Build your fast frugal food recipe collection

August 19, 2015

I'm an old fashioned cook. My food is tasty, I can stretch a pound of minced steak as far as the best of them and to tell you the truth, when I see towers of food, foam, micro herbs, "super" foods, or anything newly fashionable I roll my eyes and move on.  I'm not a complete philistine though. I do enjoy eating and cooking with grains (turn your heads all paleos), and I like experimenting with salads and dairy foods.

But I am what I am - a product of my times, and although some new food is seen on our table, mostly I go for the old standards and I have a group of delicious slow foods that we all enjoy. The one thing I found that helped a lot early on in my married life (and now) was to have a decent collection of fast food recipes that even though it is cooked from scratch, I can prepare quickly. If you have a few standby recipes for cheap nourishing meals and snacks that you can make in a hurry then you'll save yourself time and time again when life gets busy.

I've had a few requests for some recipes I've featured in the past week. I'm happy to oblige and share how I cook. All the older experienced cooks and a few of the younger savvy ones will know most of my recipes but I'm aiming for the newer cooks and those who are still unsure of their capabilities in the kitchen.  Introducing fast quiche and banana and walnut cake.

Remember that a quiche is an egg pie with a range of additions, which will change depending on what you have in the fridge. In this one I used bacon, parsley, garlic and cheese. Often the thing that puts cooks off cooking quiche is the pastry. I can make quite good pastry but I use filo pastry when I need a fast meal. It's easier and much quicker. Instead of brushing the sheets of pastry with melted butter, I spray the sheets with olive oil, which cuts down on the prep time. Normally it would take you about an hour to make a traditional quiche. This fast recipe will have you putting the quiche in the oven to bake in about 15 minutes.  Add 30 minutes for the cooking time and you've got a healthy meal that will feed at least four people. To feed more, just increase the amounts.


4 or 5 sheets filo pastry
can of olive oil spray

6 large eggs 
½ cup cream
2 rashers bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated on a microphone
½ red capsicum, finely diced
1 cup hard cheese, grated
hand full of parsley, finely chopped

Prepare the pastry by spraying the sheets and folding them in two. Line the pie dish with the filo, and spray the surface again. Make sure every surface is covered. If you're using a large dish, use more pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry down to prevent them from burning.

Mix the eggs and cream together in a bowl and leave while you cook the other ingredients. Fry the bacon, onion, garlic and capsicum/peppers for about three minutes - just enough to soften all of the vegetables.

Add that to the egg mix, add the cheese and parsley, mix well and pour it into the pie dish lined with filo.  Bake is a moderate oven 175C/350F for about 35 - 40 minutes or until the egg mix is golden brown on top and the egg is set. Be careful not to overcook the egg, take it out when the centre is still slightly wobbly because it will continue to cook for a couple of minutes after you remove it from the oven.

The quiche is delicious hot or cold and served with a salad.


This banana and walnut cake is ideal for those who don't have a mixer but still want a good light cake to add to lunch boxes or for morning or afternoon tea.


125 grams butter
¾ cup sugar - I use ½ white and ½ dark Muscavado sugar You can use a mix of white and brown sugar or just white or raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup walnuts
3 small-medium eggs
½ teaspoon bicarb soda/baking soda *
1½ cups self raising flour or plain/all purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons baking powder *

* Please note: baking soda and baking powder listed above are two different ingredients.

Into a small saucepan, add butter, sugar and vanilla. Over a low heat, melt the butter while stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the butter melts, leave it to the side.

In a bowl, mash the bananas, add the eggs and bicarb and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then add the melted butter and mix it together, add the flour and combine thoroughly. Finally, add the walnuts and mix through.

Add the cake mix to a prepared cake tin. I use a 33 x 23cm rectangular cake tin but you could also use a 22 x 13cm loaf tin. Bake in a moderate oven 175C/350F for about 35 - 40 minutes or until the cake is golden on top, it smells cooked or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Store the cake in an air-tight container and it will last about 5 days. It's ideal for school and work lunches because it will travel quite well packed in lunch box.

