Raise your virtual hand if you basically cycle through the same handful of vegetables every couple of weeks! In our house the “golden vegetables” are onions, peppers, broccoli and green beans. The first two are used as the base in almost every recipe I make, and the latter are prepared in different ways, but served every few nights for dinner.
This year, I want to branch out of my comfort zone and give other vegetables a shot to compete for a spot in my daily rotation (this is starting to sound like a Food Network special!). So I thought I’d share some ideas for relatively frugal vegetables to add into your meal planning rotation that won’t break the bank!
This wasn’t super scientific, I just used the prices in my local area, and prices do vary by region. My definition of “frugal” here was typically under $2/lb. If approaching the $3/lb price point, it’s only on the list because you don’t need much of it to make a meal.
1. Green Cabbage. This is one of our new favorite veggies! It’s so inexpensive and one head of cabbage can usually last us for at least two meals! I roast cabbage steaks, incorporate it into hashes and make it the main star in stews and soups.
Frugal recipe ideas featuring cabbage as a main ingredient:
Unstuffed Cabbage | Roasted Cabbage Wedges | Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry
2. Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are healthier than other potato varieties and are quite inexpensive. I typically dice and add into hashes, bake and serve with chicken, or slice and roast for an easy side!
Frugal recipe ideas featuring sweet potatoes as a main ingredient:
Crockpot Sweet Potatoes & BBQ Chicken | Sweet Potato & Kale Hash | Sweet Potato Noodles
3. Carrots. Carrots make a natural addition to soups, are great in a stir-fry (or even prepared as fries themselves!) and are easy to roast.
Frugal recipe ideas featuring carrots as a main ingredient:
Balsamic Glazed Carrots | Carrot Salad | Vegan Carrot Soup
4. Eggplant. I don’t personally cook much with eggplant, but I do know that it’s a favorite among vegetarians due to its versatility and ability to be used as a meat substitute.
5. Kale. This trendy veggie makes a tasty addition to pasta dishes, egg-based meals, soups and casseroles!
Frugal recipe ideas featuring kale as a main ingredient:
Kale White Bean & Potato Stew | Sauteed Kale | Spaghettini with Creamy Kale Sauce
6. Green Bell Peppers. I use green peppers for most tomato-based recipes I create. But they can be used as one of the main ingredients with a bit of creativity! I had trouble finding recipes using bell peppers as the main ingredient that aren’t stuffed peppers or fajitas, so please leave any recipe suggestions you have in the comments below!
7. Green Beans. I love serving green beans, because one lb. is usually all we need for a cheap and tasty side dish to most chicken or seafood dinners!
Frugal recipe ideas featuring green beans as a main ingredient:
Parmesan Roasted Green Beans | Southern Green Beans | Brown Sugar & Bacon Green Beans
8. Broccoli. Broccoli was my favorite vegetable as a kid (strange kid, I know!), and it’s now my favorite veggie to use in the kitchen. It can be seamlessly incorporated into almost any dish and is great for roasting, adding to stir-frys, casseroles and it’s even easily bendable for soups and sauces!
Frugal recipe ideas featuring broccoli as a main ingredient:
Roasted Lemon Parmesan Broccoli | Baked Broccoli Tots | Easy Broccoli Soup
9. Zucchini. Zucchini is on the higher end of what I consider to be an inexpensive veggie (about $2.99/lb in my area). But I decided to add it to the list because most recipes I’ve seen only call for a couple of zucchini, which means a little goes a long way!
Frugal recipe ideas featuring zucchini as a main ingredient:
Zucchini Pasta Pesto | Tuna Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Cheesy Zucchini Rice
10. Mushrooms. Mushrooms are extremely versatile and can be served as a standalone dish or added into meals to beef up chicken dishes, pasta recipes and stir-frys.