Cheap Meal Ideas

Do you need help learning how to stretch your meal budget? This guide has tips on what is both nutritious and cheap when money is tight. This guide contains cheap meal ideas.

Fork wound with spaghetti and ketsup meal.
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Tip: Help Out Your Grocery List

By Chelle152 90 125

Okay, this is my first ever tip, but here goes.

For a couple of years, my husband and I had very, very little cash flow and began going hungry at times, here and there. We never had a lot of food, but it only felt bad when we had nothing but dried noodles and water; rice, if we were lucky.

Realizing something had to be fixed, I scourged our local Wal-Mart and found the best deals I possibly could. Especially since we have no working stove top or oven, so we have to get creative with our eating habits. If you ever find yourself in this position, here are my suggestions for your grocery list:

  1. Hamburgers If you have a George Foreman or any other way to cook hamburgers, buy the patties. I found you can get 25 semi-thin patties for 7-10 dollars, depending on your brand preference. For us, we always just did whatever was cheapest! Once you have the patties, you only need to buy some ketchup, mustard, one head of lettuce, and one package of buns at a time, giving you more time to make more cash before needing another package of buns.

    Also, after you've made this initial purchase, you won't find yourself needing to buy ketchup or mustard for a while, which also saves on cost the next time around! If you have enough in your pocket book, pickles make for a nice flavor enhancer, and are still relatively cheap. Just stay away from the cheese! It may be absolutely delicious, but it's also what will kill your check book when it comes to eating hamburgers. Without the cheese, they are a very cheap meal!

  2. Rice: You can do so many things with rice and it's oh, so inexpensive! I like it just plain with butter, soy sauce is inexpensive. As most of you probably know, you can use other forms of liquid to steam it in in order to give it a different flavor. My husband's favorite was chicken broth.

    Now, we had no working stove top (still don't) but one plug-in burner does the trick! Chicken broth in bulk is so inexpensive and gives the rice a wonderful flavor!

  3. Split Pea Soup: A bag of peas, an onion, a little bacon, milk, and you are ready to go! If you have no stove top, see if anyone has a slow cooker you can borrow, or maybe you're lucky enough to have one of your own. I got one for Christmas! Anyway, I buy the chuck pieces of bacon - not only are they a heck of a lot cheaper, but they are fattier, which is better for your soup, anyway. This costs less than ten dollars to purchase and used to last me a week!

    If you don't like split pea soup, feel free to look around at other soups. They can be some of the cheapest meals if you keep them simple, and adding something like a box of 6 bread sticks for less than $2! Just heat them in your toaster oven, if you have one and no oven, like us.

  4. Dollar Tree: If you happen to have a Dollar Tree in your area, there are some foods they carry that actually aren't that bad. First of all, in my opinion, they carry the best ketchup. You can find stuff there that has no high fructose corn syrup, and it tastes much better than the stuff that has that crud in it. Also, in their frozen foods, you can sometimes find Savory snacks by Pillsbury, yum! I don't suggest going here all the time, but if you have $5 to your name, you can find a little something to hold you over until you find a way to make that next dollar.

  5. Pork: I am a meat eater and it was very hard for me to stay away from the meat section when we were so poor. We can afford food now, and are ready to move out of this kitchen-less home. Pork is great though. You can have it as steak, in pieces with your rice, or make Chinese noodles (pork, ramen noodles, and eggs topped with soy sauce, add green onion if desired).

I hope someone out there finds this helpful! I know how difficult it can be to work hard, and still go cold and hungry. If any of you out there are in this position or a similar one, just remember to keep holding your head high. God never gives us a challenge we can't handle, scripture promises as much.

If you are out there, feel free to let me know about it. Believe it or not, I most likely know a lot of what you are going through and would like to help in any way possible. Even if it's just an ear to hear and a prayer to pray. I love you, and God does, too!

Have a wonderful and frugal week, all! Here's a cup of cocoa, on me!

By Chelle152 from Coquille, Oregon

A cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream and a candy cane.

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Question: Cheap Meals

By Leah Jones 4 52

I am looking for cheap meals please. With the economy the way it is, and my husband and I both on a Pension I'm having a bit of struggle to be inventive and frugal as well. Help!

By Leah Jones from Bauple, Australia

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Most Recent Answer

By Carriea Coe 2 Flag

October 14, 2010

Growing up my mom would buy two of those Lipton noodle packets (now named Knorr) like butter and herb and add a can of peas to it. She found a way to add peas to everything. You can add hamburger too.

I like to brown a pound of hamburger in a big skillet, drain, then add a can of diced tomatos. Add the noodles from a box of mac-and-cheese, add water, milk and butter to barely cover. I never measure, it doesn't have to be precise. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are done and add the cheese packet and two or three slices of american cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. For big families, use two boxes of mac-and-cheese.

Another meal is a pack of bratswurst, head of cabbage, an onion and a few potatoes. Cut everthing up, cover with water and boil everything until brats are cooked and potatoes are tender. Season to taste. Soup can last days. To stretch it more, add more potatoes. Can make it in a crockpot too.

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Question: Cheap Recipes

By defile 1

I live on less than $800 a month. Can anyone help me with some very cheap recipes?

By defile from St.John, IN

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Most Recent Answer

By Veronica 10 114 Flag

July 26, 2012

A filling food that isn't very nutritious but will fill you up are homemade flour-&-water noodles. You can use wheat flour to add a few nutrients, but anyway, it costs pennies:

To Make Flour & Water Noodles you will need about 1/2 cup of flour per person.

1. Boil a pot full of water.

2. Take 1/2 a cup of flour and add cool tap water to it a little at a time until it forms a soft ball. (If you add too much water, just add a little more flour.) Sometimes I add black pepper or garlic or onion powder.

3. Put the ball onto a plate and roll it into a thick cigar shape (or sausage-shape.) Cut the ball into pieces, rolling each piece off the plate and into the boiling water. Be careful you don't splash yourself.

4. Let them boil for a minute or two until they rise to the top. Scoop them out and enjoy with either spaghetti sauce, cheese, butter, gravy, or in soup.

As I said, it's not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it is very inexpensive and it will fill you up in an emergency - "I have no food left" situation. They are a very inexpensive alternative to pasta, and they taste pretty good.

FYI: This is a great website: This woman is able to cook three meals per day for $1 per person, per day.

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Question: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

By Autumn 1

Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas?

By Autumn

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Most Recent Answer

By Teresa W. 3 Flag

August 5, 2011

I have a dish my husband calls prison food as a joke but he doesn't cook so he can't talk.

Layer a 8 x13 dish with mashed potatoes (buttered and salted). Top that with a layer of ground beef seasoned with a taco seasoning packet. Then end with a layer of 8 oz shredded cheese of your choice.

Bake until cheese is nice and bubbly.

And then a little more sophisticated (I picked this up at and have made it many times).

1 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered

6 russet potatoes peeled, quartered, lengthwise

4 large garlic cloves, halved

3/4 cup canned chicken broth

3/4 cup olive oil

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange chicken, potatoes and garlic in large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour broth over. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and oregano to combine. Pour evenly over chicken and potatoes.

Bake until chicken is cooked through and golden brown and potatoes are tender, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

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Recipe: Great Recession Cream Tuna on Toast

You can get all of the ingredients at the dollar store, it whips up fast, and it's a comfort food!


  • 3 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 cans tuna
  • 1 empty can of soup to measure out milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


Empty 3 cans of soup into pan and whisk in 1 can of milk. Add 3 cans of tuna drained and stir till simmering

Toast the bread and tear it into bite sized pieces onto the plate about 2 or 3 slices per serving. Pour tuna mixture over toast and enjoy!

Some good toppings are bacon bits, shredded cheese, or Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 3-4
Time:5 Minutes Preparation Time
10 Minutes Cooking Time

By Margaret from Aptos, CA

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Question: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

By Amy 1

I have a request for cheap, low budget, yet tasty meal ideas. I'm going to school at St. Lawrence College in Kingston and I live in an apartment with my boyfriend where we both pay half rent. So money is a bit tight for me right now and I was wondering if anyone knew of any cool recipes?

Amy :)

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Most Recent Answer

By Starbug 1 Flag

February 24, 2011

I have to say that pasta is probably one of the cheapest ways to go (mac and cheese with broccoli, tuna noodle casserole, basic spaghetti, chop white onion, celery and carrots and simmer, then add tomato paste and spices, etc.).

But if you're like me, you'll like a little variety, too!

Indian food is a really nice change of pace, and you can adjust the spice levels to your preference. I recommend:

Dhal/Dahl/Dal: basically yellow split peas and twice as much water, simmered 'till cooked. Fry up some onions in cumin, cayenne pepper and a little oil or margarine and mix it in! Serve on rice (also cheap). Full recipe here:

Rajma chawal: This is Indian 'chili', basically! It's yummy and very cheap. It's kidney beans (canned), fried onion, fresh tomato, ginger, and spices simmered in water, served over rice. Very filling and good for you, too! Recipe here:

There are many cheap, healthy and satisfying Indian recipes! Great to break the monotony of Kraft Dinner and other 'white person foods'. ;) The only drawback is having to buy the spices up front, though they do go a long way. Still cheaper than buying meat!

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Question: Inexpensive Recipe Ideas for a College Student

I live in China and am an international medical student. Can anybody suggest any quick energy giving meal recipes that are fairly cheap that I could cook? Thank you. I'm open to all suggestions.

