If there’s one thing I know to be certain, though, it’s that delicious food does not have to break the bank. A good meal is one of life’s simplest pleasures, and I believe that being on a budget does not have to be at odds with eating well. These economical dishes from our Recipe Finder feature canned foods, pantry essentials, in-season produce and cost-effective sources of protein to keep grocery bills down.
One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice, above. Not only is this meal wallet-friendly, but it also requires only one pot. The dish gets a kick from Cajun or Creole seasoning, but cooking the rice with milk mellows the flavors. Top with scallions for an extra bit of brightness.
Fried Hoisin Tofu With Peanut Noodles. Tofu may be intimidating to those who haven’t cooked with it before, but it’s a versatile and inexpensive component of many satisfying meals. Here, it gets marinated and then fried, resulting in crispy goodness. Drizzled with hoisin sauce and served with warm peanut noodles, it’s a flavorful delight.
Spanish Eggs and Potatoes. This take on Spanish tortilla is a solution for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mainly composed of onion, potatoes and eggs, the ingredients are thrifty and few. Serve it warm with a bit of herby mayo, or enjoy leftovers at room temperature.
Simplest Lentil Curry. Lentils are an excellent low-cost protein source, and they’re the star in this simple curry. Canned tomatoes and frozen peas also help pinch pennies here. Serve with brown or white rice for a wholesome dinner.
Mushroom, White Bean and Rice Skillet. This creamy, umami-rich main tastes like a luxurious treat but costs less than you might think. The recipe utilizes not one, not two, but three canned items — mushrooms, white beans and cream of mushroom soup — and is proof that you can save money and boost flavor at the same time.
Mediterranean Tuna Panini. Upgrade your tuna sandwich with ingredients you may already have in your pantry and fridge. Canned tuna, feta, artichokes, red onion, olives, capers and a squeeze of lemon come together as a bright and briny filling in this Mediterranean-inspired panini.
Linguine With Butternut Squash, Garlic and Olive Oil. Aglio e olio is Italian pasta at its most refined. Along with the traditional olive oil, garlic and pepper, this version features grated butternut squash that adds a hint of earthy sweetness to every bite.
Polenta With Chickpeas and Tomatoes. Corn products such as polenta and grits transform into ultra-comforting meals at just pennies per serving. Featuring canned chickpeas and tomatoes, this recipe is a love letter to basic pantry ingredients.
Cuban Beans and Rice. Few things go together better than beans and rice. They also happen to be the keys to a hearty, thrifty meal. This Cuban dish involves spices, veggies and bacon, but the latter can be omitted to keep this vegetarian and reduce costs.