Cheap Meals


We are getting ready to move and have to conserve our money for home improvements while trying to sell our house. One of the things we would really like to spend less money on is meals. If you have any recipes that are cheap to make, easy, fast and tasty, please let me know some of them! The more the better.
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Gloria Wilson from Paso Robles, CA

Answers:

Cheap Meals

My idea for a cheap meal is Quick Chicken and Noodles. Most of the ingredients can be kept on hand for one of those nights when there isn't a lot of time for cooking.

A can of chicken broth, a can of mixed vegetables, a couple chicken breasts, drumsticks or thighs (or any combination). I cook my chicken ahead of time, de-bone it, if necessary, and freeze it in a Ziplock bag, so it is ready on a moments notice.

Combine chicken, chicken broth and mixed vegetables, including the liquid, in a large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In the meantime, take 5 or 6 flour tortillas, and cut into thin strips (about 1/2 inch wide). Kitchen shears work well for this job.


Add them to your boiling mixture, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. I guarantee that if you are not observed while cooking this meal, you will be the only person who knows they are not eating made-from-scratch Noodles!

(02/06/2003)

By Harlean from Arkansas

Cheap Meals

I love to make tuna casserole, which can also be baked then frozen for quick meals.

In a casserole dish mix one can of cream of mushroom soup with a 1/3 of a can of milk.
Drain 2 cans of your favorite tuna & flake it in with a fork - start adding plain broken (use stale ones if you want) potato chips until you feel enough of the soup mixture is soaked up - if you want it more moist- add fewer chips.
I sometimes add soy sauce after I get my helping on my plate.

To extend it; add a can of drained corn or drained canned peas.
Bake for 35 minutes at 350 or until you can see the soup bubbling up the sides of the dish & the chips have turned a nice brown.

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I like this much better than tuna/noodle casserole. If you want, top with some shredded cheese the last few minutes of baking so it doesn't burn. (10/06/2004)

By melody_yesterday

Cheap Meals

Brown some ground beef, drain, & set aside.

Mix up 4 cups of instant potatoes and use them to make a lining in a casserole dish about 3/4" to 1" thick. Save a little more than a cup of the potatoes. Open & drain a can of corn, spoon it into the potato lining & push it in a little so it will stick.

Next, add the drained browned ground beef and smooth the remaining mashed potatoes over the top (I use my beloved rubber spatula). It doesn't take too long if you start your water boiling for the spuds at the same time you start to brown your burger.

Bake this for about 35 mins at 350. Yum! Nothing I fix aside from spaghetti is very spicy and normally low to no dishes. (10/06/2004)

By melody_yesterday

Cheap Meals

A cheap meal my roommate's mother taught me is "Mexican eggs". Just brown up sausage crumbles or hamburger, then scramble the eggs, mix the two together, then when almost all the way cooked, add any old, stale mushed up tortilla chips. They will soften slightly. It is so good for a crowd and to use up leftovers. Hope y'all enjoy!
(03/05/2005)

By mkneib86

Cheap Meals

I have 2 cheap meal ideas. I try to keep this on hand for that last day before payday.

Hominy and Bacon:

Chop 1/4 to 1/2 lb of bacon, fry out till crisp. Remove from pan, remove most of grease left in pan. Chop a medium onion and brown in the bacon grease, then put in 2 drained cans of White Hominy, add back in the bacon, salt and heavy pepper. Fry the hominy with the other ingredients for a few minutes until the hominy is definitely warmed and a trifle browned. It is a very good meal.

The other recipe is a form of spaghetti carbonera.

As in the first recipe, chop and fry out as much bacon as you want. Drain it and pour out most of the grease. Put on as much spaghetti as your family will eat.


While it is cooking, chop and sweat out a medium onion in the bacon grease. In another bowl, crack 4 eggs, put in 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese. When spaghetti is cooked, drain, put back into pan it was cooked in. Add the bacon, onions and the eggs/cheese mixture, swirl around in the hot spaghetti (over a low flame) until the eggs are cooked.


Another recipe, based on bacon, would be to fry the bacon and remove most of the grease, put in as much flour, and cook the flour. Add milk, and stir. This is a bacon gravy you can use on potatoes or rice, etc. It is very tasty.


If you try the baked potato idea, I suggest you dice and grill a few 1/4 inch slices of Canadian bacon or ham, in a grease less Teflon skillet. Split the baked potato, cover with (low fat) cottage cheese, diced meat, chopped spring onions, and diced tomatoes. It makes a wonderful meal. Filling and lasting and with no butter on it, very low fat. This is food I grew up on and am almost 60, so you know they are a tad old fashioned, but they do the job of filling tummies. Good Luck, Jackie (03/07/2005)

By jaxi3

Cheap Meals

My family likes Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken. This is pretty fast, easy and cheap, and if you want you can have salad on the side. Lipton Noodles has a package mix of Fettuccine Alfredo, it takes approx. 10 mins. to make & costs about $1.50 maybe. You can bake or cook chicken on the stove top and cut it up and add to the Fettuccine. Let me tell you, this Fettuccine can rival any Italian restaurant for only pennies. For a family of four I'd buy 2 pkgs of the mix but it's still cheap. Enjoy! (03/11/2005)

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By Peg from Tex

Cheap Meals

As long as you have a lot of dried spices at home this recipe is very inexpensive.

Greek Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb. - Lean Ground Turkey or Ground Turkey Breast
  • 1 c. - Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1 tsp. - Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. - Dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp. - Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp. - Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. - Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp.- Garlic Powder
  • Ground Pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients and form into patties. Grill and enjoy! (06/03/2005)

    By Chelebugg

    Pinto Beans

    Delicious Meal for under $2.00:


    Soak a bag of pinto beans, rinse well, put into a crock pot with a few pieces of ham, a can of tomato sauce, spices, and pepper. Cook on low all day. Add salt after they have cooked. These beans are delicious and very cheap. You can freeze whatever is left over or make burritos for convenience meals or lunches.

    -Cathy Ann (11/07/2005)

    By ThriftyFun

    Quick and Cheap Spaghetti

    My former college roommate's mother owned a restaurant in ski-country in Gunnison, CO. Cold and hungry skiers gobbled up her spaghetti. Very simple and sounds unappetizing. Cook spaghetti noodles, pour tomato or tomato-vegetable juice over it. Season to taste (Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese).

    By susan_a362 (11/07/2005)

    By ThriftyFun

    Cheap Meals

    I made this dish once for a cooking contest at work and won first place. Hopefully you will enjoy.

    Take hamburger and fry with lots of garlic (fresh or powder will work). Spread this out in the bottom of a cake pan. Then take mashed potatoes (can even be leftovers) and mix with one packet of onion soup mix (the dry stuff). Spread the potatoes over the hamburger and top with cheese. Then just bake in the oven until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated all the way. (11/07/2005)

    By dpcw

    Cheap Meals

    I just made this last night and it was yummy. Just put a little water in the bottom of your crock pot (just to cover the surface) and put as many boneless chicken breasts as you can fit in easily. Cover with a jar of salsa and let it cook until the chicken is tender. I add just a little cream or sour cream to the salsa to cut the tartness. Serve with rice and a veggie.

    I make two dry cups of rice with four cups of water and 1 tsp of salt at a time, so I have extra rice all week long to make pilafs or add to dishes like the above. If I were you, I'd use my crock pot everyday so you don't have to mess up your kitchen and stove during the move. When you're really tired, dinner will be done and waiting for you on the counter. Good luck to you, Gloria! (11/07/2005)

    Cheap Meals

    My Mother-in-law called this "Moving Day casserole":

    Whatever size dish you want to use, layer these in this order: sliced carrots, sliced potatoes, sliced onions, uncooked hamburger meat, and top with tomato sauce. Also as you layer, put salt and pepper. Cook low all day or 350 for about an hour. Adjust according to the size of your dish. So good! (11/07/2005)

    By Cyndi

    Cheap Meals

    You can get a lot of great frugal ideas by joining some of the frugal moms groups on yahoo groups. I am on two of them, I write a report on one. Awesome way to find out about frugal cooking, once a month cooking, and you will make a ton of new friends.