By Angel

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Most Recent Answer

By Caseye 34 205 Flag

April 8, 2012

Here are a couple of my favorites:

1) Open a can of tuna, drain it, add a few dollops of Greek yogurt, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, and a Tablespoon of relish; mix together and spread on bread or eat with crackers.

2) Heat on medium an electric or gas stove; spritz or spread oil on the bottom of a small frying pan; break an egg into the pan (break the yolk) and spread on bottom of pan. Check as it cooks so it doesn't burn; flip over and add a layer of shredded cheese, deli-sliced ham, and whatever cooked veggies you'd like; flip one side of the omelet on the other, then flip whole thing over to cook through.


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Question: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Anyone have any meal ideas that could stretch my £6.00 for 4 days please?

By Helen

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Most Recent Answer

By Sheilah Link 5 328 Flag

June 4, 2012

Pasta - overcooked so it contains plenty of water is filling and you can add about anything to it - just spices and oil will work. Peanut butter is another high food value product. Check the mark downs if your local grocery has them, and if not, ask.

This is hard to answer as I don't know what food costs in your location. A small piece of beef can be stretched by using it as a addition to other foods, and boiled, then there is beef broth for cooking pasta and rice. Stay away from prepared foods. Plain frozen vegetables can be prepared in many ways. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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Recipe: Easy and Cheap Dinner Recipes

By Carol Young 89 39

With times so tight, I am glad that my family enjoys budget friendly meals. Here are some of my fave recipes that have my families stamp of approval (and they are easy and cheap!)

Sausage Goulash


  • 1/2 lb sausage, loose (or take off casing and break up)
  • 2 cups broad noodles
  • 3-4 cups coarsely slivered cabbage
  • salt and pepper


Cook noodles and drain. Brown sausage in frying pan, breaking up into small pieces. Add cabbage, stir and cook until cabbage is tender. Add to noodles and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss lightly and serve. Surprisingly tasty!

Impossible Vegetable Pie (Quiche)


  • 2 cups chopped broccoli (or preferred veggie)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick (or generic)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a pie plate. Cook broccoli, drain. Mix broccoli, onion, pepper and cheese in pie plate. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth with a whisk or in blender. Pour over ingredients in pie pan. Bake until golden brown and done in the center about 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before eating. I make 2 of these at a time, because they are great reheated for breakfast, lunch or anytime. Use whatever veggies or cheese you have on hand!

Company Pasta

Kids love this!


  • 1 1/2 cups medium pasta shells (or any macaroni), cooked and drained
  • 1 box frozen green beans
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cups cooked carrot slices
  • 1/2 lb (the smallest size box) Velveeta, cubed
  • 1/4 cup milk


Combine pasta with veggies and bacon. Mix lightly and keep warm. Heat Velveeta with milk over low heat. Stir until smooth. Place pasta mixture on a platter or bowl. Top with sauce. A delicious and economical dish.

The Best "Beefaroni" Ever

This makes a nice big pot, great leftovers.


  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 (15 oz) tomato sauce (or 1 15 oz tomato sauce and 15 oz V-8 for extra veggies for extra nutrition :)
  • 2 (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. each, pepper and garlic powder


Cook the ground beef, onions and garlic in a big pot on the stove. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups UNCOOKED macaroni, stir. Simmer 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, scoop into a bowl and enjoy. I drizzle any rolls, or bread I have on hand (even hot dog or hamburger rolls) with olive oil. sprinkle a little Parmesan and garlic on and broil and I am good to go.

Hope you enjoy. Blessings to all!

By Carol from Landisville, PA

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Recipe: Army Stew

By Robin 5,893 29

Chop up one onion; mix with one pound ground beef. Cook until done and drain off grease. Mix brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. mustard into a bowl. Then add one can of pork and beans into the same bowl. Add to ground beef and let simmer for 20 minutes.

By Robin from Washington, IA

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Recipe: Beanie Weenies Over Mac & Cheese

This recipe is so economical. For a family of four I buy 2 boxes of mac & cheese at 25 cents each, 2 cans of pork & beans at 33 cents each and a package of hot dog wieners for 50 cents (only use half the package for this recipe). I buy it all at the Sav A Lot store.

Slice half the pack of wieners in small bite size slices and cook in pot of water, drain and set aside. Cook mac & cheese as directed. I add extra milk to make it slightly soupy. Heat the pork & beans in a separate pot and mix in the already heated and drained wiener slices.

To serve, put a large serving of mac & cheese in each persons bowl and top with a portion of the beanie weenie mixture. It has a whole different flavor than if you serve items side by side. My family loves it and we eat it twice a month. Fast and inexpensive.

By Carol

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Recipe: One Pot Macaroni Meal

By Robin 5,893 29

This is a great one-dish meal! Inexpensive to make!

Approximate Time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 (10 oz.) cans tomato soup ($2.00)
  • 2 1/4` cup water ($pennies)
  • 2 tsp chili powder ($pennies)
  • 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni ($1.00)
  • 1 lb hot dogs, cut in 1inch pieces ($.99)
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms, undrained ($.89)


  1. In Dutch oven, combine soup, water and chili powder. Heat to boiling.
  2. Stir in macaroni, hot dogs and mushrooms.
  3. Cook covered over low heat until macaroni is tender, about 12 minutes.

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Archive: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

What are some inexpensive meal ideas that your family enjoys?


Pancakes for Dinner

Serve pancakes for dinner every once in a while. They're cheap, and delicious! (05/11/2005)

By Joanne

Tuna and Noodles

I make Tuna and Noodles for my family. It's inexpensive and quick to make.

  • 2 Cans Tuna (not drained)
  • 1 Bag of Egg Noodles
  • 2 Cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • About 1 C. Milk (I never measured)
Boil noodles. Drain. Put noodles back in pot. Add tuna, mushroom soup, and milk. Stir together. Cook for about 10 minutes, just enough to heat everything and you're done. (05/11/2005)

By luv2craft

Eggs, Home Fries and Toast

We have eggs, home fries and toast for our dinner sometimes. We like breakfast foods all day long. Another one we like is tomato soup with saltines and also grilled cheese sandwiches with that. We also love hamburger gravy over pulled apart home baked bread. Add salt and pepper and a few diced onions on top and yummy!! (05/11/2005)

By Arlene

Chicken Fried Rice and Eggrolls

I buy frozen eggrolls which are not really inexpensive, but a package goes a long way if serving just a couple as a side to your Chicken Fried Rice. I am a "throw it together and taste it" kind of cook most of the time. So I don't have a real recipe. When I make fried rice, I start with a couple tablespoons of Sesame Seed Oil, and a couple tablespoons of light olive oil in a pretty large skillet. Take a package of green onions, and snip them with a kitchen shears. Use the whole green onions. Add these to the skillet. Then add about 3-4 cups of cooked rice. This can be just cooked or leftover cold rice. Stir until it loses that sticky texture that rice has. Add about 1/2 cup of frozen peas and a carrot, shredded. Let this cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Beat two eggs with a fork and push the rice to one side of the pan. Pour the eggs in the pan and stir briskly with a fork as they cook. Gradually stir the rice into the egg mixture until it is cooked and mixed through. Add cooked chicken and continue to heat until chicken is heated.Add salt and pepper to taste. You could use beef, pork, shrimp or none of the above as it is good even without meat or chicken.

I actually make about triple this amount, and then freeze the leftovers in quart size Ziplock bags. Fill the bags, then press the contents flat pressing out as much air as possible. Seal and freeze on cookie sheets. When they are frozen, the flat packages are easy to store in the freezer, and by pressing most of the air out, they won't freezer burn. Just thaw and reheat in your skillet when ready. You can add the meat when you reheat if you like. Green tea will complete the meal. (05/12/2005)

By Harlean from Arkansas

Sloppy Joes

A quick cheap entree we have is sloppy joes. In our area, Albertson's grocery store has 10 items for $10 almost every week or so. Sometimes you can pick up 1 lb. rolls of ground turkey meats 10/$10., that's $1.00 each! Another item, we also can get 10/$10. is Manwich sloppy joe sauce. You can't get much cheaper than that! It's cheaper is you have coupons for the sale items. (05/12/2005)

By badwater

Tuna On Toast

I used to make this when the kids were small and time as well as money was at a premium.

  • 1 can Tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 soup can evaporated milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Toast
Saute onion and green pepper in oil until tender and onion is transparent. Add tuna, salt and pepper. Mix well. Blend soup and milk. Add to tuna and bend well. Cook on med. to low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over toast. Covers 6-8 toast pieces and Tuna sauce ingredients can be doubled.

Delicious! (05/12/2005)

By nolasandy

Pseudo Lasagna

When the kids were little, they loved lasagna, but it is so expensive to make. So I came up with a pseudo lasagna, and they loved it. Cook a pound of ground beef, add 1/2 cup chopped onions to ground beef and cook until clear. While browning the beef, boil one bag of eggs noodles and drain. Combine egg noodles with ground beef and onions, add 1 container of large curd cottage cheese, and one large can of tomato sauce. Stir together and add any spices you like (oregano, etc) (05/13/2005)

By sjackie2000

Using Whole Chickens

Buying whole chickens (fryers) is way cheaper than parts and you can make chicken and dumplings one night, then have leftovers over mashed potatoes the next night. Very cheap to do this. (05/13/2005)

By Monika Bigelow

Comfort Food

From growing up being the oldest of 5 kids, I can give you some ideas that my mom used. First, Chicken stew with dumplings, I am not fond of dumplings, so I made a chicken stew and put dumplings in it. I ate the stew and the kids loved the dumplings.

