People Are Sharing Their Favorite Cost-Friendly, Tight-Budget Recipes

·13 min read

I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community for its favorite cheap recipes, and y'all didn't disappoint.

Here are 36 recipes to keep in mind next time you're cooking on a budget.

Lifetime / Via giphy.com

Eggs were a popular ingredient.

1."Eggs, avocado, and a tablespoon of salsa for breakfast. Toss in spinach or cheese too and add a slice of toast, if you want."

t448dac9d3

2."Eggs. Take whatever cheap food you’ve got, plain buttered pasta, ramen, rice, whatever, slap a fried egg on top and you’ve got a fancy meal. Even a grilled cheese with a fried egg added feels more like a 'meal.'"

carrie and fred from portlandia saying put an egg on it instead of put a bird on it

3."Ramen with a hard-boiled egg, and mix the flavour packet with soy sauce garlic powder, and tiny bit of orange juice."

Bande

4."Pancakes from scratch, not a box mix. I usually already have the ingredients on hand."

a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup
Roy Morsch / Getty Images

Rice was another big staple.

5."Beans and rice. Dirt cheap and delicious!"

prisabaloha

6."My husband and I have been eating a lot of rice bowls lately. Use a base of rice then top with whatever veggies and protein you have on hand. I always like to keep a bag of frozen stir fry veggies so we'll just cook up whatever protein we're having then throw some veggies in the wok and voila! I usually top with sliced avocado and green onions and a bit of sauce. It's very versatile so we don't get bored and you don't need to use much protein if you load up on the rice and veggies to help keep the cost down."

a rice bowl with chicken and broccoli
4kodiak / Getty Images

7."When I was 21 on my own for the first time I’d go to the deli at Safeway. I’d get a roll, two slices of ham, one slice of cheese, and ask for a free BBQ dipping sauce. Zest the ham up in a pan with the BBQ sauce, toast the roll and melt the cheese on it then add the ham."

margaretb49238f5cc

8."My go-to in college was always ramen and I add whatever I had so I could call it a meal. But a proper meal I put effort into was rice and lentils. It's literally so simple and CHEAP."

bowl of instant ramen
Tatiana / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9."Cook dried lentils and rice in the rice cooker (1:3 ratio of lentils to rice). Heat up chickpeas, tomato sauce, and any vegetables and spices you have on hand. Pour over cooked rice/lentil mix and enjoy."

allybly

10."One-pot rice. 1/4 cup dry rice, three cups water, veggies, seasonings, and one cup protein. All goes in the rice cooker."

person taking rice from a rice cooker
Stefan Tomic / Getty Images

11."Top Ramen with sour cream. Cook the top ramen (beef flavor) without the seasoning packet, once the noodles are cooked, drain them then add some sour cream and the seasoning packet and stir the ingredients until it’s like a creamy sauce. Viola! Poor man’s beef stroganoff!"

Audrey Wilson

12."Meatball subs: Take frozen meatballs, cook with marinara sauce, put in split hot dog buns, top with shredded mozzarella, and bake until the cheese is melty and the buns are toasty. The whole meal is dirt cheap and costs under $10, and keep feed around four people."

meatball subs on a cutting board
Chas53 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13."Chicken with Buffalo sauce in a crockpot. Shred and put on a baked potato. Can add cheese, green onion, ranch, etc."

"Can boil and shred chicken in place of the crock pot, too." —LizBeStressEating

14."Bone-in chicken thighs are one of my favorite things for budget cookery because they're pretty affordable (where I live I can usually get a package of four for roughly $3) and they don't get as easily overdone and dry as the breast or drumstick meat can, although you could use any of them for really simple, satisfying meals."

skillet of cooked chicken thighs

"I tend to favor variations on chicken and rice and use an Instant Pot/pressure cooker because my slow cooker bit it (whyyyyyy) but the most basic recipes I do are: Cook chicken and a jar of salsa, then when the chicken is done, take it off the bone and shred it and incorporate the salsa in with the chicken, and add beans and rice or chuck it in a tortilla. alternatively, cook chicken with a can of crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf, some cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, and salt/pepper. when it's done, shred the meat (save any bones for stock!) and then add some chopped-up olives or capers, and serve with yellow rice.

Last but not least, cook chicken with a can of French onion soup and an extra sliced onion, and some smashed garlic cloves. When the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the pot and sauté the onion/soup mixture to reduce it. you can put some shredded cheese on the chicken and put it back in the pot (heat off) and lid it so the residual heat will melt it, and then serve it over rice or potatoes." —sweetcuppincakes

Veselovaelena / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15."Pinto beans with salsa. A bag of dry pintos is around $1 and you can get a 7–14 ounce can (not jar) of salsa for around $1. Look in the Mexican food section, not by the chips. It takes time because you have to soak the beans, but here's the recipe:"

"Take 1lb dried pinto beans, soak for 8–10 hours in about 10 cups of cold water with a tablespoon or two of salt. Then rinse, cover with eight cups fresh water and add (these are optional if you have them) a few bay leaves and a teaspoon of oregano. Bring to a boil and put in a 300ºF oven for 75–90 minutes until the beans are soft. Then reduce the liquid on the stovetop, add your salsa, and if you have it 1–2 teaspoons garlic powder. Salt to taste. You can serve this over plain rice, add some fresh lime juice on serving, etc. The beans have protein and fiber and are filling. This can make 6–8 servings and if you include the rice is only a few dollars. Make it fancy by using oven-roasted garlic instead of the powder, or some pan-sauteed onion for extra flavor." —marrok

16."You can get a marinated pork loin for $6. I like to cook it in the air fryer because it's quick and gets the outside crispy like it would on a grill. If you have a basket air fryer you can just cut it in half to fit. You can add sides of rice and frozen veg for $1 each. It's generally enough to feed 3–4."

sliced pork loin
Robertsre / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17."When I’m on a budget I get meat in large packages from a low-cost grocery store like Aldi. I usually get a marinated pork loin and make pulled pork in the crockpot. Usually, a large pork loin is $6 and a pack of three large chicken breasts is $6–9. Once I cook it all day while I’m at work I come home and divide it into freezer bags to have for later. It makes it so much easier for me to plan/afford meals during the last week of the month before rent and student loan payments are due!"

cheyenner41663a341

18."Pork butt in a crockpot. (Pork butt is cheap, $1.75 to $4.50 per pound, depending on size and store.) Add cumin, chili powder, oregano garlic, and citric juice (lemon, lime, orange — pick two). Shred the meat and:"

person holding a pork sandwich

"1. Cook some rice, make or buy some gravy, and fry an egg and you have a variation of Loco Moco.

2. Dice an onion and cilantro, put it on a corn tortilla, add salsa, and you have street tacos.

3. Add BBQ sauce, put it on a bun/bread and you have a pulled pork sandwich.

4. Pick a starch and eat plain.

5. Mix with sour cream and chilis (optional) roll it up in corn or flour tortillas, put it in a baking dish, add enchilada sauce and Jack cheese, bake and you have pork enchiladas." —Alchemist1342

Silviajansen / Getty Images

19."I'd say spaghetti with canned tuna and canned tomatoes. Assuming you have salt, pepper, oil, and spices, it's easy to throw together."

"Cook pasta as directed, save a bit of pasta water before draining, then drain the tomatoes and tuna, toss into the pasta pot and mix. If you DON'T have oil or spices, here are some hacks.

First, try to find tuna in oil, if it's not too much more money, or get a couple cans of flavoured tuna because sometimes there's oil in those. Also, you can get cans of flavoured diced tomatoes, typically next to the regular ones, often not much more. Add parmesan if you're feeling fancy, and yes, this includes the cheap shaken stuff." —monicah4

20."My family's budget meal was tuna fish and noodles. It was egg noodles, a couple cans of tuna fish, and a can of cream of mushroom soup."

tuna casserole in a cast iron pan
Lauripatterson / Getty Images

21."'Cheesy chicken casserole.' Canned (yes canned) asparagus, cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheddar, chopped up chicken, and one package of egg noodles. Bake. Easy. Egg noodles stretch food a lot."

cheynemelissa

22."Baked beans and hotdogs yall. My dad grew up with nothing and by the time I was born he had made a good living and I never knew hunger. I was told by school friends that this meal was “poor people's” food one time and was pretty offended. I’m 29 and do well for myself and I still make this regularly and it’s sooooo cheap, filling, and can last a long time. Bush’s baked beans have tons of different flavors and you can even add in ground beef and any other spices you want to flavor it up. But your basic baked beans and hot dogs are AMAZING. I could make a million a year and would still eat this."

bowl of baked beans with cut up hot dogs
Jeff R Clow / Getty Images

23."UK here — cook Bolognese for two days in a slow cooker (generally with veggie mince or even brown lentils sometimes), then put a can of chickpeas or beans and about the same amount of frozen sweetcorn and some chilli powder in for two more days of chilli 'non' carne."

"Bolognese = can of tomatoes, couple celery stalks, couple carrots, couple onions. Half a pack of mushrooms, quorn mince + pasta + seasoning

Then to turn it into chilli — few teaspoons of chipotle, corn, beans & some brown sugar or maple syrup + bit of cumin + rice.

