Ten Meals on $10 Article - Allrecipes.com
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Ten Meals on $10

On a budget? Here are 10 great meal ideas--each for about $10!

Splurge on a few ingredients; penny-pinch on others. Striking that balance makes it easy to be creative while feeding a family of four.

Roast Chicken Feast

The meal: Roast chicken makes the perfect special occasion meal. Use smaller broiler/fryers and roast potatoes along with the bird to save money. Carrots gussied up with butter and dill make an inexpensive side. Cost: about $7.

The splurge: A Tin Roof Sundae bar for dessert. Buy a pint of generic vanilla ice cream, a jar of fudge sauce, and snack-pack peanuts. Cost: about $6.

Mangia, Mangia

The meal: Less costly than spaghetti and meatballs, Spaghetti Carbonara calls for eggs, bacon, and Parmesan to flavor noodles. Serve with chopped iceberg salad. Cost: about $9.

The splurge: Garlic Bread. Cost: about $3.

Chili for Four

The meal: One-pot meals are crowd pleasers, not to mention easy on the cook. Elevate this bare bones recipe with the garnishes below and a side of baked cornbread. Cost: about $8.

The splurge: Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, cilantro, and sour cream. Cost: about $5.

Mac & Cheese Comfort

The meal: The ultimate in comfort food can be a little pricey with four cheeses and cream, so buy bulk dairy products to keep cost down. Serve with steamed broccoli. Cost: about $10.

The splurge: Chocolate Pudding. Cost: about $4.

Made in China

The meal: A veggie-rich stir-fry is so easy on the budget you'll have money left over to add a few extras. Start the meal with Egg Drop Soup and finish with fresh fruit. Cost: about $9.

The splurge: Fresh pineapple. Cost: about $4.

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

The meal: Tomato soup goes gourmet with the addition of roasted bell peppers and cream. Try different cheeses and breads to send your usual grilled cheese upscale. Cost: about $10.

The splurge: Fresh basil to stir in soup. Cost: about $2.

Quick Quiche

The meal: A store-bought piecrust keeps this broccoli and cheese quiche simple. Serve with a side of mixed salad greens. Cost: about $9.

The splurge: In-season fresh berries. Cost: about $5.

Stroganoff Savvy

The meal: Switching to hamburger instead of beef tips cuts down the price of Stroganoff without sacrificing flavor. Serve with steamed zucchini. Cost: about $10.

The splurge: Fresh parsley to garnish Stroganoff and zucchini. Cost: about $1.

The Ultimate Tuna Noodle

The meal: What budget meal repertoire would be complete without Tuna Noodle Casserole, particularly one with a crunchy potato chip topping? Serve with steamed broccoli florets. Cost: about $9.

The splurge: Homemade butterscotch brownies. $4.

Magnificent Mexican

The meal: This well-loved enchilada recipe is made to serve eight, so cut it in half, or make the full recipe and freeze leftovers. Cost: about $10.

The splurge: Sliced avocado to serve on the side. Cost: about $2.