Also, chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. Fattening, I know, but oh, so comforting (as was the beef and noodles over mashed potatoes)
Then she would open and drain a few cans of hominy, chop up some bacon, fry the bacon out, get rid of most of the bacon grease, then dice an onion and fry it a bit, then added the hominy and fry all together with lots of salt and pepper. Fry it until the hominy is a bit crusty and then devour it. Very good.
One of my own recipes also has a base of bacon. Same thing as above, dice it and then render it. Get rid of most of the grease, then fry a diced onion in the bacon grease until translucent. Meanwhile, have a pot of water on cooking the amount of spaghetti your family will eat. After the spaghetti is cooked to your liking, drain it. Put it back in the pot. In a separate bowl have ready 4 eggs and 1/2 c parmesan cheese. Once the spaghetti is back in the pot, put in the bacon and onions, then the eggs and cheese. Swirl in around the pot over heat until the eggs are cooked. (At this point you could put in some drained and heated peas if you want). Now you have a spaghetti carbonara on the cheap. It is a good meal, too.

You could add garlic bread to the above and a salad if you like. Make the garlic bread out of hot dog buns that you have purchased at the day old bread store. Just spread them with margarine, sprinkle with garlic, onion powder and salt, then parmesan cheese and toast under the broiler.

Another inexpensive meal is stroganoff. Buy minute steaks, usually not expensive and for 3 people, you only need 2 minute steaks. Slice in 1/2 inch strips, cook in a skillet with 2T oil, (1 if you are using teflon skillets) until brown, add a diced onion, cook till softened. Boil as many noodles as needed, then add to the skillet, 2T worchestshire sauce, 2T catsup, 1 can of mushrooms, broth and all, one can of mushroom soup and 8oz of sour cream. slowly cook, but do not boil, pour over noodles, add a vegetable and another inexpensive meal is born.

You should also learn how to cook from scratch, get cookbooks that will teach you how to make things from scratch, that is the cheapest way to cook.

Good Luck! (05/14/2005)

By jaxi3

French Toast

French toast is cheap. Another idea is Cream of Mushroom soup thinned with half can water or milk, heated and poured over toast. Optional sliced boiled egg. Another idea is dried beans cooked plain or made into soup, with ham bone or bacon. Split pea soup too. Tomato sandwiches in summer. Chipped ham bar be que sandwiches. Fried egg sandwich with or without tomato. Egg salad sandwiches. Stewed tomatoes with bread and little sugar. Scalloped potatoes are good too. Salmon patties or salmon loaf. (05/14/2005)


Chipped Ham

I live in Western Pennsylvania, we have a lunch meat in our area called chipped ham, I guess it is like spiced loaf ham, formed ham. If you can't get chipped ham, try cheep boiled ham. I just got chipped ham for $1.39 lb. Chipped ham refers to the thickness of the ham which is as thin as you can get it.

Chop 1 to 2 lbs ham in 1 to 2 inch pieces, heat in some water, add instant onion or fine chopped onion till cooked. Optional is relish or sweet relish liquid to taste (small amount). Also optional is ground clove (very, very little). When everything is heated add part of a bottle of ketchup, more or less to taste. Also add water if needed.

The ingredients are:

  • Chipped ham
  • water
  • onion
  • relish or vinegar
  • ground clove
  • catsup
  • more water if needed
  • serve on buns.
I use all these ingredients. Some people use BBQ sauce, but I like this much better. (05/16/2005)


Soup, Sandwiches and Pizza

During ball season I am always needing quick and easy things to fix for the kids. Soup and sandwiches are always good, chili dogs and chips and homemade pizza (seems like it would take a long time, but I've been able to make it quickly and a lot less expensive than I thought it would be). (05/16/2005)

Tater Tot Casserole

I make tater tot casserole which is great as leftovers the next day.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 C. milk
  • Half a bag of Tater Tots
Brown ground beef, drain. Put back in pan with Cream of Mushroom soup and milk and heat until warm. Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a casserole dish put ground beef mixture and place Tater Tots on top until covered. Bake half an hour. Serve with vegetable and rolls for a quick and easy meal! (05/19/2005)

By Amber


This is my sister Cathy's famous recipe. Very inexpensive and tasty. It only messes up one dutch oven.

Cut up a bag of bacon into bite sized pieces. Fry your bacon to your own tastes. Remove bacon and set aside. Fill pan half full of water on top of bacon drippings and bring to a boil.

Then add:

  • 1 bag of elbow macaroni .
  • Boil till macaroni is done.
  • Drain off all liquid.
Add back into pan:
  • one can of whole tomatoes
    (pierce the tomatoes so that the tomato juice blends into the macaroni)
  • bacon pieces
  • 1 can of tomato sauce.
  • Salt and Pepper

Leave on burner until tomato mixture is hot.

This is really good served with cooked greens and corn bread. (05/21/2005)

By Laura

Mince and Pasta

One my partner came up with:

Fry up about 500g of mince. Add frozen peas and corn and whatever other veggies you like. Then add a basic spaghetti sauce or a tin of diced tomatoes and herbs.
Stir in cooked pasta. It's enough for 6-8 people any leftovers can be frozen. (06/09/2005)

By catwoman


Here's a great one I tried when trying to cut corners. Take 1/2 wheat Pita bread and stuff with pastrami and swiss cheese. Put in Microwave for 15 seconds. Whalaaaaaa and it's so yummy.

By Cas

Yummy Chicken

Boil any type of chicken drain and shred with fingers. Add about quarter cup water let soak for a few minutes on medium high. Then put a whole tomato and 3 quarters of a med onion and a break off piece of garlic in the blender with a bit more water (a quarter cup) and blend away until smooth. Then add to chicken water. Let it lightly boil for about 10-15 minutes just so the flavor can set in chicken. Add as much salt as you wish put in piping hot tortillas and you have yourself a meal in that is less than five dollars and all you have to clean is the pan you cooked the chicken in and a blender. It goes great with tabasco sauce. A great cheap meal extender for this one is to add rice. (06/21/2005)

By butterfly925

Lazy Day Casserole

My daughter loves this. You can use any spaghetti sauce, but we think it's best with the mushroom & ripe olive variety.

  • One small box elbow macaroni (cooked)
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 jar Classico mushroom & ripe olive spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
Brown the beef in a large fry pan, then drain the grease. Add the spaghetti sauce and heat until bubbly. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well to combine.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top, then put the lid on and heat until the cheese melts.

By SusannL


Cook some Rigatoni noodles according to package directions, Add a can of tuna, add some Hellmans (and it's important to use Hellman's brand), and some Tony Chachere cajun seasoning to taste. Leave in the fridge for a couple hours (the longer you leave it in the fridge, the better it tastes) and that's it! It's so yummy! (01/26/2006)

By Rachel

Pork N Beans

  • 1 package hot dogs (any brand)
  • 1 can baked beans (I like the Busch brand best especially the kind w/ brown sugar in it)
  • about 5 slices of bacon
preheat oven to 350.
Cook bacon ahead of time (microwave 5min).
Crumble bacon.
Cut up hotdogs.
Place beans, bacon and dogs in a oven dish cook until warm.

You can also add other things to this (cheese,brown sugar, ect) YUMMY!! (05/04/2006)

By Ashley

Homemade Hamburger Helper

I make homemade hamburger helper. All you do is cook a pound of hamburger meat in pan, drain off grease, set aside. Cook any kind of macaroni that has the cheese packet with it. we like kraft. Then drain , mix in the cheese sauce, meat, and some ketchup, however much you want, and thats it! (05/05/2006)

By Caroline

Quick Spaghetti

I make "Quick Spaghetti" when I am in a big hurry. You can make as much as you need, and is extremely cheap.

  • 1 Can Tomato Soup
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce (small can)
  • Salt / Pepper To Taste (I like it with lots of pepper)
  • Pack Spaghetti Noodles
Put the soup and sauce in a small saucepan, and heat up. Add salt and pepper. (Sometimes I add parmesan cheese and garlic powder for extra flavor.) Boil your noodles according to package. Serve. This is my mom's recipe and it got us through some pretty thin times, and it's still a favorite! (06/05/2006)

By Reece

Lazy Day Chinese/Shepherds Pie

Very quick and yummy... I call it "Lazy Day Chinese/Shepherds pie" (whichever you call it).

  • For quickness, we use instant potatoes
  • Hamburger
  • cream corn
Cook up your hamburger, layer it on the bottom of a deep casserole (or oven useable pan) on top of the hamburger add a can of cream corn and on top of that add the (pre-made) instant potatoes...which you can make in the microwave! Heat in the oven until the top is browned. DONE!

