ScoreCard Research Lucy Baker - The Penny Hoarder

Meals in the freezer are like money in the bank.

For one thing, you can buy ingredients in bulk, and often at a discount. For another, dishes that freeze well mean less food waste. Didn't quite finish that homemade sweet potato soup? Pop the leftovers in the freezer and enjoy a "free" dinner months down the line.

But despite their cost-cutting benefits, freezer meals can get a bad rap. Too often, we think of retro casseroles or cheesy, carb-laden dishes -- boring, bland trays of food lacking vegetables and fresh, vibrant flavor.

It's time to give them a second chance! Frozen dishes can be light, healthy and delicious. Here are some of my favorites, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo options.

1. Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Soup

[caption id="attachment_62862" align="alignnone" width="680"]Do you struggle to cook during the busy work week? Try making this sweet potato peanut butter soup ahead of time. Photo from Turnip The Oven[/caption]

This soup will cost you peanuts -- literally. And it's vegan to boot.

The secret ingredient is 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, which imparts an incredibly luscious texture. A big pinch of cinnamon and a sprinkle of chopped peanuts are the perfect finishing touch.

The recipe yields two quarts, so you can serve one tonight and stash the other for another time.

2. Cheesy Vegan Rutabaga Casserole

[caption id="attachment_62846" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Try making this cheesy vegan rutabaga casserole dish for dinner next time you're strapped for time during the work week. Photo from Simple Seasonal[/caption]

The rutabaga is an underappreciated, dirt-cheap root vegetable. In this vegan recipe, you’ll layer thinly sliced rutabagas with kale and sweet potatoes, then smother them with cashew cheese.

To freeze the casserole, assemble and wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and foil. Thaw and bake before serving.

3. Salsa Verde Smothered Veggie Burritos

While they're always cheap, most burritos aren't exactly low-fat. This vegetarian recipe forgoes the calorie-laden meat and guacamole, replacing them with taco-spiced peppers and mushrooms and cilantro-lime rice.

To freeze, wrap burritos individually in aluminum foil.

4. Zucchini Noodles with Jalapeno Pesto

[caption id="attachment_62871" align="alignnone" width="600"]Do you struggle with cooking dinner during the busy work week? Try making this quick meal: zucchini noodles with jalapeño pesto. Photo from Turnip the Oven[/caption]

Wait, you don't already have pesto in your freezer? You've gotta get on that. Pesto freezes beautifully for months on end.

This version replaces pricey pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano with more wallet-friendly walnuts and Asiago cheese. Jalapeno adds an unexpected, spicy kick.

To serve, simply defrost the pesto and toss with spiralized zucchini for a low-calorie, gluten-free dish, or freshly cooked pasta for a more substantial meal

5. Chicken & Spinach Lasagna Rollups

Traditional lasagna is often loaded with ground beef and oozing with cheese. Delicious? Yes. Healthy? Not so much.

These chicken- and spinach-stuffed rollups are easier, faster and lighter. The recipe yields two pans -- one to bake and one to freeze.

6. Quinoa Zucchini Casserole

[caption id="attachment_62848" align="alignnone" width="1200"]This Quinoa Zucchini Casserole dish from Food Done Light is an easy and quick meal to make during the week. Photo from Food Done Light[/caption]

There’s an infamous recipe online for a broccoli cheese casserole with canned cream of mushroom soup, loaded with fat and sodium.

This recipe is a refreshing revamp made with protein-packed quinoa and fresh mushrooms. Make it now while markets are still overflowing with cheap zucchini.

7. Carrot Soup with Orange, Cinnamon and Ginger

[caption id="attachment_62864" align="alignnone" width="680"]Do you struggle making dinner during the busy work week? Try making this carrot soup with cinnamon ginger and orange ahead of time. Photo from Turnip the Oven[/caption]

A two-pound bag of carrots can cost less than $2 at the grocery store, so carrot soup is always a huge bargain.

This is my all-time favorite version; I must've tested the recipe half a dozen times to get it right. The secret ingredients are freshly squeezed orange juice and full-fat coconut milk. This is a make-ahead must for winter cold season.

