THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY DISCLOSURES. FOR MORE INFORMATION.
With rent on an ever-rising trajectory, eggs costing about as much as an arm or a leg, and salaries failing to follow the same course, saving money is hot right now. With food on everyone’s essentials list, cutting your grocery costs is one of the surest ways to save a buck.
Even if you’re as financially stable as ever (looking at you, Bezos), these budget-friendly “poverty meals” are delicious enough for your at-home cooking rotation.
1. Elevated Canned Soup
A can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup warms the belly and won’t break your budget, but one improvisational penny-pincher suggested a way to stretch your can of soup beyond its original volume. Adding pasta as a base and even additives like canned tuna elevate canned soup and extend the meal into a heartier, longer-lasting concoction.
2. Cinnamon Sugar Toast
Before they could justify splurging on a Cinnabon, many once-impoverished up-and-comers spread cinnamon and sugar on toast (along with butter). Satisfying your sweet tooth without paying the brand-name upcharge? Priceless.
One wordsmith even referred to this treat as the “poor man’s churro.”
3. Beans and Rice
Black beans, red beans, pinto beans, jelly beans. OK, maybe not jelly beans, but virtually any bean you choose goes perfectly with rice. White rice, yellow rice…you get the point. Few meals are as filling, simple, or dollar-stretching as beans and rice.
As a matter of necessity, many traditional Mexican dishes are also poverty meals. That’s not a knock on anyone—quite the contrary. Mexican cuisine is a testament to a culture’s ability to make the most out of simple, abundant ingredients, and quesadillas are Exhibit A.
Pancakes are a sweet treat that you can enjoy at breakfast or even as dessert. Pancake batter is affordable, and the pancake is a blank slate ready for fruit, syrup, butter, and other accoutrements.
6. Peanut Butter Sandwich
You’ll notice there is no “jelly” after the “butter” in “peanut butter sandwich.” And while you should feel free to add the jelly, you might instead (or also) add banana, Miracle Whip, or a similarly delicious substitute of your liking.
7. Baked Potato (With Extra Butter)
The rare standalone food that can perform admirably as a side dish, main meal, and even a self-contained bowl, a baked potato will never let you down. This is especially true if you liberally apply butter (and bacon), sour cream, chives, and cheddar cheese.
8. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I don’t care if you’re a regular consumer of caviar and truffles. If you can’t enjoy grilled cheese, you’ve lost your humanity.
9. Boxed Mac and Cheese With Hot Dogs
One chef and restauranteur explained that despite tasting and preparing a vast array of dishes, boxed mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs is “one of the finest foods on this planet.” Hard agree.
Tortilla chips and shredded cheese are a delicacy that even the most cash-strapped households can afford. Even once you’ve hit it rich, how can you say no to nachos?
11. Sausage Gravy and Toast
Is it a breakfast you’ll want to eat before running a marathon? No. Are sausage gravy and toast delicious, regardless of whether you’re straddling the poverty line or living in a penthouse? Yes.
12. Homemade Pizza
Whether it is an English muffin with pasta sauce and mozzarella or cracker thins with sliced tomatoes and basil, many homemade pizza creations beat the frozen alternatives in both taste and affordability.
13. Oatmeal With a Twist
When adulthood beats you down with bills, work stresses, and familial hardship, whip up a bowl of oatmeal (with fresh fruit, perhaps) and travel back to your childhood kitchen table. It’s the most affordable time machine you’ll ever buy.
Call your mom or dad and ask for their homemade chili recipe if you can. Most families have one, and you’re obligated to whip up a vat as soon as possible.
When the spaghetti hits your palate just after Caesar salad, that‘s amore.
This thread inspired this post.