Jun. 30, 2009 1:53 pm
This is such a great idea. With everyone being on a budget, it is hard to "search" for ideas on dinner. Thank you for having my next two weeks worth right here...all in a shopping list.
Sep. 30, 2009 8:49 am
nice! i was hoping for ideas but i already do most of this. for those that don't.. use it
Oct. 3, 2009 7:27 pm
any out there that don't have milk, cheese, cream and more dairy.
L C Peters 
Dec. 20, 2009 10:54 pm
This will help me start the new year off right.. I just retired in March and am trying to budget on SS and Retirement benefits; thanks much for the news.
Dec. 26, 2009 6:30 pm
please add even more suggestions...i too am on a strict budget, thanks for the 10 ideas...how about making it 20 low cost meal ideas...
Dec. 28, 2009 9:30 am
I'm saving for a 9 day Disney vacation for 5.Here are some things on my menu for my family of 5 plus husband's lunch. My budget is $100 for gas and food for the week.Sometimes I'll spend $150. I shop in bulk for meat at Sam's and PRICE MATCH at Walmart when I must shop local.Our only local store to shop since Katrina is Walmart. I also buy mostly meat one week and mostly veggies the next. I plan a budget and menu a month in advance. 10 lbs. leg quarters costs $7 (walmart)here and a boneless pork loin is about $13 (sam's). Turkeys are on sale for about $7 each so I put some in the freezer. 5 lbs. of 93% lean ground turkey is $10 at Sam's. 10 lbs. potatoes are $4. on my menu: tacos crock-pot of beans w/ leftover ham bone or sausage tuna noodle casserole bean burritos (big can of beans is $1) sausage and chicken jambalya (w/leftover meat) turkey pot pie $6,make your own pie crust.it's a cinch. chicken and dumplings $6 chicken rotel casserole $6, corn as a side potatoe s
Dec. 28, 2009 9:39 am
Cutting up meat into smaller cubes makes it go further.Sometimes instead of cooking the whole roast $9, I'll cut it in half and cube the meat. Meat for flavor is a nice change from meat as the main course.
Dec. 28, 2009 10:51 am
I make "Refrigerator soup" which is filled with leftover meats, pastas, vegetables. Saute celery and onion, add chicken broth or water with boullion, a can of tomatoes, a can of beans and a bay leaf, salt and pepper and you have a hearty meal with lots of flavor. Leftovers freeze well.
Jan. 5, 2010 3:49 pm
Tonight I made a dish I figure cost me about $7 dollars, as I buy meat in bulk. 1-1/2 pound of ground beef ($5.00 in bulk at BJ's), 1 box of Rice-A-Roni Spanish rice (I used generic that I got for I think $.88), a can of diced tomatoes (cost maybe $1, as I bought a case at BJ's), 2 tbsp butter and 2-1/4 cup water. Brown beef, drain, add rest of ingredients and simmer 15-20 minutes. One pan, cheap, EZ and my boys LOVED it.
Jan. 8, 2010 8:31 pm
I bought 50# bag of rice at Sams for $15 and have been using rice 3-4 nights a week. Tonight I made Chicken Fried rice, using a combo of recipes from here combined with what I had. I chopped the carrots and peppers super tiny, since I have picky eaters. I hit a good sale on Chicken breast $1.87 per pound. I used alot of scrambled egg as it is a super cheap protein source. I imagine I spent around $3-$4 total, it fed my family of 5, and I have some for my lunch tomorrow. This was an excellent cheap meal!
Jan. 8, 2010 8:33 pm
I also made rice pudding for dessert... Gotta love 50# of rice for $15!
Feb. 21, 2010 5:15 pm
If your family likes Mexican flavors, Fideo con Carne is an easy "Hamburger Helper" type skillet meal. Brown a box of fideo pasta (or 5 ounces/1 cup of broken angel hair pasta or very fine egg noodles) in a tablespoon of oil. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, a minced jalepeno, 2 tablespoons dried onion, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a cup of water, a teaspoon of ground cumin (or comino, and a cup of water. Simmer together with whatever leftover cooked meat you have. My favorite is poached dark chicken meat from the economical 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters. Use the stock produced when you poached the chicken instead of water. If course, most people just remove the pasta and brown hamburger in the skillet (along with fresh onion in case you don't have dried). If you think ahead to make some pinto beans, this makes a complete meal.
Feb. 21, 2010 5:16 pm
only one cup of water, sorry!
Feb. 22, 2010 3:04 pm
I boil & shred the chicken, adding garlic salt & pepper. It does take longer, but you need less chicken and it absorbs the flavor more.
Mar. 16, 2010 11:55 am
Easiest way I've found to cut food costs is to reduce meat. Beans and other legumes are a super cheap alternative for protein (eat a variety to get all your amino acids, or eat soy beans which contain the most nutrients that meat has). Leafy greens (spinach) and whole grains contain your iron, and of course the wonderful egg, which are much cheaper than meat and contains all the goods, most notably vitamin b12 which you can't get from any plants.
Mar. 28, 2010 9:54 pm
I have diner idea's for under 5$ that feed a family of 4.Some are not so health but it's better than eating nothing at all.Prices are based on current meat prices.2pks hot dog 2$ bag of fry's 3$.....50 cents a box mac-n-cheese with cut up hot dogs that would be 2 boxes man 1 pkg hot dog's.......grilled cheese and tomatoe soup....chicken breast 3$ rice 1$ corn 2 cans 1$......sausage2$,mash potatoes1$or 2$,green beans1$.....spahgetti with meat sauce ground turkey for the meat.You can find a roll in freezer section at walmart for about 1.50 to if you got bread make ya some garlic bread using butter and garlic powder....fryed cabbage and sasauge with onion...I have tons more ideas and can get cheaper meals by buying in bulk....cabbage is a good cheap meal idea..can tuna or breast with some pasta and mayo seasonings and what ever veggi you got on hand.I sometimes make a large pasta salad and serve it 2 to 4 times a week with some meat.The salad would coast a little more than 5 but it's a re
Apr. 23, 2010 3:23 pm
I like the idea of this, but perhaps you could have a vegetarian option. Most of these seem pretty meat oriented.
Apr. 24, 2010 4:49 pm