8. Kale Lentil Balls

[caption id="attachment_62849" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Try these kale lentil balls for dinner when you're strapped for time during the work week. Photo from Veggies Don't Bite[/caption]

These kid-approved bean balls include with mushrooms, kale, lentils, oats, flax meal and sunflower seeds. Could they be any healthier?

Smother them with your favorite tomato sauce and serve over pasta, or stuff them in a roll for a veggie meatball sub. They’re quite filling, so you can freeze half the batch for another meal.

9. Chipotle Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers

These gluten-free, paleo (if you skip the bun) burgers stretch a single pound of ground turkey into six portions by supplementing it with grated sweet potato. Freeze the uncooked patties for up to three months.

10. Hummus and Red Pepper Soup

[caption id="attachment_62874" align="alignnone" width="680"]Do you struggle cooking dinner during the busy work week? Why not try making this hummus and red pepper soup ahead of time? Photo from Turnip the Oven[/caption]

It's hard to believe, but it's true -- a couple of containers of hummus can feed six people for dinner.

This vegan soup includes so many wholesome (and cheap!) ingredients, including rice, spinach and chickpeas, that a big bowl really is a complete meal. I stock up and make this whenever hummus is on sale.

11. Teriyaki Meatballs

Yes, these meatballs are made with slightly pricier organic beef, but it's so much better for you! Justify the splurge by freezing half for a future meal.

The addictive homemade teriyaki sauce is spiked with plenty of garlic and freshly grated ginger -- you'll never pay for the bottled kind again.

12. Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

[caption id="attachment_62853" align="alignnone" width="1200"]This slow cooker black bean chili from Vegan in the Freezer is a great meal to try during your busy work week. Photo from Vegan in the Freezer[/caption]

This is the ultimate cheap, healthy, fuss-free meal. The slow cooker transforms dried beans, a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, an onion and pantry-staple spices into a hearty, smoky, fiber- and protein-rich vegan chili.

Lucy Baker blogs about vegetables (and occasionally desserts) at Turnip the Oven.

Sure, we’d all love to be the kind of home cook who can whip up a perfectly roasted chicken with an hour's notice.

But let's be real: Most nights, it's just not going to happen.

When life gets hectic, rotisserie chicken can be a lifesaver. A store-bought bird will run you less than $10, and you can transform the cooked meat into countless quick, healthy, (mostly) homemade dinners.

From pesto polenta bowls to enchilada hand pies, these 11 chicken recipes help you stretch your leftovers -- and if you do wind up roasting your own bird, they’ll work just as well.

1. Pesto Chicken Polenta Bowls with Burst Tomatoes

[caption id="attachment_27797" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Turnip the Oven[/caption]

Instant polenta is a great pantry staple for home cooks short on time -- and cash.

In this recipe, top bowls of cheesy polenta with shredded rotisserie chicken, spinach and basil pesto, as well as oven-roasted cherry tomatoes.

2. Gluten-Free Chicken Tetrazzini

[caption id="attachment_27818" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Healthy Nibbles & Bits[/caption]

This rich, cheesy chicken tetrazzini is… incredibly healthy?

It's true! Tofu fettuccini replaces traditional pasta, and the filling is loaded with kale, leftover shredded chicken breast and only a modest amount of mozzarella.

3. Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Peppers

[caption id="attachment_27819" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Kitchen Gidget[/caption]

The secret to these five-ingredient stuffed peppers? Store-bought Alfredo sauce and leftover cooked chicken.

Just toss them together with orzo and cheese and bake to gooey perfection. The dish comes together in a mere 30 minutes, making this a perfect weeknight dinner.

4. Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Hand Pies

[caption id="attachment_27820" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Kitchen Gidget[/caption]

Everyone adores enchiladas, but they are a labor of love -- all that frying, dipping, rolling and saucing.

This simple recipe bundles a simplified green chile chicken enchilada filling into neat little hand pies.

5. Leftover Chicken Burrito Bowls

[caption id="attachment_27821" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Honey and Birch[/caption]

In this genius recipe, marinate leftover cooked chicken in a mixture of lime juice, fresh cilantro and store-bought salsa.

