Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

These Slow Cooker Meatball Subs are extra tender and flavorful thanks to a low and slow simmer in marinara sauce.

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I think I just fell in love with my slow cooker again. These slow cooker meatball subs are so incredibly tender, flavorful, and just all-around decadent thanks to that low and slow simmer in marinara sauce. It’s magical! And the best part is that this recipe makes a pretty big batch, so you can freeze half for later (use them in subs or on pasta)! Cook once, eat twice. 🙌

Overhead view of slow cooker meatball subs lined up in a row.

Do I Have to Use a Slow Cooker?

You don’t have to use a slow cooker to make these amazing homemade meatball subs, but I’m telling you right now that you want to. That low and slow simmer in the sauce makes the most incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs you’ll ever eat. If you don’t have a slow cooker, follow the cooking instructions for my basic homemade meatballs, then pile them into your buns, top with cheese, and bake till the cheese is melted.

What Kind of Sauce to Use

I tested this recipe with the most basic, inexpensive, generic marinara sauce I could find at the grocery store to make sure they were still totally delicious even if you can’t spring for an expensive sauce. But feel free to use your favorite store-bought or homemade marinara sauce for these meatballs. You’ll need 3 cups of sauce, in total.

Freeze Half for Later!

This recipe makes about 24 hefty meatballs so if you use three meatballs per sub you’ll get 8 sandwiches. If that’s a little too much for your household to eat within a few days, go ahead and freeze half of the meatballs and sauce to use on pasta or more subs later! You can reheat the frozen sauce and meatballs in the microwave or in a saucepot over low heat.

P.S. We reheated the assembled meatball subs from the photos in the air fryer the next day and they were BOMB! We air fried at 350°F for about five minutes for the most delicious leftovers ever.

Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the background.
Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the background.

Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

These Slow Cooker Meatball Subs are extra tender and flavorful thanks to a low and slow simmer in marinara sauce.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $19.43 recipe / $2.43 each
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 subs
Calories 506kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.88
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 2 large eggs $0.39
  • 1/4 cup milk $0.05
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage $4.99
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% lean or higher) $6.99

Subs

  • 8 buns or rolls $3.50
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella $0.62

Instructions

  • Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the Italian sausage and ground beef to a large bowl with the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, and milk Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. Avoid overmixing the meat.
  • Divide and shape the meat into 24 meatballs, about 3 Tbps each. The easiest way to do this is to first divide the meat mixture into four equal portions, then divide each of those in half to make eight equal portions. Finally, divide each of the 8 portions of meat into thirds and shape them into balls to make 24 meatballs.
  • Place half of the meatballs in the bottom of a slow cooker in a single layer and cover with half of the marinara sauce. Add the rest of the meatballs then top with the remaining sauce.
  • Cook the meatballs on high for three hours or low for six hours.
  • After cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs has reached 165°F. Give the meatballs and sauce a good stir to remix the sauce (there will be some fat pooling on the surface).
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, then pile three meatballs into each bun. Spoon some of the extra sauce over each one. Top each sub with a little shredded cheese.
  • Bake the meatball subs in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns are toasty. Enjoy hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1sub | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 31g | Sodium: 943mg | Fiber: 2g
Close up side view of slow cooker meatball subs lined up and garnished with parsley.

How to Make Slow Cooker Meatball Subs – Step by Step Photos

egg and breadcrumb mixture

Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Pre-mixing these ingredients helps them incorporate more evenly into the meat without having to overmix the meat.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl

Add the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, ¼ cup milk, 1 lb. Italian sausage, and 1 lb. ground beef to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together.

Shaped meatballs one held in a hand.

Divide and shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs. The easiest way to divide the mixture evenly is to first divide it into four equal portions. Divide each of those in half to make eight equal-sized pieces. Finally, dive each of the eight sections into three meatballs.

Sauce being poured over the meatballs in the slow cooker.

Add half of the meatballs to the slow cooker in a single layer, then cover with half of the marinara sauce. Add the rest of the meatballs in a second layer and pour the remaining sauce over top, making sure all the meatballs are covered in sauce.

Lid being placed on the slow cooker.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for three hours or low for six hours.

Slow cooked meatballs in the slow cooker.

After cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs has reached 165°F. You’ll see some fat pooling on the surface, but don’t worry, that deliciousness will be stirred right back into the sauce.

Finished slow cooker meatballs in the slow cooker.

Stir the meatballs in the sauce to make sure everything is evenly combined. These meatballs can now be used in subs or even on a plate of pasta!

Meatballs in subs in a baking dish.

To make the meatball subs, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place your buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Fill each bun with three meatballs and spoon some of the sauce over top.

Shredded mozzarella on the meatball subs.

Top each sub with a little shredded mozzarella.

Baked meatball subs in the baking dish.

Bake the meatball subs in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns are toasty.

Overhead view of baked meatball subs garnished with parsley.

Enjoy the meatballs hot! I garnished with chopped parsley for some color, but the parsley isn’t needed for flavor. :)

Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the back.

TRY THESE OTHER MEATBALL RECIPES:

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Baked Zucchini Fries

Baked Zucchini Fries make a delicious snack or side dish and are the perfect way to use up that extra bumper crop of summer zucchini.

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Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables. It’s cheap (especially if you have a friend or neighbor who is growing it), versatile, and totally delicious. So if you’re looking for extra ways to use up your summer zucchini, you’ve got to give these Baked Zucchini Fries a try. They’re crispy on the outside but creamy and delicious on the inside! Eat them plain or dip them into your favorite pizza sauce or marinara sauce.

Originally posted 7-28-2012, updated 8-12-2022.

