10 Fancy Frugal Dishes That Have Become Family Favorites

Who says that fancy dishes have to be expensive? With a little creativity and effort, you can create delicious and impressive meals that won’t break the bank. In fact, some of the most popular family dishes are those that are both fancy and frugal.

These meals are not only easy on the wallet, but they also bring the family together and create unforgettable memories.

Here are ten fancy frugal dishes that have become family favorites, perfect for any occasion.

While scrolling a favorite frugal community forum, someone posted a delicious sushi bake and asked about other people’s “favorite fancy frugal” dishes. Here are the top-voted recipes.

1. Sushi Bake

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Sushi lovers can enjoy this dish for about the cost of one sushi plate, but it will feed the family. You can use whatever fish you desire, but this user prefers salmon and imitation crab mixed with some sriracha mayo.


“We make rice and air fry the fish. Then we combine the fish and imitation crab with some sriracha mayo. Put the rice in the bottom of the dish and cover it with fish & initiation crab.


Bake in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. Have this with seaweed paper and eat hot, but it is also great cold leftovers.”

2. Shepherd’s Pie

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A classic United Kingdom dish and relatively easy to make is shepherd’s pie. There are different variations and more expensive options. Still, this user keeps this dish simple, easy and frugal and can easily feed a family.


They suggested “a pound of beef, three pounds of potatoes, an onion, peas, and a couple of kitchen staples and spices, and you can make this dish for a large family or have leftovers for lunch.”

3. Chicken and Dumplings

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Chicken and dumplings are super easy for comfort food and perfect on a chilly winter’s day. Also, If done in a crockpot, you can go about your day while cooking dinner. “I can make a big pot full that will last about three to four days for less than ten dollars,” shared one.


The basic recipe includes chicken, which can be boneless or chicken quarters, flour, eggs, and milk. You can also dress this up by adding vegetables like carrots or peas, and you have a great meal plus leftovers.

4. Panang Curry

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This Thai dish is a type of red curry that is both salty and sweet. One user elaborated, “Make a big pot, serve over a ton of rice, and it gives us meals for most of the week.”


Start with onion, green beans, chicken, a small amount of peanut butter, and coconut milk. Then, add some fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and basil.

5. Cucumber and Tuna Salad

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This delicious and quick salad can easily make a side dish or an easy-to-grab lunch. With inexpensive ingredients and the use of rice, this can be filling and tasty.


Someone stated, “I use canned tuna, rice, peas, pickle, and cucumber. Just cook the rice and let it cool. Meanwhile, chop the other ingredients, throw them together in a bowl with the cooled rice, and mix them with mayonnaise for moisture.”

6. Cabbage Rolls

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Cabbage rolls are filling, and you can adjust the ratio of rice and meat to your liking. The basic filling is rice, your meat of choice, egg for consistency, and whatever vegetables you want. It’s a meal with only a couple of necessary items but lets you use up some odd ends in your pantry and fridge.


“Scald the cabbage to make it soft enough to wrap,” replied another. “The beauty is in browning the filling quickly, then pan-searing the rolls for a quick minute before setting this to saute for a long while so that everything is soaked with flavor.”

7. Stroganoff

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With a pound of ground beef, a can of cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, vegetables of choice, and some seasoning, this dish is simple and very filling. You can make a big pot to last for a few days or have lunch.


One shared, “My stepmother’s stroganoff was a pack of ground beef, a can of cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, dill, frozen peas, and a bag of egg noodles.”

8. Lobster Mac-n-Cheese

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While lobster mac-n-cheese is delicious, it is also costly. However, you can make this dish at home for a fraction of the cost with some substitutions. To be even more frugal, try substituting lobster meat with imitation crab.


One’s version includes “mac and cheese made with milk and butter plus a generous spoon of cream cheese. Add some mustard powder and parmesan sprinkle cheese, then stir in imitation crab. Top with breadcrumbs.”

9. Stew

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You can make a stew with just about anything you have on hand. Of course, you always start with the stock and usually potatoes. Still, your meat of choice and vegetables can be whatever is on sale or about to expire in your fridge.


“I usually make stew at the end of the week,” said one. “This way, I’ve used the vegetables I purchased throughout the week, then whatever is left over goes into a stew.”

10. Fancy Ramen

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Ramen by itself is delicious for some. But for others, it’s just an inexpensive, quick meal. This affordable noodle pack can easily be jazzed up with just a few ingredients.


One suggested, “get some spam, eggs, and vegetables together. Throw it all together and put some sauce on top, and you’ve got yourself a full delicious meal for less than $10 a serving.”


Another volunteered, “I made a fajita ramen with some leftover chicken. First, I shredded the chicken and rewarmed it in a skillet with fajita seasoning. Then, I sauteed some peppers and onions and mixed them in my chicken ramen, which was delicious.”

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This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved


Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.