Week 29: INSANELY Cheap Meals

Okay, I write about cheap meals a lot on here, but this week I was super cheap. Like INSANELY cheap. As in I spent less than $15 cheap.

I went out with friends on Monday and spent $35 (blame fancy New York bars), and I was determined NOT to go over my $50 food budget for the week. That left me with $15. So I ransacked my cabinets and gosh darn it I did it! It actually made me realize that I can be even more creative and selective with my food each week…sometimes having a specific goal in mind helps keep you honest 🙂

Also, I had a decent amount of stuff already purchased from past meals or the weekend, but you could still have most of these meals with the $15 items, just with less toppings. (For example, the pasta I used for the miso soup you could also use with the tomato sauce, you could not purchase the sausage since that was just extra and use that money to get the miso paste. You also could just have a plainer stuffed sweet potato, and use butter on toast instead of the goat cheese).

Had in kitchen: Two sweet potatoes, green onion, cucumber, bag of greens, lime, 1/2 an avocado, pickled red onions, 1 carrot, salsa verde, eggs, cinnamon/cranberry goat cheese, multigrain bread, 1/2 box gemelli pasta, miso paste, brown rice, frozen mixed vegetables, butter, salt, pepper, peanut butter

Bought: Coconut water, 1 bunch bananas, 1 can refried black beans, 1 bag spinach, 1 can San Marzano tomatoes, 1 pack spicy Italian sausage, 1 small yellow onion, 1 pack angel hair pasta, 1 nub ginger

Spent: $15 (aka $3/day for 3 meals per day)

Daily Breakfast: Hydrating Breakfast Smoothie

Comments from Claire: I made this for an article I’m working on so I won’t share the full recipe yet (as with the soup later on), but this was very refreshing and I was glad I didn’t have to add any extra sweetener (like honey or agave) because the bananas and coconut water really took that on!


Lunch: Leftover Homemade Cashew Chicken

Dinner: Scrambled Eggs with Cinnamon Cranberry Goat Cheese Toast

Comments from Claire: This was the drinks night, so I got home late and was starving since the shared appetizers didn’t fill me up. Not the most creative, but breakfast-for-dinner was amped up with a spread of cinnamon cranberry goat cheese I had leftover from a salad from the weekend. Hit the spot.


Lunch: Out (I ended up babysitting and eating at their house but I would’ve just made more eggs/toast)

Dinner: Quick Miso Soup

Claire’s Quips: Another one I made for that article, so stay-tuned, but this soup is so fast and comforting–also really good for when you’re sick because you don’t have to sit over the stove making chicken stock.


Lunch: Soup

Dinner: Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato 

Comments from Claire: One of my favorite quick/easy/cheap meals. Bake a sweet potato (ok, I use the microwave), slice it down the middle and mash that goodness with some butter and salt and pepper. Then load up with whatever you have–I used refried beans, salsa verde, picked red onion (still going strong), avocado, chopped green onion and a squeeze of lime.


Lunch: Sweet Potato

Dinner: Chunky Tomato Pasta with Sausage and Side Salad

Comments from Claire: Okay, I’ve made this recipe a bunch before but it’s a go-to because it’s delicious and really elevates the classic pasta and (usually jarred) sauce combo. I added some spicy Italian sausage to get a little more substance, and turned my leftover vegetables from the fridge into a side salad.


Lunch: Pasta and Salad

Dinner: Sausage Fried Rice

Comments from Claire: I wanted to amp up the fried rice since I knew it was only going to contain egg and vegetables (and rice, duh), and I figured sausage would go with both this and the pasta meal. I also liked how it was kind of unique to have sausage in fried rice, but thought it sounded like a really tasty combo, and I was right! I use a pretty basic fried rice technique: cook the meat and or/raw veggies in a little oil, scramble the eggs and add the rice before they’re cooked all the way through (rice straight from the fridge–make it a few days before and stir in some sesame oil if you have it), mix around and then add any frozen veggies and soy sauce and cook all the way through.

See you next week! To see what I’m eating in the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter @ClaireLeaden

One thought on “Week 29: INSANELY Cheap Meals

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