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super budget meals

Can you make a meal for under a buck? Not per serving..but the entire meal
Not ramen( too easy).
Or any great budget meal ideas

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  1. All I can think of is eggs with a veggie and/or some soybeans Or soybeans with cheese.

    Sometimes a quick lunch for me is a 1/2 cup or more of black soybeans with vinaigrette.

    1. Sure... if you define the rules.

      I can cook home made marinara from scratch for 4 over pasta of choice for under $1 a serving but by its nature the sauce needs to be made in a batch size. Not one person fired as needed cooking.

      I can do the same if I do basil pesto from my garden where I use cashews instead of pine nuts, EVOO, green can parm, 50 cent a head garlic and $1/lb Barilla pasta.

      Big Frozen lasagana at $6 at the food service stores will get you under $1 a head as well.

      Eating well and under $1 a meal often is certainly not my game and not an easy feat.

      Under a $1 for two or more. Not the norm in North America.
      Other parts of the world- possibly and if self sustaining, a good chance.

      Fish, hunt, trap or forage for your meals = low cost. Not practical with a job and a mortgage. YMMV.

      Best of luck with your quest.

      1. Soups, particularly legume soups can do it

        A bag of dried beams and a bag of rice can be had for a dollar and will feed four giving you $2 to add other stuff.

        scale is a big factor in this $1 premise as is the idea of "pantry items" like seasonings and cooking oil that don't factor in high in cost of bought in quantity and stocked but get expensive fast if purchased meal specific

        I am sure you could manage an excellent Dal or a potato/vegetable curry if you allow for a spice rack in the equation.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JTPhilly

          i have at least 5 curried dals that i make on a regular basis that cost less than $1/pp

          punjabi rajma

          my white bean and kale dish

          minestrone soup made with kidney beans, frozen vegetables, pasta.

          lentil soup with frozen vegetables

          ethiopian shiro

          chana masala

          moroccan chick pea stew

          1. re: westsidegal

            yep...I can buy a 1 pound bag of dried black beans at the Dollar store for $1...rice is 88 cents per 1 pound bag (so let's say you cook up 1/4 of those bags)...steam up some carrots and IF the OP is talking about a SINGLE meal with modest portion sizes, I am quite sure mine would come in at about $1.

        2. Chicken stock, can of beans (or dried beans), half cup of pasta (orzo, tiny shells, mini elbows etc), block of frozen spinach, quarter can of diced tomaotes. Add desired spices-thyme or a piece of bay leaf or basil. Squeeze of lemon juice and touch of salt to finish. I buy froz spinach when on sale and with coupons so can get it for 25-50 cents. Same with beans (prefer navy or cannelloni) -25cents/can. Tomatoes 50cents or use fresh if available in garden or on close out (produce scratch & dent section). Pasta, stock, seasonings, if no stock then bouillion (sp), salt, pepper, lemon are all staples.

          Change spinach to any seasonal green when available by garden or cost availability. Add sausage when it's in your freezer ( italian sausage, tho I've been known to throw in andouille or kielbasa in a crunch).

          1. Pasta, rice, legumes etc can be extended with chicken from the leg or thigh or cheap pork cuts or tofu or a fried/poached egg on top.

            3 Replies
            1. re: zackly

              But that's more than $1 for the "whole meal" not per serving as the OP stipulated. At least your suggested meal has some actual nourishment, though!

              1. re: mcf

                Pretty much everyone except the OP is talking PP.
                I agree these are not what the OP wasa asking.

                1. re: mcf

                  "Or any great budget meal ideas"

              2. I was just talking about this on another page, but Eggs in Purgatory fit the bill.

                And then, it depends on what jjjrfoodie said---what do you have in your garden? For example, once in a while I can find good cans of tuna in olive oil for < $1.00 and have that over greens.

                1. Thank you all so much for the great ideas.
                  I live in an apt..so no hope for a garden( Someone asked).
                  They refuse to let anyone grow even flowers
                  I do have acess to many ethnic food markets though

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: aliceliddell

                    Alice, do you have a sunny windowsill there? You could probably grow some lovely green herbs like parsley if so.

                    1. re: Val

                      Things like that are great! Tarragon, sage and oregano were faves of mine last year. In addition, I bought a pot of basil at TJs and stuck it in the ground and it grew and grew.

