My Favorite Frugal Recipes: The Basics- Flour

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The Fundamental Home

This weekend has been a whirlwind.  I went out to do my bi-weekly shopping trip.  Because I knew that I planned to film it and do an updated post here on the blog, I posted a link to the original “How I Feed My Family for $100 Every Month” post on Facebook.  The goal was to bring my new followers up to speed.  Well, it took off, and we had the largest day ever on the blog.  Thank you all so much for sharing our posts!  It makes such a difference when you take the time to share them.  I can’t tell you how encouraging it is after taking the time to write and make videos to know that they actually are a blessing to others.  Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!

With so many new viewers, we got a lot of comments and questions.  Lots of folks were wanting to know about the frugal recipes we use.  In the past, I wrote a couple of posts called “My Favorite Frugal Recipes.”  I shared “Paella and Potato Soup” and “Curry and Vegetarian Chili.”

Today, I thought I would share with you some of the recipes that we use as the foundation for many of our frugal meals.  I am talking about the basics.  Here are those recipes and how we use them to stay on budget in our home.


Moving to the South has taught me the importance of biscuits.  In the North, I tried to make loaves of bread, and it always seemed so cumbersome.  I know lots of folks who do it, and with Ricky’s gluten-free diet, we may have to learn to make it well anyway (I’m looking forward to trying this recipe from Deep South Homestead in the next week or so), but I haven’t really enjoyed it in the past.  Bread baking is time consuming to me, and goes to fast.  You have to wait for it to rise more than once, and our family can go through a loaf in a minute.  I always thought it would be worth while if we had a Wondermill and could grind our own grain, but we don’t, so it’s been a back burner project.

Anyway, fast forward to our move to the South.  I discovered one of the finest culinary inventions ever put on the Lord’s green Earth- biscuits and sausage gravy.  Mmmmmmmmm!  I had this at a church fellowship, and I was hooked.  I knew I had to learn to make biscuits from scratch.  I started with a few recipes online, but my favorite recipe came from an old red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that someone gave me at a yard sale for free.  I found a copy of it online, and you can check it out right here.  I tend to use shortening because that is what we have most of the time.  That being said, I have used butter and even oil if that is what I have.  For the milk, I use regular milk, cooking milk (basically, watered down evaporated milk), watered down heavy whipping cream, or sour cream and some water, depending on what I have on hand.  When I make biscuits, I almost always make a triple batch.  I have even made a quadruple one.  We will use them is we have there, so there is never waste. They are pretty quick to make.  No rising time.  Just mix them up, cut them out, bake (less than 10 minutes), and serve.

Biscuits have proven to be a staple for our family.  We have them for breakfast, with or without sausage gravy.  I can add some eggs and cheese (and sausage or bacon if I have it) for breakfast biscuits.  Ricky used to LOVE to eat them with some homemade peach jam for breakfast (something he really misses now that he is gluten free).  We have them as sides with our soups (when we do this, I butter the tops, sprinkle them with garlic and onion power, and bake for a couple of minutes until browned).  I use them instead of buns for our BBQ chicken sandwiches.  Trust me.  Have them once with BBQ, and you will never want a bun again.  Biscuits are universal because they are bread.  Pretty much anywhere you are having bread, you can have biscuits.  They are super filling, which is why restaurants serve them before meals.  Biscuits are one of our #1 frugal basic.

Pie Crusts

Another fugal basic is a pie crust.  Again, I used the recipe from that old red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens recipe book.  You can find that recipe here: Single Pie Crust.  Mastering the pie crust took some time, and one crucial piece of advice from my favorite cooking master, Martha Stewart.  Keep everything cold.  If you have seen my video update, you know that we keep a big bucket of flour in the fridge.  We also keep our shortening in the fridge.  If everything is cold, it makes for a flakier pie crust.  (One thing I will mention, this works for me since I do not make too many yeast breads.  If you are making a yeast bread, you do not want cold ingredients.  You will need to keep some flour in the cabinet and out of the fridge.)

