12 Budget Friendly Recipes that Cost $1 per Person (2024)

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We’re fast approaching the last week of the month – you know, the one where we have ramen dinners and countdown the days until payday! That last week is tough to say the least, especially when you’re trying to stretch your last few dollars and you’re holding on by a thin thread.

But get this. You can absolutely eat a meal fit for a king even if you’re broke and struggling! Here’s a list of budget friendly recipes that will help you eat well on a small budget!

12 Budget Friendly Recipes that Cost $1 per Person (1)

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Thinking back now, I feel like I was probably born with frugal blood running through my veins because I remember this one time (when I was around 8), racking my brain to think of foods that were cheap in case we were ever hungry and had little money. It’s not like we were struggling financially at the time. It was just me, trying to be prepared – just in case, you know?

Clearly I’m a frugal fanatic at heart – always looking to budget and cut costs.

It is a known fact that ‘food’ is often the biggest component of most US budgets. In fact, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, households spent an average of $7023 in food!

Imagine how much more disposable money you can have if you learn how to reduce this cost!

So whether you’re trying to make ends meet or just want to cut back to save more money, these must-try recipes are delicious, easy and budget-friendly at only $1 per person!

Table of Contents

10 Budget Friendly Recipes that cost $1 per Person

1. Easy Lentil Vegetable Soup

Who says you have to eat junk when you’re strapped for cash? This delish, healthy soup is from MoneywiseMoms. It is packed with proteins and vitamins from the lentils and vegetables AND is an absolute lifesaver when you’re trying to make ends meet.

This soup is made with a handful of ingredients and is without a doubt, a mouthful of flavor!

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2. Pasta with Peas

This yummy pasta dish from Veggie Desserts is an easy 1 pot, 10 minutes dish and is super simple and affordable to make!

It is made with just 6 ingredients (most of which we usually have on hand), making this a must-try when you’re tackling a pantry challenge (a pantry challenge is when you’re trying to save money so you cook using ingredients from your pantry only)!

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3. Crockpot loaded Baked Potato Soup

This loaded baked potato soup from Midlife Healthy Living is hearty, delicious and perfect for busy days. I just love days when you can throw all your ingredients into your crockpot or slow cooker and come home to a hot home-cooked meal at the end of a long day.

This recipe requires very little prep and is easy on your wallet (and great for your tastebuds too)!

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4. Salmon Croquettes

These Salmon Croquettes from Grandbaby Cakes are quick and easy and are a classic southern soul food. This recipe also requires just a few typical ingredients from your pantry and is super affordable to make.

It can be fried or baked and will be a definite crowd pleaser in any home!

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5. Instant Pot Curried Kidney Beans (Rajma Masala)

If you have some kidney beans in your pantry, this is the perfect recipe to whip up! It’s easy and budget friendly and a little goes a long way, especially when paired with rice.

These curried red kidney beans from Indian Ambrosia are cooked in a thick onion-tomato gravy and is vegan, gluten free and full of flavor!

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6. Gluten-Free Pizza Quesadilla

These gluten-free pizza quesadillas (aka ‘pizza dippers’) are quick, easy, low-budget and best of all, versatile! You can swap out any ingredient to suit your needs – substitute vegan cheese to make the recipe dairy free or swap out the pepperoni for mushrooms if you’re a vegetarian.

Grab this recipe from The Helpful Gf.

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7. Herby Garlic Butter Pasta Sauce

This pasta from Inside The Rustic Kitchen is seriously a restaurant quality meal but believe or not, super affordable! It uses fresh herbs (frugal tip: start your own herb garden) and takes just 15 minutes to make from start to finish. How awesome is that?!

This recipe is a must-add to your weeknight meals!

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Related Reads:

How to Save on Groceries – 15 Genius Budget Grocery Shopping Tricks

37 Best Cheap Keto Meals to Save Money and Get Fit

15 Brilliant Money Saving Tips for the Kitchen you’ll Wish you knew Sooner

12 Cheap Breakfast Ideas that Cost $1 per Person

12 Cheap Dinner Ideas that Cost $1 per Person

8. One Pan Chicken and Veggies Bake

This recipe from Low Carb Yum is another great option for busy weeknights! It’s easy, budget friendly and is a one pan dish, making clean up a breeze! This chicken and veggies is packed full of nutrition and is absolutely delicious!

