15 Frugal Fall Recipes

cooking in a wok

Cooking has a seasonal rhythm. During the summer, people tend not to want to cook or eat heavy foods. However, as the weather cools and the nights lengthen, we start to want comforting, cozy, filling meals. Since many classic fall dishes revolve around stews and casseroles, the good news is many of the things we crave during the autumn are also naturally frugal. That’s especially good news for those who also entertain in the fall. Between football games and school events, the autumn is ripe with chances to have people over for low-key hangouts. The following fall recipes are easy to adjust for a crowd without blowing the weekly food budget.

Beef Stew – Frugal Gourmet Style

beef stew

Marinating the meat before making the stew makes it possible to use cheaper cuts of meat to reduce the overall cost of this dish. The marinade also deepens the flavor of the dish and makes for a more sophisticated take on a classic dish that pays homage to both French and American cuisine.

Mix and Match Casserole

broccoli casserole

Some days, a needed grocery store run just doesn’t happen. Maybe it was impossible to leave work on time, or traffic was bad, or a child’s sports practice ran over, or you looked at your bank balance and realized a trip to the store needs to wait until your next paycheck hits, and so dinner needs to be made from the random things left in your fridge and pantry. Recipes like this one, which is more of a template, are dinner savers in these cases. It’s endlessly customizable to work with the ingredients you have on hand and is still going to result in a warm, tasty, filling dinner that doesn’t require a trip to the store!

Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew


Chef Jose Andres wrote this recipe (based on the Spanish dish garbanzos con espinacas) for NPR as part of a series of $10 dinners. Chickpeas and spinach are nutrient-rich foods that can be bought cheaply, even in a time of rising grocery prices. Even better? This is a one-pot wonder that comes together easily.

Stovetop Chicken Pot Pie

baked pie

Country Living Magazine published this recipe that takes the time-intensive classic chicken pot pie and makes it easy enough to cook on the stovetop. Even better? This recipe is a great way to use up the remainder of a rotisserie chicken, so you can reduce waste and your grocery bill in one fell swoop.

Easy & Delicious Pumpkin Muffins

muffins in a muffin tin

When most people think of symbols of fall, pumpkins are among the first things they think of, which is why these muffins are the perfect fall food. Not everyone loves to bake, and making muffins from scratch can intimidate non-bakers. These two ingredient muffins, which capitalize on the versatile pumpkin, are foolproof and very inexpensive to make. They are the perfect treat to make for your own party or when you need to bring something to a game day potluck!

Easy Goulash Recipe

Ground beef, macaroni elbows, and tomatoes form the basis of this delicious stew based on an ancient Hungarian dish. However, modern conveniences like premade pasta and canned tomatoes mean this dish is easy enough to add to the weeknight rotation. It’s also based on inexpensive basics and it’s easy to scale the recipe up to feed a crowd on game day!

Vegan Chickpea Pumpkin Briyani


Briyani is fragrant, filling, satisfying, healthy, and comes together in just about forty minutes. There are many different versions of biryani but this one celebrates the flavors of fall by incorporating pumpkin. It’s also flexible enough so that if you don’t have something on hand in your kitchen you can substitute something else you do have (for example, sweet potatoes can be used in place of the pumpkin).

Maple Chicken & Potatoes Skillet Supper

maple syrup and a spoon

Inexpensive ingredients combine to make a dinner worthy of serving to guests. Not only is it inexpensive, but it only requires one oven-proof skillet to make! The dish starts on the stovetop before being finished in the oven, which is one reason why it achieves such a depth of flavor with frugal ingredients and in a relatively short amount of time.

5 Ingredient Crock Pot Potato Soup


Potato soup is hearty enough to feel like a complete meal on its own. However, it can be relatively time-consuming to make. The beauty of this recipe is that it leans heavily on pantry and freezer staples-meaning it doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store, and making it in the crock pot means it only takes a few minutes of hands-on attention before cooking away on its own all day. These same factors mean it’s a great dish to feed a crowd with!

Kid-Friendly Sloppy Joe Mashed Potato Pie

mashed potatoes

Most families have a collection of recipes they make time and time again because they don’t cost much money and are liked by everyone in the family. Sloppy Joes and mashed potatoes are both classic entries on many families’ lists. The genius in this recipe comes from turning the mashed potatoes into a pie shell. It’s a way to fancy up some kid-friendly dishes and make classic choices feel fresh again.

Savory Home-style Meatloaf

What makes this meatloaf recipe stand out from the crowd? The fact that ground pork is mixed with ground beef and the use of steak seasoning work together to give this meatloaf a distinctive taste profile.

Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas


Kids love this recipe, and it’s possible to prep it up to a week in advance so that all that has to be done is toss the ingredients on a sheet pan and put it in the oven. Most people think steak is a pricey treat, but cheaper cuts of meat work well with this recipe, and rounding the meal out with rice and tortillas reduces the amount of steak needed for each person.

Make Ahead Twice Baked Potatoes

russet potatoes

The ease and low cost of this recipe makes it perfect for feeding a crowd. Bake as many potatoes as you need, let them cool, slice in half, and remove the flesh of the potatoes. Combine the potatoes with cream, cheese, butter, bacon, cheese, salt, and pepper. Fill the potato skins with this mixture, and then refrigerate until it’s time to bake them again so they can be served hot!

Chicken Stew with Mushrooms and Onions

mushrooms on a cutting board

Chicken thighs are one of the cheapest meat options at the grocery store. Luckily, they are also endlessly versatile. Here, they take on the flavor of tarragon and red wine vinegar. A bit of bacon and some Portobello mushrooms help make this recipe feel far more expensive and luxurious than it actually is while serving it over warm buttered noodles makes it even more affordable on a per-serving basis.

Vegan Sweet Potato Curry

turmeric in a jar

Some nights end with everyone needing to be fed the moment you get home. What to do? Lean hard on your slow cooker. Taking a few minutes in the morning to prep everything and start the slow cooker means dinner is ready when everyone gets home. The rich mix of spices makes this curry stand out among other stews.