Super Cheap Food and Budget Meals that Taste Good

A whole rotisserie chicken costs about $5 and can be used for many things. Combine with ramen, rice, veggies, pasta, potatoes, whatever, and add some seasonings. Use the bones to make broth. Dice the meat up and make chicken salad, or throw it in a soup. Try this:

What you need! * Rotisserie Chicken (5 bucks at Wal-Mart, best 5 bucks you’ll ever spend) * Flour * Butter * Chicken Bouillon * Rice * Whatever vegetable you want. I used canned green beans.


Cooking Cheap with Rotisserie Chickens

Rotisserie chickens are awesome. They’re cheap, easy, and delicious, and they provide a lot of bang for your buck. You should have flour, butter, and rice sitting around. If you don’t, go buy some. They’re cheap. Canned vegetables: also cheap. I got 8 cubes of chicken bouillon for 50 cents.

First, boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 cubes of bouillon to boiling water. Cook the rice (2 cups chicken water 1 cup rice). To make the gravy melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan. After it’s melted add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk away. We’re making a roux. It should end up looking kinda like dough. After it looks like that slowly stir in the remaining 2 cups of chicken water. Let it sit on low heat (stirring occasionally) to thicken. I honestly don’t care what you do with your vegetables, I just hit my green beans with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Rip into that rotisserie chicken and make yourself an amazing plate with TONS of leftovers to spare. Assuming you have the butter, flour, and rice laying around you might have spent $1.20 on a couple cans of vegetables, $5.00 on a rotisserie chicken, and $0.50 on the bouillon. You’ll probably get around 4 servings from this. Enjoy.

If you have a GFS near you, a 50 pound bag of rice is about $27. If you eat A LOT of rice, go for it. It’ll last forever.


Cheap Breakfast Food

Cooking out Oatmeal, none of that expensive sugary cereal and milk!

You can buy rolled oats for pennies on the dollar. Here’s how to make a perfect bowl of oatmeal:

Combine 1 to 1 to 1 of rolled oats, water and milk in a saucepan and bring to a low boil, then let simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Once it’s creamy you can add anything you want and have on hand (fruits, nuts, spices, syrup, etc.).

If you want to go cheap on milk, buy a bag of powdered milk. It’s super cheap and never goes bad and you always have milk on hand.

I’ve had steel cut oats every morning for about a year now and it has been great. On the right day, I can sometimes forget about lunch until about 3 in the afternoon. It helps to have a pressure cooker, which makes the whole process about 10 minutes from dry to done, but before I had that I just soaked the oats overnight before cooking in the morning (but change the water before you cook them!)

Here’s the actual recipe I usually follow:

  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 apple or pear cut into chunks
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of raisins
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

While that cooks, I cut a banana (start eating red bananas, they’re way better than yellow) into a bowl with a spoonful of peanut butter. If you use a pear, nutella tastes lovely in addition to/instead of the peanut butter. It may seem like a lot, and super fancy, but if you buy the ingredients in bulk, you’ll be eating fancy for weeks on about $10, minus the fruit which of course goes faster and costs a bit more.


Crock Pot Breakfast Burritos

This recipe is super simple and for those of you already on a tight budget will be a great fit. Ingredients: 1 lb. Sausage

1 can Rotel tomatoes (I went with medium)

1 can black beans (strained and washed)

1 whole green pepper or your pepper of choice depending on the heat levels you want to get from it.

8 medium sized tortillas

4-5 eggs

Add sausage, Rotel ( juices and all ), beans, green peppers in that order into crockpot. Cook slow and low for 6-8 hours overnight.

In the morning heat up your tortillas in a microwave, skillet w/e. In the meantime scramble your eggs. Using a slotted spoon add crockpot concoction to tortilla. Add eggs, shredded cheese if you like. Then roll that puppy up! Want to keep it warm while driving to work? Wrap it up in tin foil, its also great cold!

Total cost: $10. Prep time: 10 minutes. 8 servings

EDIT: dice pepper


Making Cheap Ramen Taste Better

Ramen: Is it cheap? Yes. Is it filling? Yes. Is it healthy? Nope. Oh well.

A (very) simple and delicious dish which is also reasonably nutritious. Sriracha and soy sauce together make the dish spicy, while cumin adds some “warmth” to it. It’s not much of a looker (see picture near the end of the comment), but then again it’s ramen, which shouldn’t give one too high expectations.

I don’t know much about U.S. prices and due to taxes my local prices are generally much, much higher – so I’ve gone by averages I could find around the Internet. Hope that’s all right.


