sandwich
Banana          Bread/crackers  Celery sticks
Milk            Veggies with    Apple
                 cottage        Milk
                 cheese dip*
Red beans,      Broiled ham-    Beef stew*
 rice burritos*  burger on bun  Biscuits (2)
 with salsa     Corn            Canned peaches
Broccoli spears Three-bean      Milk
Milk             salad* 
Fruit and dip   Pudding/        Fruit cup with yogurt
                banana fluff*

Shopping List

This page lists the food you will need to cook this week's menus. Cross out the food you already have in your house. Your shopping list is what is left.


20 apples
12 bananas
4 grapefruit
4 kiwi
1 small bunch grapes


2 pounds carrots
1 bunch celery
6 onions
4 large potatoes
1 head cabbage
1 bunch broccoli
1 head lettuce
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 green pepper

Canned Food

1 can fruit cocktail
1 (15 ounce) navy beans
1 can mixed vegetables
3 (15 ounce) kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) lima beans
1 (15 ounce) wax beans
1 boneless, skinless pouch salmon
3 (15 ounce) green beans
1 (15 ounce) corn niblets
2 cans chicken noodle soup
1 small can pizza sauce
3 (15 ounce) cans seasoned or plain tomatoes
1 small can jalapeno peppers
1 small jar salsa
2 (15 ounce) pears
2 (15 ounce) peaches
1 (15 ounce) pineapple


1 pkg. (4 serving size) gelatin
1 instant pudding mix (4 serving size)
grape jelly
peanut butter
salad dressing for green salad
soy sauce
vegetable oil
light brown sugar
Splenda or sugar
baking soda
garlic powder
parsley flakes

Breads and Cereals

2 loaves whole wheat bread
4 loaves white bread
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
8 buns
ready-to-eat cereal (16 servings)
1 box raisin bran cereal
1 pkg. Ronzini Egg Pastini 155
pasta (any shape)
biscuit mix


2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds boneless beef roast
3/4 pound turkey ham
1 pound beef stew chunks


4 gallons milk (children under age 2 should have whole milk)
1 quart buttermilk
1 pound cheddar cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
1 (8 ounce) cottage cheese
4 (6-8 ounce) flavored yogurt
1 dozen eggs (need 6 for recipes)
1 pound margarine or butter


5 (12 ounce) cans orange juice concentrate
1 (10 ounce) package peas


Egg and Cheese Puff

8 slices day-old bread
2/3 cup grated cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups lowfat milk
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with a small amount of margarine
  2. Tear or cut bread into small pieces or cubes.
  3. Grate cheese and mix with the bread in the baking dish.
  4. With a fork, beat the eggs in a bowl.
  5. Add milk, mustard, and pepper. Stir.
  6. Pour egg and milk mixture over bread.
  7. Cover with foil, and keep in the refrigerator over night (or for several hours.)
  8. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.

Serves 4

Calico Beans

1/2 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can lima beans
(You can use all the lima beans or save half to use in the beef and cabbage soup)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
(Add mustard, optional.)

  1. Cook the ground beef and chopped onion in a large pan. Drain off the fat.
  2. Add the other foods and mix.
  3. Cook on the stove on low heat for 1 hour. (Or you can bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.)

Serves 6

Pasta, Tomatoes and Cheese

2 cups (8 ounces) uncooked macaroni or
8 ounces of other pasta (shells, spirals)
3 (15 ounces) cans or 6 cups plain or seasoned tomatoes
2-3 teaspoons Italian Seasonings (or use a mix of oregano, basil, rosemary)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces yellow cheese, grated or cut into small cubes

  1. Put tomatoes with juice in saucepan. Break up big pieces with a spoon.
  2. Add macaroni and seasonings. Cook in a covered pan until macaroni is done, 12 to 15 minutes. Add more water, if needed. Stir 1 or 2 times as it cooks.
  3. Grate or cube the cheese. Stir into the macaroni. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Stir well.

