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Dump your cheap recipes below.

Here's some things I've learned to cook that are pretty good and not that expensive:

Butter noodles. It has 2 ingredients. Guess what they are.

Cook noodles as specified on the box or until done, drain, dump in a bowl you've put a generous amount of butter in and let the noodle heat melt it. Stir to combine.

Is it nutritious? God no, but it got me through a lot of nights as a kid growing up in a house with no money.

If you're feeling fancy, add cheese. I recommend that parmesan with the green shaker on top, but you can also use that shredded cheese what you make tacos with.


Hutspot/Wortelenstamp

I learned this from a Dutch friend. Wortelenstamp has basically 3 ingredients: Potato, carrot, and onion.

This is basically mashed potatoes with extra steps. You make mashed potato as normal (peel potatoes, boil, etc) but you're gonna also chop up 2 carrots per 1 potato (ratio probably varies by size but this is the one I ballpark) and also add in a whole onion or two.

You can either boil the onion with the carrots/potatoes, or fry it in a separate pan and add it at the end. I do the latter, because boiled onion sounds disgusting and I refuse to try it to find out.

Once your fork can pierce the carrots and potatoes easily, take them off the heat, reserve a little of their starchy water, drain them, add to bowl, and mash however you like. I have a fancy-pants manual potato masher I got off Amazon but you can also just use a fork, it just takes a lot longer. Mash to your desired consistency, or until you get bored and/or carpel tunnel. Add a little bit of that starch water if you need it thinner. You can also add milk, or whatever plant substitute you have, but I prefer just adding the starchy water.

You can add nutmeg to the finished mash, but it's optional. Unless you're Dutch, then it's required. (According to my friend.)


Easy fruit topping

You buy frozen fruit at the store, thaw it out, place in bowl with a cup of sugar per 4 pounds of fruit. Mix together thoroughly, leave in the fridge for 12-18 hours, stir, leave for a few more hours.

Congrats, you've made ghetto fruit syrup. You can put it on pancakes, put it in a bowl with some yellow cake made with cake mix, or put it on rice pudding. This makes quite a lot of it, so you'll have something nice to spice up your breakfast for a few days.


Jasmine rice. Yes, really.

Look, I'm gonna level with you. A rice cooker is around $30. I strongly recommend getting one. This thing is an investment. You need it in your life. It's basically magic. You put rice in it, you tell it to cook the rice. It makes perfect rice every time and you barely had to do anything. Seriously. I cannot possibly stress enough what a godsend rice cookers are.

You can also just eat jasmine rice plain, or put it in butter like the noodles above. Do you know how much jasmine rice costs? I bought a 10lb bag for like $10 and you can do quite a lot with it without going crazy with the budget. Get some sesame oil with it and make rice balls, and that's lunch. Rice in general is a godsend when you're poor, but jasmine rice is so fragrant and pleasant that eating it by itself feels fulfilling to me.


Stir fry

You don't necessarily need to stir-fry with rice, but it's a good way to use up leftover rice. (And you want to use that up because if it sits for more than 72 hours in your fridge, it'll probably give you food poisoning.) Really though, you can stir-fry any veg. I stir-fried cabbage and carrot the other week, made a sauce out of teriyaki sauce and honey and that tasted banger. It was 2 ingredients I had to get rid of plus some teriyaki sauce I had in the fridge that I forgot about. Apparently it hadn't gone bad yet so, yeah.


Rice pudding

Get a can of coconut milk, make 2 cups of whatever white rice you like, make sure the coconut milk is combined with the cream, and cook until it reaches a consistency I can only describe as "thiccccccccc." Before cooking, you can add ginger and vanilla to it if you're feeling fancy, and I do recommend keeping some imitation vanilla around. (You do NOT need the real stuff. The real stuff is a scam. Just get the fake stuff, it tastes practically the exact same and doesn't cost a first-born child.) The correct amount of ginger depends on how much ginger you think you should add. It's basically like garlic where there is no such thing as "too much," so go nuts.

You should probably also add a sweetener. I like honey because it also thickens it more, but you can use sugar or whatever you have on hand. Just add however much you think you need. I eyeball everything so I have no idea what measurements to tell people here.

I recommend cooking this in a non-stick pot unless you enjoy the most hellish dishwashing session the devil could possibly invent. It'll also add some burn protection to the bottom.

Make sure you stir this. You don't want the bottom burning. It's not paella.

