Everyone's definition of frugal is different, because everyone's income level is different.
Quinoa could be a splurge in one household, and a cheap dinner in another. The same goes for certain kinds of meat, fresh vegetables, sugar, herbs, and spices.
Depending on where you live, whether it's a city, a food desert, or on a farm, it's always best to eat as locally as you can whenever you can, but we all know that's not always possible. And you know what? That's not your fault. If you have the ability to move money from your packaged food budget to your produce budget, or the ability to cut out things like meals out, fast food, expensive haircuts, or electronics, I highly recommend you do so, and transfer that money to your real, healthy food budget. But sometimes you don't, and that's why you NEED frugal and nutritious recipes.
I'm constantly working on my frugal nutrition budget. I'm working on starting a small herb garden to remove one more cost from my daily budget, and I'll be sure to include prices and tips when I do so. I also keep sugar out of the house, but opt for honey, medjool dates, or maple syrup. Obviously these are more expensive, so I'm forced to use significantly less sugar on a daily basis. I consider quinoa to be a relatively frugal option because it falls under protein and whole grains so it's a two-in-one kind of food. It is often cheaper than whole wheat pasta, and always cheaper than hormone-free meat. That being said, it is definitely pricier than white pasta and lower quality ground beef. That's a choice I'm able and willing to make. We can't all afford to purchase high-end food, so I'm working to bridge the gap between what is healthy and what's affordable. If quinoa is out of your price range, substitute brown rice, or contact me and let me know. I'd love to help.
You'll see a lot of beans on this site because they're among the cheapest and heartiest natural foods available. Lentils go for $1.69 a pound in the bags, and closer to 89 cents a pound in the bulk sections of stores like Sprout's or other health food stores. Black beans, kidney beans, white beans, and pinto beans are all in the same general price range, making them the cheapest and most filling protein money can buy.
Pricing is tricky. My home base is San Diego, CA, so the pricing will be different in your area. If I'm not using my receipts for pricing, I'm using online shopping circulars available at Vons. (Safeway) I try to update my posts with the cost per serving as much as possible, but it's a lot of work, so bear with me!
Contact me if you have more questions, tips, or information on frugal living!