Then pile it into a veggie-loaded burrito bowl and top it with two-ingredient avocado cream.

6. Honey Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Salad

[caption id="attachment_27822" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Mommyhood's Diary[/caption]

This chicken salad is anything but basic.

Chipotle barbecue sauce, sour cream, veggies and cheese pack tons of spicy flavor. Load it into a pita and add sliced avocado for an extra boost of healthy fats.

7. Creamy Chicken Ramen Casserole

[caption id="attachment_27823" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: The Charming Detroiter[/caption]

If you're eating on a budget, ramen is practically its own food group.

In this recipe, combine the noodles (minus the sodium-loaded flavor packets) with chopped cooked chicken, veggies and cheese, and bake the results into a hearty, one-dish meal casserole.

8. Pesto Chicken and Veggie-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

[caption id="attachment_27825" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Peas and Crayons[/caption]

This is not only a one-bowl meal, the bowl itself is edible.

Mind: blown.

Leftover cooked chicken and store-bought pesto make this recipe a breeze, and you can also roast the spaghetti squash a few days ahead to get a jump start on a weeknight dinner.

9. Thai Chicken Zucchini Noodle Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

[caption id="attachment_27826" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Joyful Healthy Eats[/caption]

Spiralizer? $30. Stuffing yourself with "pasta" and never feeling guilty about it again? Priceless.

This light, refreshing salad is served over raw zucchini noodles instead of ho-hum lettuce. The bold, spicy flavors (think chili paste, fresh cilantro and sesame oil) are perfect for warm weather.

10. Chicken Ranch Tacos

[caption id="attachment_27827" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Dinner at the Zoo[/caption]

Think of this dish as a chef salad -- taco-ified.

Take cooked cubed chicken, crumbled bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese, drizzle it with creamy ranch dressing and stuff it inside a warm flour tortilla.

Trust us, your kids will eat it.

11. Chicken Fried Rice

[caption id="attachment_27828" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Leftover chicken recipes Photo credit: Omnivore's Cookbook[/caption]

This healthy, homemade fried rice is a great way to clean out your fridge without cleaning out your wallet.

Stir-fry leftover chicken and rice with whatever fresh veggies are languishing in your vegetable drawer, eggs and plenty of green onions.

Just drizzle with soy sauce and dig in.

Your Turn: Do you know any good recipes to add to this list?

Lucy Baker blogs about vegetables (and occasionally desserts) at Turnip the Oven.

It's 6 p.m. and you haven't thought about dinner yet. Don't stress or shell out for Seamless just yet.

Even if your fridge is a barren wasteland, you probably have a carton of eggs.

It’s a shame that most people restrict their egg intake to the a.m. Eggs cost only a couple dollars. And even if you splurge on free range, they’re still relatively cheap.

Plus, they’re loaded with protein and heart-healthy omega-3s. A diet rich in eggs keeps your wallet fat and your waistline trim!

From fried to frittata, bread pudding to bird's nest, here are a dozen delicious ways to eat eggs for dinner.

[caption id="attachment_27162" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Eggs Florentine Grain Bowls Photo Credit: Turnip the Oven[/caption]

1. Eggs Florentine Grain Bowls with Yogurt Hollandaise

Hearty barley bowls are topped with sautéed spinach, fried eggs and healthy yogurt hollandaise sauce.

Barley is cheap, nutritious and filling, so this dinner will keep you full until breakfast, and maybe beyond.

[caption id="attachment_27173" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Chilli-pasta-with-egg Photo Credit: Sprinkles and Sprouts[/caption]

2. Chili Pasta with a Fried Egg

Simple pantry ingredients add tons of flavor and spice to this pappardelle pasta topped with a fried egg.

The magic happens when the yolk breaks and mixes with the garlic oil -- you'll be transported straight to an Italian village.

