The Budget-Friendly Recipes You Turn to Time & Time Again

March  7, 2018

Last month, our own Valerio Farris shared his favorite $10 meals, and boy, did it resonate with you! Not only did you enjoy his roundup of affordable recipes, you provided so many smart ideas and Food52 go-tos of your own. Delicious dishes in their own right, but also great realized as reimagined leftovers in ensuing meals.

Enjoy this compilation of the helpful tips you gave us below (and feel free to add more in the comments section!).

  • Nikkitodd16: “My go-to for inexpensive meals is to buy a chuck roast and stretch it into at least 3 meals. I start with pot roast and then I make veggie beef soup with half my leftovers. I use V8 as the liquid. The rest I shred and make barbecue.”
  • leonie schmidt: “I have a couple of favorites, one found on this site, though I think it originated with Heidi Swanson (potatoes, white beans, and cabbage). Another is Du Puy lentils, or any other small lentil, cooked with onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and capsicum and layered with sliced haloumi, topped with finely sliced potato, although I usually leave that off as I am in too much of a hurry. And during a heatwave? Slices of silken tofu, topped with shaved bonito and spring onions (scallion) and dressed with soy sauce.”
  • kduffy102: “One of my favorites is Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion's Skillet Lasagna recipe on this site, yummy and easy, served with a green veggie.”
  • Ellen: “Canned pink salmon, and mac n cheese, or long grain and wild rice with dried fruit and nuts are really good and healthy.”
  • Celia Apple: “Pasta and beans are on my list. A sauce made with peanut butter, garlic, and soy sauce and pasta is good and has some protein.”
  • Marilee Reyes: “I find stir fry to be one of the best ways to provide an inexpensive, yet healthy meals. My go-to is Mongolian fried tofu. I've basically adapted a Mongolian beef recipe and make my own sauce. In addition to the traditional scallions, I throw in sliced onions, chunks of bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms or any bits of raw vegetables. Of course, first I cut the tofu into bite-sized squares and press between two paper towels to remove excess liquid, then I fry the cubes in peanut oil until golden and crispy. Remove from wok and drain before starting to add the veggies. Mushrooms always go in first for several minutes before other vegetables, then the tofu goes back in and the sauce. Lastly, I add the scallions and if I'm using snow peas, they go in with the scallions. Serve over rice. I've taken to using gaba rice, not only for flavor, but nutrition as well.”
  • Eileen F: “One of my favorites is curried lentils with coconut milk. I do like the mixture of both green and red lentils. I made it once with just red, and it is so much better with both. I love almost anything with chickpeas, too. So many recipes on this site to try!”
  • Alyssa: “I eat a lot of lentils dressed up with different spices and veggies, and then eat off of that for several meals. Currently in my fridge: French lentils with vindaloo seasoning, carrots, sweet potatoes, and thin-sliced onions. I also make my own sourdough and sauerkraut/fermented veggies. I'm a sucker for fermented flavors, but can't always afford a $10 jar of shredded cabbage.”
  • Ann: “Every Monday I buy a rotisserie chicken and whatever veggie is on sale. My 13-year-old and I eat it with whatever starch we have in the pantry. I make an overnight stock with the bones that night and we have tortellini soup for dinner the next night. The leftover chicken goes into enchiladas or chicken salad. That’s three dinners for $10 or less. And my daughter and I have enough soup for several lunches.”

What are your favorite budget-friendly tips and recipes? Share them us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Eva Johanna Holmberg
    Eva Johanna Holmberg
  • Augusta Umanski
    Augusta Umanski
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Eva J. March 8, 2018
Hi Augusta, are you aware of Jack Monroe's website? https://cookingonabootstrap.com
Augusta U. March 7, 2018
I would like to see a cookbook or collection of recipes for people who are really poor and live in food deserts, using the absolute basics - potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, rice, beans, pasta, salt and pepper. A challenge for imaginative cooks - please step up.