"Absolutely Delicious And Nutritious For Cheap": People Are Sharing Their Favorite Low-Budget Recipes, And It's Just What My Wallet Needed

Prices for essentials are still super high at the grocery store, and people have been talking about things they just can't afford to spend money on anymore. But we still have to eat, and instant noodles and peanut butter sandwiches aren't always gonna cut it.

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

So recently, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their favorite low-budget meals that don't feel cheap. Here's some of what they had to say:

1."What I made tonight: bow tie pasta, bacon, microwaved broccoli, and garlic. Use the bacon fat and a little butter to heat up the garlic, add the broccoli in, and pour it right over the cooked pasta. I use whatever I have left over of my bacon from breakfasts so it’s not really 'expensive.' The whole meal is like $5, and it makes three or four servings for myself."

Packages of ingredients: broccoli florets, Parmesan, butter, bow ties, crushed red pepper, and ground black peppercorn

2."A traditional Venezuelan meal! It’s delicious, filling, nutritious, and incredibly cheap. Start with some simple rice and beans. Then add some arepas. They’re a simple type of bread made from P.A.N. (cooked white cornmeal), salt, water, and oil that you make on the stove. If you can, fill the arepas with some protein, like meat, eggs, or cheese. To complete the meal, include some fried plantain — or fried bananas, if you must. It’ll cost only a few dollars, tops, per meal."

Preppy Kitchen / Via youtube.com

3."Soak black beans overnight, then cook with water, a bay leaf, thyme, chopped green and red pepper, and some garlic until soft. To serve, make rice with water (or chicken stock, if you have it), onions, and thyme. Then, when the rice is cooked, add chopped cilantro. Serve the beans over the rice."

Simply Mama Cooks / Via youtube.com

4."A simple potato soup: You just need a few potatoes, an onion, garlic, broth (chicken or vegetable), cream cheese, and whatever toppings you’d like."

bowl of potato soup topped with cheese, chives, and bacon

"It’s so easy — just peel and cube potatoes (I’ve done anywhere from like 2 pounds to 5 pounds, depending on how much soup I want). Add half an onion, diced, for a smaller batch — a whole onion, diced, for a bigger batch; garlic measured with the heart; and just enough broth to cover the potatoes and onion in a pot.

"Cook on the stove till you can smash the potatoes, add a block of cream cheese, and wait for that to melt/mix in. Top with cheese, bacon, chives, whatever. It’s so filling and makes a ton of soup for a pretty small budget."

—Becca, California

Sugar Spun Run / Via youtube.com

5."Zucchini lasagna: Slice up your zucchini and layer it with your favorite pasta sauce (pesto, tomato, etc.). Then add some cheese and put it in the oven for 20 minutes."

Cheesy zucchini lasagna in a cast-iron skillet

—Panna, Budapest


6."Mujadara! Recipes vary from family to family, but this Lebanese staple of lentils and rice is warm, flavorful, comforting, and filling! This recipe is great, but the crispy onions shouldn't be optional; they give the dish that extra pop."

Plate of mujadara with onions
The Mediterranean Dish / Via youtube.com

7."Tuna fritters. Can of tuna, one egg, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix together in a bowl and fry like a crispy tuna pancake. Absolutely delicious and nutritious for CHEAP."

Tuna fritters cooking in a pan, with caption: "I cooked them for 3 minutes on this side; or until your desired doneness"
Casual Cooking / Via youtube.com

8."Honestly, when in doubt, I make veggie burrito bowls: some grain (rice, quinoa, etc.) with some canned black beans and corn. I also like to add some peppers and sweet potatoes."

A veggie burrito bowl with ingredients around it

"I would also like to note: We have some staples in our pantry from Costco, like canned beans, rice, corn, etc., that do make this more affordable for us. I understand not everyone has this in their pantry right now."


The Tasty Mix / Via youtube.com

9."I like to buy a rotisserie chicken and use that for a meal (we often have the chicken on salad over two nights, but you can use it in many ways). After you've eaten the flesh, put the bones and remaining fleshy bits in a cheesecloth bag in a big pot of water and boil for a few hours."

Rotisserie chickens cooking at a grocery store

"Add spices — a little bit of red wine or balsamic vinegar is also nice — then add chopped-up veggies (really, anything you have lying around; onions = amazing), and basically just cook until the broth is delicious. Take the chicken out of the cheesecloth, pick off the bits of edible meat that have come off (little scraps) and toss those in the soup, and dispose of the rest of the carcass. Now you have a homemade chicken veggie soup! I like to eat mine over a wild rice mix for a little texture and carbs. Delicious. And now one $9 rotisserie chicken has provided four nights of supper for two people, so eight meals!"