                  2. Lentils, eggs, beans, rice, grits, and bread can be stretched a long ways. You never mentioned how many you need to cook for in a 'meal' or if you expect leftovers (how many servings).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: carrytheone

                      I guess maybe enough for two.
                      Im prolly expecting way too much from just a buck.
                      Trying to go super cheap as many days as we can..and just normal cheap the others lol

                    2. I do have a sunny windowsill.ty for the idea.herb garden would be lovely

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: aliceliddell

                        I'm told garlic is super easy to grow in pots, too.

                        1. re: mcf

                          Both garlic and chive. I haven't done either in a dog's age...what a good idea.

                      2. The cheapest meals I make are when my grocery store puts smoked sausage on sale for $1 per package. Sliced and fried up with either potatoes and onions or cabbage. Cornbread on the side(I just use a package mix). Not a dollar meal but still pretty darn cheap.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: miss_belle

                          We do this, too, with the addition of green beans, and celery if I got, but boiled to make a sort of stew. It's delicious and cheap. I usually float a knob of butter or coarse mustard on each bowl. I'm actually making this tomorrow.

                        2. Cheap is all relative, but stock up on the staples.

                          Flour, salt, pasta, rice, beans, etc. I haven't bought bread in over 5 years. I buy large cuts of meat and butcher, portion and freeze it myself. Initial investment is high, but cheaper in the long run.

                          p.s. Ramen is wonderful if you throw out that awful flavour packet they have.

                          Cook noodles in chicken stock, add a handful of frozen veg, crack in an egg at the end and stir to thicken or beat the egg and drizzle slowly into the boiling pot for fleurettes, and a half capful of vinegar. Few dashes of pepper sauce if you want.

                          1. I love to check out the reduced for quick sale cart that is near the produce section. Last week I got a big bag of russet potatoes, a bag of Chinese eggplant, and a bag of spring onions (with large bulbs, not the scallion type). All for about $3. Of course, they were all a bit bashed up and had blemishes but not rotten or anything. You do need to plan to use them up fairly quickly.

                            Anyway, portions of two meals for 4 people were produced from this bounty - baked potatoes (served with burger patties/mushroom sauce and stir fried eggplant with onions and peppers - over rice.

                            1. Welcome to CH, Alice! This request comes up frequently on both the Home Cooking and General Topics board.
                              Here is a current one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9707...

                              It's not the easiest to search via the site search box at the top right of the page, since the terms aren't very specific but if you use phrases like "cheap dishes" or "cooking on a budget", you'll get links to lots of prior threads on these boards. I recommend you try that, if you want more ideas.
                              This is not meant to criticize you, because you are new here, but many long-term participants on this site get tired of answering the same question over and over, and will just skip it when it comes up again.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: greygarious

                                Im a nit wit
                                I understand ..thank you for the tip

                                1. re: aliceliddell

                                  Alice, do you have any freezing space at all? You can make out like a bandit by saving small bits of leftovers. When you do fix meat, save even a little bit and freeze it in a little plastic sandwich bag. You can crumble up one sausage or one slice of bacon or a slice off your pork chop---later, combined with some pasta, beans, or potatoes you can make quite a nice meal with it. BTW you mentioned ethnic markets---they are super for bargain produce. At a Hispanic market, corn tortillas can cost as little as 20 cents a dozen---cook up some pinto beans and mash them, cut up a leaf of lettuce and a bit of onion or whatever you can rustle up, and put together a fine plate of tacos. One more thing---if you like hot oatmeal, it makes a cheap and filling breakfast---cook it in a pot and don't rely on the much more expensive instant variety.

                              2. Thank you everyone! Im gonna give the garlic and chives a go.
                                Now i have some fantastic ideas on budget meals
                                We call it Cheap night..lol
                                I challenge myself in creating the least expensive but still hearty and or healthy...lol

                                1. I can't give exact prices - my grocery costs will be very different than yours - but can give some ideas for very cheap meals. A caveat - making a single meal for one person by itself is harder to do really cheap, because buying small amounts of food separately costs more than buying larger amounts, and a lot of cheap meals use stewing, which is hard in tiny quantities. Your best bet for economy is to make a batch and eat the same thing for a few days, or to freeze the leftovers.

