"It's Cheap, Has Plenty Of Protein, And Is Very Filling": People Are Sharing Their Favorite "Poor Man's Meal"

With grocery store prices skyrocketing in recent years, it's harder than ever to eat on a budget.

A woman looking at the brea aisle in a grocery store
Sdi Productions / Getty Images

Well, Reddit user u/bwi1s recently posed the question, "What is your go-to 'poor man’s meal?'" And there were lots of great suggestions! Here are some of the top-voted responses:

We also included responses from here and here.

1."Throwing leftover anything inside a warmed-up flour tortilla. Now, it’s a burrito."


"I once used BBQ leftovers to make pan-fried brisket and mac 'n' cheese quesadillas on the fly, and now it’s a frequently requested dish in our house."


2."Mujadara! It’s literally just crispy fried onions, lentils, and rice, but it’s so damn good! You can keep it simple if you want, but I really like it with some spices like ras el hanout, cumin, and cinnamon. I made a big batch a few days ago and froze most of it in single servings. It’s also a really delicious filling for stuffed flatbread, which I also make in large batches and then freeze."


3."Fajitas! Get a whole chicken and roast it. Use the dark meat for your fajitas and save the white meat for sandwiches or salad. Bell peppers, onions, and tortillas are pretty cheap. I also like using rice instead of tortillas. Just make sure you get some good fajita seasoning — it will last you a long time."

A skillet of fajitas
Rudisill / Getty Images

4."One I love making is shepherd’s pie (but I think it’s technically cottage pie when you use ground beef). You cook the beef and onions in the same pot, turn it into a bit of a stew/gravy by adding tomato paste, beef broth, and flour. Add salt and pepper, rosemary, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce for flavor, add frozen peas and carrots. Put it all in a casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes, and bake. Always creates a lot of servings, super comforting, inexpensive, and tastes better the next day."


5."A packet of Maruchan noodles, sesame oil, an egg, a couple Kraft singles, some crushed red pepper, with chopped green onion and sesame seeds on top. I always have mine with saltine crackers as well. Peak poverty food that I continue to enjoy regardless of my tax bracket."


6."Spaghetti carbonara. A pound of spaghetti, a half-pound of bacon, half an onion, four egg yolks, pepper, salt, and some Parmesan cheese with parsley for a garnish. Feeds a hungry group nicely. It takes a bit of work to get the egg to coat without cooking, but it's worth the try."

spaghetti carbonara
Lauripatterson / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7."My go-to in college was stir fry. Chicken thighs, rotisserie chicken, or ground beef. Add whatever veggie your family will eat and make a cheap sauce with soy, cornstarch, and a little sugar. Find recipes using rotisserie chicken, especially great if you have a Costco membership. Buy several and pull the meat off the bone before they get cold. Freeze, and you always have cooked chicken ready for a recipe. Works great in casseroles, Mexican food, or soup."


8."Chicken tortilla soup. Dump in one big can of kidney beans, one small can of black beans, one small can of corn, one large can of petite diced tomatoes, two packs of taco seasoning, four or five boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and chicken broth. Cook all day in the crockpot on low. Shred chicken when done and return to crockpot. We eat it for two days with tortilla chips and cheese. We are a family of four."

"You can also use a precooked chicken from Sam’s/Walmart and speed up the cooking time. You can always add more of the veggies to make more servings."


9."Roasts on sale can be great for large batches of stews. With leftovers, I’ve put them into empanadas and have baked or fried them for a different meal with the same ingredients."

Margouillatphotos / Getty Images/iStockphoto

10."Try cooking chicken/pork adobo. It’s a really easy Filipino recipe that requires only a few ingredients. This saved my ass in college whenever I felt like my monthly budget was starting to run dry. Some chicken/pork, soy sauce, vinegar, water, oil, garlic, onion, and peppercorn. Optional but wonderful: laurel or bay leaf, chicken/pork broth or bouillon cube, and potato. There are lots of recipes online and different variations. Pair it with rice, and you’re bound to be really full!"


11."I've been known to make what we call dirty mashed potatoes. Brown up some hamburger meat, crumble it up small, with some onions if ya have 'em, add salt and pepper or whatever spices you enjoy. Then, mix the meat in with some mashed potatoes, either instant or real, depending what you have on hand. The offspring love it and eat that up."


12."Fried rice. You can use everything you have left in the fridge."

Fried rice

13."Sausage and sauerkraut. (Yes, my family is German). It's cheap, has plenty of protein, is very filling, and lasts quite a while. The trick to the sauerkraut is to rinse it well in cold water first, drain it, and cook it with the sausage. Start with around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar and a liberal dose of vinegar. I use red wine vinegar, but any type except balsamic should work. Also add a healthy amount of caraway seeds. Add a cup or so of water to the pot, stir, and let it cook on low heat for 30–45 minutes, stirring occasionally."

"Near the end of that, taste test the kraut. If it's too bitter, add some more sugar. If it's too sweet, add more vinegar. What you're going for is a balanced sweet-sour taste."


14."A peanut butter sandwich with banana mixed in."


"Add some honey for a chef's kiss."


15."When I was a kid in a family of nine, we had an oatmeal dinner once a week. It was served with brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk. I loved it, and I'm sure it helped with the family budget. I'm sure there are other things that can be added to make it healthier, too. Nowadays, I add toasted nuts and maple syrup. Honey and dried fruit are other good options. Just try to buy on sale when you can."

Arx0nt / Getty Images

16."Black bean soup with smoked sausage is in my crockpot right now. Pound of beans, six cups of broth, pound of smoked sausage, one tablespoon chili powder, one teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder is the base. I then like to add canned tomatoes, then whatever fresh or canned veggie I have on hand. After all day on low, put it over rice and add a lot of hot sauce. It makes a ton, and I love it."


17."Chili is great and filling. Really anything with beans or lentils. Vegetarian meals are generally cheaper since meat can be expensive."


18."Beans on toast. Beans and sausage on toast if I'm feeling flush."

Beans on toast

19."Thai-style basil pork is basically just a stir fry of ground pork, basil, and some peppers and sauces. Ground pork is probably the cheapest meat protein."


20."Cauliflower can be added to pretty much any kind of dish to bulk it out. For example, with any recipe with ground meat, you can add riced cauliflower to stretch it out, and you will barely notice it if cooked right."


21.And finally, "Grilled cheese and tomato soup is my fucking jam."

Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Bhofack2 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

What's your favorite meal to make on a budget? LMK in the comments below!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.