    One of my favorite recipes is to take whatever meat you like, (I have used chicken, beef, & pork) and put in a crock pot, add a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and half a jar of apple butter. Cook on high for 6 hours and shred for sandwiches. (11/08/2005)

    By christi

    Cheap Meals

    Boil 3 or 4 potatoes whole in jackets the night before you plan to make this dish. Or use leftover baked. Cut up 1 onion into slivers, 1 green pepper &/or any other pepper you like. Fry onions & peppers in a little oil. Add 1 lb rope sausage, or kielbasa (Hillshire Farms) sliced into 1/2" rounds, fry til brown. Slice unpeeled/peeled (whatever you prefer) potatoes into rounds, or quartered chunks, add to skillet, heat til warmed through, & viola, it's done!
    (11/08/2005)

    By lInda

    Cheap Meals

    For a quick soup, take a large family size can of chicken noodle soup and mix with a regular sized can of mixed veggies juice and all. Add a little pepper stir, heat, and eat. Goes great with bread and butter, and a salad. Even kid approved in this house:) (11/08/2005)

    By mom2_7

    Cheap Meals

    This meal costs about 2.50 and up, depending on how far you want to go with it.

    This is what you need:

  • 1 box of elbow macaroni
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of peas (depending on how big your family is just double if you have to)

    Boil the macaroni till 3/4 done, dump 1/2 the water out, then dump in peas juice and all, then add tomato sauce. Let sit 10 mins or so, then get the soup ladle and put into bowls. Sprinkle with tons of cheese :) The sauce is so nice and pasta sucks it right up. It's even better with ground turkey, beef, or even sausage. (11/08/2005)

    By melissa

    Cheap Meals

    In skillet, brown onion and green peppers. Cut Hillshire Farms (horseshoe shaped) sausage into 1" pieces and add. Add a small jar of spaghetti sauce (I use Ragu or Prego). Season with salt & pepper (I sprinkle some sugar to take away some of the tartness of spaghetti sauce). Serve with rice. Very quick and yummy! (11/11/2005)

    By shan

    Cheap Meals

    Here is a cheap recipe for Bean Soup:

    Boil soup bone for 20 min and skim thoroughly.
    Add 1/2 pound navy beans and cook slowly for 2 hours. Then add desired meat and cook for 1/2 an hour, add diced carrots and celery, and cook for another 1/2 hour. Season to taste.

    My Mother always served bean soup with pumpernickel bread.Very good!
    (11/16/2005)

    By Heidi

    Cheap Meals

    Here is my cheapest recipe.

    -1 bag of extra large egg noodles (boiled al dente)
    -Head of cabbage (softened in microwave, tossed with butter)
    -Mix both together and sprinkle with any seasonings, I use Nature Seasonings.
    Serve with seasoned toasted bread. Quick-Easy-Cheap, and very tasty!
    (11/29/2005)

    By leaningpalm

    Cheap Meals

    I have one that's really good:

  • Cut up cooked chicken breast seasoned with garlic
  • 1 box chicken flavored rice prepared
  • 2 cans any veggie you want
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Take cooked rice, chicken, and mix, add veggies and cream of chicken soup with just 1/2 can milk added. Top with cheese and bake at 350 til cheese melts (01/03/2006)

    By michelle

    Cheap Meals

    Here's one of our favorite meals and I imagine it's pretty cheap to make, like the name implies:

    EL CHEAPO

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 can of pork and beans, drained

    Brown ground chuck with onion; drain. Add spices, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, Tabasco and then beans. Mix well and place in a 2 qt casserole dish. Bake 25 mins at 325 degrees or until hot & bubbly.

    Note: We eat this as a main dish but you could certainly have as a side dish.
    (03/12/2006)

    By Debbie52

    Cheap Meals

    I'm a mom of two under the age of two, so quick and easy is BIG in our house. I was just winging it when I did this so I am not sure what the measurements were. But it was cheap and a big hit in my house:

    1 can of chicken, Chicken gravy (I use the quick stove top), and rice.

    Fry the chicken up with onion until heated. Make the gravy and add chicken to it. Put on a simmer. While that simmers make up as much rice as your family needs. When rice is done serve the chicken gravy mix on top. Easy, cheap, and very yummy. Enjoy! (03/21/2006)

    By Missy

    Cheap Meals

    Homemade Pizza never fails, and my one year old loves it!

    Get generic frozen bread dough, rise according to instructions, roll it out and let set while you get toppings. I buy bulk Mozzarella (or whatever cheese) and shred my own.

    Use one 5 oz can tomato sauce (about 50 cents) and put whatever topping you want. I use Canadian bacon, healthier than pepperoni and under 2 dollars. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

    Crust may be thick and chewy, but it is very hearty and cheaper than take out. Kids have fun with it too. I kept track, and with a 5 count loaf (bags have 3-5 frozen loaves) I averaged 2.50 per pizza. Just remember to set the dough out the night before. (03/22/2006)

    By camo_angels

    Cheap Meals

    **CHEAP & EASY**

    1) Generic brand smoked sausage

    2) Sliced bell peppers (can include red, yellow and or orange for color).

    4) Roux Mix (Tony Chachere's)

    5) Rice

    Cook sausage with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. When sausage is just about done, pour in water (not too much, but enough to create gravy), add vegetables and cover. Cook till veggies and sausage are done. Remove from stove, and drain liquid to cool (just enough to keep the roux powder from clumping). Mix in roux mix to your desire and add back to the skillet. Over med-low heat cover skillet and simmer for 10 minutes. While this is simmering, cook rice (white or any you desire). Serve over rice & enjoy! (04/24/2006)

    By Yolanda

    Cheap Meals

    Roux Mix (Tony Chachere's). What is this?

    Thanks, Patti (04/25/2006)

    By valbush

    Cheap Meals

    Roux Mix (Tony Chachere's) is a Cajun spice that can be found in the spice aisle. Here is their website:
    http://www.tonychachere.com/ (04/25/2006)

    By ThriftyFun

    Cheap Meals

    A great, tasty special breakfast or dessert idea is monkey bread. If you shop at ALDI, it's even cheaper than the grocery store.

    1)Take 4 cans of regular-size buttermilk biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters.

    2)Make a cinnamon-sugar mixture (1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon) and roll biscuit pieces in mixture.

    3)Drop pieces into a greased bunt pan

    4)Pour a brown sugar syrup over top (stick of margarine melted in microwave and 1 cup brown sugar stirred in), and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

    Pull apart with fingers or fork and eat while still warm. Put a lean salad with this and it could be lunch or supper. (05/04/2006)

    By Beth

    Cheap Meals

    Hi. I'm not in USA but always hunting for thrifty tips. One thing I've noticed is you guys don't seem to eat much Indian (as in from India) food, is this right? Here in UK it's a staple, and it can be so cheap and so delicious. Here's my top tip, but I can't help you with where to find the ingredients :) Oh, and apologies if I'm completely wrong and Americans eat curry as much as we do - what do I know. We have lived off this dish, it's very easy and very cheap. Oh, and very healthy too.

    Spinach dhal:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • red lentils - about 3 handfuls
  • spinach - I use frozen, but fresh is just as good - just don't add it til the end.
  • Patak's balti paste, or any ready curry paste, or a mix of: cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, salt, chili, ginger
  • Fry the onion til soft, add the curry paste or spices and stir in for about a minute. Add the lentils and stir again. Add the tomatoes & one can (rinse the tom. tin) of water. Cover and simmer for about 30 mins. Add the spinach about halfway through. Add more water if need be, but try not to stir too much or the lentils will go mushy. Serve with rice. Mmmm.

    Editor's Note: It's true, not as many Indian dishes served in homes here except probably in Vancouver, BC and a few cities where there is a large Indian population. (07/10/2006)

    By UK lurker

    Cheap Meals

    Hi, I have a great, tasty and relatively inexpensive dish that everyone seems to love. It's called Shane's Surprise after my older brother.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey (I prefer the turkey since I don't eat beef).
  • 1 package hot dogs, sliced. I use Oscar Meyers or Ball Parks but if you're on a really tight budget, any brand will do.
  • 1 large can Pork N Beans (any brand).
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, if desired.
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Sprinkle meat and onion with seasoned salt, brown meat halfway and add hot dogs. Pour meat, hot dogs and onion into a large pot. Add the pork and beans and heat until bubbly. We like to put cheese on top. You basically can't mess this dish up. (07/18/2006)

    By Love2Cook

    Cheap Meals

    Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas:

  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, cut into strips
  • 1 pkg boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 pkg tortillas (a pack of 20 will make 10 quesadillas)
  • 1 block monterey cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter or preferred substitute
  • 2 tbsp minced or torn cilantro

    Sweat onions in butter over medium heat, once the butter is absorbed and the onion strips are soft, add the chicken strips, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, cover and reduce to low heat.

