Low Cost Meals

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Have you joined the challenge to eat from your freezer and pantry for a week?  Those of us who have been doing this have not only saved money, but also stretched our creative cooking skills as we’ve swapped out ingredients for what we had on hand.

I’m wrapping up this money-saving series with a list of very low-cost meals.  Most of these meals come in at under $1 per person.  Some cost well under that.

Tips for keeping meals cheap

1.  In general, meals that are based on rice, pasta, beans or eggs tend to be inexpensive.

2.  Substitute ingredients for what you have on hand.  Running into the grocery only tempts you into spending more money.

3.  Soups tend to be cheap because one recipe will feed so many people.

4.  Stretch your meals with Depression Era Bread, Corn Bread, Biscuits or Graham Muffins.

Cheap Meals

Lentil Tacos

Pasta with Matriciana Sauce – Thanks Jen @ Hey Ya’ll

Pasta with Red Sauce DiPaola

Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce

Cheesy Eggs and Ham

Vietnam Fried Rice

Shaker Village Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

Chipped Beef Gravy over Cornbread or Biscuits

Mexican Beans and Rice

Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil

Egg Salad Sandwiches

Asian Noodles with Stir Fry Veggies and Chicken

Calico Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Crockpot Chicken Soup

Corn Chowder

Taco Soup

More inexpensive meals can be found at $5 Dinners.  What are your favorite cheap meals?

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  1. Great topic and a great list of recipes. This is the way I cook most of the time, but I just don’t write anything down! Having a garden really helps me keep my costs down too. How is your garden doing? I’m getting to that in-between point where garden greens are just about past and tomatoes are not ready yet. I can’t wait for some fresh tomatoes from the garden 🙂

  2. Love the list of low cost recipes…will have to keep this handy!

  3. Don’t forget to shop the discounted meat sections if your local grocery store should happen to have one. Kind of like the day old bread. I was lucky enough to pick up a full 1 pound salmon filet this week for $1.59 plus tax. That was the great start to a cheap meal.

  4. Love the category! I’d add crustless quiche – make it with mostly egg whites and low fat/fat free cottage cheese and it’s even low cal. Add all your left over veggies 😉

  5. This is a great list of recipes. I can’t wait to check them out! We do a week or two of eating from the pantry and freezer every 6-8 weeks or so at our house. Tomorrow I am blogging some cheap, easy ways to use boneless/skinless chicken breasts…

  6. thanks for the great list! i definitely always need cheap recipe ideas, so i’ll have to try some of these.

  7. Great list! I am definitely going to try out a lot of these especially the Asian Noodles. Sounds yummy.

  8. This is a great list, I’ve bookmarked it for reference! Thank you =)

  9. Hi there, I’m stopping by from SITS.

    I’m sure you’ve already posted something about this, but I make a lot of double-use meals. For example, I will make chicken soup one night and save some of the broth to make biscuits and gravy the next morning. Then I’ll cook bacon with the biscuits and crumble the left overs into quiche for dinner. If every meal shares at least one main ingredient with a surrounding meal things get cheaper around here.

    Great blog!

  10. Thanks for all those cost efficent recipes! Have an AWESOME FB day!

  11. Thanks for sharing! Happy SITS Day!

  12. Thanks for the great list! We live on a farm and so we are trying to grow as much of our own food as possible not only as a way to save money but so we know what we are eating! With the cost of food going up in the stores, I really found this post helpful. Thank you!

  13. You’ve come up with an excellent recipe list! Thank you!

  14. A girl after my own heart! Happy SITS Day! x

  15. Great recipies! Greetings from South Africa.

  16. What a great list of tips and links! Enjoy your SITS day!

  17. Great tips! Taco soup is one of my favorite easy, cheap dinners to make!

  18. Thank you for such a great list. We are big fans of soup in my household. Plus I love fried rice and I had no idea how cheap and easy it was to make! Thanks. Enjoy your SITS day!

  19. Cheap meals are a must at my house! I have 5 kids and money is tight. Thanks for the tips:0)

  20. Thanks for the reminder and the list! Don’t forget to hit up your farmer’s market for inexpensive yet fresh veggies…or better yet grow them yourself! (although I’ll admit that gardening is NOT a cheap hobby).

  21. Thanks for sharing these low cost recipes, I know there are a lot of us who are trying to stretch those dollars further and further, and it’s the little things that make that work.

  22. Thanks for the great ideas. This recipes will come in handy because I’m a baller on a budget.

  23. Wow. Love this topic SITSta. I will be back for sure lady. But the freezer idea for a week? Does Corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and frozen rolls count?:-)

  24. I am already excited about your site, just from today’s title. 🙂 Stopping by from SITS!

  25. We will have to see how well “the family” does when they are on their own for dinner tonight!

  26. This is very timely in this economy! Happy SITS day!

  27. Cool! I’m always looking for yummy low cost recipes. Thanks!

  28. I’m definatly going to try the pantry challenge. Sounds fun:) I love to cook!!!

  29. I’m going to try a few of these….thanks.

  30. Thanks for all the tips! My favorite cheap meal is picking up a rotisserie chicken when they are buy one get one free at the grocery store! Great value!

