Cold weather is coming to an end.  This will likely be the last month heavy on the soups, stews, and casseroles that winter brings.  As spring arrives, it will lend itself to lighter dishes heavy on delicate and beautiful bright spring vegetables.  I, for one, can’t wait. I’m running out of cold weather dinner ideas for you!

This month’s meal plan is one of my lowest cost plans yet!  I admit it is a bit heavier in the beans and legumes than some other months, but still very tasty.  To make this month even more frugal, consider shopping at discount grocers like Aldi for cheaper produce.  Also check out my favorite app, Ibotta, and look for rebates on any items that may on the list. There are frequently rebates for produce, so you should definitely check it out!  You also get money back for signing up through my link and verifying your first rebate.  Check out all of my favorite money saving and money making apps in this post for more potential savings.

As always, the frugal meal plan below is free, but I also offer a very low cost printable pack with the monthly meal calendar, shopping list with approximate prices, prep notes, and recipes.  For less than $1.00 week, you can have the extra convenience of the printable pack.

October printable pack

 

March Frugal Meal Plan

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Week 1

Chicken noodle soup

whole chicken, insides removed
water
1bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 cup carrots
1 cup celery
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups noodles ( I like egg noodles)
Place a whole chicken in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add bay leaf and salt and put on lid partially vented. Cook for about an hour and a half or until meat is falling off the bone.
Remove chicken from liquid and set aside to cool. When cool pick meat off of bones. Don’t throw the bones away! Use them for stock for later in the month.
Meanwhile, add thyme, carrots, celery, and noodles to the broth. Cook until vegetables and noodles are tender. Add peas and desired amount of chicken back to pot and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Horseshoe sandwiches

bread (1-2 slices per person)
meat of choice (I like sliced deli ham, but hamburger patties, chicken, turkey, etc all work)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin fries
olive oil
Cheese sauce
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or white cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
Soak fries in a large bowl of ice water for 20 minutes. Thoroughly dry.
Toss with olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and crisp. Sprinkle with salt.
When potatoes are almost done, make cheese sauce.
In a skillet melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Whisk in milk and bring to a soft bubble to thicken sauce.
When sauce is slightly thickened remove from heat and stir in cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Toast bread. Add meat and top with fries and cheese sauce.

Chicken salads

Use part of the chicken boiled for the chicken soup for this salad
lettuce
hard boiled eggs
salad toppings
any homemade salad dressing
Pizza night

Flex night

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Week 2

Tomato soup, grilled cheese

Chickpea curry, rice

1 lb. dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
pinch of baking soda
7 cups water
olive oil
1 onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic
1 T. curry powder
1 T. tomato paste
1 cup broth or water
1 cup coconut milk
salt to taste
honey or sugar to taste
rice, cooked according to package directions
Place dried chickpeas in a slow cooker and cover with 7 cups water and a pinch of baking soda. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until tender. Reserve 3 cups for remainder of dish.
When ready to eat, heat 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and curry powder and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Thisk in broth or water and bring to a bubble. Add in coconut milk and 3 cups of cooked chickpeas. Add salt to taste and a bit of honey or sugar if needed. Serve over rice.

Chili with cornbread bake

Greek bowl

chickpeas (leftover from making in slow cooker for soup)
grain of choice (rice, quinoa, etc)
lettuce
toppings of choice (cucumber, tomato, olives, feta, artichoke hearts, avocado)
Greek dressing
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite brand)
• 1 tsp minced garlic
• 1 tsp maple syrup
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
• 1/4 tsp dried basil
• 1/4 tsp dried oregano
In a bowl, combine all desired ingredients layered and top with dressing.

Tuna melts, carrot sticks, apple slices

2 cans tuna, drained
2 T. celery, minced
2 T. red onion, minced
1/2 cup mayo (Sir Kinsington or Just Mayo are decent store bought brands)
salt and pepper to taste
bread
shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Prepare tuna salad by mixing everything together. Set aside.
Toast bread and top with tuna salad and cheddar cheese.
Pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Pizza night

Flex night

beef and broccoli

Week 3

Hoppin John soup, rice, collard greens

1 lb. black eyed peas
5 slices bacon, chopped
1 whole onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water, or a combination.
Salt And Pepper, to taste
ceyenne pepper to taste
rice, for serving
The morning of that you are making this dish. Soak your dried black eyed peas in warm water all day. Rinse and proceed with recipe.
In a stock pot, add bacon, cook until crisp and transfer to plate.
In bacon drippings, cook onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery for about 5-10 minutes or until tender. Add broth, peas, bacon, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 35-45 minutes or until peas are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve hot over cooked rice.

