My Favorite, Frugal Recipes Series: Curry and Vegetarian Chili

The Fundamental Home

It’s Thursday, and that means we are focused on Homemaking; and this week, we are “In the Kitchen.”  I thought that, perhaps, since there are so many of you who are interested in what meals we make in order to have such a small grocery budget, I would provide you the links for some of our favorite dishes and share with you some commentary on the changes I make and cost.  I will have to make this an on-going series because I love food, so there are a LOT of recipes.  If you haven’t already checked it out, be sure to read my post on “How I Feed My Family of 5 on $100 or LESS a Month.”  It will tell you how we developed our menu plan.

Here we go! (And if you weren’t sure about how to access the recipes, just click the green names to be linked to the page).

First on the list is Coconut Curry Chicken  from “Oh, Snap!  Let’s Eat!”  Haven’t we all read about the health benefits of coconut milk and tumeric (an ingredient in curry)?  I love a healthy option!  Let me say, also, that the pictures on this page are amazing.  If every food blog had pictures and instructions like this, I would be a master chef.  My family LOVES this recipe, but I do make a couple of changes.  First, I use more than one potato- usually 3 or 4 regular sized potatoes.  Second, I usually make this in a crockpot, which means I follow all the steps until step 5, then throw everything in the crockpot, turn it on high, and walk away for a few hours.  Before I close the lid on the pot, though, I add 6-10 Bay leaves.  You can make it without the bay leaves, but trust me, it adds something.  We serve this dish over piping hot sticky rice (after we remove those bay leaves)!  Often, I double the recipe so I have a LOT.  We serve this a when we are having company.  Just remember when you are plating that you should have a large portion of rice to a small portion of curry.  More is less.  It’s not about savings, either.  When you eat it, you will understand.  Too much would be too much.

Let’s talk about costs.  This recipe has very few ingredients, most of which are staples.  We always have rice, potatoes, onions, and garlic in the house, and we usually have chicken (it’s most often the most inexpensive meat option).  You don’t have to purchase boneless chicken thighs, especially if you are using the crockpot.  Whatever chicken you have will do, even bone in.  Just make sure you have a solid portion of meat equivalent to 4 thighs (or more) and that you remove any bones before you eat.  The most expensive item on the list is coconut milk.  I buy this when it is on sale and I get as much as I can since we enjoy making this dish often.  It’s not the least expensive meal I make, but it fits in the budget, it’s easy, and we feel like we have gone out to a fancy Asian restaurant while staying at home.  Each time I make it, we always have enough for two meals (even when I don’t double it), which cuts down on the costs.  Plus, no one gets tired of this one.

I want you to try this recipe and tell me what you think.  I KNOW you will love it!

Another recipe we enjoy is Vegetarian Chili from Better Homes and Gardens.  The version I have is in my red and white cookbook (one of the finest Christmas presents I have ever received), so it is a bit different than the online version.  In my version, I do start with frying peppers, onions, and garlic in a pan, but because some people in my family don’t prefer chunky vegetables in soups, I usually puree them (not completely, but mostly) in my food processor after they are cooked.  We also puree the two cans of diced tomatoes and the zucchini.  Of course, we use broth.  The level of spiciness has been debated in my family, but we have come to the agreement that 2 teaspoons of chili powder is enough.  If you have little ones, try a little less.  If you like spicy chili, try a little more.  I don’t use hot sauce or corn.  My family just doesn’t like corn in chili, what can I say?  We also use two cans of black beans and one can of chili beans.  Cheese is usually available, but not all the time.  This recipe can also be made non-vegetarian by adding ground beef (or turkey or chicken).  My chili makes for a more watery, soup-like chili (probably because of all the pureed veggies.  It’s not thick enough to serve over hot dogs, but it’s great on a cold day with a baked potato and crusty french bread!

As to cost, the ingredients here are pretty basic.  Cans of beans and tomatoes added to staples like peppers, onions, garlic, and broth.  I buy peppers when they are at rock bottom prices and freeze them.  Often, in the summer time, friends give away their garden tomatoes and peppers, and I never let them go to waste.

*Side note-  The lead picture is of Ricky with a basket of tomatoes that he harvested at our old house.  The neighbors moved out of the house just when the tomatoes were ripening.  They were renters who left with a quickness.  The homeowner was trying to clean up the inside of the house to get it ready for sale.  Needles to say, he wasn’t interested in the tomatoes.  So, Ricky started picking them everyday. Those little things were like vitamins!  They were sweet, too.  We enjoyed them while they lasted.  One day, I hope I can find that kind of tomato again.  The moral of this storydon’t let anything go to waste.  Take advantage of every opportunity.  End of side note*

* A related side note (I just had to share one more!)- my most proud savings moment of recent times was when our church had a fellowship meal of 6 foot long subs.  At the end of the evening, I happened to be cleaning up when I saw they were trying to get rid of plates of sub “fixings.”  They were planning to throw it away!  There were HUGE trays of tomatoes, peppers (jalapeno, sweet, and green), onions, black olives, spinach, and lettuce (I am sure there was more, but I can’t remember it all).  There were also boxes of tiny packages of oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard.  I took it ALL.  The peppers, onions, and olives were frozen.  The boxes were stored.  The lettuce and spinach were used in salads, and the tomatoes were diced to be used in soups.  We still have some of that stuff hanging around the house, still good and in date.  It was a great blessing to us!  Always be thankful for food that falls in your lap, and don’t let it go to waste! End of related side note*

Back to the chili- So, if you do choose to add meat, you only need a little bit.  A quarter to half pound is sufficient for a whole pot.  Do we eat chili in the summer time?  Yes.  We sit in air conditioning most of the day, plus that’s when the ingredients are freshest.  That being said, we certainly don’t have it on the hottest days of the year.  This pops up on a cool rainy afternoon when we want a taste of heat.  This is the perfect recipe if you are trying to up your veggie consumption an decrease the meat.  If you puree the vegetables, I have found that even the pickiest eaters enjoy the flavor.  Let me know what you think if this one, too!


That’s about all I can stand writing about now.  I am getting hungry!

Again, try these recipes and let me know what you think 🙂  Were they tasty?  Did you make any changes?  Did your picky eaters like it?  How about the cost?  Could you cut it in any way?

Are there any other recipes you would like to know about?  Tell me about them, and we will see if they can be a frugal favorite!

These are truly recipes my family enjoys, and we are happy to be able to share them with you!

Thanks for sharing our post with your friends!

6 thoughts on “My Favorite, Frugal Recipes Series: Curry and Vegetarian Chili

  • June 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Wow! I absolutely love your breakdown and alterations to my Cocnut Curry recipe!!! Thank you so much for the shout out and I’m glad you and your family like it! 😀

    • June 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Thank you for commenting! I feel like my 12 year old daughter would if Bethany Mota commented on her Youtube video! You are the best, and I am so glad you share your recipes with others. It’s a huge blessing. And did I mention I LOVE your pictures! Brilliant! Thanks again for stopping by my humble blog space 🙂

  • June 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I will have to give the vegetarian chili a try for my meatless Fridays. What do you think would be a good sub. for the zucchini??? Thanks for sharing!

    • June 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Hey MM! If you want, just leave the zucchini out. We do when we don’t have it. If doesn’t taste any different, believe it or not. That’s why it’s no big deal to include it. Let me know how it goes!

  • June 18, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Both of these recipes sound delicious. We are going to India in October so I should try these curries out before I go. Thanks for linking up with us at #wednesdayswisdom

    • June 18, 2015 at 10:34 am

      India sounds like a wonderful, exotic place to visit. Have a wonderful trip, and let me know how the curry goes 🙂


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