Quick and easy, my kids love it! (08/28/2006)

By Annmarie

Potatoes And Hamburger

Dice up some potatoes.
Add some onion.
Fry and drain some hamburger.
A can of mushroom soup.
Add a bit of garlic salt & pepper.
Stir all together and serve on toast or with butter bread. (08/28/2006)

By Autumn

Noodles and Eggs

Boil some elbow noodles, when done, drain and set aside. Scramble some eggs on medium heat in some butter. When eggs are done add a little more butter and the noodles to the eggs, add salt and pepper and a slice or two of cheese cook on low until cheese is melted. Very good and cheap (09/02/2006)

By monica


  • Whatever your favorite pasta is
  • cottage cheese
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
Mix the cottage cheese, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper and either heat in the microwave or in a skillet. When noodles are done place everything in the skillet to heat up a bit. If you don't want to do the "skillet thing" the heat from the pasta may be enough to melt the cottage cheese or you could just nuke for a minute or two. (09/03/2006)

By Vicky

French Fry Casserole

  • 3 cans generic canned rolls
  • About 10-15 eggs
  • Chopped ham
  • Shredded cheese
  • French Fries/Hashbrowns

Press the rolls into the bottom of a casserole dish; as my family likes to eat I make a bigger pan =D

Cover with a thin layer of shredded cheese, then crumble french fries or add hasbrowns.
Place more cheese on top.

Beat eggs with a small amount of milk, if you like them that way, and pour on top of the rolls/cheese and potatoes. Add ham to the top and then more cheese.

Bake at 400 until the eggs are cooked, about 20 minutes I'd say. Add more cheese, bake long enough to melt and there you go!

It's cheap, it's delicious, and it lasts! (12/13/2006)

By Shanon S

Archive: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I have a request for cheap, low budget, yet tasty meal ideas. I'm going to school at St. Lawrence College in Kingston and I live in an apartment with my boyfriend where we both pay half rent. So

money is a bit tight for me right now and I was wondering if anyone knew of any cool recipes?



RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

EZ chili on spaghetti:

  • chop a medium onion and saute in a small amount of oil
  • add 1 lb ground beef (lean) and cook until meat is done
  • season with garlic powder, onion salt, seasoning salt, pepper (to taste)
  • add one can tomato soup
  • add one can brown beans (and or kidney beans)
  • season with chili powder to taste
  • thin with water as needed

Serve over cooked spaghetti or stir cooked macaroni into chili. It's cheap, it's filling and it makes leftovers. (01/11/2005)

By beanygurl

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Go to for easy and cheap but great recipes. (01/11/2005)

By alobarbear

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

This is a easy and quick recipe, not to mention very tasty.

Easy Chicken and Noodles

  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 3 cups cooked wide egg noodles
  • 2 cups (or however much you want) of cooked, cubed chicken
In a saucepan, combine the soup, milk, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Stir in the cooked noodles and cubed chicken; heat through. I usually just boil one chicken breast in some water until it is cooked, let it

cool, and chunk it up. Adding the cream of chicken soup gives it some more chicken and chicken flavor. Of course, one could boil chicken legs, thighs, whatever, if you don't mind dark meat and are watching

your pennies. This is great with a salad and bread for a nice filling meal. In fact, maybe I'll make this tonight for the family.


By Trudy P.

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Hey I know the feeling, my family likes stir fry. You can get frozen vegetables at Wal-mart for like $1.50 and just cook it and add soy sauce. Serve alone, or over rice. I also go shopping early in the

morning so I can get the reduced meat, as long as you put it in the freezer and use it fairly quickly it is OK. Also do you get a local paper on Sunday's I have found that it is worth the 1.50 for the

coupons what I don't use I send to my sister who is in college herself. Good luck. (01/18/2005)

By shannon in NC

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Hey I thought of something else my family likes that is cheap. Get tuna in water (.47) drain. Boil an egg, then chop the egg, chop some onion, add mayo and sweet relish, salt, pepper, garlic powder is optional, my

husband even likes olives and hot sauce in his. Serve on toast, or with crackers or even just beside a salad. Hope you can use some of these. (01/18/2005)

By shannon in NC

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

1lb cooked ground beef. 1 box of Mac and Cheese prepare as directed. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Combine all ingredients. It's quick and easy. If you like you can also add diced red and/or green peppers.
My kids love it. (01/19/2005)

By Dawn

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

This is quick and healthy. Take about 3 potatoes (peel them, slice them, and start frying them), then add about three eggs and start mixing it all up. Then cut in something that's meat product and add.
This takes about 15 minutes max and fills your stomach. (02/03/2005)

By mamir

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Ramen noodles are a college student staple. I like to take:

  • 1 pkg chicken flavor Ramen noodles
  • 1 chicken breast/ can chicken
  • 1 box frozen green peas
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup water

In medium pan heat water and flavor packet to boiling. Break noodles up and add to water with frozen peas.
Stir frequently. When noodles start to soften drain mushrooms and add. Add chicken and stir. Serve

Wal-mart has these noodles fo 10 cents a packet. You can experiment adding things to them.

I also like to add hamburger and cream of mushroom to the beef noodles. Serve with green beans.

Shopping at an Aldi or Save-a-lot store will save you much. Wal Mart has some good buys, but you have to be careful, also.

By Debbie

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here is one of the cheapest meal staples I have used for years. Even my meat loving husband gets full on this meal.

Easy Drop Biscuits and Gravy

  • 2 c flour (can use 1c white, 1c whole wheat)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c milk or water
  • 1/4 c oil
Mix dry ingredients, then measure water or milk in the same container at the same time, then dump into the center of the dry ingredients. Stir just until blended, if they are a bit powdery this is just

right. Drop large scoops of dough with a soup spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. You can pat the biscuits to shape them, but my family likes the crispy edges that

come from leaving them untouched-up. The insides are fluffy and light. These are absolutely best straight from the oven, but they keep alright on the pan with a dish towel over them or in a zip lock bag left

open to retain some crispness (after they are totally cool). I have also made cheap gravy using 2 cups water, 2 tsp bullion (or whatever is suggested on the package) and 1/2 cup flour. Stir together and heat

in a sauce pan until thick and bubbly, season with pepper to taste. (02/28/2005)

By TabbyCat

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I used to make this for my husband and I before we got married when money was real tight and we still use it in a pinch.

Brown a pound or so of ground beef. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce or your favorite seasonings.

Make instant mashed potatoes in the microwave as directed, but add a little garlic and cheese. If you don't have shredded cheese (it can be expensive on a real tight budget) use American cheese slices.

After the mashed potatoes are done, mix the ground beef with the potatoes and add a can of green beans or corn which ever is your favorite.

This meal is very filling and there is usually some left over for the next day. You can use real mashed potatoes if you like, but adding the garlic and cheese to instant helps mask the instant flavor.


By Michelle

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here is a good one, especially if you are having company. It is a form of spaghetti Carbonara. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices. Cook until browned. If needed, drain most of the

grease left behind. Dice a medium onion, fry until translucent in the bacon grease. Meanwhile, have enough spaghetti cooking to serve as many as you want to serve. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs

and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. After the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and return to the pan, add the cooked bacon and onions, the eggs and cheese and put back on very low heat. Stir together until the eggs

are set. Serve.

You can also add a can of peas to make it closer to authentic carbonera. Very cheap dish. You could also make a bacon gravy for over boiled potatoes, just fry the bacon, crumble, then cook a medium diced

onion. After onions are cooked, in skillet put in 2 Tablespoons of flour. Brown flour and then add milk or water to make a gravy, put back in the bacon and onion and serve. Just a few quick thoughts. You

could buy a piece of peameal back bacon, bake it, serve it as a ham for one meal and then for a second meal, dice it and "grill" it in a non stick skillet, bake a large potato in a microwave, split it, add

a low fat cottage cheese, some diced green onions and a bit to fresh tomato, the bacon and make a big old "stuffed" baked potato. This is a one dish meal. and cheap too.

If you can catch chicken on sale, fry some of one meal and boil the rest. From the boiled chicken you can make chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles, and chicken salad either for a meal or for

sandwiches. An easy and cheap Stroganoff is 2 cube steaks cut into 1/2 in strips, fried, add a medium onion, then add 1 can of mushroom soup, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons catchup, a

can of mushrooms, water and all. Then 1 cup of sour cream. Cook gently, do not let the sour cream boil. Serve over noodles or minute rice.
Just have fun, these are the days for it. (03/27/2005)

By jaxi3

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Tuna Melt

Get a can of tuna in water. Drain. Mix with mayo or Miracle Whip, whichever you prefer. Add anything else you like, I just like the tuna and mayo with a dash of Miracle Whip. Put on bread (I prefer a

bagel). Slice some cheddar cheese and place on top. Put it in your broiler on a cookie sheet until the cheese is a little burnt. Serve with a big glass of milk. (04/28/2005)

By Bruno

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Take a can of Cresent rolls and unroll the whole can on a cookie sheet. With your fingers make the dough one solid piece. Brown and drain 1 lb. ground beef, add enough Bar-b-que sauce to coat and spoon

down the center of the dough. Add cheese on top then fold the dough over, kind of like a burrito. Bake according to roll directions. A great, easy meal for only a few dollars. (05/01/2005)

By Tami

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My Mom fixed this when we were kids and I fix it for my family when money is tight, it is pretty tasty, I think it came from Girl Scout camp.

  • 1 can Pork n Beans
  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 medium onion
Dice onion, brown with hamburger, drain, add Pork n Beans, you can remove the fat piece if you like. That's it. It is pretty good (05/17/2005)

By Tasha

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I am in college, and this is one of my favorite meals. Its cheap, its quick, and tastes good.