I started making pie crusts because my favorite dessert is pumpkin pie.  We make it pretty often around here.  For a dessert, I think it can be pretty healthful.  Pumpkin has a lot of nutrients that you can get the benefits from while feeling like you are indulging.  That’s a pretty good feeling for the ultra-frugal.  There are other great fruit and veggie pies that make for delicious desserts, but we use pie crusts in other ways, too.  Most often, we use them to make pot pies.  One of my absolute favorite meals is pot pie.  I like it with ham and turkey.  The recipe I like to use is this one from Taste of Home: Au Gratin Ham Pot Pie.

We use pie crusts in their non-traditional form, too.  Briana loves to make homemade pop tarts using pie crusts.  There are million recipes you can find online, but basically, we just cut our squares from a rolled out pie crust, add some filler on top of one.  We use homemade jam with or without cream cheese, but there is also nutella, PB & J, or any number of other things.  The possibilities are endless on Pinterest!  Head over there, and while you are at it, follow us on our page: The Fundamental Home Pinterest!  For lunch, we may even fill the squares with pizza sauce and cheese or lunch meat and cheese to make hot pockets (more on those later).  After filling, we put another square on top, press the sides with a fork to close, brush them with some egg wash or butter and put them in the oven on 400 degrees for 20 or so minutes.  We have brought our homemade pizza pockets to our homeschool co-op on many occasions, and we usually get asked about them.

Pie crusts are versatile, frugal basics.  I never just make one.  I will do a triple batch, and it is usually enough for 4 crusts and some left over dough.  We use the leftover dough to make pie crust “cookies.”  We roll it out,  spread some butter on it, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, then bake until crispy.  My children love them.  When they were little, I let them make the pie crust cookies on their own (I did the oven portion, of course).  This, I think, had something to do with their appreciation for cookies that aren’t really too sweet.  Now that they are older, they are disappointed if they don’t get any pie crust cookies.  If you don’t have time to use the extra dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and you can roll it out and use it the next day.

Pizza Crusts  

Of all the things that I have had to learn to make, pizza crust has been the most challenging (aside from using dried beans).  My family ate some pretty rough experiments until I cracked the yeast code.  Yeast breads can be troublesome, but don’t be afraid to give them a go.  Again, my red and white checkered Better Homes and Garden book came to the rescue (for a while, this was the only cookbook I had).  Here is the recipe I use:  BHG Pizza Crust.  You will want to heat your oven to a very high heat, roll out the dough, and cook it until it is starting to turn brown.  Then, you will pull it out and put all the sauce and toppings on it.  I also like to brush the crust with butter and sprinkle it with garlic salt for additional flavor.   Then, I switch the oven to “Broil,” and toss the created pizza into the oven.  Do NOT leave.  Stand by the oven and keep checking.  That cheese will melt and veggies will brown very quickly.  As soon as it looks ready, pull it out.

We have made pizzas for our homeschool lunch VERY often.  Everyone loves it, and it is a very easy way to get some veggies into little ones.  Ricky has not been able to eat pizza for quite a while because tomato was forbidden on his diet.  However, now that he has gone gluten-free, he is able to have some tomatoes.  What a blessing!  So, we are hopeful that I can begin making cauliflower, spinach, or zucchini crusts for his pizza, and we can start enjoying pizza as a family again.  Another way we use pizza crusts is to make homemade hot pockets or calzones.  The yeast bread is more filling than the pie crusts.

