Some of our favourite go-to inexpensive meals are:
Rice, lentils and caramelized onions: http://bedouina.typepad.com/doves_ey...rah_lenti.html
Minestrone soup with breadmaker bread and/or baked beans on toast.
Main ingredients are:
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-4 diced potatoes
Pretty much any vegetables that are on sale or were on the bruised rack or are bits and pieces in the fridge (since you're dicing/chopping you can remove the bruises): zucchini, carrots, eggplant, green or red or orange or yellow peppers, chard, kale, cabbage, peas, green beans, etc.)
Any inexpensive fryable protein (choose from: leftover chicken, ham, pork, beef, ground beef, small amount of bacon, tofu hot dogs (if using those add towards the end), tofu, whatever)
For flavouring we usually add a bit of soy sauce, oregano, salt and pepper, or some beef or chicken stock, but sometimes we use barbeque sauce or sometimes we add a can of/leftover baked beans. You kind of have to taste as you go and know your family's threshold
So you just dice and saute the onions and potatoes in a big pan, add protein and the rest of the veggies (diced or chopped up or whatever is appropriate for that vegetable) at the appropriate times. It comes out like a big mess and is usually yummy.
You can start small with onions, garlic, potatoes, ground beef, peas and carrots.
Or corned beef hash if you want to be traditional.