Recipes for a Frugal Summer

Summer is a time when you are able to linger over your food a little longer, there are usually more dinner parties and barbeques and meal times become a very social affair – unlike winter when you’re hunched over your bowl of curry under a blanket on the couch.

Therefore, you want to add some fun and variety into your summer meals, but that’s not usually compatible with frugal cooking. Eating frugally usually means foregoing meat and fish in favor of more affordable proteins, but here are several summer recipes which put meat back on the menu, and money back in your purse:

Caramelized Onion Burgers


To make the onions you’ll need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions, sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the burgers you’ll need:

1 pound ground beef (“Mom” prefers organic)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
4 burger buns, toasted
4 slices tomato


Make the onions first by heating the olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions and sugar in the hot oil over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the onions are caramelised. Stir often.

Once the onions are caramelised, stir in the water, vinegar and salt and then set the onions aside, keeping them warm.

Make your burgers by combining the beef mince, parsley, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into four patties and grill them over a high heat until cooked to your liking – rare, medium or well done.

Finally assemble the burgers on the toasted buns with lettuce, tomato and your perfectly caramelised onions.

Shrimp Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce


4 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 can (6 ounces) small shrimp, rinsed and drained or 1 cup frozen small cooked shrimp
1 bag coleslaw
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 egg roll wrappers
Extra oil for deep frying


To make your sweet and sour sauce, combine the cornstarch, sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup and soy sauce in a medium saucepan, and heat the mixture over a low to medium heat until it is smooth, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk.

Then bring your sauce to the boil and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes, or until thick. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

In a large frypan or wok, stir fry the shrimp, coleslaw and water chestnuts in 1 tablespoon of oil until they are crisp and tender, and then leave them to cool slightly.

Stir salt and pepper into your shrimp mixture and position an egg roll wrapper with the long edge facing you. Spoon in ¼ cup of shrimp mixture, on the bottom third of each wrapper, then fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling, fold the sides over the filling and moisten the top edge with water to seal.

In a deep saucepan heat oil to 375 F and fry the rolls in batches for 4 – 5 minutes until golden, turning them often. Drain the cooked rolls on paper towel and serve with the sweet and sour sauce.

This recipe makes 12 egg rolls, and you can use leftover chicken or pork instead of shrimp.

Reduce Summer Cooking Costs

As well as using these clever and affordable recipes to keep your meals fresh and frugal during summer, there are several other ways you can reduce the costs of summer cooking, including:

Reduce the heat. Cooking in summer can be an expensive exercise because of how much harder your air conditioner has to work to cool down your house hot from the oven or stove. Therefore, look for ways you can avoid cooking in summer such as making sandwiches or salads. You can even cook your meals in the cooler part of the day in the morning, and eat them cold at dinner time. Or you can cook outside using the barbeque or grill, but don’t stop there because you can also take the crock pot, toaster and bread maker outside too.
Eat from the garden. Summer is such an easy time to grow your own vegetables and fruits because there is so much sunshine and everything looks green and healthy. Therefore, plant a small garden and grow your own summer meals to reduce your cooking costs and you can be enjoying fresh tomatoes, herbs, peppers or squash.
Farmer’s markets. Buying direct not only means you’ll be getting fresher produce, but you’ll also be saving money too because you’re buying in season. You won’t only find fruit and veg at a farmer’s market either, as many will sell cheese, baked goods, honey and even soaps without any bought chemicals.

About the Author

Alban loves cooking especially barbecue recipes. When he is not looking for new recipes, Alban offer tips and advice on how to compare home loans online.

*Image: Simon Howden /*