  • 1 package noodles (mine was appx. 60 g) — $0.25
  • 3 dl vegetable stock — $0.12
  • 2 spring onions (scallions, green onions, call them what you will) — $0.16
  • 1 large carrot — $0.16
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (or to taste) — $0.12
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce — $0.12
  • 1 tsp cumin, preferably ground* — $0.05
  • 1 tsp paprika — $0.05
  • 1 egg — $0.20

* whole cumin seeds don’t hurt the taste in any way, but they end up at the bottom of the pot, making the last bit of soup too cumin-y. For the best result, grind the cumin yourself!

Total: $1.23.
This was intended to be one serving, but it ended up being a big one — possibly around a serving and a half — so it’s probably possible to get it under $1/serving.


  1. While bringing the stock to a boil, slice the carrot as thinly as possible, and cut the spring onions into pieces 1-2 cm each.
  2. Break the “block” of noodles into two or four pieces, making everything a bit easier to handle — then add it to the boiling stock. Discard any seasoning that came along with the noodles. It’s loaded with sodium and generally not very tasty.
  3. After two or three minutes, add carrots and spring onions to pot. Then add the spices, sriracha and soy sauce. Make sure not to go overboard on the latter, as too much soy sauce can ruin any dish.
  4. Noodles should be just about done by now, so it’s time for the egg: Add it, let it sit for about a minute, then basically just toss it around in the mixture, making it break apart. At this point the water should be just barely boiling. (The dish basically came out of my ineptitude with regard to poaching an egg – oh well, it still tastes great!)

Once the egg white pieces have turned white and the yolk pieces a bright yellow, remove from heat, serve with a bit of freshly ground pepper, and enjoy.


Cooking Lentils is Cheap

Lentils: I’ve heard good things, but I’ve never tried them personally. Here are some interesting looking recipes for them:

I can confirm lentils are DIRT cheap. From 1 lb @ $1.30/lb I’ve gotten 5 substantial lunches with a potential for 2 more.

  • 1/4c Lentils
  • 1-2 Cubes Chicken Bullion
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • 2 tbls Chopped Onion
  • Plus anything else you might like
  • Cover with water

I toss this into my brand new 0.6 quart crock pot ($3 at Wallymart) before I head to bed, and pack it for lunch in the morning.

Simple, easy, filling, and very delicious.

For reference, 1 pound dried lentils = 2-1/4 cups dry


Cooking Indian dal with Lentils

For the dal I just sautee onions and garlic in oil, add spices (turmeric, garam masala, cumin, chili), then add water, boullion, and the lentils and boil until the lentils are nice and mushy. Flatbreads are flour (i use half white half wheat), a glug of oil, salt, then warm water slowly added until the dough is cohesive but never sticky. This is the among lowest energy to cook, most filling yet healthiest meals I know of. The only downside is the lentils make you poop a lot.


Cheap Rice Dishes  that Taste Good

Tuna Rice  1 large serving:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (see instructions below) – $0.15
  • 1 Can of tuna – $0.96
  • 1/4 of an Onion finely diced – $.0.20
  • Mayonnaise to taste

$1.31 per serving + mayonnaise + extras

You may also add pickle relish to your mayonnaise, but it’s too expensive where I live. Also, feel free to add other things to the tuna salad too; I kept it to the basics.

For this recipe, I focus on two flavors, tuna oil and the mayo. They go well together and make this a little jazzier than the average bowl of rice.

Start off by cooking your rice. The trick here is to decrease the amount of water you would normally use ever so slightly and add in most of the oil from the can of tuna.

When the rice is finished, take it out and mix it with the tuna, onion and mayo. And then you have a tasty rice bowl that’s perfect for any meal, IMHO.


Cheap Basmati Rice Bowl Recipe

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 crushed clove garlic

1/4 cup peanuts

1 stalk of broccoli

1 tsp salt . 1/2 tbs olive oil

^ Throw all that in to a good pot with 3/4 cups of water, and whatever other seasonings you like, (basmati takes less water and cook time then other rices) Bring to boil, then cover on low for about 7 min. Doing it this way is super easy and makes the peanuts somewhat tender morsels within the rice while giving slight flavor and the broccoli is always cooked to perfection.

While that’s cooking, get small frying pan and throw on an egg with cheese I usually fry with olive oil, just drop the egg in with cheese on top and cover the frying pan too, no flipping. When cheese is melted it’s done.

Take out your rice into a bowl and then drizzle hot sauce and Teriaki sauce semi lightly, and place egg on top.

Delicious, nutritious, fast, easy, and most of all very affordable meal.