All of these recipes use flour as their base.  In order to have the best nutritional bang for your buck, be sure you choose the flour that is best for your family.  I would HIGHLY recommend grinding your own flour if you are able.  I want SO badly to be able to do this- especially since Ricky is now gluten-free, and we need to be able to make him breads at home.  If you can, get yourself a Wondermill electric grinder or a Wonder Junior non-electric hand grinder and you can be sure of the quality of the flour you are using.  When we lived in another state, a friend of mine would use her Wondermill to grind flour for us, and it was SUCH a blessing!  I know this product works, and I will be getting one ASAP.  It will pay for itself in the long run if you can make this investment now.  As soon as I get one, we will be making a video on its use.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions we received about frugal recipes.  We will try to add more basic recipes to help you save money on your grocery budget in the near future.  I hope to add some basics using potatoes very soon.  We also plan to share some desserts and soups.  Let us know if we can help you save money with any particular kind of recipe.  If we can help you, we will try.  Thanks again for sharing our posts and videos!

Shared on Thrifty Thurdsday and Frugal Friday

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite Frugal Recipes: The Basics- Flour

  • February 2, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Very helpful tips, thanks for sharing! I do love making biscuits too, though I’d have to say, ever since I started using the “artisan bread in five minutes a day” method for making homemade loaves (don’t have the book, just found instructions on the internet), baking bread just has never been easier for me. I remember all those years as a young mom hand-kneading dough, sometimes for 20 minutes at a time (like the books said!). That was followed by many years of babysitting my temperamental bread machine (which I would then bake in the oven anyway, because we didn’t like the flavor baked in the machine :-p ). Nowadays though, it’s just a matter of mixing up the dough (by stirring, no kneading) once a week, refrigerating it, then baking here and there as we go along (even making pizza crusts). We had a bumper-BUMPER crop of zucchini this past season, so I blended the excess into “zucchini milk”, which I pre-measured and froze, and which has been my go-to bread liquid for months now (water works just fine, but I needed to be able to use up the bounty 🙂 ). In any case, do I ever wish I knew about this much easier way back in the day 😉 …..

    Here’s looking forward to further posts…!

    • February 2, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing! I will have to look into that as I work on my bread-making techniques. I have never heard of zucchini milk! That’s a really good tip! I was just looking at my zucchini seeds for this year, and I am hopeful that I will have an abundance to use for all kinds of different purposes. Thank you SO much for stopping by and sharing! I love it when I learn something new 🙂

      • February 22, 2016 at 5:00 pm

        There are gluten free recipes for that
        t type of bread too! I got my book at salvation army. The basic recipe can be found at Mother Earth News. This dough has a lot less yeast than regular bread since it sits longer. That makes it cheaper!

        • February 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

          I love Mother Earth News! I will have to check that out. I have been looking at all kinds of gluten free recipes. Hopefully, I can get a grinder soon so I can make rice flour at home.

      • February 22, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        My grandmother grew up in South Georgia. She didn’t have sliced bread in her lunches til high school, when the kids made fun of her biscuits. They were eaten for breakfast, sent in lunch, and leftovers for rolls for dinner. They were sharecroppers. They raised their own hogs, so lard was the fat of choice.

        • February 22, 2016 at 6:02 pm

          Exactly! They knew what was frugal and simple. We love biscuits here. No lard, but I am looking for cheaper, healthy fat options. There are so many choices out there.

  • February 4, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    We eat a lot of biscuits here too. I never thought to season the tops. Thanks for the idea! I also make our pie crust and pizza dough. I hate making pies but pizza dough is simple. Yeast dough and I get along. I have a friend who is just the opposite so we always joke that I’ll make her breads, etc. and she’ll make my pies. lol (visiting from Thrifty Thursday)

    • February 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Glad you visited! I can’t believe you prefer pizza crust to pie crusts! To me, pie crusts are so simple. I could much rather do a pie crust any day 🙂 I guess everyone is different. Come back by real soon!

  • February 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Love this list…my husband would like it if I made more biscuits! He grew up on biscuits and gravy. It’s so amazing how much making pizza crust can save you…it’s easy too!

    • February 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      I know. My husband and oldest son could eat biscuits all day every day. Folks seem to like the pizza crust a lot. I guess I need to make it more 😉 So glad you visited and took a moment to comment.


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