    Allow this to cook until chicken is cooked all the way through. Arrange tortillas on baking sheet, shred cheese, add a layer of cheese to each tortilla, spoon chicken mixture on top of the cheese, add another layer of cheese and another tortilla. Add cilantro to taste.

    Bake quesadillas at 375 until they become crispy and begin to brown, chicken mixture and cheese will also bubble out of the sides. Allow to cool for a moment before slicing, otherwise they'll fall apart. Serve with more cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, whatever you like. Mexican rice and or refried beans make good sides to this dish.

    If you don't like spicy food, substitute de seeded jalapeno peppers cut into slices for the chipotle, and add any sort of smoky sauce - bbq, chipotle marinade, etc - in place of the adobo. The most expensive item is the chicken, everything else is relatively cheap. (08/20/2006)

    Cheap Meals

    Taco Soup:

  • 3 lbs. of hamburger meat
  • 3 packages of taco seasoning
  • 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes and green chilis (or store brand)
  • 2 cans of corn (not cream style)
  • 2 cans of beans (pinto or ranch style, whatever your preference)
  • Other optional ingredients to make more soup: 2 cans of cut green beans or sliced potatoes

    Mix all the canned items, including juices in a large pot and add taco seasoning and 3 cans of water. Let simmer while you brown hamburger meat. Drain grease from meat and add it to the pot and let simmer covered for 30 minutes to an hour.

    Instead of eating it with a spoon, we like to scoop it up with tortilla chips. It is really good.
    It costs about $15.00 to make, but my family eats it for 3-4 days so it turns out to be less than $5.00 a day.
    (09/13/2006)

    By Kris in Texas

    Cheap Meals

    Delicious, cheap and EASY zesty soup recipe that uses only 6 canned ingredients! Serve over tortilla chips, and top with shredded Cheddar cheese. Throw away the cans and no one will know that it is not from scratch!

    Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained
  • Directions:

    Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, soup, chunk chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through.
    (11/03/2006)

    By Trina

    Pizza Casserole

    This is so simple, cheap and filling. This is such a filling dinner that a 13 x 9 pan, gave our family of 4, three nights of dinner plus my husband taking it in his lunch.

  • 3 boxes generic Mac-n-cheese (prepared as directed)
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (use the smaller size jar)
  • 1/2 lb. sliced pepperoni
  • 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • While mac-n-cheese is still in pan (already prepared as directed) pour in the jar of spaghetti sauce and mix thoroughly. When you make 3 boxes at one time, the water does get a bit white and starchy, but it won't affect the outcome.

    In a 9 x 13 pan, pour in 1/2 of the mac-n-cheese & sauce mixture and spread to cover bottom of pan. Top that with a single layer of pepperoni, and sprinkle 1/2 of mozzarella cheese on. Then spread the other half of the mac-n-cheese mixture carefully over the bottom layer. Again layer pepperoni and cheese.

    Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve this with dinner rolls or garlic bread for a really great meal. It will feed a lot so it's great for a family gathering or group. It's amazing and tasted just like pizza, so kids will love it as well! (11/30/2006)

    By Lisa

    Cheap Meals

    Swedish Meatballs:

  • 1 package (1 pound) frozen meatballs
  • 2 cans (10.5 oz) beef gravy
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Heat meatballs as directed on package in separate pan
    Add gravy and cook just until heated, stir in sour cream and pour over meatballs.
    We serve ours over cooked noodles.
    (02/06/2007)

    By imaqt1962

    Cheap Meals

    Great ideas...thanks everyone! I have a quick, cheap recipe to share.

    Beef and Rice Casserole:

    Put 2 cups instant rice (uncooked) in a 9X13 casserole dish. Pour 1 can French onion soup and 1 can beef broth on top. Place a stick of butter or margarine on top and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. While that bakes, brown 1 lb. ground beef. Mix ground beef in with rice mixture and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes or so. This is really yummy served with broccoli and cheese. (03/16/2007)

    By Christi

    Cheap Meals

    Japanese Cabbage:

    Brown one pound of bacon in a Dutch oven. Remove bacon. Chop one head of cabbage. Cook the cabbage in the drippings. We like the cabbage translucent. Place eight packages of ramen noodles-pork or beef- in a large bowl of hot tap water for about three minutes. Drain. Add one third to one half a bottle of Kikkoman Stir Fry sauce. Sprinkle in seasoning packs from the noodles. Stir completely. Break bacon into one inch pieces and place in bowl for people to sprinkle on their noodles. Very Good! Serves eight with leftovers. (05/11/2007)

    By Lori, mother of seven

    Cheap Meals

    After my year in college I totally know what you mean by "lean times". Here are a few things that got me through my first year without suffering from starvation!

    Chili - just brown little hamburger, use a dash (or more if you prefer it sweet!) of brown sugar, a couple cans of beans and let it simmer in the crock pot. You can actually buy the cans of beans pretty cheap but check prices and you might be better off to soak your own - it just depends. Either way add your mild/hot or whatever chili powder and you're good to go. You can cook for one or the whole football team!

    Also, rice is so cheap and very filling. Try chicken and rice soup. Use some chicken and or mushroom soup, add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onion (as the budget allows). Prep rice in oven - stir soups together on stove top, adding at least a cup of chicken broth (or in a pinch water with your bullion cube). Saute whatever veggies, add to soup mixtures, stir in rice and your chicken. It's cheap and healthy.

    Oh and don't forget that a few cups of flour will get you homemade noodles. Just take a small chunk of roast or chicken and have a nice meal of plump, delicious noodles or dumplings. (07/17/2007)

    By Cj

    Cheap Meals

    I have several suggestions. One is Salmon & Eggs. Take a can of salmon, drain, and pour in a bowl. Mix in one egg for each family member and scramble well. Heat a little oil in a skillet, and cook mixture til dry. Season with salt & pepper, lemon pepper, or whatever your taste. I like to eat this with white bread.

    Stroganoff:

    Brown a pound of ground beef with some chopped onion to taste. Add a drained can of mushrooms and some chopped garlic, or garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle about 2 T flour over and brown for a couple of minutes. Mixture will be thick. Add one can of cream of chicken soup. Heat for about 5 minutes til thickened. Add 8 oz. of sour cream. Stir, and heat just til warmed through. Serve over cooked and drained egg noodles. Garnish with extra sour cream. I like to eat cooked spinach or sweet peas with this.

    Pizza Rolls:

    Take about a pound of ground beef, browned and drained, and pour a jar of pizza quick sauce in it. Simmer till thickened. Take a pack of 16-count mini-French rolls. Press your thumb into the middle of the roll to hollow or pinch out the middles taking care not to tear the bottom of the roll. Scoop a portion of meat into rolls. Top with cheese. I use mozzarella, but cheddar or American would be good. Follow instructions on roll package to brown rolls. Watch because they tend to burn quickly. These are delicious!

    Corned Beef & Cabbage:

    Cut a cabbage up into eighths and separate leaves into a large pot. Add about half a cup of water. Simmer. When cabbage has reduced a little, add a can of corned beef. Use a fork to break it up. Continue to simmer til cabbage is desired tenderness. Season with salt & pepper, and add a little onion if you like. Serve with cornbread.

    Macaroni-Tomato Soup:

  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can of water
  • 3-4 slices bacon, uncooked, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped or 1 T. dry chopped onion
  • 1 cup macaroni noodles
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Mix all ingredients. Simmer til onions and noodles are tender. May need to add water to cut down on tartness from tomatoes. Serve with cornbread. Yummy!

    Hope this gives y'all some ideas. God bless. (07/23/2007)

    By praise_dancer

    Cheap Meals

    Pizza Burgers.
    This recipe is cheap, quick, easy, and kids love it:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 pkg shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 pkg hamburger buns
  • Brown onion in a little oil. Add ground beef and cook until done; drain well. Stir in pizza sauce. Separate hamburger buns and lay halves on baking sheet. Divide hamburger mixture over bun halves. Top each bun with shredded cheese then sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. Makes 16 pieces. Serves 8. (08/27/2007)

    By Silentnyt

    Cheap Meals

    This may sound odd, but when I was in college I had to get very creative with a microwave and a very small budget.