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9. Spanish Vienna Coconut Rice

This Spanish Coconut Rice Recipe from Latina Mom Meals is hearty, filling and delicious! It is also another one pot meal – perfect for weeknights and for busy moms!

This rice dish can be served with other sides, and the best part is that there is often leftovers for the next day!

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10. 5 Minutes Air Fryer Pita Bread Pizza

If you didn’t own an air fryer before, this recipe can convince you to get one!

Seriously, this Air Fryer Pita Bread Pizza from Recipes From A Pantry uses just 3 ingredients but of course you can pick and choose whatever toppings you desire!

They take just 5 minutes to make from start to finish and can even be prepped ahead of time (just cook for an extra 2-3 minutes if you’re cooking from frozen).

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11. One Pot Steak Mac and Cheese

There’s my favorite word again – ‘one pot’ (lol)and this one is a yummy Steak Mac and Cheese from Recipe This.

This dish is cheap, frugal comfort food that is both healthy and flavoursome. This will be a family favorite in no time!

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12. Crispy Tofu Burgers with Rainbow Vegetables

This Crispy Tofu Burger from Shivani Loves Food is a fusion between two meals – tofu stir fry and burgers!

They are quick, nutritious, yummy and budget friendly! These burgers are bursting with flavor and a must-try next time you’re looking for a simple, frugal meal!

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Budget Friendly Recipes Tips

There are SO many budget friendly recipes you can try when you’re making an effort to save money!

Sometimes you just need to do a little research or get your creative juices flowing. When you’re trying to make cheaper meals, here are some great money saving tips to consider:

• Do a Pantry Challenge (Cook meals using only ingredients from your pantry for a set period of time eg. 1 week)

• Swap out certain ingredients for cheaper alternatives that are similar or in season

• Go for cheaper products instead of Name-Brands

• Start a little herb/kitchen garden (to save more money in the long run)

• Use coupons wisely

• Use apps such as Rakuten(Use this link to get $20 when you first Sign Up with Rakuten) to get cash back on products you had planned to buy anyway.

Final Thoughts

Are there any other money saving tips you’d recommend to reduce your food costs? Do you have any favorite budget friendly recipes that you swear by? Share with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for more cheap recipes, frugal living tips and money saving inspiration!

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12 Budget Friendly Recipes that Cost $1 per Person (2024)


How to feed 12 people cheaply? ›


Soups are typically very affordable to make and stretch a long way. Pair with cornbread, french bread, and crackers for a cheap way to fill everyone up! Here are some of our easiest and most affordable soups to make! Toss the soup in a crockpot and set it to warm for the perfect serving vessel.

How do you make $1 a serving meal? ›

Frugal Nutrition: $1 and Under Per Serving
  1. Easy Pork Lettuce Wraps.
  2. Moroccan Carrot Salad.
  3. Cassava Flour Tortillas.
  4. Cast Iron Chicken Thighs.
  5. Best Black Bean Dip.
  6. How to Make Roasted Red Peppers.
  7. Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce.
  8. Simple Sesame Cucumber Salad.

How can I eat $1 dollar a day? ›

Some affordable and healthy staple foods that can be included in a $1-a-day diet are rice, beans, lentils, oats, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. These foods are not only budget-friendly but also provide essential nutrients like fiber, protein, and vitamins.

What to cook for 12 guests? ›

19 Ideas For Easy Meals For Large Groups
  • Taco Bar. A taco bar is one of the best inexpensive meals for large groups. ...
  • Meatballs. ...
  • Butter Chicken. ...
  • Lasagna. ...
  • Chili. ...
  • Homemade Pizza. ...
  • Baked Pasta. ...
  • Skewers.
Apr 4, 2023

What is the cheapest food to feed a crowd? ›

Cheap tricks for the best outdoor cookouts.
  • 1 / 7. Hot Dog Snack Board. ...
  • 2 / 7. No-Cook Dip and Veggie Summer Board. ...
  • 3 / 7. Instant Pot Pulled Porchetta Sandwiches. ...
  • 4 / 7. Chicken Caesar Salad Skewers. ...
  • 5 / 7. Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad. ...
  • 6 / 7. Fish Tacos. ...
  • 7 / 7. Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Crowd.
Apr 19, 2023

What is the cheapest food to survive? ›

Cheapest Foods to Live On:
  • Oatmeal.
  • Eggs.
  • Bread.
  • Rice.
  • Bananas.
  • Beans.
  • Apples.
  • Pasta.