Close up of a baked zucchini fry being dipped into a cup of pizza sauce.

Are Zucchini Fries Crispy?

Zucchini is a high water content vegetable, so it tends to get very soft when cooked. To counteract that, we’ve cut the zucchini into smaller pieces to allow for more evaporation and coated the fries in a crispy combination of panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan. The result is a zucchini fry that is crispy and tasty on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside.

Do I Have to Use Panko?

I highly suggest sticking with panko breadcrumbs here instead of regular breadcrumbs because their light texture and larger pieces help make the zucchini fries extra crispy. Regular breadcrumbs tend to be smaller pieces and a bit more dense, which will produce a harder shell rather than a light, crispy coating.

Make Them Gluten-Free

To make these zucchini fries gluten-free you’ll need to make two swaps. Use a 1:1 gluten-free flour, potato flour, or arrowroot flour to dredge the zucchini before the eggwash, then use gluten-free panko crumbs for the final coating. I do not suggest using almond flour or coconut flour in place of the all-purpose flour because they will not absorb moisture as well as the all-purpose flour.

How Are the Leftovers?

The one caveat with these Baked Zucchini Fries is that they’re definitely best right when they come out of the oven. After they’re stored in the refrigerator the breading will absorb moisture and become soft. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t still totally gobble them up after reheating, but you definitely won’t get the same texture experience.

Baked Zucchini Fries on a piece of parchment with a dish of pizza sauce.

One Zucchini Fry dipped into a dish of pizza sauce.

Baked Zucchini Fries

Baked Zucchini Fries make a delicious snack or side dish and are the perfect way to use up that extra bumper crop of summer zucchini.
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Total Cost $3.81 recipe / $0.76 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 165kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. zucchini $1.69
  • 2 large eggs $0.39
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs $0.50
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.36
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning $0.30
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided $0.03
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce (for serving) $0.50

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Slice the zucchini into matchsticks that are ½-inch wide and 3-inches long. Set the zucchini aside.
  • Whisk the eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the panko, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and ¼ tsp salt.
  • Add the sliced zucchini to a large bowl. Sprinkle the all-purpose flour and remaining ¼ tsp salt over the zucchini. Toss the zucchini until they are evenly coated in flour.
  • Place wire cooling racks over a large baking sheet to lift the zucchini pieces and allow airflow underneath. Bread the zucchini slices by briefly dipping them in the whisked egg, letting the excess run off, then coating them in the panko-Parmesan mixture.
  • Place the breaded zucchini on the wire racks with a small amount of space between each piece to allow for airflow.
  • Bake the breaded zucchini fries for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy.
  • Serve immediately with pizza sauce for dipping.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 700mg | Fiber: 3g

Close up of a zucchini fry dipped in pizza sauce.

How to Make Zucchini Fries – Step By Step Photos

Zucchini being sliced into matchsticks.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Slice about one pound of zucchini into ½-inch thick matchsticks (about 3-inches long).

Eggwash and Panko mix in bowls.

Whisk two eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, and ¼ tsp salt.

Zucchini dusted with flour.

Place the sliced zucchini in a large bowl and sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour. Toss the zucchini until they are evenly coated in flour.

Zucchini being breaded and placed on a baking sheet.

Place two wire cooling racks over a large baking sheet. Begin to bread the zucchini fries by first briefly dipping them in whisked egg, allowing the excess to drip off, then coating them in the panko-Parmesan mixture. To make this process faster, I usually dip 2-3 at a time into the eggwash. 

Zucchini fries on the baking sheet ready to bake.

Place the breaded zucchini on the wire racks with a little space between each piece.

Baked Zucchini Fries on the baking sheet.

Bake the zucchini fries for about 20 minutes in the fully preheated 425ºF oven or until they are golden brown and crispy. Allow the fries to cool for a couple of minutes before wiggling them loose from the rack. If any of the fries are stuck, use a fork to scoop under the fry and lift it up off the rack.

Baked zucchini fries on parchment with a dish of pizza sauce in the back.

Serve the zucchini fries with pizza sauce or marinara for dipping!

These baked zucchini fries have a buttery flavor and are a fun way to get your vegetables. BudgetBytes.com

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Chicken Alfredo

This Chicken Alfredo features pasta drenched in an ultra-rich and creamy sauce and topped with juicy strips of seared chicken.

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When it comes to indulgent comfort foods, I don’t know if anything beats Chicken Alfredo. I just can’t say no to a big ol’ plate of carby pasta drenched in an ultra-rich and creamy sauce and topped with juicy strips of seared chicken, can you? (That was a rhetorical question.) And now that I know how easy it is to make it at home, I have a feeling this is going to become my new favorite special occasion meal. And yes, sometimes just making it through to the end of the week is a special occasion in this house. ;)

close up overhead view of a bowl full of chicken alfredo pasta.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

While authentic alfredo doesn’t use any heavy cream, this American alfredo does use heavy cream as the base for the sauce, which helps the Parmesan melt in smoothly instead of clumping or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Most other dairy products or dairy substitutes contain too much water to allow the cheese to melt into the sauce properly, so I do not suggest substituting the heavy cream.

Fresh vs. Grated Parmesan

Freshly shredded Parmesan always trumps grated Parmesan from a can, there’s no argument there, but we’re cooking on a budget here so I made sure this recipe tastes great even when using less expensive Parmesan. If you have room in your budget for a wedge of fresh Parmesan, by all means, use it! But just know that you can still make a tasty alfredo even if you can’t afford the good stuff.

