Simple Meals You Can Prepare for Under $10

foodWith food prices going up, finding frugal dishes that fill your family is more important than ever.

We asked members of the Mothering community to share their best meal ideas that could be cooked for less than $10 and feed a family of four or more.

Of course, prices are different everywhere so these meals may cost more or less depending on where you are and what kinds of ingredients you prefer.


Curried Coconut Chickpea Stew

shared by avismama24
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can coconut milk
In a crock pot combine the diced onion, garlic, sweet potato, and rinsed chickpeas. Add 3 cups of water, brown rice, seasonings and stir well. Cover and simmer on low for 6 to 8 hours. 15 minutes prior to serving stir in the can of coconut milk and let it all mix together. The milk adds a delicious dairy-free creaminess to the stew that makes it very satisfying while being totally vegan to boot! Mmmm

Minestronesque Bean Soup

submitted by leilasmama
  • about 1 Tbs olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • celery stick
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomato
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin beans
  • 1 carrot
  • handful of green beans
  • small potato
  • (+/- any other veg you’ve got around)
  • about a cup of pasta – I prefer small sized like macaroni but any will do
  • *various herbs/spices
  • salt & pepper to taste
Dice all veg. Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add onion & cook til translucent (5-10 min). Add celery, cook a few minutes more. Add tin tomato, stock, then beans & all veg. Cook til veg done – usually 10-15 min will be sufficient. Add any herbs/spices at end of cooking. Sometimes I do oregano, for a more minestrone flavour. Fresh basil can be nice in the summer if you’re growing it. Lately I’ve been adding some smoky paprika which is very yummy. You can play around! I prefer to cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls of soup because if you’ve got any leftover the pasta gets all swollen & flabby in the soup if stored in the fridge.

Homemade Lentil Soup

submitted by sativarainl
  • 1 1/2 cup of lentils
  • 1 container (4 cups) of chicken broth
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large handful of spinach
Dice veggies, add lentils and stock. Cook over low heat for at least an hour or two so the soup has time to thicken. Add spinach the last 5 minutes. Totally yummy and nourishing.

Yummy Pie

submitted by thursday girl
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • bag mixed frozen veggies
  • can tomato sauce
  • half bag frozen spinach or handful or two of fresh
  • bisquick mix (not sure how much just one batch of biscuits would be, you could also make them homemade but then it wouldn’t be a quick meal and this is always a last minute meal for me))
  • salt and pepper
  • onion
cook meat in skillet (use one that can transfer to the oven, I use cast iron). part way through cooking add onion. drain. add veggies, tomato sauce, salt and pepper.continue cooking in skillet. meanwhile, mix together one batch of biscuits, cut in fun shapes and then place biscuits on top of food. toss it all in the oven at 350 and cook until biscuits are done.

Chicken Soup

submitted by elus0814
Ingredients for Soup
  • whole chicken
  • onion, carrots, celery
  • spices and a handful of rice to toss in
Ingredients for Rolls
  • whole wheat flour
  • dry yeast
  • milk or water
  • salt
I just make a stock from the chicken, spices, salt, and leftover bits of vegetables and keep in the freezer. Then I strain it, add the chopped up chicken back in, add the diced fresh veggies, add a handful of brown rice (other grains work too), and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the rice and veggies are done. Add in the rolls if you like.

Macaroni and Diced Tomatoes

submitted by nettster
  • elbow macaroni
  • tomatoes (you can used canned if you want or use fresh and dice your self)
  • tomato juice (optional – I use if i don’t have much liquid when i make it)
Cook macaroni, drain add tomatoes and juice VIOLA! You can also add cheese if you want. The amount is adjustable and you can add whatever you want for extras in it.:) I add some basil to it on occasion.

Greens and Beans

submitted by khensberry
  • onion
  • garlic
  • olive or coconut oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • pepper and salt
  • greens (fresh kale, spinach, or collards)
  • 1.5-2 cups garbanzo beans
  • Extra: sweet potato, eggs, brown rice and/or quinoa
Saute some onion and garlic in olive or coconut oil. Add some red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt.
Add greens (chopped fresh kale, spinach, or collards). Cook until wilted. Add 1.5-2 cups garbanzo beans, heat thoroughly. (I make my own from dry beans, but you could use canned if you wanted – 1 can’s worth.) Serve with a sweet potato, fried egg (over medium for a nice runny yolk), brown rice, or quinoa. Simple and surprisingly tasty and filling! I actually like it served over the sweet potato and topped with the egg 🙂

Pigeon Peas and Rice

submitted caiesmommy
  • 1 can of pigeon peas or kidney beans
  • 3 cups of rice
  • 1 small onion diced
  • small knob of ginger grated
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • dried thyme (to taste. I use 2 tsps)
  • dash of Jamaican seasoning
  • 1 hot pepper (if you like spice)
Rinse the peas. Pour the coconut milk into a measuring cup. Add enough water to measure out 6 cups of water. Saute onions garlic ginger thyme and Jamaican seasoning. When onions start smelling add rice and mix. Stir in beans and coconut milk/water mixture. Bring to a boil and then simmer until water is evaporated. Stirring occasionally. Gluten-free and vegan.

