Looking for some meals that you can make in a hurry instead of stopping at a restaurant to pick something up? Here are some great ideas for fast cheap food, real foods that can be made very quickly!
Fast Cheap Food
When you first start to cook completely from scratch, all notions of “fast food” goes right out the window. How many times have you had a busy day and your hubby comes home at 5 and asks, “Where’s supper?” and it’s all you can do not to throw the frying pan at him…
Let’s try not to get to that point ever again! Together we are going to brainstorm to find real food real fast recipes. These are foods that you have to make and you can’t use any quick fixes from the store. I’ll start with a list and you can add more in the comments!
- Instant Oatmeal Packets or really any kind of Oatmeal (here are mix-in ideas!)
- Scrambled Eggs or Omlets
- Pancakes (with pre-mixed homemade pancake mix)
- Smoothies (Or homemade Orange Julius)
–Find more Breakfast Recipes.
Fast Cheap Food for Lunch & Supper
- PB&J Sandwich (with homemade bread and homemade jelly!)
- Loaded Potatoes (potatoes take just minutes to cook either on the stovetop or in the microwave)
- Home Canned Pork and Beans
- Refried Bean Bowls
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich (with homemade bread)
- Pasta (or Rice Pasta) with Quick Spaghetti Sauce
- The 30 Minute Pizza
- 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese
- 7 Layer Taco Dip Recipe
The idea to create fast cheap food is just focus on simple foods that take very little prep work. Carrot sticks, hard-boiled eggs, sliced apples or oranges. As close to the way nature made them the faster they are to prepare!
–Here are even more Cheap Recipes for the End of Your Budget.
Make-Ahead Quick Cheap Meals
When you have good ideas on hand, it is easy to create real food real fast! Don’t forget that you can make a variety of make ahead meals that you can store in the freezer for fast and easy meals. Another thing I like to do is have pre-made mixes on hand to make it easier on me for things I do have to bake! I also love to do a bit of large batch cooking when I do have time. It takes less time than full-on freezer cooking but you can benefit from it just as much.
Quick and Cheap Meals from the LHL Readers
Of course, all of my readers are experts when it comes to making quick meals out of real food that still tastes good. Here are some ideas that you had to share.
- Noodles and home-canned beef. – Joanne S.
- Tuna and noodles with cheese. – Janet D.
- Swedish Meatballs in gravy over mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles. – Katrina R.
- “Clean out the fridge” Veggie Soup – Mary L.
- Sloppy Joes! I make a double batch and freeze leftovers into individual “pucks” in a cupcake tin. – Dawnette T.
- Beef and barley skillet. – Johanna S.
- Easy white chicken lasagna soup with bow tie pasta. Boil several chicken breasts in broth. Add 2 large carrots sliced 1 med. – large onion 2 large hand fulls of spinach 1 if you don’t care for it add 1 box bow tie pasta, After your pasta is tender chop up 1ea. 8 oz. Block of cream cheese, 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 cup heavy cream allow to thicken and come together, Oh so good with French or Italian bread. Add a small side salad your world is complete…especially when it’s cold and snowing. – Jo Dee B.
- Stovetop Cassoulet with Italian sausage, white kidney beans, onion, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. – Nancy G.
- Fried potatoes and onions with white beans and spinach. – Kim S.
- Hamburger and gravy over toast, egg sammies, hamburger patties browned then cooked more in stewed tomatoes served with plain rice and spinach. – Michelle O.
- Bacon-wrapped meatballs…under the broiler Or – A bag of stuffing, 1 lb of ground beef, 1/2 c bbq sauce. Mix it up. Form mini meatloaves. They actually make a decent microwaved meatloaf. – Genelle H.
- We eat a lot of tacos made from whatever leftovers we have. Chef salad with bread. Hash with eggs. Grilled cheese, BLTs. – Deborah D.
- Sausage and mash. Toad in the hole. – Victoria J.
- Cook ground beef and drain! Then bring water to a boil and mix in McCormick’s mushroom and onion gravy reduce and simmer until gravy has thickened! Once the gravy has thickened, pour the gravy over the cooked ground chuck and simmer for 10 minutes! Finally, make your instant mash potatoes and pour the ground chuck over the potatoes! Yummy! – Robin S.
- Baked chicken and roasted veggies, just pop a pan in the oven for 30 minutes after seasoning and drizzling in olive oil. – Ashley G.
- Homemade hamburger helper is quick and easy. – Lori Ann B.
- This sounds so simple and crazy but my husband loves loves loves it: cut up a green cabbage into bite-sized pieces or a little larger and a large onion and add a tablespoon full (or to desired taste) of minced garlic from a jar. Boil to desired tenderness. Fry a 96% lean or very lean pound of ground beef. Add in the meat and some V-8 juice then whatever other veggies you like if you want (carrots if you’re not extreme low-carb). Season with Himalayan salt or regular salt, pepper, whatever you like. I also like to add the Trader Joe’s Umami (mushroom) spice but feel free to omit. – Melissa L.
- Chicken Pot Pie! – Brittany F.
- Mix bread crumbs, shredded parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Dip chicken in preferred liquid (milk, water or egg). Coat with flour mixture. Place in foil-lined the baking dish. Pour half a cube of melted butter (a whole cube is the best) over the chicken. Sprinkle any leftover flour mix on chicken. Bake at 400 for about 20min or until the thickest part reaches 165 degrees. – Melissa M.
Trying to plan better, more frugal meals for your family so that you always have a good meal on the table and don’t waste money on fast food? You’ve got to check out my ebook Meal Planning Made Simple. Even if you thought meal planning didn’t work for your family, this ebook will help you find the perfect fit for your family’s style.
It’s your turn, share your favorite fast cheap food in the comments!
This blog post with Fast Cheap Food ideas was originally posted on Little House Living in November 2012. It has been updated in November 2019.