Basic Homemade Pesto Recipe + How to Freeze and Enjoy All Year

homemade pesto recipe

basic homemade pestoHomemade pesto is something I’ve been making a few years in a row now, and it’s an excellent way to use up the rest of the fresh basil in your garden before a hard frost.  Freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays to enjoy in the middle of the winter.

How to Use Your Homemade Pesto:

  • As a pasta sauce
  • Add a little homemade pesto to mayo for a sandwich spread
  • Top salmon or chicken with pesto before grilling
  • Add to mashed potatoes
  • As a baked potato topper
  • On homemade pizza as a sauce
  • In artisan breads
  • Make pesto butter as an appetizer spread

Frugal Tips:  Even though fresh Parmesan is somewhat expensive, it’s worth it.  A little bit goes a long way.  You may also experience sticker shock if you’re purchasing pine nuts for the first time.  If you have walnuts at home, they are a good substitute.  Some even prefer the taste of walnut pesto to pine nut pesto.


homemade-basil-pesto homemade-basil-pesto

Thanks to the Mommysavers Forum members for the inspiration behind this basil pesto recipe

Basic Homemade Pesto Recipe
A great recipe to make with fresh basil from your garden before the hard frost
  • 1½ C. fresh basil leaves
  • ½ C. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ C. pine nuts, toasted (or walnuts)
  • ⅓ C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dash of salt
  • Pepper or Tabasco to taste
  1. /2 c chopped fresh basil
  2. /3-1/2 c extra virgin olive oil(just eyeball how ya like it as you go)
  3. /4 c pine nuts,toasted (or you can sub walnuts)
  4. /3 c grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Tbs minced garlic
  6. /4 tsp chili powder
  7. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays, remove and place in a freezer bag until ready to use.

Mussels with Wine and Garlic Sauce

mussels with wine and garlic sauce

Mussels with wine and garlic sauce is simple to make, doesn’t take very long, and is surprisingly frugal.  It’s something my husband and I enjoy if we are doing a date night dinner at home.    This dish costs around $10 total, and serves 3-4.  There is something about freshly steamed mussels that seems romantic, or date-worthy.   For us, anyway, they’re “special.”

Frugal Tip:  At only around $4 per pound, mussels have a huge visual impact for not much money.  They look great on your plate and will impress any dinner guests you may have!  Another great way to use them is in this easy paella recipe, which is a great way to use up leftovers.

Mussels with Wine and Garlic Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
Easy and surprisingly frugal!
  • 2 lb. mussels (make sure you discard any that are gaping open)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ C. onion, minced (or shallots)
  • ¾ C. dry white wine
  • ⅔ C. chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lb. linguine noodles
  1. Prepare linguine according to package directions. In a large skillet with a lid, melt the butter. Add olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the wine and mussels and about half of the parsley. Cover and heat until mussels have opened (about 8-10 minutes). Add remaining parsley as a garnish. Serve mussels and wine sauce over linguine.



Copycat Recipe: Near East Parmesan Couscous

copycat recipe near east parmesan couscous

If you’re currently buying the boxes of Near East Parmesan Couscous…. why?  Parmesan couscous is easy to make, frugal, and only takes a few minutes.  Not only that, you can have fun experimenting with fun add-ins and tweaking the flavor.  After you get the basics down, you can create a copycat couscous of just about any of the flavored box mixes you typically buy.

Frugal Tip:  Couscous is usually located near the rice and grains in most supermarkets.  If you have a hard time finding couscous, you can purchase it on or Vitacost.  Plus, when you register for a new Vitacost account you’ll receive a code valid for $10 off a $10 order.

Source:  Inspired by the Mommysavers Parmesan Couscous recipe

Copycat Recipe: Near East Parmesan Couscous
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
A yummy, quick-and-easy copycat version of Near East Parmesan Couscous
  • 1 C. dry couscous
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ⅓ C. grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute until soft. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for five minutes, then fluff with a fork. Add remaining ingredients: pepper, balsamic vinegar, and grated Parmesan. Fluff again and serve while hot. DO NOT overcook. It will become a gloppy mess if you allow it to sit too long.
  2. Yummy add-ins include feta or goat cheese, basil, parsley, diced or sun-dried tomatoes.


Quick Shrimp Tacos

quick shrimp taco recipe

This has been our go-to recipe for shrimp tacos after tasting them in San Diego for the first time in 2007.  For me, it’s the dressing that makes it delicious (I’m a huge cumin fan).  You could easily substitute the shrimp for fish if that’s more to your liking.   For even more flavor, brush the shrimp with butter and garlic cloves, skewer them, and throw on the grill (if you have the time).  The “rainy day” method for me is just a quick toss in butter in a skillet.  Plus, it takes much less time.

Frugal Tips:   Frozen shrimp is often found on buy one, get one free sales at the supermarket.  When you see those sales, stock up!  It keeps for months in the freezer and is great for recipes like this.    To save even more money on this recipe, load your tortilla up with more slaw and fewer shrimp.  A little bit goes a long way!

Note:  If you’re going for an even healthier recipe, swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt.  You’ll hardly be able to tell the difference!

Quick Shrimp Tacos
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
These shrimp tacos are quick, easy and taste great!
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. mayo
  • 4 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Medium shrimp, peeled and cooked (or use leftovers)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Corn tortillas
  • Cole slaw salad mix
  • Queso fresco
  • Green salsa (tomatillo)
  • Cilantro for garnish
  1. Mix the sour cream, mayo, milk and cumin for the dressing on the cole slaw mix. Set aside. Toss your shrimp in butter in a skillet with two cloves minced garlic. Assemble all ingredients in a corn tortilla. You can either dress the slaw mix ahead of time, or have each person add as much or as little dressing as they choose. Add crumbled queso fresco, salsa and cilantro to taste.