What to Serve with Chicken Alfredo

With any heavy dish like this, I like to pair it with a light and simple side salad. The delicate texture and fresh flavor of a simple side salad perfectly balances the thick and creamy alfredo sauce. Some Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus or Lemon Pepper Zucchini would also pair well. And of course, it wouldn’t be pasta night without some homemade garlic bread!

How Are the Leftovers?

The rich nature of this sauce means that it does start to thicken up quite a bit as it cools, so you definitely want to serve and enjoy this pasta when it’s hot out of the skillet. That being said, I would never turn down the leftovers of something so creamy and delicious. Just know that the texture when reheated will not be as silky smooth.

Close up side view of chicken alfredo in the skillet.
Overhead view of chicken alfredo in the skillet.

Chicken Alfredo

This Chicken Alfredo features pasta drenched in an ultra-rich and creamy sauce, topped with juicy strips of seared chicken.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Total Cost $10.62 recipe / $2.66 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 756kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lb. total) $6.49
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.32
  • 1 cup heavy cream $1.25
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan $1.08
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional garnish) $0.10
  • 8 oz. fettuccine $0.88

Instructions

  • Season both sides of the chicken breast with Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 7-8 minutes on each side, or until browned on the outside and cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken to a clean plate and turn the heat under the skillet down to medium-low.
  • Add the butter and minced garlic to the skillet. Stir and cook the garlic in the melted butter for about two minutes, dissolving the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet as you stir.
  • Add the heavy cream and whisk to combine, dissolving any remaining browned bits. Allow the cream to come up to a simmer.
  • While waiting for the cream to simmer, bring a pot of water to a boil for the fettuccine. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve about ½ cup of the starchy cooking water just before draining the pasta.
  • Once the cream is simmering, add the grated Parmesan to the skillet. Continue to whisk and stir until the Parmesan has melted into the sauce and the sauce has begun to simmer. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, or until it becomes slightly thicker. Add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce and toss to combine. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and toss to combine with the sauce.
  • Slice the cooked chicken breasts and serve it atop the creamy pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 42g | Sodium: 719mg | Fiber: 2g

Love alfredo? Check out our Shrimp Alfredo, too!

Overhead view of chicken alfredo in the skillet.

How to Make Chicken Alfredo – Step by Step Photos

Seasoned chicken breast on a cutting board.

Season two boneless, skinless chicken breasts with two teaspoons of Italian Seasoning and a pinch of salt.

Seared chicken in the skillet.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Once fully preheated, add 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat the skillet. Add the chicken breasts and cook on each side for 7-8 minutes, or until the chicken is well browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a clean plate.

Butter and minced garlic in the skillet.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, then add 2 tablespoons of butter and 4 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet.

Deglazed pan with butter and garlic.

Cook and stir the butter and garlic over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, dissolving the browned bits as you stir.

Heavy cream being poured into the skillet.

Add one cup of heavy cream to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the cream up to a simmer.

A box of fettuccine open on one end with pasta coming out

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. of pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.

Parmesan being added to the skillet.

While waiting for the pasta to boil, continue with the sauce. Once the cream is simmering, add ¾ cup Parmesan and continue to stir and cook until the sauce comes back up to a simmer.

Finished alfredo sauce in the skillet.

When the sauce comes back up to a simmer the Parmesan will begin to melt. Continue to cook and stir until the sauce thickens slightly (3-5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.

Fettuccine being tossed in the cream sauce.

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the alfredo sauce and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick or too dry, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and toss to combine.

Sliced chicken added on top of the pasta alfredo.

Slice the chicken breast and add it on top of the pasta, then serve. (You can garnish with chopped parsley if desired).

Overhead view of chicken alfredo in a shallow bowl with a fork.

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Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

The secret to the crunchiest, gooiest, air-fryer grilled cheese is to first use a seasoned butter and parmesan cheese spread on the outside of your bread.

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If you’ve never made an Air Fryer Grilled Cheese, get ready for the crispiest and gooiest results ever! My secret is to mix softened butter with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese and then spread it on the outside of the sandwich. This one step creates an unforgettable thunderous crunch that gives way to the dreamiest pillow of molten cheese.

Air fryer grilled cheese being pulled apart on a white plate.

Tips for making grilled cheese in an air fryer:

  • Use sliced cheese instead of shredded. The air circulation in an air fryer is very strong, and shredded cheese won’t stay on your bread as well as heavy slices.
  • Butter the outside of your bread slices from crust to crust. Full coverage is the only way!
  • Don’t press down on the sandwich when flipping it, which will destroy the airiness of your bread.
  • Try not to rush the process. Make sure to get five minutes on each side for the most unctuously melted cheese and crispy bread combo.

What type of cheese is best for grilled cheese?

Classically, you make grilled cheese with a few slices of American. But feel free to choose your own adventure. Any good melting cheese will work just fine. For the best results, use room temperature cheese, which melts faster and doesn’t separate into greasy clumps. My top 5 in no particular order:

  • Mild or Sharp Cheddar
  • Swiss
  • Provolone
  • Brie
  • Muenster

Please note that extra-sharp cheddar did not make the cut. Though it’s a delight, extra-sharp cheddar has a low water content because it’s aged, and the older cheese gets, the dryer it becomes.

Is there a type of bread that’s best for a grilled cheese?

Undoubtedly (because cheese can be heavy) you need sturdy slices of bread with a tight crumb. Just make sure they aren’t more than a half-inch thick because the cheese will take forever to melt. Bread with an open crumb (a lacy pattern of irregularly sized holes) can be challenging to work with because the cheese escapes through the craters. Especially great choices include:

  • Brioche
  • Rye
  • Ciabatta
  • Country Bread
  • Sourdough

Can you reheat a grilled cheese in an air fryer?