Here's a good cheap meal that I invented (except I'm sure lots of folks do it.) I call it corndog casserole. Broil or boil a pkg of inexpensive hot dogs. Then, make two Jiffy (or other inexpensive brand) of corn muffin mix. Follow the direction on the package so you'll need eggs and milk. Add a drained can of corn to the batter. Lightly grease an 9x12 pan. Lay the hotdogs down across the bottom. Put the batter over the hodogs (you can cut them up if you'd rather and add them to the batter). Bake at the temp the directions on the cornbread tell you to- my oven is fast so it takes about 15 minutes at 400. The cornbread should be firm and brown on the edges. Let it cool and cut into squares. It can be eaten with hotdog condiments like ketchup and mustard or with salsa and sour cream. If I can afford them, I'll add about 1/4 cup of chopped onion and/or green pepper and/or red pepper. If you have any left over- it goes good for breakfast with salsa and a fried or poached egg. Cost- 89¢ f
Jun. 7, 2010 9:22 am
a great blog with a weekly menu plan that is budget and kid friendly is www.menusthatsave.blogspot.com - shopping list included! lots of great recipes for those on a budget.
Jun. 9, 2010 10:52 am
we are military and only get paid twice a month. my husband has a VERY low pay grade for the size of our family. times have been beyond tough and i had literally $8 to plan meals for two weeks! thank goodness i had lots of odds and ends in the pantry and can hold my own in the baking department... i found some great things at mealtime.org (things made only from cans and jars) my kids have no idea we're on such a tight budget... tonight is apple pumpkin soup with applelicious grilled cheese on homemade honey wheat bread. last night i made a crock pot meal from baby food apple sauce, 2 italian sausage links, half an onion and a sliced granny smith apple. tomorrow we're having a make your own pizza night and fried eggs sandwiches with sweet potato fries the next. me and my 4 year old even whipped up a banana sorbet out of baby food for an INSANELY tasty dessert! get creative! if anyone else is as hard up as we are i can post our whole 2 week menu :)
Jun. 9, 2010 1:40 pm
I could add a couple of inexpensive dishes. Red Beans and Rice. Chicken and Dumplings Ham and Potato Au Gratin Breakfast Casserole - let it sit all day, have for dinner Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Jambalaya - Ground Beef and Sausage
Jun. 15, 2010 7:09 am
The cheapest, healthiest meals I've found are stir-fry, rice & beans, & greens. The secret is to use little meat and much seasonal vegetables. Don't forget eggs, nothing wrong with eggs for dinner. You can get a 50 lb bag of rice from Sam's Club for $16.00... also buy beans in bulk, much less expensive than canned. If you have only a few bucks till payday I highly recommend a big pot of beans with onion served over rice, braised greens on the side. Hot sauce and good humor. Very satisfying.
Jun. 17, 2010 6:36 am
Lots of good suggestions on this site! I was raised in a home where there was always a pot of beans in the refrigerator so I had no idea until I was older that Americans eat so much meat. I was fortunate enough that my family had space for a large garden every year and so our menus were vegetable heavy. If you have the space and the opportunity to grow your own produce, I highly recommend it. The flavors cannot be compared to anything from the grocery store. If you have children, it can also encourage more healthy eating. I loved to harvest, help prepare, and eat what I had helped grow. We also "put up" a good deal of what we had grown, either frozen or home canned. I do have two bits of advise for anyone who is contemplating buying in bulk to freeze or can - label and date all items clearly and ROTATE. I have learned this lesson the hard way! Nothing is sadder than having to discard things out of your freezer because it got buried and freezer burned.
Jun. 25, 2010 7:17 am
This is great...I'm always looking for new ideas and inexpensive is key. I also agree about less meat is the way to save. My husband doesn't like it so much though. I go all out with pastas and italian dishes...they spread out two nights easy with lunch leftovers for work. I buy a $2 roll of hamburger 1lb./ 1 can of spaghetti sauce $2 / 1 box of pasta $1 (even whole wheat in generic) / 1 box of frozen garlic bread $3....this for a family for 3, with leftovers always!
Jul. 2, 2010 3:07 pm
mommash I would love to hear more. Your inexpensive meals sound appetizing!
Jul. 9, 2010 3:54 pm
I need cheap lactose-free meals...any ideas?
Jul. 9, 2010 4:01 pm
mommash - I would love your bana sorbet recipe, sounds delish!
Girl Friday 
Jul. 10, 2010 6:10 pm
Just a note, my grandmother always added boiled eggs to her spaghetti instead of meatballs. You still get a lot of protein, and it's filling and less costly.
Jul. 13, 2010 7:58 am
My daughter can not have dairy products, they will kill her! So to say the least, for the last 19 years, we have become pros at non-dairy meals. I can make “cream sauces”, enchiladas, pancakes, French toast, just about anything. Here are some dinner ideas. 1.Tacos – shells, ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa, tomatoes and beans 2.Fried chicken w/ Lettuce head salad chop head of lettuce in three parts, add avocado and pineapple or tomato and poppy seed dressing). 3.Grilled chicken, coleslaw, and corn cobs 4.Meatballs, spaghetti, and salad 5.Sloppy Joes and salad 6.Meatloaf, rice and grilled zucchini? 7.Marinated chicken shish kabobs w/ mushrooms, slice pineapple, onion, and green bell pepper on a bed of rice 8.Pasta w/ shrimp and Salad w/ mandarin oranges, honeyed almonds/walnuts, and fruity dressing 9. Halibut, red potaotes, and blended summer squash w/ green chilies,s&p,and slivered almonds on top.
Jul. 14, 2010 3:03 am
My husband and I live on a tight budget also. I cook almost every meal at home, double portions so we have lunch the next day. We make what we call Fideo, which is browned fideo noodles (very short thin pasta), a little ground beef or whole pinto beans, a little tomato sauce (1 sm. can) and fresh onion or garlice and onion powder. Serve with tortillas on the side. It must cost about $4 or less for a serving for 4. It's pretty healthy too. Homeade chicken and dumplings is extemely cheap. Leg quarters, a little milk and margarine, and flour and shortening, that's it. A big pot is super cheap, and you can freeze half for another meal later on. Honestly, one huge way I've found to save is to not purchase paper plates, paper towels, or very many ziplocs. We use re-usable containers, cloth towels, and I wash our dishes. I also skimp on other household things like cleaning supplies. It's so easy to walk down that aisle and drop a quick $20. I haven't found much in my house that can
