5 Insanely Delicious Thrifty Things to Make with Crushed Tomatoes

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By the author of The Flat Broke Cookbook and The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living

One of the most versatile canned goods in your frugal scratch-cooking pantry is crushed tomatoes. After Colette wrote about them as a pantry staple, I began thinking of my favorite ways to use them.

I’m never without dozens of cans of them. Every time they go on sale I stock up. They are the thrifty basis of many delicious and hearty meals. I’ll share a few of my favorites with you, including my up-to-now closely-guarded salsa recipe. (Shhh – don’t tell anyone!)

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3  large bell pepper

Add seasoning to taste:

  • sea salt
  • oregano
  • basil
  • smoked paprika

Also add the teeniest, tiniest pinch of clove – trust me.

  1. Use your food processor to mince the carrot, onion, garlic, and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a non-reactive stock pot then add your minced veggies. Saute them until they’re golden and fragrant.
  3. Add your crushed tomatoes, then stir in your seasonings.
  4. Simmer it for a couple of hours to meld the flavors well.

Serve this alone over pasta or add ground meat, meatballs, and extra veggies. You can also use this marinara in baked pasta dishes like lasagna.

7 Can Soup

I love a hearty vegetable soup and this recipe is made totally from canned goods and seasonings.

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of white kidney beans, including liquid
  • 1 can of green beans, including liquid
  • 1 can of peas and carrots, including liquid
  • 1 can of potatoes, including liquid
  • 1 can of corn, including liquid
  • 1 can of RoTel (tomatoes, peppers, and onions)


I like to use my homemade Italian spice blend or my Mexican spice blend depending on my mood – get the recipes here.


Okay, I feel kind of bad about even really calling this “directions.”

  • Dump all the cans in together, add your seasonings, and simmer it for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Serve it with some fresh, crusty bread or crackers.


Break out your blender for this one. If you’re a fan of those canned vegetable juices like v-8 here’s how you can make your own. I often make this with excess garden produce.

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • a dash of salt
  • a dash of lemon juice

Pop everything into your blender or food processor and whiz that stuff up until it’s a thick liquid. I think it tastes much better cold. You can also use this as an uber-nutritious soup base.

Tomato Basil Soup

This is so far away from those red and white cans of tomato basil soup that it might as well be from another galaxy.

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a metric crapton of basil, fresh or dried (not to be confused with an imperial crapton)
  • optional: sour cream and vegetable broth


  1. In a non-reactive stockpot, saute your garlic and onion in the butter.
  2. Stir in your crushed tomatoes. If you find this soup too thick for your liking, you can thin it down with vegetable broth.
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer, then add most of your basil, as well as your salt and pepper.
  4. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, covered, stirring frequently.
  5. If you choose to add sour cream, stir in a dollop now. Garnish the soup with your remaining basil.

Your delicious soup is only awaiting the arrival of your hot grilled cheese sandwich on the plate beside it.


Even before I spent a year in Mexico, I had a roommate from that southerly nation during my misspent youth. He planted a little garden specific to salsa and taught all of us living in the big house how to make it. I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years to be able to use canned tomatoes during the winter.

This does require some fresh ingredients for best results but the tasty concoction is still less expensive than a jar of not-very-authentic stuff that rhymes with “mostitos.”

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any color
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 jalapeno (or more if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice (alternatively, 1 tsp of lemon pepper seasoning)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • optional: salt to taste
  • optional but it is so so so good: a splash of tequila – yep, tequila


  1. Place a strainer over a bowl and dump your can of crushed tomatoes to strain while you’re prepping the rest of the veggies.
  2. Pull the leaves off your cilantro bundle after washing it well. Don’t include the stems in your recipe because they’re bitter.
  3. In batches, process your onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, and cilantro. I don’t totally puree it but i get the pieces very small. This is not a chunky salsa, but a relatively smooth one.
  4. In another bowl, add your somewhat strained tomatoes and your finely chopped veggies. Stir in your garlic, chili powder, and salt, if you’re adding any.
  5. Then add your lime juice and tequila and tell me how flippin’ good this salsa is!

This is my go-to for any family event or Mexican food night. If you insist on chucks you can add one can of drained diced tomatoes and chop your veggies by hand.

How do YOU use crushed tomatoes?

Are you a fan of crushed tomatoes too? Do you have any recipes you want to share? Let’s talk tomatoes in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

5 Insanely Delicious Thrifty Things to Make with Crushed Tomatoes
Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

5 thoughts on “5 Insanely Delicious Thrifty Things to Make with Crushed Tomatoes”

  1. I also love turning crushed tomatoes into salsa! For mine I also use canned jalapenos, the kind that come canned with carrots in with them. Cooked carrot can be a way of mellowing out your salsa if you need to.

  2. I used to buy the really big cans of crushed tomatoes from Costco and make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce then can it in pint jars for easy use. We moved to an area where the nearest Costco is over 2 hours away. I now use multiple cans of crushed tomatoes from Aldi to do the same thing.

  3. I just made a batch of the canned vegetable soup. It’s such an obvious thing but I never thought to make it. When I was sick, I had a can of progresso minestrone and it was such a disappointment. This is much tastier.

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