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quick and easy recipes | The Budget Diet

Frugalicious and Fast Dinner Ideas

Back to school means back to carpool, back to dance, back to scouts, back to church youth group, back to ball practice, back to PTO meetings…yes, back to crazy schedules!

Don’t let your busy schedule be an excuse to do the drive-thru for dinner. Declare this the school year of eating in, instead of eating out!

There will be no more excuses for eating out with these frugalicious (it means frugal and delicious) and fast dinner ideas, but first a few tidbits on how to manage to feed your family when…Johnny needs to eat at 5:00 before you take him to scouts, Sara needs to eat at 6:30 after you pick her up from dance, and your husband doesn’t get home from work until 7:30!

  • Check your calendar each weekend and plan meals that will work with the family schedule!

  • Learn to love your crockpot…add a few ingredients in the morning and dinner is ready whenever anybody needs to eat!

  • Don’t forget your freezer! When you do have time to cook, make a habit of doubling recipes and freezing the extra. Casseroles are the easiest to freeze…simply cover the pan with aluminum foil and then wrap the entire pan in freezer paper. Don’t forget to label the casserole and include cooking instructions. Take the casserole out of the freezer 2 days prior to cooking…perfect for a busy day!

  • Casserole for dinner? Why don’t you put your heated casserole in the insulated casserole carrying case that you use for potluck dinners? It will keep a casserole warm for about 2 hours…perfect!

  • Let your kids do the cooking! If you’re a working mom, your kids just might have more free time than you to do the cooking! Click here to learn how to set-up a family cooking schedule. This summer my kids have each prepared 1 meal every week! They’re learning to cook, they’re eating their favorite foods, and I’m enjoying a few nights off in the kitchen!

Ready for the frugalicious and fast recipes?

  • Crock Pot BBQ
    1. 3 lb. boneless chuck roast or pork roast (very inexpensive if you buy them on sale!)
    2. 1 tsp. garlic powder
    3. 1 tsp. onion powder
    4. 12 oz. can Dr. Pepper
    5. 2, 18 oz. bottles BBQ sauce (our personal favorite for this recipe is Cattleman’s Carolina Gold)

    7. Put roast in crock pot.
    8. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper.
    9. Pour Dr. Pepper and 1 bottle of BBQ sauce on meat.
    10. Cook on low 6 – 8 hours.
    11. Drain and return to crock pot.
    12. Using the back of a spoon, shred the meat in the crock pot.
    13. Add the other bottle of BBQ sauce.
    14. Reduce heat to warm until ready to serve.
    15. Serve on buns.
    16. Yield: 6 servings


  • Make Your Own Bean Burrito Bar
    1. 1, 16 oz. can refried beans
    2. 1 cup picante sauce
    3. 8 oz. Mexi-cheese, shredded
    4. 3/4 c. sour cream (reduced fat works fine!)
    5. 4 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat works fine!)

    7. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.
    8. Cover and cook on low 2 hours or until heated. Stir occasionally.
    9. Optional burrito toppings for the make your own burrito bar: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, rice
    10. Yield: 6 servings.


  • Crock Pot Red Beans & Rice
    1. 1 lb. dried red kidney beans
    2. 1 lb. smoked sausage (turkey sausage, Andouille sausage, your choice!)
    3. 4 celery stalks, sliced
    4. 2 green bell pepper, diced
    5. 1 onion, diced
    6. 4 garlic cloves, minced
    7. 1 T. Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
    8. 2 cups rice, cooked

    10. Combine all ingredients (except rice) in a crock pot.
    11. Add 7 cups water.
    12. Cover and cook on high 7 – 8 hours or until beans are tender.
    13. Serve over rice.
    14. Yield: 4 servings


  • French Bread Pizza
    1. 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
    2. 1 1/2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (jar or homemade)
    3. 1 lb. loaf of French bread (a wide loaf works better than a skinny loaf!)
    4. 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

    6. In a skillet, brown beef or sausage over medium heat.
    7. Stir in spaghetti sauce.
    8. Cut bread in half, lengthwise.
    9. Hollow out the bread just a little bit, so the meat sauce doesn’t overflow!
    10. Place the bread on a baking sheet.
    11. Spread meat sauce on bread.
    12. Top with mozzarella.
    13. Bake at 400 for 8 – 10 minutes.
    14. Yield: 6 servings


  • Southwest Salad
    1. 1 romaine lettuce, cut-up
    2. 3 roma tomatoes, diced
    3. 1, 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
    4. 1, 15 oz. can of corn or mexi-corn, drained
    5. 2 cups mexi-cheese, shredded
    6. 1, 6 oz. can black olives, drained
    7. 2 cups tortilla chips, crushed
    8. diced chicken (optional, but a great way to use up leftover chicken!)
    9. 1/4 c. ranch dressing (reduced fat works fine!)
    10. 1/4 c. salsa

    12. Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, corn, cheese, black olives & tortilla chips in a large salad bowl.
    13. Dressing: mix together ranch dressing & salsa.
    14. Toss salad with dressing.
    15. Yield: 4 main dish servings.


  • Lazy Day Lasagna
    1. 1, 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
    2. 1, 16 oz. container cottage cheese (reduced fat works fine!)
    3. 2 c. mozzarella, shredded
    4. 1, 16 oz. package egg noodles

    6. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.
    7. Return noodles to the pot and add spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese & mozzarella.
    8. Stir until combine & enjoy the taste of lasagna without the work!
    9. Yield: 4 servings.


    The Budget Diet girl loves frugalicious and fast recipes, click here for my complete collection of frugal, delicious and fast recipes!


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