Cooking on a Budget – Top 5 Meals Under 20 Bucks


With the economy the way it is, everyone is be coming a tad more budget conscience in as many areas of life as possible, especially with meals and food planning.

Here are 10 great meal ideas- each for $15 or less! ( one disclaimer is that I have a stocked spice cabinet so I did not have to buy any of the spices )

1. Spice Rubbed Roast Chicken with Glazed Baby Carrots and Roasted Potatoes

Serves 8


1 (3 pound) whole chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and remove all fat. Pat dry with paper towels.
Put chicken into a small baking pan. Rub with olive oil. Mix the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, paprika and cayenne pepper together and sprinkle over chicken.
Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Lower the oven to 400 degrees F and continue roasting 40 minutes, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F .

Let cool 10 to 15 minutes and serve.


1 (16 ounce) package baby carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Wash and peel carrots. Cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Cut in slices. Melt butter. Add sugar. Add carrots. Cook until slightly browned and glazed.

Roasted Potatoes:

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the potatoes on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the parsley. Toss the potatoes to coat. Roast in the oven, until golden and crispy on the outside, tender and cooked through on the inside, about 30 minutes.


2. Quick Chili and Cornbread

Serves 5

1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 ounce) can canned diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (1.25 ounce) package chili seasoning mix
1/2 cup of chopped onions
1/2 cup of shredded cheese

Crumble the beef into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until evenly browned and season with salt and pepper . Drain off grease, and mix in the tomatoes, kidney beans and chili seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add: Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, cilantro, and sour cream. Added Cost: about $5.


3.  5 Vegetable Stir Fry

Serves 4

2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup beef or chicken broth/bouillon
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflowerettes
4 teaspoons olive or canola oil, divided
1 cup quartered fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen snow peas
4 cups hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, sugar and ginger. Stir in orange juice, soy sauce and garlic until blended; set aside. In a nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in 3 teaspoons of oil for 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, peas and remaining oil; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Stir orange juice mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened. Serve over rice.


4. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grilled Cheese

2 Slices Bread
1 Slice American Cheese (or other meltable)
1 Tbsp Butter or Margarine

Your favorite brand of tomato soup (heated)

Use a pan (or pancake griddle) that will fit the 2 slices bread. Put on low to med heat. You want to have enough butter to coat the bottom, so the entire bread surface gets crisped. When the butter is melted, put the bread in the pan. Put the cheese down on one slice of bread. Some people like to wait until the bread is cooked, flipping it once, and then putting down the cheese.

Either way, keep checking the bottom of the bread with a spatula so it doesn’t completely burn. When cheese is sufficiently melted, and bread sufficiently toasted flip the piece of bread w/out the cheese onto the other one. Take it out of pan, cut it if desired, and enjoy.


5. Easy Stroganoff

Serves 6

1 (16 ounce) package egg noodles
1 pound lean ground beef
1  packet dry brown gravy mix
4 ounce package cream cheese
1 (6 ounce) can chopped mushrooms, with liquid
1/2 cup milk
4 ounce container sour cream
(10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no pink shows; drain.
Mix brown gravy, cream cheese and mushrooms with hamburger until cream cheese has given the mixture a whitish look. Add milk, sour cream, and mushroom soup to cooked pasta. Blend hamburger mixture with pasta.



One response to “Cooking on a Budget – Top 5 Meals Under 20 Bucks

  1. All the above recipes can feed a family of 4. For me, as its just me, I was able to have a couple of lunches/dinners out of the sitting.

    Another thing I did was freeze half of the leftovers to take out and heat up when I have no time to cook, which is a LOT lately.


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