    Make instant rice (I made a fourth to half cup for just me) set aside. In another bowl heat salmon and 1 tsp soy sauce (I used the salmon packet by the tuna cans in the store, but you could probably use salmon in a can too). Add a can of green beans and heat again 1 minute. Combine all ingredients then add more soy sauce to taste. (09/05/2007)

    By Sarah

    Cheap Meals

    Awesome cheap meal I made. Was a smash hit and no one could get enough, plus it's versatile.
    First, the shopping list:

  • 1 bag frozen chicken drumsticks with skin
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 bundle of cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 8oz tub of sour cream
  • 1 pack tortilla
  • 1 bag shredded cheese
  • Or another variation uses rice. Then you need the spices, they may not be so cheap but you'll find cooking cheap is much more enjoyable if you first invest in good spices.

    I used red, black, and white pepper.

    Chile powder

    Cheap hot sauce

    1 fajita seasoning packet

    Oregano
    *you can spice it however you like

    Now what you do; in a large pot pour in chicken and vegetable stock and as much seasoning as you would like. Spice it up pretty well because this is what's going to flavor your chicken. Chop up a couple cloves of garlic to very small pieces and some of the cilantro, put that in the pot with all your spices. Let it come to a boil and then take the frozen chicken and put it in the pot, lower the heat to medium and cover.

    This may take a while but it's well worth it, it will take probably an hour or maybe longer (when I cooked it it was on one of those burners you plug in so it took me longer because it doesn't generate enough heat). You'll just have to check it to see, when the meat starts falling off the bone, it's time to pull the bones and skin as well as gristle out of the pot. The way I did it was just pull the whole drumstick out, pull the skin off and then the meat, after you do that put the meat back into the pot (it should be somewhat like shredded chicken just falling apart). Let it simmer for 10 more minutes to get more flavor. After that, remove the chicken, place it on paper towel to drain off excess liquid. You can make burritos, or quesadillas, or cook the rice & leave the chicken in the pot and you have an awesome stew. This dish is so good and you can eat it so many different ways that you won't get tired of eating leftovers so fast. For such a cheap meal it was the best idea I have ever had.

    All in all you spend roughly 12 dollars and it made 4 meals for 2 people. So that's roughly 1.50 per meal/per person and trust me, it won't taste like a 1.50 meal. I've even made this for guests at dinner parties and they were highly impressed (09/17/2007)

    By ashley.

    Cheap Meals

    HASH BROWN CASSEROLE:

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8 oz.) container sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. Kraft Cracker Barrel sharp cheese
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 (2 lb.) bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup potato chips or corn flakes
  • Stir together well the diced onion, sour cream or yogurt, grated cheese, thinly sliced butter, and Cream of Chicken soup. Add the hash browns and mix well. Spread this mixture evenly in a casserole dish and top with crushed chips or corn flakes.

    Bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

    I think these are called Beetle Caps, my friend years ago made them & they were so good.

    Take a slice of bologna & brown in a skillet.
    Make some instant mashed potatoes, set aside to let set so they are on the stiff side.
    Have some mild pimento cheese spread on hand.
    Next, add a scoop of instant potatoes to your bologna. Then some pimento cheese, and top with a slice of American cheese. All will melt together and it's so tasty & filling.

    (10/19/2007)

    By theseamstress

    Cheap Meals

    Cheap Sausage meal:

  • 1 pkg. kielbasa or sausage link
  • 1 big can or 2 small cans of green beans with potatoes
  • Couple pats of butter/margarine
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Cut kielbasa/sausage into round slices. Drain the cans of vegetables. Mix cans and sausage slices and place in a casserole dish. Place pats of butter on top and season. Bake at 350 till heated through. (11/19/2007)

    By Tasha

    Cheap Meals

    Tater Tot Casserole:

  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 16 oz bag of tater tots
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken)
  • 1 soup can of milk or water
  • Preheat oven to 450 (or as directed on tater tots package). Place tater tots in a metal 13x9 inch baking pan (glass works too, but doesn't crisp up tater tots as well). Start them cooking while you brown hamburger. Drain hamburger. Pull tater tots out of oven and reset temp to 350. Sprinkle hamburger over tater tots. Mix soup and water or milk in small bowl. Pour over tater tots and hamburger. Bake 25 minutes. Kids love it. (12/09/2007)

    By Jenn in Montana

    Cheap Meals

    Potato Pancakes:

    Peel 4 or 5 potatoes, cut up and put in blender or grate by hand. Add 1 egg, salt and pepper to taste and enough flour to thicken to a good pancake batter. Add chopped onion if desired. Cook on well buttered hot pan, turning over once, when golden brown on bottom. Good for breakfast, dinner, or as a side dish with dinner. Top with plenty of butter. (01/09/2008)

    By Tom - Buffalo NY

    Cheap Meals

    This site is awesome! And here is a recipe for anyone who wants to try something:

  • 1 Kielbasa sausage/polish sausage
  • 1 box Pierogies
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Begin by boiling a pot of water for Pierogies, frying your sausage during this period. When water boils, add box of Pierogies, and boil them until they are soft, or float. After this, take 1 Tbsp butter and add to a pan, and fry pirogies on each side, until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. There ya go, some sausage and Pierogies, so good! Costs like 7 dollars. (02/18/2008)

    By Mike

    Cheap Meals

    Thank you for the Tater Tot Casserole recipe! It was a childhood favorite and no one I know can remember the recipe!
    Here are some of my own ideas:

    First, cheap, balanced meals that you might not have considered.
    Soup and grilled cheese, Banquet Crock Pot Meals (only 5 or 6 dollars, with meat included, feeds a family of 4).
    Eat breakfast for dinner (pancakes, eggs, hash browns, all very cheap). Spaghetti, and my favorite...
    Macaroni and Cheese Casserole:

    Make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as directed.
    Add 1 can of tuna and 1 can of mushroom soup.
    This stuff is delicious, works well for lunch, and I eat it hot or cold. I love it, and a few friends I know that have recently tried, like it too. (03/07/2008)

    By mandilu202

    Cheap Meals

    One of my favorite things my mom made us as kids was "pea patch chicken". Take as many chicken pieces as you need (usually she would make 6 pieces, and whatever we had on hand, legs, thighs, boneless skinless breasts, etc) and brown them in a large skillet with some oil, salt and pepper. Once the chicken is well browned, and over half way done, add 1 family size can of cream of mushroom soup and a 16 oz bag of frozen peas. Then cover and simmer on medium until the chicken is completely cooked. Serve over hot rice.

    Another thing she would make that us kids love is hamburger gravy...you brown hamburger and either add brown gravy or a family size can of cream of mushroom soup and serve it over hot rice. Sometimes I add sliced up mushrooms and onions and saute them with the hamburger and stir in some sour cream at the end. You can serve that over hot pasta or rice.

    And lastly, my favorite things to make when we are broke or in a hurry is a box of pasta roni or rice a roni and add some cooked meat to it and/or some "matching" veggies. For example, to the broccoli and cheddar rice a roni, I add chopped cooked chicken, a bag of frozen cooked broccoli and sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top. For the shells and cheddar pasta roni, I would mix it with some cooked broccoli and diced ham. With the Mexican rice a roni, add a can of kidney beans, a bag of frozen corn and some taco meat, and top it with salsa and sour cream. You can even serve it with tortilla chips or as a burrito filling. And to the red beans and rice, I'll add some browned sausage, bell pepper, and some Tabasco. All of those boxed sides, I just use as a base and create a real meal and it really stretches to make a few meals. I will cook 2 boxes at a time and it feeds my husband & I for dinner and lunch the next day (and he's a big eater), sometimes even another lunch for me the following day. (04/05/2008)

    By Mel

    Cheap Meals

    Fried rice is very easy. Take some chicken or pork and cook it in a non stick frying pan. Then put in some chopped garlic and onion. For health reasons put in some chopped collard greens (they are cheap and healthy). Add some mushrooms, broccoli, some soy sauce and a little bit of fish sauce. Make sure it all stays moist. If needed you can put in a bit of oil in the beginning. Lastly add about four servings of rice. This will be great left over as well. You can also add a couple of eggs for protein. if you do not have meat, it still tastes great! (04/12/2008)

    By nicholas

    Cheap Meals

    Lots of great ideas to use! I can't wait to try some of them! Thanks! (04/21/2008)

    By Jenn-a-Lou

    Cheap Meals

    Thanks everyone for all the ideas. My mom used to make this and my family loves it now. Plus its really simple and quick.

