The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

Wallet-Friendly One Pot Meals

wallet friendly one pot meals

A few weeks ago, I serendipitously came across an ad for a used-but-new Dutch oven on Craigslist. For months, I’d been coveting such a treasure, spurred on by each and every blog mention, wooed by tales of perfect browning and stovetop-to-oven ease of cooking. As Dutch ovens cost between $100 and $200+ per pot, however, I kept my wallet sealed shut until I found this lovely selling for half the retail rate. (An e-mail to the seller practically typed itself without hesitation.)

Once in hand, I wondered which recipe would be the most appropriate to christen this far-from-dainty, 6-quart crimson pot. Cooler autumn temperatures serenaded my cravings for comfort food, so I devised a risotto recipe that speaks to the season, both in flavor and hue.

En route to the shop for ingredients, my future-mother-in-law also mentioned that she’s had her Dutch oven for 47 years. After she rattled off her one-pot-dish standbys, I couldn’t resist asking her to
prepare something while I broke in my own newfound pot. She opted for her Hamburger Soup — “a pedestrian soup, for the mother of boys” — which is both no-fuss and a great excuse to use up whatever vegetables you happen to have lying around. It’s quick, easy, and still just as tasty when reheated the next day.

So, without further ado, here are my two favorite Wallet-Friendly One-Pot Meals for Fall:

(pictured above)


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups Italian arborio rice
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 8-ounce package crab meat
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

In a dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and butter
over medium-high, until butter foams. Add minced garlic and stir for a
few minutes, until slightly tan and fragrant. In the microwave, warm
broth for two-to-three minutes. Add rice to the pot and stir for two
minutes. Pour one cup of broth over the rice and stir until the broth
is absorbed and the rice begins to thicken with creaminess.

For 25-30 minutes, continue attentive stirring of the rice, adding a
cup of broth every few minutes once the previous broth addition is
absorbed, until all of the liquid is soaked up and the rice is tender
and plump. Lower the heat to medium-low.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pumpkin, crab meat, mascarpone cheese,
maple syrup and sweet paprika. Notice the autumnal colors appearing

Serve immediately with a sprinkle of chives.

Judy's hamburger soup



  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 5 cubes of beef bouillon dissolved in warm water (or two cups of beef broth)
  • 1 can diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 large red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can red kidney beans

In a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot, saute onions and meat over a medium-high heat, until meat is browned. Add beef bouillon broth (or beef broth), tomatoes, and water and bring to a simmer. Add the
potatoes and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Scatter in the mixed vegetables and kidney beans and
cook until the potatoes are tender to a fork poke and the vegetables
are cooked, about 10 minutes.

Taste for seasoning. Serve with hunks of warm, crusty bread.

Story & Photos: Copyright 2009, Shoestring LLC & Jennifer Adams.