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Top 10 Meals on a Budget

by Ravyn
fact checked by dickensgirl

Here is part 2 of our Frugal living list – 10 inexpensive meals. The best thing about frugal living is that you get to enjoy much nicer food than you would if you were constantly buying fast food. So, here are ten great cheap meals.

10. Mac and Cheese

Mac And Cheese

This is an easy one to make and doesn’t cost much. You will need 1 box of Elbows or Twisted Macaronis. You can usually get the 1 pound box for $1USD. Then you will need a block of cheese, the Velveeta kind. I would recommend the store brand as it tastes just as good. This usually runs between $1 and $2USD for the pound. Then you will need about 1/4 cup of milk. Boil the noodles until they are just soft, then take them off the heat and drain. Do not rinse with cold water. If you feel you need to rinse them, do it with the hottest water possible. Return the noodles to the pot and add the cheese pre-cut in to 1 inch cubes. Mix together until the cheese is almost melted (the mix will be stiff and kind of hard to stir).

Return to a low heat and slowly add the milk slowly creating a thick creamy sauce. This will make enough to feed 5-6 people generously. If you are making just for 1 person, store the excess in sandwich baggies (press out as much air as possible) or in a food sealer in the freezer. When you want to make some just pull out a bag in the morning to defrost. When you are ready for it, make sure it is completely defrosted, pour into a bowl, sprinkle a light amount of water on top and microwave for about 1 min (give or take depending on your microwave). You can compliment this with a can of tuna but do not freeze if tuna is mixed in.

9. Tortilla Pizza


For this you will need a pack of tortillas, a small jar of pizza sauce, a package of shredded cheese and what ever toppings you choose (cheaper with plain cheese). Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (F). On a cookie sheet place 1 to 3 tortillas (depending on the size of the pan). With a spoon spread sauce to about 1/4 inch from the edge of the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top trying to stay on the sauce. Place your toppings of choice over cheese. Place in oven for about 5 minutes.

8. Ramen Noodle Stir Fry


You will need 1 to 2 packages of Ramen noodles, 1/2 to 1 bag generic mixed vegetables, and meat to match the noodles (chicken for chicken flavor, etc). Cut the meat to small pieces. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan, or wok if you have one. Brown the meat. Boil the noodles for about 2 minutes. Remove meat from heat and let sit on a paper towel to remove excess grease. Add vegetables, ramen flavor packet, and any other seasonings you want to the pan. Add a splash of liquid (water, orange juice, etc). Stir constantly. Add noodles and meat to the vegetable mix.

7. Beef and Rice Casserole


You will need 1 pound of ground beef (hamburger), 2 cups of rice, 1 package of onion soup mix, 4 cups of water, and 1 15 ounce can of cream of mushroom soup. Brown the ground meat and drain if necessary. Add everything else, mix and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until rice is done.

6. “Hamburger Helper” Casserole

Gm Minestronecasserole

Don’t bother buying a box of Hamburger Helper; Instead you will need 1 pound ground beef (or whatever meat you choose to use), 1 tablespoon butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 can of cream soup (mushroom, chicken, etc), 1/2 cup water, a bag of egg noodles or rice, and salt and pepper. Heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the meat and brown. Drain any extra grease. Add soup, water, salt and pepper, and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat. Serve over the cooked rice or noodles.

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5. Taco Salad

Taco Salad

You will need 1 pound of ground beef, 1 packet of taco seasoning, 1/2 head of lettuce, 1 large tomato, 1 cup chopped scallions, 1 – 2 cups shredded cheese, sour cream, and 1 bag of store brand tortilla chips. Brown the beef and drain the extra grease. Add the packet of taco seasoning and coat the beef thoroughly. Cool slightly and place beef in a large bowl. Break the lettuce into small pieces or shred if you prefer, adding to the beef. Dice the tomato and add to the bowl. Add the scallions and shredded cheese. Mix together. Serve on top of the chips and top with a dollop of sour cream.

4. Egg Noodle Lasagna


This is a crock-pot (slow cooker) recipe. You will need about 7 – 8 cups of egg noodles, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 2 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, 7 ounces diced cheese (like Velveeta, preferably store brand), and 3 cups shredded mozzarella. Cook noodles according to package and drain. Add butter and toss to coat. In a skillet brown the beef and drain. Spread 1/4 of the sauce in the slow cooker. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles, then 1/3 of the beef, then 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Finally add 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat two more times (you should have nothing left) Cover and cook on low for about 4 to 5 hours.

3. Pizza Bake


You will need 1 pound ground beef, 16 ounces pizza sauce, 4 ounces mushrooms (optional), pepperoni (optional), 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 2 cups rotini noodles. 2/3 cup milk, and 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Brown the beef in a skillet and drain. Stir in pizza sauce, mushrooms, oregano, and garlic salt. Bring to a boil. In a separate bowl combine the rotini and milk. In a casserole pan, Layer half the meat sauce, rotini mix, and cheese. Repeat with remaining halves. Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 25-30 minutes.

2. Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

You will need 3 to 6 chicken breasts (depending on how many you are feeding), egg noodles, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 1 can of peas, any seasonings you prefer, and 1 can of chicken broth, or 7 cubes of chicken broth concentrate. Boil chicken in a large pot (make sure the water completely covers the chicken. When chicken is done do not discard the water. Take chicken from water and shred. Add onion, carrots, peas, chicken broth/cubes, noodles, shredded chicken, and seasoning. Boil until noodles are cooked thoroughly.

1. Shepherd’s Pie

Sheppard's Pie

You will need hamburger, potatoes, and corn or green beans. Brown the hamburger. Mash the potatoes. In the bottom of your casserole pan layer the corn or green beans. On top of that layer the hamburger. Top it all off with the mashed potatoes. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees (F) for about 20 minutes.

Bonus: Monkey Bread


Okay, it is not a meal but a dessert. You need a can of refrigerated biscuits, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 3/4 cup of butter. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (F). Cut the biscuits into quarters and roll them in a cinnamon-sugar mix. Melt the butter, cinnamon, and sugar together in a small saucepan. Place half the biscuits in a bundt pan. Pour 1/2 of the butter mix on top. Place the remaining biscuits in the pan and top with 1/2 of the remaining butter mix. Bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Warm the remaining butter mix on the stove top with the heat from the oven. Remove bread from bundt pan and drizzle with the remaining butter mix.

Contributor: Ravyn

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fact checked by dickensgirl