Red Lentil Coconut Soup

submitted caiesmommy
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 knob of ginger diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 or 2 carrots diced depending on size
  • curry powder and coriander to taste
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 can of coconut milk
Saute onion,garlic,ginger and carrots. Add spices. When veggies get tender Add red lentils and stir. Then add water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft. Add coconut milk and blend with immersion blender and heat back through. Gluten-free and vegan.

Black Bean Soup with Masa Dumplings

submitted caiesmommy
Ingredients for Soup
  • 1.5 cups of dried black beans soaked over night
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • garlic diced to taste
  • chili powder to taste
  • Spoonful of tomato paste
Ingredients for Dumplings
  • 1 cup masa flour
  • 1 egg or egg replacer
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Bring the soaked beans to a boil with 3 cups of water when almost cooked add onion,garlic,celery and chili pepper. Cook until veg is tender. Add tomato paste. Add one more cup of water. Bring soup to boil. Mix together the dumpling ingredients and add enough water to make it into a playdough texture. Drop the dumplings in and simmer on low-med until cooked. Add frozen corn into bowls and pour soup over. Top with diced avocado,black olives,diced tomatoes,salsa,guacamole,cilantro…Whatever you have on hand or is on sale cheap. Gluten-free and can be vegan.

Potato Chickpea Curry

submitted caiesmommy
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • knob of ginger minced
  • garam masala and coriander to taste
  • 2 large potatoes partially boiled and cubed (great use for leftover boiled potatoes)
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 Can of coconut milk
Saute onion,garlic and ginger until translucent. Add spices. Add potatoes and chickpeas and coat with spices. Add Canned tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer until potatoes and onions are cooked though. Serve on top of cooked rice. Gluten-free and vegan.

Winter Rice Breakfast

submitted by dharma feast
  • 4 cups of cooked short grain brown rice (about 2 cups dry)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped nuts and seeds (a combination is best of sunflower, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom – or to taste.  This spice really sets this dish apart from other hot breakfast cereals.  Don’t omit it, but if you are timid, start with a smaller amount.
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 apple – unpeeled, cored, and cubed
  • 1 pear – unpeeled, cored, and cubed
Make sure rice is still hot from cooking or reheated gently in a pan with a bit of water. Roast nuts is a dry skillet until they begin to turn dark, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.Heat olive oil in skillet. Add raisins and stir until coated. Add cinnamon, cardamom, and salt.  Stir to mix well. Saute at medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30-60 seconds until raisins start to expand. Add apples and pears and saute, covered, for 3 minutes. Put cooked rice, roasted nuts, and fruit mixture into a large bowl and mix well. If you have coconut milk on hand, a couple of tablespoons in each serving adds to the flavor and creaminess.

Rice and Beans

submitted by treece
  • 1 cup brown rice (cooked in the liquid from the corn, if you use canned)
  • I can (or cup) black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • I can (or cup frozen/fresh) corn
  • I can (or whole) tomato, skinned and diced
  • I envelop (or equivalent) taco seasoning.
I cook the rice in a rice cooker with the seasoning and the corn juice (sometimes I use water, depends on my mood lol).I then put everything into an appropriate sized pot or pan and cook. Sometimes I add ground beef, but this is great as is, and my picky kid eats it 🙂 You can also sprinkle cheese onto the individual servings or sprinkle with salsa. Sometimes I add salsa, esp if I have only a little. It’s my go to Mexi-dish.

Caribou (tuktu) Stew

submitted by mudlark
I live in rural, remote northern Canada in Iqaluit, Nunavut – your grocery prices make me gasp, the basic ingredients are very affordable. Our food is so much more expensive, even by bulk sealift. To find out more about food insecurity in Canada’s northern communities check out Here are some inexpensive family meals that are good for warming up after playing outside in the snow. 
  • 1lb caribou meat from a local hunter or friend (you can substitute other meats)
  • two medium onions
  • two garlic cloves
  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar or wine
  • bay leaves
  • 1.5 L homemade stock (from bones, veggies, etc.) or stock cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • three big carrots
  • three long celery stalks
  • four large potatoes
Heat a large skillet or stew pot to medium heat, add oil and diced garlic and diced onions. cook on medium until soft and a bit browned. add diced meat, brown well.  add wine or vinegar, stock, bay leaves and salt & pepper to taste. simmer on low/medium low for 2-3 hours til meat is quite tender. add water as needed if it gets too dry. this stew base can now be saved and stretched with more stock or water on other days. to complete the stew, peel and coarsely chop the carrots, celery and potatoes. add to pot on stove top and cook on medium until veggies are cooked through. Or, if you are using an oven safe pot, put the whole thing in the over on 375 for 30 min. Serves many. Gluten-free.

