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  • Elissa Strassman

3 Meals that are Cheap, Easy, and Come Together in a Snap

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

What could be better than a meal that is quick, nutritious and full of flavor? One that also doesn’t break the bank.


Save some time and keep some money in your wallet, with the following healthy, cheap, meals that are super simple to make:


Mexican Rice Bowl

Veggie Frittata

Pantry Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes


  • Each cost less than $1.50/portion, and takes less than 30 minutes to make.

  • They can help you to clean out your pantry, freezer and fridge

  • Once you have the basics down, you can tailor them to whatever ingredients you have on hand, and your taste and preferences.


First: Mexican Rice Bowl

Cost per portion: $1.48*

Mexican Rice Bowl with brown rice, sautéed peppers and onions, canned black beans, salsa and cheese.

Colorful and nutrient dense. This recipe features whole grains, a variety of colorful vegetables, lean protein from beans, and dairy.


Cost saving tips:

  • Purchase club pack varieties of items, like peppers and onions.

  • Try store brand options of ingredients.

  • Skip convenience if you can. To save a little money, I purchased block cheese, and grated it myself.


Extra Bonus:


Place all toppings in separate bowls on the table, and allow each person to pick and choose their own toppings. Offering it this way, not only allows people to customize their creation, it also may lend to less waste. The rice can be frozen and used for another meal, or, refrigerated and eaten at another time within the week. The extra veggies can go onto a salad, into a burrito, or quesadilla, or stirred into eggs. For those following a Vegan eating style, simply omit the cheese.


Second: Veggie Frittata

Cost per portion: $0.82*

Veggie Frittata with a mixture of eggs, vegetables and cheese.

Frittatas are a great way to use up any leftover veggies, and eggs, at 13 cents each*, make for a great low cost protein option.


If you don’t have leftover vegetables, or fresh veggies on hand, keep a bag of frozen in the freezer, so that dinner can come together in a snap. Any leftovers can be stored in your fridge and reheated, or eaten cold, for a quick meal option or high protein snack.


Third: Pantry Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes

Cost Per Portion: $0.82-$1.25*(made with tuna packed in water, or, tuna packed in oil, respectively)

Pantry Pasta with Canned Tuna and Canned Tomatoes

This recipe features all items from the pantry, and proves that canned and pantry food items can be just as satisfying and delicious as fresh.


Tomatoes can be a little expensive when they are not in season, but by using a canned variety, it can help keep the cost low, and nutrient quality high. I chose the no salt added version for this recipe. It cost exactly the same as the other varieties, and allowed me the opportunity to season to my liking.


I did choose to use oil packed tuna, which can cost a little bit more than tuna packed in water, as this is traditional for our family’s version, however, feel free to substitute whatever style you and your family prefer to use or have on hand.


I hope this gave you some inspiration for some healthy budget friendly meal ideas!


Looking for more ways that you can save money on food? Check out:


8 Tips to Reduce Food Waste and Use What You Have on Hand


It’s here where you can learn more about meal planning, creating a grocery list, storing food properly, and using leftovers too!


For more resources to help with keeping food costs low, click this link for some additional info.


Please Note:

*The following prices should be considered estimates for each recipe. Costs will vary based on where you live, the store you purchase, and the prices on the day that you purchased. They are based on the amount of the ingredient used in each recipe. Regular pantry staples like salt and pepper, were not tallied in this equation.


Have a tip to keep your food costs low, or a favorite budget friendly meal idea? Feel free to comment in the space below!


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