10 Budget-Friendly Recipe Tips

Check out these tasty, money-saving recipes and our handy tips for making them. These cheap thrills are anything but ordinary!

1. Get creative with cabbage

This twist on our grandmothers’ stuffed cabbage is healthy, tasty and economical. Take note: Wrinkled (or “ugly”) cherry tomatoes are almost preferable in this case—they’re less acidic and incredibly sweet when cooked.

2. Always be braisin'

Stews are a super way to balance your food budget. Missing an ingredient? No problem! You can replace blade roast with any other meat in your freezer, cut into cubes. In this recipe, beer can even stand in for red wine. You can also use different types of vegetables, like celeriac, sweet potato and turnip. And if you’re out of onion or garlic, replace them with herb stalks, hot peppers and orange peels. It pays to improvise!

3. Choose multi-purpose foods

You’ll need a large Dutch oven for this ham, and it’ll seem like you’ve made too much food. But the key here is how you manage the leftovers! You can use frozen leftover ham in all sorts of recipes, such as ham and egg toast. Cook once, eat twice—or more!

4. Don't lose the juice

Who hasn’t poured a jar of pickle juice down the drain? But that’s some fine brine you’re squandering. It makes this chicken exquisite. It’s also great in dips, sauces, soups and even cocktails. Re-energize your egg salad and tuna filling for sandwiches with a splash of pickle juice. Creativity, with no cash required!

5. Think outside the (cracker) box

Japanese tonkatsu inspired our new-look take on good old reliable pork cutlets. This is the perfect opportunity to break out that box of soda crackers from the back of the pantry to make the crunchy breading. Marinating julienned vegetables is also a neat trick for bringing tired veggies back to life.

6. Simmer down

Ricardo has been saying it for years: Make more soup. This lentil soup pulses with flavour thanks to garlic, onion and carrots, tops and all. No waste! You’ve heard of eating nose-to-tail? How about root-to-leaf? We should all be using the tops and bottoms of our vegetables: celery leaves, beet greens, fennel fronds, radish tops, broccoli stalks....

7. A little goes a long way

Watching your food budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional splurge. In this luscious spaghetti dish, a modest amount of frozen shrimp—cut in half to make them seem more numerous—gets a lift from an affordable can of clams. The briny juice of the molluscs also makes for a rich sauce that doesn’t require a drop of white wine. Do more with less!

8. Put some love into it

You don’t have to spend hard-earned cash on gourmet goods to take meals up a notch. Here, canned whole tomatoes, turned into a tasty confit by cooking low and slow with olive oil, and tinned sardines, rebooted as crispy croquettes, enhance a white-bean salad. It’s hearty, humble food everyone will love.

9. Make what you crave

You probably won’t have to head to the grocery store—and reach into your pocketbook—to make these crave-worthy sticky buns: You likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen already. So what are you waiting for? This 12-serving recipe is a great way to save money and warm hearts.

10. Eat the season, out of season

You can make sumptuous desserts like this strudel tart on the spur of the moment if you have frozen strawberries on hand. The frozen-food section at the local grocery can be your best friend for eating local, even when winter hits. Flash-frozen at peak ripeness, frozen strawberries burst with flavour and are usually cheaper than fresh ones.