Add to GuideAsk a Question
To Top

Cheap Meal Ideas

Category Cheap Meals
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.
Ad

Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

40 found this helpful
November 15, 2011

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.

    Ad

    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!

    Ad

    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

Ad
Comment Was this helpful? 40
Anonymous
November 19, 20121 found this helpful

My husband and I learned the first year we were married how to overcome hunger, and no food in the house even thought you are working hard everyday. The first time we got around to having a really good meal in a long while, I noticed we had not thanked God for it at the beginning of the meal. So since then we thank God for his generosity, at every meal, and have not been hungry anymore in 46 years of marriage. It was as simple as that.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
Read More Comments

August 6, 2008

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!)

Ad

Sausage Goulash

Ingredients

Directions

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)

Ingredients

Directions

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!

Ingredients

Directions

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.
Ad

The Best "Beefaroni" Ever

This makes a nice big pot, great leftovers.

Ingredients

Directions

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

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
August 9, 20080 found this helpful

Carol, Thanks for the Best Beefaroni recipe. I like to share with neighbors and friends and this looks really good AND easy. Will try it soon.GG Hugs,Vi

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
November 28, 2012

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

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
May 1, 2008

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.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Read More...

October 15, 20040 found this helpful

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.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Read More...

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
March 31, 2009

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
September 7, 20090 found this helpful

My bf is very picky and won't eat a lot of things but here is one thing he loves:

Mix a box or two of velveeta shells and cheese with a pound or two of hamburger and you are done! You can add onions or peppers or whatever you like to this, but he just eats it plain or with broccoli mixed in. It's good and really cheap!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
May 21, 20100 found this helpful

If possible, buy meat, vegetables or fruits in bulk, divide into storage containers and freeze for use in soups, and stews, etc.

Dry beans and rice, when cooked properly, can be filling and are often a good bargain. Ramen noodles can be the basis of many recipes. And they are cheap. Pasta is generally cheap and you can make your own sauce if you like. I bought a large crock pot and make stew that will feed a family of 5 for 2 or 3 days. Hamburger Helper can be made with less than the pound of ground beef called for, ground pork sausage can be used as the meat, or make without meat if you desire. Many times these items are offered with coupons or sales.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
June 28, 20100 found this helpful

Go to www.hillbillyhousewife.com and look for her $45 emergency menu for feeding a family of 4-6. You may not want to make those meals, but it will give you ideas. This is a great site in general, and it's linked everywhere.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
October 20, 2011

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

By defile from St.John, IN

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 21, 20110 found this helpful

Have you looked on this website. If you type in budget Recipes or cheap recipes you will find alot of them. I know because I have looked them up. Good Luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 31, 20110 found this helpful

You have to rethink the way you cook and eat. As lots of the posters have suggested take advantage of offers at supermarkets and if you can buy ahead if there is a really good offer on something you use regularly.

However now is the time to think about what you eat and whether it is actually nourishing you or just filling you up with empty calories which leave you feeling full for a while but then craving more food as you body tries to get what it needs.

So if you rethink in terms of value for money being value for your body you will steer away from packages and mixes and spend the resources you have on the best basics you can afford. 1 good sized chicken roasted will feed you for a week. With the addition of fresh veg, rice and beans each day you can have a different tasting main meal and enough for lunchtime sandwiches too. Even the soup you make at the end of the week with the chicken carcass, an onion, a carrot some dried herbs and pearl barley will do you more good than any packaged, pre-prepared rubbish.

If you can go to the farm gate for things like potatoes, onions and beans, buy in bulk and split with others in the same fix as you, you will make friends and save money because farmers will give you deals. Wait until the end of the day at farmers markets and ask them what they will give you for $5, you will be amazed, they never want to take stuff home and would rather give it to you cheaply than throw it away.

The internet is your amazing free recipe book, start with Thriftyfun then move out from there, you will find so many cheap and nutritious recipes you won't have enough days of the week to use them all!

If you are interested I have loads of recipes I can send you just let me know, especially the ones for 'elastic chicken'!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 26, 20120 found this helpful

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: www.dollaraday.com. This woman is able to cook three meals per day for $1 per person, per day.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
November 5, 2010

Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas?

