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Inexpensive Recipes

It's not a secret that many of us live from paycheck to paycheck. We can't really afford the luxuries of nice and expensive home-cooked meals. Many people are lucky to be able to eat once a day. If you're strapped for cash, there are a few inexpensive meals you can spread throughout the typical days. Once a week, try to get yourself the ingredients to eat well (or eat an inexpensive local restaurant where the price is dirt cheap because they are also living paycheck to paycheck). Looking up coupons in always smart, but you won't always be able to find what you need. Below, you'll find a few cheap (& easy) meals for different times of the day.


Pancakes are one of the most inexpensive things you can make, assuming you buy the ready-made mix that just needs water. A box of pancake mix and a small bottle of syrup will cost you a couple dollars. This purchase can last up to 4 large servings (and the syrup even longer). If you're only cooking for yourself, a single cup of mix will make about 4 pancakes.

Eggs & toast is a classic. If you're too broke to afford meat, no worries. You get all the protein you need from the eggs and the bread is usually filling enough. If it's not, you can always add something like peanut butter to try and fill your stomach. A loaf of bread and a carton of eggs can make at least 6 meals for less than $5. The bread stretches, allowing you to make a few sandwiches.

PB & J sandwiches can be made easily. The ingredients here cost maybe $7, assuming you're buying an expensive jam or something. However, you can get at least 6-8 sandwiches out of a single loaf of bread. The jam & peanut butter will likely last a second (maybe third) loaf of bread. This means a PB&J sandwich cost roughly 25 cents.

Lastly, oatmeal is a great option for broke breakfast lovers. Oatmeal is cheap, especially if you buy the big boxes. Make sure to buy the assorted flavors, so you don't feel like you're always eating the same thing. If you can swing the occasional fruit purchase (like bananas or something inexpensive) then you can mix up your flavors a bit. A bunch of bananas can also work for sandwiches (PB & banana, to be exact).


A classic favorite is grilled cheese, often paired with a can of tomato soup. If you're strapped for cash, you can get away with using water in place of milk. It will be a little less creamy, but it tastes good none the less. If you don't want to sacrifice the creamy flavor, use a bit of half and half cream instead. Half & half cream might be pricey, but it has double the shelf life of a carton of milk. There's less chance you're going to waste, which saves you money in the long run.

Mac & cheese is another classic and with good reason. Again, you can use cream instead of milk to get the same desired affect. A box of brand-name mac and cheese will run you about $1.50, while the generic brands might be half the price. You'll only need butter and cream to go along with the meal. If you want to be fancy, cut up a hot dog or two and throw it in. You'll feel more full and you'll get more variety in flavor. You might also mix a bit of ketchup (or ranch dressing, if you have some) into the mix. Try it before you say that's gross - it makes a huge difference when it comes to eating the same thing over and over.

Hot dogs were bound to make the list. Yes, the condiments are expensive (unless you're a "just ketchup" type). They will also last a long time in both use and their shelf life. Overall, a pack of hot dogs is cheap and filling. It's not the healthiest choice, but when you're eating on a budget that's a luxury you can't afford. Don't eat them too often though. It's important that you get some real food into you too.

Tuna sandwiches aren't the cheapest sandwich option. Tuna can be expensive, depending on brand and location of purchase. If you buy a small case (usually around $6 for 6 cans) you'll get more for your money. It's cheaper to buy in bulk, even if you're super broke. Tuna has a long shelf life, so a purchase can last you 6 meals and several weeks. You can mix a can of tuna in with cooked pasta and a spoonful of mayonnaise to get a casserole tasting dish.


There are three categories that dinner falls into: Potatoes, rice, and pasta.

A bag of potatoes is inexpensive, but the cost depends on how quickly you're able to eat them. It's easy for potatoes to spoil, which makes them a waste of money. You can, however, grab a bag of frozen fries for about $2 and that's two meals right there. A can of gravy (or a bit of ketchup) will add flavor. If you do buy a bag of potatoes, you can make baked potatoes, mashed, or even your own fries. You can't freeze raw potatoes, but once cooked they can be thrown in the freezer. So if you're buying a bag, devote a day or two to cooking them and freezing them for a later date. This way, you'll get to enjoy all of your potatoes and reduce your food waste.

A box of rice is fairly inexpensive and can last a long time. It's bland though and you will tire of it quickly. The trick to this is buying frozen or canned vegetables and mixing them in with the rice. You can get about 2-4 servings per can of vegetables and about 6 for a bag of frozen. You can mix it up or stick to a particular type. Either way, it makes the meal taste better and doesn't cost much.

You can do the same with pasta, but there aren't many vegetables that mix well. With pasta, the change is in the sauce. White sauce is often expensive, while red sauce is super cheap. You can also grab a can of tomato paste and make your own pasta sauce with a few spices. If you do this, make sure to freeze portions of your sauce. This prevents it from molding, prolonging the shelf life. You can enjoy a side of garlic bread, too. Just mix garlic powder with a bit of melted butter and you've got cheap garlic bread.

If you're eating Ramen noodles (cooked) you can also throw in the vegetables. It will change the taste drastically. Maybe even trick you into thinking you're not eating the cheapest thing from the grocery store.


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