Spaghetti squash with pesto

1 large spaghetti squash
pesto
• 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (more if needed)
• 1-2 cloves garlic, start with 2 and add a 3rd if desired
• ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
• ½ tsp sea salt
• pepper to taste
• ½ cup good olive oil (start with less and work your way up until desired texture is achieved)
Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds.
Brush flesh with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Remove insides with a fork.
Prepare pesto.
Pulse all dry ingredients in a food processor until well combined.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency.
Taste and adjust salt and garlic if desired.
Toss spaghetti squash with pesto and serve.

Chicken cacciatore, spaghetti

4-6 chicken thighs, boneless skinless
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup onion, sliced
1 cup bell pepper, sliced
1 jar organic marinara sauce
salt, pepper, and oregano to taste
1 lb. pasta of choice
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over hot pasta.

Beef and broccoli, rice

Pancakes, eggs, fruit

Pizza night

Flex night

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Week 4

Cabbage soup

1/2 head cabbage, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
8 cups broth or water, or a combination
salt and pepper to taste
seasonings of choice to taste(thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil)
Add all ingredients to a stock pot and simmer until vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Lemon broccoli pasta

1 lb. pasta of choice
2 lemons
olive oil
3 cups broccoli florets
3 cloves garlic
parmesean cheese
fresh herbs of choice
salt and pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not forget to salt water when cooking.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook broccoli florets until tender (about 10 minutes).
Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
Toss with cooked hot pasta, and squeeze both lemons on top.
Add any fresh herbs available, the zest of one of the lemons, salt and pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Crispy chicken thighs, sauteed cabbage, mashed potatoes

6-8 chicken thighs, bone in skin on
olive oil
salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder
Lightly oil a baking dish with olive oil. Place thighs skin side up in baking dish and pat dry.
Sprinkle with spices and bake uncovered at 350 for about an hour until chicken is no longer pink and skin is crispy.

lentil soup, bread

1 1/4 cup green lentils
1 T. fat or oil of choice
1/2 large onion
2 carrots, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic
6 cups water or broth
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs if desired
Heat oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic. Cook until soft but not brown. Add liquid, bay
leaves, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until tender but not
mushy.

bbq meatballs, green beans, oven fries

1 LB GROUND BEEF
1 EGG
1/2 CUP BREADCRUMBS (DRIED OUT BREAD, CRUMBLED)
1/2 TSP SALT
1/2 TSP PEPPER
1/4 TSP ROSEMARY
1/2 TSP OREGANO
1/4 tsp garlic powder
bbq sauce
Mix together beef, egg, breadcrumbs, spices, and garlic together. Form into golfball sized balls.
In a large skillet, brown meatballs turning to brown all sides. Remove meatballs and set aside when browned.
In another saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and cook together until sauce is thickened and meatballs are cooked through.

Pizza night

Flex night

Week 5

Chicken tenders, Potato skins, salad

(8) 3-4 inch russet potatoes
4-6 slices of bacon
sour cream
cheddar cheese, shredded
green onion, diced
salt
Scrub potatoes, pierce with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.
When tender, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh leaving a small amount of potato behind. Reserve insides for potato hash another night.
While potatoes are cooking, cook bacon, and crumble.
Place on baking sheet and brush insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Broil for a couple of minutes until brown.
Top with cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onion and put back under broiler to melt cheese.
Remove from oven and top with sour cream.

Potato hash with Brussels sprouts and eggs

olive oil or bacon fat
1/2 cup onion
leftover potato skin filling, chopped into squares if possible
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into quarters
salt, pepper,
4 eggs
Heat skillet to medium high heat. When skillet is hot, add fat. Reduce heat to medium, and then add potatoes. Spread out potatoes in an even layer and let brown. Salt and pepper. Flip to other side and let brown on other side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.
Add more fat to the pan and add onion and Brussels sprouts. Salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-10 minutes allowing for browning to happen. Add a little water if needed if Brussels are burning.
Add back potatoes to skillet and carefully mix together.
Crack four eggs on top of dish. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and bake at 375 for about 5 minutes or until whites are set but yolk is still runny. Alternatively you could cook the eggs on the side and then top the hash without putting it back in the oven.

Bean tostadas

1 lb. dry pinto beans
6 cups water
salt
2 T. bacon fat or olive oil
tortillas (corn or flour-see flour recipe below)
desired toppings (cheese, lettuce, avocado, salsa)
Place a pound of pinto beans in a slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. When beans are tender, strain beans, reserving some of the liquid. In a large skillet, heat fat or olive oil. Add beans, salt to taste, and mash. Add reserved liquid a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
In a separate skillet, heat oil. Fry tortillas one at a time until crispy on both sides. Top with refried beans, and desired toppings.

Spaghetti, salad

Chicken fried rice

 

Happy eating, friends!  Don’t forget to check out the printable pack if you are interested in some extra convenience.

Sept printable preview 2