100 Cheap Meals for When You’re Broke

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.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive compensation when you click on a product link or purchase an item linked on this site. Click here for details.



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.

Chicken

Photo courtesy of  Spoonful of Flavor

Photo courtesy of Spoonful of Flavor

 

One pot creamy chicken pasta - Spoonful of Flavor (pictured)

Creamy chicken and bacon pasta - Recipe Tin Eats

Crockpot orange chicken - The Frugal Girls

Crispy baked chicken thighs - Joy Filled Eats

Photo courtesy of  Spend With Pennies

Photo courtesy of Spend With Pennies

 

Cheesy chicken casserole - Spend with Pennies (pictured)

Slow cooker teriyaki chicken and rice - Damn Delicious

Healthy white chicken chili - Foolproof Living

Instant Pot chicken cacciatore - Dishes Delish

Photo courtesy of  Well Plated

Photo courtesy of Well Plated

 

Thai chicken curry - Well Plated (pictured)

One pot chicken leek and sweet potato - Neil’s Healthy Meals

One pot Mediterranean chicken - Neil’s Healthy Meals

Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken - Courtney’s Sweets

Photo courtesy of  Sally’s Baking Addiction

Photo courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

 
Photo courtesy of  Delicious on a Dime

Photo courtesy of Delicious on a Dime

 

Healthy white chicken enchiladas - Delicious on a Dime (pictured)

Keto chicken pot pie - Jennifer Banz

Spinach stuffed chicken breasts - Basil & Bubbly

Skillet garlic chicken and rice casserole - Yellow Bliss Road

Pork

Photo courtesy of  A Spicy Perspective

Photo courtesy of A Spicy Perspective

 

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

Beef

Photo courtesy of  Fifteen Spatulas

Photo courtesy of Fifteen Spatulas

 

Slow cooker beef ragu with pappardelle - Fifteen Spatulas (pictured)

Slow cooker Korean beef - Damn Delicious

Slow cooker beef tips - The Recipe Critic

Vegetable beef soup - Foolproof Living

One pan taco macaroni and cheese - Yellow Bliss Road

Slow cooker butternut squash lasagna - Foraged Dish

Photo courtesy of  Salt & Lavender

Photo courtesy of Salt & Lavender

 

Easy beef bowls - Salt & Lavender (pictured)

Stuffed peppers - Spend with Pennies

Ground beef stroganoff - The Anthony Kitchen

Budget shepherd’s pie - Divas on a Dime

Instant Pot lasagna - Pressure Cooker Recipes

BBQ beef stew - Healthy Recipes Blogs

Photo courtesy of  The Wicked Noodle

Photo courtesy of The Wicked Noodle

 

Chuck roast with balsamic and Dijon - The Wicked Noodle (pictured)

Beef hash - Add a Pinch

Mini shepherd’s pie - Tablespoon

Beef and bean burritos - The Pioneer Woman

Stuffed cabbage rolls - Food

Weeknight mini meatloaves - Ready Set Eat

Turkey

Photo courtesy of  Joy Filled Eats

Photo courtesy of Joy Filled Eats

 
Photo courtesy of  Our Balanced Bowl

Photo courtesy of Our Balanced Bowl

 

Turkey taco quinoa skillet - Our Balanced Bowl (pictured)

The juiciest turkey burgers - I Wash You Dry

Turkey skillet dinner - Art from My Table

Unstuffed pepper bowls - Cooking Classy

Garlic butter turkey meatballs - Delish

Photo courtesy of  The Blond Cook

Photo courtesy of The Blond Cook

 

Turkey sloppy joes - The Blond Cook (pictured)

Instant Pot Thai turkey meatballs with rice noodles - Delish

Wild rice and leftover turkey soup - The Seasoned Mom

Turkey hash - Epicurious

Turkey meatloaf - Skinny Taste

Saucy turkey tacos - Culinary Hill

Seafood

Photo courtesy of  Dinner at the Zoo

Photo courtesy of Dinner at the Zoo

 
Photo courtesy of  Two Peas & Their Pod

Photo courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod

 

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

Photo courtesy of  A Family Feast

Photo courtesy of A Family Feast

 

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

Photo courtesy of  Simply Quinoa

Photo courtesy of Simply Quinoa

 

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!

Related posts:

 
100 meals for when youre broke.jpg