Rice pudding is a good candidate for that cheap fruit topping I mentioned above. It has a consistency not unlike cottage cheese and personally, it reminds me of oatmeal. I like mine with blueberries. It makes a good breakfast, especially on hot days when served cold.


Fried cabbage and bacon. It has two ingredients. Guess what they are.

Get the cheapest bacon you can find (and you really do want the cheap stuff here), get the biggest skillet you can find, toss in the bacon with NO oil or anything in the pan and fry. The fat will render off and become the oil. Once the bacon's about done, add in the cabbage. If the pan looks really crowded to the point where the cabbage is overflowing and you wonder if you added too much cabbage, you don't have enough cabbage. Stir the cabbage into the bacon to the best of your ability until it wilts, then add more cabbage. Repeat until you've used the whole head (or most of it. I recommend reserving some leaves for other dishes like stir fry.) and wilted down all the cabbage. Make sure you get a bit of that caramelization on the cabbage too. That makes it good.

You really don't need to add anything else to this. It'll taste incredible on its own. It's one of my favorite comfort dishes.


"Western" omelet

I don't know what a western omelet is. By my reckoning, it's just a French omelet but we put stuff inside of it and fuss over it a lot less. I like mine with bacon bits and cheese on the inside, but I've also eaten them with mushroom, spinach, or onion and tomato. It's really versatile and only involves learning to fold an omelet over without burning the house down.

Mix 2 eggs in a bowl. Add milk or something milk-adjacent for creaminess. Add vegetable oil to a hot non-stick skillet (DO NOT cook eggs in anything besides a non-stick skillet unless you want to experience the second most hellish dish washing experience the devil can invent), pour in the eggs, put some oregano on top (optional but makes egg taste 10x better), add in a LITTLE BIT of whatever you want to one side of the omelet, then fold it in half from the empty side and congrats, you've made an egg calzone.

You want the top still runny when you fold it so it'll seal. If you wait until the top solidifies, it won't fold.

Remove this from the heat once you fold it and let the residual heat finish cooking it. Since I'm American, I'm not going to endorse eating runny egg, but if you live in a part of the world that doesn't have a huge concern about getting salmonella, you can probably eat this runny.

If you've burned the egg or messed up in some other way, just put Worcestershire sauce on top of it to cover up the acrid taste. That's what I do. Ideally though, you don't want to burn it, so turn down your heat next time or cook it for less long.


Everything is soup

Do you have veg? Do you have liquid? Congrats, you have all the necessary ingredients for soup! I recommend keeping beef/vegetable stock on-hand at all times, but you can also use coconut milk, water, or... basically anything that isn't flammable. (So, no olive oil... or gasoline.) Just toss everything in a pot and cook until the veg is fork-tender and the meat is probably not gonna kill you. Soup actually freezes super well so you can make a big batch of it and then reheat whenever you want. It'll last weeks in the freezer.


Fried potatoes and cheese

This is another "cook in a non-stick skillet" things because cheese really likes to stick. This is one of the few things my mother taught me to cook when I started learning. You just fry the potatoes until they're fork-tender (or in my mother's own words: "until I get bored, whichever one happens first"), and the cheese is melted. This is best with one of those blocks of extra-sharp cheddar IMO. Add sour-cream or something sour-cream-adjacent on top if you're feeling fancy, but this is already pretty fancy because it involves cheese and that's not cheap.


Guacamole on toast

I don't know what dingbat came up with the meme about how all these zoomers could afford houses if they stopped buying "avocado toast." Do you know how much an avocado costs? 80 cents in my area, and I live on the opposite side of the country where avocadoes are grown! Guac is cheap. It's avocado and lemon/lime juice. Anything else is optional, but I do recommend garlic. Only downside is that you should eat it within 2-3 days of making it because it spoils fast but just don't make too much of it at once and you can have a pretty good sandwich spread or put it on toast with some tomato if you feel fancy.

I'm not sure how to instruct on guac, but I will say that peeling an avocado is a learned skill, and if yours is super-hard to peel, it's not ripe yet. If your avocado tastes woody, it's overripe. There's a sweet spot, and you can easily circumvent learning any of this by just buying frozen diced avocado and then taking some of that out of the freezer whenever you want guac. This is a much easier solution, unless you just really like fresh avocado.

Past getting the avocado, you just mash it like you're making mashed potatoes. Recommend a fork for this because you're not gonna be making a lot and it'll make it easier to make a paste. Make sure you add in the lime juice before starting, it stops the avocado from browning. Don't add too much unless you really like that lime flavor. Put in your additives once you're done. (I recommend garlic and ground cumin but you can really add whatever spices you feel like.)


