Ideas for Real Meals on a Budget

Here are some ideas for real meals on a budget

Flickr User: nite dan

Now that you’ve been living on your own, you have probably come to a sad realization: feeding yourself is expensive. You may have wondered why you couldn’t talk your parents into going out to eat more often when you were younger; you probably didn’t realize it was in the name of frugality. Food is a serious budget eater (pun intended), especially for real meals.

Whether in the dorms or living in an apartment, here is a list of real food options that are budget friendly (because eventually eating ramen every night will catch up to you.) Some cheap places to buy food include Aldi, Wal-Mart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s. These ideas are not intended to be your top-of-the-line healthy eating plan, but they are real meals that will save your budget and taste better than microwaving Easy Mac or Ramen everyday.


  • Scrambled Eggs & Toast with butter
  • Oatmeal made with water and maple syrup
  • Pancakes with syrup and butter
  • Omelet with spinach


  • Grilled cheese with carrots sticks, banana, and green beans
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with celery, peanut butter, and a banana
  • Tortilla with refried beans, spinach, salsa, and an apple
  • Tuna sandwich with celery, peanut butter, and carrots


  • Chicken leg with cooked carrots, green beans, and peas
  • Chicken taco with tortilla, salsa, and your choice of bean (black or pinto)
  • Chicken leg with potatoes, spinach, and peas
  • Spaghetti with red sauce and buttered bread
  • Rice and beans with spinach and salsa
  • Soup with leftover chicken, chicken broth, carrots, spinach, and celery

Grocery List:

  • Cheese singles
  • Rice
  • Canned Tuna
  • Bread
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • Celery
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Butter
  • Spaghetti
  • Red Sauce
  • Spinach
  • Apples
  • Eggs
  • Instant Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Maple Syrup
  • Carrots
  • Salsa
  • Bananas
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Tortillas
  • Beans
  • Refried Beans


Every grocery store will be different, but try to aim for some of the cheaper options in your area. Splitting a membership to a discount retailer with your friends or roommates may definitely be worth the initial investment. For this type of menu plan, you should easily be able to obtain all the ingredients for well under $100 and should last you a while!

Now that you are prepared with simple, real recipes to make you can improve your food variety, stick to your budget, and feel overall healthier. A big money sucker when it comes to food is waste. Not only is this harmful for the environment, it is also bad for your wallet. It may not seem like a big deal to toss out something if it was inexpensive, but all that tossing will eventually add up and you will regret it. So eat your food, and enjoy!

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