Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Making Comfort Meals - A Few Cheap & Easy Ideas

 Comfort foods - we all love them.  Why are they called comfort foods?  In my opinion because they are foods that just make you feel warm and cozy inside - like a warm hug!
They can be complicated or they can be simple - guess which I choose???

Today I will list a few ideas - mainly using your pantry and freezer supplies.  If you are one of those that keep a variety of things on hand - you have this covered.  I am going to try to list easy and frugal meals on a regular basis - using what you may have on hand.  Any way that we can add variety and yumminess to one another's lives is a good thing.

CHILI - we all have our own recipe for this.  Then if you are like me, there is NO recipe - I make it different every time.  Generally it contains, ground meat, beans, seasoning, tomato products and possibly pasta or rice.  Many just use beans to make a vegetarian chili.  It is all good.

Another thing that just happens at my house.  Soups and stews vary as much as the hairs on your head.  There is variety and they are all different.  Mix whatever veggies you have or want and broth and meat (if you choose) - make it soup-like or thicker for stew.  Soups often add pasta or rice.  However you make it, it is pure comfort!

Last weeks potato soup - a bit homemade and a bit semi-homemade.  Looks complicated, but it wasn't.  I had a package of soup mix, added a diced potato, a handful of chopped celery (in blue), sprinkled in some cheese powder & a bit of grated cheese and onion soup/dip mix and I cut up ONE of those brats.  Served with a dollop of sour cream.  Mmmmm.  Two meals for me and 2 more frozen for later.  Cheap and easy and most of all TASTY!   You can jazz up any packaged soup mix.  I got a couple more for gifts and I always try to keep a few around.  They are just such a basic ingredient that can really make a great base to a wonderful soup.

Now this is what I call goulash - and what I understand some out East call it chow mein.  Chow mein to me is an Asian dish - but it doesn't matter what you call it.  It is easy and frugal and good.
Basics include pasta, ground meat, seasonings of choice and some tomato product (chopped or diced toms, sauce, pasta sauce, etc.) and then a bit of cheese.  I always add onion (to about everything), but that is my choice.
This is so basic and easy - and most people have everything needed on hand.

I often make a simple version - rice and salsa cooked together.  Doesn't get any easier than that! Super good as a side dish for any meal.

There are so many versions of nachos.  USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  Leftover chili, taco meat, beans, refried beans, salsa, cheese, tomatoes, onions, olives..................  Top tortilla chips and you are done.  Maybe add a dollop of sour cream if you have it.  You can also use over rice or pasta or make TOTchos!!!!!  Toppings over tator tots!!!!!!
This isn't brain surgery - it is just simple basic things you have around.  It is always good and filling.

Hollow out some hoagie buns or even part of a loaf of French bread.  Add pizza fixings, hotdogs and chili sauce, meat and cheese, whatever you have.  Stuff it full.  Wrap in foil and bake at about 375* for 15 minutes or so.  Oh my goodness these are good.  **Keep that bread you pulled out to make breads crumbs.

Hotdog buns (or any bun) -  Separate  into 2 parts and brush with butter and garlic powder or parmesan cheese and bake at 450 for 7-9 minutes.  Easier version - toast your buns and top with butter and garlic powder and cheese.  Heck I even toast bread and make garlic toast.  Great to serve with a salad or with spaghetti, goulash, chili, lasagna, soup, etc.

My easy version is made with pre-made pie crust and whatever thick toppings I have on hand.  Each round of pie crust I make 2 calzones with.  I cut the round in half - add filling to HALF of each and then fold over the other half and crimp edges.   (I hope that is understandable! - your calzone LOOKS like a quarter of the round when done)  I usually use a bit of egg wash around the edges before crimping with a fork.  Make a couple slits in the top of each for a steam vent and bake at the recommended time for the crust.  You want them to be nice and golden brown.
I have stuffed with pizza toppings and I have also used stew (or leftover roast and potatoes and carrots).  You imagination is your only limit.
One of these and a salad makes a tasty meal.

There you go - todays easy comfort meals using things you have (hopefully) on hand.  Experiment a little and have fun with your food.  No need to get bored with the same old things.  
More easy and frugal comfort foods/meals later!!!


  1. Delicious! That's a great list of comfort food Cheryl and the beauty is, you can take those basic recipes and mix and match them with what you personally have on hand!