  • 1 package breakfast sausage links (regular, not the sweet ones)
  • Penne noodles
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • salt pepper
  • basil
  • Cook sausages in frying pan, cook and drain noodles then mix everything together. I save money on seasonings by buying them bulk at Winco. Health/natural food stores usually have bulk seasonings also. Then I can just buy what I will use and not pay $4 (or more) for an ounce (05/02/2008)

    By heather.

    Cheap Meals

    Now, since you've seen umpteen dozen entrees, and they all sound scrumptious, here's something cheap and sweet. I know you guys are gonna think I'm nuts, well, I am, but that's beside the point. The best way to make this is with sweet cornbread, but some don't like it sweet. If you aren't making cornbread from scratch, the best in my books are those little boxes of jiffy. They are usually about 3 for $1 at the dollar store, make up two or three of them, so the cornbread will be kind of thick.

    When it's done cooking, cut a big square out, slice it open, slap some butter in there, and pour pancake syrup on it! I know, everybody is going ew! I did too the first time around. But we were poor, broke and I had a sweet tooth that was on the verge of sending me out to steal a candy bar or something, not really, but it was bad. My friend fixed this and I thought she'd lost her mind. She finally convinced me to try it and I've been a fan ever since, and so will you if you'll only give it a try. I guarantee it tastes better than you'll think. That's a poor man's dessert right there!
    (05/13/2008)

    By CindyM56

    Cheap Meals

    Here's one to try- kind of like goulash:

  • elbow macaroni
  • browned ground hamburger
  • can of diced tomatoes
  • any kind of cheese (cubed mozzarella works well)
  • corn if you want
  • Mix all the ingredients and serve warm or cold.

    Another idea:

  • grilled/baked chicken cubed
  • can of mandarin oranges
  • box of wild rice w/seasoning mix
  • Cook rice and chicken and mix them all together with the oranges.
    Also good warm or cold:)

    Spaghetti cooked served cold with ranch dressing. When in season, avocados sliced with sliced tomatoes on bread (as a sandwich). (05/14/2008)

    By Kari

    Cheap Meals

    I learned how to make this when I was a child in Brownies (Girl Scouts) and we called it Brownie Stew, not because it has brownies in it. Cook chopped hamburger meat, or turkey, drain. Add to vegetable soup or minestrone. That's it. Delicious with garlic bread! (05/20/2008)

    By Nicole

    Cheap Meals

    Wow! These are some great ideas! I learned some great ideas for cheap meals when I was a nanny for a family with four boys. I'm sure you all know how much growing boys can eat, so it was essential to have cheap meal ideas to keep them fed without "losing the farm"! Here's my favorite. It sounds a bit odd, but it sure tastes great!

  • 1 lb hamburger or ground turkey
  • 1 lb wide egg noodles, cooked al dente and drained
  • Ketchup
  • Seasoned salt
  • Cook the hamburger or ground turkey until no longer pink, crumbling up as it cooks. Drain off fat. Mix in cooked noodles, enough ketchup to make it all moist, and seasoned salt to taste. Serve with veggies or some salad and you've got a cheap, quick meal that everyone will love! (06/17/2008)

    By Keri

    Cheap Meals

    Here's another idea for a cheap meal I came up with one night when there was more month than paycheck at the end of the month!

    Enchilada Sauce Soup:

  • 1 lb hamburger or ground turkey, browned and drained
  • 1 large can red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 lb frozen mixed veggies
  • 1/2 lb tri-color rotini pasta
  • seasoning packet from beef ramen soup (save noodles for another use)
  • Combine all ingredients in a pot. Add 1 enchilada sauce can of water. Cook until veggies are tender and pasta is cooked to your liking. This recipe is also really good when made with leftover taco meat or shredded chicken.
    (06/17/2008)

    By Keri

    Cheap Meals

    Oooh, I have one for pasta & crab or shrimp and it's super fast & simple, plus it's inexpensive!

    Boil angel hair pasta, drain, toss with olive oil, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Mix in crab meat or shrimp.
    That's it. Serve w/ toasted garlic bread and a tossed salad. (06/23/2008)

    By JC

    Cheap Meals

    Try this one. When I was younger my dad made this for us 5 kids and we loved it. 1lb of hamburger, fry until fully cooked, mix with a family size of pork n beans. Bread is really good with this if you have it. I have 8 children and this one meal they love, and if made on Thursday will become Sunday's meal. (07/09/2008)

    By Jennifer

    Cheap Meals

    Here are some that we LOVE!

    POTATO SOUP

  • 1 white potato per person
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can evaporated milk (2 if more than 6 potatoes)
  • half stick of butter
  • water
  • salt and pepper

    Peel and cube one potato per person and place in a large soup pot, salt and pepper to taste, just cover with water--not too much--just cover the potatoes up --boil until tender. Reduce heat--do not drain! Add half a stick of butter, let melt. Place back on heat--medium. Add evaporated milk--cook until it JUST starts to boil--don't let it boil hard..

    You can sprinkle with cheese, bacon, green onion if you want--this, however, is very good just as it is...serve with crackers...and a half a sandwich. This is a thin soup, but if you want it thicker--put 1T cornstarch in .5 cup water--dissolve, then add to final mixture, stirring until thickens.

    CHILI BEANS:

  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans red kidney beans
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • green pepper if you can find them cheap, chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato paste
  • 1-2 T chili powder
  • 1 T. Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. Worcestershire
  • 1 t. Tabasco
  • 1 t. garlic
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Mix all and simmer. Very healthy and high fiber meal. Adjust the seasoning to what is in the pantry--you don't want to break the bank for spices--all you REALLY have to put in it is chili powder.

    PANCAKES:

    Use a mix, or try this homemade recipe--serve with canned fruit and a breakfast meat if its in the menu--make them nice and you won't realize you're eating cheap. Make them really nice by heating a cheap bottle of syrup a bit in the microwave. Add a T of chopped pecans on top--just a tiny bit. Sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top. Serve with a small handful of blueberries or a couple of fresh strawberries--you can make those go a long way and give the feeling that you're eating a grand meal.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • butter (for greasing griddle)
  • This will feed a bunch for cheap, cheap, cheap

    OATMEAL:

  • 3 c. skim milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (extra for sprinkling on top in bowl)
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 1.5 cup old-fashioned oat meal
  • 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • Place all ingredients in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and get comfy--to make this really good, you will need to stir non-stop for a good while-about 10 minutes--this is REALLY worth it, though--this is delicious oatmeal--you won't believe how good it really is...don't let it stick--reduce heat as needed--turn burner off, but leave pot on the burner--continue stirring until it cools enough that you are sure it won't burn now--cover and let sit about 15 minutes.

    Serve with a little more brown sugar on top--maybe a few slices of banana--maybe a couple of pecans. Serve with a can of fruit--to add protein--boil one egg per person. GRITS are CHEAP and filling--serve with eggs and a breakfast meat, and fruit. (07/16/2008)

    By Laurie

    Cheap Meals

    Thank you to all of you that have contributed to this site. I've raised 7 kids (4 of them step kids) and cheap meals is a way of life for me. I now teach nutrition to young moms on a fixed income. I will be sharing these recipes with them. Thanks for your input. (07/18/2008)

    By sugarplumbabe

    Cheap Meals

    Here's one my dad used to make us when I was a kid. Buy the cheapest mac n cheese, and make as directed. Hot dogs, and a can of corn. After you make the mac n cheese, mix together cut up hot dogs, and the corn.
    (08/06/2008)

    By Jessica

    Cheap Meals

    Breakfast Tacos for Supper:

    Heat up soft tortillas in the microwave. Cook up scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, churizo, whatever sounds good.
    You can add salsa or leave them plain. Yummy!

    Another cheap meal, bean burritos. (08/15/2008)

    By Nicole

    Cheap Meals

    Less than 3 bucks. Feeds 5-6 people. 1 can baked beans, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 box macaroni style pasta.
    Cook pasta according to package. Drain and add beans and brown sugar, heat until warm. Serve with cornbread. (08/27/2008)

    By Jodi K

    Cheap Meals

    I love this site! My boyfriend and I are having to really cut down on our food spending. His specialty is the tater tot casserole.