Jul. 23, 2010 1:41 pm
I have a cheap recipe that my kids loved. Cook up one pound ground beef (or turkey), brown with some onion and garlic if you have it. When browned, drain, add a can of stewed tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with the juice. Bring to a simmer to heat through. Meanwhile, cook up a box of mac n cheese, follow directions on box. Mix together and serve with a salad and bread. It's like a Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Mac meal - but you control the ingredients. This entire meal costs about $5 or less.
Aug. 3, 2010 12:23 pm
Being a college student I pretty much live off sunshine and water. During the summer months I take every chance I get for free veggies around town. The laundry mat I go to always has a table of garden treasures, the neighbor was weeding her garden the other day so I stopped and helped and got a big bag of things. Also, I got friendly with the liquor store owner and she always has veggies for me.. I made tomato sauce and salsa to freeze, chopped the extra peppers and onions and froze for the future.. won't need produce for a year! My mom does similar things at the end of the season with veggies from the farmers market, it saves so much money and you always have things on hand!
Aug. 5, 2010 7:15 pm
thanks for the website momswhothink.com, i'm not a mom but it still has great recipe ideas for my fiance and i who are on a tight budget right now as only one of us are working right now. thanks also for the ideas on this website! will help out a lot.
Aug. 15, 2010 4:21 am
I am always trying to save money on my grocery bill but eating healthy is very important to me as well. I'm sure most of you know that trying to find the balance between healthy and cheap isn't always easy. Here is a chicken enchilada recipe that I originally found on this website but have doctored it to pack a healthy punch. I start off with chicken (breasts, ground, leftover, whatever you have) Cook the chicken, however you would like. In a bowl combine 1 can of cream of chicken soup (1 use the 98% fat free) 1 jar of Picante Sauce (or salsa)and chicken. 1 Tblsp chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin. I then cook up 2 to 4 servings of minute brown rice. To assemble I use whole wheat or multigrain tortilla's. Spread rice on tortilla then top w/ chicken mixture. Roll and place in baking dish. Once you are done, top tortillas with a can of enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 375 until heated through and cheese is melted (about 30mins). I also make a vegetarian ve
Aug. 22, 2010 10:50 am
omg! this enchilada recipe rocks!!!
Sep. 7, 2010 5:17 pm
I love learning about cooking on a budget but these prices are either really outdated or incorrect. It may be possible to eat a roast chicken meal with all the veggie fixins' for $7 in the US but in Canada that is next to impossible (looking at a minimum of $15)! I would love to see some real budget meals under $10 for those of us in BC Canada. Any suggestions? Thanks
Sep. 14, 2010 9:17 am
I keep a list of "stretchy" meals for those times when I might need to stretch the grocery budget. On my list are: 1) Pasta tossed with roasted garlic cloves done in the oven served with a salad or green vegetable 2) Aloo Phujia (spicy Indian potato dish--yummy!!) from this site served with rice. If you buy your spices from the hispanic section of your grocery store you'll pay .69 each, not $3.50+. 3) Chorizo, egg and potatoe burritos 4) Black bean and salsa soup from this site. So amazingly simple and cheap and so delicious!! I eat this even when the money isn't tight! 5) Potato soup--another favorite at our house. 6) Biscuits with sausage gravy. I don't normally cook a big breakfast, so we like to have it for dinner instead. 7) Pinto beans or great northerns cooked all day in the crockpot. I put half a jar of salsa verde, onion, jalapenos and broth or water. The salsa gives them a lot of flavor. Sometimes I'll add ham or hamhock for my husband. Serv
Sep. 14, 2010 10:10 pm
This is my new blog, not much yet we just started. Hope you enjoy http://www.culinaryguerrilla.com/
Nov. 7, 2010 4:10 pm
these are really gr8 budget friendly ideas. Thanks all!
Nov. 16, 2010 6:30 pm
Cheap recipe the family loves. 2 pkgs Au Grautin potates 1 pkg smoked cubed sausauge or ham
Mix all starting with boxed potatoes (per directions) in casserole dish and bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until almost firm Let sit to firm (frozens veggies seem to hold up better)
Dec. 29, 2010 11:16 pm
Family of 4 quick and cheap $10 or less meals: 1. Tuna noodle casserole 2. Augratin potatoes with pieces of ham or pork chops 3. Tacos 4. Chicken alfredo (using packet of alfredo sauce instead of jar sauce and leftover chicken) 5. Fish sticks or portions with tator tots or french fries 6. Shepherds Pie 7. Chicken with chicken gravy and noodles. 8. Beef tips with gravy and noodles.
Jan. 1, 2011 7:00 am
Quick and cheap frito pies four fmily of 4: 1. lb of ground beef. 2. Can of rotel 3. Can of Bush Chili Magic beans. 4. Your favorite bag of Fritos 5. Cheese and sour-cream. Really simple and a host of fun for the kids and no stress in the kitchen
curvy cook 
Jan. 4, 2011 9:15 pm
I love to make a pot of beans flavored with a smoked ham hock, onions, garlic, oregeno,red pepper flakes, and salt. First night I add some browned ground beef or turkey, cheese, and sour cream in tortillas for burritos. Second night put any burrito leftovers and a can of tomatoes with beans in a pie dish and top with Jiffy cornbread mix prepared for a tamale pie. Third night use remainder of beans, a can of corn,chicken broth, and a jar of salsa, heat soup thru n top with crushed chips, cheese, avacado, and sour cream. Beans freeze great if you wanna space these meal ideas out.
Jan. 20, 2011 4:28 am
Thanks so much for these great recipes and sites. My Husband is in the Army and we have a family of 6. Our budget is smalll and I think I am a pretty thrifty shopper and good cook but these tips are very welcome, keep 'em coming Ladies!!
Jan. 27, 2011 4:29 pm
I agree with ttorell, I live in Canada and I don't think we have the same prices here. Great recipe ideas though!