A lot of the things I've listed can be made in bulk and frozen for later consumption. This is really important to me, as someone with a number of health problems, because it means I always have something I can just reheat when I'm not feeling so hot within my reach.

I learned these recipes from family or friends, or from my own experimenting.

Small tip: Root vegetables like potatoes and onions can last weeks, if not months, in cool dark areas. You can make a lot of things with potatoes and onions so you should always have some on-hand.

I'm sure a lot of what I've said is pretty basic, but I'm hardcore teaching myself to cook lately so I can have good food but also save money and I figured I'd share a few things that I can reliably make now that aren't going to break the bank.

Feel free to offer your own cooking wisdom.
Aardbei wrote:
Dump your cheap recipes below.

Love this!

I would on a technicality consider any seasonings as ingredients, but.... most things without seasonings are sad... so... I ASSUME they are a given.

One of my fave two-ingredient recipes is: Brussel Sprouts + Bacon.
Fry bacon CWISPY, set aside.
Use some bacon grease to get cozy with the sprouts in a skillet. This can take a while, you might consider halving the sprouts after cleaning. I like charred things.
I also really like to add onions. any kind. Shallots.. Garlic and pepper flakes. stuff like that.




I highly recommend eating grilled cheese with apple butter. When I was a wee babe, I thought everyone did this....
Also, I genuinely love big cabbage too. :-)
Aardbei Topic Starter

Well, I DO have some brussels sprouts in the fridge... So I guess I know what I might try making, next time I've got bacon.
Okay, listen, this isn't anything amazing, buuuut..
But putting ice cream in a cup, and pouring milk in it, and either stirring it by hand or blending it in a blender, you can make a milkshake. :)
PK-Lucas wrote:
Okay, listen, this isn't anything amazing, buuuut..
But putting ice cream in a cup, and pouring milk in it, and either stirring it by hand or blending it in a blender, you can make a milkshake. :)

10/10!
I do this a lot I take a can of peas and mix it with a pack of ramen. It's so good especially if you add the right seasonings. I add the pack of flavoring, Old Bay, Black Pepper, Dan O's, Onion and Garlic Powder, Italian seasoning, and Pasley Flakes. There are usually a few others but I forget the others. But it's usually good, you just have to know how to balance everything out. Give it a shot!

If you have the option where you are you can buy a big box of ramen and a big amount of canned peas. I don't know if that's an option for you but it should make it cheaper. I prefer to use beef ramen but I've never tried it with anything else.

Feel free to experiment with seasonings or portions.
FrostWolf wrote:
I do this a lot I take a can of peas and mix it with a pack of ramen. It's so good especially if you add the right seasonings. I add the pack of flavoring, Old Bay, Black Pepper, Dan O's, Onion and Garlic Powder, Italian seasoning, and Pasley Flakes. There are usually a few others but I forget the others. But it's usually good, you just have to know how to balance everything out. Give it a shot!

If you have the option where you are you can buy a big box of ramen and a big amount of canned peas. I don't know if that's an option for you but it should make it cheaper. I prefer to use beef ramen but I've never tried it with anything else.

Feel free to experiment with seasonings or portions.

I've never done peas! I really like to add corn and eggs if nothing else. I am an expert egg microwaver... I got really good taking eggs to work specifically for ramen.
Claine Moderator

Spam is such an underrated food. It's even cheaper if you get the off brand stuff - and I'm pretty sure they're made in the same factory.

(Reasoning: I'm Australian and products made in America are actually fairly uncommon. But both the real Spam and off brand Spam are made in America so I think it's likely they're coming from the same place)

I make a dish in my rice cooker with brown rice, brown lentils, frozen vegetable mix, curry powder and some fried up spam added when it's all done. It's so good, I've been eating it every day as a work lunch for weeks now.

Eggs are also such a good budget food. Fry up some eggs and bread and whatever else you have lying around in your fridge (ham, cheese, things like that) and make a fried egg sandwich.
Chef here. (Explains Mathius, does it not?)

Egg fried rice is relatively cheap. Soy sauce, white rice, mixed veggies, eggs, and oil.


Stuffed bell peppers

Beer burgers (my recipe)

Mini crab roll sushi


Word to the wise: NEVER EVER underestimate chicken.
Sanne Moderator

When I had like.... literally no money and was living off of 10 bucks a week, congee was a literal lifesaver. When your budget is that tiny even rice is expensive to buy, somehow. But this stretches it really really far.

