ThreeJars Daily: Frugal Foodie Secrets

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Frugal Foodie Secrets

Gourmet family meals don’t have to cost a lot. Here, Alanna Kaufman, coauthor with Alex Small of The Frugal Foodie Cookbook, shares her picks for affordable ingredients that’ll make dinner amazing.

By Nicole DeCoursy

1. Rice paper wrappers

“These may sound exotic, but they are extremely inexpensive and keep in your pantry for months,” says Kaufman. Use them to make shrimp summer rolls and mango chicken wraps with lettuce, rice, and shredded carrots. Your kids will love how fancy their dinner looks! Try this recipe: Vietnamese Summer Rolls

2. Blue cheese

“It’s less expensive than other cheeses, and packs way more flavor per bite,” says Kaufman. Plus, it’s so versatile: It complements both sweet flavors (such as a cranberry, apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad) and savory bites (like sautéed peppers and onions on toasts with a touch of scallion and a dollop of blue cheese). Try this recipe: Blueberry Salad With Blue Cheese And Blueberry Vinaigrette

3. Bread

Many people often think of bread as something to have on the side, rather than the main event. But toasted bread can serve as a great foundation for tasty meals, says Kaufman. Try an open-faced sandwich with warm turkey and gravy, or one with grilled vegetables and a bit of melted cheese. Or bake a savory bread pudding or spinach and cheese strata. Try this recipe: Open-faced Vegetable Sandwich With Walnut Balsamic Pesto

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are among the cheapest and most versatile ingredients in the grocery store. Kaufman’s suggestions: Cut them into elegant wedges and roast them with a touch of salt and paprika, dice them into a healthy potato salad featuring rosemary, thyme, and a red wine vinaigrette (instead of mayo), or mash them with caramelized shallots. Try this recipe: Potato Salad With Rosemary And Thyme

5. Eggs

It’s one of the most affordable proteins, and it makes any dish taste rich (no pun intended!). Try bi bim bap, a delicious Korean dish that's heavenly when topped with a fried egg, notes Kaufman, or simply scramble an egg into your next Asian noodle stir-fry. Another option: Have breakfast for dinner by whipping up tasty omelets with healthy greens like kale and chard. Try this recipe: Bi Bim Bap

 6. Black beans

Like eggs, black beans add protein (and great texture) to your dinner. Feature them in a spicy black bean soup, throw them into Southwestern-inspired salads, or mash them into a tasty black bean dip with cumin, lime and a touch of balsamic vinegar for holiday get-togethers. Try this recipe: Black Bean Burgers With Mango Relish, Baked Yuca Wedges

Nicole DeCoursy is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Westchester, NY with her husband, two boys, and three cats. Her work has been published in Redbook, Parenting, and Weight Watchers Magazine.


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