Feb. 3, 2011 12:05 pm
I had a $20 package of steaks in the freezer for almost 2 years, didn't have the heart to throw them out. One day I cooked them in the oven with a can of mushroom soup and LOTS of water, chopped onion, spices. Figured we could eat hotdogs if the steaks didn't turn out. Baked the steaks at 300F for 6 hours. They were soft, tender, and tasty. No one knew they started out as white hockey pucks. Tried this again with much cheaper cuts and it still worked.
Feb. 7, 2011 7:40 pm
Agree, the key buy in bulk. We bought a freezer, so if I see a good deal on meat I stock up, (hamburger at 1.99 lb, or .59 lb for whole chicken). I buy rice, beans, pasta, sugar all in bulk. And packaged spaghetti sauce, which I can get for .34 each. and a lb of noodles in bulk section for .67. Also, I have started shopping around I have noticed Walmart is'nt always the best deal. And started using coupons. Safeway had smoked sausages on sale for $1.99 had manfacturer coupon for $1.00 so I stocked up. I love it cut up with a box of beef rice a roni, on sale for .99 with coupon saved .50. I mean you get more, true you have to spend a little extra time.Also, I plan our meals out, you have too, I like to plan 2 wks, ahead meat I already have frozen I plan with it. I'm feeding a family of 6 on $60.00 a wk. or less, depending on if I'm buying meat to freeze. well theirs my take on things. lol..
Feb. 13, 2011 12:28 pm
I love these ideas. My husband & I eat & buy non-food items on $100 or less/month. We do OK most of the time but there are some months that are lacking. I get so tired of trying to be creative. Just looked at some entrees in the freezer and noticed that many of them also fit in the low cost category, if made at home. Take rigatoni, sliced sausage, some green pepper & mix them with a small jar of sauce and we have a casserole. Pop it into the oven ... if you want to do it all uncooked, then add a cup or more of hot water, cover the casserole & cook for an hour or more, depending upon the pasta. If you would rather do it in less than 30 mins, cook the pasta first. This gives us 2 meals ... one for tonight & one for the freezer, all for about $3.00 per night. Add a salad and some dessert and it is complete.
Feb. 18, 2011 7:34 am
Finding healthy tasty meal ideas on a budget is tough. Being creative with whats in the fridge is tough. Thanks for all the ideas. Thought I would pass along my family's twist on pizza. BBQ Chicken Pizza - 1 package of pitas - BBQ sauce or pizza sauce (I have even used spaghetti sauce) - cheese - chicken or turkey - any veggies you like, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes ect take the pita add any sauce you desire top with meat or veggies in any combination add the cheese and bake at 350 for 15 min approx. Cheap and basically a great way to use leftovers in the fridge.
Emily Wisdom 
Feb. 18, 2011 9:51 am
Souper easy beef stroganoff: 1 can french onion soup 1 can cream of mushroom soup 1 lb beef sour cream if you got it noodles or what ever. Yum, and SO easy.
Ms Cooky 
Feb. 18, 2011 1:28 pm
A meat stretcher idea I use is to buy a boneless beef roast (on sale)and have the butcher slice it thinly. I then repackage it. Some of the slices I place wax paper between the slices so that my son can take one and fry it in a skillet. I like to take the slices and use them in many different ways. One way is to make a stuffing (boxed is fine), lay the thin "steak" down and spoon stuffing down the middle and roll it up, secure with a toothpick. Lightly coat it with flour, s&p, and brown in a skillet. Then place the rolls in a casserole dish add a little beef broth or beef gravy (canned is fine) and bake. They are really good. My son takes the slices and Julianne them for stir fries. They are good for so many quick meals. Just don't overcook or they will be tough. Just a couple of min. on each side and they are done. I also like to take frozen hamburger patties, dip in egg, then coated with fine cracker crumbs and fry in a skillet. They are similar to a chicken fried steak. Be sure to m
Feb. 18, 2011 2:19 pm
These are lousy ideas for vegetarians who don't like cheese. I make a dynamite Dried Cherry Chili is completely vegan, a giant pot for about 5 bucks, and it makes three meals and two lunches for us. I wouldn't be caught dead shopping at Walmart...it makes me feel cheap and dirty, so I avoid it at all costs. We like beans and veggies and fruits and whole grains and breads from my bread machine. Eating clean and whole is our mantra now, these suggestions are awful!!!
Ms Cooky 
Feb. 18, 2011 3:29 pm
Here I am again. LOL To get the most out of a turkey or ham (make for the holidays). I remove the meat from the turkey frame and freeze it. Later I make turkey frame soup out of it. When I cook a picnic ham, I freeze the bone (leave some meat on it) and later make beans soup or split pea soup out of it. Another recipe I made for my kids was Sloppy Joe pizza. I make the crust from Bisquick (like you make biscuits) and press into the greased pan. I cook a pound of hamburger, drain and add sliced olives and a can of Sloppy Joe mix. Spoon on the crust. Add grated cheese and bake. Most times I just use cheddar cheese because I always have it on hand. It's good and quick and kids love it. I also buy bell peppers (all colors) when they are on sale really cheap and then freeze them. I slice or dice them and place in zip lock bags. I usually mix the colors together. When you need just a dab of bell pepper (like for a Denver), just take out of the freezer. All prep is already done. I do this wit
Ms Cooky 
Feb. 18, 2011 3:35 pm
Darn, I forgot to mention. When I do bake a large ham, I dice some of it and place in a zippy and freeze. When I need just a dab of ham (like for an omelet) I have it handy. I also gave some to my puppy when he was teething. ;) I also like to make a double batch of meals and freeze one. What a great help when I don't cook. I love this topic!
paula j 
Feb. 19, 2011 5:27 am
Another budget friendly food with not a lot of dairy. (you can change it up.) Cook some pasta per package (any really). In a frying pan, over mod heat add 4 slices bacon chopped up. add some garlic (to your taste),red pepper flakes for 2 minutes, add a can of canellini beans, 1/2 c- 1 cup chicken broth, or even pasta water, let is simmer a few minutes, throw in 1/2 bag of spinach. Toss w/pasta.Serve with parmesean and salt and pepper. You can add, meats (chicken, sausage after the garlic) you can add sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers..whatever.
