If you are on the hunt for frugal side dish recipes that complements a meal without being bland, check out this list below. Here are great flavorful side dishes that work into any budget.
I recently shared 100 frugal dinner ideas with you along with 15 Meatless Dinner Ideas to jump start you eating a little lighter on the wallet. So, I thought it would be a good idea to follow that up with cheap side dish recipes to round out an entire meal! By using both of these resources you can save a lot of money.
In many cases, these recipes are super easy to make and aren’t typically time-consuming either. Before we get too far into these delicious recipes, I want to give you a few tips on how to save money and be economical with your food.
🍽️ Why These Recipes Work
Quick and Easy – These not only save you money, but they will save you time and effort in the kitchen.
Known Ingredients – Looking at the lists below, you’ll find ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. So, there aren’t a lot of items you need to go shop for.
Thrifty – Obviously, these are low cost options, which is why you are here. There might be recipes that are even cheaper when you can snag the produce in season when prices drop.
Meal Prep Friendly – A lot of these recipes can be broken down into meal prep friendly options. Look for ways to precut and premix as much as you can. Store in the refrigerator in sealed containers or quality bags for up to 3-5 days.
🔖 Tips and Tricks
These are our top tips and tricks to make sure all of your sides remain as frugal as possible.
Stay away from pre-packaged boxed foods and make fresh meals instead. You won’t believe how much money you can save by making foods homemade. I know at first glance you may feel like it’s cheaper to buy it ready-made, but you can make larger batches and have more food when you make it from scratch. You can start 50+ Grocery Items to DIY Instead of Buy and move on to making your own butter or homemade yogurt in the crockpot or Instant Pot.
Don’t be afraid to batch cook whenever possible. When you make multiple batches at once, you can freeze some and have it on hand for those nights when you are running short on time. That saves you time, energy, and of course, money because you are less likely to have waste, and you won’t want to hit a fast-food restaurant. This is also a great time to add meal prep lunches like we did in 10 Meatless Meal Prep Ideas stored in the 10 Best Meal Prep Containers we love.
Check your markdown bins, farmer’s markets, and other resources for good deals. When veggies are starting to turn, many grocery stores mark them down tremendously. Be alert, and you can find some fantastic deals. Farmer’s markets are a great way to get lovely fruits and veggies for less too. We love to help you save money on Buying a Turkey After Thanksgiving and Marked Down Meats that will go perfectly with these dishes.
Planning ahead will help you a ton. If you find yourself at 5 o’clock staring in your cabinets and aren’t sure what to make for supper, you are way more likely to order out. This will cost you much more than if you would have made the meal at home. Planning is such a big part of making sure you keep to your frugal lifestyle! Make sure to use a menu planner like this one or this one that you can see which side dish you are having each night. Also, make sure you use a refrigerator inventory list before you go shopping so you can use the veggies you already have but didn’t get to this week.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables. It’s incredible how much money you can save when you grow many of the fruits and vegetables that you eat often. Tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, and herbs are just a few ideas. Even if you live in an apartment, you can easily grow veggies in pots! Our biggest money saving idea was to grow our own herb garden. Buying fresh herbs at the grocery store is expensive, so we planted our own and saved a lot of money.
🍴 Matching Side Dishes
It’s great that you are making a side dish, but what is the main food that it will pair with? Here are some ideas to consider.
Similar Flavors – When you think of recipes, think of similar flavors. You might want a rice to go next to your oven baked chicken as it will more than likely complement well.
You don’t want a super bold coleslaw to pair with a strongly flavored Mediterranean dish. The flavors will compete with each other.
Texture – Texture is another thing to consider. If you are eating fish, then a fresh crisp salad would be a good pairing. A variety of textures will please the palate.
Food Groups – Another thing to consider is food groups. If you have a nice source of protein, add in some veggies or even a fruit salad, etc. Look at your whole picture of the meal.
Let’s get into the frugal side dishes!