The Frugalite’s Guide to Zucchini: Morning, Noon, and Night

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The summer squash, better known as zucchini, is notoriously easy to grow; So easy to grow, in fact, that there is a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8th). This is so you can get rid of your extra bounty and help your neighbors at the same time!

While the zucchini may be a kind of joke for gardeners and their unsuspecting neighbors, easy food is no joke for us Frugalites! I did some research and found some surprising uses for zucchini. In fact, it is possible to live on zucchini for a week and some staples from your pantry. While I don’t think any dietician would recommend this as a long-term diet, it could make for a frugal week on your budget.

If you don’t grow zucchini yourself (my three plants on one mound are producing an astonishing TWO medium zukes per DAY right now), you might know a gardener willing to share some. If you don’t, you could post on a local buy and sell group and see what you can find. Local community gardens or farmers at markets may also have some bounty to share.

If you have any doubts about the health benefits of this humble summer squash, do not fear.

It is rich in an astonishing number of vitamins and minerals: “potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron.” 

What is also cool about the zuke is that it is low in both carbs and calories. Three-quarters of a pound of zucchini only has around 11g of carbs and only 60 calories. With that happy thought in mind, let’s see what we can eat on our creative zucchini adventure this week!

Zucchini for Breakfast

I have several suggestions for how to eat your zucchini for breakfast. Do you like your breakfast on the run? How about grabbing a healthy zucchini muffin as you head out the door? If you tend to like spice, you could make it up with some dried fruits like raisins and cranberries. If you prefer a savory breakfast with more protein, you could go for a tasty zucchini frittata muffin on the go.

If you are a smoothie drinker in the morning, then you can start your day the zucchini way. Put two cups of chopped zucchini in your blender, and add another two cups of chopped fruit of any kind or a mixture of fruits. Add approximately ½ cup of any liquid you like (fruit juice, almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, or kefir) These smoothie suggestions were inspired by this recipe, where she also throws in a bit of lime juice.

Another option is to add thinly sliced zucchini to your oatmeal, blanching the zucchini in boiling water first before adding the oatmeal. With some cinnamon and maybe some raisins, you will think you’re eating apple cinnamon oatmeal!

Zucchini for Lunch

If you need to pack your lunch, a tasty zucchini salad could be the way to go. A traditional salad would be lettuce-based, with raw zucchini and other vegetables added to the mix. However, there is a way to make a tasty salad where zucchini is the base. If you cut your zucchini into matchsticks first and lightly blanched them for 2-3 minutes, they are delicious with a basic olive oil dressing. 

Some fresh basil or mint, or balsamic vinegar are all that are required for flavoring. Chill before eating. For a complete lunch, add a chopped egg and some bread on the side. For more details, check out The Single Vegan cookbook by Leah Leneman. You may not be single. You may not be vegan. If you want to be frugal with your eating and use vegetables creatively, this is a great cookbook to get you started!

Tabikh is a simple Egyptian meal where you cook some vegetables in tomato juice instead of water. Green beans and/or zucchini are good choices. This makes a sauce which you serve on rice. Other flavorings can be added, such as sauteed onions, if desired. If you are packing your lunch, this could easily be reheated on the go or eaten cold in the summer. For more details, check out the More with Less Cookbook, one of the books I use to save money.

Do you prefer a gluten-free diet? You could grill a medium zucchini lengthwise or slices of a larger zucchini width-wise and use these are bread substitutes for a tasty sandwich. 

Zucchini for Supper

The Single Vegan cookbook by Leah Leneman has a recipe for cashew and vegetable curry. I actually QUADRUPLE the recipe and live on it for around five days. It takes two medium zucchinis to make that amount, and the recipe is delicious. In the hot summer evenings I return from the barn, I eat this cold served on cold rice, like a salad. I find it quite refreshing that way! I am providing a link to something fairly similar if you want to give it a try.

This same cookbook has a recipe for a lovely sounding zucchini and tomato flan (sautee onion and add zucchini and cook until soft); add spices and top a lightly baked flan crust with the mixture, and return to the oven. I hope this is giving you an idea of how creative The Single Vegan cookbook is just with this one vegetable!

During summer squash season, I love making zucchini pizza. I saute onion, garlic, zucchini, some sliced beet, turnips greens, or kale, and add anything else I have on hand. I make a simple biscuit crust for my pizzas that doesn’t require any kneading or rising. If you are actually single, this will leave you with leftovers for lunch. 

“Zucchini Helper” is another option. A basic skillet supper can be created with a base of 4 cups of thinly sliced zucchini and sliced onion. Sautee and add mushrooms (if on hand in your pantry, canned, or fresh) and a can of tomatoes in juice. Spice as desired, and add meat if available (or canned beans). This will produce 4-5 servings. Do you like to cook with more details? The More with Less cookbook has a great recipe for this.

Want something super simple? Grate up some of that great zucchini and make an omelet. For extra protein, add in some bacon or ham if you have it on hand. 