[caption id="attachment_27168" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Shakshuka Soup Photo Credit: Turnip the Oven[/caption]

3. Shakshuka Soup with Swiss Chard

Never heard of shakshuka? It's a traditional Israeli dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato-pepper sauce, usually topped with a shower of feta cheese and served with fluffy, warm pita.

This version turns it into a soup you can make ahead and freeze for up to three months. Just reheat, top with a poached egg and dinner is done.

[caption id="attachment_27172" align="aligncenter" width="610"]zucchini-quiche Photo Credit: Simple Seasonal[/caption]

4. Zucchini and Chive Quiche

Even die-hard carnivores will never miss the meat in this healthy quiche. The crust is made from 100% whole wheat flour, and the filling is loaded up with fresh local veggies and tons of sharp cheddar cheese.

Leftovers are delicious cold for lunch the next day.

[caption id="attachment_27169" align="aligncenter" width="650"]baked-eggs-lentils-4 Photo Credit: Mid-Life Croissant[/caption]

5. Baked Eggs in Tomatoes with Lentils and Whipped Goat Cheese

Protein-packed, fiber-rich (and incredibly cheap!) lentils get all fancy and French in this baked egg dish topped with light and creamy whipped goat cheese.

Check out the video to see how quickly it comes together. Weeknight dinners, for the win!

[caption id="attachment_27166" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Slow Cooker Ratatouille Photo Credit: Turnip the Oven[/caption]

6. Slow-Cooker Ratatouille with Fried Eggs

Got any leftover red wine languishing on your counter? Don't pour it out!

Throw it in your slow cooker with a bunch of veggies and herbs and make this fragrant, flavorful ratatouille topped with fried eggs.

[caption id="attachment_27163" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Bird-in-a-Grilled-Cheese-Nest Photo Credit: Rhubarbarians[/caption]

7. Bird in a Grilled Cheese Nest

This just might be the ultimate late-night comfort food: a grilled cheese and an egg-in-the-hole in one.

There are times to be healthy and there are times to go for it. This sandwich, with mayonnaise, two kinds of cheese and plenty of butter, is definitely a well-worth-it splurge.

[caption id="attachment_27167" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Spaghetti Frittata with Turkey Meatballs Photo Credit: Turnip the Oven[/caption]

8. Spaghetti Frittata with Turkey Meatballs

Who isn't bad at eyeballing the right amount of spaghetti to cook?

If you made too much (again!), turn the extra into this kid-friendly frittata topped with juicy turkey meatballs and gooey mozzarella cheese.

[caption id="attachment_27164" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Bacon-Kale-Sweet-Potato-Hash Photo Credit: A Saucy Kitchen[/caption]

9. Bacon Kale and Sweet Potato Hash

This sweet and savory one-skillet dinner has only five simple ingredients, and is both waistline- and wallet-friendly. In fact, this recipe is perfect if you are doing a Whole30.

[caption id="attachment_27170" align="aligncenter" width="625"]Savory-Bread-Pudding-Ham-and-Cheese-5 Photo Credit: The Worktop[/caption]

10. Savory Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding

Transform day-old bread into this luscious, savory bread pudding with ham, cheddar, nutmeg and fresh thyme.

You can assemble it in advance and then just pop it in the oven an hour before dinner.

[caption id="attachment_27171" align="aligncenter" width="600"]1509_Traditional-Egg-Drop-Soup_001 Photo Credit: Omnivore's Cookbook[/caption]

11. Traditional Egg Drop Soup

Surprise! It's incredibly easy to make this Chinese takeout staple at home.

This traditional version uses chicken, corn and peas along with beaten eggs to create a creamy, soul-warming soup.

[caption id="attachment_27165" align="aligncenter" width="683"]asparagus-frittata Photo Credit: Little Big H[/caption]

12. Asparagus Frittata with Peas, Mint and Feta

The combination of asparagus, peas, mint and salty feta is bright, fresh and perfect for spring.

Think of this recipe as a template, and use whatever veggies are languishing in your refrigerator.

Your Turn: Do you cook with eggs outside of breakfast? Which meal on this list are you most excited to try?

Lucy Baker blogs about vegetables (and occasionally desserts) at Turnip the Oven.