Serves 4

Gelatin-Yogurt Fluff

1 package gelatin (four serving size)
2 cups orange juice
2 (6-8 ounce) cartons yogurt, any flavor
diced fruit (optional)*

  1. Heat 1 cup orange juice in saucepan until it is very hot.
  2. Add gelatin and stir until it is dissolved.
  3. Mix in remaining cup orange juice.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until it is like syrup, approximately 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Pour into bowl. Add yogurt. Beat with a mixer until fluffy.
  6. Add diced fruit if desired.
  7. Return Gelatin Yogurt Fluff to refrigerator until it sets.
  8. Spoon into dishes to serve.

Serves 8

* Don't use fresh pineapple or kiwi. The gelatin won't set.

Veggies and Dip

1 cup cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon onion, chopped very fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons parsley flakes

  1. Measure cottage cheese and put in bowl or blender.
  2. Beat with fork, mixer, or in blender until cottage cheese is smooth.
  3. Add other ingredients and mix. Add some milk if you need to make the dip thinner.
  4. Store dip in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to let flavors blend.
  5. Wash and cut vegetables to serve with dip. Use carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, broccoli, turnips, cauliflower, green pepper.

Makes 1 cup dip

For a change:
Use 1/2 teaspoon chicken or beef bouillon crystals for the 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use 1 teaspoon dry minced onions for the chopped fresh onion.

Tips for Tasty Snacks

Stir-fry Dinner

2 large stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1/2 small head of cabbage
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups broth or bouillon mixed in water
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups leftover beef or chicken pieces

  1. Wash celery and cut in short, thin strips. Slice onion thin. Slice or shred the cabbage.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add celery and onion. Cook until they are a browned.
  3. Mix cornstarch, broth, and soy sauce by shaking them in a small jar or container with a lid.
  4. Pour the cornstarch mix into the pan with the onions and celery and cook until the sauce is clear and thick.
  5. Stir in the cabbage and meat.
  6. Cover the pan and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure that the meat is thoroughly heated.

Serves 4

Creamed Salmon Over Toast

2 Tablespoons margarine, melted
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups lowfat milk
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 cup frozen green peas
1 pouch boneless, skinless salmon, drained
8 slices bread for toast

  1. Wash and slice carrot and celery. Cook them in a saucepan with a 1/2 cup water until soft. Drain and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, melt margarine. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and stir until it looks like paste.
  3. Add the milk and stir while it cooks until the sauce gets thicker. Do not boil it.
  4. Add the carrots, celery, peas, and salmon.
  5. Stir and cook until the mixture is hot.
  6. Make toast and serve the creamed salmon over it. You can also serve it over biscuits or noodles.

Serves 4

Beef and Cabbage Soup

2 cups roast beef, cut into small pieces
3 cups water
1/2 small head of cabbage, chopped or shredded
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 or 2 potatoes, cut up
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix all foods in a large pot or saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and stir a few times.
  3. Cover the pot and turn down the heat.
  4. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Beef Stew

1 pound beef cubes
2 Tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 quart beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

  1. Measure flour into plastic or paper bag. Add salt and pepper. Shake.
  2. Add beef cubes to bag and shake until beef is well coated.
  3. Heat oil in heavy pan. Add beef cubes and brown. Add 1 quart beef broth and one can tomato sauce, stirring well. Cover with tight fitting lid and cook at low heat 1 hour.
  4. Peel and cube carrots, potatoes, and onion. Add to beef. Cover with lid again. Cook 1 more hour at low heat.

Serves 4

Bread Pudding

1-1/2 cups bread (about 2 slices)
1/3 cup raisins
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups lowfat milk

  1. Cut or tear bread into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Mix bread and raisins in a 1-quart baking dish.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or beater.
  4. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla to the eggs. Mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture over the bread.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. (You can tell if it is done if you stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean.)
  7. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 4

Red Beans and Rice Burritos

2 cups cooked rice
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups cooked kidney beans (or one 15-ounce can, drained)
8 flour tortillas, about 10-inch size
1/2 cup salsa
canned chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
grated cheese