Budget Soups and Stews:


Budget Chicken Soup

  • 1 Whole chicken (not using the whole thing in the soup, but I’ll digress on that later) divided into wings, Leg quarters, and breasts (more on this odd division later) (1.09 or .69 per pound *Second number denotes sale price)
  • 4 small Calavasa (the little mexican squash, here in texas they’re .99 a pound, but if you have neighbors that grow zucchini or yellow squash, you can probably get a bushel for that price around harvest time)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes (5 lb bag for 2.29)
  • 1 small can of “rotel” (doesn’t have to be the brand rotel, just has to have the cilantro, lime juice, and jalapenos .45 on sale)
  • 3 large jalapenos (.69 a pound)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato chicken bullion (latin foods aisle 1.29 for a 6oz jar)
  • 1.5 gallon stock pot (or your largest)
  • Water to fill pot

Boil chicken for 2 hours. Take chicken out, add veggies, cut them however large or small you want.. Take the meat from the leg quarters and chop fine, adding back to pot. Add bullion and any other spices you want/have wrap up breast meat for sandwiches (use SPARINGLY) Use wings and a small can of Cream of chicken (.89) for chicken and rice 3-4 days of meals from one bird.


Making Cheap Taco Soup

I got this recipe from a friend at school, I tend to make the Vegetarian version for myself, but my boyfriend insists on adding meat when I make it for the both of us. Either way, this is probably one of my favorite meals and its cheap and easy to make :)

Taco Soup

  • 1 15oz can Black Beans
  • 1 15oz can Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 15oz can Light Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 15.5oz can White Hominy
  • 3 10oz cans Rotel
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1/2 – 1 Onion (1/2 is usually enough for me)
  • 1 cup broth (Chicken, beef, veggie – doesn’t matter which ever you prefer)
  • 1 package Taco Seasoning
  • 1 package Ranch Dressing Mix (I get the hidden valley one)
  • Optional – Add 1 pd browned ground turkey/beef.
  1. Drain black beans, kidney beans and hominy. Add to large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add Broth, Rotel, Taco seasoning and Ranch dressing mix (and browned meat if so desired). Stir together.
  3. While that is heating up, cut up celery and onion. Sautee (I like to add a little garlic flavor to the celery and onions at this point)
  4. Add the celery and onion to the large pot and mix them in.
  5. Enjoy Delicious soup. I like to top it with shredded cheese and diced avocado. Also good with tortilla chips, or just tortillas.

A single batch will last me almost a week, eating it for lunch and dinner. It costs around $15-20 depending on if I have any of the ingredients and if I add ground turkey. Enjoy and let me know if you come up with any other variations.

How to Make Rice and Beans  Taste Good

To preface, this recipe does not require much measuring, I’ll try to approximate some of the amounts of stuff used but when I actually make it, I don’t measure anything. :) Also it makes quite a big batch, I live alone and have to freeze about half of it and half still lasts me the better part of a week.


  • Any large pan/pot with a lid will do.


  • 1 boneless pork chop
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 gloves garlic (Can replace with garlic powder if you want)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can beans (I prefer pinto beans)
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • (Optional) 1 can sweet corn (It’s your preference, but I tried it and I like it, but it’s not necessary).
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Cooking oil, water
  • Herbs/spices used: Salt, black pepper, paprika, red cayenne pepper, cilantro, thyme


  • Chop up the onion, mince the garlic, and season the pork chop. Salt/pepper/paprika is good.
  • Heat up about 3 tbsp of oil in the pan on medium heat. Then fry the pork chop/onions/garlic. Once the pork chop is seared, take it out of the pan and chop it into bite-size pieces, then set aside.
  • Cook the onions and garlic til the onions are clear, and remove them from the pan and set aside.
  • Put about 3 more tbsp of oil in the pan along with the flour. Mix it until the flour integrates with the fat. It doesn’t have to be a liquid viscosity, just form it into a paste and it will do it’s purpose, which is to thicken everything up later. Add oil if you need to. It may seem like a lot of oil at this point, but in the end it’s not.
  • Add stuff in no particular order: ~7 cups water, re-incorporate your pork/onions/garlic, tomatoes, beans, rice, chiles, corn.
  • Stir everything together
  • Add spices: A LOT of black pepper, about enough to cover the top of the liquid in the pan. About 3 large pinches salt. A lot of paprika, similar in amount to the pepper. Cayenne pepper to taste depending on how spicy you want it. The green chiles I use don’t seem to add any heat, so I’m pretty liberal with the cayenne. It gets diluted quite a bit with all the liquid.
  • Stir
  • Cover the pan and cook until the rice is almost done, but not quite done. I use extra long grain brown rice, and cook for one hour. Instant rice probably takes about 20 min.
  • Uncover and add herbs, and stir. I use cilantro/thyme but if you only use one, go with cilantro. Let it reduce for about 30 minutes uncovered. Stir every 10 minutes because the rice starts to stick to the pan.
  • Serve

Some interesting ways to serve it that I use:

  • Smother a tortilla with the rice/beans, top it with a little cheese, sour cream, and greens.
  • Replace the tortilla with tortilla chips and add more greens, makes quite a good taco salad.


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