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Simple, thrifty meals for busy families

Dinner doesn't have to be dreadful

by Cheryl Tallman  |  4030 views  |  0 comments  |      Rate this now! 

Here are some affordable meal ideas to help you get dinner on the table each night without too much time or effort.


Casseroles are an all-time favorite comfort food and can be inexpensive one-dish meals. Here are two recipes that are crowd and wallet pleasers.

Classic Tuna Casserole:

  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 5-oz. can tuna in water, drained
  • 3 to 4 cups flat egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the egg noodles according to the package directions and drain in a colander. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft (about 4 minutes), and then add in the mushrooms and peas. Cook for another minute and turn down the heat to low. Mix the soup, milk, and tuna in a separate bowl and add to the skillet. Stir until blended together. Combine the noodles and the contents of the skillet into an oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minute before serving.

Chicken n' Rice casserole


  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 soup can of milk
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 3 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 package frozen asparagus, thawed and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the soup, milk and Italian herbs together. Add remaining ingredients except ¼ cup of cheese with the soup and stir gently until combined. Spoon the mixture into an oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minute before serving.

Friday Night Quesadillas

A quesadilla will turn plain leftovers into a great meal! Simply use leftovers as filling. Be creative use up leftovers and save money too!

Ingredients - for each quesadilla:

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (Colby, cheddar, jack, or a mixture)
  • 1 10 inch flour tortilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp of leftover filling mixture
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil

Directions: Sprinkle cheese and filling over one of the flour tortillas. Leave a ½ inch edge empty all the way around the tortilla. Place the other tortilla on top of the cheese mixture, making a sandwich. Brush the top of the tortilla lightly with oil. Place the tortilla sandwich with the oiled side down in a non- stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush the top of the tortilla lightly with oil. Using a spatula, turn the tortilla over when it is golden brown (about 2 minutes). Brown the other side (about 2 minutes). Remove from pan and slice into pieces like a pie.

Leftover Filling Ideas: shredded/diced pork, steak or chicken, steamed vegetables chopped into small pieces, any kind of beans, avocado, tomato, pineapple or mango pieces.

About the Author

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, available at many fine specialty stores,, and national chains including Whole Foods Markets. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.

Read more by Cheryl Tallman

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