20 Wallet-Friendly Meals That Are So Good, You’ll Forget You’re Broke

Certain meals evoke comfort and childhood. Even when you are poor and can’t afford to spend on groceries, some delicious comfort meals are cheap and filling. Here are some of the best frugal meals.

Cheap and Satisfying Meals

Family Eating Meal
Image Credit: monkeybusiness via DepositPhotos.com.

This list of 20 cheap and satisfying meals is here to keep both your wallet and your taste buds happy. Get ready to indulge in some serious comfort food without sacrificing your savings.

After someone asked a popular online community for their best go-to comfort meals for the season, these are the top-voted dishes.

1. Ramen

Close up Asian man eating yummy hot and spicy instant noodle using chopsticks and bowl isolated on yellow background.
Image Credit: Justinboat.29/Shutterstock.

Ramen is cheap and can have just about anything to add to it. Anyone who eats ramen has their particular way of making it theirs. Some add butter, and others will add vegetables or meat.


One user shared, “Real simple ramen, start with the chicken flavor after it’s cooked, you throw in an egg and stir to scramble, a little bit of garlic (powder, minced or granulated) and a few dashes of sesame oil. So simple but delicious.”

2. Tuna Sandwich

woman professional chef holding fresh salmon fish afraid and shocked with surprise
Image Credit: Krakenimages.com via DepositPhotos.com.

All you need is a can of tuna, some mayonnaise, and bread. These are the basics, then make it yours with whatever you like. For example, one user suggests a “Tuna sandwich with onion and tomato slices.”


Another confessed, “I like to mix some sweet relish, chopped onion, and a little bit of powdered garlic to mine. I prefer red onions, but others usually prefer sweet onions.”

3. Soups

Happy young woman eating pumpkin soup in kitchen
Image Credit: CITAlliance via DepositPhotos.com.

Soup is easy to make, and almost any ingredient can be added to make a delicious warm hearty meal. “I like to make soup out of whatever is in the house,” shared one.


“Take some carrots, celery, onion, other random vegetables or beans, and peas lying around, throw it in a pot with chicken stock, and boil it. Pick a few spices like rosemary and thyme from my herb garden.


Suppose we have half a cup of wine in the fridge, throw that. Add some cooked chicken or bacon. Then I usually make rice, couscous, or pasta to go with it.”

Related: 25 Best Easy Soup Recipes That Are Perfect for Winter 

4. Salisbury Steak

Portrait of cheerful man eating salad
Image Credit: mimagephotos via DepositPhotos.com.

Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes are easy and inexpensive to make. One user clarified, “A four-ounce patty would be a buck fifty. A potato would be about fifty cents. Butter and flour for the roux would be fifty cents. That’s two and a half bucks for a meal, give or take.”

5. Grilled Cheese

WOman eating peanut butter sandwich shutTerstock MSN
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Whether you make it with Velveeta or mixed cheeses, grilled cheese is a staple when you feel like a warm hearty meal. Add some tomato soup to dip the sandwich in, and you have an inexpensive recipe to delight your family.


Someone admitted, “My kids prefer a thick slice of Velveeta, but I like a three-cheese blend with sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and smoked gouda. It has a nice little bite from the pepper jack and a smokey flavor from the gouda.”

Related: 60 Delicious Recipe Ideas For Mexican Dinner 

6. Chicken Noodle Mashed Potatoes

woman holding chicken in both hands
Image Credit: 9nong via DepositPhotos.com.

People can get rather creative with essential products. No one can deny chicken noodle soup is hearty in itself, but this user takes it to another level.


They stated, “Get a can of chicken noodle soup, only a tiny amount of water, and instant mashed potatoes mixed in a while cooking. If done correctly, you can get excellent chicken-flavored mashed potatoes with noodles mixed in.”

Related: 15 Potato Salad Recipes for Your Next Cookout 

7. Hot Dogs

Young couple having barbecue with modern grill outdoors
Image Credit: NewAfrica via DepositPhotos.com.

For a hot dog, add some cheese, onions, chili, or just plain with ketchup and mustard. Add a side like a potato salad, macaroni salad, or chips. Quick and easy to make and a classic hearty meal.

Recipes: What’s For Dinner Tonight? Easy Dinner Recipes for A Family 

8. Pasta With Butter

Woman eating pasta
Image Credit: belchonock via DepositPhotos.com.

Pasta can easily be jazzed up with sauces, vegetables, and meat. But sometimes, you have to use what you have on hand. Simple pasta with some butter; try it with parmesan cheese, lemon, or garlic salt. Give something so simple a little pizzazz.

Recipes: 15 Amazing Mac and Cheese Recipes 

9. Quesadilla

Mexican people eating Tacos al Pastor in a Taqueria in Mexico city
Image Credit: marcoscastillo via DepositPhotos.com.

Start with a tortilla and cheese, then add whatever else you want. For example, one user suggested, “Sometimes I do a simple cheese and onion quesadilla, but I like to get one of those premade chickens for dinner sometimes, then I use the leftovers in my quesadillas the next day.”

10. Bologna Sandwich

WOman eating peanut butter sandwich shutTerstock MSN
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Many in the thread agreed that bologna sandwiches are boring, but try dressing them up with tomato, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, or cheese. Also, try the sandwich with some chips mixed in between the bread, and it adds a little crunch for texture.


“I like a bologna sandwich with a slice of American cheese and lettuce,” one clarified. “Add a handful of BBQ potato chips; they must be BBQ chips. It’s the perfect lunch.”

11. Meatloaf

young man cooking
Image Credit: AlexLipa via DepositPhotos.com.

