What Is Your Favorite Budget Friendly Meal

Updated on May 22, 2011
B.C. asks from Carterville, MO
17 answers

Ok we had an oopsy in the finances this week and now we are going to have only a small budget for gas money and groceries this next week. I am pretty good at "shopping" my own pantry for some meal plans...I usually have a few back up meals planned but as money has been tight for a while, my pantry has seen better days. I am really not looking forward to a week of tuna salad and spaghetti! So what are your tasty low budget meals that you make in a pinch? We do try to eat pretty healthy, I have canned and frozen veggies on hand, we have things to round out meals like applesauce. I can always do a breakfast night ( not the most nutritious, but the kids seem to like it) Just looking for some different ideas...I don't want the kids to feel like we are being punished this next week = )

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Phoenix on

I bought my first condo at age 23 and had some "eating out of the pantry" weeks! So I tend to stock up for just these kinds of 'emergencies'. My latest find is tosadas. I keep a package of the crunchy flat shells in the pantry with some canned refried beans. I always have salad in the fridge and cheese. So there you have it and very inexpensive. :o)


I bought my first condo at age 23 and had some "eating out of the pantry" weeks! So I tend to stock up for just these kinds of 'emergencies'. My latest find is tosadas. I keep a package of the crunchy flat shells in the pantry with some canned refried beans. I always have salad in the fridge and cheese. So there you have it and very inexpensive. :o)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

fried rice - cold rice, leftover chicken, scrambled eggs, a bag of frozen peas and carrots, and soy sauce.

sausage pasta skillet - 3 italian sausage links cooked and sliced. cook sliced zuchini and squash in the drippings from the sausage. add the sausage back to the skillet when they get soft, then add cooked pasta - penne, elbows, shells, whatever you have. feeds an army for 5 bucks with enough leftover for lunch the next day!

Linguine with clam sauce - you can buy a can of clams in hebed sauce in the tuna section. toss that with cooked linguine. It's a rock star fancy dinner for $3

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Portland on

You can try making some different rice dishes. I remember when I was a kid and we were moving my mom was trying to use up a bunch of rice. We had bunches of different rice dishes....my favorite was rice pudding which I still love to this day.

Food Network has a cool tool which you put in your ingredient and then it pops up a bunch of different recipes for you to use with that ingredient.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Tuna noodle casserole with the french fried onions on top (YUM) or alfredo (which is actually cheap). I love teryaki rice. My family loves stir fry. I have a ton of recipes on my computer for things. I love mediterranean olive pasta which a veggie pasta, although it uses feta cheese which is like $3-5 for a little tub of it. I love some fried chicken which you can buy huge things of chicken so to me it's budget friendly cuz it makes several meals. What kind of meat do you have on hand? That's a big factor cuz you can do a ton of stuff with veggies, I have come to love frozen veggies :P

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I have two "I need to go grocery shopping" meals that I fall back on:

1.) Frittata: I saute whatever vegetables we have (zucchini, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, onion). Add in a pre-cooked meat (I've done tuna, bacon, sausage, salmon). When that's all heated and tender, then add in beaten eggs to make a quiche-like dish. I do it all in the same skillet, so I cook on the stove until the bottom is solid, then toss it under the broiler for a few minutes to cook the top of the eggs. If we have cheese, I'll put that on top and put it back under the broiler until melted.

2.) hamburger soup: ground beef (but you can do this without too), bag of frozen veggies, and can of tomatoes (or diced tomatoes or even water and chopped fresh tomatoes). Toss in whatever carb item you have on hand (pasta noodles, rice, barley). I usually throw in a bullion cube and seasonings too. Sometimes I add beans if I don't have a meat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

We like Salsa Chicken. Just add chicken breast (fresh or frozen), a jar of salsa and cheese (I use mexican blend most times but also what I have on hand). Then I make rice in the microwave.

Grilled cheese with tomato soup. Or tomato soup and I add rice to it. Taco's are usually cheap if you limit the toppings. Chili goes a long way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Tortillas... I love tortillas pizza, spread pasta sauce, whatever toppings you have and like, bit of grated cheese, heat in oven for a few minutes and a warm, nutritious supper.

Sloppy joes.... hamburger, can of manwich, heat together and put on a hamburg bun, serve with whatever you have for veggies

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Bean Chili

3 cans assorted beans (black, pinto, whatever you have)
1 sweet potato cut into small squares
frozen corn
1 jar salsa
taco flavoring

Put in crock pot on low for about six hours.

I like www.allrecipes.com for new ideas, also.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Lentils ! My daughter loves them, she thinks they're a treat and has no idea we serve them for the high iron & fiber and budget cost.
My husband (from his college days) makes mushy mush mush; canned refried beans, scrambled eggs, turned into burritos with sour cream-YUM!
Chicken & rice (Spanish rice, let me know if you don't know how to make it.)
I too would make a breakfast for dinner, my daughter loves that too, she helps make the pancakes.
Enjoy getting through the week :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I remember when I was little, my dad would make SOS and when we started to prosper a little, he stopped making it but we kept requesting it because it was so tasty.

