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.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
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:
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!
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!
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.
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
This is a great one-dish meal! Inexpensive to make!
Approximate Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
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
You can get all of the ingredients at the dollar store, it whips up fast, and it's a comfort food!
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.
|Time:||5 Minutes Preparation Time|
10 Minutes Cooking Time
By Margaret from Aptos, CA
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!)
Hope you enjoy. Blessings to all!
By Carol from Landisville, PA
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Here are questions related to Cheap Meal Ideas.
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?
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: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianindianrecipes/r/yellowdhal.htm
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: http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2008/06/29/rajma-chawal-kidney-bean-curry/
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!
Does anyone have any cheap meal ideas?
By Teresa W.08/05/2011
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 epicurious.com 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.
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 Casey Eckert04/08/2012
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.
Anyone have any meal ideas that could stretch my £6.00 for 4 days please?
By Sheilah Link06/04/2012
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.
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
By Carriea Coe10/14/2010
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.
I live on less than $800 a month. Can anyone help me with some very cheap recipes?
By defile from St.John, IN
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.
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What are some inexpensive meal ideas that your family enjoys?
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 Monika Bigelow
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)
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:
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.
Leave on burner until tomato mixture is hot.
This is really good served with cooked greens and corn bread. (05/21/2005)
Sprinkle the cheese over the top, then put the lid on and heat until the cheese melts. (07/18/2005)
Quick and easy, my kids love it! (08/28/2006)
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
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? Thanks, Amy :)