plate of spaghetti

10 Cheap, Quick & Easy Meals

plate of spaghettiEating out can get expensive.  I decided to put together a quick list of some quick, cheap and easy meals that you can make.  With a little bit of effort you add these meals to your meal menu.  If you really don’t like to cook you might want to check out our list of the top 10 fast food meals, but don’t forget to also check out our list of the top 10 fast food meals that will make you fat.

1.  The ever-classic spaghetti dinner:
1 pound spaghetti, 1 26 oz. jar of sauce, and (optional) 1/2 pound hamburger
I don’t even bother to make meatballs from the hamburger; just crumble it up in a saucepan and brown it, then drain the fat.  Add the sauce and simmer till warm.  Meantime, boil, then drain the spaghetti.  Open up a bag of pre-made salad to serve with it.

2.  Another classic budget standby, here’s a super-easy tuna casserole:
1 box macaroni and cheese, 1 can tuna, drained, and 1 or 2 stalks of chopped celery.
Prepare the mac and cheese according to package directions; mix in tuna and celery.

3.  Ready-made chicken dinner:
Buy a prepared rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, plus one loaf french or italian bread and one bag of salad or package of frozen vegetables.
No cooking is even involved in this one, except if you use the frozen vegetables and then you need only cook them a few minutes in the microwave.

4.  Ramen main dish soup:
Every college student relies on ramen for cheap eats.  It makes a good meal, with a couple of additions.
2 packages ramen soup, 1 bag frozen chinese veggies, and 1/4 – 1 pound of cooked, diced meat such as chicken or beef, 3 cups water
Put the water in a pot, add the veggies and meat, cook till the veggies are done.  Add the ramen noodles and seasoning and cook until the noodles are done.

5.  Anytime breakfast food:
Yes, eggs are good for dinner, too.
Cook eggs your favorite way (scrambled, fried, etc.) and serve with toast plus bacon or ham.

6.  Quick Chili:
1 pound ground beef, 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, 1 packet chili seasoning mix
Crumble the beef into a large skillet; cook and stir until evenly browned. Drain off grease.  Drain the liquid from the kidney beans.  Mix the beans, tomatoes, chili seasoning mix into the beef. Simmer for 15 minutes.

7. Linguini and White Clam Sauce:
One of my favorites!
1 pound linguini, 2 small or one larger can of chopped clams, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/4 tsp. garlic salt (or 1 fresh clove, chopped), dried parsley and red pepper to taste
Open the clams and drain the liquid into a big pot; set aside the clams.  Add more water to the pot and bring to boil; add the linguine and cook linguine until al dente, then drain.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pot; add garlic, clams, white wine, parsley and red pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens a bit; if you like thicker sauce,  sprinkle in about 1 tsp. cornstarch and blend thoroughly; serve over the linguine.  Add a packaged salad.

8.  Super-simple ham dinner:
No need to buy a giant ham!  Buy a single packaged pre-cooked slice of ham (about 8 oz.) for two people, or more slices for more people.
Sprinkle the slices with brown sugar and put in a toaster oven on broiler setting for 5 minutes; turn, sprinkle with more brown sugar and broil another 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of ham.  Serve with microwaved frozen carrots and some noodles.

9.  Ultra-easy chicken in mushroom sauce:
About 3 pounds of your favorite chicken parts such as thighs or breasts (I get whatever is on sale), 1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
Use a roasting pan or casserole pan which is big enough to hold all the pieces of chicken in a single layer.  After you put the chicken in the pan, add the can of soup (DO NOT ADD WATER TO THE SOUP).  Spread the soup around to cover all of the chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 min. or until the chicken is done.  The soup will turn into a luscious sauce.  For extra pizzazz, add sliced fresh or canned mushrooms.   Serve with salad.

10.  Hearty chicken soup:
2 cans chicken broth, 4-8 oz. uncooked noodles, 1 cup mixed frozen vegetables (such as peas & carrots), 1 or 2 cups of leftover cooked, diced chicken
Put the broth in a pan and add the frozen vegetables and noodles.  When the noodles are almost cooked, add the chicken.  Basically you can add any amount of vegetables, noodles or chicken to taste.  If you add a lot of noodles, the soup will thicken and be more like a casserole, which is good too.  Season as desired with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.

Cheap Meal Photo Credit



John Z.

8 years ago

I'm already fairly proficient with dishes 1-5. Thanks for the suggestions on dishes 6-10! JZ


8 years ago

AMAZING ideas. Really appreciated. I am a SAHM of two toddlers, and my husband works really crazy hours (military). So a lot of the time, I'm tired and just want something quick, but still healthy, to make...and other times it's just me and the kids so there is no need for a huge dinner. Such great ideas and very workable on our schedule and budget! Thanks so much!!!


8 years ago

I love your ideas! They are simple, need few ingredients and cheap. I'd love to see more! I hate cooking, and when I look for cheap meals I look for something that is uber-easy to make and won't take me buying some exotic ingredients that I would never use for anything else. These hit the spot!

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