  • 1 can vegetarian baked beans
  • 2-3 tbsp. peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 2 servings of couscous (cooked according to package directions)

Heat up the beans and peanut butter in a pan, until peanut butter dissolves. Mix with the cooked couscous. Done.

It makes about 3-4 servings for my boyfriend and I.


By collegegirl

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I was one of four kids, with a single mom supporting us alone. We had a few "special"
meals that held us over in the day or two before the next paycheck arrived. Both meals are quick, good and cheap. However, I personally like them both with loads of black pepper.

Tuna and Noodles:

  • 1 or 2 cans of tuna in water, drained
  • 1 box of mac and cheese
  • 1 can of peas, or green beans or kidney beans, drained (optional)

Prepare mac and cheese according to package. Stir in the drained tuna and vegetable. Serve.

Noodles, Bacon and Tomatoes:

  • 12-16 oz bacon, browned, crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon of bacon drippings
  • 12 oz. shell noodles
  • 16 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (you can run these through the blender for a smoother "sauce", but that is optional.)

Brown the bacon and drain. Crumble it into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the noodles according to package. Drain.
Stir in the tomatoes, bacon and a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Serve.

By Aunt Wendy

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Easy Pepper Steak

  • 1lb of your favorite steak (whatever fits the budget) cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

In a large skillet, add steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, soy sauce, and butter. Cook until steak is done to your liking, add a little more soy sauce as needed. When steak is brown, add corn starch to

thicken mixture. Let simmer for about 7 minutes. Serve over rice. Cost is less than $10. (07/20/2005)

By Christy

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

In college, and even now, this has been one of my absolute favorites:

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 small can of diced pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 can baby corn
  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • Nice helping of salt
Make sure to drain all canned food (aside from the milk, of course). Simply throw it all in together and cook until slightly boiling.

It makes enough for two people and the taste is such a nice change of pace. My brother calls it "Bachelor Stew" because it is so easy and quick to make and still comes out quite impressive.

Note: If you like a little color to your soup (the above mixture will be yellow) you can add things like chopped broccoli, bell peppers, etc. Whatever suits you. The important part is the coconut milk and


Enjoy. (09/24/2005)

By Theresa

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Just had to add something my dad would always throw together. Its cheap, easy, and makes a lot and to this day I still love it.

Brown gravy, ground beef and egg noodles. Make them all separately and then on your plate make a bed of noodles, meat on top of that then a little brown gravy over all of it. I usually like to have corn

on the side but, I add corn to just about anything. (10/17/2005)

By Vladd

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

English muffin pizzas:
(for two)

  • 6 English muffins
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • leftover meat (chicken, ground beef, pepperoni, sausage) for topping (optional)

Cut the muffins in half lengthwise. Bake at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until slightly crispy. They shouldn't be browning. Top each with a spoonful of tomato sauce and bit of cheese, plus meat, if

desired. Bake at 300 another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

If you buy all this at Walmart, it will cost $1.75. (Half a 12 pack of English muffins, half an 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese)

Also, I freeze all the bits of leftover meat and or veggies from other meals. I freeze it in Ziplock bags and mark the contents and date with a sharpie on the Ziplock bag. You can thaw and use these

leftovers for a recipe like this, or stir fry, pot pie, whatever. Comes in handy when you don't want to cook. (10/30/2005)

By Lacey

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Look for "Michellines" (or something like that) brand frozen foods. These are usually really cheap and microwaveable too. And don't forget canned soups are usually inexpensive.

Recipe for Belly Buttons:

Try slicing hot dogs (around $2 a pack) into about a 1/4 inch slices and place flat side in baking dish. Pour (.99cents) Barbecue sauce over and bake at 350 degrees, until hot dogs are done.
If invited to a party then make these and serve them with toothpicks. Tell everyone they are "belly buttons" and they will be a hit. (11/05/2005)

By Melissa

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I am also a college student, tight on money. One of my favorite easy, cheap meals is angel hair pasta (less than $2 at Safeway) and veggies. I just toss one green bell pepper and some garlic and oil in a

frying pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I cook up the pasta, which only takes about 3mins. After the pasta has been strained, toss it in the pan and add some salt, pepper, and any other

spices you like and you've got a delicious, healthy, cheap meal. Total prep time should be about 15 minutes. Enjoy. (12/12/2005)


RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I got this recipe from a friend of mine and my family of 6 loves it and there are always leftovers for the next day.

Easy Scalloped Potatoes

  • 1 bag of hash browns
  • 1-2 cans of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2- 1 cup grated cheese (I have used Cheeze Wiz and it works too),
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder, if you like
Mix all together in a baking dish and cook at 350 for an hour or until golden brown and bubbling. (01/13/2006)

By Michelle

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Try this:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup rice
  • Soy sauce

Cook the rice, and fry the onion and the egg together. Add the onion and egg to the rice, stir it through, and add soy sauce to taste.

Simple, effective, filling, cheap. (01/19/2006)

By Chris

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I have a great dish that is cheap and good. Take a head of cabbage and chop it fine. Add 1 package of broken, uncooked Ramen noodles and mix well. Then make the dressing: Add the pack of seasonings from the

Ramen noodles to 1/4 cup of oil and 6 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Pour over the cabbage-Ramen mixture and toss well. Add 1 cup of chopped cooked chicken, ham, or tuna. (You can

use canned cooked chicken) You can add chopped green onions or any fresh herbs you like, but in about 2 hours you have a delicious salad that keeps for several days. (02/15/2006)

By Michele

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My roommate and I created a great dish when we we're flat broke called Johnny Mash.

  • 1 package of Idahoan flavored mashed potatoes
  • 1 can of corn
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
  • Ranch dressing (optional)
  • Garlic salt
Cook the potatoes and mix the corn in. Add a glop (I say glop because I never measure it) of Ranch and add good amount of shredded cheese. Mix and enjoy.

It's incredibly cheap, cooks in 3-4 minutes, delicious and filling for hours. (04/05/2006)

By DaveyCaz

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Being a mother of 3 boys with one income, we live on a tight tight budget. Here are a couple great ideas that are yummy.

If you have a stove/oven, you can make this. You will need a muffin pan (the larger sized, not mini).

  • 1 or 2 cans of Progresso soup (any you like, chicken noodle's my favorite), drain most of the juice out of each can.
  • 1 or 2 cans of Pillsbury flaky layers biscuits

Spray muffin tray with nonstick spray, lightly. Open the cans of biscuits and separate, divide each biscuit into 2 layers. Put one layer in each cup of the muffin pan, pressing lighty into bottom and

sides. Spoon the soup into each biscuit lined tin, to almost full. Top each with the other half of biscuit. If you have seasoning (garlic, Italian seasoning, etc.) you can sprinkle something on top for

flavor, or even some shredded cheese. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 - 18 mins. Use a knife after letting cool for a few minutes to loosen from sides. (05/30/2006)

By Tracy

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Enchilada mock:

  • 1 can baked beans (drained)
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese
  • fry them together
Start with the beans on bottom and then put chips then cheese, once the cheese starts to melt mix it up until it's all hot, delicious. (01/27/2007)

By Claire

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I love corn tortillas and you can usually get 50 for about a 1.50 at Walmart. (Note that corn tortillas taste better if you fry them in oil or nonstick cooking spray for a few minutes. Or if baking make sure

they get really hot.)

Eggs and tortilla omlette: rip up a couple of corn tortillas and start to fry them in an omlette pan (or fry pan). Scramble some eggs together with tomato paste and season salt. Once the tortillas are

soft, pour the batter over the tortillas. You can flip the patty like an omlette, or if you are impatient, you can just scramble it all together. I like to complete the dish with just a little bit of salsa

and cheese.

Southwest casserole: Take your favorite Mexican ingredients (refried beans, ground beef/chicken-cooked, cheese, corn, onions and salsa). Layer the ingredients (about three layers), starting with ripped up

tortillas. Bake in 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top with sour cream. (02/26/2007)

By Shawnee

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

One of the quickest things I've ever eaten. I used to have this all the time when I would go straight from school to work and be gone from 8 am to 11 pm and was exhausted.

Boil a potato with the skin on. Chop up said potato into a frying pan with a little bit of oil, add diced onions and green peppers and an egg or two. Cook and scramble like you would make scrambled eggs

until the potato is golden brown on the edges. Eat and enjoy. Very filling. (03/06/2007)


RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Get a $10 Crock Pot from Walmart. Then throw in anything you want such as vegetables, potatoes, meat and cook for a few hours. It's idiot proof. Just don't add too much salt, and you got a good meal which

can be frozen and recooked.

Also, this will allow you to use really cheap ingredients like dried beans, etc. (04/30/2007)

By Brandon

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student


  • Chicken Breast (flattened-use a heavy can or tenderizer, make sure you put the chicken in a bag or between Saran wrap or wax paper)
  • Tomato Sauce or Sliced tomato
  • Mozzarella cheese (as many slices/enough to cover chicken breasts)
  • Parmesan (about 1/8 C or small handful for 4-6 breasts)
  • Pasta or rice (2-4 cups cooked)

Sauce variation

  • Cook the pasta or rice
  • Put in baking dish
  • Pour the sauce over the noodles
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese
  • Place chicken breasts on top
  • Cook until chicken is almost done (should not be pink in middle)
  • Place cheese on top, cook until melted

Sliced tomato version:
Follow directions above but bake the chicken separate from pasta/rice. Put chicken in pan, slice of tomato on top, add cheese when almost done.

