Food spending is one of the most common budget busters in every average American family’s spending. Quite a good number of people literally ‘eat through their income’ by spending too much on groceries and eating out.
Eating at home is in fact one of the most efficient ways to spend less on food and stick to a budget.
There is a good number of meals that you can make at home with very few ingredients and very little time.
If you are looking for budget-friendly meals that are packed full of flavor, look no further.
We all enjoy splashing out on dinners from time to time and trying to stick to a budget while still cooking healthy and tasty meals can sometimes be a challenge.
You don’t have to eat crappy meals just because you are trying to spend less money. You are no longer in college so you can definitely have more grown-up and refined meals.
You can still eat well for way less with these budget-friendly favorites.
Cutting down on your food expenditure should not be an excuse for missing out on good hearty meals.
Below are a few tips that have been a great help to me whenever I am on a budget but still want to eat well.
Versatile and affordable ingredients are key when you are trying to spend less on your meals. You need to keep this in mind while doing your grocery shopping list.
Be smart. Come up with a smart but not so costly grocery list.
Stock up on inexpensive pantry staples like rice and pasta. Buy them in bulk so that you spend less for more.
Buying in bulk actually saves you a lot of money compared to when you buy things in individual units.
Stick to simple recipes and only use the necessary ingredients to prepare your meal. Eliminate all the unnecessary ingredients and save yourself some coins.
Cutting down on meat and keeping certain specific meals in constant rotation can come in handy in helping you stick to your budget.
Consider incorporating more legumes like lentils and chickpeas into your diet. You can also try canned foods when you are on a tight budget.
You can also try one-pot meals since they require minimal work and tend to be more affordable than meals you cook separately.
Here are cheap meals and easy to make meals that you can prepare while on a budget.
- Pepperoni pasta salad.
Pepperoni pasta salad takes just under 30 minutes to prepare. It contains simple common ingredients that can easily be found.
The ingredients include pasta, salt, baby spinach, kidney beans, pepperoni, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Italian dressing, parmesan, and freshly cracked pepper.
What I love about this meal is its flexibility. You can experiment a little with what you have in your pantry to get a flavor you desire.
The best thing about it is that you only need to cook the pasta, prepare your salad by tossing the ingredients together, add your cooked pasta and voila, you have yourself a delightful meal full of flavor that everyone would love.
It is definitely a fun twist to the classic pasta.
- Sliced baked potatoes with cheese.
What’s not to love about a meal that requires only six ingredients?
You only require potatoes, 2 green onions, garlic powder, paprika, shredded cheddar cheese, and salt to make this awesome and generally wholesome meal.
The few ingredients are cost-effective and you’ll spend less time in the kitchen preparing it.
You can also vary the seasoning since potatoes go with pretty much anything. This gives you room to get creative and achieve your desired taste.
The process of preparing the potatoes is quite easy and time-efficient.
The potatoes are crispy on the edges and soft and creamy on the inside. You can serve the potatoes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, super convenient if you ask me.
- Low-fat whole wheat banana pancakes.
If you are a pancake lover like me but you are trying to eat healthier, these pancakes that are fluffy and moist on the inside should be something you consider making.
They taste just as good, if not better and you can taste the bananas with every single bite.
The basic ingredients that you’ll need are bananas, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, baking powder, an egg, non-fat milk, salt, and vanilla extract.
These ingredients are quite affordable and can be bought at any grocery store near you. You don’t need to add any unnecessary ingredients since the pancakes have an amazing natural flavor themselves.
These pancakes have no butter and therefore have a very low-calorie count compared to your normal pancakes that require butter.
These healthy banana whole wheat pancakes are great for breakfast even when you are on a tight budget.
- Skillet meatballs with marinara sauce.
To prepare these meatballs, you only need four ingredients. You will need1 cup of bread crumbs, 1 large egg, 1 lb. of mild Italian sausage, and ½ finely diced yellow onion.
The meatballs are super easy to make since the ingredients come together in just a few minutes.
Once the meatballs are ready, simply add your marinara sauce and let the meatballs simmer for a few minutes and your meatballs will be more than ready for consumption.
They are insanely delicious and can make the perfect lunch or dinner when served with pasta or rice depending on your preference.
- Homemade cheese Danish.
Freshly baked Danish is a dessert that always has my family begging for more.
They are quite tasty and most definitely a better option compared to the readymade cheese Danish sold at the local grocery store.
All you need is defrosted puff pastry, 1 egg yolk, ½ cup of sugar, 8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature and1 a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
The frozen puff pastry generally makes your work ten times easier since puff pastry is really not that easy to make.
The recipe itself is quite simple and it will only take you a few minutes to prepare. You can save both time and money by making cheese Danish your go-to dessert.
- Teriyaki chicken and broccoli.
Homemade teriyaki chicken will satisfy your craving for fast food without necessarily straining your pockets.
The teriyaki chicken is not too sweet and neither is it too salty. It is covered in a sticky teriyaki glaze which makes it super yummy.
The steamed broccoli gives the meal that extra crunch and fiber. All you need for your chicken is seasoning then add your already prepared teriyaki sauce and cook until the sauce is thick.
You can serve your chicken with broccoli and rice for a wholesome yet not so expensive meal.
- Taco salad.
Taco salad is the ultimate healthier way to enjoy tacos.
It is a quick and easy meal to prepare and the recipe can very easily be modified to fit any kind of lifestyle including dairy-free and gluten-free lifestyles.
The ingredients are simple and easily available and you can customize them to fit your daily needs.
The options of how to make your taco salad are not in any way limited so you have the freedom to choose how much you spend on your taco salad.
- Chicken, rice, and broccoli.
You only require 3 ingredients for your rice and 6 ingredients for your chicken to have this tasty meal.
For the rice, you’ll need 1 cup of jasmine rice, 2 cups of water, and ¾ tsp. salt all of which won’t cost you too much.
For the chicken, you’ll need 4 boneless medium size chicken breasts, salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, most of which you probably already have in your pantry.
This meal can be prepared in approximately 20 minutes so it is a perfect meal for meal prep.
- Pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.
What I absolutely love about these pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes is how moist and flavorful they are.
They are also very filling which is a plus when you are on a budget because your stomach remains full for a longer period of time.
All you need is pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, chocolate chips, milk, pancake mix, 1 egg, brown sugar, and vegetable oil.
The process of preparing the pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes is pretty similar to how you make your normal pancakes.
You’ll be surprised at how satisfying this breakfast is when paired with a hot cup of coffee.
There will be no need to go spending money on brunch every weekend when you can have these pancakes.
- Blackened shrimp pasta.
Blackened shrimp pasta is full of flavor and does not require a lot of work.
You can use smaller shrimp for even distribution in your pasta and they also cost less than the bigger shrimp.
This shrimp pasta is so easy to make, simply mix your blackening ingredients together, sprinkle it on the shrimp after washing it, cook your shrimp then add your already cooked pasta.
You’ll have your blackened shrimp pasta ready in no time.