There’s one thing most all of us have found comfort in throughout this pandemic, and that’s cooking. Whether you’re making daily brunches or joining the masses in sourdough bread baking, most of us have spent extra time and care with our food to pass the time.
While many states are beginning to open up, it’s important to remember the economy is still on rocky turf. We recommend continuing to save as much cash as you can during this unprecedented time until we see how the job market unfolds over the next few months.
To help with that, we’ve put together our favorite 5 budget meals to inspire your meal planning. These meals are simple and nutritious, and most of all inexpensive to make. You’ll find below simple steps to follow and cost per serving to help you budget plan.
Let’s start cooking!
1. QUICK, HEALTHY BREAKFAST: Oatmeal and Fruit
First up, on our list is the classic oatmeal and banana! Why? Because it is extremely nutritious and easy to make. This healthy meal doesn’t take much time to make, but packs a ton of energy!
- Simply cook up a bowl of steel-cut oats
- Add any fruit you have on hand, or some cinnamon and raisins
- 24 oz. steel-cut oats:
- Sliced fruit:
- Total: $4.99 (makes six servings)
- Cost per serving: 83 cents
2. COMFORT FOOD: Ham, White Beans and Cornbread
This meal reminds us of growing up and family dinner parties. The best part of this recipe is with less than $2 per servings, it will help you whip up a pot of ham-and-beans that won’t be forgotten.
- Rinse beans in a large pot; discard shriveled beans and any small stones. Add 8 cups of cold water. Let stand overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse beans.
- Return beans to pot and add ham, onion, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley and water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during cooking time.
- 1 lb. dry great northern beans
- 1/2 lb. cooked ham, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- Box of Jiffy cornbread mix
- Total: $7.51 (makes six servings)
- Price per serving: $1.25
3. KID-FRIENDLY: Homemade Stovetop Mac’nCheese
If your kids love mac n’ cheese, throw away the boxed stuff and try this instead!
- Boil a box of pasta
- In a separate pot, whisk together the milk and flour
- Add a teaspoon of salt and a bit of sugar and pepper to taste
- Stir constantly until just boiling, then lower the heat
- Continue stirring for a few moments as it thickens
- Add the shredded cheese and mix until melted
- Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta
Pro tip – if you want something “extra” to make a more tasty grown-up version, like peas, bacon crumbles, cubed ham, tuna, tomatoes, or scallions. If you have time to go all out, top with buttery breadcrumbs, and bake it for 20-25 minutes.
- 12-oz. box of shells, elbows, or other pasta
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 Tbsp flour, sugar and salt to taste
- 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 oz.)
- Total: $4.77 (makes six servings)
- Price per person: 80 cents
4. MEATFREE MONDAY: Chickpeas and Pasta
Being hunkered down at home is a good time to try out new routines. Here’s one for your first (or 100th) meat-free Monday dish!
Heat one package of pasta on your stovetop until it’s al dente
After draining your pasta, add one jar of Ragu pasta sauce (or homemade marinara)
A can of chickpeas and a small diced onion
Mix it all together and simmer on low heat until your onion is cooked
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 jar of Ragu or other pasta sauce
- 12-oz. box of pasta
- Total: $5.27 (makes six servings)
- Price per serving: 88 cents
5. WEEKNIGHT DINNER: Grilled Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries
Simple, fast & nutritious – a classic grilled chicken and sweet potato fries meal is sure to please the whole family. Put this one into your weekly routine.
- Start by washing four sweet potatoes then cutting them into half-inch thick circles
- Put them in a bowl, drizzle them with olive oil until they’re covered all over
- Then lay them flat on a baking sheet
- Sprinkle the potatoes with your favorite cajun seasoning
- Bake them at 400 degrees for 35 minutes
- Fire up the grill and cook six chicken breasts until they’re no longer pink in the middle
- Serve both with barbecue sauce
- 6 chicken breasts
- 4 sweet potatoes
- Barbecue sauce
- Total: $11 (makes six servings)
- Price per serving: $1.83
Need more inspiration?
Take a look at our previous Savvy Saving Sunday posts for more wallet-friendly recipes: