Living on a budget is not easy.
Especially if you are a foodie like me! Good food can be really expensive, and great meals can break your budget if you are not careful. If your budget dictates your grocery list, then I can help!
I have been balancing my desire for great meals and my limited budget for decades. Along the way, I have learned a lot about how to make amazing meals and not break my budget. The best part of making a great meal in spite of a tight budget is that your kids will run to the table to spend time with you! That is reason enough to make these meals.
Food for the whole family
I am not a measure everything out cook. I love to experiment and create, so I decide when to stop adding spices when I can smell them 😊 My disclaimer: You will have to be creative and fill in any gaps in the recipes I have here or use your own.
Here are 5 cheap meals that taste GREAT!
1 - Tacos, rice, and beans:
This is such an easy and inexpensive meal that always gets rave reviews! Buy dry rice and dry beans. Follow the directions on the beans to cook (I use my crockpot and cook them all day on low). Smash your beans and add lard or bacon grease to them, stirring until they are the thickness you like. Cook your rice in oil with onion until it is lightly browned. Add 2 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of rice. For 1 c of rice, add ¼ c of tomato juice and 1 ¾ c water. Add spices (cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little chili powder) put the lid on the pan, cook on low heat. DO NOT REMOVE IT OR STIR YOUR RICE FOR 20 MINUTES.
Cut up lettuce, tomatoes, onions and then shred a little cheese.
Brown 1 lb of hamburger, when cooked, add same spices as you used in the rice. Set aside to keep warm. Warm or fry fresh corn tortillas. Fill with meat, cheese, and vegetables and plate with rice and beans. Yummy!!
2 - Chili, cornbread, and fruit salad.
Pick up a box or 2 of the cornbread mix (for $1, you can get 12 muffins after you make them!) make your muffins first and set them aside. For your cheap fruit salad, mix a can of mandarin oranges with either blueberries or strawberries. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat. Now, you are ready to make the chili-
2 large cans of chili beans
1 lb of hamburger
One can of tomatoes (or 4 large frozen tomatoes if you garden and freeze)
One large can of tomato sauce
¼ diced onion
Chili powder, salt, pepper
Optional – jalapenos, sour cream, cheese
Brown your hamburger in a skillet, add onion when it is almost completely browned. Set aside. Put all the rest of the ingredients into a large stock pan, add the hamburger and onion mix. Stir and heat over medium heat until hot through. Turn to low and let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Serve with optional add-ins or alone with the muffins and fruit.
3 - Scrambled egg omelet.
This is a fun meal at supper, too! Gather your favorite omelet ingredients. I like sausage, onion, spinach, and bacon—but you should do whatever you love!
Crack and beat your eggs with a fork in a mixing bowl (how many eggs? I plan 2-3 per person) Now, also heat a skillet up and add a lot of butter or oil to the skillet. As soon as the oil is warm, add your omelet ingredients BUT NOT YOUR EGGS. (note! If you are adding meat, cook it thoroughly before adding it to the egg skillet) Stir fry your ingredients until they are tender, then add your eggs, stirring gently into the ingredients in the pan. Using a spatula, keep turning the eggs over until they are cooked and set to your taste. Add salt and pepper and serve a large heaping onto each plate. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and enjoy your cheap, delicious meal from a single pan!
4 - Tostadas- yes just tostadas!
- This is a great one to make after you have tacos because you will definitely have refried beans left over. Use fresh corn tortillas and either fry them crisp or bake them until they are crisp. I like to bake them on a cookie sheet because I can have them all done at the same time and it produces a more uniform crispness than frying does for me. If you are baking them, set them out in a single layer, bake at 375 for 20 minutes, turn over and bake another 5-10 minutes until they are completely hard. While they are baking, diced tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. Remove the tortillas from the oven and spread about 2 tablespoons of beans on each one. Cover with shredded cheese and then return to the oven to melt the cheese. Add lettuce, tomato, and onion to each one. Sour cream and salsa are great optional additions. These are not only fun to make as a family they are also super fun to eat!
5 - Lettuce-wrapped Hamburgers and fries.
This is a fun alternative to hamburgers on buns. If you want to go simple, buy frozen fries at the grocery store and bake them in the oven. If you want to make it a family experience, cut up potatoes and fry them to create your own fries! Grab a head of lettuce or a stalk of romaine lettuce. Separate your lettuce leaves and soak in very cold water to crisp the lettuce. Cut up tomatoes and onions and then slice cheese. Decide if you want ¼ or 1/3 lb burgers and hand pat your hamburger to create the size you want. Season well with Seasoning Salt and pepper; garlic salt and pepper; or sea salt and pepper (notice all of my options have pepper! I love pepper!) Grill or fry your burgers until done. Use the lettuce as your bun and then add your toppings. This is a fresh, great tasting burger!
Enjoy your meals and staying on budget!
I am rooting for you!