5 Frugal Gourmet Recipes

Forget the silver platter -- it's easy to serve gourmet food on the cheap!
Forget the silver platter -- it's easy to serve gourmet food on the cheap! See some foods under $5 pictures.
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Worried that a tight food budget will forever condemn you to a life of bland, boring cuisine? Think again! You can eat gourmet, regardless how much money you have to spend at the grocery store. The secret to haute cuisine at knockoff prices lies in shifting your focus from so-called gourmet ingredients to preparing food in new and innovative ways. It's adding a new twist to an old classic or finding a spice that transforms the same old thing into something your family will rave about. After all, anyone with a big enough budget can make lobster or caviar look good, but creating a gourmet meal that doesn't break the bank takes real skill and planning. Try these five frugal gourmet recipes for extravagant meals on a shoestring budget.

Read the next page to learn how to make gourmet dumplings on the cheap.


5: Pumpkin Gnocchi

Since the days of ancient Rome, savvy chefs have used dumplings known as gnocchi to create delicious, filling meals. Made from wheat flour or potatoes, there's no question that gnocchi are cheap, but few would call them gourmet. To spice up this classic dish without breaking the bank, ditch the potatoes and create dumplings made with pureed pumpkin. They'll serve as the perfect starter to your high-end meal or as a delectable anytime snack. Despite their hard-to-pronounce name, pumpkin gnocchi are also easy to make. With an ingredient list that's limited to canned or pureed pumpkin, eggs, flour, butter and sage, your family will never guess how little you had to spend to create this frugal gourmet dish.


4: Polenta Florentine With Poached Eggs

Polenta is cheap, tasty and chic.
Polenta is cheap, tasty and chic.
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For years, people around the globe have relied on polenta for quick, easy and affordable nourishment. However, several notable celebrity chefs have recently taken polenta to a whole new level, so this corn-based dish can now be found on the menus of some of the hippest (and most expensive) restaurants. By combining spinach, milk, Parmesan cheese and butter with polenta or coarse cornmeal, you can create a meatless dish that inspires awe in your guests without taking a bite out of your budget. Try this recipe for Polenta Florentine to add a protein-packed punch to your list of frugal gourmet recipes. This dish is the perfect morning meal, but it can also be served at lunch or dinner when you want to give your family a special meat-free treat.


3: Pork Chops in Creamy Garlic Sauce

Pork chops are relatively inexpensive, but they're a frequent component in gourmet meals.
Pork chops are relatively inexpensive, but they're a frequent principle ingredient in gourmet meals.

When you need a meal that fills you up yet still manages to appeal to both your taste buds and your wallet, skip the steak, and try a gourmet pork chop recipe. For about a third of the price of lamb and a quarter of the cost of beef tenderloin, you can create a savory meal out of tender, bone-in or boneless pork chops. Pick up a few cloves of garlic and some simple spices to put together this recipe for pork chops in creamy garlic sauce. We promise it'll appeal to both your palate and your pocketbook. If you prefer to take things up a notch, try spicing up pork chops with this Cuban-style recipe. Serve either of these frugal gourmet creations over a bed of rice or potatoes to soak up all the rich flavors these recipes have to offer.


2: Chocolate-covered Strawberries

Strawberries and chocolate aren't expensive, but combining the two ingredients is as gourmet as it gets. Plus, who can turn up their nose to chocolate strawberries?
Strawberries and chocolate aren't expensive, but combining the two ingredients is as gourmet as it gets.

For the price of one or two chocolate-covered strawberries at your local gourmet store, you can create an entire tray of these decadent treats at home to surprise your sweetie or create the perfect ending to a frugal gourmet feast. All you need is a carton of strawberries, a bag of chocolate or white chocolate chips and one of these surprisingly simple recipes. Create strawberries that are as beautiful as they are delicious with this recipe for tuxedo strawberries by the Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro, or stick with this classic chocolate-coated version.


1: Rosemary Roasted Chicken

Unless you plan to go completely meatless, it's hard to find a dish that's cheaper than chicken. Of course, gourmet doesn't usually include a meat-and-potatoes type of meal, but a dash of rosemary transforms basic chicken into a dish worthy of your favorite high-end restaurant. Rosemary not only lends a subtle yet distinctive flavor to chicken and other meat, it also gives your home a fresh, delicious aroma that brings to mind hints of pine and mint. Pluck a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden or pick up a package of this herb at the grocery store to transform chicken into a dish that your guests will savor. Go for the full fryer version with this recipe or keep your gourmet dinner simple with this meal, which calls for precut chicken legs.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • CNN Money. "The World's Priciest Foods." July 23, 2008. (Nov. 10, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fsb/0807/gallery.most_expensive_foods.fsb/3.html
  • Economist, the. "Lobsters: Pots of Flesh." July 1, 2004. (Nov. 10, 2011) http://www.economist.com/node/2876787?story_id=2876787
  • United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Average Prices." Oct. 19, 2011. (Nov. 10, 2011) http://www.bls.gov/ro3/apmw.htm
  • United States Department of Agriculture. "USDA Weekly Retail Lamb and Veal Feature Activity." Nov. 4, 2011. (Nov. 10, 2011) http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/lswlnvfeatures.pdf