| Recipes |

Hearty Dinners That Don’t Break the Bank

Succulent Chicken Meatballs

It’s the end of a long autumn day. As the rain pitter-patters outside, you’re ready to cozy up with some warm comfort food. Here are some delicious and easy supper ideas that are sure to keep your family and your bank account full.

While ground beef is usually the focus of budget dinners as a cheaper alternative to… umm… steak? (Nah, can’t compare.) We often forget about other alternatives such as ground chicken or turkey. (Disclaimer: I can’t vouch that these recipes are a good steak alternative, but they are delicious all the same!)

Ground chicken or turkey can be used in the same way as ground beef to change things up a bit.  Try making hamburgers, sloppy joes, or meatballs with ground chicken for a delicious and economical alternative.

Thanks to my mother for some of the recipes featured here. When it comes to Biting the Budget, you’re my inspiration.

Cooked in a tasty tomato sauce, these chicken meatballs are super tender and easy to eat. This is the comfort food you’ve been craving, made with simple ingredients you’re sure to have at home.

  • 1 lb (450 g) ground chicken
  • 1–2 eggs
  • ¼ cup matzah meal
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • black pepper, to taste


  • oil, for sautéing
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 15-oz (425-g) can chopped tomatoes, or 1 15-oz (425-g) can tomato sauce

Place all meatball ingredients into a bowl and mix. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium-sized pot and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the red pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce. Bring to a boil.

Shape meatballs to desired size and drop them into the pot while the sauce is bubbling. Simmer for 1 hour.

Serve over rice or spaghetti.

Note: This recipe freezes very well.


Three Great and Tasty Ways To Stretch Any Chopped Meat

Add ½ cup unsweetened applesauce. This makes the hamburgers or meatballs super tender, and you can’t even tell a difference in the taste.

Add more matzah meal. If you want to bulk up your dish and add more body, this is a great option. Add the matzah meal slowly so you don’t end up thickening the meat too much. This also makes the dish more filling.

Add grated veggies. This is my favorite one. Grab a raw zucchini, a carrot or two, and even a pepper if you want, throw them into the food processor and pulse. Adding vegetables to your dish not only adds body but also enhances the flavor. They sweeten the chopped meat and sneakily hide veggies in a way your kids will never notice. Just make sure the vegetables are fully ground so they’re indiscernible to picky eaters!


Hot Dog Tray Bake

It’s as simple as chopping up vegetables and throwing them onto a baking sheet. This all-in-one dinner is the perfect go-to for a busy night when you still want to feed your family with the perfect well-rounded meal.


  • 12 hot dogs, any kind or flavor, sliced
  • 4 potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3–4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 onions, cut into chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • oil, to coat

Place all ingredients on a large baking sheet. Shake spices over all components and drizzle with oil. Mix. Bake uncovered at 350°F (175°C) for 1 hour or until the potatoes are soft and lightly crisped. Stir and check every so often. (If it gets too crispy but isn’t fully cooked yet, cover it.)

Tips: Calculate approximately 1 potato and 3 hot dogs per person and adapt as necessary. Also, chop all ingredients to a similar size to ensure equal cooking time.


Chinese Chicken Strips

Adapted from the Balabuste’s Choice 2

The vibrant colors in this stir-fry make this dish look amazing as well as taste scrumptious. Serve over angel hair spaghetti or rice for an authentic look. The small bites of chicken prepared with a delicious marinade become soft and succulent in this great dinner. This is sure to become a family favorite, and what’s more? You only need one pot. How’s that for efficient?

  • 2 chicken cutlets, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup oil, for sauteing
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 13-oz (370-g) can mushrooms
  • 11/2 cups frozen green beans
  • salt, to taste
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1½ Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika for 15 minutes. Sauté the pepper, mushrooms, and green beans for 3–4 minutes. Add salt and water.

Layer the chicken on top of the vegetables, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Note: This stir-fry needs to be eaten right away. (I’ve tried to freeze and reheat it in the oven, but it doesn’t taste quite the same; the veggies become kind of mushy.) But trust me, you’ll want to eat this as soon as it’s cooked.


Balanced Meals, Balanced Checkbook

As we all learned in school, a balanced meal consists of protein, a carbohydrate, and vegetables. Balanced meals are great, but they’re even greater when they come with a balanced checkbook.

Many recipes come with frozen broccoli for added flavor, color, and texture. We all love broccoli because we can buy it prechecked and frozen at any kosher store. Broccoli is full of nutrients, so it’s the perfect grab-and-go option for a busy mom. Pressed for time, we often forget to look for cheaper options and either discard the recipe or make it anyway, wincing at the price of the broccoli at the checkout.

Here are some ideas for basic switches for expensive vegetable options that can be implemented without too much thought — saving time, money, and stress.

Try frozen veggie mixes that don’t include broccoli so the price will be significantly lower.

Use canned mushrooms instead of fresh. (They do the job better than you think!)

Add different color peppers for a pop of color.

Buy fresh garlic rather than the prepackaged frozen ones. All you need is a good garlic press and you’re set. It doesn’t have to take much extra time.

Fry your own onions. Yeah, the pre-fried stuff is so useful and time-saving, but like everything in life — it’s expensive. Try this: fry up a bunch of onions of your own and freeze them in small portions to be taken out and used as needed.

And my all-time favorite sub for broccoli: frozen green beans.
Vegetable? Check.
Green? Check.
Frozen? Check.
Vitamins and nutrients? Check and check!
What more could you want?

Frozen green beans are your new best friend. Throw a couple of handfuls into a stir-fry or toast some with spices and a little oil for a crunchy side dish. They add flavor and color while still being a budget-friendly option. Still not sure? This recipe is adapted from the Balabuste’s Choice 2. The recipe calls for broccoli, but I’ve always used green beans instead, and the results are consistently amazing — this recipe is a winner I’ve turned to again and again.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 868)

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