10 Meals To Make When You're Broke, Without Beelining To The Ramen AisleGina Vaynshteyn

Sometimes we like to go on insane shopping benders and end up emptying out our bank accounts save for a few $20 bills. Other times, our cars break down, we need to buy a new laptops or we’re just straight up broke! Whatever the situation is, it means we need to cut back spending somewhere and usually it’s at the grocery store, because that’s the easiest place to budget. Sh*t happens, but there are crafty ways to eat healthy and financially friendly, because the last thing you need is scurvy, which totally still exists.

First of all, when you’re at the grocery store, think about the ingredients you need and that you can re-use. Let’s start off with spices. Forget about taco, poultry and chili seasoning that comes in packets; they’re a total rip off, and you can make your own for a lot cheaper. Taco seasoning is just cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, paprika, salt, granulated garlic and granulated onion. Chili seasoning is usually about the same consistency, depending on the recipe. Also, buy some Italian seasoning, because it’s awesome in pasta. All these are things you should keep around because they add flavor to otherwise dull meals. All poultry seasoning is just sage. Pro-tip: whenever you’re buying spices, try to get the store-brand. There isn’t really a major difference in quality, and you’ll be saving a lot of money. Trader Joe’s also has really nice spices for cheap.

Okay, let’s talk about food. It’s important to purchase food that is a) versatile and b) on sale, if possible. Try to buy food that you can use for lunch the next day, or even re-heat as leftovers for dinner. Try to keep your cabinets stocked with rice and other carbohydrates that act as fillers. Garlic is always handy, because it’s virtually in almost every single recipe. Usually you can get two bulbs for a dollar at the grocery store.

Here  are some super-budget friendly recipes that I’ve tried to tie in together in a few ways so that when you go grocery shopping, you don’t have to buy the entire store. Plus, they have been tried and tested by ME! So you know they’re good.

chicken fajitas

1.Fajita-ranch chicken wraps 

What you need:

  • 12 ounces of skinless boneless chicken breasts (usually you can find a package deal on sale at the grocery store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or granulated)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 pepper, seeded and cut into this strips
  • 2 tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 2 tortillas
  • salsa
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Basically you season the chicken with your spices, stir-fry the chicken and pepper, and then serve it on the tortillas.

Makes 4 servings. Estimated cost per plate: $2.05

Other meals you can make with these ingredients:

2. Chicken quesadillas

3. Stir fry chicken (with rice)

4. Chicken salad wrap (with lettuce and tomatoes)

5. Chicken burrito (with lettuce, rice and beans)

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  1. Food has always been a problem of mine ever since I started living alone in the dorm. I keep eating the same thing. Thank you so much for this! I’ll finally enjoy dinner!

  2. Spaghetti sauce : 1 tsp.oregano, 1/2 tsp.basil, 2 tsp. garlic , 1/2 med.onion, tomato sauce or 32 oz.whole can of tomatoes put in a food processor and 1 tsp. sugar to cut acidity.
    Pizza sauce is the same just add 1 can of tomato paste to thicken sauce.

    Since I’ve purchased my food processor I’ve made all my sauces at home….no preservatives !

  3. Poultry seasoning is actually primarily marjoram (a wild oregano), not sage, though there’s sage in it.

    • I usually use sage (primarily) with poultry because it adds the most flavor to it; the meat also absorbs more, I’ve come to find out. You can also use thyme, rosemary, and marjoram too, of course, if you have it on you.

      Gina Vaynshteyn | 5/18/2013 11:05 am
  4. Thank you! I’ve been looking everywhere for something like this.

  5. My problem is that most of the recipes here are for families, not couples or individuals. Maybe you should also put up a post for those of us who live on our own and would like budget friendly recipes.

    • Recipes 2 through 6 can easily be made for only one or two people. The others can give you leftovers to have on another day or can easily be frozen.

    • Melissa, the recipes make large meals so they last you awhile; that’s why they’re cheap. When I lived on my own, I would make myself a huge vat of chili and then freeze it for later so I didn’t have to cook/saved money. It’s no luxury, but that’s why they’re budget meals ;)

      Gina Vaynshteyn | 5/18/2013 10:05 am