Budget-friendly bites from noodles to dip to rice


Cheap Eats. Economical meals. Whatever you call them, these recipes will be easy on your budget.

I make a Cheeseburger Casserole that also can be transformed into Cheeseburger Pie. My flavorful Easy Bean Dip comes together in minutes with ingredients that cost less than $1.

Filling Asian Peanut Noodles are a huge hit with my family. I also make Fried Rice with similar ingredients. When making the noodles one night, prep the vegetables for the fried rice. You’ll save time and not
waste groceries!

Cheeseburger Casserole

Cheeseburger Casserole

Make 5 to 6 servings.

Cooking spray
2 1/2 hamburger buns
1 1/3 cups chopped onion, divided
1 pound ground turkey or beef (93/7 lean)
1 1/2 teaspoons steak seasoning
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup dill pickles, minced
6 eggs
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 375.

Spray a 9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear buns into 3/4-inch pieces; place in casserole dish. Top with 1/3 cup chopped onion. Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook ground turkey or beef and remaining onion over medium heat. When meat is halfway done, add steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. When meat is cooked, stir in pickles. Taste and add salt if needed. Without straining meat, pour it over buns.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, ketchup, mustard, pepper and salt until blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over meat and buns. Top with cheese; bake 30 minutes. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adaptation: This can easily be turned into Cheeseburger Pie with a few modifications. Instead of hamburger buns, use a pie crust. Sprinkle 1/3 cup onion on pie crust. Omit one egg in recipe. Allow cooked meat to cool for 10 minutes, then stir egg and meat mixture together before adding to pie crust. Bake for same amount of time.

Easy Bean Dip

Easy Bean Dip

Makes 5 servings.

1 (15.5-ounce) can chili beans
2-inch wedge red onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/3 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Drain beans, reserving 1 tablespoon liquid. Place beans, reserved liquid and all remaining ingredients in food processor. Blend until dip reaches desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: This dip can be used in place of refried beans on tacos or burritos. It can also be mixed with rice for a quick lunch.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Makes 3 servings.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 green onions
1 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
10 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
Salt and pepper
3 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
3 cups cooked, day-old long-grain or basmati rice
2/3 cup frozen peas (cooked)

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large wok or frying pan. When oil is hot, add onions, cabbage, carrots, shrimp and ginger. Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. When vegetables are tender, remove from heat.

In a small pan, scramble eggs as you would for breakfast. (It’s important to scramble eggs separately to avoid mushiness.) Set aside.

Return shrimp and vegetables to stovetop, pushing mixture to one side of pan, and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. When oil sizzles, add rice. Stir quickly to incorporate vegetables. Drizzle rice with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and cook 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs and peas. Add pepper to taste, and drizzle with remaining teaspoon sesame oil.  Cook until rice is heated through (try not to overwork rice so it doesn’t get gummy). Serve.

Note: This Fried Rice is meant to serve as a main dish with eggs and shrimp providing the protein. If you don’t want to use shrimp, you can use leftover chicken or add two more eggs.

The rice must be one-day old for this recipe. One cup of raw rice will yield 3 cups cooked rice. I suggest making a recipe the night before that requires rice and doubling it. I also make frozen peas the night before and set aside 2/3 cup for this recipe.

Asian Peanut Noodles

Asian Peanut Noodles

Makes 6 servings.

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles
3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works well), chopped

Peanut Sauce:

1 cup water
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup reserved pasta liquid

In a very large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Sauté cabbage, onions and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, then add 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until done, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta liquid before straining.

For the sauce: Combine water, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and canola oil in a small pot over medium heat. Stir until peanut butter is smooth, then turn heat to low. Stir reserved pasta water into peanut sauce.

Add strained pasta to pan with vegetables. Add chicken and peanut sauce, tossing until thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.