These are just two examples of simple foods that won't take too much time, effort or money to make. Collect recipes like this that you and your family like so that when you need to produce food and you don't have much time, you can have good food on the table and you don't buy take away.  Hopefully other experienced cooks will share their fast and frugal recipes here too. It's okay to link to your own blog today to share your recipe.

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  1. Tip: If you grate your cheese separately into a large bowl and sprinkle with a small amount of flour (2 or more cups of cheese = scant 1 tablespoon of flour), toss well, then mix in, the cheese will not float to the top but stay mixed throughout the quiche.

    1. Thanks for the tip Kathy ! Will definitely try this next time I make my quiches thank you !

  2. They both sound delicious Rhonda. Even faster and easier than quiche is Impossible Pie - as with your quiche, I add whatever I have as the flavourings. Silver beet and feta' or silverbeet and pesto is good, corn and bacon, the list goes on ... In the oven within fifteen minutes.

  3. It's summer for me in the US, but during the winter months I rely on pantry staples and preserved foods from the summer to make quick tasty meals. This recipe for Spicy Sausage and Chickpea Pasta is made with canned tomatoes (use your own canned tomatoes if you have them!), canned chickpeas and frozen peas. It is ready in under thirty minutes.

  4. Wonderful recipes Rhonda. I'm an old chook, and was bought up in a frugal household - but I still need to be reminded. This will be my first time with filo pastry and I'm going to give it a go.
    Love the cake recipe - I'll be taking that cake to one of our morning teas over at the allotment. It's always the home-made cake that goes first.

    1. It's quick and easy, Jean, and delicious. Everyone will love it.

  5. When I first started reading you blog, I started a file with all your recipes. I tweak them if needs be to suit us. My family love apple slice and egg custard. They are good uncomplicated meal ideas.

  6. Good morning Rhonda
    The 1st recipe I made of yours was the spinach/silver beet quiche. (That must be a good 5 years ago) I still make it today. Sometimes it changes depending what I have in the fridge/pantry. It's a great foundation recipe

    1. Jenn, that's a good recipe. I've been making it for donkey's years and we still look forward to it. xx

  7. There are very quick pie crust recipes you don't have to roll out. The one I used today with our mushroom, onion and courgette quiche was called Wham Bam Pie Crust. You just mix it up, form a rough ball, place it in your pie dish, and smooth it with your fingers into the shape of your dish. Quick, easy and no rolling of dough.

    Over the years I've added quite a few of your recipes to my recipe folder. You always seem to come up with more that become family favorites too. Thank you. :-)

  8. Oh thank you for your Quiche recipe :) I will try making it this weekend. I have two main meals that I fall back on: Shepherds Pie and Curry Chicken in the slow cooker (of which I make double recipes then freeze for later meals).

    Shepherds Pie: Take 1lb of ground meat (any type) or you can leave the meat out altogether. Brown in a pot with a couple chopped garlic cloves. Add plenty of organic chopped carrots, onions and a can of no-salt-added peas ..... cook down for an hour. Meanwhile, boil potatoes (3 medium spuds per person) and mash. Serve the meat/veggies over the spuds. My family love this. Its cheap and tasty.

    Curry chicken in the slow cooker: 2 cans lite coconut milk, tbsp medium curry powder, cup organic lentils, cubed chicken breasts (2), cubed organic sweet or russet potatoes to fill the crock then top up with vegetable broth. Mix the curry powder into the coconut milk, add the cubed chicken and mix around, add in the lentils, the broth and the veggies. Cook all day (8 hours) and then serve over organic basmati rice. Everyone loves this too and it's very very tasty.