An air fryer is the PERFECT tool for reheating grilled cheese. It generates warm air that circulates all around your sandwich, crisping up even the doughiest bread and re-melting your cheese with ease. Cook for two minutes per side, and insert a butter knife into the cheese. If the knife blade is hot to the touch when you remove it, you are good to go!

What to serve with grilled cheese?

While Tomato Soup is a classic side, it isn’t the only thing that tastes great with an air fryer grilled cheese. If you’re looking for some fantastic dishes to pair with your sandwich, try an Herby Potato Salad, Simple Sauteed Vegetables, Summer Sweet Corn Salad, or Jerk Seasoned Collard Greens.

Air fryer grilled cheese being pulled apart by two hands.
Air Fryer Grilled Cheese on plate, split down middle.

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

The secret to the crunchiest, gooiest, air-fryer grilled cheese EVER is first mixing softened butter with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese and then spreading it on the outside of your bread. You can't get results like these from a pan!
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $2.23 each
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 639kcal
Author Monti – Budget Bytes
Cost $2.23

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter, room temperature $0.11
  • 2 tsp grated Parmesan $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning $0.03
  • 2 slices sourdough bread* $0.67
  • 4 slices cheese $1.25

Instructions

  • First, combine the room temperature butter, grated Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Then, spread the butter mixture over one side of each piece of bread, from edge to edge.
  • Place the sliced cheese between the two pieces of bread, buttered sides facing out.
  • Preheat the air fryer (if yours does not have a preheat setting, let it run for about four minutes at 400ºF).
  • Finally, place the sandwich in the air fryer basket. Cook at 350ºF for five minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown and crispy and the cheese is melted through. Slice and serve.

Notes

*If you do not have sourdough bread, any hearty bread will do. Softer bread may require less time in the air fryer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 45g | Sodium: 1077mg | Fiber: 2g
Air Fryer grilled cheese stacked on white plate.

How to Make Air Fryer Grilled Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Parmesan butter mix in ramekin.

Combine the room temperature butter, grated Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a bowl.

Knife spreading parmesan butter on bread.

Spread the butter mixture over one side of each piece of bread, from edge to edge.

Cheese slices for air fryer grilled cheese on top of one slice of bread with a second slice of bread next to it, on a cutting board.

Place the sliced cheese between the two pieces of bread, buttered sides facing out.

Grilled cheese sandwich in an air fryer basket.

Preheat the air fryer. If yours does not have a preheat setting, let it run for about four minutes at 400ºF. Once preheated, place the sandwich in the air fryer basket.

Air fryer grilled cheese in air fryer basket.

Cook at 350ºF for five minutes.

Air fryer grilled cheese on a spatula over an air fryer basket.

Once the sandwich has cooked for 5 minutes, flip it on the other side, and cook for five minutes more, or until both sides are golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is melted through. Slice and serve.

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Summer Vegetables in Red Sauce

Colorful summer vegetables simmered in a red sauce and spooned over warm polenta make a hearty and inexpensive summer meal.

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One of my favorite things about summer is all of the colorful vegetables. I pack my plate with as many vegetables as I can this time of year because I know that six months from now they won’t be nearly as delicious or inexpensive. Simmering a medley of vegetables in a simple jar of pasta sauce makes a really quick, filling, and inexpensive meal that you can spoon over a bowl of polenta, a plate of pasta, or even a hearty piece of toast. Simple and delicious!

Close up overhead view of vegetables in red sauce over polenta with a fork.

What Vegetables to Use

Whenever I make a recipe with multiple vegetables, I always try to make sure to get a variety of colors. So today I used eggplant (dark/purple), zucchini (green), red bell pepper (red), and yellow onion (white). But here are some other vegetables that would also work well in this recipe:

  • Carrots
  • Yellow squash
  • Green bell pepper
  • Spinach or kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus

Red Sauce Options

To keep this recipe extra simple, I just used a jar of store-bought pasta sauce, but just about any red pasta sauce will work here. If you prefer to make your own instead of buying pre-made sauce, you can try my quick weeknight pasta sauce, or a deeper slow cooker pasta sauce.

What to Serve with Vegetables in Red Sauce

I whipped up a quick Parmesan polenta to serve as the base for these vegetables and sauce, but they would be equally good over pasta, mashed potatoes, or even a sturdy piece of toast.

Overhead view of vegetables in red sauce in the pot.
Close up overhead view of cornmeal and vegetables in red sauce in a bowl with a fork on the side.

Summer Vegetables in Red Sauce

Colorful summer vegetables simmered in a red sauce and spooned over warm polenta make a hearty and inexpensive summer meal.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.15 recipe / $1.36 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup vegetables each
Calories 263kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

Vegetables in Red Sauce

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 eggplant $1.49
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.03
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 zucchini $1.47
  • 1 24oz. jar pasta sauce $1.50
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) $0.10

Parmesan Cornmeal (optional)

  • 5 cups water $0.00
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal $0.40
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.36

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to a large pot. Sauté over medium heat until the onions have softened.
  • While the onion and garlic are cooking, dice the eggplant into ½-inch pieces. Add the eggplant to the pot with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, and continue to sauté over medium heat.
  • Dice the red bell pepper. Once the eggplant has softened, add the diced bell pepper to the pot and continue to sauté.
  • Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch thick quarter-rounds, then add them to the pot. Continue to sauté just a couple minutes more, or until the zucchini just begin to soften.
  • Add the red sauce and 1/4 cup water to the pot and stir to combine. Let the vegetables simmer in the sauce for 5-10 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of tenderness.
  • While the vegetables are simmering, bring a separate pot of water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, stir in the salt, then pour in the cornmeal while whisking. Continue to cook and whisk until the cornmeal thickens (this should happen quickly).
  • Once the cornmeal has thickened, stir in the butter until melted, then add the grated Parmesan. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • To serve, spoon ⅔ cup cornmeal into a bowl then top with one cup of the vegetables and red sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Notes

Other serving options include serving the vegetables and sauce over pasta, a hearty piece of toast, or even a baked potato!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 1143mg | Fiber: 8g
A bowl of summer vegetables in red sauce over polenta with a fork in the center.

