WebMD lists many affordable and easy meals that revolve around cheap protein sources such as ground beef, bone-in chicken and beans. Complement cheap protein dishes with bulk starch sources such as potatoes and rice, and use frozen vegetables and spices to round out the meals. For cheap and easy breakfasts, The Simple Dollar suggests eggs and toast or oatmeal.
Rice is a good ingredient to build a cheap, easy meal around. The Simple Dollar suggests pairing rice with black beans for a Spanish-style meal or with soy sauce and stir-fry vegetables for an Asian-inspired dish. According to WebMD, cheap and nutritious beans can also be used along with ground beef, stewed tomatoes and chili seasoning to make a hearty chili. Just sauté the beef and seasoning, and then let it simmer in a crock-pot with the other ingredients.
WebMD suggests spaghetti with meat or mushroom sauce as another meal requiring only a few cheap ingredients: spaghetti, tomato sauce, and ground beef or mushrooms. To make the dish, simply cook the pasta in a pot of water, heat the tomato sauce in a saucepan, and sauté the beef or mushrooms. Then, strain the pasta, add the beef or mushrooms to the saucepan, and toss the pasta in the sauce.
WebMD also suggests making meatloaf by combining ingredients such as oats, tomatoes and onions with 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, placing the mixture in a loaf pan, and baking for an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cheap filler ingredients stretch the beef into six servings of meatloaf. For a chicken entreé, don’t buy skinless, boneless cuts; instead, de-bone and skin it yourself. Chicken with the bone in and skin on is cheaper. Then, just coat the chicken in barbecue sauce, and grill.