On the Cheap

Consider the Potato

January 22, 2014

Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: Let the humble potato be the highlight of your meal.

Shop the Story

Here's a little secret: French fries are pretty much my favorite food. For all my culinary adventurousness, I'm never more satiated than when I'm digging into a plate of perfectly crispy shoestring fries (with a side of bourbon on the rocks, of course). 

My love for potatoes doesn't just stop at the French fry. They may be initially unsightly, but they're also remarkably cheap, incredibly filling, and easily dressed up. Here are some ways to stretch a bag of potatoes into several inventive meals.


Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds is a rich, unexpected take on potato soup. (You can easily omit the serrano ham to and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth to make it both vegetarian and budget-friendly.) If you're looking for more of a standard, classic recipe, this Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon Vinaigrette should fit the bill. Again, you can easily make this one vegetarian too. 


Like Anya's soup mentioned about, this potato salad gets the Spanish treatment and turns out far more inventive than a run-of-the-mill recipe. Meanwhile, mixing smaller potatoes with arugula makes for a weekday lunch that's equal parts fresh and hearty.


These Wonder Fries -- which won Your Best Recipe with Potatoes -- are the sort of side that's totally acceptable to make into a full meal without judgement. Another totally addictive side? This decidedly grown-up take on tater tots. And if you need one more, go with Francis Mallman's Potato Dominoes.


A warm, cheesy potato gratin is never NOT a good idea, especially when paired with a glass of wine after a long work day. Try a classic, or add celery root or caramelized onions for a different edge. Meanwhile, potato-based dumplings are a must-try weekend dinner project, whether you're going with gnocchi or pierogies

Tell us: What are your favorite potato recipes?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sietske van Schaik
    Sietske van Schaik
  • walkie74
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
  • Kristen Mongrain
    Kristen Mongrain
  • Gabriella Paiella
    Gabriella Paiella
Yes, my name rhymes.


Sietske V. January 25, 2014
No food in the world as wonderful as the humble potato.
walkie74 January 22, 2014
I am ALL OVER these potato chips: http://food52.com/recipes/18123-homemade-potato-chips
Marian B. January 22, 2014
I'm so happy that it's finally acceptable for me to eat potatoes and call it a meal.
Kristen M. January 22, 2014
This is PERFECT! I have a huge bag of potatoes sitting on my counter and I just had the thought "What am I ever going to do with all of these?"

Where is the recipe that goes with the first picture? It looks divine!
Gabriella P. January 22, 2014
You're looking for these guys: http://food52.com/recipes/25072-hand-formed-parmesan-tater-tots