                                  Cheap ingredients - bulk dried beans/chickpeas/lentils and rice (brown is more nutritious), dried pasta, canned tuna, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, celery, cauliflower, turnip, beets, frozen or canned corn, frozen spinach, sauerkraut and green beans, canned tomatoes, eggs, whatever is on sale in the about to expire vegetable rack. Maybe tofu - it's very cheap for me, but I don't know what it costs in the US. Vinegar is cheaper than lemon juice, powdered chicken stock can be used for flavour instead of canned. Have a few versatile spices on hand (curry powder, Italian seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, hot pepper flakes, etc), plus a cheap vegetable oil.

                                  So from the above, you can have things like fried rice and beans (use celery/carrots/onion to season), potato and cauliflower curry with rice, poached egg and spinach on toast with tomato soup, rice porridge with egg, bean and vegetable soup flavoured with a little bit of sausage, pasta with egg, curried chickpeas with rice, rice cooked with onion and sweet potato, dhal (Indian lentil stew) with rice. Sides of corn or green beans, grated carrot salad seasoned with vinegar and cumin, spinach, etc. Potato and tuna salad with a vinaigrette dressing, pasta with tomato sauce and tofu.

                                  This document http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/133287/... has an interesting summary of costs of various fruits and vegetables. Of course, it makes a big difference how you buy your veggies - pre-washed, trimmed veggies cost a lot more per serving, and you get more value if you eat the trimmings - the cauliflower stems, beet greens, potato peels, celery leaves.

                                  1. No one mentioned peanut butter yet....
                                    Sweet potato stew with peanut butter is hearty, satisfying, and very easy- look for recipes called african peanut stew or such.

                                    Thick Lentil soup with full fat coconut milk and carrots is way less than $1/per person

                                    The chinese rice porridge congee is stupid cheap, top with shredded veggies and a soft boiled egg or tofu and a drizzle of soy sauce. This recipe is the basic technique, skip the expensive mushrooms and use what you have on hand or can find for veggies

                                    1. potato with eggs. That's a dollar meal for one. Pot of beans, with dumplings, a dollar meal for 6. Add some cabbage, steamed or fried or raw (a slaw), for tiny amount of money and very much delicious.

                                      Aside: I have been a little puzzled by news stories of the high cost of healthy vegetables. I cook for just me most of the time, and I find that veggies are extremely economical. Frozen ones keep, and are super easy to take just a portion, but I look for sales and dine on fresh cauliflower often, cabbage a whole lot, and even eggplant or other fancier vegetables for very little money. They're easy and fast to stir fry or steam, a flavorful sauce or other enhancement of herbs/spices is cheap, and if you eat them every day they get used fast so no waste. Add a pot of beans and some brown rice or barley, you can eat very well on little money.

                                      1. I think you can do it if you shop at low-price stores and take advantage of sale items and loss leaders and use meat as a condiment rather than the main event. Price differentials can be huge but you have to keep your eyes open for them wherever you happen to be. For example, during holiday seasons sweet potatoes in Chicago have been 19 cents lb.. Some markets have a huge discount coupon out for a ham during the holidays, and if you pro-rate down what you get from a ham (the last coupon ham I bought came to $5.65 for the whole thing), that's pennies per serving. Pasta and beans are always a bet. Summertime farmers' markets always have green peppers 5 for a dollar by August (and they freeze so nicely). At a big Italian market here last summer I saw eggplant for 29 cents lb.. Lately I have seen potatoes 99 cents for 5 lb. .Eggs are always cheap (and during Easter week are moreso). Little cans of tomato sauce can be 4 for a dollar. This week Roma tomatoes are $ 1. 49 lb in my neighborhood but I picked some up for 39 cents lb when I happened to be on the other side of town, why not. So, yes. Depending on what's on sale, and using meat that is part of something and not the main event, I would think that a casserole of scalloped potatoes with minimal pro-rated discounted ham, or one of pasta with tomato sauce and a very little of a leftover potroast, or halves of green pepper stuffed with a strata made of eggs and cheap white bread and milk, or a meal of French toast, might just about meet your criterion. Tricks are to move with the season, keep your eyes open, and use every bit of everything.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          Great advice to eat with the season.

                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            Shows the regional pricing differences. In the Boston area, the very lowest produce sale prices, seldom seen, are three times what you quote. No bargains on seafood, either, though it's local.

                                            $1 per serving is often doable, $1 per meal - whether you consider that the whole plate and a dessert for one, or a main dish for 2 or 4 - does not allow variety and might not be balanced nutrition over the long haul.