'Trash Browns' and 6 Other Delicious Peasant Food Recipes, According to Frugal Redditors

Air Fried Ratatouille, Italian-Style in Earthenware Bowl with Wooden Serving Fork


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Air Fried Ratatouille, Italian-Style in Earthenware Bowl with Wooden Serving Fork

'Cuisine of the Necessary'

Peasant food is “the cuisine of the necessary,” as the food journalist Mark Bittman once put it. Take ratatouille for example. In the 18th century, rural French farmers came up with the vegetable stew — not to impress foodies or critics, but simply because they needed to use up their summer harvest. 

It’s this no-nonsense approach to cooking — one that relies on cheap, hearty ingredients — that makes peasant dishes perfect for frugal home cooks. We’ve collected seven of Reddit’s favorite peasant recipes, all of which are flavorful and filling despite using cheap staples like rice, potatoes, and canned vegetables.

Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie. Casserole in baking dish

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie (aka shepherd’s pie) requires just three cheap ingredients. Start with “whatever ground meat you have on hand,” and then add canned veggies and mashed potatoes on top, one Redditor suggests. As one top-rated recipe explains, cottage pie is “a great way to clean out your fridge of bits of veggies and leftover mashed potatoes.”

Hash Browns
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

'Trash Browns'

Although this dish probably doesn’t come from the annals of medieval Europe, it embodies all the qualities of a hearty, economical meal. Add onions, garlic, shredded carrots, spices, and “some green stuff (out of guilt)” to your shredded potatoes, and you’ve got a tasty veggie hash.

Healthy vegan ragu with penne pasta
Fried Rice with Fried Spiced Ham
Irish Beef Stew

Leftover Soup

Soups and stews have long been a staple in peasant cuisine. In Italy, there’s aquacotta, an ancient soup that repurposes stale bread and various leftovers, and in France, there’s pot-au-feu and cassoulet. But you don’t have to stick to official recipes to make an easy, low-cost soup. Start with a base of onions, celery, and carrots, and add whatever leftovers or canned vegetables you have.

Related: Beyond the Bun: 21 Creative Hot Dog Recipes

Homemade Tofu Stir Fry

Stir Fry

Like many of these peasant dishes, a stir fry’s appeal lies in its simplicity and flexibility. Whether you have carrots you need to get rid of or a few pieces of day-old rotisserie chicken, you can throw it all into a sizzling hot wok, add some sauce, and you’ve whipped up a healthy dinner without having to go to the store.

Related: 9 Cheap Sandwich Ideas So You Don't Blow Your Budget on Boar's Head

Stewed vegetables eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini with tomato sauce, garlic and herbs


Although you may be more familiar with Disney’s version of ratatouille (technically confit byaldi), the recipe has humble beginnings as a French Provencal peasant dish. No matter how you make it, the basic ingredients are the same: zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant — four widely available, cheap summer veggies.

Related: Recipes That Won't Heat Up The Kitchen