How to Make Summer Vegetables in Red Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Garlic Onion and Oil in the pot.

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large pot along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions have softened.

Diced eggplant added to the pot.

While the onion and garlic are cooking, dice an eggplant into ½-inch pieces. Add them to the pot with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, and continue to sauté until the eggplant have softened.

Diced bell pepper added to the pot.

Dice one red bell pepper, add it to the pot, and continue to sauté.

Chopped zucchini added to the pot.

Slice one zucchini into 1/4-inch thick quarter-rounds. Add the zucchini to the pot and sauté just until the zucchini begins to soften.

pasta sauce being poured into the pot.

Add one 24oz. jar (3 cups) red sauce and 1/4 cup water to the pot and stir to combine.

Simmered vegetables in red sauce in the pot.

Let the vegetables simmer in the red sauce for about 10 more minutes. Taste and season with salt to taste.

Cornmeal being poured into a pot of boiling water with a whisk.

If you’d like to serve the vegetables over polenta, bring 5 cups of water up to a boil. Once boiling, stir in one teaspoon salt, then add one cup of cornmeal while whisking. Continue to cook and whisk until it thickens (this only takes a minute or two).

Butter added to cooked cornmeal.

Stir two tablespoons of butter into the thickened cornmeal.

Grated Parmesan being sprinkled over the cornmeal.

Finally, Stir in ¼ cup grated Parmesan. Taste the cornmeal and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Close up overhead view of cornmeal and vegetables in red sauce in a bowl with a fork on the side.

Add about ⅔ cup of the cornmeal to a bowl and top with 1 cup of the vegetables in red sauce. Top with a little more Parmesan and some chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!

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Easy Vegetable Beef Soup

This super easy vegetable beef soup is a filling and flavorful option for lunch, dinner, or your weekly meal prep!

The post Easy Vegetable Beef Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One of the first things I learned when I embarked on my budget-food journey is just how easy, filling, and inexpensive soup is. Homemade soups are a breeze to throw together and they’re always so much tastier than store-bought canned soup. This vegetable beef soup is a great example. It’s chock-full of colorful veggies, filling ground beef, and the most delicious broth ever. Serve it up with a nice crusty bread for dipping and lunch is served!

Overhead view of a bowl of vegetable beef soup.

What’s in Vegetable Beef Soup?

This classic soup combines ground beef, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, corn, carrots, and green beans in a flavorful broth. To make this soup a bit easier, I’ve used a frozen vegetable mix to cut down on the amount of peeling and chopping needed to prepare the soup. That makes this Vegetable Beef Soup extra fast and easy. :)

To give this vegetable beef soup more flavor, we’ve added a healthy dose of Italian seasoning and some Worcestershire sauce to the broth for extra depth. Make sure you’re using a full-flavored beef broth for maximum deliciousness. I like to use Better Than Bouillon to make flavorful broth for my soups.

Beef Options

I used ground beef in my vegetable beef soup because it was the least expensive and the easiest to use. If you use a higher fat ground beef, you have the option to drain the fat off after browning, or leave it in for extra flavor and richness.

If you have room in your budget and would rather have chunks of beef in your soup, choose a chuck roast or bottom round roast, cut into 1-inch pieces. Simply brown the beef in the pot before adding the rest of the ingredients. No need to cook through during the browning stage, as it will cook through while the soup is simmered.

What Else Can I Add?

This is my favorite part of any recipe. What else can you add to vegetable beef soup to make it your own? Try adding some of these ingredients:

  • Barley
  • Chopped cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Parsnips
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Finely chopped kale
Overhead view of the pot of vegetable beef soup.
Overhead view of a bowl of vegetable beef soup.

Vegetable Beef Soup

This super easy vegetable beef soup is a filling and flavorful option for lunch, dinner, or your weekly meal prep!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Total Cost $10.63 recipe / $1.77 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 1.5 cups each
Calories 363kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 lb. ground beef $6.49
  • 1 russet potato (about ¾ lb.) $0.79
  • 1 28oz. can diced tomatoes $1.19
  • 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning $0.15
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 cups beef broth $0.52
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.12
  • 12 oz. frozen vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans) $1.00
  • salt to taste $0.05

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a soup pot along with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot and continue to sauté until the ground beef is cooked through. If using a higher fat content ground beef, you can drain the excess fat, if you prefer.
  • While the beef is cooking, peel and dice the russet potato into ½-inch cubes.
  • Add the cubed potatoes, diced tomatoes (with juices), Italian seasoning, pepper, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the soup to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Add the frozen vegetables to the pot and allow the soup to come back up to a simmer. Simmer the vegetables in the soup for about five minutes.
  • Finally, taste the soup and add salt to help the flavors pop. Start with ½ tsp, if desired, and add more until it reaches your desired level.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 21g | Sodium: 939mg | Fiber: 5g
Side view of a the pot of Vegetable Beef Soup with a spoon.

How to Make Vegetable Beef Soup – Step by Step Photos

Onion Garlic and olive oil in a soup pot.

Dice one yellow onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a soup pot along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

Browned ground beef in the soup pot.

