Frugal Friday:
Chili Cheeseburger Casserole

Have I mentioned that I love saving money? I am almost addicted to the thrill of a great deal, so much so that I have to consciously ask myself “Do you NEED this?” before buying stuff on sale/clearance. I go shop the Managers Specials rack at my local Kroger on an almost-daily basis. No, I’m not crazy, but Kroger is right around the corner from my daycare, so it’s pretty easy and convenient.  Plus, that way I can stock up on items that we use a lot, which makes my menu planning and bulk cooking easier (and way less expensive!).

Often, I’ll take a look at what I’ve got in my cabinets and throw together a soup or casserole from it – sometimes the result is a winner, and sometimes, well, not so much a winner ;-) This week’s experiment was a definite winner! It is loosely based on the cheeseburger pie and the kai si ming recipes in the Trim Healthy Mama book, as well as this tantalizing casserole from Luscious Low Carb. I’m calling it Chili Cheeseburger Casserole. I was a bit worried when I made it, but it was fantastic!  Seriously, I’ve had it for lunch (and/or breakfast or dinner) every single day this week.  It’s definitely going on my rotation of bulk cooking meals, lemme tell you!

The real inspiration for this meal, though, was what I had on-hand from my managers specials.  I had gotten ground turkey for $0.99 a pound, plus I had a head of cabbage from a recent Aldi run, and I always pick up canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spice packs when I see them since they are things we use frequently. So when I went looking for things to throw in here, this is what I started with:

IMG_02382 pounds of ground turkey (ground beef would be delicious if you prefer that)
1 head of cabbage (actually you only need 1/2 of the head)
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 packet of chili seasoning mix
1 medium onion
1 pound of cheese (I used colby-jack, but cheddar would be great too)

And here’s what I did with all that:

First, I diced the onion, then tossed it into a large pot to brown.


I poured a little oil over it to add some yumminess and sauted until browned. You could do this in a smaller skillet, but I wanted to avoid cleaning the second pan – I’m lazy that way!

Once the onion was ready, I added the 2 pounds of ground turkey and browned it.


I like to chop mine up as it starts to cook so that I have very small chunks instead of big ones, but you can do this however you prefer. I will also admit that I feel compelled when I cook meat to sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, along with copious amounts of garlic and onion powder, so that got added in there then too.

Once the meat was browned, I added the packet of chili seasoning, the can of tomato sauce, and another two cans of water.


Then I left that to simmer.
While I waited, I chopped 1/2 the head of cabbage and grated the cheese.


As the meat mixture started to thicken, I added the cabbage to the pot and mixed it in.


At that point, I started the oven pre-heating to 350. I also decided that I wanted some tomato chunks, so I added a can of diced tomatoes:


I mixed that all in and let it simmer together until the cabbage cooked down some. I made sure to taste-teste at this point, and ended up adding a bit more garlic and onion powder.  Then I transferred everything into a large glass casserole dish and poured about 1 cup of the grated cheese on it.


I mixed that part of the cheese into the meat mixture, and then I sprinkled the rest of the cheese over the top.


I stuck that in the oven and baked it for about 30 minutes, and it came out like this:


I know, it’s not the most beautiful casserole ever, but it’s so good that you won’t even worry about it not being pretty! And on top of the great taste, that casserole is incredibly frugal!  Here’s how it played out in terms of price:

2 pounds of ground turkey @ $0.99 each
1/2 head of cabbage @ $0.35 (whole head was $0.69)
1 small can of tomato sauce @ $0.29
1 packet of chili seasoning mix @ $0.39
1 medium onion @ $0.20 (this is a guess, assuming a bag of 5 was about $0.99)
1 pound of cheese @ $0.99
1 can of diced tomatoes @ $0.79

Altogether, that comes to $4.99 for the whole dish, from which I got 10 servings. I froze 4 for later, kept 5 for lunches/dinners this week, and ate one immediately.  YUM!!

IMG_0255I will add one more thing – this is really good as is, but I’ve been eating it with creamless creamy cabbage all week, and the extra creaminess is fabulous!  I think that a spoonful of sour cream or greek yogurt or a wedge of laughing cow on top would be the perfect accompaniment as well!

For you Trim Healthy Mamas out there, this is a definite S meal due to the cheese and ground meat (I used 85% lean, which is too much fat for E). Now head on over to Trim Healthy Tuesday over at Gwen’s Nest and Stacy Makes Cents, where you can check out all kinds of other great THM goodies. Then check out all the great money-saving ideas at Thrifty Thursday over at Living Well Spending Less!


13 thoughts on “Frugal Friday:
Chili Cheeseburger Casserole

  1. WELL, we are about to try some for Sunday lunch, and I will get back to you after trying it. But it all sounds good and from here, smells good too. XD

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  4. New to freezing meals. Wanted to know did you cook first then freeze, thaw, then reheat in oven? if so for how long? Can’t wait to do this. Looks so yummy.

    • I cook first, then freeze in individual portions that I can throw in a lunchbag. It’s generally thawed by lunch and I reheat in the microwave. I have not tried reheating in the oven, but if I were going to try that, I would probably not cook as long to start with.

  5. I am trying to fill my freezer in preparation of an upcoming surgery. What do you think about freezing the whole dish before baking? I was thinking it would need to defrost, then bake the full amount of time. Thoughts?

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