French Creamy Vegetable Soup

submitted mudlark
  • whatever veggies you have in the fridge that need attention (leeks, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, are all great, but try what you have)
  • 1 L homemade stock (from bones, veggies, etc. ) or stock cubes
  • one onion
  • garlic cloves
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup cream or whole milk, could substitute almond or coconut milk
  • olive oil
Heat up a big pot to medium heat, add olive oil and diced garlic and onion. Saute til browned. Add about 6 cups of coarsely chopped veggies and saute til they are softened and a bit browned. add stock liquid and remove from heat. using an extra bowl, run the mixture through a blender or food processor. return mixture to the pot and add your dairy (milk, cream, coconut, whatever). Salt & pepper to taste. Gluten-free.

Split Pea Soup

submitted by chiromama01
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb split peas
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 ham bone
Sauté celery and onion in a little butter or olive oil until softened. Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. This is yummy and oh so filling

Turkey Vegetable Wraps

submitted by organicmommato2
  • (1) lb Ground Turkey or Chicken (we get cage free/hormone free/vegetarian diet fed)
  • (1) 16 oz bag Frozen Organic Veggies (mix with corn, carrots, peas)
  • (1) Box Cous Cous (plain or herb flavored) or 1 box Brown Rice & Quinoa Medley
  • (1) Cup Organic Cheddar Cheese
  • Organic Whole Wheat Tortillas
1.) Shred 1 cup cheese and put aside.
2.) Start cous cous or rice medley in saucepan and allow to simmer according to package directions while preparing the rest of recipe (usually about 20 minutes).
3.) Cook ground turkey in pan until brown.
4.) Meanwhile boil frozen vegetables in water until thoroughly warmed.
5.) Mix together vegetables, cooked cous cous or rice medley, and ground turkey in pan.
6.) Sprinkle shredded cheese over top of mixture and cover with lid for approximately 5 minutes.
7.) Serve mixture on wrap and enjoy!
I also have a lot of other organic, healthy recipes on my blog

Barley & Wild Rice Soup

submitted by wildmonkeys
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 12 ounces white mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 package long grain and wild rice
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 1 large sweet potato – cubed
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
Prepare rice. Heat oil, add mushrooms, onion & garlic. Cook stirring for 8 minutes. Add the water, barley and wild rice and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add last 4 ingredients and cook for 35 minutes. This is vegan, about $5 and can be made less expensive and probably a bit healthier by using long grain rice that isn’t from a box, but this is just the way I have always done it and it is one of my “fast food meals.”

Pasta Fagioli

submitted by wildmonkeys
  • Two Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Two or three cloves of garlic
  • One large can diced tomatoes (Italian seasoned works well, but I usually go with plain to cut down the sodium)
  • One 12 ounce box of small shaped pasta (bow ties, shells, etc. – not elbow macaroni, it doesn’t work)
  • One can of cannelini beans – drained & rinsed
Heat oil and add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and saute for 7 – 10 minutes (until they seem cooked and have released some juices) Add water and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and lower to a simmer and cook until pasta is finished.  If you didn’t use italian seasoned tomatoes – add some pepper and italian seasonings now (I usually add basil & oregano). Add beans and cook until heated. Vegan.

Vegetable Stew

submitted by nightwish
  • one onion
  • bag of frozen vegetables
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs oil
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped parsley – optional
Cook chopped onion and parsley in oil; add 3 cups of water. When the water starts simmering, add vegetables. Cook vegetables thoroughly. In a separate bowl mix 1 cup of cold water, tomato paste and flour; add to the pot. Let it simmer for another 5 min. Season to taste. For a little more you can add a chicken breast cut in cubes or hotdogs.
Image: il-young ko
Originally published Dec 2012

5 thoughts on “Simple Meals You Can Prepare for Under $10”

  1. Black Eyed Peas and Greens
    3 cups black eyed peas (picked over and rinsed)
    a couple slices of bacon
    1 onion, diced
    2+ carrots
    1/2 tsp. celery seed
    1 bayleaf
    12 cups water (or water/stock combo)
    Cut bacon into pieces and cook over med-high heat until fat is mostly rendered in the bottom of a soup pot or dutch oven. Toss in diced onion, saute until translucent. Add chopped garlic (I like a lot, but for your taste, add however much you do in other soup recipes) and cook for about a minute. Add water and other ingredients (leave the carrots whole). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes until peas are tender. Pull out carrots and cut into bite sized pieces.
    At this point I usually throw some collards or kale into the pot and cook it for about another 10-20 minutes, or until greens are tender. Then we serve with cornbread or tortillas… oh, and hot sauce!

  2. I came here for inspiration this evening and cooked the Red Lentil Coconut Soup with chicken stock in place of water and some butternut squash as well as a carrot. It was just enough for three big people and two small so it will be on our dinner list from now on.

  3. Definitely going to have to bookmark this page- that curry soup looks AMAZING. Thanks for all the recipes! I’m quite partial to soup 🙂

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