Be careful, tomatoes are very hot when they come out of the oven. (05/30/2007)

By Suz

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student


  • cooked rice
  • cheese (your preference)
  • veggies (your preference)
  • meat (your preference)
  • Core the tomatoes/peppers
  • Slice a little off the bottom of peppers (so sits flat but does not have holes in bottom)
  • Slice an "X" in the bottom of the tomatoes (not too deep)
  • Cook rice
  • Cook veggies
  • Cook meat
  • Add rice, veggies, meat together with cheese

  • Stuff tomatoes or peppers with mixture

You can also add a can of tomato/veggie/cream soup to mix to make it juicier. (05/30/2007)

By Suz

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Easy Chicken Fried Rice (You'll need a Wok or a big frying pan for this one)


  • 1/2 or 1 pound of raw boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • Oil
  • Instant Rice (Whatever amount you prefer)
  • Veggies, whatever you prefer, green onions also known as scallions are essential in my humble opinion
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • Egg (optional)


  1. Rip the chicken up in to little pieces (I do it with my hands, but if that's too icky for ya you can just start cooking it and then rip it apart with a wooden spoon in the Wok/pan).
  2. Oil the wok/pan and fry the chicken in the Wok/pan until there's no pink left in it.
  3. Concurrently, boil the rice.
  4. Shortly before the chicken is done, add the other ingredients (If your using eggs, add them first to make sure they cook and then add the mushrooms, veggies, etc.).
  5. Cook the stir fry until you think it's done, if using frozen veggies, cook until they're thawed and warm.
  6. Drain the rice and add to the Wok, turn off the heat but leave the Wok on the burner. "Do not" drain the contents of the wok before adding the rice lest you lose the flavor of the previous ingredients

    that has escaped in to the oil.

  7. Mix the rice in with the other ingredients.
  8. Add Soy Sauce and stir, continue until all the white is gone from the rice.
  9. Enjoy.

I usually make a lot of this and then eat some while refrigerating the rest for meals later in the week. It'll last a decent amount of time as long as the seal in the container is air tight. I've never

actually timed it but I've eaten it up to two weeks later and it was fine. You can also substitute other meats for the chicken: pork, ground beef, beef strips, etc. (06/21/2007)

By Murray

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My boyfriend's favorite meal reminds us both of being a kid again. Take a box of Mac and Cheese make as usual. Then open a roll/can of crescent rolls or biscuit dough and roll a package of hot dogs for "Pigs in

a Blanket". Bake as long as the crescent rolls or biscuit directions say. Really, really good and great comfort food. (12/17/2007)

By Recelynne

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

The thing to remember about Ramen is it's packed full of sodium and very few vitamins. Cheap yes, healthy no. For cheap and healthy, I suggest homemade dhal masala. If you invest in the spices (turmeric,

ginger and garam masala) the lentils are $0.89 a pound. Can't beat that.

Soak a cup or so of lentils for half an hour, chop an onion and fry in the bottom of a pot with a little oil. Drain lentils, add to the pot with a couple cups of fresh water. Boil, boil, boil; add a diced

tomato if you like, or some frozen peas, and keep adding water as needed to keep it soupy. When the lentils are completely cooked and it's all kind of a mush, add spices, salt and pepper liberally.


By Judith

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Healthy and good for vegetarians!

Broccoli, Cheddar and Spinach Soup
(ambiguous amounts, but that's how I cook. Bear with me.)

  • 2 large heads of broccoli.
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 bag frozen spinach
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbs butter or bacon fat if you have it
  • 1 block of cheddar cheese (I like sharp)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Put butter/bacon fat in a large pot till melted. Add finely diced onions over medium heat. When onions are golden add diced potatoes, broth and chopped up broccoli. Don't worry if broth doesn't cover

everything. Put a lid on the pot and let boil on medium high heat for a half hour. Now add the frozen spinach and put the lid back on for another ten minutes.
Now get a blender or better yet, an immersion blender and blend the hell out of the whole batch. Careful, its hot.
When it reaches your desired texture, add shredded cheddar and slowly add the cream. Stir until everything melts together. You have soup. Eat with toast. This will feed one person for about a week. I know

because I lived off this my first two weeks in NC. Enjoy. (03/21/2008)

By L

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

The best thing ever if your trying to save is to make Thai chicken pizza.
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 Boboli pizza dough (ready made)
  • peanut butter
  • pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
  • soy sauce
  • 1 small can of coconut milk
  • water chess nuts
Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce (that you can grab for free at the grocery store) and 1/2 cup of coconut milk until liquefied. Chop the green onions, water chess nuts, and shave the carrots. Pour the sauce

on top of the ready made pizzas and add mozzarella cheese on top. Then finish with the chopped veggies and pre-browned chicken. Place in oven at 450 for 15 minutes. (04/12/2008)

By Taylor and Kara

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

This is something that my boyfriend and I make all the time because its easy and cheap.

Pizza Casserole

  • 1 Bag pepperoni slices
  • 3 bags of shredded cheese (or how ever much you prefer, we like it really cheesy)
  • 1 Small container of Cottage Cheese
  • 1 Box of Rotini Pasta
  • 1 Can of Pasta Sauce

Sometimes we throw in a little tub of Sour Cream, though I'm not sure why. Try it if you're interested.

Preheat oven to 350 and begin cooking pasta. Once it is complete, mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, but save at least 3/4's of a bag of cheese. Pour the mixture in a casserole dish and pop it in

the oven for about 20 minutes, then put the rest of that cheese on top and cook it for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. And there ya have it, a yummy, cheapo casserole. (04/22/2008)

By C

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1lb hamburger
  • 1 bag tots
  • small bag shredded cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 1 onion and 1 green pepper(optional)

Brown Hamburger, drain. Mix hamburger with soup, cheese, green pepper and onion in baking dish. Top with tater tots. Follow baking directions for the tater tots. Delicious.

By Tabitha

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Red Beans and Rice is a nice idea for cheap. We ate this a lot when I was growing up. My basic recipe uses 2 Cans of Red Beans or 1 Can of Red beans 1 can of chili beans. 1 Roll of Sausage and at least 2

cups of rice.

Brown the sausage and then add in the beans drained or not drained. Let them simmer if you didn't drain them or simply leave the pan on warm if you did drain.

Boil the rice and serve the beans and sausage over the rice. I also use small amounts of Tabasco, garlic, steak sauce, and barbecue sauce to create a tasty sauce that is totally optional. Feeds 4-6 people

for one meal or just my self and girlfriend for at least 2 meals. When I was living alone I would eat this stuff for 2 or 3 days for under 5$. (10/01/2008)

By Robert

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

A lot of these recipes have meat which is really expensive and not to mention hard to digest. It's so easy and cheap to make vegetarian tasty meals. Get some TVP (Texturized vegetable protein) at a health

food store. These are dried granules that mimic ground beef. You use 1 cup granules to 1 cup hot water and you'll get double the amount. Add a bit of soy sauce or soak in hot bouillon instead of water to give

it flavour. Then add to chili, tacos, spaghetti sauce, this is a great source of protein and much cheaper than meat. Some meat eaters use this and a combination of ground beef to make meatloaf. Here is a

great TVP meatless loaf that serves a lot. My friends kids who are meat eaters loved it


  • 3 cups of TVP granules
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each of oregano and garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley flakes
Mix tvp with water, ketchup and basil in a large bowl.
Saute the onion in olive oil. Add onions to the tvp and stir
in the rest of the ingredients. Spread into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. If it starts getting too brown early, cover with foil. Take out of the oven and let sit for 15 minutes

before removing from the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite gravy. This entire meatloaf can feed about 6 people and costs about $2-3 to make. (10/27/2008)

By freya1970

RE: Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here's one I didn't see and my mom made a lot. Around here, a pound of bologna is about $1, 5 lbs of potatoes are $2 and a can of corn about $0.50. So it's less then $3 for 6 or so people to eat.

I've always called it: Fried Bologna Meal

  • pound of German bologna
  • potatoes
  • can of corn

Cook potatoes so that you have mashed potatoes and warm up the corn. Then fry the bologna in a pan, don't worry they will curl up like a bowl and that's what you want. Fry up two or three per person.

Then on a plate put the fried bologna, in the middle of the bologna put some mashed potatoes and put on some of the corn on top of that, enjoy.

Now that us kids are out of the house, my mom told me the other day that instead of frying the bologna in a pan, she puts it in a muffin pan just like she would on a plate and then adds cheese to it. I

haven't tried it yet but it sounds real good to me. (04/18/2009)

By tmlyman

Archive: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

What are some inexpensive meal ideas?

Jessica from IA


RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Pancakes, eggs, and french toast if your family doesn't balk at eating breakfast foods for dinner. (05/11/2005)

RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Sandwiches- My favorite being peanut butter and jam or banana.

Soup- From a can or heat some stock and throw in some veggies, especially potatoes!

Pasta- Pasta and sauce, cheap, easy and fast.

