The Convenience of Casseroles and Thrifty Thursday

Welcome  In my opinion, casseroles are the ultimate dinner for the average family, any day or night of the week.  They’re economical because they traditionally use cheaper ingredients, plus they have the ability to stretch small amounts of ingredients, such as meat and vegetables even further.  They are comforting, warm, hearty, and filling.  They are customizable for the most picky eaters.  They can be made ahead for quick meals later in the week or month, since many can be put in the freezer, or have components that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled quickly at meal time.  They transport well when you need to take a dish to someone in need.  They can feed a crowd, if necessary.  Casseroles can meet the needs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  They can be rich and meaty, lightened-up, vegan, or vegetarian.  So, what’s not to love about a homey casserole?  Please note: This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission when you click on one of my Amazon product links and make a qualifying purchase.  There is no additional cost to you and helps keep this site free for your use and free from pop-ups.  Thank you.

Today’s Scripture  Proverbs 31:15   She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

Food For Thought  I consider it a privilege to feed my family, and I hope you do, too.  Knowing that I am responsible for the basic nutrition and energy fuel for my hard-working husband and growing daughter is a big task and priority, especially on a tight budget.  But I take this responsibility very serious, and I love every minute of it.

Okay, maybe not every minute.  Let’s be honest, here.  There are days, especially while working outside the home, when I am so exhausted or busy with a long to-do list that making dinner definitely feels more like a chore than a joy.  When mom get sick, cooking is not fun.  And it can be hard to juggle all of the evening activities while preparing a wholesome meal.  Those of you who feel like founding members of the Mom Taxi Service, you know what I’m talking about here!  Let dinner be the least of your worries by having a back-up of family-friendly casserole recipes on hand.

Some of our favorite casseroles at faith-family-food include:

Baked Tacos

Baked Tacos
Everything you love about traditional hard shell tacos in an easy-to-serve and easy-to-eat casserole.

 

Classic Baked Mac and Cheese

classic mac and cheese
Noodles, butter, milk, and cheese…nothing simpler, or more comforting!

 

Cowboy Pasta

Cowboy Pasta
Beat the heat and get out of the kitchen with this skillet meal that’s ready in 20 minutes or less!

 

Million Dollar Chicken Spaghetti Bake

Million Dollar Chicken Spaghetti Bake
If you like Chicken Carbonara, this baked spaghetti dish is for you!

 

Turkey Noodle Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

In my first year as the faith-family-food blogger, I have noticed that what drives the biggest traffic numbers to my page are recipes for convenient and budget-friendly dinners.  It makes total sense (and cents!)

So here are the Casserole Tips you need to be ready for a convenient casserole dinner any night of the week:

Check the grocer’s weekly sale ads to find casserole-friendly meats that are on sale.  Think ground beef and turkey, boneless and skinless chicken breasts and thighs, whole chickens to boil, pork and turkey tenderloins, and ham cuts.  Don’t shy away from the canned meat aisle, and no I’m not talking about Spam or Vienna Sausages here.  Canned tuna, salmon, and chicken can be stretched pretty far in a casserole while spending cents instead of dollars.  Bacon is not exactly a cheap cut of meat anymore (hello, trendy food!), but a few strips of bacon add a lot of flavor and can be stretched pretty far in this type of dish.

The same can be said for dried pasta and beans.  These casserole-friendly staples are already cost effective, but when they go on the sale cycle, stock up and you’ll always be prepared!  Frozen and canned vegetables are a frugal choice for casseroles because you can buy them on sale, stock up the freezer and pantry, but not worry about spoilage and losing your investment.

Keep lots of dried herbs, onions, and garlic on hand.  They add a lot of flavor to casserole dishes without costing a lot or adding unnecessary salt or fat.

Invest in some good casserole dishes and 9×13 pans, along with some nonstick cooking spray.  Check out these products that I use from Amazon.

Corning Ware 12 piece Round and Oval Bakeware Set in White

Pyrex Easy Grab Glass Bakeware and Food Storage Set

Amazon Basics Glass Oblong Baking Dishes

Today’s Recipe  One of the redeeming qualities of casseroles is their flexibility with thrifty and convenient ingredients.  That is the theme behind today’s casserole.  This is Loaded Mashed Potato and Pulled Pork Casserole.  I purchased all of my ingredients at the Aldi grocery store in a neighboring town, which is where we do the majority of our grocery shopping these days, but take note, I am not affiliated or endorsed by the Aldi corporation.  I’m just wanting to share a good bargain with you!  It begins with “loaded” instant potato mixes.  With the addition of cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, ranch dressing mix, sliced green onions, crispy bacon and pre-cooked pulled pork from Appleton Farms, it becomes a delicious and filling supper.  I serve it with a side of steamed broccoli for added nutrition.  If this casserole is prepared just for our family of three, we can guarantee two dinners or a dinner and two lunches from this already budget-friendly dish.

Loaded Mashed Potato and Pulled Pork Casserole (8-10 servings)

  • 2 4-oz pouches instant loaded mashed potatoes (you can use other flavors as well)
  • 4 strips center-cut bacon, fried crisp and drained
  • 1 8-oz pkg reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 TBS low-fat sour cream
  • 1-oz pkg ranch dressing and dip mix
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 12-oz pkg heat-and-serve shredded pork (sauce-free), such as Appleton Farms (you can substitute their shredded chicken product, a cut-up rotisserie chicken, or your own left-over pulled pork or chicken to equal 2 1/2 to 3 cups)

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×13 casserole with nonstick cooking spray.  Heat the shredded pork or chicken according to package directions.  Prepare the instant mashed potatoes according to package directions.  In prepared pan, spread the potatoes evenly on the bottom.  In medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing, 1 cup of shredded cheese, and bacon.  Tip: the best way to get these ingredients to incorporate together is to use a hand-held potato masher.  Spread this mixture evenly over the potato layer.  Top with warmed pork.  Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese and sliced green onions over the pork layer.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

 

 

 

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