I have no idea how this was not posted yesterday, but it was not and here we are today. I have for you 5 simple meal ideas. I know we’re not all able to prep for hours on end or spend money on elaborate ingredients. Most of the time I try to keep my recipe ideas inexpensive and “easy”. Today I have a few suggestions where you can dress them up if you want, but when you’re in a rush and the weeknights are getting away from you, they’ll do the trick.
This can also be soup and potatoes (or 1 baked potato). The basic idea is you take a serving of soup and you pour it over cooked rice. Now I’ve seen soup cans on sale for as low as 88 cents! Let’s just call most soup between $1 and $1.50 though. Personally I bought 2 cans of all natural vegetable soup for just over $1 each on my grocery trip. For the rice aspect of things, anything will work. I know there are bags of ready rice for around $1 and in my area the Lipton/Knorr rice sides go on sale 10 for $10 all the time. My own take is using brown rice, which I buy in a bulk jar. In the past I’ve figured out how many servings I get from it and my price averages out to less than $1 per serving. If you’re following along on this math this means rice + soup = less than $2 a serving. Grab a bag of rice for $1 and a can of soup for $1, you’re looking at maybe 5 minutes of cooking time and at least 2 meals for your $2. Winning, right?? Of course you can buy fancier rice and make your own soup, but we’re looking for simple solutions today. Also a box or bag of instant potatoes or a baked potato in the microwave make a great base for those who don’t like rice. I think the “meaty” soups taste better on a base of potato versus rice anyway.
- Spaghetti (with or without meatballs)
An age old classic I think so many people forget about time and time again. Boxed pasta is always going on sale around here for $1 as are the jars of sauce. If you like jars of sauce and white pasta you can easily have 4-6 servings for your $2 total. EASILY. Now for those that need a little more from it, here are my suggestions. For the pasta, I have found whole wheat with plenty of fiber for as low as $1.50 on sale. Once I bought some made of spinach and it was $4 total. Still not bad IMHO for the amount of servings one can get from a box/bag of pasta! For the sauce some of the fancier brands will go on sale too, just not as often. You can probably snag them for around $2 a jar. Don’t forget pasta sauce can be frozen. As soon as you use what you need, dump the rest into a freezer safe container and store if for next time. My little tricks of the trade also include tossing in fresh diced green pepper (very reasonably priced when in season), using some McCormick spices to liven up the sauce, or tossing in some mini meatballs. I’ve found a brand where I can buy a bag on sale for $6 or $7 and I get at least 3 servings from it. In the end minimum cost is about $2 total = about 50 cents per serving or for fancier tastes up to $13 total and a little over $4 a serving, which again I find VERY reasonable!
May I even suggest enjoying breakfast at “non-traditional” times of the day too? In our busy world so many people don’t stop for breakfast, I think it’s a shame not to enjoy some of the different options. Plus a lot of these are the easiest things in the world to prepare after a long day at the office, or a strong workout, or simply because your favorite show is on and you can’t miss a moment of the finale!
Depending on what cereal you buy I’d say you can snag a box/bag for $1, but let’s be honest the stuff is pricey and it’ll probably run you closer to $4. Milk is more expensive in some areas than others, in my neck of the woods I’d say a quart is about $2.50. Fruit is anywhere from like 40 cents a serving up to $2 depending on what you buy. I stick with bananas and apples myself. It is a little hard to estimate properly, but I’d say if you buy enough fruit for the week the cereal and and milk should last as long (not that I’m saying to eat it every day, but you can). At those prices we’re looking at around $10-12 total and a per serving cost of $3 or less.
I’m letting you in on one of my all time best kept secrets, so shhhh and feel special. I love warm food and I love eggs. Often I’ll beat a few in a coffee mug or soup bowl and toss them in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds. Out pop steamy delicious scrambled eggs! Toss a bag of frozen veggies into the microwave and about 2-3 minutes later out they come too. Mix the two together and now we have ourselves quite the meal. I buy my eggs a half dozen at a time for around $1, the veggies I buy when they’re on sale for anywhere from $1 to $1.50 each. Depending on how many eggs you use this is easily less than $2 a serving.
This is probably the most complex of all the meal ideas I am suggesting today. It is also the one I use the most. I always have a tub of oats on hand (do you see the size of that thing) and I always have a tub of Chobani on hand too (I go through one of those every week). For me it is so easy to make a bowl of oatmeal and stir in a heaping serving of yogurt. It makes it so creamy and so tasty. I’m always finding new ways to serve it. In the picture I suggest an apple with some cinnamon for a traditional combination. In the past I’ve also used blueberry or cherry preserves, and lately it’s been good with some brown sugar and chocolate chips. The last isn’t very healthy! Ha. OK price break down. We already established fruit is about $1 a piece. The oatmeal in one of those BIG cylinders is around $6, the smaller versions will run you about $2. Chobani in that size costs me anywhere from $5 – $6. Total for all ingredients (4 servings estimated) $12-16, breaking it down to $3-4 a serving.
Final Thoughts: I do understand some of my suggestions are not feasible depending on dietary needs or location. I also see how some of them involve a larger chunk of money upfront before breaking down into serving portions. These are just my suggestions and ideas though, feel free to leave comments with your own or ideas on how to upgrade those I posted. Have a great weekend and remember, eating at home doesn’t have to be labor intensive. Maybe one week I’ll do at home swap-outs for fast food?
Also. Any images you see are simply items I happen to have in my house at the moment. I am not working with any of the brands featured, all opinions and suggestions are my own.