Cheap Eats – Meal Ideas Under $10

by Debt Destroyer on July 2, 2009

A while ago I wrote about how I blew my grocery budget on a $11 hunk of cheese, I ended that post by asking for some budget friendly recipes.  Only Kristy from Master Your Card took me up, and I’m ever glad she did.

Her chicken dish was fantastic!

Here it is again for those of you who missed out the first time:

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken (reg size is fine)
1 tablespoon of Season-All
Spaghetti noodles
garlic salt

First, you boil the chicken with salt and pepper until they’re just about done. This reduces overall cooking time and keeps the meat tender.

Transfer the chicken to a crock pot and cover with cream of chicken and about half a can of water. Add the Season-All and stir. Let simmer for about 25 minutes (less if you’re cooking on high…just make sure the chicken is completely done).

While the chicken is cooking, boil water for the spaghetti noodles. I’ve found that if you add a cap full of olive oil, it enhances the flavor of the noodles, so I recommend it, but it’s not necessary. Once the noodles are cooked, strain them and put them back in the pan. Add butter and garlic salt to taste.

Put noodles on a plate. Cut up chicken over the noodles. Ladle the cream of chicken sauce over the chicken and noodles.


chicken-spaghetti-cream-dinner-plateI changed it a little (like using a lot more Cream of Chicken soup) and didn’t use a crock-pot, but it still turned out rather tasty.

About the same time I was savoring “MasterYourCard Chicken”, my favorite radio station was doing a series of stories of meals for under $10.

The best part of the series were all the recipes that people left in the comment section, but they are gone now :(

Obviously there are a lot of great meals out there that are cheaper than $10 (here’s a whole site of them for half that price).

And if $5 is too much for you, there are plenty of simple meals that get the job done. My personal favorites are:

  1. Spaghetti & Garlic Toast
  2. Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
  3. Mac & Cheese with Hot dogs

Or my all time favorite meal(no joke)…Hamburger & Rice.

Mix some rice with hamburger, top it with butter, and your good to go.

As you can see whether you spend $800 a year on food or $800 a month, there are many, many, ways to get the best bang for your food buck.

So how about we try this sharing thing again?

What’s your favorite $10 meal, $5 meal, or super simple meal?

I’m getting hungry just thinking about this.

Until next time,


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

kosmo @ The Casual Observer July 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

Here’s a link to my recipe for biscuit pizzas. Hot, tasty, cheap, easy – what a combination.



The Happy Rock July 2, 2009 at 9:07 am

One thing that is missing from a lot of the recipes is vegetables, specifically green veggies. This is were added expense comes in, but it isn’t something that should be sacrificed. It is amazing how much eating healthy effects your overall mood and energy and even outlook for both the boys and us.

Mac n cheese and hot dogs, especially most boxed mac n cheese, is scrapping the bottom of the barrel health wise.

I know my wife is a dietitian, so I am a bit biased because of my wife’s education. But her facts and cooking have translated into a better overall life for me. The difference is night and day compared to how I used to feel.

The biggest change was to drink a ton more water each day. Headaches magically went away, energy comes from nowhere it was truly eye opening.


Debt Destroyer July 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

@ Kosmo – One of the only things I can get my kids to eat is pizza, so I’ll definately be trying your recipe out. Thanks for sharing!

@The Happy Rock – Vegetables…what are vegetables? :)
Luckily my kids do eat carrots, broccoli, apples, bananas, & oranges. But the weirdos usually have these on own their own and not in a meal

I’m surrounded by goofballs I tell you.

In all seriousness though, to help bring down our grocery budget we have sacrificed healthier options.


bethh July 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

– 1 pound pasta in small shapes (I like bowties)
– approx 12 oz fresh spinach, either pre-bagged or (cheaper) from the produce section
– one red bell pepper (or orange or yellow, if they’re cheaper)
– 2 cans chickpeas
– feta cheese, either pre-crumbled or in a block

lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper

1. boil the water & cook the pasta. I set the pasta timer for 6 minutes and check it every minute thereafter to be sure it’s not too soft. You want it a bit firm when you drain it. To make it easy to test it regularly, I recently had the brain wave to set a bowl of water on the stovetop – just drop a piece in, fish it out, and eat it.

2. while the pasta is cooking:
– drain the chickpeas & dump into a big container
– rinse the spinach and add it to the container
– cut up the pepper into pleasing sizes and add it to the container

3. When the pasta is done, drain it, then add it hot to the container of goodies (no need to rinse it)

4. mix 2 T olive oil & 1 T lemon juice in a small bowl or measuring cup. Dump it over the pasta mixture. You can make more if you want it, just keep the 2:1 ratio in mind.

5. stir the feta into the pasta. Eat it. Marvel at your brilliance – all for about 10 bucks and 4-6 servings!


Jonathan@Friends&Money July 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Just goes to show that not all recipes have to be expensive and that you can still produce a highly enjoyable and presentable dish at a good price, without blowing your budget completely.


Hiro July 3, 2009 at 4:16 am

In all seriousness, I personally like some of the fast food chains that offer cheap meals.

Subway & Taco bell for example have some good deals nowadays allowing me to feed 2 under $10


Debt Destroyer July 6, 2009 at 4:00 pm

@ bethh – That sounds good, even though I have no idea what chickpeas are.

@ Jonathan – Yes indeed!

@ Hiro- After reading Fast Food Nation, I didn’t touch fast food for a year. But now as a family we eat it at least twice a month. And if we work together we can feed four for $10.


Dean Rodriguez July 9, 2009 at 7:28 pm
Dean Rodriguez July 9, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Just goes to show that not all recipes have to be expensive and that you can still produce a highly enjoyable and presentable dish at a good price,


Lynda July 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Chickpeas? You probably know them as garbanzo beans. Very useful ingredient for the veggie, the frugal, the foodie…


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