If there’s one thing I know to be certain, though, it’s that delicious food does not have to break the bank. A good meal is one of life’s simplest pleasures, and I believe that being on a budget does not have to be at odds with eating well. These economical dishes from our Recipe Finder feature canned foods, pantry essentials, in-season produce and cost-effective sources of protein to keep grocery bills down.
One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice, above. Not only is this meal wallet-friendly, but it also requires only one pot. The dish gets a kick from Cajun or Creole seasoning, but cooking the rice with milk mellows the flavors. Top with scallions for an extra bit of brightness.
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Fried Hoisin Tofu With Peanut Noodles. Tofu may be intimidating to those who haven’t cooked with it before, but it’s a versatile and inexpensive component of many satisfying meals. Here, it gets marinated and then fried, resulting in crispy goodness. Drizzled with hoisin sauce and served with warm peanut noodles, it’s a flavorful delight.
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Spanish Eggs and Potatoes. This take on Spanish tortilla is a solution for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mainly composed of onion, potatoes and eggs, the ingredients are thrifty and few. Serve it warm with a bit of herby mayo, or enjoy leftovers at room temperature.
Simplest Lentil Curry. Lentils are an excellent low-cost protein source, and they’re the star in this simple curry. Canned tomatoes and frozen peas also help pinch pennies here. Serve with brown or white rice for a wholesome dinner.
A guide to lentils: How to choose and use the tiny protein-packed powerhouses
Mushroom, White Bean and Rice Skillet. This creamy, umami-rich main tastes like a luxurious treat but costs less than you might think. The recipe utilizes not one, not two, but three canned items — mushrooms, white beans and cream of mushroom soup — and is proof that you can save money and boost flavor at the same time.
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Mediterranean Tuna Panini. Upgrade your tuna sandwich with ingredients you may already have in your pantry and fridge. Canned tuna, feta, artichokes, red onion, olives, capers and a squeeze of lemon come together as a bright and briny filling in this Mediterranean-inspired panini.
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Linguine With Butternut Squash, Garlic and Olive Oil. Aglio e olio is Italian pasta at its most refined. Along with the traditional olive oil, garlic and pepper, this version features grated butternut squash that adds a hint of earthy sweetness to every bite.
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Polenta With Chickpeas and Tomatoes. Corn products such as polenta and grits transform into ultra-comforting meals at just pennies per serving. Featuring canned chickpeas and tomatoes, this recipe is a love letter to basic pantry ingredients.
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Cuban Beans and Rice. Few things go together better than beans and rice. They also happen to be the keys to a hearty, thrifty meal. This Cuban dish involves spices, veggies and bacon, but the latter can be omitted to keep this vegetarian and reduce costs.
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