Add 1 lb. ground beef and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through. If you’re using a higher fat content ground beef you can drain off the excess fat, if preferred.

Tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, and broth added to the pot.

While the beef is browning, peel and dice one russet potato (about ¾ lb.) into ½-inch pieces. Add the diced potatoes to the pot with one 28oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices), 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 4 cups beef broth, and 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.

Simmered soup without vegetables.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the soup to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Frozen vegetables being poured into the pot of soup.

Add a 12oz. bag of frozen vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans), stir to combine and allow it to come back up to a simmer. Simmer the vegetables in the soup for about five more minutes.

Finished vegetable beef soup in the pot with a spoon.

Finally, taste the soup and add salt to your liking. The amount of salt needed will depend on the salt content of the broth you used, but you’ll likely need at least a little to help the flavors pop.

Side view of the pot of vegetable beef soup.

I garnished with a little chopped parsley for color, but it’s not needed for flavor. I do tend to put a little freshly cracked pepper or each bowl for a little extra pop, though!

Try These Other Easy Ground Beef Recipes:

The post Easy Vegetable Beef Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!

The post Easy Homemade Meatballs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love meatballs and have several recipes for fun meatball recipe variations on the website already, but I wanted to have one good basic and easy homemade meatball recipe that could be used in several different meals. That way you can keep a batch of these tasty meatballs in your freezer and use them in different quick weeknight meals later. I’m all about making things easy and uncomplicated!

A plate full of spaghetti and meatballs with a fork twirling the pasta

This homemade meatball recipe is super simple, pared-down, and basic for when you need something fast, easy, and uncomplicated. The other advantage to keeping these meatballs simple is that it makes them more versatile! Because the flavor profile is simple, you can pair these meatballs with a variety of sauces and meals.

And as always, I’ve got a couple of upgrade options for you below if you do want to take these meatballs up a notch and make something a little fancier.

Why Do Meatballs Have Egg and Breadcrumbs?

Egg and breadcrumbs are added to meatballs to help hold together, and the combination helps give the meatballs a slightly more tender texture. While I have made some meatballs without eggs and breadcrumbs in the past (see my Beef Kofta Meatballs), they don’t hold together quite as well and the meat has a more firm texture, similar to that of a hamburger.

If you need to replace the egg or breadcrumbs for dietary reasons, you can experiment with using a flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp water) for the egg, and using oatmeal, rice, or crushed gluten-free crackers in place of the breadcrumbs.

Can I Use Different Meat?

Yes, meatballs work great with several different types of ground meat. Just keep in mind that different types of ground meat contain different amounts of fat and moisture, so substituting the meat can change the texture and flavor of the meatballs.

The recipe below uses Italian sausage, which has a ton of herbs and spices already in the meat. Because of that, the meatballs only needed a small amount of extra seasoning added. So if you substitute the Italian sausage with a different type of ground meat, make sure to increase the seasoning in the meatballs accordingly.

How to Use Homemade Meatballs

There’s nothing easier or more satisfying than a plate of spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs, but that’s not the only way to eat meatballs! Here are some other things you can do with homemade meatballs:

  • Make meabtall subs (hoagie rolls, red sauce, meatballs, mozzarella)
  • Add the meatballs to a soup (they’d be great in Minestrone)
  • Use them in place of plain beef in Stroganoff
  • Serve on top of mashed potatoes with a brown gravy
  • Toss with pesto and serve on veggie noodles
  • Stuff inside of a calzone or slice and use to top a pizza
  • Add to a bowl meal (rice, veggies, any sauce)
  • Add to baked pasta (like Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti)

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to take your meatballs up a notch and make them a little fancier, there are several things you can add. Try adding some fresh minced onion or garlic for an extra punch of flavor. Or try using some flavor add-ins like crumbled bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano). You can also try swapping out the milk for a different flavored liquid, like broth or even some of your red sauce. And I’m always a fan of adding a pinch of crushed red pepper to just about anything!

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs
Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs

Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $10.92 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 about 5 meatballs each
Calories 418kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.88
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.03
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup whole milk $0.11
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage $3.00
  • 1 lb. ground beef $5.99

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the two eggs.
  • Add the breadcrumb mixture, eggs, milk, Italian sausage, and ground beef to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing the meat.
  • Let the meatball mixture rest for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs time to soften. Divide and shape the meat into about 40 meatballs, approximately 2 Tbsp in volume each.

Oven Cooking Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart from each other.
  • Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for five more minutes in the sauce. If not using a red sauce, add an additional 3-5 minutes to the bake time, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Stove Top Cooking Instructions

  • Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the surface of the skillet. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet.
  • Cook the meatballs, turning every couple of minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Repeat with the second batch of meatballs.
  • Transfer the cooked meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for a few minutes more before serving.

Freezing instructions

  • You can freeze the meatballs either cooked or uncooked. I prefer freezing them already cooked so they can go straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and then just simmer until heated through. Cooked meatballs should be completely cooled before placing in a gallon-sized freezer bag and transferred to the freezer.
  • To freeze uncooked meatballs, place the raw meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze on the baking sheet until solid (1-2 hours) before transferring to a gallon-sized freezer bag for longer storage. Thaw completely before cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Sodium: 691mg | Fiber: 1g
Side view of meatballs on a plate of spaghetti with red sauce

How to Make Homemade Meatballs – Step by Step Photos

egg and breadcrumb mixture

Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Pre-mixing these ingredients helps them incorporate more evenly into the meat without having to overmix the meat.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl

Add the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, ¼ cup milk, 1 lb. Italian sausage, and 1 lb. ground beef to a bowl.

meatball mixture in a bowl

Let the meatball mixture sit for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb some of the moisture.

shaped meatball held in a hand over the bowl

Divide and shape the meatball mixture into about 40 meatballs, 2 Tbsp each. I have small hands, so this may actually look bigger than they were. I used a 2 Tbsp measuring cup to portion the meat.