  31. Great tips! Thank you!

  32. Some good ideas! Look forward to putting some to work. Stopping in from SITS….enjoy your day!

  33. My favourite cheap meal is scrambled eggs and salad.

  34. Always looking for low cost meals. Just which my daughter wasn’t so picky. It would make cooking a lot easier.

  35. I love these recipes!
    I also like to cook ahead and freeze.

  36. Those are great ideas. For cheap I always go with hot dogs and chips. Wait, that’s all my family has eaten lately cause it’s also easy for me. I’m in the first trimester. Although last night, for our Father’s day celebration, I actually cooked a meal. I was so exhausted when I was done that I probably won’t do that again for a week or so.

  37. My husband is all about the top ramen. I don’t really consider that a meal, but it’s cheap and he’s full afterwords…..

  38. Great ideas and yes always looking for a way to cut costs!
    I’ll be coming back to see what you have to offer here!
    Happy SITS day.

  39. Great tips! Over from SITS to say hello.

  40. Bookmarking this baby – so many recipes I’m interested in! Thank you! and congrats on your SITS feature!

  41. I think I need to take your challenge-my freezers are way too full!

  42. Kristen says:

    We try to eat cheap a lot too!! Happy SITS day…I’ll have to try some of these!

  43. Oooh, great tips and recipes…I may be using some in the near future!

  44. So many great tips and recipes. Thanks for posting these. Happy SITS day!

  45. My family like a store bought box of mac & cheese, mixed with a pound of ground beef & about a cup of salsa. Cheap, easy & filling!

  46. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Happy SITS day!

  47. I think my favorite cheap meal / dinner is pancakes (or waffles), bacon and fruit salad or juice.
    Everyone loves pancakes. 🙂
    And when no one is home and I’m cooking for myself, I’ll have cereal 3 times….breakfast, lunch and dinner. One bowl and one spoon to wash; and it’s ready in a flash…..and I love cereal. 🙂
    As for your Challenge…..I’ve lived the challenge for 28 years. I hate grocery shopping and will go to great lengths to avoid going…..so I can get pretty creative in the kitchen. And no one has left my table hungry or complained about the food…..they are usually disappointed there isn’t seconds. Also my mother and grandmother taught me how to use herbs and seasonings…..how just the smell will tell you if it will go with certain meats or mix well with other herb. I turned my back on cookbooks when my husband was a Navy officer and our two girls were small. It was just way too expensive to keep buying the required odd seasoning or herb and ingredients that wouldn’t be used again.

  48. I am loving your blog. Visiting from SITS! Have a great day!

  49. What a great list of tips.

    Happy FB day~

  50. I would probably lost 10 pounds if I could stop eating out, but I love it.
    I swear there is something they put in the food to make it addictive.

  51. This list is a great resource! We use a few of those cheap meals, but I’d never thought of this many!

  52. Thanks so much for these – I’m definitely bookmarking this page for later!

  53. What a great blog! Can’t wait to try out some recipes. Off to snoop around some more…

  54. Your blog is exactly what I needed to come across. I plan on coming up with about 14 different meal ideas and just rotating them every two weeks. That way I will always know exactly what to get at the grocery store and can stockpile these items when they go on sale at the store. Thanks. Stopping by from SITS!

  55. I have 6 little ones and 1 big one (the hubby) these recipes are very helpful. It is so expensive to eat out with our large family.

  56. Low cost? I’m in! Thanks for the suggestions

  57. Bitter Sweet Moments says:

    Love the cheesy eggs and ham!!!

  58. Congrats on your big day Tiffany!

  59. What awesome tips! 🙂 Happy SITS day!

  60. What great ideas! Occasionally I challenge myself to live out of my pantry – it’s fun and I have to really get creative. I agree 100% with all your tips to eat cheaper. Also making a dish that can morph into others later in the week (not straight up left overs) is a great way to stretch a dollar.

  61. You have some awesome tips- a few of the recipes I’ve never tried/thought of/heard of so I am bookmarking this page for sure.

  62. Great meal ideas! I will be copying down some of these! Happy SITS day!

  63. Great ideas! I really need this!

  64. What a great list of food!!! I’m going to try some of these. I find when I make a menu I spend far LESS than when I don’t.

  65. all great ideas – but what to do when you have extremely picky eaters in the house!!

  66. Most definitely will be book marking this page!

  67. I’m going to have to come back and try some of these recipes. I’m all about coupons and saving money these days so I’m excited to find your site. Stopping by from SITS to say hi!

  68. I detest cooking, but will eat anything you make! Happy SITS day!

  69. Great list of ideas! I really need to start planning my meals more! Happy SITS day!

  70. Wow- I will totally be back to this blog- great ideas, great post!
    Happy Sits day!!

  71. Thank you for this great list of tips!!!

  72. Yum! And yayy for being inexpensive. I totally am trying to clean out our freezer/pantry. It is helping me to lower my weekly grocery bill.