Feb. 19, 2011 6:31 am
healthy vegetarian option _ lentil shepherd's pie cook lentils according to package directions - you want about 3 or 4 cups of cooked lentils in the end - but add chopped onion,chopped garlic,bay leaf salt/pepper while they are cooking When lentils are done spice the mixture up a bit with whatever you have - i use worcestershire, maybe some oregano, garlic powder, whatever i have on hand. sometimes i will add a bit of ketchup. top with layer of frozen veg whatever you have - i use green beans or mixture of peas and corn top with mashed potatoes (can also used mashed yams - yummy) dab with butter/margarine/olive oil whatever you have on hand sprinkle with paprika bake for 30 minutes at 350 until hot and bubbly serve with green salad or steamed greens for a complete meal. YUMMY
Feb. 19, 2011 1:49 pm
I try to budget quite a bit.Buying one whole chicken,roast it the next night it'll go into chicken&dumplings.Roasts(beef) can make 3 wonderful meals.First night slow-cooker roast with onions,potatoes and carrots,night 2 is beef stew stew with the left over veggies from the roast,night 3 beef stroganoff.For about $20.00 I have meals for 5 nights.If your like me and use tons of veggies in your with your roast, the veggies and beef broth makes a wonderful filling soup served with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Feb. 21, 2011 3:04 pm
When whole chicken is on sale, I get one, remove skin & cook it in the crockpot w/onion celery, spices. Cool, remove meat, freeze in amounts for your family. It can be used for chicken salad, burrito, any other meal calling for cooked chicken. Easy,cheap.
Feb. 23, 2011 10:34 pm
WOW! What great suggestions and ideas! it's all been so helpful. I'm a mother of five (six if you count my hubby) and one on the way! every little bit helps! One thing i like to do and all my kids really seem to love is taking about 1lb dried pasta (cooked to package direction)make 1 pkg brown gravy mix, and add either leftover roast cubed up or a can of cubed beef (often found in food boxes but oh so yummy) and mixing the whole shebang together. if you want it closer to stroganoff add a bit of sour cream to the mix. Serve with a side salad and biscuits and you got an instant dinner for under 10 dollars in less than 20 min and it feeds at least 7!
Feb. 23, 2011 10:38 pm
OH YEAH! And for dessert i found these really awsome little pies from Banquet brand. I paid 50 cents a peice for them at save-a-lot and they come in apple, cherry berry, or peach. Their microwave able in 3/12 min or oven ready in 30. I like to bake mine cause the crust is better baked and it makes the whole house smell like Ive been busting my behind baking all day!
Mar. 4, 2011 12:31 pm
Canadians, it is true the prices are much higher in your country. Ithink I'm in the same boat as I live in rural America!! But, I manage, by just buying the produce on sale and the beans, rice, pasta, etc. in bulk. We have our own dairy cows, chickens for eggs, and raise our own meat for the table. When we are out of $$$ it's amazing what a person can come up with. I do a lot of stir fries, because surprisingly they are inexpensive. I use either rice or noodles to add to the stirfry, and watch the ads for the veggies. One time I chopped up asparagus, and added to my stir fry, along with scrambled eggs for added protein, it was delicious! Here's an inexpensive recipe: 1 large can pork & beans, 1 lb. burger browned with onions, 1 bottle bbcue sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and a squirt of prepared mustard. Cook in crock pot on low for 6 to 8 hours. No dairie!!
Mar. 24, 2011 7:50 pm
@ TAGIS & TTORELL: I'm a Canadian living in the US now, and yes, it's true that some things are far cheaper down here - but really, I haven't noticed that much of a difference in things like vegetables & meat. In fact, I've found that avocadoes (of all things!) are far more expensive here. *shock* Superstore was selling them in Victoria BC for 5ct bags @ $2.98. They're no cheaper than 99c each at the store I shop here. :-O Of course, I'm in Glendale, AZ, and AZ isn't really that cheap, as far as cost of living goes. BUT, even in BC, Canada, chicken can be cheap (I lived in super-expensive Victoria) - you just have to watch for the sales on whole fryers. Before I moved down here last summer, I was able to get a bag of 3 fryer chickens for about $10-$12 on sale. Granted, you really have to plan ahead, and if you don't have a deep freeze, it does make it tougher. But it can be done - you just need to be really diligent about checking the sales flyers and shopping accordingly. Good luck
Apr. 13, 2011 9:47 pm
This page is THE Most helpful I have found on this site. Recipies are great, but all these less expensive ideas are SOooooo needed by so many today. Nice to know we are in such helpful & great company here. Thanks to all.
lise n 
Apr. 14, 2011 2:32 am
Having been in and out of work for the last ten years and raising 4 boys on my own, I became a past master at budget meals. Some weeks I had $15 to feed 5 of us and 4 were teenage boys! There are lots of great meals to make like left over soup- anything in the fridge goes, vegetable quiche (if you add eggs, a bit of sour cream and a little bit of grated cheese you don't need meat)add a bit of curry powder for extra taste, risotto using mushrooms and a bit of parmesan with a salad. I noticed quite a few of the tips used ready made mixes-these are generally a lot more expensive than anything that is home-made. You can make garlic bread from scratch (provided you make or buy baguette or ciabatta) with a bit of butter and crushed garlic (this was in one of the recipes on the budget list on the site) I also make vegetable pasta regularily using some mixed frozen veggies which I cook in water and then toss with the pasta adding a bit of cream and cheese. The boys favorite recipe is spag
Apr. 14, 2011 6:51 am
I have to say that all of you have wonderful ideas. I am always tring to lower my rediculous grocery bill but never manage to really accomplish anything. I know I am wasting far too much food and it puts a pit in my stomach each week when I clean out my fridge! Thank You very much for all of the great suggestions!
