I think we’ve all had times when money was super tight; when you’ve only got a few dollars after paying all of the bills but you still have to eat somehow. When that happens, the best thing to do is to take stock of what you’ve already got at home, and then use these frugal foods to help fill your stomach until the next payday.
I’m not talking about the expensive flavored instant oatmeal; I’m meaning the weird tubes of oatmeal that you can find in the baking aisle. I tend to get quick oats (because I’m too impatient for steel cut). It makes for a healthy, filling, and cheap breakfast. Just add some cinnamon and sugar or whatever else you have in the house.
Both pasta and rice are very cheap and can be bought and stored in bulk with little fuss. As a bonus, you can put them with just about anything, and they’re both fairly filling as well. The downside is that neither is super nutritious, so don’t make a habit of it!
Eggs are some of the most versatile foods available today and, depending on where you shop and if you’re really big into free range, they’re not too expensive. You can make them into any number of hearty breakfast dishes, and they also pack a ton of nutrition so they’re pretty good for you too.
4. Seasonal fruits and veggies
This might go against common wisdom as fruits and vegetables can be kind of expensive, but if you shop at farmer’s markets and places like Aldi, you can get seasonal fruits and veggies for next to nothing. Bonus, eating seasonally is healthy and fruits and veggies are filled with lots of good things and help with variety!
5. Hot dogs
Okay, I know hot dogs are pretty boring and I’m not even 100% sure what kind of meat goes into them (I’m a little concerned to investigate, honestly) but even the nice hot dogs are pretty inexpensive and can be made a variety of ways including grilling, frying, stuffing with cheese… you name it!
Although potatoes are some of the more expensive things on this menu (where I live, a 5 lb bag will set you back around $4 – $5) hear me out. Potatoes are amazing. They are extremely filling and can be used in a variety of ways including boiling, mashing, frying, made into soup… and as a carrier flavor, they’re good with just about anything. Potatoes, properly prepared, can really stretch any budget. I always make sure to keep potatoes on hand.
7. Chicken thighs
Chicken by itself is a little expensive, but if you buy the less usual cuts (and bone-in) you’ll be able to get more for less money. Remember that you still need some protein on those lean weeks. It doesn’t have to be the biggest portion and doesn’t have to be everyday—but it will be helpful.
8. Breakfast sausage
I absolutely love breakfast sausage; even moreso than regular sausage, although you could use that as well. It’s cheaper than ground hamburger is, but can be used in many of the same ways. Win win!