Like most adults, I struggle with finding the right balance between frugality and indulgence when it comes to meals. Basically, I’m super frugal but it makes me mad when I can’t buy whatever I want to eat! Also, like many people I know, the end of the month tends to reveal itself in my sparse pantry.
I actually encourage its barrenness and enjoy being resourceful. Growing up, we often didn’t have a full larder. Many nights we ate canned spiced ham with rice for dinner. Those memories help me to appreciate the value of a full fridge.
A BUDGET-FRIENDLY MEAL
This Sausage, Pepper, and Potato Bake is such a budget-friendly meal that it’s on heavy rotation in my meal plans, especially towards month’s end.
I’m never disappointed when looking for an inexpensive kielbasa sausage. Typically, they’re on sale at least once a month, if not more often. (I’ve sometimes picked up a package of sausage for less than a dollar fifty!)
Combining it with the economical potato and onion not only rounds out the dish, but it also fills up a family for pennies on the dollar: less than $1.50 per person!
As the mother of tweenagers whose appetites never cease, I certainly can’t complain about those savings.
THE SAUCE MAKES THE DISH
But don’t allow the words “budget-friendly,” “economical,” or “frugal” to fool you into thinking this is a hobo’s dish!
The complexity of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing and the addition of fresh rosemary level up the simple ingredients to a restaurant-quality entrée. The fact that it’s also a one-pot meal makes it even more appealing.
The vinaigrette dressing may be made a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge. I love keeping it in a glass Mason jar for easy mixing and pouring.
SHOPPING FOR KIELBASA
Kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage; in this case, a mixture of pork and beef that’s seasoned and brought together in sausage casing.
If you’re not a fan of pork, use beef kielbasa, instead. Switching out the type of sausage is also an option as there are many to choose from: smoked sausage, chicken or turkey sausage, and even vegan sausage! While the latter products may increase the overall cost of the dish, none of them will break the bank.
Unless otherwise instructed on the package, sausage may be frozen for up to six months, so stocking up when they come on sale is a great idea.
SHOPPING FOR BELL PEPPERS
I use colored bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow) in this recipe because they offer a sweet contrast to the tangy, savory vinaigrette.
You can use one variety of bell pepper, or all three as I do. Rosemary can also be switched out for thyme, tarragon, or parsley. The whole grain mustard gives an added bite to the dish. If you can’t find whole grain mustard, Dijon is a great substitute.
HOW TO SLICE THE POTATOES
You want the potatoes to be about 1/8-inch thick. If you’re not as proficient as you’d like to be with a knife, the use of a mandoline is an option for slicing the potatoes extra thin. This ensures they cook at the same rate as the rest of the ingredients.
Also, the potatoes go through a par-bake—a pre-baking on their own—before the rest of the dish is completely assembled. I’ve found this method creates a potato layer that is tender, but not soggy.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE THE CASSEROLE
Other sausage casseroles combine the ingredients and bake. This one varies because of the par-bake on the potatoes. Instead the remaining ingredients are assembled on top of the semi-baked potatoes and the vinaigrette is drizzled on before the final bake. I prefer this method with this bake because it allows them to fully cook without overcooking the sausage and veggies.
MORE EASY CASSEROLES AND BAKES
- Bagel Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Egg, and Cheese
- Salsa Verde Chicken Bake
- Chicken Noodle Casserole
- Baked Spaghetti
- Chicken and Rice Casserole