I'm not sure of his recipe, but I believe you start out by browning some ground beef, drain and set aside the meat, but leave in about a tblsp. of fat in pan and add some flour to make a roue (sp?). Pour in milk while whisking it until it thickens. Season it with salt & pepper and then add the meat back in. Serve this over toast.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi B., I've been through the same thing a few times! I love slow-roasted vegetables with garlic and basil, served with grilled garlic Turkish bread. Just get a whole heap of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic cloves, zucchini and fresh basil (torn up) etc, chop up a bit, place in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 1.5 hours. Serve on a halved Turkish bread which has been buttered and sprinkled with minced garlic and grilled to a slight crispness. With the leftover vegetables, you can make a great pasta sauce by processing it up and adding a bit more salt, pepper etc to taste, then stirring it through spaghetti. I find vegetables much cheaper than meat and other ingredients.



answers from Eugene on

Black bean soup--

1 bag black beans
1 onion
lots of garlic
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 bell pepper
2 cans roasted pepper (optional bec. of cost)

soak the beans overnight (or use a pressure cooker if you have one and skip this step)
cut up all the veggies, and saute them
add the beans and about 6 cups of water and cook
add the roasted peppers and season to taste

Serve with whatever is around (grated cheese, chives from the garden, sour cream) and whole wheat toast or rolls



answers from New York on

-Soup and sandwiches (whatever is in the house and "grill them")
-Brinner (breakfast for dinner) my son and husband LOVE this and you can get rid of a lot in the fridge/freezer
- "Random" night... I seriously do this at least once a month, sometimes twice. I poke through the pantry, fridge and freezer and use ONLY what is in the house. They think it's funny b/c there may be a burger (from leftover ground beef), porkchop, grilled chicken breast, rice and frozen veggies oh- and a thing of Dora yogurt, but somehow there's a "little of everything" and nothing gets thrown out! It's not "a meal", but it works.
- Sausage, peppers and onions in the slow cooker. Put sausages into the slowcooker with a bottle of BBQ sauce then fill the bottle with water (equal parts) and put that in too! Let it cook all day and an hour before serving add sliced green peppers and a sliced onion. Serve on toasted buns!
- Homemade mac-and-cheese with a frozen veggie (we use broccoli) and chicken mixed in (Thank you Rachel Ray)



answers from Louisville on

Chili Mac - cook one pound of macaroni and drain. Stir in one large can crushed tomatoes, one small can tomato sauce, one can of chili beans, and one package of chili or taco seasoning. Heat and serve with shredded cheddar cheese. Or I also like to serve scalloped potatoes from the crockpot. Peel and slice about 8 potatoes and dip into one cup of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Layer in crockpot, 1/2 of the potatoes, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 small thinly sliced onion, 1/4 c. flour and pepper, and two T. margarine. Repeat. Cook on low for 6 -8 hours, stirring when the margarine on top looks melted.



answers from Los Angeles on

I have a large pantry. My kids call it the "Mom and Pop Shop." When items we eat are on sale, I tend to buy a lot, especially if its a loss leader. (It helps smooth out the budget swings from poor house to prosperity.) So, all of my suggestions can come from my pantry.

Hamburger gravy over rice, noodles or potatoes. Cut up and add any vegetables to the hamburger gravey. 1 lb hamburger, one large diced onion, simmered in pan. Pour in a pot with two cans of cream of mushroom soup and one can of milk and one can of water. (I slice up mushrooms if they are available and inexpensive.) Serve over noodles or rice or potatoes.

TACOS or Burritos . . . Two cans of chilli beans, one 12 oz chrizo (sp?), one diced onion, tortilla shells, lettuce, tomaotes. make tacos. Add shredded cheese if the budget permits. OR place over tortilla chips for taco salad or nacho chips.

INEXPENSIVE MAC & CHEESE. Go to the 99 cent store and buy one can of their nacho cheese sauce (16 oz / $.99) If it says jalapeno cheese sauce and you don't like spicy stuff, don't wory because if it was really spicy it wouldn't be in the 99 cent store. Cook 1.5 lbs of macaroni, pour off the water pour on the nacho cheese sauce and serve. Some times I add cut up hot dogs or hamburger to the cheese sauce.

Breakfast for dinner. Do pancakes or waffles or scrambled eggs. I add milk to my scrambled eggs to make them fluffier.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Honolulu on

tortilla wraps with refried beans from a can, and cheese and whatever greens are cheapest.

Mac and cheese with tuna and peas

rice and baked beans topped with tomato (rotel...) and cheese casserole is always nice. put baked beans down 1st, then the rice, then the tomato and then add 2 cups hot water for every cup of rice. Bake for an hour in a covered dish at 350 (I am assuming 2 cups of rice... the less rice the shorter the cooking time). after that remove the cover and cover with cheese and let bake uncovered for 5 to 15 minutes.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions