NORTHWOODS COOKS: Budget-friendly dinners

With grocery prices continuing to climb, there are many recipes online designed to stretch the grocery budget.

Traditional mexican meat casserole
Black beans and corn may be added to this easy Mexican casserole recipe to stretch the grocery dollar even farther. Serve as the a main meal with a salad or use as a taco filling or chip dip.
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This sampling of budget-friendly recipes comes from “15 Cheap and Easy Dinners” and “14 Nights of Dinner Ideas Under $2 per Serving” on

Easy Mexican Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef

2 cups salsa

16-ounce can chili beans, drained


3 cups tortilla chips, crushed

2 cups sour cream

2-ounce can sliced black olives, drained

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-baking dish with cooking spray. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in salsa, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in beans; cook until heated through.


Spread crushed tortilla chips in the baking dish, then spoon beef mixture on top. Spread sour cream over beef, then sprinkle olives, green onion, and tomato on top. Cover with Cheddar cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve with a side salad or use as a dip for tortilla chips.

One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff

1 pound ground beef

1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder


1-3/4 cups milk

1-1/4 cups beef stock

8-ounce package egg noodles

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes, then drain. Combine cornstarch, salt, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.

Pour cornstarch mixture, milk, beef stock, and egg noodles into the skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and Parmesan cheese until just combined.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 pounds ground beef, chicken or turkey

1 large onion, chopped

1 small head cabbage, chopped

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and onion in the hot Dutch oven until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes; drain and discard grease.

Add cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, garlic, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat, and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.

Slow Cooker Chicken with Salsa

1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings

5 pound whole chicken

20-ounce jar salsa

Spread onion rings into the bottom of a slow cooker crock. Place chicken onto onion layer with breast-side facing down. Pour salsa over the chicken.

Cook on high until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 5 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh near the bone should read 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before cutting.

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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