Nothing quite says fall like bundling up on a chilly Sunday and heading to the stadium to watch a football game.

Fun? Sure. Economical? Not exactly.

Tickets can easily run you hundreds of dollars. That’s before you pay for parking or shell out money for insanely overpriced (and not very tasty) hot dogs and beer.

What's a super fan to do? Throw a football party at home instead.

For a fraction of the cost of stadium seats, you can watch the game in the comfort of your own living room, munching on snacks that are fun, inspired and wallet-friendly.

Tie an apron over that jersey and whip up a few of these delicious, easy and inexpensive recipes. They’re sure to score big with your guests.

1. Asiago Cheese Soft Pretzels

[caption id="attachment_19412" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Asiago Cheese Soft Pretzels Image from accidentalhappybaker.com[/caption]

Stadium pretzels are almost always bland, stale and disappointing (not to mention costly!). These homemade pretzels are made with cheap pantry staples and asiago cheese.

Bonus points? You can bake them up to three days in advance.

2. Cuban Black Bean Quesadillas

 

[caption id="attachment_19414" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Cuban black bean quesadillas Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

These quesadillas are made from deli Swiss cheese and black beans, and then topped with a quick Cuban sandwich-inspired relish made from ingredients already in your fridge: mayo, mustard and dill pickles.

3. Barbecue Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots

[caption id="attachment_19415" align="aligncenter" width="500"]BBQ bacon wrapped tater ots Image from missinthekitchen.com[/caption]

Three inexpensive store-bought ingredients (tater tots, hickory smoked bacon and barbecue sauce) are combined in these flavorful one-bite treats. They’re perfect for popping without tearing your eyes from the screen.

4. Marinated Mushrooms

[caption id="attachment_19416" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Marinated mushrooms Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

Marinate inexpensive white button mushrooms overnight in olive oil, lemon juice and a shower of dried spices. The results are so amazing, no one will guess how quick and cheap they were to prepare!

5. Jalapeño Popper Cheese Bread

[caption id="attachment_19417" align="aligncenter" width="500"]jaljapeno popper cheesebread Image from lifesambrosia.com[/caption]

This six-ingredient recipe takes all the spicy flavors of jalapeño poppers and slathers them over gooey cheese bread.

6. Butternut Squash Nachos

[caption id="attachment_19418" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Butternut squash nachos Image from greenhealthycooking.com[/caption]

These seasonally inspired nachos replace ground beef with cheaper and healthier roasted butternut squash. Don't worry -- they're still blanketed with plenty of melted cheese.

7. Vegan Chipotle Sliders

[caption id="attachment_19403" align="aligncenter" width="600"]vegan sliders Image from simpleseasonal.com[/caption]

Football watching is a marathon, not a sprint. You don't want to chow down on a burger right away, or you won't have room to sample anything else.

These two-bite vegan black bean sliders topped with avocado-lime cream are the perfect solution.

8. Feta and Kale Dip

[caption id="attachment_19439" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Feta kale dip Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

A handful of kale, crumbled feta, scoop of Greek yogurt, and some olive oil and lemon juice are all you need for this super simple dip. It will give any spinach-artichoke version a run for its money.

9. Cheesy Tex-Mex Cornbread Stuffed Peppers

[caption id="attachment_19429" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Cheesy tex mex cornbread stuffed peppers Image from willowbirdbaking.com[/caption]

These sweet bell peppers are stuffed with a vegetarian Tex-Mex mix of cheese, chili and black beans. They’re topped with a savory crust made from cornbread mix, one of the cheapest supermarket staples out there.

10. Blackberry Basil Nachos

[caption id="attachment_19430" align="aligncenter" width="400"]blackberry nachos Image from cottercrunch.com[/caption]

These gluten-free, vegetarian, kid-friendly nachos are topped with Muenster cheese, fresh blackberries and chopped basil. Bake until the berries are soft and the cheese is melted and gooey.

11. Buffalo Popcorn

[caption id="attachment_19432" align="aligncenter" width="602"]Buffalo Popcorn Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

This ultra-quick, gluten-free vegan recipe takes all the flavors of Buffalo wings and applies them to popcorn. So much easier and cheaper than making real wings from scratch!