By Autumn

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 6, 20100 found this helpful

Individual lasagna noodle rolls>>>you need:

2 cups marinara sauce (from a jar)

1 cup or so of shredded parmesan cheese

1 15 oz container low-fat ricotta cheese

1 lb mushrooms (cooked in bit of olive oil, sliced yellow onion & garlic)

1 egg slightly beaten

1 tab. oregano

(can also add chopped roasted tomatoes--optional)

and 12 Lasagna Noodles--partially cooked 3/4 of the way and drained (should feel smooth, not sticky)

To prepare>>

Pour 1 cup of the sauce to coat bottom of baking dish that'll hold the 12 rolls

To the ricotta, add the cooked mushroom mixture with a slotted spoon, add the beaten egg, add the oregano---mix well

Doing one noodle at a time, spoon 3 tablespoons of cheese mixture onto the noodle (1 Tab at top, 1 in middle, 1 towards bottom). Spread out the mixture to cover the noodle and roll tightly from bottom--place seam side down into baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce over the tops of the lasagna rolls and add some shredded parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 400^ F for 20 minutes, let rest. Can add garnish of fresh thinly sliced basil to add more flavor and color for presentation--- Can be easily frozen to serve whenever you want---just reheat at 350^F for 20 min when you want to serve them individually or more.

+++++++++++++

Turkey Meatloaf with Spinach Roll Up

2 lbs. ground turkey

2 eggs slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs

6 cups chopped fresh spinach

Sea salt and pepper to taste

(some sauce from a jar for serving on slices if wanted..yum!)

Mix turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, s&P with clean hands (don't overwork the meat or it gets tough)

Place meat onto a cutting board lined with foil and shape into a rectangle---place the chopped spinach to cover the entire meat mixture.

Taking the foil from the bottom, start to lift the "rectangle" to help start to ROLL the meat mixture, then carefully pull foil away and then continue until entire roll is completed.

Place turkey rolled-up loaf into a baking pan and bake 350^F for 1 hour and remove when browned--let rest a bit, then slice (you will see colorful green spiral in center of loaf)..This recipe can also be frozen to take out when needed to be eaten in slices. (You may also serve a small portion of sauce over each cooked slice for added flavor!)

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 7, 20100 found this helpful

Burritos:

Ground beef

Potatoes, diced into small cubes

Onion, diced

Salt & pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with potatoes in skillet. When done, roll up in warm flour tortillas and serve with salsa or cheese if desired.

You can make burritos and freeze for a quick meal.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 8, 20100 found this helpful

Macaroni with tuna and peas

Cook package of macaroni (12-16 oz.) according to package directions. Because we are a dairy and gluten free house, we use gluten free pasta and stir in mayo, tuna, and frozen peas. If you like, you could cook regular macaroni and cheese and stir in tuna and peas. Alternative meats include using ground beef, salmon, or leftover chicken.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

June 3, 20120 found this helpful

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

By Helen

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 4, 20120 found this helpful

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.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 31, 20090 found this helpful
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Read More...

November 5, 20100 found this helpful

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

Answers:

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 www.amazon.com 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

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

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

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

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 Amazon.com 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

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

This is an awesome dish that you can all enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 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.

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

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

Halushki

  • 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

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

December 22, 20090 found this helpful

What are some inexpensive meal ideas?

Jessica from IA

Answers:

Inexpensive Meal Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

    Inexpensive Meal Ideas

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

    Three baked or fresh potatoes
    Bell pepper
    Onion

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    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

    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

    Comment Was this helpful? Yes
  • February 19, 20070 found this helpful
    Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
    Comment Was this helpful? Yes
    Read More...
    Related Content
    Categories
    Food and Recipes Food Tips Cheap MealsDecember 2, 2011
    Guides
    Saving Money at Disneyland, Entrance to Disneyland Park
    Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets
    Cheap Date Ideas, Young Couple in the Park
    Cheap Date Ideas
    A child eating a brown bag lunch.
    Quick and Easy School Lunchbox Ideas
    Buying a Cheap Car for First Time Driver, For Sale sign in Window of Used Car
    Buying a Cheap Car for First Time Driver
    More
    🎆
    Fourth of July Ideas!
    👔
    Father's Day Ideas!
    Facebook
    Pinterest
    YouTube
    Contests!
    Newsletters
    Ask a Question
    Share a Post
    Categories
    Desktop Page | View Mobile

    Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

    © 1997-2017 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Published by .

    Generated 2017/05/20 18:20:31 in 3 secs.
    Loading Something Awesome!