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Budget Meal: Cook a Whole Meal for Less Than $10

Budget meal making is a hot topic these days. Making meals that are inexpensive is something many families are striving for — including mine. Having them taste good or maybe even restaurant quality while still not eating a huge hole in your budget can be a challenge, however. Add to that the desire to make your home-made meals healthy, and you’ve got some planning and strategizing to do! That said, it can be done. Here are five tasty and healthful meals that can be made for less than $10 each and will feed your whole family.

Budget Meal 1: Roast Chicken

budget meal - roast chicken

Because you can get a whole chicken for very cheap this is a perfect meal that seems expensive, but isn’t. Just include some potatoes and carrots in the roasting pan with the chicken and you have a whole meal in one pan that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Simply take your roast chicken and season with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Place it in a roasting pan with rack. Surround the chicken with quartered potatoes and some cut up carrots with half a cup of water and place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Allow to cook half an hour per pound of chicken.

About half an hour before the chicken is done cooking, pour some chicken broth over it. Once done cooking, remove the vegetables from the pan. Mash the potatoes if you’d like and season with a little salt and pepper. Remove chicken to a cutting board and let stand a few minutes before carving. Meanwhile use the drippings from the pan to make gravy if desired. And there you have it – a full meal for under $10.

You can also roast your chicken in a slow cooker, however, I recommend using boneless chicken pieces instead. The slow cooker will make your chicken so tender, you’ll be challenged with finding all the small bones!

Budget Meal 2: Meatloaf

budget meal - meat loaf

Source: Flickr, Naotake Murayama

This is an American classic that’s inexpensive to boot. Pair this with some green beans and egg noodles for a meal that’s less than $10. And, you can get creative with this meal without raising the cost all that much.

A basic meat loaf recipe includes:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix

But here are some alterations you can make to make it more healthy or uniquely flavored:

  • Use ground turkey instead of ground beef
  • Use half ground turkey or beef and half sausage meat
  • Instead of bread crumbs, use the crumbs of your favorite flavor potato, corn or tortilla chips
  • Instead of onion soup mix, use ranch dressing mix

Use your imagination and experiment with ways to make meat loaf your own!

Once you’ve come up with your group of ingredients, mix them all together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Place in a loaf pan. Put in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Budget Meal 3: Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

budget meal - slow cooker

Source: MorgueFile.com

Slow cookers are great tools for making nice, hearty meals that really fill you up. And it’s easy because you can set it to cook all day in the crockpot while you’re away at work or running errands.

The basic rule of making something in a slow cooker is to layer the ingredients from those that require the longest to cook to those that require the least. For example, for this recipe you would layer the ingredient in this order:

  1. 1 cup carrots
  2. 6 red potatoes, quartered
  3. 6 pieces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  4. 1 cup peas

Once layered, add in 4 cups chicken broth and cook on low for 8 hours (high for 4 hours).

Ta da! Inexpensive, healthy and filling meal for up to four people!

Budget Meal 4: Chili con Carne

budget meal - chile con carne

Here’s another hearty meal that won’t break the bank, but will fill you right up. Serve with corn bread, sour dough bread or tortilla chips for extra flavor.

1 onion
1 head of garlic
Bell pepper
15 ounce can of black beans (or kidney beans)
14 ounce chicken broth
14 ounce stewed tomatoes
1 pound ground turkey

In a large saucepan heat onion, garlic, pepper and ground turkey. Cook until turkey is done, about 6 minutes. Drain the canned beans. Add to turkey with stewed tomatoes and half of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour.

If you’d like to reduce the gas-producing properties of the beans, drain them, clean them, soak them in water for 30 minutes and repeat once more.

Budget Meal 5: Tacos

budget meal - tacos

This is really very simple and basic to prepare. To make it more filling, use beans instead of meat. Just heat a pound of ground meat or a can of beans in a pan with some taco seasoning. Add your taco shells, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese and you have a quick and cheap taco dinner for the whole family.

So those are just five recipes you can make that won’t break the bank. What other meals do you like to make that cost less than $10?

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.