10 Great Cheap Meals

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Whether you living alone or provide for an entire family, putting food on the table can be a challenge, especially in difficult financial times. Along with planning meals that don't break the bank, people want food that tastes delicious. By focusing meals around inexpensive staples and using in-season ingredients, it's easy to create great, cheap meals. All prices are as of this publishing date.


At $1 to $5 a box, pasta can be a cheap central ingredient for a variety of easy-to-make and delicious meals. An inexpensive jar of sauce provides one quick way to make a cheap meal: simply pour it over freshly-cooked pasta and you're done. Chefs with a little more time can throw together an easy homemade pasta sauce by sauteing canned tomatoes, fresh garlic, chopped onion and herbs like oregano and basil. Dress up a plain bowl of steaming pasta with cooked spinach and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


A stunning number of combinations of ingredients can be placed between two slices of bread to make a sandwich. A warm grilled cheese sandwich served up with a can of soup is inexpensive and perfect for a cold, rainy day. A torta, or Mexican-style sandwich, is also cheap and great for cinco de Mayo or any other day. Simply spread a layer of spicy mashed black beans, guacamole and cheese for a healthy, economical meal. For a warm sub, tuck some leftover meatballs dripping with tomato sauce into a sub roll.

Stir Fry

A stir fry allows chefs to throw together a wide range of cheap ingredients to make a delicious meal. For instance, stir fry some boneless chicken breast, pea pods and red peppers with bottled Asian sauce. Strips of beef stir-fried with broccoli and drizzled with soy sauce is another option. After creating a mouth-watering Asian meal, serve it with some rice.


Traditional breakfast dishes are not just for the morning anymore; many sweet and savory breakfast favorites can be served for dinner as well. Pancakes topped in a sauce made from warmed frozen berries is a refreshing meal that features the tastes of summer. Eggs, too, are another cheap ingredient. Whip up an omelet that puts to use any ingredients you have around, from chunks of ham or leftover pepperoni to fresh peppers and onion, to slices of shredded cheese. For a Southwestern flair, make huevos rancheros or eggs drizzled with a mexican tomato sauce, canned beans and a sprinkle of cheese.