Meatballs on a baking sheet ready to bake

To bake the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet with about one inch between each.

baked meatballs on the baking sheet

Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, then transfer to a pot of red sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. If not using a red sauce, bake for 3-5 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

Meatballs cooked in a skillet

To cook the meatballs in a skillet, heat one tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, swirl to coat the skillet in oil, then add the meatballs. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned on all sides and cooked through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce

Whether you cook your meatballs in the oven or on the stove top, finishing them off with a brief simmer in red sauce adds an extra dose of flavor and helps keep the meatballs nice and tender.

Meatballs in a freezer bag

To freeze the cooked meatballs, cool them completely in the refrigerator first, then place them in a freezer bag and transfer to the freezer for longer storage (about 3 months). Once frozen they can be dropped straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and simmered until heated through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with spaghetti and herbs on the sides

Try These Other Meatball Recipes:

The post Easy Homemade Meatballs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Classic Homemade Meatloaf

This classic meatloaf recipe is just like the traditional meatloaf grandma used to make. Tender and juicy with the perfect tomato glaze!

The post Classic Homemade Meatloaf appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The concept of meatloaf kind of makes me raise an eyebrow because, well, it’s a loaf of meat. But when it’s executed well it’s just so good. So filling, so cozy, and so delicious that I look forward to eating the leftovers over the next few days (hello meatloaf sandwich, I’m looking at you). This Classic Homemade Meatloaf recipe is the traditional meatloaf that we all know and love—tender, juicy, full of flavor, and with the perfectly tangy tomato glaze on top. It’s so perfect when paired with mashed potatoes and green beans. Like a plate of pure comfort!

Side view of sliced meatloaf on a platter, side dishes in the background

The Secret to Good Meatloaf

Milk. The secret to good meatloaf is milk. It sounds weird, but it makes a HUGE difference. Milk hydrates the breadcrumbs that are used as a binder in meatloaf, which keeps the loaf super moist and tender.

During the testing phase for this recipe, I made one without the milk just to see if really made a difference and I’m here to say that the difference was ENORMOUS. The meatloaf without milk was dense, a little tough, and notably drier than the meatloaf made with milk. So don’t skip it! P.S. I’m sure that non-dairy milk would have the same effect.

Loaf Pan or Baking Sheet?

There are two camps when it comes to meatloaf: baking in a loaf pan or on a baking sheet. I’m team baking sheet, but I think ultimately it’s going to boil down to personal preference. I find that loaf pans don’t allow for quite enough evaporation so the bottom can get a little soupy. Baking sheets allow for a little more evaporation, leaving the meatloaf perfectly juicy and flavorful.

But if shaping is difficult for you or you want those perfect square edges, you might prefer a loaf pan.

Two slices of meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

How to Keep Meatloaf from Falling Apart

There are a couple of tricks to making a meatloaf that holds together in nice slices. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a recipe that has the right amount of binders (egg and breadcrumbs). This is essentially the glue that holds the meat together.
  • Use ground beef with a finer grind, or that has been double ground. Really coarse ground beef won’t mix as thoroughly with the binders and may crumble when sliced.
  • Mince the onion as finely as possible. Large chunks of onion will prevent the loaf from holding together as well.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

My favorite pairing for meatloaf is what I have pictured here, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans. It’s so simple, classic, and balanced with the meatloaf and its tangy glaze. But here are some other good side dishes for meatloaf:

Overhead view of sliced meatloaf on a platter
Side view of sliced meatloaf on a platter

Classic Meatloaf

This classic meatloaf recipe is just like the traditional meatloaf grandma used to make. Tender and juicy with the perfect tomato glaze!
Total Cost $9.56 recipe / $0.96 per slice
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Calories 204kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 1 large egg $0.21
  • 1/3 cup milk $0.14
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/2 cup minced onion $0.14
  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef (85/15) $8.03

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup ketchup $0.40
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard $0.03

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. In a separate small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mince the onion.
  • Add the ground beef, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, and minced onion to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing.
  • Place the meatloaf mixture on a rimmed baking dish and shape it into a loaf that is approximately 4-inches wide, 8-inches long, and 2-inches tall.
  • In a separate small bowl, stir together the glaze ingredients (ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard). Spread the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the meatloaf.
  • Bake the meatloaf for 50-55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 5-10 minutes after baking, then slice and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 465mg | Fiber: 1g

How to Make Classic Meatloaf – Step by Step Photos

Wet and dry ingredients for meatloaf in separate bowls

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Start by pre-mixing some of the ingredients for the meatloaf so there will be less mixing required for the meat (overmixing the meat can make meatloaf tough). In a small bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup milk, one large egg, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. In a separate bowl, stir together ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt.

minced onion on a cutting board

Mince about a ½ cup onion. Make sure to chop or mince the onion as finely as possible. Chunky onion can make the meatloaf fall apart more easily.

meatloaf mixture in a bowl

Add the milk mixture, breadcrumb mixture, and minced onion to 1.5 lbs. ground beef (85/15). Mix with your hands until everything is evenly combined. Avoid overmixing.

shaped meatloaf in baking dish

Place the meatloaf mixture on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish and shape it into a loaf that is approximately 8″ long, 4″ wide, and 2″ tall.

meatloaf glaze ingredients in a bowl

Next, combine the ingredients for the glaze. Stir together ½ cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.

