Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Make Any Recipe Frugal!

I love to look through recipes, though I didn't always enjoy it as I do now. I was intimidated by long ingredients lists and unusual components. Growing up, I was not exposed to many ingredients commonly used and available everywhere. So cooking has been (and still is!) a learning process for me. My advice: do NOT be intimidated! If something sounds yummy and wonderful, there is (almost) always a way to make it for yourself with less expensive ingredients. If you can find it in your grocery store, you can find an alternative!

Last night I made a wonderful meal based on this recipe. Looks tasty, right? But those ingredients... how could I make this frugally?

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In under 5 minutes, I had a plan. Here's the ingredients list I used:

Original Ingredient
Substitution plan
1 (18 ounce) package prepared polenta (in a tube)

I made my own corn meal “cake” using regular corn meal. I cooked it according to the “mush” recipe (1 cup cornmeal to 4 cups water total). When cooked, I poured it into a parchment-paper lined loaf pan and put it into the frig until ready to slice for the dish.
1 cup marinara sauce

If you’ve got any pasta sauce on hand, just use that. I used a can of tomato sauce and added oregano, basil, and pepper to make a basic sauce.
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, shredded
I substituted half shredded mozzarella and half parmesan.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Use your favorite oil!
1 1/4 cups feta cheese, mashed with fork

Feta can be VERY expensive. You could substitute ricotta or even cottage cheese.
Kale and other veggies
I used kale from our garden. You could use chard or even spinach. Also, as I had some mushrooms in the frig, so I used those instead of the carrot.

I followed the assembly and cooking as per the recipe. The assembly is easy and the results were wonderful -- not a scrap left by my teenagers (that's a winner in my book!). You can use this approach for any recipe you like. Experiment and have fun!

Do you have any favorite frugal recipe substitutions? Need tips on making things work for you? Check out Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

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