    My sister makes a chili in the winter that has the family crazy! They think it's completely homemade, but it's not. I'm not sure how much of each of these but, here are the ingredients... Chili Starter, Mexi corn, Corn, Ground beef or turkey and some spaghetti noodles. I personally love to add sour cream, Frito corn chips, and shredded cheese to finished chili. Sounds gross but so awesome! Fed 3 of us girls and still is! Thanks to everybody on here!

    P.S. Other cheap meals are Fried Rabbit with Rabbit gravy and Fried Squirrel with Squirrel gravy. Fried breaded deer meat. Deer Stew. Polk Salad with scrambled eggs in it. Of course, I had to eat this when I grew up in the sticks. Its not that bad when you keep telling yourself, "This is chicken, this is chicken". Today, I live in the city and I like to preserve wildlife. (08/27/2008)

    By Kimberly

    Cheap Meals

    I am living on a tight budget myself, so being able to eat cheap is important.

    Wraps. Go buy a package of burritos, (you can buy 20 for around 1.50 here) and chop up sliced turkey, ham, or chicken until it's diced to your taste. Add a bag of shredded cheese, and you have a decent meal.
    Other meals..hash. Good for a cold night. If you have a crock pot, peel potatoes, carrots, a bit of onions, and roast, or hamburger meat, which ever you like. Let it sit for about 5 hours and you have a hearty meal. The leftovers taste as good as the stew itself for days afterward. (08/28/2008)


    By Caleigho

    Hawaiian sandwich

    Toast bread. After toasted, spread mayonnaise on bread. Put one slice of dole pineapple on toast and cover with American cheese. Then place in oven until cheese is melted and poofy. Serve with tater tots. So delicious and sweet. mmm (09/08/2008)

    By Bobby

    Cheap Meals

    Thanks for all of the great ideas! A lot of them remind me of when I was a kid. My mom came up with some really good cheap meals! That is what we are getting back too. I am just sitting here paying the bills and making out my grocery list. I'm glad I found this site. About once a week I make what we call Taco Casserole. It varies a bit depending on what I have. I am feeding a family of 5 so you can cut this in half for a smaller meal.

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef (browned) if you have it or else just skip the meat.
  • 1 package of dry taco seasoning
  • 2 31 oz. cans of refried beans
  • colby jack cheese shredded
  • tortilla chips (slightly crushed). You can save those crumbs from the bottom of the chip bags for this recipe.
  • Other optional ingredients: black olives, diced tomatoes, guacamole, green chilis, etc.
    If you have ground beef, brown it and add the package of taco seasoning with a bit of water.
    Spread one can of refried beans into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, if no hamburger then mix the taco seasoning into the refried beans first. Otherwise, spread seasoned hamburger on top of the beans and shred cheese on top of the hamburger. Then add the second can of refried beans on top of that. Shred more cheese and then add any of the optional ingredients. Then put lightly crushed tortilla chips over the top. Shred more cheese on that and cover with aluminum foil. Put in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. (09/11/2008)

    By Suzy

    Cheap Meals

    Simple treat! Cut flour tortillas in triangles and fry in canola oil, after they turn golden brown, lay on paper towel and cover with cinnamon and sugar, YUM YUM. (09/22/2008)

    By Angela

    Cheap Meals

    My husband lost his job and I have a family of 6 to feed. My advice is: replace chicken or beef broth with bullion and water, make ramen noodles with leftover (or canned) chicken and a can of corn. Make 1 or 2 meatless meals a week, lentils can taste great and are cheap. A great meal is homemade corn bread (trust me, it's easier then you think), a can of baked beans and a can (or frozen) of corn. My family's fave recipe is Rice with Bugs:

  • 4 bullion cubes
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1-2 cups of dried fruit (we like dried berries or cherries)
  • a shake or two of garlic and onion powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • Melt butter add rice, garlic and onion powder, parsley, dried fruit. Mix for a min or 2 then add water and bullion. Bring to boil, cover, bring heat down to a simmer and simmer for 20 min. Take off heat and let sit for 5 more min.
    (We call this "Rice with Bugs" because my friends 4 year old said that the fruit looked like bugs!)
    (09/26/2008)

    By Jodie

    Cheap Meals

    I love this site, thank you! Here is a real cheap meal.

  • 1 pound of ground meat, cooked
  • Large can of Ranch beans
  • Two cans of corn or one small bag of frozen corn
  • Mix together, float with oyster crackers. This is one of my kids favorites! (10/11/2008)

    By Donna A

    Cheap Meals

    Really great site! Here are some of the cheap meals I cook. I tend to cook a lot of chicken such as barbecued chicken in the oven, first pour a small amount of barbecue sauce in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with brown sugar then put skinless chicken thighs on top and add more barbecue sauce to cover top of chicken and sprinkle again with a little brown sugar and bake till done. You can also bake skinless chicken thighs with a can of cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup.

    I usually cook about six pieces of chicken per recipe and have vegetables, and a side dish and maybe cheap rolls that you can freeze the unused portions for another meal. A piece of sliced bread with butter is another option and you can also freeze bread so it doesn't go stale quickly. I also bake chicken thighs with the skin on with garlic powder and a little salt and black pepper and bake till done.

    Shepard's pie is another cheap meal. Just brown about a pound of ground meat with a carrot that's shredded. I use a peeler and shred it into the pan of ground meat season with pepper, garlic powder or whatever seasoning you may have. Cook till meat is done and carrot is soft and put in a casserole dish with about 2/4 cup of water and top with mashed potatoes. I usually use the boxed Idaho instant potatoes bake about 25-30 minutes.


    I sometimes bake a whole chicken with seasoning on top and stuff the cavity with celery and onion and will make soup out of the rest of the chicken. I usually pick the bones clean and put into a pressure cooker. You can use a large pot and add carrots, celery, onions salt and pepper and chicken stock from the box. Then add water, salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you may have and when the vegetables are cooked you can add some egg noodles.

    We usually have the soup for two meals. Baked potatoes are a good side dish, you can bake them in the oven or microwave just be sure to wash them off and poke a few holes in them with a fork. I also peel potatoes and cut them in round slices, put butter or spray a pan with non stick spray and add seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's) to the them and bake. I hope these recipes help with tight budgets, I know they have for me. God bless. (10/11/2008)

    By Holly

    Cheap Meals

    My brother made this- he called them "Prison Tacos"

    Ingredients:
  • Ramen noodles-Oriental flavor
  • Can of Tuna
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese-as much as you like
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Make the ramen noodles, but drain the water before you add the seasoning, then add a can of tuna (drained) and the cheddar cheese. Warm then fill the warmed flour tortillas with the noodle, tuna, cheese mixture. Sounds strange, but yum, yum! (10/22/2008)

    By JamieLan

    Cheap Meals

    I must say I am impressed with these interesting ideas from everyone. I printed off quite a few to try! My family of 3 took in my sister and her family of 4 so we are struggling to feed everyone so this will help out a lot in terms of saving money! Thanks! (10/26/2008)

    By Heather

    Cheap Meals

    One day I decided to take $10 and buy as much as I could to make 4 meals for 4 people. Here is a recipe I made up during this time that my husband loves and he doesn't even normally like lentils!

    Curried Lentil Stew:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • Pepper to taste
  • Red Chili flakes (optional, for extra spice)
  • In a large saucepan, dice onion and fry with a bit of oil until transluscent. Add 2 cups of water or broth and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 mins. Serve with homemade bread :)
    (10/27/2008)

    By freya1970

    Cheap Meals gourmet style

    We don't eat a lot of meat in our family, maybe 3 times a week and other proteins the rest of the week. To make my life easier with feeding 3 people I will buy a whole cooked chicken and use it for 2 meals. This is perfect for me because I don't enjoy cooking meat and it always comes out chewy. At safeway I buy one for 8.00 or at my local organic store it's 9.00. I prefer the organic as it is raised cage free and seems to have a better seasoning at the store I go to. I will usually use the breast the first night and make an Indian curry:

    Day 1
  • 2 chicken breast diced up
  • salt / pepper
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 potato
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 tbs. masala or curry or 2 tbs curry paste (whatever you use it will be fine)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • This feeds 4 people. Optional: naan bread can be used in next days meal as well.

    Day 2

  • Diced up chicken from previous night
  • left over naan
  • any kind of veggies you have (I like to use lettuce/tomato/jalapeno, but you can use anything that you want to not waste in your fridge)
  • sour cream or hummus
  • As a side dish I usually will boil 2 corns broken in half, and then sprinkle them with cumin and drizzle a lime on them.
    Feeds 4.