  1. Mix rice, chopped onion, and beans.
  2. Put each tortilla on a flat surface.
  3. Put about 1/2 cup of the rice mixture in the middle of each tortilla.
  4. Fold the sides of the tortillas to hold the rice and beans.
  5. Put folded and filled tortillas (burritos), seam side down, in a baking pan.
  6. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes (or heat the burritos in a microwave in a glass baking dish.)
  7. Pour salsa over burritos. Add jalapeno peppers (optional) and cheese.
  8. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Pizza Buns

1/2 pound ground beef
4 buns, sliced in half
butter or margarine
1 small can or jar of pizza sauce
shredded or sliced cheese (mozzarella or parmesan cheese is great for this)

  1. Crumble ground beef in frying pan and cook until it is no longer pink.
  2. Drain the fat off the cooked meat.
  3. Lightly butter each half of buns.
  4. Spread each half of the bun with 1 Tablespoon pizza sauce and top with cooked meat.
  5. Grate cheese and sprinkle on top. (Add mushrooms, onion, green pepper, or other toppings for variety.)
  6. Bake in oven at 375 degrees until hot and the cheese is melted (about 15 minutes.)

Serves 4

Three Bean Salad

1-1/2 cups celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup onion, sliced thin
1 (16 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
1 (16 ounce) can wax beans, drained
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

  1. Wash and slice celery and onion. In a large bowl, mix celery, onion, and the 3 kinds of beans.
  2. Mix vinegar, oil, water and sugar.
  3. Add liquid to bean mix and stir until the bean mixture is coated.
  4. Cover and keep in the refrigerator overnight to mix the flavors.
  5. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Serves 10-12

Note: Use fresh cooked beans or dried cooked beans in place of the canned beans. Or try garbanzo beans or chickpeas in place of one of the suggested beans.

Four Week Bran Muffins

4 eggs
1 cup soft or melted margarine
1 quart buttermilk (or sour milk*)
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (15 ounce) package raisin bran cereal (or 9 cups bran flakes with raisins)
5 cups flour

To make the mix

  1. Break eggs into a large bowl and beat well.
  2. Beat in margarine, buttermilk, and sugar until well mixed.
  3. Add baking soda and salt. Stir well.
  4. Mix in raisin bran.
  5. Add flour and stir just until mixed. The batter will be thick.
  6. Cover and store in the refrigerator. The batter will keep about 4 weeks if the refrigerator is at 40 degrees.

To bake the muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease muffin pan or use paper baking cups.
  3. Take batter out of refrigerator.
  4. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
  5. Bake in oven at 400 degrees about 15-20 minutes, until browned.
  6. Return leftover batter to refrigerator.

Makes 6 dozen muffins

*To make sour milk, mix 2 Tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar with 2 cups skim milk.

Making Meals From What's On Hand

Basic Noodle Bake

2 packages Ramen Noodles (use the flavor packets)
1 (10 ounces) can cream soup (any kind)
1 (16 ounces) can green beans, undrained
1 pouch boneless, skinless salmon, drained
2 Tablespoons onion soup mix

  1. Break up the Ramen Noodles.
  2. In a bowl, mix the cream soup, green beans, and salmon.
  3. Add Ramen Noodles and onion soup mix and stir well.
  4. Put into greased baking dish.
  5. Bake in oven at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serves 4

Note: Try other vegetables in place of the green beans.


Scramble two eggs in a skillet with butter spray. Add 1 can drained mixed vegetables and stir into the cooked eggs. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. All Purpose Seasoning. Add 1/2 cup Ronzini Egg Pastini 155 and 1 cup water. (This is like couscous but much cheaper.) Stir and let cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Need to stretch your food dollars?

Some reasons why you may spend too much:

Put variety in your meals!

If you plan ahead, you can save money. Here are some menu planning tips:

Being healthy means giving your body healthy food for energy every day. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can raw. When you stay healthy, you spend less money on doctor's visits and medications.


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Frugal Menus 5

Ramen Noodle Recipes

Faux Meat Recipes Index

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How To Live on $25.00 Food Budget

How To Live on $50.00 Food Budget

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