  73. Okay, I’m in love. This blog has not only been added to my favorites, I will check it out daily. Thanks SITS for showing it to us!

    I try to cook from my freezer and pantry as much as possible. And now I have more recipes in which to do it. We’re all getting tired of the ones I have.

    Bless you!

  74. Great post and great recipes!

    Happy SITS Day!

  75. I love Taco Soup!!

  76. Great meal ideas!

    My favorite cheap meal is Hawaiian Meatballs over rice. Yummy. 🙂

  77. Clearly I am not a foodie…lentil huh? and what exactly is a calico bean anyway? Sorry your awesome blog is wasted on such a non-foodie as I. 🙂

    Happy SITS day though!

  78. Happy SITS Day! I stop by here all the time 🙂

  79. I live by rule #1!

  80. I definitely need help with this, thanks for the advice!

  81. I cook everyday! Always looking for something new and cost effective 🙂

    Visiting from SITS!

  82. What a great post. I have been trying to clean out my pantry, unfortunately I am not very creative.

  83. Glad to know all my favorite things make cheap meals!! YEAH!

  84. I am so happy to be here. I am always looking for meal ideas, and low cost is paramount. Thanks!!!

  85. my husband loves the depression bread! 🙂

    happy sits day.

  86. Thanks for the tips!

  87. Happy SITS day!

  88. Don’t forget this money saving tip: eat smaller portions! Most of us eat more at a sitting than we should anyway.

    Happy SITS day!

  89. Wow, I love this! I will definitely be using this list, and I’m thinking I may join the freezer/pantry challenge, since we desperately need to clean out our freezer anyway….make good use of all that food just sitting in there. I’d have to say a favorite cheap meal would have to be potato veggie chowder. It’s mainly vegetables and potatoes with a little chicken bullion thrown in for flavor and some turkey sausage links….and we always have leftovers.

  90. Yummy recipes! I can’t wait to try out Super Simple Asian Noodles with Stir Fry Veggies and Chicken! Happy SITS day!

  91. Seriously, you are a genius! Thank you thank you thank you!

  92. Love all of these low cost meal ideas! Thanks, Happy SITS Day1

  93. Great blog. Wonderful ideas.
    I grew up in a family who made every dollar stretch – including when it came to meals. Sometimes I felt as if I was sitting down to a meal of pennies and nickles because my mom used to remind us how much each item cost. Very smart of her.
    The only downside I find to these meals is the lack of vegetables. I usually like to have two servings of veg and a salad for most meals. Anyone have any ideas on great veggie dishes that don’t include lots of rice or pasta?
    Happy SITS day!

  94. I need to learn how to cook. When I do, this will come in handy!

  95. danikeith says:

    what great ideas, i have to say i am not a huge fan of cooking, but i am inspired!


  96. Thanks for all of the tips, I am always looking for ways to save money. My blog is http://www.thethriftyhome.com so I will have to try a few of these recipes and tips out.

  97. Thanks for the tips.

  98. cool!! i need all the cooking help i can get!

  99. Jeannie Finelli says:

    Great resource!

  100. Wow – thanks for all of the tips and inexpensive recipes! I will definitely give some of these a try!

  101. My dad was the dinner cook in our family and he was great at making meals using what he could find in the kitchen.

  102. Those are some wonderful link’s I’ll have to try! My favorite cheap meal is using leftover ham to make “ham and spaghetti” or, as my late MIL called it, “Irish Spaghetti.”
    Happy SITS!

  103. hey great blog – coming ovah from SITS — ck me out when you have a chance 🙂 I’m trying to build subscribers !


  104. Oh my goodness, I love this! Thank you! Happy SITS day! I’m totally bookmarking this!

  105. So glad you were featured today! It’s been awhile since I’ve stopped in! Great recipes as usual!

    Hope you have enjoyed all of the SITS love today!!


  106. Great post, and so fitting for these times. Soups and stews are a must for me. So easy to make in the crock pot, you can buy a cheap cut of meat and it will still be tender, and there’s always leftovers!

    Happy SITS Day!

  107. Such a good post!!!! All about savin’ the money!

  108. As who mom who is trying to budget more, these tips will really come in handy.

  109. Bookmarked! Some excellent ideas – thank you!

  110. Anonymous says:

    I love low cost meals … and finding something — ANYthing — in the freezer or pantry that I can turn into dinner. I am definitely not heading to the grocery store!

  111. I’m a day late from SITS. Came over to say hi and hope you had a great day being featured!

  112. Charmaine says:

    Great post! I bookmarked it for easy finding!

  113. What a timely post. My favorite cheap meal is brown rice with taco meat & veggies. You can buy a bag of frozen peppers and it fits in nicely, and I look for the meat when it’s on sale. Sometimes we buy the higher fat meat, then just drain it off & rinse w/hot water after it’s browned. Happy SITS day!


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