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by the author of
I know, I know. Casseroles sound very “50s Housewife.”
But when you’re on a budget, casseroles are a great way to make a little bit of food stretch further in a tasty way. I often use leftovers that aren’t enough to feed the whole family as an ingredient in a delicious, thrifty casserole.
And, to make it even better, there’s a formula.
Here’s the formula.
This is inspired by and loosely based on Amy Dacyczyn’s Universal Casserole recipe from The Complete Tightwad Gazette.
- 1 cup of protein
- 1-2 cups of veggies
- 1-2 cups of carbs
- 1 1/2 cups of sauce
It’s honestly that easy.
Your protein might be leftover meat, a can of tuna, ground meat, lentils, or beans.
Your veggie can be any tasty thing you have that will go well with the meat. You can use either frozen or canned green peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or mixed vegetables, just to name a few.
Your carbs can be pasta, rice, potatoes, or whatever grain you have kicking around in abundance.
Your sauce is the “glue” that holds the whole thing together. It might be white sauce, gravy, a can of condensed cream of whatever soup, tomato sauce, or cheese sauce.
Casseroles are pretty yummy when they have some kind of tasty, crispy topping. This might be bread crumbs and butter, cracker crumbs and butter, shredded cheese, those little cans of French-fried onions – whatever tasty thing you have on hand.
Season it with whatever spices you have that are appropriate – Italian seasonings, garlic salt, chili powder – whatever you think sounds good with your concoction.
How to make a casserole
To make your casserole, combine your cooked meat, your frozen or canned veggies, your cooked carbs, your spices, and your sauce.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until your sauce is bubbling. Then add your topping and bake it for another 5-10 minutes until it is crispy.
What are your favorite casserole ingredients?
Does your family have a favorite frugal casserole? Can you share it or a link to it in the comments? Do you use leftovers or fresh items for your casseroles? Let’s talk about casseroles.