Glaze being spread over the meatloaf

Spread the glaze over the top and sides of the meatloaf.

baked meatloaf with a meat thermometer inside

Bake the meatloaf in the preheated 350ºF oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

front view of a sliced meatloaf on a platter

The post Classic Homemade Meatloaf appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Homemade Italian Dressing

This simple homemade Italian Dressing is a zesty mix of flavorful herbs, savory Parmesan, and bright lemon to complement any salad.

The post Homemade Italian Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love making simple homemade vinaigrettes, and this classic Italian dressing has been a favorite lately. This dressing is similar to the bottled “Italian dressing” that you’d find in the grocer store, except made with simple ingredients that you’ll find in your fridge and pantry. It’s the perfect mix of bright lemon and vinegar, flavorful herbs, and savory Parmesan to take your homemade salads up to the next level.

a small glass carafe with Italian dressing with a salad bowl in the back

What’s in Italian Dressing?

This all-purpose homemade dressing is a simple vinaigrette base packed with dried herbs and Parmesan. The base is olive oil and red wine vinegar, plus a little lemon juice to freshen things up and Dijon mustard to help emulsify the vinegar into the oil. I added a hefty dose of herbs, in the way of an Italian seasoning blend for convenience, plus a little garlic, and a touch of sugar to soften the acid every so slightly. Lastly, grated Parmesan adds so much umami and depth of flavor that it will make you want to eat the dressing by the spoonful!

Can I Skip the Sugar?

Technically you can skip the sugar if you really have to, but even that small dose of sugar goes a long way toward creating a really smooth dressing and reducing any bitterness, so I don’t suggest skipping it if at all possible. It’s only ½ tsp for the entire batch, so the dose per serving is extremely small.

Can I Skip the Parmesan?

Yes. This still makes a really stellar vinaigrette even without the Parmesan. I will say that the Parmesan totally takes the dressing to the next level, but I find plain vinaigrettes quite enjoyable on their own as well. So if you want to make a vegan dressing or just don’t have Parmesan on hand, don’t let it hold you back from making this homemade dressing.

How to Store Levtover Italian Dressing

Store your leftover dressing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about a week. The olive oil may solidify when the dressing gets very cold but will liquify again if set out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.

How to Serve Italian Dressing

The flavors in this simple dressing are so universal that it will taste good on just about any salad. But it’s also great on pasta salad, on a simple sliced tomato and mozzarella salad, or even as a marinade for chicken! I think this dressing would also be amazing soaked into a crusty piece of bread as part of a pressed deli sandwich. YES!

Overhead view of a spoon in a jar full of homemade italian dressing
Italian dressing in a glass carafe in front of a bowl of salad

Homemade Italian Dressing

This simple homemade Italian Dressing is a zesty mix of flavorful herbs, savory Parmesan, and bright lemon to complement any salad.
Total Cost $1.89 recipe / $0.24 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 8 2 Tbsp each
Calories 130kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil $0.84
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.04
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard $0.12
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder* $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend $0.30
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan** $0.22

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients to a jar or bowl. If using a jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake until the ingredients are incorporated. If using a bowl, whisk until the ingredients are incorporated. Give the dressing a quick shake or whisk just before serving.

Notes

*You can use one minced clove of fresh garlic in place of the garlic powder if you prefer a stronger garlic flavor.
**Bottled grated Parmesan with cellulose (an anti-caking agent) may clump slightly, but will still taste great.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Sodium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g

How to Make Italian Dressing – Step by Step Photos

Italian dressing ingredients in a jar

Combine ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp Dijon, ¼ tsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, ½ tsp sugar, and 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan in a bowl or jar.

mixed Italian dressing in a jar

If using a jar, close the lid on the jar tightly then shake until the ingredients are incorporated. If using a bowl, whisk the ingredients together until incorporated.

Italian dressing being poured over a large salad

Serve your homemade Italian dressing over your favorite salad, sliced vegetables, or even as a marinade for chicken! (yes, that salad recipe is coming soon!)

Italian dressing in a glass carafe in front of a bowl of salad

The post Homemade Italian Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Extra Thick Homemade Pizza Sauce

No one likes a watery pizza. That’s why our favorite homemade pizza sauce is extra thick, like bordering on tomato paste-thick, not to mention packed with garlic, herbs, and an intense tomato flavor. While you might be tempted to use a pizza sauce straight from the jar, we find most commercial sauces far too thin […]

The post Extra Thick Homemade Pizza Sauce first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

No one likes a watery pizza. That’s why our favorite homemade pizza sauce is extra thick, like bordering on tomato paste-thick, not to mention packed with garlic, herbs, and an intense tomato flavor.

While you might be tempted to use a pizza sauce straight from the jar, we find most commercial sauces far too thin for our tastes, resulting in sad, soggy pizza centers. If chewy, crispy-bottomed pizza crust is your jam (it sure is ours), we find the extra time to make a batch of this extra-thick homemade sauce is well worth the effort.

White bowl with homemade pizza sauce and spoon, homemade pizza on a plate in the background

The texture of this extra-thick pizza sauce falls somewhere in between tomato sauce and tomato paste, probably leaning more towards the paste end of the spectrum when all is said and done.

The flavor is so intense you really only need a few spoonfuls on your pizza (2-3 tablespoons is just about right for a 9-inch two person pizza); that small quantity packs the same amount of flavor without the extra liquid.

Seasoning-wise it’s deceivingly simple, just a bit of garlic sautéed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried Italian herb seasoning to help enhance the tomato flavor even further.

Paired with our favorite pizza crust recipe and assorted toppings of your choice, you’re in for a truly epic pizza night.

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