Congee is essentially a small amount of rice cooked in a lot of water. You don't stop cooking it until the rice breaks apart and the water turns it into a porridge. You can throw literally anything in it. Broth, (frozen) veggies, leftover meat, eggs, it doesn't matter. There's a lot of debate on what the perfect rice-to-water ratio is, but you can start by going for a 1 cup of rice to 7-8 cups of water (or broth). So that's 7-8 cups of broth + the volume of whatever you add. Buy the cheapest stuff you can find on sale and throw it in there. Boom, hot meal.

The technique is simple: add water and (washed) rice to a pot. Put on heat. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down all the way to low. Stir it with a spoon to make sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot, put the lid on and then simmer for at least 30 minutes, up to around 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You'll want the rice to really be falling apart. Add your additional ingredients at the point where they'll be done cooking when the rice will be done.



I also recommend learning how to make your own bread. Yeast can be bought in bulk and kept in the freezer, you just portion out the amount you want to keep on hand in the fridge. Flour should be cheap to find as well. All-purpose will work, you're just looking at a slightly more dense loaf overall compared to bread flour, but both are delicious because homemade bread is delicious. It also means there's not as much preservatives in it, but bread freezes well! Especially sliced. Just pop it in the freezer wrapped airtight in a bag, and let it defrost in a sealed bag. That way it doesn't dry out. Watch this video to learn how to bake delicious yeasted bread. You just need a bread tin, or you can make a boule and bake it on an oven tray.




I also love making veggie wraps. Just a flour tortilla with a sauce of choice and a crapton of chopped fresh veggies, canned beans and/or corn. Buying in-season veggies makes this very cheap.
SPEAKING OF BUDGET EATS:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQGGrzFoybiODbgicKUBebtlgZDklbh81


I really like this content creator. I think she is no longer with Delish, but, she did some super fun videos about making things for a very lean budget in NYC.


https://www.youtube.com/@thank9stars/videos


If you think Aaron sucks let me know, we should be friends.
Sanne wrote:
Congee


Thank you for Congee post, it reminded me to share June!
Not entirely related, but it is food related so I'm going to be horrible and leave this here.

Can't get the image to display so take a link instead.

Actually on subject, I will leave a recipe I have used from another budget eats site, albeit I modify it when I make it.

Chili Cheese Beef n Mac
Arnie is my favorite. Some bean content for you budget eaters!


Arnietex- Terry's Favorite Bean Recipe: No Soak- Slow Cooker
Growing up, my mom used to make what we called "goulash" (which it's anything but) when I was a child and we were exceptionally broke.

She mixed in canned veggies (usually corn and green beans), olives, spaghetti sauce (canned when we were kids), rice to cook in the sauce, and cooked hamburger. The ratios were basically "whatever we had on hand." lol

Sometimes I still make it just because nostalgia.
Caelianna wrote:
Growing up, my mom used to make what we called "goulash" (which it's anything but) when I was a child and we were exceptionally broke.

She mixed in canned veggies (usually corn and green beans), olives, spaghetti sauce (canned when we were kids), rice to cook in the sauce, and cooked hamburger. The rations were basically "whatever we had on hand." lol

Sometimes I still make it just because nostalgia.

Oh, I love learning about personal goulash recipes!
My mom made one that was like hamburger meat, stew tomatoes, kidney beans, onion. Like some kind of chili -mac soup?

It sounds so boring from memory. But, gosh that was good on a cold day.
Oh man, so I've been budgeting lately and going from a family of like 10 to a family of 6-8 to a family of 4 and then back to a family of 8 but sometimes with guests making it a house of 12 was... Interesting. 😂 If you keep yourselves in condiments and seasonings it gets up to like.... Over 600$ for food a month, in theory, but I know actually there are days where it's like 'Uhhh we're eating mashed potatoes and beansoup for dinner' and the kids eat the potatoes, whine their way through a bite of beans, and go to sleep content. So I have to confront my desire to make them eat multiple of what I consider 'square meals' a day, as someone who grew up halfway vegetarian but always with protein (hi beans, peanut butter!). And it's tough trying to make sure people get balanced food without being picky or going over budget. I also didn't grow up snacking a lot so I'm working on that too. 🤔 Crackers and fruit or a cream cheese spread seem like a good option if you're into that. :D

But for really good budget meals, eating leftovers is good, or freezing food, if you like.... But making it in bulk is what I meant. Like, 8$ chicken thighs and 2$ flour, 3$ onions and 3$ rice. If you can afford a few cans or bags of green beans, or broccoli, you have chicken and gravy over rice and some green vegetables too. You'll have leftovers of some ingredients. It'll last for two dinners or maybe a dinner and a lunch, depending how many people you're feeding and how much you ration... And if you mix it. 😂 Dispersion of a small amount of meat through a large amount of carbs is a good idea for people who serve themselves and aren't good at rationing. Obviously it's not the healthiest choice to just eat a lot less of something, but when you don't have anything else.... You know.