What to make for dinner when you're broke? ›

  • Creamy pasta carbonara. A lovely, creamy version of a well-known favourite.
  • Best Spaghetti and Meatballs. ...
  • Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry. ...
  • Devilled sausages. ...
  • Potato and leek soup. ...
  • Lemon chicken. ...
  • Salt and pepper chicken. ...
  • Chicken and bacon carbonara.

What kind of food can you afford on $1? ›

Basic pantry items: Bread, flour, sugar, leavening, seasonings, coconut oil, olive oil, lard, peanut butter and jam, homemade granola, cornmeal, oats, whole wheat, rice, dried beans, lentils and split peas, several varieties of pasta, pasta sauce, home canned tomatoes, fruits and vegetables.

How do you cook for one person on a budget? ›

Mini casserole-style meals like a layered taco bake, shepherd's pie, chicken and rice, and tater tot casseroles are affordable, filling, and freeze well. Hearty beef and bean chili is one of my favorite meals to batch cook. It reheats beautifully and tastes even better!

How do I make a food budget for one person? ›

If you're wondering how to create a monthly food budget, another tool to use is the 50/30/20 rule. This simple and intuitive grocery budget formula suggests that you spend your net (after-tax) monthly income this way: 50% for living essentials (e.g., groceries, housing, transportation, healthcare, etc.)

How to eat cheap as a single person? ›

Budget meals for one
  1. Dhal with garam masala carrots. ...
  2. Pea & ham pot pie. ...
  3. Super-quick sesame ramen. ...
  4. Baked ginger & spinach sweet potato. ...
  5. Brown butter linguine. ...
  6. Chorizo hummus bowl. ...
  7. Microwave shakshuka. ...
  8. Sardines & tomatoes on toast.

What are cheap meals to make? ›

68 Easy And Cheap Dinner Ideas That You'll Want To Make On Repeat
  • Buffalo Chickpea Wraps. ...
  • 3-Ingredient Teriyaki Chicken. ...
  • Garlic Veggie Rotini Pasta. ...
  • Sweet Potato And Black Bean Burritos. ...
  • Chili Lime Baked Tilapia With Avocado Crema. ...
  • Barbecue Beer Can Chicken. ...
  • Energy-Boosting Buddha Bowl. ...
  • Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto.
May 3, 2024

How much food do you need for 12 guests? ›

Each adult will consume 1 pound of food total; children, about 1/2 pound. The more options you have, the less you need of each; decrease the main course portion sizes by 1 to 2 ounces if served on a buffet. Guests will always eat — and drink — more at night than during the day.

How to feed 10 people for cheap? ›

Grain Salad with Roasted Vegetables + Miso Soup — Another favorite dish for a big crowd is a grain salad. You can toss it with simple, inexpensive seasonal roasted vegetables like squash or carrots — or baked tofu cubes — and then serve it with a side of basic miso soup for a very filling meal.

How to feed a large family cheaply? ›

Budget meals for large families
  1. Orzotto with pancetta & peas. ...
  2. Double bean & roasted pepper chilli. ...
  3. Halloumi flatbreads. ...
  4. Slow cooker ratatouille. ...
  5. Easy sausage casserole.
  6. Courgette & tomato soup. ...
  7. Mexican pulled chicken & beans.
  8. Vegetable curry for a crowd.

How much party food for 12 people? ›

In the grand scheme of things, an adult will eat roughly a pound of food at a party, while children (except for male teenagers), will eat roughly half a pound of food. The more food options you offer, the less each partygoer will eat of each food.

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