Rice- Cook rice, add veggies or tofu

You can probably find some good books at the library focused on this topic. I know my library has many! (02/19/2007)

By Katie

RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

One of my family's favorites is linguine cooked and drained, tossed with butter, top with generous Parmesan cheese, and then topped with stewed tomatoes, with some garlic bread and a salad. (02/19/2007)

By msburny

RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

I made patties out of a basic meatloaf recipe, just beef, bread crumbs, egg, diced onion, salt and pepper to taste. Brown patties on both sides. Mix cream of mushroom soup (can use cream soup of choice) and 1/2 -3/4 soup can milk, pour over top of patties, cover and simmer until patties are done, about 1/2 hr. Served with corn and mashed potatoes, with the sauce for gravy, and dump cake for desert. My picky family loves it. (02/21/2007)

By jmz2005

RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

  • 1 lb. box spaghetti
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • Salt
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • Powder garlic

    In small amount of oil; brown spaghetti and onions stirring, constantly not to scorch. When brown, add water and tomatoes, sauce and spices. Allow to cook until spaghetti is done

    Optional: You can add jalapeno peppers. My daughter adds prepared meatballs. (02/21/2007)

    By lzygranny

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Here is a one pan easy meal that I call Leftover Picnic Ham:

    Three baked or fresh potatoes
    Bell pepper

    Trim the bone and chip PIECES that were not sliced for sandwiches. Cut into bite size pieces. Place a small amount of oil in a pan. Put cubed pepper and onions in. Then add cubed potatoes. Fry until brown. Salt and pepper. (02/21/2007)

    By janice westbrook

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    My take on this is never skimp on the nutrition. You can buy ingredients for meals cheaply. Watch for sales, and then match coupons to the sale items. I got 20 cartons of free oatmeal last month that way, and 44 cups of free yogurt this month. If you go to the bread outlet, they might sell you a whole barrel of outdated bread for $3-4. Some will be moldy, so take it to the park and feed the ducks. Try to get whole grain. Stick some in the freezer. Dry some and make bread crumbs for chicken or pork or fish. Make bread pudding. Cook macaroni, canned tomatoes and chunks of bread together -- we ate a lot of that in my childhood.

    All kinds of beans are nutritious, and you don't need expensive ingredients to make them good. Of course, I got a case of my favorite pork and beans when they were on sale for .40 and there were .40 coupons on them. With a can of garbanzos and some celery, you can have hummus dip. We do this for movie nights when we want something special. We are eating Oatmeal-To-Go that cost .50 per box with coupons and a sale, and we have 20 boxes! Ask the produce manager if he/she will sell you a box of culled produce for a reduced price. I have bought a whole lug for $2.00 lots of times. If you get all lemons, make marmalade or lemonade. Of course, save some to marinate some chicken. Beans and grains are nutritious and very cheap. A 25-pound bag of either will make at least 200 servings.

    I bought a broken bag of whole spring wheat for $5, and it makes a wonderful pilaf or sometimes I make Bulgar. A hand grinder doesn't cost much, and you can use it to make whole grain flour from the spring wheat. It makes delightful cookies and cakes and pies. For bread you want hard wheat flour. Whatever you grow is cheap. Today (February 21) I am going to put up some pumpkin butter. We still have 10 large Kabocha squashes under the bed where they stay cool but don't freeze. They won't keep a lot longer since they've been there almost 5 months. So pumpkin butter, pumpkin pies, and lovely mashed squash as a veggie side dish for a year. Or I'll sell some pumpkin butter at the farmer's market next spring.

    My meal plan is this: See what's in the refrigerator. Now see what's in the cupboard. Try to put together 1 protein, 1 starch, and 1 veggie. Protein can be as simple as an egg. Brown rice makes a great starch and is available for about $10.00/25 pounds. Veggies can be all kinds of things. You can even forage in the wild for dock, asparagus, etc. Are there wild berries in your neck of the woods? Good luck! (02/21/2007)

    By coreenhart

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    One other thing I just experienced is that I checked out the cheese bin at a local grocery and found some Irish cheese, an aged cheddar, with no price on it. Digging through the bin I found several other blocks, but none of them had prices either. Then I noticed the expiration date: 2/13/07. I took one to the deli counter and asked them to give me a price, pointing out that the expiration date had already passed. The lady said, "Oh, this should have already been pulled!" and went over there and started pulling it. I told her it looked okay to me and I just wanted to get a price on it, and she said she'd mark it down, and how many did I want? I told her that depended on the price, and she said she'd mark them down to a dollar each. If they had been priced I expect the original price on them would have been four to five bucks, so I scooped them up.

    The moral of this story is, watch those expiration dates, and if something looks good but is outdated, ask for a deal on it. This works with anything; cheese, meat, whatever. If the date is out whoever is in charge just wants to get it out of the store.

    You can save money if you *pay attention*. I figure most folks on this list are here for the same reason I am. We aren't rich and need to stretch what little money we have. I don't want to rip anybody off, but taking advantage of a deal like that is good for everyone. (02/26/2007)

    By Alph

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    This is a meal idea I came up with in my first year at University as a cheap meal for one or two.

    Baked Flat Mushroom:

    Take 1 or 2 large flat mushrooms per person and lightly drizzle with olive oil, bake for about 10-15 mins on a medium high heat.

    Once the mushroom is baked to your preference place either Parmesan or Cheddar over the top of the mushrooms and grill until browned.

    Serve with organic couscous (made in the bowl with hot water and a tea towel placed over the top for about 5 minutes), mixing the couscous with some organic olive oil. Also serve with raw spinach, making sure it has been thoroughly rinsed and tossed with a little bit of organic oil and sea salt flakes.

    This meal was a life saver for me. It's unbelievably cheap to make, especially if cooking it for 4 or so people as you use up a pack of 4 large flat mushrooms and a bag of spinach at once. Also the presentation can be lovely for a dinner party with smaller portions for a starter, or even a main as the ingredients are really good for stacking. (03/27/2007)

    By Saha

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    I like to make tater tot casserole. Brown some ground beef and put in a baking dish. Pour cream chicken and cream of mushroom soup in. Place tater tots on top and bake about 30 min. After baking, put shredded cheese on top and place back in oven a couple minutes to melt the cheese. This is so good with ketchup! Sounds weird, but the kids love it. (09/13/2007)

    Mexi-Mac and Cheese

    This is a family favorite and so easy to make!

    Just get some minced meat and brown it. Add a pack of taco seasoning. Cook the Macaroni and Cheese according to package. Place a little of the Mac and Cheese on a baking dish (make a layer). Add the meat and then add the rest of the Macaroni and Cheese.

    If you have some nachos or tortilla chips, crumble some with your hands and add it all over the top of your dish. If you feel for extra cheese, add some more cheese on top. Bake it for a few minutes. So yummy! (09/29/2007)

    By Sol

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Inexpensive Goulash (feeds 4 with leftovers for under $3):

  • 1/2 lb. hamburger
  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cans tomato paste
  • Garlic and onion powders
  • Salt and pepper

    Boil elbow macaroni per package instructions and drain

    Meanwhile, brown hamburger in a large skillet (so you can mix everything together in it afterward). Season with a shake of garlic powder and a couple shakes of onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. When done, drain and add the tomato paste. Sometimes I add a splash of water to thin the paste and mix well with the hamburger. Add the macaroni and some more salt and pepper. Heat a few minutes - careful not to scorch the tomato paste.

    My family loves this and I make it at least twice a month.

    Cheap and Easy Beef Stroganoff (less than $5 to feed 4):

  • 2 breakfast (or minute) steaks (approx. $1.75 at my butcher's)
  • 1 can mushroom pieces (50 cents)
  • 1 can beef broth (50 cents)
  • 1 can water (use beef broth can)
  • 1 pkg. brown gravy mix (50 cents)
  • A shake or two of both onion and garlic powders
  • 1/4 cup (approx.) sour cream (maybe about 50 cents)
  • 3 cups of instant rice (make according to pkg. instr.)

    Make the rice first. This dish only takes about 5-7 minutes to make.

    Cut steak into thin strips, and fry in large skillet in a tiny amount of oil.

    Add mushrooms (drained) and a shake or two of both onion and garlic powders. Stir around for a minute and then add the beef broth and water. Bring to a boil.

    When boiling, add the brown gravy mix and stir until all the lumps are gone. Reduce heat and add the sour cream. Stir until mixed, do not boil.

    Serve over rice, as it's very good and satisfying. I usually serve this with peas on the side and bread or rolls.

    Cheap and Easy Barbecue Pork Sandwiches:

  • 3-4 lbs. Western Style Pork Ribs (buy on sale $1/lb)
  • 1/2 bottle favorite barbecue sauce
  • Hamburger buns

    Boil the ribs until they fall off the bones (1 1/2 to 2 hrs). Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with foil and shred ribs onto it. Pour barbecue sauce over and mix up. Spread out to one layer and bake about 15 minutes or until they don't look too wet.

    Heap onto hamburger buns. Serve with coleslaw or salad. This feeds my family of 4 two meals. (12/01/2007)

    By Cathy Lee

    RE: Cheap and Easy Sloppy Joes

  • 1 # Ground Beef
  • 1 Can Tomato Soup
  • Onion and Garlic Powders
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hamburger Buns

    Brown hamburger and drain. Season with a few shakes of pepper, salt, and onion powder. I only do a small shake of the garlic powder. Add the tomato soup and stir to combine. Heat through and serve on hamburger buns.