"Rotisserie chickens cost $5 at Costco. If you don’t have a membership, ask a friend to take you. We can make one chicken into five meals for two people, plus use the scraps from the bone broth to chop up for our dog: 1) Sliced rotisserie chicken, 2) chicken panini with pesto and mozzarella, 3) chicken salad, 4) chicken stir-fry, and 5) chicken soup."


Boston Globe / Boston Globe via Getty Images

10."My household's favorite low-cost and low-effort meal is a baked sweet potato topped with chili. It sounds a little questionable, but don't knock it until you try it. We've used homemade and canned chili for this, and both work amazingly well. You get protein, vegetable, and all the satisfaction from your favorite chili toppings in one cozy meal."

Person putting chili into the baked potato

"Another good riff is to mix up your favorite taco meat mix, and top the potato with that and all of your favorite taco toppings. However, there's been a drastic price increase on sweet potatoes in the recent past, so inflation may have made this meal go overnight from budget to costly. We noticed it when we purchased them last week."


Laura in the Kitchen / Via youtube.com

11."Vegetable soup! I probably spend like, MAX $10–$15 on ingredients and get about five or six meals out of it. I live on this as a chef, haha."

Bowl of vegetable soup


1–2 onions

3–4 carrots

Olive oil

As much garlic as your heart desires

1 can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes

Spices — salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes (optional) — all to your taste


Any vegetable or chicken broth/stock you have — whatever you like!

2 zucchini

1 can cannellini or white beans

1 can kidney beans

"Sauté onion and chopped carrots in olive oil; add garlic. Cook a bit. Add can of tomatoes and spices.

"Add water and broth (about 3 cups of each). Simmer and smash the tomatoes. Add chopped zucchini and drained beans.

"Simmer on low for as long as you want, honestly. I do about 45 minutes. I add the rind of Parmesan in it too when I add the tomatoes.

"Then I let it cool and put it in glass containers to freeze! I also add some small pasta and put some fresh Parmesan on top and some broiled garlic bread."


The Domestic Geek / Via youtube.com

12."Add lentils and/or veggies to ground meat dishes. I’ve been doing this for years with sloppy Joes, tacos, meatloaf, etc. I used to do it to boost nutritional content and add protein, fiber, and vegetables to my kids' diets. But now? It’s due to the cost of groceries. Spinach helps meatballs stay together. Ground carrot, celery, peppers, and onion add flavor and texture to meatloaf. Chop lentils in with ground meat and seasoning, and nobody is the wiser."

Plate of meatloaf with a tomato-and-molasses sauce
Cooking With Claudia / Via youtube.com

13."Not the most balanced meal, but it sure is filling and tasty! Spaghetti cooked in olive oil, with white onion and fresh garlic. Boil the spaghetti al dente and then add it into the sautéing garlic and onion. Sometimes I add in black olives if I’ve got them in the fridge (and they last forever). It’s all stuff you probably already have in the cupboard and can buy in bulk for cheap; also takes only 10 minutes to make."

Person using tongs to pick up spaghetti in a pan
How to Mealz / Via youtube.com

14."Frittatas — you can use leftover proteins and vegetables, cook everything in one pan, and stick it all in the oven."

A frittata slice on a plate


"I just made one yesterday, as I had shallot, spinach, and peppers left over. Sautéed, added eight eggs and cream, sprinkled feta and mozzarella, and threw it in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Garnished with Kalamata olives and parsley."


Adam Raguesa / Via youtube.com

15."Chicken and dumplings! If you make it from scratch, it goes a long way with leftover chicken broth and bones for bone broth, and it can easily feed a large family or be split and frozen for multiple meals."

Cup of chicken and dumplings

"Use one Cornish hen (you can get a pack of two from most grocery stores for less than $10), rosemary, sage, thyme (if you don’t have them in dry spices, Safeway/Albertsons has a fresh blend I prefer for $2.50), onion (quartered), garlic (minced), celery (chopped), a little butter (not required; the hen has all the fat you need), and salt and pepper. Throw it all in a pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about two to three fingers if you push it down. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cover for your workday (minimum of like two hours). If it boils down too much, you can always add more water and cook longer.

"Strain the stock into a bowl and pick out the chicken with tongs. I’ve always put the veggies/herbs in compost because I don’t know what to do with them. Cool the broth so the fat rises and solidifies to skim off, but save some of the fat. There’s enough of the broth for two or three meals, so save what’s left and freeze. Shred the chicken off the bone and store the bones and skin if you want to make bone broth, and set the meat to the side.

