How I Made a Frugal Fancy Dinner

Cinnamon roll ups made from leftover bread

Sometimes I make frugal meals. And they look and taste fine, but they aren't anything to write home about. Sometimes I make fancy meals, and they are special but their cost isn't anything to write about. And sometimes I make a fancy meal and include a frugal dish or two that is fancy despite its frugality and that makes me smile. And then there was this meal. Nearly everything about it was either frugal or super frugal, involved making things from scratch, free things, repurposed leftovers, stretching things, etc... and I'm so proud of it that I wanted to make it into a post to share with you all. 

When I went grocery shopping with my son the other day, we passed the meat counter and my son mentioned gizzards, and how they remind him of childhood and he'd love some. They're quite cheap but I stopped buying and making them because some kids complained about them, but since it had been a while I figured I'd give it another try. 

I cooked up the gizzards and had both broth and gizzards available from that cheap meat. 

I used some of the broth to make chicken vegetable soup for the family and included gizzards in the soup as well.

I got a bunch of lamb heads for free a bit back. Recently I roasted a lamb head with sweet potatoes for a nice meal for myself.

For this meal, I took the drippings from my previous lamb meal as well as the bones and cooked them up to make some lamb broth.

After I made the chicken soup and served it for one meal, I removed the gizzards from it, and blended it up together with the lamb broth.

I took the rest of the broth from cooking the gizzards and cooked rice in that.

I picked some sea beet leaves from my yard and took the gizzards that were from my soup and any other leftovers and used it to make dirty rice, in which I also used my gizzard broth cooked rice and homemade cajun seasoning

I took some ground beef and instead of stretching it with one grated zucchini like I usually do (already a frugal move) I stretched it with 2 zucchinis, stretching that meat quite far for our tacos. I used homemade taco spice mix for that taco meat. I also had homemade enchilada sauce and homemade refried beans in the freezer which I used for those tacos as well.

I had some orange juice that had been left out overnight. While it didn't taste spoiled, I didn't feel comfortable drinking it as is, so I made a chilled blended carrot soup using that orange juice, and brought the orange juice to a boil in it before chilling. 

With the rest of the orange juice I made gluten free vegan marble cake (based on this recipe) for dessert.

I had a lot of leftover stale bread in my fridge, mainly forgotten bags of sliced bread. I took the slices and rolled them out thinly and turned them into cinnamon roll ups for dessert. (Will make a post on how I did that another time.)

I took the crusts and heels of the bread and turned them into croutons for the aforementioned soups. 

I took the crumbs left from my cutting and whatever was left after making the croutons and cinnamon roll ups and turned them into bread crumbs, which I didn't use for that meal, so they went in the freezer.

I served it all with lemon verbena iced tea made with lemon verbena from my garden.

Wow. I'm exhausted writing that. And to be honest, my body hurt all over after doing that. (Thanks body for chronic pain.) But the food was delicious, and the meal definitely made me proud of my frugal prowess. 

Have you ever made a super frugal fancy dinner? What did you do? What are your favorite repurposed leftover hacks?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. How wonderfully creative! Looking forward to learning more about the cinnamon roll-ups. What do you use to sweeten the iced tea?

  2. I just read that turmeric along with pepper and ginger may help with pain and reading through reviews on Amazon it seems the majority of reviewers agreed. Maybe something to look into?

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