Everyone knows about budget meals. Spaghetti or pasta with meat sauce, Mexican inspired meals (tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.), soups, stews, chilli… but those can get really boring and repetitive after a while. I am always on the hunt for good budget meals (meals that cost $10 or less to prepare). These are my favourite 10 for $10. I normally shop at Walmart and try to grab things like meat when they are on sale, and buy almost all generic brands).
1. Pasta Salad
I use canned ham in mine but of course you could substitute leftover chicken or tuna, or even go meatless to make this meal even cheaper. I use whatever fresh vegetables I happen to have on hand, my favourites being tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli and bell peppers, but anything will do. I make the dressing with a mixture of Miracle Whip and Zesty Italian dressing and this normally makes enough for 2 nights if I use the entire bag of noodles (I like Rotini for this).
2. Stuffed Peppers
So good! I use ground pork (but any ground meat would do). Halve the peppers, scoop out the seeds and wash. Mix the ground pork (raw) with uncooked Instant Rice, frozen peas and corn (thawed), some grated cheese and barbecue sauce. Pack the meat mixture into the peppers and top with a bit more grated cheese. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the pork is cooked all the way through. Uncover for the last 5 minutes of baking time so that they can get a nice golden crust on top. Serve with a garden or caesar salad. I normally use 3-4 peppers per 1lb of ground pork (1/2 cup each rice, peas and cheese). This makes enough for dinner with leftovers for my husband for lunch.
I LOVE Chowder, and it’s so easy and versatile. I start with a basic chowder recipe (consisting of 1 can of creamed corn or mushroom soup, a couple cans of milk, 1 potato peeled and diced, garlic, onion or onion powder, celery, salt and pepper) and then I add to it.
Corn Chowder; I would add a couple pieces crisp bacon crumbled and more corn. I’ve done a really nice Ham and Cabbage Chowder with left over ham and a bag of fresh cole slaw. Salmon Chowder; I added a couple salmon filets. Root vegetable chowder; add a sweet potato, some carrots, a turnip and a couple parsnips (this one is meatless). There are So many different things you could add to Chowder, it’s really one of my favourite budget meals to make and it can be different each time.
4. Beef Dips
Buy big roasts when they are on sale at Walmart for $15 and cut them in 2 or 3 pieces depending on what I plan on making with them. My best budget ideas for these roasts is to cut it in half and then take one of the halves and cut that in half again, so I am left with 3 pieces. I use the big one for this meal and the two smaller ones for making stew and a stir fry.
For the Pulled Beef, I use my Slow cooker. I put the beef in, top it with a couple cups of beef broth and about 1/4 cup of soya sauce and some garlic. I let it cook all day (at least 8 hours). I then shred the beef using a fork, and top with sautéed mushrooms and a little bit of grated cheese (swiss is my favourite for this one). My husband likes some sautéed onions on his as well. The juices left in the slow cooker work perfectly for the Au Jus. I came up with this recipe when I was trying to recreate a recipe that Moxies use to have about 20 years ago for Beef Dip and this ended up tasting exactly the same. I just love it. I normally serve this with some french fries or baked potatoes.
5. Hawaiian Pulled Pork On Buns
Yes, I like my pulled meat on buns. It’s SO delicious!
This one I use an inexpensive pork roast and cook in the Slow Cooker all day. I add to it a can of crushed pineapple (including the juices), thinly sliced green pepper and onion and about half a cup of barbecue sauce. That is it. Shred it when it’s done and serve with a side salad. This one is really tasty.
6. Chicken And Dumplings
I always stock up on chicken when it goes on sale. We are a Huge chicken eating family, so when the whole ones go on sake for $7 or $8 I grab as many as I can afford. Chicken & Dumplings is one of my “go-to” meals when we are broke because I can make a Huge pot from the one chicken and get 2 meals out of it.
I take the chicken and cover it with water, adding a bit of salt. I boil it for a couple of hours until it’s cooked and falling off the bone, and the broth has a nice flavour to it. I remove the chicken, let it cool and then shred the chicken using a fork. I drain the broth (to remove any bones or skin etc.) and then add the broth back to the pot. I add the chicken, a bit of black pepper and boil. Once boiled I add the dumplings (2 cups flour, 3 tbsp margarine or butter and 1/2 cup buttermilk – to make buttermilk, all you have to do is add 1tsp of vinegar to your half cup of regular milk. Cut the butter into the flour until crumbly, slowly add the milk and mix by hand creating dough. Roll out to about 1/2″ thick and cut into cubes). Drop the dumpling cubes into the boiling chicken and broth one at a time so they don’t stick together. Turn heat down to low and then simmer for about 2 hours until the dumplings are cooked and the chicken and broth are creamy.
(You can always add vegetables in at the same time you add the dumplings if desired. I normally serve mixed vegetables on the side.)
7. Breakfast For Dinner
One of my Favorite budget dinners is Breakfast for Dinner. You can do So much with Eggs, and we just love Bacon.
Pancakes, French Toast, Quiche, Eggs and Bacon, Omelettes, Scrambled Egg Wraps… the list goes on. Eggs are relatively inexpensive and depending on what I am doing with the eggs, adding in a pack of bacon we can still do a nice big dinner for under $10.
8. Stir Fry
You can make a really nice stir fry using just a bit of meat so it’s pretty economical. I like all sorts of stir fry dinners, and I normally make them from scratch but sometimes I will pick up the Clubhouse oriental stir fry seasoning or the beef and broccoli packets. I find that certain salad dressings can work great for the sauce as well (such as Italian dressing, just add some ginger and garlic and soya sauce, or Kraft Mandarin Orange dressing. You can even just use some broth, soya sauce, garlic, onion powder and ginger).
Depending what I have on hand, I make pork, beef or chicken stir fry. I normally make rice to go with it but will on occasion make noodles. I normally use frozen stir fry vegetables so that we can get a good variety of different vegetables. My 5 year old is very partial to water chestnuts so I buy frozen stir fry varieties that include the water chestnuts, and it normally has baby corn and other great stuff in it as well.
9. Pizza Pasta
Any type of small noodles (I normally use shells or rotini), a can of pizza sauce, some chopped up salami or pepperoni (packs are $3 at Walmart and I use half the package) and some grated mozza cheese. Mix the sauce and noodles and pepperoni together and top with the cheese and bake for about half hour until golden on top. You can always add other “pizza” type topping to this like mushrooms or bell peppers etc. I always serve this with some chicken wings (made from scratch) and a side salad. Even with the wings, we are normally able to come in right around $10 for this one, and this is a really Fun meal!
10. Lasagna Buns
This is a family favourite and So easy and So yummy. Tastes like lasagna but much cheaper (less cheese) and takes way less time to prepare. All you do is get some nice crusty buns from the bakery and scoop out the insides to make room for the filling (I freeze the scooped out bread for when I make roast chicken and use it for the stuffing). Make a meat sauce (make it on the thick side – if you ever have left over spaghetti sauce, freeze it to use for making this meal). 1lb of ground beef and 1 can of spaghetti sauce is normally what I use. I spread the inside of the buns with a bit of garlic butter. I add a tbsp of cottage cheese and a sprinkling of parmesan. I fill the bun with the meat sauce and then add some grated mozzarella on the top. I pop it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until heated through and golden on top, and serve with a side salad or fresh vegetables.
Thank you to Andrea for writing this wonderful guest post for us, you can find her at AMomsPerspective.