12. Black Bean Queso Dip

[caption id="attachment_19413" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Image from peasandcrayons.com Image from peasandcrayons.com[/caption]

Ditch the processed cheese product and make this healthier version: vegetarian refried beans, fresh pepper jack and mozzarella cheese.

13. Snickers Cereal Bars

[caption id="attachment_19440" align="aligncenter" width="598"]Snickers cereal bars Image from asimplepantry.com[/caption]

Late in the second half, it's time to bust out the desserts. These over-the-top, six-ingredient bars are made with chopped Snickers and chocolate-filled Krave cereal.

14. Maple Bacon Cake Pops

[caption id="attachment_19441" align="aligncenter" width="400"]maple bacon cake pops Image from cookiedoughandovenmitt.com[/caption]

Cake pops can be a little too cute and Pinterest-perfect. These game-stoppers are sure to appeal to everyone, though, because bacon.

15. Chili Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips

[caption id="attachment_19442" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Chili chocolate covered potato chips Image from myfoodstory.in[/caption]

If you've got five minutes and a bag of potato chips, you can make this spicy, chocolatey, totally addictive recipe.

16. Apple Brickle Dip with Chocolate Bits

[caption id="attachment_19443" align="aligncenter" width="400"]apple brickle dip Image from homemadehooplah.com[/caption]

It's all about balance. This no-bake dessert pairs healthy apple slices with a decadent dip made from cream cheese and chopped Heath bars.

17. Strawberry Lime Jalapeño Shandies

[caption id="attachment_19444" align="aligncenter" width="602"]Strawberry lime jalapeno shandies Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

These beer cocktails are made by mixing equal parts fresh strawberry limeade with cheap, light-style lager, like PBR.

18. White Wine Mojito

[caption id="attachment_19445" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Image from turniptheoven.com Image from turniptheoven.com[/caption]

Beer is the football watcher's drink of choice, but it's nice to have options. This refreshing cocktail stretches one bottle of white wine into seven drinks.

Your Turn: Would you make any of these recipes for your next football party?

Lucy Baker blogs about vegetables (and occasionally desserts) at Turnip the Oven.

Want to save more? Click here and we'll help you make over your grocery budget!

Lobster tails. Russian caviar. Foie gras. Wagyu beef.

Sure, you'd love to eat them everyday and wash it all down with Dom Perignon. But let's be realistic. For most of us, luxury foods are the stuff of special occasions, not weeknight dinners.

That said, eating economically doesn't have to mean peanut butter sandwiches on heels of bread. With a few smart tricks, you can dine like a high roller on a penny-pincher's budget.

Incorporating tiny amounts of extravagant ingredients (think 1/2 teaspoon of truffle oil), repurposing leftovers and stale bread, and gussying up inexpensive comfort foods can go a long way toward transforming budget meals into haute cuisine.

Here are 10 of my favorite cutting-edge, cut-rate meals.

1. White Bean Peach Panzanella

[caption id="attachment_17720" align="aligncenter" width="600"]White Bean Peach Panzanella Photo by Turnip the Oven[/caption]

Why it's cheap: The main ingredients in this hearty salad are day-old bread and a can of beans. Need I say more?

Why it's luxurious: A traditional Italian dish, this salad will transport you to the hills of Tuscany. Simmering the red wine vinegar in the dressing concentrates and improves its flavor, making a cheap supermarket version taste like an expensive import.

2. Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

[caption id="attachment_17719" align="aligncenter" width="333"]Smoked gouda mac and cheese Photo by The View from Great Island[/caption]

Why it's cheap: Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate classic, comforting meal. It costs next to nothing to prepare, and is incredibly filling.

Why it's luxurious: This version replaces traditional cheddar cheese with smoked gouda, an inexpensive yet "fancy" cheese with a bold, smoky flavor.

3. Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs

[caption id="attachment_17716" align="aligncenter" width="333"]Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs Photo by Platings and Pairings[/caption]

Why it's cheap: Half a box of pasta and some bread crumbs = dinner for two.