“My father once told me meatloaf is so easy, and everyone loves it because it’s just hamburger mixed with foods you like,” explained one. This couldn’t be more true.


Another noted, “I like to make mine with teriyaki sauce. First, add sauce to the mixture; you’ll need extra binding. Then once you shape it into a loaf, you pour more sauce. Finally, add some pineapple or ketchup to the top, and you’re done.”

Recipes: 60+ Ground Beef Recipes For Delicious Dinners

12. Chicken and Dumplings

woman holding chicken in both hands
Image Credit: 9nong via DepositPhotos.com.

Nothing will warm your belly on a cold evening more than chicken and dumplings. Easily thrown together in a crockpot to cook all day, it’s a super easy no-fuss meal that will make your house smell delicious all day.

Recipes: 30 Yummy Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Recipes 

13. Chili

young woman about to start cooking in kitchen
Image Credit: snowwhiteimages via DepositPhotos.com.

One user commented, “Mmmm, Chili is fantastic comfort food. I feel like people tend to be super loyal to their family recipes.” However, those recipes are usually really delicious. Another explained how delicious it is with cinnamon rolls.

14. Macaroni and Cheese

Woman eating pasta
Image Credit: belchonock via DepositPhotos.com.

Homemade macaroni and cheese is made with any cheese you prefer. “I like making mine with pepper jack cheese,” advised one. “It has a little bite and is so creamy.” You can add some chili, hot dogs, or some hamburger meat to make this meal stretch a little more.


15. Eggs

young man cooking
Image Credit: AlexLipa via DepositPhotos.com.

From omelets to scrambles, to poached on an English muffin, eggs have endless recipes. One Redditor shared, “I like using the leftover vegetables I have for the week and making scrambles. I keep some sausage or kielbasa on hand to add to my leftover scrambles. Makes a delicious breakfast or a hearty breakfast for dinner for the family.”

16. Tuna Noodle Casserole

Woman holding glass baking dish with delicious casserole indoors
Image Credit: belchonock via DepositPhotos.com.

“We used to make a cheap tuna casserole using Krafft mac-n-cheese,” said one. “I would prepare that, then add a can of tuna, some extra shredded cheese, and some croutons. Mix it all, spread in a casserole dish, and top with more cheese and bake until it melts.”

17. Peanut Butter Sandwiches

WOman eating peanut butter sandwich shutTerstock MSN
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Usually served with potato chips, fruit, or yogurt on the side, peanut butter sandwiches are a favorite among children and adults. Some like to add jelly, honey, bananas, and even pickles.

18. Rice

Woman cooking shutterstock MSN 2
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Most people don’t eat rice by itself, but rice is a great way to stretch a meal and make it more filling. For example, serve a stir fry on a bed of rice or stir some vegetables and meats in the rice for delicious fried rice. Add rice to soups for thicker, heartier recipes.

19. Spaghetti

Woman eating pasta
Image Credit: belchonock via DepositPhotos.com.

Spaghetti is a simple dish using noodles and a tomato-based sauce. Add meatballs or ground beef, mushrooms, olives, and a side of garlic bread, and you have a meal. Many in the thread agreed it’s “Cheap, easy, and you can get about four-to-five meals out of a box of noodles.”

20. French Onion Soup

Happy young woman eating pumpkin soup in kitchen
Image Credit: CITAlliance via DepositPhotos.com.

Finally, one stated, “Honestly, I would have to say French onion soup. Cheap and easy.” You can add a few things to it, but a basic French onion soup is still delicious.

The onions are soft and flavorful, and the beef broth tastes good and feels good too. So if you’re sick or just feeling down, this soup can make you feel better.

The 20 Things People Used To Cheap Out On, But Now They Swear By The Expensive Versions

woman with cheese in mouth
Image Credit: avgustino via DepositPhotos.com.

Trying to cut corners wherever possible is tempting when budgeting and saving money. However, some items are worth investing in due to their better durability or quality compared to their cheaper counterparts.

The 20 Things People Used To Cheap Out On, but Now They Swear by the Expensive Versions

22 Unconventional Side Hustles That Can Make You More Money Than Your 9 to 5

woman warrior. woman holding sword
Image Credit: Avrora-Andrey via DepositPhotos.com.

Have you ever wanted to make a lot of money from a side hustle and quit your 9 to 5?

22 Side Hustles You Never Considered That Make More Than Your 9 to 5

10 Extreme Cheapskates Tips That Are Honestly Great Tips For You To Try

Shocked young woman and handyman with open mouths looking at freezer
Image Credit: IgorVetushko via DepositPhotos.com.

Are there any extreme cheapskates tips that are reasonable? Reddit thinks so. After someone asked for examples of these hacks, they delivered this excellent list of resourceful tips.

10 Extreme Cheapskates Tips That Are Honestly Great Tips

Sorry Millennials, These 20 Skills From The 90s Are No Longer Relevant

Millennial Hipster Girl Holding an Audio Tape Cassette and a Pencil
Image Credit: nicoletaionescu via DepositPhotos.com.

The 90s saw a tremendous shift in technology, and many skills that were once essential have become irrelevant in today’s world.

Sorry Millennials, These 20 Skills From the 90s Are No Longer Relevant

Eye Rolling Intensifies: 28 Boomer Comments Gen Z and Millennials Can’t Stand

Senior beautiful couple standing together
Image Credit: Krakenimages.com via DepositPhotos.com.

Older generations love giving advice and telling younger people things. While there are plenty of life lessons to learn from older people, young people are tired of hearing some of what boomers have to say.

From OK Boomer To Eye Roll: Gen Z and Millennials Are Sick and Tired of These 28 Boomer Comments

This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.