Zucchini Dessert

Quite frankly, I was amazed at the variety of desserts that people slip this veggie into. For the record, I am not claiming that any of these are healthy. Here is a double chocolate zucchini muffin recipe that looked good to me. And here is an astounding list of no less than 20 zucchini-based desserts.

Fill Up on Zucchini, and Your Budget will be Teeny

With some creativity, living on zucchini for a week can be delicious, healthy, and frugal. Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

The Frugalite\'s Guide to  Zucchini: Morning, Noon, and Night


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

14 thoughts on “The Frugalite’s Guide to Zucchini: Morning, Noon, and Night”

  1. Don’t forget pickles, relish, and chips! My zucchini have really produced this year and that’s what I’ve done to put them up. And my local food bank has been really grateful too.

    1. Hi Jayne, How kind of you to share your bounty with others in need. That is great to hear. I have made pickles and relish with zucchini, but never CHIPS!!!! If you see this and have time, I would love to learn more about how you do it. Right now, I have three zucchinis on my countertop. One will go to my elderly aunt today, so any advice on how to use the extra creatively would be much appreciated! Wishing you a wonderful harvest season as we move towards September, Jayne! Thank you for always taking the time to contribute to the conversation!

  2. Grate and dehydrate any extra! You can then sneak it into soups, sauces (like spaghetti), casseroles, meatloaf (rehydrate it first), and so on! Great way to sneak extra veggies into meals!

    1. Hi Grammyprepper, What a fantastic idea! I knew that it kept well grated and frozen, but honestly never thought about dehydrating. I hope everyone is taking notes….it appears that the uses of this wonderful summer squash are endless! Many thanks for sharing with the Frugalite community. Wishing you the best!

  3. Grate it, dehydrate it and then powder it. You can use it to substitute for some of your flour in recipes. Its called Amish Flour ( for some reason)

    1. Hi Genevieve, Wow! Taking zucchini dehydrating to the next level. This is a great suggestion for getting those nutrients into breads and even cookies. If there is ever a flour shortage, I am sure many Frugalites will recall your useful tip. Thanks so much!

  4. Yellow straight or crook neck summer squash can also be used in the ways stated above. They can also be sliced thin, tossed in cornmeal and fried like okra. I also like to cook the squash, cut in chunks in boiling water until the water is reduced. Meanwhile I chop an onion then salute the onion in butter until it caramelizes. I drain the squash and throw it in with the onion and cook until it is like loose mashed potatoes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pseudo pumpkin bread can also be made by substituting grated zucchini or yellow squash in the recipe.

    1. Hi Debs, Do you live in the South? These suggestions remind me of the wonderful southern cooking I have sampled. I love the idea of frying the zucchini like that. Not complicated, but sounds delicious and add some variety to eating them. Your other suggestion sounds like a heavenly side dish, and would like be tasty cold, too. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas, which add some variety to eating zucchini. Much appreciated!!!

  5. Small dices, saute, and use for taco topping. Also works well in stir fry or other Chinese food (we’ve had it in a “kow” dish). Diced and cooked with potatoes – stove or grill (if you have a decent grill pan). I agree good add to soup – dice and saute, goes extremely well in a chicken broth based soup. Yellow squash can also be used too but we’ve not had it in Chinese yet.

    1. Hi Selena, Thanks so much for adding even more variety to the zucchini potential meals. I love the idea of taco topping: I am even picturing grating it raw and adding on top of tacos sort of like lettuce. Mixing in with potatoes is an awesome suggestion and really improves nutrition with just these two staples combined together. I am going to try it in a chicken broth soup. Have never done that before! Many thanks for sharing your experience with Chinese food and this wonderful variety of dishes. Wishing you the best!

  6. Good morning everyone, my wife puts the Zucchini in a spiralizer. So, we have a noodle substitute. We also freeze it that way, so it’s ready to use 2 or 3 months later. I forgot about the Amish flour, we’ll do that next!!

    1. Hi WhereEaglesDare, A Noodle Substitute. What a great idea! I did not know that they would freeze well like that. This is a clever idea for those who want a gluten free option, or just to reduce the carbs in their diet. Thanks very much for chiming in with the excellent idea! Wishing you the best!

  7. It’s possible to make lasagna with thinly sliced slabs of zucchini instead of the noodles. Never tried it but I’m told it’s good.

    You can also spiralize zucchini to make zoodles and have pasta sauce over them.

    Lastly I have one I invented – another form of zucchini pizza. Where you use half of a small one, baked, with tomato sauce cheese and toppings on that. I’ve done that with delicata squash and loved it, but it would probably work with zucchini.

    I love the ideas in this article!

    1. Hi Redbranch, Thanks so much. It’s always great to learn from your comments. With the torrential rain we are getting here today (long overdue!), I am sure to have several large zucchinis pop up in my garden in the next few days. I am going to try your creative zucchini pizza idea with one of the nice small tender ones. Thank you so much for your support and feedback. As a writer, it a wonderful feeling to log in and see positive comments such as your own. Frugalites ONWARDS WITH OUR SAVINGS!!! Wishing you the best!

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