Why it's luxurious: Fennel seeds and red pepper flakes, plus loads of garlic and Romano cheese give this dish tons of flavor. The recipe even includes a suggested wine pairing -- a totally affordable Trader Joe's chardonnay!

4. Chilled Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil

[caption id="attachment_17715" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Chilled Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil Photo from Turnip the Oven[/caption]

Why it's cheap: This vegan soup only requires a handful of low-cost ingredients, including a head of cauliflower, an onion, white bread and vegetable broth.

Why it's luxurious: A scant 1/2 teaspoon of truffle oil imparts an incredibly luscious, savory flavor. A small bottle of white truffle oil will run you about $15, but it lasts indefinitely.

5. Hawaiian Coconut Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

[caption id="attachment_17714" align="aligncenter" width="333"]Hawaiian coconut grilled chicken Photo from Dinner at the Zoo[/caption]

Why it's cheap: It's time we got over our obsession with breasts. Chicken breasts, that is. The thighs are much more flavorful, and they cost a fraction of the price.

Why it's luxurious: This chicken dinner is anything but ho-hum. You’ll marinate the thighs in sesame oil and coconut milk, then grill them and add fresh pineapple and lime salsa.

6. Chile Colorado Con Carne

[caption id="attachment_17713" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Chile Colorado Con Carne Photo from Lexi Bites[/caption]

Why it's cheap: This fiery, authentic Mexican chili is made with economical stew meat. It's also a perfect option for the freezer.

Why it's luxurious: Stew meat can be tough, but in this recipe, the slow cooker transforms it into luscious, tender chunks.

7. Roasted Garlic and Brie Soup

[caption id="attachment_17718" align="aligncenter" width="334"]Roasted garlic and brie soup Photo from Zagleft[/caption]

Why it's cheap: Make this simple soup with pantry staple ingredients like chicken stock, garlic, carrots, celery and onions.

Why it's luxurious: You’ll stir in chunks of gooey, creamy Brie cheese at the end, giving the soup a rich flavor and texture. You could splurge on fancy French Brie, but it's also totally fine to use a domestic variety.

8. Butternut Squash Rounds with Hazelnut-Apple Gremolata

[caption id="attachment_17711" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Butternut Squash Rounds with Hazelnut Apple Gremolata Photo from Turnip the Oven[/caption]

Why it's cheap: One butternut squash serves four people as a main dish, or six to eight as a side. Butternut squash is just coming into season, so this is a great economical dish for fall.

Why it's luxurious: This recipe is all about the presentation. Top rounds of roasted squash with a mixture of hazelnuts, green apple, lemon, garlic and parsley. Think of it as an all-vegetable, gluten-free bruschetta.

9. Leftover Grilled Vegetable Omelet with Pesto Sauce and Feta Cheese

[caption id="attachment_17717" align="aligncenter" width="333"]Leftover grilled vegetable omelet with pesto sauce and feta cheese Photo from The Roasted Root[/caption]

Why it's cheap: Eggs aren't just for breakfast! They make a great, budget-friendly dinner, too. Plus, they’re a terrific way to use up any leftovers in your fridge, like roasted or grilled vegetables.

Why it's luxurious: Creamy basil pesto, crumbly feta cheese and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt elevate this omelet from standard diner fare to something much more elegant.

10. Cabbage and Mushroom Risotto

[caption id="attachment_17712" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Cabbage Mushroom Risotto Photo from My California Roots[/caption]

Why it's cheap: The key components of this dish are humble cabbage, bottom-shelf cooking sherry and any old mushrooms (yes, even white button are fine).

Why it's luxurious: This gluten-free, vegan-option meal tastes like something you would order at a fine Italian restaurant. Use leftovers to make risotto cakes and top with a fried egg.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite cheap meal that tastes like it’s fine dining? Share your recipes in the comments so we can all enjoy them!

Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!

Want to save more? Click here and we'll help you make over your grocery budget!

Lucy Baker blogs about vegetables (and occasionally desserts) at Turnip the Oven.