    If you want to be resourceful then on day 3 why not boil the bones and add some veggies and some type of noodle or rice and make a soup out of it? Serve with open faced grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.
    That's 3 easy meals using one bird. Saves cooking time, room for error and money. (11/03/2008)

    By learningtobecheap

    Cheap Meals

    Spicy Egg Noodles and Black Beans:

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 3 servings of blue dragon egg noodles
  • red pepper powder (use judgment)
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • The noodles cook in the microwave if placed in water for 2-3 min. Drain the water and then add the olive oil mix with the noodles. Then add the beans after rinsing and the tomato sauce. Put however much red pepper powder on that will fit your taste and mix evenly. Microwave for an additional 2-3 min and your done. Best of all, it's healthy and very cheap and should feed 3. (11/12/2008)

    By Jason

    Cheap Meals

    Here's a good one for cold weather and warm bellies.

    Chili Casserole:

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 sm. onion
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 3-4 medium potatoes cubed
  • Chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Brown the beef along with the onion. Drain. Put into a 9x11 pan. Add the beans and potatoes and stir together. Then pour the soup with a little bit of water over the rest, as well as the spices , and stir until everything is covered. Cover with foil and bake for about 1/2 hour, or until the potatoes are done. (11/17/2008)

    By Stacy

    Cheap Meals

    Here is a good one: one pound hamburger, 2 can vegetarian vegetable soup, 2 cans Franco American spaghetti. Tastes awesome and everyone loves it. Lots of veggies also. (11/18/2008)

    By kevin

    Cheap Meals

    So before you say gross, just try it. I am a college student and my budget is really tight but I get tired of eating sandwiches and ramen noodles so one day I decided to spice it up.

    I cook a pack of Ramen noodles (usually chicken flavor when I do this unless I have to grab whatever is in the cabinet but it works with other flavors). After I drain the water from the noodles (leaving a tiny bit of hot water), I mix in the seasoning and a few drops of hot sauce. After they are seasoned well, I put cheese in them and make sure it melts entirely.

    Finally for the finishing touch, I throw in chopped pieces of whatever leftover meat is in the fridge (usually chicken or sandwich meat, lol). My boyfriend loves it and although it is not Roasted Salmon with Herb Risotto and Lobster sauce, it is quite filling and yummy :) (11/18/2008)

    By Ruby W.

    Cheap Meals

    Another meal my dad used to make my brother and I when we were younger and struggling was beanie weenies. Most people know what this is. If not just cook a can of baked beans and boil a few hot dogs (or if you're like me & you don't eat hot dogs, then sausages). Chop up the cooked sausages and add them to the pan of cook beans :) Great for Kids and College students! (11/18/2008)

    By Ruby W.

    Cheap Meals

    This is a great time of year to buy a couple cheap turkeys (as many as your freezer can handle), I see them on sale for $7.99 for a 20+lb one. Just cook them and freeze the meat portioned out, like 2 cups per container, in Ziploc or Tupperware/ gladware for use in various soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, etc. Also take your turkey carcass once you have removed all the meat and make it into homemade stock or soup, just discard all the bones before serving! Soup and stock can be frozen into Ziploc bags and stores well for several months!

    You can use cooked turkey in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, or get creative and use it in place of cooked or shredded beef or pork. Depending on the size of your turkey and your family, one bird could feed your family for a week.

    When we were kids, my mom (a single mom) made turkey a lot all winter long and we feasted off turkey enchiladas, turkey noodle casserole (instead of tuna), turkey soup, turkey and gravy over rice or mashed potatoes, turkey broccoli casserole, BBQ shredded turkey sandwiches, and the list goes on and on and on. Sure we got tired of turkey almost every night, but little did us kids realize how much money all that turkey saved my mom and allowed us to eat better than pancakes and generic mac n cheese and ramen all the time. (11/25/2008)

    By Mellissa

    Cheap Meals

    I love to squeeze every penny out of my meals. I am often dismayed at the lack of nutrition or missing general health cheap meals create. Ever wonder why the poorest of us are often the obese, and the fat kids turn out to be from families with strict budgets? Our family tries very hard to keep the starchy meal in a box or noodle meals to a minimum. I work really hard at my job, and work even harder stretching those pennies to feed my family with health. Here are some fresh recipes we can stretch for days.

    Whole chicken, seasoned on the outside with garlic salt & pepper
    Bake uncovered until skin golden. Serve with steamed frozen veggies and brown rice.
    Brown rice may cost more in the bag, but will fill you up faster than white, and has loads of nutrition.
    Save all of the skin & bones (even if they have been gnawed on).

    That night, put the chicken carcass, all the bones, skin, pan drippings into a pot with water to cover.
    Add 1 onion, 1 celery stick, 1 carrot (these can be the old ones you saved in the freezer before they spoiled, the ends that were cut off, and the peels you saved).
    Bring to a boil, reduce to low, then cook for as many hours as you can before you need to be done for the night. Pick any remaining meat from bones before throwing out. Allow broth to cool before putting in fridge. In morning, remove fat from broth.

    When ready to make large stock pot of soup, bring broth to boil, add random spices such as thyme, oregano, bay leaf, garlic. Stir in chopped carrots, celery, potatoes. Cook until tender. Stir in 1 can of corn & its water. Stir in any extra chicken from bones and leftovers from night before.

    If you have any rice on hand, good to stir in now. We like brown rice, so we add already cooked brown rice. Could also add beans. Add salt to taste. If you have a lime, or lime juice, a few drops to a bowl before serving really kicks up the flavor. I also like to add a little dash of Tabasco sauce to liven up the flavor. A little bit of cheese would work sprinkled over the top.

    We get 1 chicken to feed a family of four over 3-4 days. We are so thankful for that little chicken, and the fresh veggies we have. We keep our budget on track and don't compromise our health with those processed foods.

    Another favorite is to soak a 1lb bag of pinto beans overnight. The next morning, we boil the beans till tender with 1 onion added. I add a scant few drops of liquid smoke (from the spice aisle) to make up for the lack of smoked ham hock, and when beans are done, we stir in a large can of chopped tomatoes, juice and all. These feed us all wonderfully, stuff us with good nutrition, and only cost about $1.89 to feed four of us this for lunch over 3-4 days. Great over mashed potatoes. If you have any corn tortillas, you can bake a layered casserole of these beans, tortillas, and salsa over the top with cheese for browning on the top. YUM! Enjoy! (11/30/2008)

    By KP, Seattle

    Cheap Meals

    A personal favorite from a family of five:

  • 1 package of Eckrich Smoked Sausage
  • 1 package of Lipton Rice Sides (Mushroom)
  • Cook the rice as instructed. Cube the sausage and add halfway through cooking time.

    I know Eckrich & Lipton aren't really cheap, but I imagine a cheaper substitute would work just as well.
    (12/06/2008)

    By IndigoChild

    Cheap Meals

    This site saved me from a lot of headache. I was so worried because I didn't have a lot at all. For the past three months, we have been laid off and really struggling. Anyways, here's a real tasty soup.

    Sausage Soup:

  • 1/2 polish sausage
  • 4 or 5 potatoes if they are small
  • family size green beans in a can
  • 1/2 onion
  • First peel potatoes. then cut them in to cubes or do them like fried potatoes. Then dice the onions in to small or big pieces. Then cut the polish sausage in the middle then cut the halves in chunks. Put sausage, onion, potatoes and green beans in a big pan. Add enough water to it to cover it all and salt, pepper, seasoning salt, and, if you want, garlic salt. Put it on high and wait till the potatoes are cooked and there you go. My husband is very picky and I am too and we both love this soup. (12/08/2008)

    By bossybabythegreat

    Cheap Meals

    Awesome site , keep it up. (12/16/2008)

    By barry

    Cheap Meals

    Hi-here is a cheap meal recipe. I buy everything on sale and use every leftover. I love to cook, but I hate having the same thing a lot. I have always had a really tight food budget so I have tons of meal recipes. This will feed 4 really hungry people. Skip the cheese if you don't have it on hand. I've also made this with leftover ham and it was good. I don't know that exact cost of this but I buy pasta when its 3lb for $1 and soup when its .50 or less and the meat is negligible since it is leftovers.