    Chili and soups are easy and frugal go to comfort meals, for us in the cooler months. I have some leftover chili in the fridge now that I am going to make into a baked chili mac dish for dinner tonight.

    Goulash is a meal that reminds me of my grandmother, yet I never heard of anyone making it the way she did. She always used leftover boxed mac & Cheese, a bit of ground beef crumbles/leftover meat patty, etc. and ketchup, mixed it all together and called it goulash. It sounds weird and probably gross to some people, but I loved it as a child. It was a great way to use up leftovers and if I remember correctly, we would generally eat it for lunch.

    Hot dog buns do make delicious garlic bread! You can also make a cinnamon sugar breadsticks with hot dog buns by toasting them with butter, sugar and cinnamon.

    Thank you for the comfort food reminders and I hope you have a great day!

    1. Chili is so versatile. Chili, chili mac, over a baked potato, over chips, over a hot dog - the listed doesn't end.
      That goulash sound wonderful to me. I have also dumped in leftover mac n cheese and broken up hamburger patties. I generally have all kinds of tomato products - but would have no problem using ketchup.
      One think I ate a lot when I was single and poor (!!!) was macaroni with ketchup. It is still one of my favorite things.

      The crust on buns makes for such crispy garlic bread. Mmmm of the sweet ones.
      Have a good day!

    2. Yes indeed on the mac n cheese and salsa!!!!

  2. I recently made chili and I added frozen grated zucchini. It did not alter the taste and it bulked it up. It felt meatier (if that is a word). I will do that from now on.

    1. YUM. That sounds tasty - and I bet nobody else knew! Great way to get veggies in kids.
      Good tip.

    2. Husband can't digest beans, but I just may try the zucchini in the chili. Thanks for the suggestion.

    3. She did have a great suggestion there. Adds vitamins too!

  3. Great ideas for dinners on a cold winter night. My daughter was visiting last weekend and offered to make dinner. She made a tuna noodle casserole with egg noodles, cream of chicken soup, celery, onion, mayo, and some shredded cheddar cheese, along with a can of well-drained tuna. Really hit the spot and was truly a cost-conscious comfort meal. She also gave me a recipe for a one-pot spaghetti dinner (I've not yet made it). Keep the good ideas coming!

  4. We had the goulash last night but here in Nova Scotia we call it Hamburger Hash!

  5. My chillies and soups are made much like yours!
    I especially love a big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes topped with something like a mushroom ragu - a real treat since I usually eat fairly low carb.

    1. I think one of my very favorite foods is mashed potatoes!!! That and mac n cheese. I am a carb fanatic!
      Hmmm I think I need to make some mashed potatoes now!!

  6. I've made pulled pork and caramelized pineapple nachos with fresh pico. Soo yummy! Your hoagies remind me of Runza sandwiches that we have in Nebraska. You can find recipes for homemade Runza sandwiches online. I also put thick chili, cheese, and sliced hotdogs in a tortilla, roll it up like a burrito and toast it in a pan so it's like a grilled chili cheese dog "burrito".

    1. I am drooling here! My goodness all of that sounds so good. There are just so many cool ideas for easy and frugal meals that feel the belly and warm the bodies.
      Love the 'hotdog' burrito - stealing that!
      Thanks for the ideas.

  7. Now I am starving. "Stew mans first meal" S. Morgentern

  8. All looks delicious. A soup/stew is always a good go to when I want to prepare a few freezer meals for convenience.

    1. They are so easy to heat up and just downright tasty. Soups, stews and casseroles are my fav freezer meals.

  9. Everything looks yummy. Great menus ideas! The older I get the more "simple" is a magic word when it comes to preparing meals! We finished up the Costco size pot roast from Saturday this morning making hash from the leftovers served with an egg and toast.

    1. Hash sounds so good. Simple is the magic word for me for about everything any more!

  10. Our neighbor we had when we first moved here would make goulash and make enough for us every now and then. It was so good, but I could never get mine to taste like hers. I wonder if it was just that she gave it to me and I did not have to mess with it.

    I could about live on soups, but not Roger...LOL

    I love potato soup...a bit too much in fact. One year, my boss and her daughter in law ate it every day for lunch for about a month...each of us wanting it. Her husband just shook his head at us. She fixed him something different. And would have for me or Sandy either. But we really wanted it. And she used to fix fried cabbage for the just me and her cause her hubby didn't like it either. Gosh, what a fun place to work.