    My family prefers this over Manwich or other sloppy joe sauces, and it is much cheaper. (12/01/2007)

    By Cathy Lee

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Here are two recipes that my mom use to make that I got before she passed away. You probably already have some of the ingredients in your cupboard. These are good hits with my children, family, and relatives. The first is what she called:

    Summertime Chili:

  • 1 lb. ground beef with cut up onion in it. Brown meat and onion/drain.
  • 1 can Ranch Beans
  • 1 can Mixed Beans
  • 1 can Mixed Vegetables
  • 1 small 4 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can Rotel (This is Hot, you may need to use only 1/2 can, it depends on your taste)
  • 1 can of Minestrone Soup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    ***Mix together all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low 4 hours*** Saltine crackers crumbled up in the bowls are a plus.

    And the second recipe my mom use to make is called:

    King Ranch Casserole:

  • 1 package skinless/boneless chicken
  • 2 cans of Rotel
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • onion and/or bell pepper
  • shredded cheese
  • corn chips (about 14 oz.) (you may want to add peas, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, or other ingredients...just depends on the taste and what you may already have in the refrigerator or cupboard you need to get rid of)

    ***Broil chicken in water on stove. After chicken is done cooking, peel chicken in large bowl. Mix chicken with rotel, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, onion, (bell pepper or any other ingredients you may wish to add) in a bowl. Spread corn chips in a baking dish, spread some broth from the chicken over the chips to moisten the chips. Spoon on the mixture over the chips. Spread shredded cheese over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

    By Kimberly Gering, and my mother Sandra Sue Gering.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot to share my mom's recipe for a fantastic dessert. It is also a big hit and cheap to make! She called it her Strawberry Shortcake:

  • 1 box white cake mix (mix as directed on box)
  • 1 package (3oz.) Strawberry Flavored Gelatin
  • 2 cups (two 10oz. pkg.) frozen strawberries, completely thawed.
  • 1 cup of miniature marshmallows

    ***Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix thawed strawberries and gelatin together, set aside, generously grease bottom of a 13x9 cake pan. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Serve with cool whip or ice cream. Store in refrigerator. (This also makes a good baby shower cake, potluck dessert, or even a birthday cake, and it's easy and cheap!) (05/25/2008)

    By gering_kimberly

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    I use all of my leftover dinner meats (chicken pieces, turkey, ham, roast beef, roast venison) and make into a pot pie. Pie crusts are cheap and easy. All you have to do is saute some onions, potatoes, and carrots in butter for a few minutes, add one can of broth (match to meat) and cook for 6 minutes on low, covered. Then add 1 cup meat, 2 cups mixed veggies, salt, pepper, and 1-2 tbs flour to thicken broth. When thick, pour into pie crust, put other crust on top. Seal and flute it, cut 1 inch slits in top, then bake for 45-60 mins.

    My family loves this recipe and it's a cheap way to use up extra meat. When I make turkey for Thanksgiving, I cut up the leftovers into portions for this recipe and freeze it so I have it for many more meals. Same with roast. (06/23/2008)

    By Jennifer H.

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    We're cutting corners, and trying to cut way back on our grocery bills. I just got back from the grocery store. $46 for a family for a week! It's much better than what it used to be (and it still sounds like a lot to me).

    I'm making three meals for the week, which will each have leftovers, plus the option for different groceries. I won't go over everything I bought, just the stuff for these two meals I don't think too many people prepare:

    Chicken Mushroom Rice:

  • 2 chicken breasts (bought frozen-9 for $6)-$1.33
  • Rice (bag was $2, we're using 1/4)-$.50
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup-$.68
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar- Approx. $1.00

    Slice the breasts up and fry them in a tiny amount of oil in a saucepan. When they're cooked through (and possibly even browned a bit), reduce heat, add can of mushroom soup, and let sit. Meanwhile, cook the rice with a bit of butter and a splash of lemon juice. Serve layered: Rice, chicken mushroom mixture, top with cheese. Makes four generous portions at a cost of $.88 a serving.

    Chicken Curry Alfredo:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts-$1.33
  • Penne pasta-$.88
  • 1 Jar Prepared Alfredo Sauce-$2.00

    Same thing- slice the chicken, saute it up, add sauce, doctor with spices and most importantly, add a heaping spoon of curry powder. Add to penne. Serve. $1.05 per serving.

    I like the whole "calculating the price of a serving" method, because it helps you sort out what's reasonable and what's just too much to be spending on a budget. About a dollar per serving for dinner (much less for other meals, of course), sounds reasonable to me. More is just too much. (07/11/2008)

    By Hillery

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    Hamburger and Hash brown Casserole (serves 4):

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 lb. of Hamburger meat
  • 2 cups of hash browns (I find that Potatoes O'Brien work best)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese

    Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and brown the meat and onion together, drain. Pour in the hash browns into the baking dish and then the meat/onion mix, pour on the cream of mushroom and then sprinkle on the cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

    My husband and I love this recipe. It's SO easy and very cheap to make. Every time I've made this for someone new, they always say "This is amazing!" :) Enjoy. (10/05/2008)

    By lauren

  • Archive: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    I am looking for very cheap recipes and meal ideas. Half the week there are just 2 of us, and the rest of the week there are 6.

    I already make things like spaghetti bowls, mac and cheese, shepherd's pie, lasagna, jacket potatoes, stews and soups, curries, etc. We also make our own bread.

    We have a very low budget and 2 of us are vegetarians. I am looking for new ideas. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    By Charlie from England


    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczn is the best book I've found for saving money on groceries. You can buy the Complete Tightwad Gazette (which includes all three of the Tightwad Gazette series) used at for $8.76, or you can buy the Tightwad Gazette II or III each starting at $0.01 at Amazon, so basically you would just pay shipping and handling for both books. I have the complete series and it contains a wealth of information. (12/23/2009)

    By Patty Lynn

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    We enjoy baked potatoes with broccoli, butter, cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
    Homemade vegetable soup is also good.
    Make your own pizza dough add spaghetti sauce, vegetables of your choice, mushrooms, onions, etc., or buy cheap pizzas and embellish with other vegetables.
    What about macaroni and cheese?
    Make a vegetable lasagna and use cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese to cut the cost.
    Buy sandwich sliced bread instead of the regular; more slices in the package; grilled cheese, salad sandwiches with dressing tastes good on toasted bread. (12/23/2009)

    By Lorelei

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    One of our go tos is corn stew. One can each of whole kernel corn, creamed corn, and stewed tomatoes. Heat and serve over rice. We add frankfurters cut into coins, which the non-vegetarians could add to theirs. You could stretch it even further with most types of canned vegetables and well drained beans, etc. It's fast (longest time is cooking the rice), can be made cheaply and the ingredients are usually on hand.

    Farmer's omelet is easy too. Fry up some potatoes and onions, add beaten eggs. Can be served like an omelet (just flip with a plate and slide the uncooked side down into the frying pan) or scrambled. Sprinkle some cheese on it and enjoy. (12/24/2009)

    By Frazzled Leslie

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    We use Top Ramen which is 6 for 99cents here. As it is cooking, drop in an egg or two and cook until just the white is cooked. Add some chopped green onions (optional) and a little soy sauce. I learned this from a Japanese friend. Same thing with rice, add an egg to hot rice and mix. The heat from the rice partially cooks the egg. Add some soy sauce. These are family favorites now. (12/24/2009)

    By wasshrunk

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    The Living More with Less book series may seem old fashioned at first, but the book has a wealth of knowledge and the cook book is a wonderful resource for those tight budgets. I found them both at for about $5.00 each because they were out of print, and rare, so they cost more! But having them has helped me realize all the things my family takes for granted! (12/31/2009)

    By leftthesanebehind

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas

    This is an awesome dish that you can all enjoy.


    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 garlic clove, chopped and crushed
    • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
    • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
    • 10, or more russet potatoes
    • 2 cups milk.
    • water
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 2 sticks of butter
    • 3 stalks of celery with leaves if possible.

    Prep -
    Chop and crush garlic clove. Start two cups of water to boil and soak potatoes in sink.
    While the water boils scrub the potatoes and dice them small. Add the garlic, bay, and rosemary to the water. Dice celery and leaves of celery.

    <p.Then -
    Add all of the diced potatoes and celery to the pot and just enough water to cover them. Add milk, butter, and soup. You will not want to add more water if the soup cans are condensed. Bring the water to boil for 35 minutes stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to simmering and cook for two hours. Stir every ten minutes.

    This makes an awesome crock pot dish, just be sure to boil the herbs before you add them to the crock pot so you get their full flavor.
    Garnish with diced roast beef, cheese, or diced pan cooked toast. Salt and pepper to taste. (02/04/2010)

    By Mr.Snow

    RE: Inexpensive Meal Ideas


    • 1 head of cabbage
    • 1-2 large onions
    • 1 pound bow tie pasta (or any macaroni style or egg noodles)

    While cooking pasta, cut and saute onions and cabbage together in margarine or butter in a covered pan until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix with cooked pasta and fry all together another 5 to 10 minutes. Very flavorful and is a huge Pennsylvania favorite. We like to add 6-8 oz of sour cream to it when finished, it is amazing, feeds 6-8 and is cheap! (09/15/2010)

    By kimmiekim

    Food and Recipes Food Tips Cheap MealsDecember 2, 2011
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