A full slow cooker worth will usually do four days dinner and 2–3 days lunch."

Triangulette

24."Homemade chili made with meat alternative or just leave it out altogether. Then serve it with tortilla chips, rice, pasta, bread, or whatever you for at home. Definitely feeds a crowd, or stays delicious in the fridge for days — whatever suits your needs!"

pot of chili
Rudisill / Getty Images

25."Five-ingredient chili. It's ground beef, diced tomato can, tomato sauce can, and two cans of beans (I like kidney)."

hamletbrampt

26."Six 👏 can 👏 soup 👏"

bowl of tortilla soup

"1 can of black beans, rinsed

1 can of corn

1 can of tomatoes with chiles

1 can of chicken

2 cans of chicken broth

Mix it all together and heat it on the stove with some chili powder and that’s it.

If you have tortilla chips or shredded cheese, add on top, but totally not a necessity. My mom used to make it alllll the time if things were tight and it always hit the spot. I still make it now even when things aren’t super tight." —hayreneeokay

Bhofack2 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

27."I'm a household of one so that changes things. But I do a whole bag of cauliflower rice, add in carrots and broccoli and that can usually last a few days for me (depends on how big a bag you get). I usually add canned mushrooms to top it off each day. It's easy, cheap, and filling plus you get a decent amount of veggies for dinner. You could probably substitute chicken as well if you prefer. Pick whatever seasoning you want!"

monikap6

28."Tan France’s Tadka Daal. Lentils are dirt cheap and I usually have spices in my house so it’s cheap and easy for me."

29."Chana Dal. It's a curry with dried split chickpeas (chana dal), spices, tomatoes, and some other aromatics (most of which you probably already have on hand). You can add meat and other veggies if you want, but I find it's great and filling as-is. Just serve with some cooked brown rice and you have a cheap, healthy meal that will last all week. And it's impressive enough to serve to guests."

natedey

30."I’ll just buy a ton of pita when it’s on sale, freeze most of it, and then toast the remaining. Then, I take Costco tzatziki and dip the pita in it. Sometimes I dip carrots too."

a bowl of tzatziki sauce and a bowl of carrots and celery with pita bread
Istetiana / Getty Images

31."I always like quesadillas! Tortillas aren't that expensive, and a lot of people tend to have shredded cheese on hand usually. You can also throw some meat in if you have or want it! They're also super low effort and easy to make, even just on the stove, so they double as a tired meal too."

frecklefreak14

32."Enchiladas."

<div><p>"2 chicken breasts frozen in the crockpot with half a jar of salsa verde</p><p>I make some Knorr taco rice</p><p>Tortilla</p><p>Sour cream</p><p>Cheese</p><p>Chicken</p><p>Rice</p><p>Wrap them up (it’ll make 9–10 and taste even better leftover)</p><p>Put them in a casserole dish (green enchilada sauce, more cheese) bake at 350 for 10–15 minutes." —<a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/amys4fcc448e1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:amys4fcc448e1" class="link ">amys4fcc448e1</a></p></div><span> Elena_danileiko / Getty Images/iStockphoto</span>

"2 chicken breasts frozen in the crockpot with half a jar of salsa verde

I make some Knorr taco rice

Tortilla

Sour cream

Cheese

Chicken

Rice

Wrap them up (it’ll make 9–10 and taste even better leftover)

Put them in a casserole dish (green enchilada sauce, more cheese) bake at 350 for 10–15 minutes." —amys4fcc448e1

Elena_danileiko / Getty Images/iStockphoto

33."Pastaroni. Three boxes mac and cheese, one pound of ground turkey, one jar spaghetti sauce."

Allison

Mac and cheese was also a popular answer.

34."I once was invited to a potluck and was stressed because I was fairly broke at the time. I ended up doing a baked mac and cheese with stuff I already had in my house: three boxes of various Kraft mac and cheeses (the regular, the white cheddar, and spirals), plus some shredded mozzarella; salt, pepper, and garlic powder; and a potato chip crust. I think if I'd bought everything new it would've come to under $15, and it was a big hit."

pan of baked mac and cheese
Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

35."Baked mac and cheese. It's just elbow noodles, two small bags of shredded mozzarella, one small bag of shredded cheddar, two 12-ounce cans of evaporated milk, butter, and eggs, and then baked for 35–40 mins at 350 degrees."

hamletbrampt

36."Mac and cheese with hot dogs in it remains unmatched."

mac and cheese with cut up hotdogs in a bowl
Lauripatterson / Getty Images

Do you plan on trying any of these recipes? Or do you have any cheap recipes of your own? Sound off in the comments?