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6 Things to Cook if You’re Broke

When our money was tight, I came up with 6 things to cook when you’re broke. These are great recipes that won’t break the bank, they taste great, and will feed quite a few people. Read below for the recipes and a few tips on how to save some money if things are a bit tight, or you don’t want to spend a fortune on dinner.

Here's a list of 6 cheap things to cook when you're on a budget. You and your family will fill up on delicious meals.

If you’re looking for filling meals to cook when you’re broke or budgeting, you came to the right place.

I’ve been there. I know it can be tough to make ends meet. You’re not alone.

And, there are plenty of ways to keep your family fed and full. These are all pretty easy, cheap, and delicious meals to cook.

  • I purchase a lot of my items at Aldi’s grocery store. I save a ton of money going there to shop, so I am basing my prices on what they would charge. They don’t do BOGO, so you might need to go to a store that offers BOGO for the hot dogs, pasta, and maybe the canned food. You will save quite a bit.
  • I am also assuming that you will have ketchup, milk, mustard, and items that you keep around the house on a regular basis. Although, I factored a little bit into the prices that you will pay for the meals.
  • It helps to plan your meals out ahead of time, as well. The Aldi’s I shop at sells veggies in a bunch. So, you’ll be getting four or five onions, as well as tomatoes, etc. You can use those items in other meals and freeze them, so you’ve not only saved money but if you’re short on time, you’ve got a meal on hand!
  • I use my Crock Pot often because it’s handy and dinner can cook while I’m doing something else, or while I’m out and about. It’s wonderful to come home to a cooked meal.

Weenies and Beans

  • 1 lb. pkg. weiners (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup onion (diced)
  • 3 – 16 oz. can of pork and beans
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all in the slow cooker and heat on low for approximately 3 to 4 hours.

  • Cost is about $8
  • Makes 6 servings

Macaroni and Cheese (old faithful)

Pasta is a great meal and it will fill you up every time.

The nice thing about this meal is that you will be buying butter, milk, and breadcrumbs, and you will have some leftover for one or two other meals that call for the same ingredients. 

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni (buy the pasta when it’s BOGO)
  • 2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1 stick of butter (separate into 4 Tbsp. each)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (cubed)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Cook the elbow macaroni according to the directions on the package in a large saucepan. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add the milk, cheddar cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, and salt and pepper and mix until everything is melted.

Pour into greased casserole dish.

Melt the remaining butter (4 tablespoons) and mix with breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Pour the breadcrumb and butter mixture on top of the macaroni. Bake for 30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

  • Cost is about $7.50
  • Makes 4-6 servings

Macaroni and Saucy Beef

The great thing about this meal is that you can use the other package of elbow macaroni noodles that you bought as a BOGO. Savings are rollin’ in already!

I buy my meat and chicken from a local grocery store that offers it on sale one day a week. It’s a great deal and I will buy quite a few and freeze the beef and chicken for other meals.

The store is usually higher priced on most items, so I was surprised to see the sale each week. But, I like their meat and chicken better than any other store, and I’m able to get a great deal on it–better than anywhere else. So, be sure to check out the sales everywhere.

Walmart tends to have good sales on meat and chicken, as well.

Sometimes, the mom and pop stores will offer a reward program and have a day that ground beef is on sale.

  • 1 – 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (free if you bought BOGO)
  • 1/2 onion (minced)
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the beef in a large skillet and drain the grease. Add it back to the skillet. Add the uncooked macaroni, onion, green pepper, and salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes. Add the water, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce. Cover the skillet with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until macaroni noodles are tender.

  • Cost is approximately $6-7
  • Serves 6-8 people

Hot Dogs and Beans

This might be the most simple and cheap meal, yet. Seriously, it will take you ten minutes to prepare it, and the hot dogs are dirt cheap.

  • 1 pkg. hot dogs (free if you got the BOGO)
  • 1 pkg. hot dog buns
  • 1 – 8 oz. can barbecue beans
  • 1/4 onion (diced)
  • Handful of shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the hot dogs on the grill (if you’re in a time crunch, you can put them in the microwave). Cook the beans in the microwave according to the directions on the can. Toast the buns. Once you put the hot dog in the bun, cover with beans, cheese, and onions.

  • Less than $2.50 (if you get the hot dogs BOGO, you will pay around this price).
  • Feeds 4-6 people

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a filling meal, and really not that hard to make. The nice thing about it is that you can substitute the chicken with ground beef if you’d like to.

When I make this, I buy a package of two rolled pie crusts for the top and bottom. If you want to save even more, you can make a pie crust at home for a fraction of the cost. Here’s the link to the Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pie Crust if you want to make it at home for a lot less than purchasing the premade crusts.

  • 2 – 9-inch rolled pie crusts. (They are normally sold two in a pack).
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (diced) Add more if you like a lot of chicken.
  • 2-1/2 cups frozen mixed veggies
  • 2 – 10.5 oz. cans cream of chicken soup (here’s the recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Roll out your bottom pie crust in a large pie pan. In a separate bowl, add the chicken, veggies, milk, soup, and salt and pepper and mix. Pour everything into the pie crust.

Roll out the other pie crust and cover. Pinch the edges together to seal in the food. Brush the top with the beaten egg and cut a couple of slits in the top to help vent the heat. Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden.

  • Cost is approximately $11 (if you make the pie crusts at home, you will save about $4-5)
  • Serves 4-6

Beef Stew in the Crock Pot

This is one of my favorite meals, and it’s so easy to make. It is a little more expensive up front, but you will have plenty of leftovers.

  • 3 lbs. chuck roast
  • 6 large potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 cup carrots (diced)
  • 1 cup celery (diced)
  • 2 tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (optional)
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, chuck roast, red wine vinegar, and water to the Crock Pot. Fill the water almost to the top. Sprinkle a handful of salt and pepper on top. Cook on low for approximately 10 hours, or on high for 5 hours.

  • Cost is approximately $20, but you will have plenty of leftovers
  • Serves 8-9 people

If you can shop at stores like Aldi’s, you can save a ton of money. Buy the chicken and beef on sale, and get what you can on BOGO. Watch the sales, and you will be able to save quite a bit of money on these meals. Your family will be well fed and happy.

Let me know how you like the recipes in the comments. If you switch up an ingredient, I’d love to hear about it!

Check out Meal Plan Monday on one of the following sites:

Southern PlateSouthern Bite, and Julia’s Simply Southern

For more recipes check out Southern Home Express and South Your Mouth

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Copycat Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup - Back To My Southern Roots

Thursday 17th of October 2019

[…] add the half-and-half and the chicken broth and stir together with a whisk. Cook for twenty minutes on the low […]

Mary

Saturday 28th of October 2017

Most people don't have molasses on hand as a staple. And it is quite expensive. So as a substitute I us brown sugar.

Julie Pollitt

Saturday 28th of October 2017

Thank you for the tip, Mary!

Debbie

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

Thank you.

Julie Pollitt

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Hi Debbie!

You're welcome!

Allison

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

Great low-cost ideas! I also love to get a few whole chickens when they are on sale (I usually get them for $4-$6 per bird). Then, I just dice up potatoes and veggies (whatever is on sale) and add to the bottom of the crock pot, put the chicken on top, and sprinkle with paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Crank on high for about 4-6 hours or low for 8-10, and it is DELICIOUS. Easily enough to feed 6-8 people for under $10.

Julie Pollitt

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

Hi Allison! That's a great idea. I will have to try your recipe sometime--it sounds delicious. I forget about paprika, but it's such a great spice. I'll have to try it sometime. Love the low cost, too.