Best foods for living on a budget

Dec 2, 2019
foods for living on a budget

If you're trying to find some budget food ideas, you've come to the right plus. If you are sticking to a budget to get ahead with your savings goals, then good for you.

There are some amazing budget meals that offer good value, keep your tummy feeling full and the best bit is they taste great too.

In our view, one of the most simple and versatile meals on a budget is the stir fry.

If you've got a few veggies on hand, chop em up and fry in a pan. And some oil and soy sauce and you're on your way to a tasty and healthy meal.

If you're lucky enough to have some chicken thighs (cheaper than legs), cut them up quite small and add to your fry.

Cook some rice and you have a simple yet enjoyable meal - and when you have a large family, you can take the opportunity to fill any teenage boys you have around the home up on rice!

So what are the best foods for living on a budget?


At the most basic starting point of building a meal, look to the staples:

  • Flour
  • Beans such as pinto
  • Long grain rice
  • Russet potatoes (buy bagged in bulk, not loose)
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Any protein can be cheaply bought such as:
  • Bag of bacon ends and pieces
  • Cans of tuna
  • Chicken thighs or leg quarters
  • Fish (look for the supermarket special of the day)

Those ingredients will form the basis of many a meal. If you can source cheap vegetables from a market garden rather than a supermarket, you'll be away laughing.

For example, you can make a baked potato meal:

Take a baked potato, scooped out, mash the middle, mix in a little sour creme (a small tub is .88), some shredded cheddar, and some chopped & cooked broccoli or capsicum (maybe a lil onion and garlic). Add some chopped up and cooked bacon bits. Add the mash back in the potatoes. Boom, you got yummy meal.

Another good base for an easy meal is ground beef and rice. Fry the meat with some onions and garlic. Throw in some mushrooms and other veggies. When nicely done, mix with cooked rice and you've got a filling dish.

Life isn't perfect, and neither is this diet.

It's a short term measure, that can help you save money. It's not intended to be a way of life - your body needs all kinds of vitamins and minerals that you will not necessarily get from eating potatoes and bacon. Bear that in mind and if you are able to, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. One way to keep prices down in that regard is by shopping 'seasonally' that is to say if corn is 'on special', that's what you eat and include in your meals for the week.

If you think your meals could be a bit too bland, then like the Spice Girls sang, it's time to spice up your life!

One way to add a new taste dimension to meals is to follow the Asian cuisine route.

Using soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce and curry pastes and powders that are found in any good Asian supermarket can breathe fresh life into tired meals.

red lentil for cheap daal dish

Cook with lentils to make great daal dishes


It may be cliched, but cooking with lentils (legumes) is a great idea for eating on a budget. Lentils are damn cheap and when cooked well are actually a genuinely tasty meal.

If you want to jazz lentils up a bit, then consider yourself as making a nice Indian daal meal:

Ingredients:
  • Masoor daal which is commonly known red lentils
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • JalapeƱos and or green chilies
  • cumin seeds but of course ground cumin sweet as
  • red chili powder

Here's how you cook the daal:


  • Slice and dice the tomatoes if they need it. 
  • Chop up the jalapenos. 
  • If you're making a meal for one, then fill half to a full cup of lentils. 
  • Add some oil to the hot pan. 
  • Add some cumin. You'll love the smell! 
  • Add the vegetables and then the lentils. Add a ratio of a minimum of two cups of water to one cup of lentils.  
  • Stir your ingredients together and then place the lid over the pan. Leave your dish for 15 - 20 minutes with some brief stirring in between.
  • Don't let it overcook! 

When ready for serving sprinkle with a touch of salt and a little chili powder.

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