    Easy Tetrazini:

  • 1 lb spaghetti cooked per package directions
  • 1 cup cubed cooked chicken or turkey (whatever you have leftover)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tb butter or margarine
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or velveeta or swiss
  • Preheat oven to 350.
    While the spaghetti is cooking combine the meat, soup, water, butter, bouillon and &frac; cup of the cheese in a medium saucepan and heat over medium until it is warm and the cheese is melted. Drain the spaghetti and put back in the pot. Pour the sauce over and mix well. Pour the mixture into a buttered 2 qt casserole or 8 X 8 glass baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with green beans or salad and bread or rolls or biscuits. (12/16/2008)

    By Donna in Ms

    Cheap Meals Navy Bean/Meatball soup

    I have recently found the need to cut back on grocery bills but can't go too frugal as me and my families palates can't stand too drastic a change (yet). I've taken an old Persian recipe for meatball soup and modified it for my need.

    Add 1/2 lb. 75% lean ground beef with 1/2 lb. 95% lean ground turkey 2 slices of white bread, and bread crumbs and an egg to keep it together, add more bread crumbs until consistency is right. Roll into meatballs and add to navy and lentil beans with some veggies starting to go soft.

  • 1/4 cup Navy Beans (1/4 bag dried beans)
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 medium size carrots
  • mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • about 1/2 gallon of water
  • Soak beans overnight.
    Fry meatballs in deep pot until browned, remove them from pot and let them drain on a paper towel.
    Add some olive (or veg) oil to pot and cook carrots until they start to soften, add mushrooms then onions.
    Add the rest of the ingredients, water and let it simmer until beans are tender (about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs).
    You may need to add more water to keep it soupy or let it reduce for a more solid stew like consistency.

    It is loaded with protein and carbs and will hold any appetite over for many hours and it runs about 4-6 bucks per pot.
    You can add pieces of steak, turkey or chicken, hot sauce or whatever to kick it up for leftovers. I had 5 meals before I got tired of it. (01/02/2009)

    By Glenn

    Cheap Meals

    My mom used to make this for us as kids. Cut up a few potatoes into even sized slices (think thin, but not as thin as potato chips). Fry them in a pan with a small amount of oil. Add salt and pepper. Just before they start to brown, add some cut up hot dogs or kielbasa or polish sausage. Fry it all together until edges are brown and potatoes are soft. It's yummy and stretches your potatoes and meat a long way.

    At home, I make cheap quesadillas. I use any kind of cheese I have on hand and sometimes add pieces of chicken (even canned chicken works) or left over hamburger or sausage. Heat the tortillas on the griddle with cheese and fillings inside. Serve with salsa (which I find cheap at Aldi). I sometimes add a side of black beans. It's my kids' favorite lunch and not too fattening or bad for them.

    Another cheap recipe I wanted to share was for some rolls/quick biscuits. It's my grandma's recipe and it only makes 6 biscuits, but they are so yummy--a great addition to any meal and fairly cheap--goes great with soups and stews. Take a cup of flour and add a half cup of mayonnaise (yes, sounds weird, but super good) and a half cup of milk. Mix it up and drop into greased muffin cups. Bake for about 10 minutes or so at 350 (until the tops start to turn golden). (01/06/2009)

    By Kim

    Cheap Meals

    I didn't see anyone mention eggs which make a great cheap meal and so long as you keep it under 2 eggs a day, they are actually good for you.


    When I was in Spain, we ate tortilla espanola all the time (at least twice a week). It's basically eggs and potatoes cooked in olive oil. In some regions they also add onions. We would eat it with a salad and bread. It also reheats pretty well if you happen to have leftovers. Here's an excellent site that show you (with pictures) how to make it:

    http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/recipes/tortilla.htm

    I also like to make quiche for an easy healthy meal. Even my 4 year old loves it. Serve it with a salad and you're done. Here' the recipe I use except I use whatever cheese I have on hand:

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Crustless-Spinach-Quiche/Detail.aspx

    I also like to make baked eggs because they're quick and easy but so delicious. Simply crack eggs into a greased baking dish and salt and pepper to taste. Dot the whites with a little bit of butter and sprinkle with the cheese of your choice (I've tried parmesan, mozzarella and asiago. All were good). Bake at 375 degrees until the eggs are set. I serve it with sliced pears and canned green beans. (01/13/2009)

    By Brandy

    Cheap Meals

    I was a kid in the 70's when times were tough like this. My mom used to make this usually when I came home for lunch. I still make this from time to time.

    Make 3 or 4 slices of toast, butter and stack them on a plate. Slice the stack into roughly 1" squares. Take a can of condensed cream of chicken soup and heat it up with 1/2 a can of milk instead of the whole can of water they call for. Pour the hot soup over the toast chunks. Simple, hot, filling and cheap. Really great comfort food on a cold winter day. And, in my case anyway, it reminds me of mom. (01/14/2009)

    By Eric R.

    Cheap Meals

    Here's a really cheap but so good recipe. Hope everyone gives it a try.

  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans mushroom slices, drained well
  • Cook hamburger until done. Drain well.
    Place hamburger back in pan and add all other
    ingredients and cook over low heat for 10 min.
    Serve over buttered bread, rice, or mashed potatoes. (01/14/2009)

    By Shannan

    Cheap Meals

    Eric, you brought back memories of one of my favorite breakfasts at my Nanna's house! Gravy and bread. She made the most divine flour gravy ever. I have never been able to duplicate it. Talk about not healthy, but I would give anything right now for her to come and make me a plate of that stuff. She used lard, flour, and evaporated milk and served it over home made bread. Oh my! (01/15/2009)

    Cheap Meals

    Check out Angel Food Ministries. I've been getting boxes from them for a few months and it is a pretty good deal...
    I get no benefit from suggesting them or anything like that and its not a religious or income based program.
    (01/15/2009)

    Cheap Meals

    Thank you all for these. As with everyone else and the economy, I am very glad I found this site. We have a dollar tree which carries food items. Taking recipes to see what I can find there to make with these recipes. Also for picky eaters, who do not like mushroom soup..substitute milk and flour as a cream sauce; also ground turkey or chicken instead of hamburger. (01/16/2009)

    By hope

    Cheap Meals

    Hi! One of my favorites and actually cooking today is smoked sausage and potato stew. Use your own judgment on how much you need to feed your family. Brown cut-up smoked sausage with an onion or seasoning blend in a pot (cooks well in stainless steel pot). Add as much potatoes as you like and fill just to the top of the potatoes with water, bring to a boil and let it simmer until most of the water is gone. We actually eat this over rice with a veggie on the side. I know it's not the healthiest, but very filling cheap meal. Thanks for all of the other recipe ideas I hope this one helps! (01/16/2009)

    By sherry

    Cheap Meals

    Total $2 Bleu Cheese Turkey burgers dinner:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 4 slices bacon raw cut into very small pieces
  • 1 ts montreal chicken spice (or whatever you prefer)
  • 4 tb bottled bleu cheese dressing (chunky if possible)
  • Mix the bacon and spices with the turkey and form into 4 patties. Fry in skillet over med high heat until seared-lower heat to low and put lid on pan and cook for another 5 minutes. About 1 minute before serving put 1 tb of dressing on each patty. In the meantime, I drained a can of corn and fried it with a little butter and a little of the chicken seasoning. We love our corn this way.

    I also made a quick batch of drop biscuits (boxed-just add water) and opened a can of peaches.
    (02/06/2009)

    Cheap Meals

    My mom made this for us when we were young. She worked 2 full time jobs and cared for 3 kids on her own. This is one of my faves! I'm going to make it tomorrow night. Take some ground beef or turkey, whatever is cheapest, brown it with half an onion or a full onion depending on how much meat you used. Add water. Add some shredded cabbage. Cabbage holds for a long time and is so cheap. Let the cabbage cook down slightly and add soy sauce. Thicken sauce with cornstarch or flour. Pour over rice. So cheap and you can throw in any veggies you have handy! (02/10/2009)

    By R. Liberty

    Cheap Meals

    These two are always on the menu when things get tight. Good old potato soup, and soup beans. I make my soup beans with 2 cans chicken broth, one can butter beans, one can navy beans, small onion cut up, salt pepper and a bay leaf. Let simmer until beans and onion are soft..cheap and yummy. (02/11/2009)

    By Ramia S.

    Cheap Meals

    Goodness, I love potato soup. Thanks for that reminder. (02/13/2009)

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