Sometimes the need arises for creativity in stretching the grocery budget. No judgement here. Trust me, I know what it’s like to have $25 left to your name and still need to buy 2 weeks worth of groceries… I’ve learned to cook from the pantry (utilizing what we have on hand in new ways), use coupons to get freebies and cheapies and I’ve lived off ramen for lunch. In the practice of being broke, I’ve come up with some pretty decent and yet super cheap meals. I hope you find them helpful in the event that you become broke and need some dirt cheap recipes 😉 OR in the event that you just want to be cheap!
- Ramen – Of course I had to mention this one. I like to jazz mine up. Throw a few leaves of spinach in and crack an egg right on top. As it cooks in the microwave, the boiling water will poach the egg. Then just use half the packet of seasoning, if any at all.
- Chips & Dip – A can of refried beans and a bag of tortilla chips cost $1 each at the dollar store. Dice and sautee an onion or slice of bacon to mix into the beans and kick up the flavor.
- Tacos – You can go with just beans and rice or ground beef. Whatever you can afford. Then just throw on salsa, cheese, sour cream or nothing at all.
- Hot Dogs – You can go the old school route and just boil a few dogs and serve on white bread. Or you can make pigs in a blanket. Cut each dog in half and wrap in a slice of cheese and then a Pillsbury biscuit. Cook for 8 minutes at 350.
- Skillet Potatoes – Slice up potatoes and fry in a skillet. Add in sliced polish sausage or hot dogs and fry together. Then crack in a few eggs. This is a childhood favorite of mine!
- Toasted Cheese – Ah, the classic. Try making it with different cheeses.
- Potato Dishes – A 5 pound bag of potatoes is often on sale for $2 in these parts. You can make baked potatoes, potato soup, mashed potatoes, fries and more.
- TV Dinners – I really recommend against doing this, but if you don’t have time to do otherwise, there are frozen dinners in the $1 or less range. Banquet and Michlena’s have a decent variety of things for cheap.
- Spaghetti – A box of spaghetti will cover 8 servings for a buck and you can make a simple sauce with just a can tomato paste for 50 cents. Just mix in some spices (basil, oregano, etc) and water.
- Hamburger Helper – You don’t even have to buy the box. You can make your own form, often called goulash, for cheap. You’ll need pasta or rice, sauce (tomato sauce or even alfredo) and meat (chicken, beef, tuna).
- Salad – Go for iceberg lettuce and top with a tomato, maybe even an onion and a boiled egg.
- Eggs Dishes – Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, eggs in a basket, easy over eggs, egg salad, even breakfast sandwiches and burritos.
- Rotisserie Chicken – Now before you say, “But that’s expensive!?” You’re half right. It will cost $5-$7 for a whole chicken, BUT it can make several meals. Use the gizzards to make a meal of fried liver or a gravy. Cook the chicken whole and serve one day. Save the leftovers for another. Pick the remaining meat off the bones to make chicken salad. Then use the bones to make broth. So many meals out of one chicken is a real money saver.
- Breakfast For Dinner – Do eggs and toast or pancakes. Really, any number of things typically deemed as breakfast foods are pretty cheap!
- Peanut Butter And Jelly – You can skip the jelly if that’s not you. A jar of peanut butter will cost about $3 but be enough for dozens of sandwiches.
Do you have any super cheap meals you enjoy? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to try!