Since I’m a frugal-living lady I’m often very happy that I also don’t happen to be a foodie, because from what I know being a foodie is expensive. Expensive meals and me just don’t mix company these days.
Day-to-day our meals are pretty (very) simple, and this definitely works in my favor while trying to save money. I love looking at the pretty food photographs on Pinterest, but actually making the big and elaborate meals, spending the money on the sometimes elusive ingredients, and also spending the time to prepare the meals- ? It just isn’t where I’m at right now.
Meals for us mean: simple, cheap, and very quick.
Luckily my husband and I don’t mind it this way so most nights our dinners are things like (oh and we’re vegetarian too, if you start to wonder where the meat is):
- Tortilla with 1/2 a sliced avocado and rice
- Rice and beans and a tortilla
- Beets (love them!) and potato wedges
- Massive Monster salad that I eat throughout the week
(After writing those meals out like that they feel a little Tiny Tim-ish… d’oh:/ but, they are tasty and they do the trick!)
So, when Amy Sibley who is a food blogger over at Wicked Good Travel contacted me about doing a post on how she creates meals with freezer and pantry items I was all about it!
Non-fussy, easy, and cheap meals = Perfect!
Now, here’s Amy to take it away!
Being a food blogger gives me the excuse to try all sorts of foods and drinks, which is always an adventure! Cooking at home is often less expensive than eating out, but depending on what you’re making, it can still cost more than what your budget can comfortably absorb.
As someone who had over $20,000 in debt not even five years ago (and managed to bring that down to just under $7,000 today!) I can appreciate the pains of determining what groceries to buy, and how to make the most of my money when it comes to meals. In my quest to figure out some cheap meals I’ve discovered some ways to tackle different dinner dilemmas, and I want to share them with you!
Modify and mix them up as desired because they will all keep your stomach and wallet happy! These dishes all use ingredients that can be kept in the freezer or pantry (ie, flour, olive oil, sugar, salt, noodles, etc.) so the ingredients will last a long time. I like to stock up when the ingredients are items are on sale so I always have them on hand.
While chicken nuggets and Top Ramen may not be the pinnacle of healthy eating, they are inexpensive and versatile enough that they can be easily morphed into more complete, healthier, and filling meals with a little fixing up.
Cheap Meal Idea #1: Top Ramen with Veggies (Serves 2):
- 2 packages of Top Ramen ($0.58/2 packs)
- 4 cups water or 2 cups of water combined w/ 1 can chicken/veggie broth (broth $0.89/can)
- ½ bag of frozen vegetables ($1.00 for ½ bag)
- Cook noodles according to package directions. You can opt to add in half of the spice packet or none of it and instead use low-sodium broth (significantly lowering sodium levels). Add frozen veggies to the water with the noodles and you’ll have soup in only five minutes. Options: Add a slice of bread with butter, a tuna fish sandwich, or some crackers/fresh veggies and hummus for a heartier meal if desired.
(Estimated cost per serving: $1.74)
Cheap Meal Idea #2: Chicken Nuggets with Brown Rice and Turkey Gravy (Serves 2):
This is one of my favorites when I’m crazing comfort food. I make this on nights when my boyfriend and I have had long days at work and we don’t want to spend lots of money (or time) on dinner.
- 12-14 chicken nuggets – one serving is 6 nuggets but increase/decrease as desired- ($1.95/14 nuggets; $6.99/entire bag)
- 1 12oz jar of fat free turkey gravy ($1.95/jar)
- 1 bag of quick cooking brown rice ($0.80/bag)
- These nuggets taste far better when cooked in the oven. We’re only talkin’ 14 minutes at most. During that time, cook rice, and then just before everything is done microwave the gravy in a bowl. Simply plate your rice, nuggets, and add as much gravy as desired over the top. Option: For extra vitamins, heat up a bag of frozen vegetables for a side.
(Estimated cost per serving: $2.40)
Soups, casseroles, and sauces are all foods that can be made cheaply. I like that they are also rich and diverse in textures and flavors, and that they freeze well which means- every last bit gets eaten so we truly get our money’s worth!
The main thing I’ve learned is: don’t be afraid to get creative!
Thank You Amy!
Do you have any tips and tricks for getting more out of your home-cooked meals? What are your cheap go-to meals?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: [email protected] (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
What are YOUR favorite, inexpensive meals? Tell us in the comments! And, if you found this post helpful we’d be so thankful if you shared it!