There is nothing so satisfying as a frugal chili in the cool months. I am sorry for the tardiness of this post, but I still wanted to capitalize on Frugal Friday.
I was talking with a lady at church last week who is living on a modest income. She is newly married and has an older child, but has only recently moved out of her parents’ house. While we were talking and I was listening to her situation I asked her if she was capitalizing on inexpensive foods like legumes. “Le what?” she said. Oh, my world just exploded in joy to help her!
Frugal Friday: Frugal Chili Recipe on the Cheap
On the tail of that conversation, I wanted to post a super cheap and easily expanded chili recipe for those on a budget. This recipe is highly adaptable to what you have on hand, so amend it as desired. To keep it Trim Healthy Mama friendly, use a lean meat source to pair with the beans, otherwise it will be a crossover. Enjoy!
Poor Man’s Frugal Chili
Ingredients (and Estimated Cost)
- 4 cups dried beans (various types are most fun: white, kidney, black, chickpea, pinto, etc.) (1 lb of beans costs roughly $1.25, give or take a few cents)
- 1 large onion, diced ($0.75)
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes, leaving liquid undrained (up to $1.75, but the cheap end is about $1)
- 1 lb ground turkey ($2.99/lb typical)
- 14 oz can tomato sauce ($0.75)
- 2 tbsp chili powder (if purchased in bulk, the cost is mere pennies. If purchased in smaller quantities, the cost is about $0.25 or so)
- 3 tsp cumin (if purchased in bulk, the cost is negligible, but if purchased in smaller quantities, the cost is about $0.25)
- 1 tsp paprika (same as other spices)
- 1-1 1/2 tsp salt ($0.05)
- pepper to taste
- 2 tsp garlic powder (about $0.10)
- 1 tsp onion powder (about $0.10)
Total Cost: $9.50 (if you purchased 2 bags of beans at the cost of 1 lb amounts)
- Pour beans into two larger pots. I like to put dark-colored beans (kidney and black beans) into one pot and light-colored (pinto, white, great northern, chickpea) in another. Sift through the container with the black beans and remove any tiny stones (yes, they are often there). Cover beans with water up until about 1 1/2-2 inches below the top of the pot (you will need a decent amount of water, so be sure to use medium to large pots…small will not work) [see pictures above for clarification]. At this point, you have two options: quick soak or overnight soak. If you are doing this the night before you need your beans, go ahead and leave the water-covered beans sitting out in a warm place for the night and then continue with the next step. If not, because you didn’t think to do so ahead or you simply forgot (like I pretty much always do), turn your stove up to high and bring the beans to boil, then turn down the heat to keep the water as a low boil for 1-2ish hours (yes I said ish…I have left it simmering for longer if I am otherwise engaged with something. Longer does not hurt it unless all the water evaporates…then you have burned beans. I’m just telling you from what I’ve heard because I’ve totally never done that………) Once the beans are soft, drain the water and keep the beans set aside.
- Using the largest of the pots already dirtied, spray or oil the pan lightly and brown the ground turkey and onion. Now add all the other ingredients listed, giving a good stir to incorporate everything together. Season well with salt and pepper and be sure to give it a taste to make sure the flavors are what you want. If the taste is not quite right, add a pinch more salt and try it again. Salt really helps to bring out the flavors, and since you will be eating only a portion of this large pot, you will have a fairly unimportant amount of sodium. This is not the same as eating a bag of processed food. ::wink::
- Bring the chili back to a boil. Then lower the heat and let simmer for an hour or so, or until it is dinner time. This is the kind of dish that just gets better over time as long as the heat is not so hot that it will burn. Give it a good stir every 20-30 minutes to make sure everything is going okay and you will have a delicious meal for the family.
Remember, this dish is amendable. You can leave out the meat if you don’t have it, or don’t have the funds for the extra. You could sub a ground beef if that is what you have on hand (I recommend draining out the fat once the beef is drained to keep this a healthy dish). You can eat it just as is, or add some sour cream and cheese.
You could stretch the meal further with another dollar or so by adding brown or white jasmine rice. Add a salad, or some steamed broccoli, to round it out even further.
Each little side addition (rice/veggies) means less chili will be eaten at this sitting, which means you will have plenty to set aside for a freezer meal, and even a likely serving for a work lunch tomorrow. I know the amount of chili this makes is a huge amount for others, so plan on either having leftovers or half the recipe for your family size. For us, this is nearly gone in one sitting =0)
What about you? Do you enjoy a frugal chili recipe?
I don’t know about you, but chili just sounds like the best thing in the world when there is a chill in the air and the sky is overcast. What is your favorite fall/winter savory dish to warm the body and the soul? Comfort food anyone?! =0)