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13 Ideas of Really Cheap Meals for Broke People

13 Ideas of Really Cheap Meals for Broke People

We all have to eat. But it doesn’t mean you have to settle for less-than-great food if you don’t have a lot of money. Here are 13 ideas for really cheap meals for broke people:

Rubber Chicken

It isn’t called rubber chicken because it’s rubbery! But rather because it keeps bouncing back for more meals. One whole, large chicken can feed a family of four for at least four meals.

Meal 1: The Chicken Dinner

The first meal is to eat part of the chicken. It can be a rotisserie chicken, or one you cook at home either in the oven or a crock pot. Add some veggies and a starch and you have a meal. When you are done, remove all the excess chicken from the bones and put it aside. Also, save all the bones for meal number three.

Meal 2: Chicken On A Salad

The second meal will take some of the chicken from meal one and arrange it over a bed of lettuce. Add whichever veggies you have on hand, perhaps some salsa, and you have a nice, main-course salad.

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Meal 3: Chicken Soup

Take the carcass from meal one and put it in a big pot. Cover with water and add salt and pepper. You can also add any vegetables you wish, like onion or celery, for flavoring. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for a couple of hours. Strain out the solids and you have a nice chicken stock. Use the chicken stock as a basis for chicken soup: add vegetables, some pasta or rice, and you have a filling meal.

Meal 4: Chicken Burritos

The last bit of chicken can be wrapped up in tortillas with some warmed beans, leftover rice and a bit of salsa–a great quick meal!

Rubber Beef

Chicken isn’t the only meat that can bounce back. Beef can also work the same way.

Meal 5: Beef Roast

The crock pot is your best friend for cooking inexpensive cuts of beef. The long cooking time will reduce the toughest piece of beef into a tender blend of flavor. The first of the rubber beef meals is the beef roast dinner. Get a cheap roast from the store and cook it in the crock pot with a cup of cooking liquid (water, broth, or wine) and some vegetables. Save the leftover meat for meals six and seven. Or you can use recipes like this one.

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Meal 6: Beef Burritos

Much like the leftover chicken, you can combine the leftover beef into burrito filling. Add rice, a can of black beans and a dash of pepper for some nice sizzle!

Meal 7: Beef Barbecue

Shredded beef lends itself really well to barbecue sandwiches. Just add whatever sauce you wish to the meat, and serve it on a bun. Add homemade coleslaw to the sandwich for extra zing.

All Wrapped Up

Wraps are a great way to go cheap: they provide a source of carbohydrate while holding all your fillings together. We’ve already talked about beef and chicken burritos, but you can go even cheaper…

Meal 8: Bean Burritos

A very filling and inexpensive meal can be made with tortillas, refried beans and whichever toppings you prefer. Chopped tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and other shredded vegetables will round this out for a very healthy meal.

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Meal 9: Egg Wraps

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are extremely inexpensive. Scramble up some eggs with some vegetables, and you have a great dinner (or breakfast!)

Noodles and More

When people say “cheap” and “noodles” in one sentence, they generally mean spaghetti. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for bland.

Meal 10: Sesame Noodles

Sesame noodles can be made with long pasta, sesame paste and a bit of chili sauce, thinned with broth or water. Add a little onion, cilantro and cucumber for bursts of flavor.

Meal 11: Zippy Spaghetti

The cheapest commercial spaghetti sauces are also the most bland. Hit your dollar store for spices and give that sauce some taste! Garlic, oregano and basil are standard additions, but a zip of red pepper or chili sauce will warm your tummy.

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Catch-alls

One of the best ways to stretch your food dollar is to make sure nothing gets thrown away. That means you have to have a way to deal with little bits of leftovers that are not enough to make a full meal. Here are two catch-all ideas for using that last bit of food.

Meal 12: Fried Rice

Fried rice is extremely flexible and forgiving. Heat up whatever leftover veggies or meat you have in a bit of oil, then add leftover cooked rice. Make a well in the middle and scramble an egg, then mix it all together for fried rice.

Meal 13: Magic Casserole

If you’re more in the mood for comfort food, you can make Magic Casserole. Take one leftover meat or protein, add one leftover starch (noodles, rice, or potatoes), one binder (a can of ‘cream-of-something’ soup, leftover gravy or sauce), a vegetable (whatever is available) and a crunchy topping (crushed potato or tortilla chips, fried onions or nuts). Mix everything but the topping together, put it in a casserole dish, add the topping, and bake until heated through.

Cheap meals don’t have to be unhealthy, bland or pre-prepared. Cooking from scratch and using every bit of food is the best way to stretch your food dollar.

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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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