"When you’re ready to make the soup, add some chicken fat into a pot — I prefer a cast-iron Dutch oven — and heat on medium or medium high until it’s liquefied again and fragrant, then add flour to create a paste. Cook the roux to a golden brown and add in your stock, stirring as you go. You can use either heavy cream or milk for the creamy texture (heavy cream gives best results).

"You don’t HAVE to add frozen peas and carrots, but they’re low-cost and make the meal more filling! Add these in as well as the shredded chicken and cook until the peas and carrots are hot, then season to taste. Make a simple biscuit from a box or from scratch and drop into the pot. Bake at 350 degrees till biscuits are cooked through and golden brown."



16."I’m Indian, and I truly think rice is a blessing food. Super cheap, and you can literally eat it for every meal. Breakfast: fried egg with runny yolk, rice, soy sauce. Lunch: mock fried rice with frozen veggies, old leftover rice, soy sauce/sesame oil, egg, any meat you have on hand (or none!). Dinner: can of chickpeas with spices (chana masala) over rice! Truly, the best cheap, but filling and healthy meals ever come from rice."

Chana masala with rice


Gina's Family Kitchen / Via youtube.com

17."A loaded baked potato! Bake a potato and top with any number of items: Taco baked potato with ground meat, onion, jalapeños, sour cream, and avocado. Greek baked potato with feta, chickpeas, and Kalamata olives. Curry baked potato with curry powder, peas, and chickpeas. There are so many options you can do based on what you have at home. It is so versatile and can have as many or as few ingredients as needed, AND it’s super filling. Remember: Seasonings and spices are your friend (especially when it comes to giving sour cream that extra flavor!)."

A fully loaded baked potato with cheese, bacon, and sour cream

—Bridget, Ireland

Tasty / Via youtube.com

18."Buy a cheap bag of mixed dried peas, beans, or lentils; soak overnight; and then cook for a couple of hours with basic curry spices and some paprika (honestly, whatever you like and have that will taste good with curry), and add some form of fat (coconut milk or butter) to the curry while cooking. You could also add a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on top when done. Make some rice and add a few chopped-up fresh veggies or some frozen veggies (really, whatever you have or is on sale). Voilà, you have a meal that costs under $5 and will last for multiple dinners. And it's delicious."

Lentil curry with rice
The Cooking Foodie / Via youtube.com

19."Sweet potato taco boats. Bake sweet potatoes (or russets, but sweets are especially good) whole with skins on (roughly 50 minutes at 400 degrees), then split open and top with taco-seasoned black beans, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. So delicious, incredibly good for you (tons of vitamins and fiber!), and pretty low-effort."

Sweet potato with taco meat and cheese
Boots and Bounty Homestead / Via youtube.com

20."I take a package of hot dogs and cut them up into bite-size medallions. Throw those in a pot to get a little color on the edges, then add a large jar of sauerkraut (drain about two-thirds of the juice) and simmer it all together until everything is nice and warm. Sometimes I'll pair it with whatever frozen veggies or can of baked beans I have on hand, or we'll eat it on hot dog buns with potato chips for a fast and cheap dinner."

Sauerkraut and hot dogs cooking in a pan

—Katie, Florida

Jensen Reserve / Via youtube.com

21."I love making this pasta dish with red peppers and kidney beans. I simmer the pasta and beans together until al dente. Then, in a sauté pan, I toss a thinly sliced red bell pepper in oil and paprika over medium heat, and add the beans and pasta to the pan to coat them. Season with salt, obviously, and voilà! Tasty, cheap, very nutritious, and done in about 15 minutes."

Kidney beans in a bowl

—Maya, England

Vaivirga / Getty Images/iStockphoto

22."Mac 'n' cheese with tuna and peas mixed together. Also a one-pot meal."

Mixing tuna into mac 'n' cheese
Simply Mama Cooks / Via youtube.com

23."Easy fried rice: 3 cups of cooked and cold rice, a bag of frozen veggies, two slightly beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Heat the sesame seed oil in a skillet, then fry the vegetables. Either push to the side or remove from the pan and scramble the egg. Mix with vegetables, add rice and soy sauce, and cook till hot. Boom: cheap and easy fried rice."

Fried rice with egg and veggies
Souped Up Recipes / Via youtube.com

24."Mix frozen cheese tortellini with some frozen veggies and Italian dressing. Cover it and put it in the fridge — it thaws by lunch, and you have a delicious cold pasta dish! Cheap and easy, and goes well in a kid's sack lunch!"

Tortellini pasta salad
The Stay at Home Chef / Via youtube.com

Do you have a favorite low-cost meal? Tell us all about it in the comments!