Spaghetti is great!

And yeah, for chicken, if you learn how to cook it and separate it from the bones efficiently, it saves on money to take the time and do it. A 10$ bag of 10LBs of chicken quarters ends up, by the time you get past water weight and bone weight, being around 6 or 7LBs of meat. If you feed 12-14 people around ½LB of meat each, it's quite a reasonably healthy dinner option.... :D and also makes an incredible broth!!! I'm told bone meal is delicious and nutritious, but we never had a mill that could make reliable amounts at once.
I recently made lists of all the food I know how to cook in various categories. Chicken pot pie (flour, butter/margarine, and salt makes a great crust, if I recall correctly), and you can add thawed frozen vegetables, cooked meat, seasonings, and a handful or two of flour within the lining crust, and bake it until golden brown and bubbly. Crustless quiche (eggs and, again, frozen vegetables), stir fried rice (veg or meat or egg or sauce with the rice), pasta salad (roasting fresh or frozen vegetables like broccoli and tomato is great if you have an oven, a pan, and a little oil), lots of soups, and congee totally got us through a few tough times too!!!!, and also prioritizing using the leftovers. Food waste is terrible and always feels so sad. I think dumplings are a good way to use leftovers up - all purpose flour and water and salt makes perfectly edible wrappers, according to the internet - but there are tons of other things to cook or repurpose leftovers into.
Walmart has great bulk egg options here in the States ( remember when they were soooo expensive?) and that's good protein for days if you get the 10$(?) 5doz box. Obviously some can't afford to budget bulk, even if it saves money over time - 20LBs of rice is 10 or 15$ some people don't have for the week - but it's good to spend time researching and plotting meals, if you have that time. It helps if you love cooking and can get excited about it. Make it like a game. I remember my dad coming back with lots of groceries and being so proud of his budgeting skills. :d

As an aside, some of my family gets pizza at their house as a treat every couple weeks, and it apparently helps to have the Papa John's app because you get points for every pizza you buy. Then you can use those for free pizza. But uh, not sure if that belongs here. XD


Thanks for the recipe ideas!<3
Remember, making a meal look nice can help in some circumstances too. If you're bored of scrambled eggs and rice every day, a pretty boiled egg instead can make all the difference :D
Aardbei Topic Starter

Whoa I'm surprised this thread got so much traction HEH.

Thanks for letting me steal your cheap cooking recipes fam. >:)

I've learned to make that suddenly salad pasta salad from basically scratch. Or at least, without buying the powder. It took so much mayonnaise that it ended up being cheaper to just buy the powder though...

An actual cheap pasta salad is made with just vinegar and olive oil, whatever veg you have on hand, and whatever pasta you have on hand. Bacon bits can be added for the posh. It's not the powdered stuff I like but it's pretty good.

I've also learned to make salad dressing that approximates catalina, and it is actually cheaper than just buying it because I always have ketchup and sugar on hand anyway. Actually, it turns out you can make a lot of things with ketchup, sugar, and vinegar with varying ratios. You can make salad dressing if you add olive oil and some italian spice blend, you can make sweet & sour sauce for stir fry by adding soy sauce and corn starch, and you can make a pickling brine by replacing the ketchup with beet juice.

I was not aware sugar and vinegar were such powerful ingredients, but they make everything taste so much better. I use apple cider vinegar because I like the taste more and appreciate the fruity flavor but that might not be everybody's thing.
Aardbei wrote:
Actually, it turns out you can make a lot of things with ketchup, sugar, and vinegar with varying ratios. You can make salad dressing if you add olive oil and some italian spice blend, you can make sweet & sour sauce for stir fry by adding soy sauce and corn starch, and you can make a pickling brine by replacing the ketchup with beet juice.

I was not aware sugar and vinegar were such powerful ingredients, but they make everything taste so much better. I use apple cider vinegar because I like the taste more and appreciate the fruity flavor but that might not be everybody's thing.


Honestly yesss! I love this ratios talk. Very relevant, IMO.
It's netflix, I KNOW...... but, if you have not seen this, I recommend!

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