100 Cheap Meals for When You’re Broke
When you hear about cheap meals, you might think they’re boring and tasteless. But that’s far from the truth.
Cheap meals can be really good! And they’re perfect for when you just don’t have much in the food budget.
I’m always looking for meals that help me stretch my dollars further. That’s why I put together this roundup of 100 cheap meals for when you’re broke.
This roundup isn’t about eating only plain mashed potatoes or filling yourself with cabbage for weeks on end. I tried to pick a variety of recipes that would taste good and appeal to different palates.
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Tips to make cheap meals
You can often adjust meals to make them better suited to your budget, so don’t pass on a meal below just because it seems too expensive to put together at first glance.
There are many ways to work around a meal to make it more economical.
Use what you have on hand instead of buying new ingredients. I’ve substituted different pastas, rices, and meats for each other because I already had them at home.
Substitute ingredients with a cheaper alternative. Sometimes I’ll use dried herbs instead of fresh ones. I’ll use spinach in recipes that call for arugula. I use store brands instead of well-known name brand items.
Leave out ingredients that don’t add much to the recipe. I don’t care to eat bell peppers, so I leave them out of recipes that ask for them. I also leave off parsley, cilantro, green onion, and sesame seeds in they’re not essential to a recipe.
Buy items whole and cut, dice, or shred them yourself. I buy carrots and onions whole and then dice them by hand or in a food processor. You can shred cheese purchased cheaper in block form.
Buy what’s on sale. I’ve used different white fish than a recipe calls for because one kind was on sale.
Cook larger batches to make multiple meals. Buy larger or bulk sizes of ingredients to make a larger batch of the meal. You don’t have to cook as often either.
Freeze extra servings to make them last longer. Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Put anything you don’t eat in time in the freezer. Then unfreeze it and eat it when you want an easy reheatable meal.
Best slow cooker carnitas - A Spicy Perspective (pictured)
Triple pork fried rice - A Spicy Perspective
Kielbasa and cabbage skillet - Budget Bytes
Best broccoli salad recipe - DIY Candy
Sausage and mushroom pizza - Inspiration Kitchen
One pan Tuscan pork chops - Sweet C’s Designs
Pork and peanut dragon noodles - Budget Bytes
Pan-seared sriracha and lemon pork chops - Maebells
Best ever slow cooker pulled pork - Good Cheap Eats
Ham and cheese foldovers - Good Cheap Eats
Honey garlic salmon - Dinner at the Zoo (pictured)
Seafood rice skillet - Budget Bytes
Sriracha buttered shrimp - Inspiration Kitchen
Chili lime salmon - The Recipe Critic
Pasta with garlic, oil, and anchovy sauce - Epicurious
Italian tuna and brown rice salad - Skinny Taste
Pasta with mussels, garlic, and parsley - Splendid Table
Pasta with sardines and tomatoes - Killing Thyme
Easy canned tuna pasta - Salt and Lavender
Oven-baked tilapia - Delish
Spinach and ricotta cheese stuffed manicotti pasta shells - Julia’s Album
Vegetable soup - Two Peas & Their Pod
Vegan chickpea curry - Hurry the Food Up
Lentil and kale soup - Girl Heart Food
Five cheese ziti al forno - Dinner Then Dessert
Pasta alla Norma - Leite’s Culinaria
Spicy quinoa and black beans - Bowl of Delicious
Zucchini quesadillas - Smitten Kitchen
Chilaquiles brunch casserole - Smitten Kitchen
Straw and hay pasta - A Family Feast (pictured)
Creamy mushroom fettuccine - Pinch of Yum
Black bean chili - Gimme Some Oven
Fried rice - Gimme Some Oven
Pesto pasta salad - Cookie + Kate
Hearty spaghetti with lentils and marinara sauce - Cookie + Kate
Quiche - Sally’s Baking Addiction
Grilled corn quesadillas - Taste and Tell Blog
Slow cooker lentil sloppy Joe’s - Simply Quinoa
Orzo pasta with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan - Inspired Taste
Easy tomato soup - Inspired Taste
Curried tofu with rice - Taste of Home
12-minute scrambled tofu fried rice - Kitchen Treaty
Italian dinner frittata - Betty Crocker
Classic egg salad sandwich - Add a Pinch
Coconut curried golden lentils - Minimalist Baker
In putting together this roundup, I’ve come across so many recipes that I’m now dying to try! Those dragon noodles are first on my list followed by the straw and hay pasta.
I have lots of dinners ready for the next few weeks with this list. I hope you find just the recipe you’re looking for and eat well even when you’re broke!