Apr. 14, 2011 12:47 pm
Great ideas. I am proud of myself for using dried beans in my veggie chili this week but it needed salt. I wanted to cut back on cost and salt. I try again next time. Anyway I make it a goal to never waste food. So many of my friends eat out all the time and waste food.
Apr. 14, 2011 12:51 pm
Another great idea is to: cook some froz spinach and add some italian herbs and garlic. Add little cheese and mix. Then upwrap lowfat crescents - taste great and I buy the store brand- and roll them out flat. Put the spinach mix on the center; roll and bake for 350.00F for 10 mins. Dip in warm tomato sauce if you like. I also put a reuben mix in the center and bake those.
Apr. 15, 2011 12:17 pm
Any low cost ideas that don't involve so much pasta? I need to restrict my carbohydrates.
Java Baker 
Apr. 16, 2011 6:05 pm
Live in Ontario Canada. Love all the ideas here. Wish our prices matched USA.Food prices are MUCH higher here.
Apr. 17, 2011 1:17 pm
I have a family of 5 and have really had to watch what I buy now that prices are getting so high. I make homeade pancakes on weekends as they are very cheap, filling and I make them for brunch so we dont have breakfast and a lunch. I buy whole chickens when they are on sale. Last week they were on sale for $.79 a pound. With the chicken buy carrots, celery, onion and a large bag of potatoes which are very cheap. I roast one of the chickens with the vegetables. I cook another chicken and pull the meat off and I can get 2 meals out of that 1 chicken. One is a pot pie using all the veggies I already bought and using stock I made from the carcass. Only have to make pie crusts which are very cheap to make. Then I make chicken soup also using the rest of the veggies and I make homeade dumplings on top. Make sure you always make a stock using the carcasses. You can make 3 fairly cheap meals using 2 chickens plus you will have lots of stock leftover for other meals. After making these 3 meals
Apr. 18, 2011 6:57 am
Good ideas, but just try cutting down on your meat consumption - I've saved on average $25 a week by only eating meat every other day.I make the same things I've always made just without the meat. Soups, stews and casseroles are just as hearty and filling as ever. You can substitute beans or lentils for some of the meat if you want - very inexpensive if you cook dried beans from scratch (make big batches, they freeze well!) I've lost weight and my cholesterol has gone down too!
May 2, 2011 7:19 pm
Cheese is another really expensive item - but it's such a good source of calcium that i like to use it often, and just try to limit the amount, or use lower fat cheese. Oddly, sometimes I am able to find such terrific loss-leader sales on low fat shredded mozzarella and cheddar that the per pound cost is quite a bit lower than the cost of buying cheese in blocks! When I see a sale like that, I buy a dozen bags and freeze them. Saves time as well as money!
Jun. 1, 2011 1:27 pm
My family's favorite budget meal is a casserole that my mom used to make. You brown a lb of ground beef, add 1 LG can of stewed tomatoes and simmer. Meanwhile, boil 1 box of elbow noodles. Mix together in a casserole and bake. Top with parmesan if you have it. My kids would eat this at least once a week, and adults always love it too. Another is pork chops with scalloped potatoes, but make sauce with chicken broth and not cream. Brown pork chops in a small amount butter, remove. Add another TB butter, then add 2 cups chicken broth and some Wondra flour. Cook until thickened. Sometimes I'll saute some chopped onion in the butter if I have it. Layer sliced potatoes in 9x13. Pour sauce on potatoes, top with pork chops, cover with foil and bake. Good and cheap, also no cream.
Jul. 6, 2011 12:33 pm
to stretch a meal bake a chicken and make stuffing for 1 or 2 meals, then whatever is leftover put in pot and boil stuffing and leftover chicken together with just enough broth to cover-- make hot chicken sandwiches out of this for another meal, serve this over biscuits. if you have just a small amount left mix with cubed parboil potatoes,onion, and chopp ed lettuce and use as filling for taco or burrito
Jul. 6, 2011 12:45 pm
I always keep cooked brown rice in my fr eezer, also,Ikeep frozen chop onion, chop carrots, chop celery, sli ced bell peppers and at a m oments notice I can throw a meal together that is healthy and cheap, I also keep some chop ham,and chicken breasts in my freezer.and round steak.I try not to eat too much meat so I eat a lot of stir- fries and legumes I like one dish meals so the stir fries help out.I try to make chinese fried rice 3 or 4 times per month which is really cheap,and since my rice and onions are already prepared its very easy, I use ham cubes (that I cubed) that i fry and then add onions, then the rice and slightly beaten eggs.I just use enough ham to flavor the rice when all done and if I have them i use chop green onion over top which really adds to the dish
Aug. 15, 2011 12:43 pm
These are all fantastic ideas! Can't wait to get started adding new (and low cost + easy) recipes to our mix! My only question/issue is that none of the comments above tells at what temperature (and for how long) to bake these neat/quick/easy recipes. I'm a relatively new cooking queen, so I'm not sure how to wing it. Do I just assume it's all 350 degrees until they look done? Any help would be great. Thanks!
Sep. 2, 2011 11:27 am
Thank you so much! I really needed these ideas!
Oct. 18, 2011 2:28 pm
so many recipes call for cream of mushroom soup. I am allergic to mushrooms. What can be used in its place? any idea?
Oct. 18, 2011 4:10 pm
Awesome idea, this is pure gold to a young family. Thank you so much.
Oct. 23, 2011 9:15 am
Great ideas. My favorite cheap meal is red beans & rice with sausage. Makes a ton & only 5 ingredients if you count the seasoning, sausage, dried kidney beans, onion, rice & Tony's cajun seasoning. Everyone that tries it says it's the best they ever had, they just dont know how cheap & easy it is. Also I dont soak the beans overnight, no need. I also stock up on the sausage when it's buy one get one free so pretty much end up with a huge pot of it for around $5.
Oct. 29, 2011 11:56 pm
isishmiss... just about any of the cream soups will work.
Dec. 4, 2011 8:34 am
We are trying to Cook for 5 people for $50 a week or less. Not as easy as you would think, plus stay healthy. But we have done it. I will try to post some up here for everyone. Also, we hit up Krogers for their last minute discounts and our local farmers market.
Dec. 4, 2011 11:28 am
Honestly one of the best money-saving ideas I've used it to cook with my slow cooker vs. the oven or stove top. It's the same concept that using an electric blanket and turning down your heat uses...the crockpot will contain all the heat and it's incredibly low-electricity usage...so you can cook a roast or chicken (throw it in before you leave for work to save time as well) and it's done when you get home from work. If you live in a high electricity rate area, you'll save a TON of money just by not using your oven. All that lost heat with an oven is lost money...
Jan. 11, 2012 1:02 pm
Thank you, thank you!! I've been so conscious about how much I spend for each meal. I just joined allrecipes.com and truly enjoying it.
Jan. 12, 2012 3:51 pm
Hmm, there are less expensive recipes than these out there. The number one ways to save money are to eat less (or no) meat and dairy, and to make things yourself rather than paying someone else to make them (that is, buying pre-made foods like hot dogs, kraft dinner, pre-made garlic bread and pie crusts). This list should have things like - wraps with brown rice, homemade salsa, corn, and beans (using dry beans, not canned) in a homemade tortilla; stuffed squash with couscous and vegetables; fresh pasta tossed with fresh basil (grow your own indoors), tomatoes and parmesan; tomato & lentil soup with homemade tea biscuits; etc. Always cheaper to eat what's in season, too.
Jan. 12, 2012 3:55 pm
isishmiss, you can make your own white sauce in place of cream of mushroom soup in most cases and flavour it with whatever you like. Here's a recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-white-sauce/detail.aspx
Jan. 18, 2012 11:13 am
As with everything, price of food is just going higher and higher! Where most ppl go wrong w/ food prep is making their menu and then going to the store for those items. I save loads of money on food b/c I go out to shop for sales first, I stock up on froz chk, pork, beef and staples like herbs or mayo- I don't even carry a list. Whatever vegies are on sale- well those are the ones I serve. So...go shop sales on food and then come home and make a menu from those things! Don't get it backwards if you want to save big on food costs. I also have a list on my frig for things I am short on- like dish soap or toilet paper, that way I am reminded to grab those items if I see them on sale. Happy Saving!
Jan. 18, 2012 3:42 pm
When bone in chicken breasts are on sale for less than $1lb I buy at least 10 lb and cook them all on the stove with water, salt and pepper, then pull the meat off the bones and strain and save the chicken broth. I portion those into meal sized bags and freeze. We use them to make several variations on chicken salads-one is oriental with cabbage, shredded carrots and julienned red bell pepper with a sesame ginger vinaigrette then topped with toasted peanuts. We can make chicken enchiladas, quesadillas, several different kinds of chicken soup using the chicken along with the saved broth, chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pies. Having the meat already pre-cooked makes meal prep fast and easy.
Feb. 1, 2012 4:01 pm
I love these. In order to stretch a little more, I try to plan meals in a row so that one night's leftovers can be used with the next night's meal. i.e. leftover ground beef from tacos can go into tomorrow night's chili. Spanish rice from last night's tacos will go good with tomorrow night's enchiladas. Similarly, the leftover roasted chicken above can be used inside the chicken enchilladas or in a yummy chicken noodle soup.
May 24, 2012 11:21 am
to paige2 thank you for that site momswhothink love their menus and recipes. They are great for me and my fiance and enough leftovers for us to use for our lunches at work the next day.
Jun. 10, 2012 4:55 pm
These ideas are fine for quick cheap meals, but my family's biggest way to save was to join a CSA. We work our hours at the farm as a family(8 hrs) and get a huge fresh ORGANIC box of vegys, fruit, n herbs every week. Then I cook around whats in the box, everyone eats healthier and no one fusses. Get to know your local farms. Grow a small garden. Can your own produce.
Jan. 11, 2013 12:22 pm
I make meatless tacos its very cheap and healthy. It takes 2 bell peppers (green), 1/2 an onion, 1 can of black beans rinsed, 1 can brown beans rinsed, 1 can white great northern beans rinsed, 2 cups of rice cooked, 1 can of green peppers sliced,1 can of water chestnuts sliced, 1 can of pace salsa, 1 packet of taco seasoning, 1 bag of full blend Mexican cheese, mix all together saving half the bag of cheese for the top. cook at 350 for 20mins then serve in taco shells, or with chips. so good if you like spicy pick a spicy salsa
Aug. 15, 2013 6:39 am
Hey all you home cooks. Love your tips. A beef rump roast ($4-5/lbs) at approximate 6 lbs with give you 3 nice meals and save the pan dripping and broth for a 4th meal of soup of any kind (vegetable beef, beef&noodle,minestrone, beef and barley...) Same goes with a turkey or whole chicken. Save those drippings and juices to freeze and use in gravy, soups and casseroles....never buy beef, chicken or vegetable stock again. Plus you can control the sodium content versus canned processed . Yes like the other cooks state buy in bulk and repackage to your family's needs. Our local grocer chain here in the Midwest will cut and wrap for you when buying on sale whole loins. Such as pork loin $2-3/lbs with 10-15 average size loin. Beef ribeye (whole) $4-5/lbs 10-15 lbs average. Take advantage of those free services instead of dumping another $5 in freezer bags and Saran Wrap. Fruits and vegetables in season only. Take advantage of day old fruits. Soft apples make great pie, applesauce, cof
Oct. 14, 2013 8:32 pm
I came up with this cheap gem in college: 2 boxes of cheap mac & cheese (made according to box instructions), a can of drained tuna, half a can of cream of mushroom soup.
Jan. 27, 2015 2:59 pm
A good, cheap idea I had (which I'm sure others have come up with as well) is 2 boxes of mac and cheese, taco seasoned ground beef and salsa...I call it my Fiesta Mac N cheese. :)
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