    I am cutting down my and the hubby's portions and so I am now able to get 6 dinners out of each of these recipes just for the two of us (total of 12 dinners). We eat 2 portions of the curry then freeze 4 portions the same day. Same with the shepherds pie meat/veg mix. I make fresh mashed potatoes or rice when using 2 of the frozen portions for dinner. This has been a real budget helper for me :)

    1. Belinda, I really like the sound of your curry chicken recipe. I'm going to try it. Thanks for sharing.

    2. You're welcome Rhonda, I hope you enjoy it :)

    3. Hi Belinda, I was just wandering what to do, something different from what I cook usually in the slow cooker. This chicken curry looks soo yummy ! I'll try soon !

  9. Needed a good cake recipe, thanks Ronda. I do the same as you with your quiche except I do not use any pastry and call it a frittata...uses all my left overs and is yum hot or cold. How about a Ronda Recipe book.......mmmmmmm

    1. Hi Gail, in the new book there are plenty of recipes. A few main meals, dairy recipes, slices, biscuits and bread.

  10. one of my favourite quick standbys is poached eggs in tomato passata on the stove top in a frypan with a lid - you can fry some onion and bacon at the start but it's usually just the you heat the sauce, make little rivets to plop the eggs and put the lid on and gently poach for around 8 minutes depending on how you like your eggs - runny or hard - serve with toast and a grating of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chilli....another is making a chicken pie out of the left over roast chicken and gravy and any leftover roast vegies - put into a pie dish and cover with a sheet of frozen puff pastry - so simple and yummy :) I'll be bookmarking this post thanks Rhonda and everyone for sharing...cheers Jan x

    1. Every culture seems to have a version of the eggs-cooked-in-tomato-sauce dish. I make it as shakshouka, but it can just as easily be huevos rancheros or one of the many other versions. Some of them use whole tomatoes, or maybe peeled, but then the cooking time is a bit longer.

  11. Hi Rhonda, my usual meal prep is putting together things I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. I keep my staples on hand and just tend to mix and match the flavours I know we enjoy. I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker last week. I was wanting to season it a little differently, so, I stuffed it with a quartered lemon, half a salad onion a good sprinkle of Italian mixed herbs and a good dash of dried ground sage leaves. Then, rubbed more of the seasoning on the skin. I put the prepped bird in the slow cooker and added a drizzle of soy sauce and a drizzle of honey and some water. Cooked it on high for a couple of hours and then low for another couple of hours. It turned out amazing. The meat was used for lunches and I have saved the bones in the freezer to make chicken stock.

    I will share this link to a recipe for a very good Chocolate Cake.

    I am not active on my blog at the moment, but, this recipe is still there and it is a very basic recipe, that gives an amazing result. I hope you have a lovely day. Cheers, Deb

    1. That chicken recipe looks interesting, Deb. I'll try that. Thanks for sharing. xx

    2. The soy sauce and honey sounds interesting.

      My standard rub for a whole chicken is 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons each salt, rosemary, oregano and minced garlic. Mix all and rub on the bird. My adult children ask for this when they will be visiting.

    3. You are welcome Rhonda, the lemon gives the meat such a wonderful flavour. Then the skin is infused with the soy, honey and seasonings. So tasty.

      I will have to try that season combo the next time I do a chicken, Lana, it sounds great as well.

  12. Another thing you can do for quiche crust if you want to have a quick meal but don't have filo on hand (I almost never do) is to double the recipe when making dough for pie crust and freeze half. Then pull it out to thaw when needed. It does require a bit of forethought, but it's easier than making a whole new batch of dough, waiting for it to chill, etc, when all you want to do it get dinner on the table. For the new cooks reading this--I am by no means an expert, and for years I'd roll my eyes when my mom insisted that making pie crust was easy because I could never seem to get it right the few times I tried it. One year I made it a goal of mine to master pie crust, and you know what? It *is* easy--after you've done it a whole lot, and you know what it's supposed to look and feel like, and how to correct it if it's "off." So yes, at the beginning it can be a pain, but keep at it and with practice you'll get much better, and then one day you'll find yourself making a crust from scratch because it's easier and faster to do that than to go get a premade one at the store, and yours will taste better too. :)

  13. Thank you for this post, Rhonda! I often feel a bit 'heavy' after a quiche - mixed eggs always make me feel that way, but I should make it more. It's so simple and a good leftovers saving recipe. I love love love all the added recipes in the comments!!

  14. The quiche recipe at our house that is the most popular has a scone mixture base - wonderfully filling on a cold winter's day. Rather like a cross between a quiche and a deep pan-fried pizza...but nicer.

  15. They look yummy. I'm like you. I hate those food shows where people use a hundred dollars worth of ingredients to make enough food for one plate! How about you teach people about how to feed the family for under $20 and make it healthy. Everyone thinks there a mastercheif now and spend more money cooking at home than they would spend to go out!

  16. Whenever I make pastry for a pie I double the amount and make two pie crusts (I have two pyrex pie dishes) and I pop one in the freezer wrapped in clingfilm. Anytime I'm short of time then I can pull out the frozen pie crust and by the time I've cooked bacon, chopped or grated stuff and heated the oven the pastry has defrosted. Super quick! Sometimes after a roast dinner I chop up the leftover meat and veg and keep back a cup of gravy and mix it all together, chill it and when completely cold bung it in the frozen pie crust. It's an instant dinner that just needs defrosting and throwing in the oven on a busy day when I don't have time to cook. You can add breadcrumbs or leftover mash or a sheet of puff pastry to the top if you like.

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    What a great couple of recipes, I will certainly keep those on hand for quick cooking, and also loved the other readers suggestions and recipes. That's what I love about this big circle of blogging friends, always learning something new, see you can teach an old cook new tricks lol
    Take care,

  18. The only quiche I make has the flour added to all the moist ingredients and it comes as a pastry base.

  19. I haven't made quiche in awhile but I will be soon with fall coming.

    Last night I made a quick new recipe for chicken and rice. Brown 1 pound cubed up raw chicken in a few tablespoons oil. Salt and Pepper well. Stir in 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup white rice and 1 cup salsa verde. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Very flavorful and a bit spicy. Next time I may reduce the salsa a bit to reduce the heat. Serves 4.

  20. I made a Quiche for dinner last night and made the pastry from scratch.......I'm always intimidated by pastry but I gave this a was delicious. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  21. Oh Rhonda you made me laugh this morning with your first paragraph! I too am an old fashioned cook even though I am of a different generation to you.

    So many fads and things I simply don't get! And the price of kale here. Its tough as old boots and so easy to grow and I simply cannot understand how the supermarkets can get away with charging as much as they do!


  22. Yum! I've never used filo pastry, I generally just use puff pastry for quiche bases, is there much difference between the two? The banana and walnut loaf sounds yummy, I was never one for banana cakes etc, but have come to appreciate them in the past few years :)

  23. Both of your recipes sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  24. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, it was my job to cook dinner for my Mum and two sisters each night because my Mum was a single parent and she worked in a little shop that used to close about half seven in the evenings. She had to work to support us. I developed a range of simple recipes from having watched my Mum and I added to them too from cookbooks and Home Economics classes. I still cook many of these same dishes today for my family. They are simple, use fresh ingredients and are sustaining and delicious. One new recipe I've added to my collection comes from the cookbook, "What Shall We Cook Today?" It is an oven-baked tomato risotto and it's easy to make.

    Tomato Risotto with Peas

    Preheat the oven to 180C. Gently saute 4 chopped spring onions with 2 crushed cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Add 200g arborio rice and cook gently for 1 minute then stir in a can of tin tomatoes, some herbs (whatever you like) and some tinned tuna (if you like it) + 100g frozen peas. Add to this 400mL of hot vegie stock, some salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or so. Put into a baking dish and cover with alfoil. Bake 35minutes. Serve with grated parmesan.


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