Five Surprisingly Tasty Budget Meals for under $5

As the end of the month approaches, people's budgets will often start tightening resulting in many avoiding eating out at restaurants and instead choosing to prepare home cooked meals as a way to save money. However, there is no reason why you should have to resort to un-tasty dishes containing little nutritional value simply in an effort to lower spending on food.

If you find yourself in this situation then I'm here to share a couple of delicious tasting recipes with you whose ingredients are especially budget friendly (all costing under $5). If you're looking for cheap microwaveable type dishes, then I'm afraid you're in the wrong place. Each dish listed below contains a healthy level of proteins, carbohydrates and fats with only minimal cooking times required.


All recipes are quick and easy to make, assuming that you already have a selection of basic cooking condiments in your kitchen such as:

  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Sauces
  • Herbs
  • Basic selection of spices



#1 Herb Fried Rice and Eggs

Herb Fried Rice & EggsThis recipe is a very simple dish by appearance and demands very little from you in terms of preparation time too. To begin making this dish start by getting all the ingredients out, ready for use:

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 pinch curry powder


1)   Start by chopping the garlic and putting that into a saucepan along with the oil. Heat the pan until the garlic starts frying, after which you can add the cup of rice and stir for one minute. Once the rice has absorbed the oil, pour 2 cups of water (double the amount of rice), bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

2)   After 15 minutes of allowing the rice to simmer, heat up a frying pan, apply some oil and begin frying the two eggs.

3)   Once the rice has no more water, apply the salt, curry powder a long with the rest of the herbs and spices and stir into the rice. Once mixed, dish the rice up onto a plate and place the fried egg on top of its bed of rice.




#2 Italian Mac & Cheese

Italian Mac & CheeseThis recipe offers a slight money saving twist on the conventional dish we all know. It offers a tasty treat for a quiet night in without a huge sacrifice on flavour. The ingredients you will need for this dish are:

  • 500g elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano grated


1)   Firstly, begin by filling a large saucepan with water which you will bring to the boil. Apply plenty of salt to the water to add flavour to your pasta before dropping the pasta in and cooking per its instructions.

2)   Whilst the pasta boils, beat the eggs and parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and leave to one side. Add the oil and garlic to a small frying pan and heat until the garlic becomes fragrant (roughly 2 minutes).

3)   Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it and place into a large bowl after which you should siphon off ¼ of a cup of the cooking water for later.

4) Finally, once the pasta is drained, pour in the olive oil and garlic mixture along with the eggs and cheese and quickly stir until the eggs thicken. Thin the sauce by pouring in the remaining cooking water and lastly add the salt, pepper and herbs before serving.




#3 Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Chilli Flakes

Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Chilli FlakesIf it sounds simple, that's because it is an incredibly easy and cost effective dish that can be thrown together in a heartbeat. A great tasting, money saving recipe like this is both flavoursome and filling, so if you want to get started, these are the only ingredients you will need:

  • 500g of spaghetti pasta
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper


1)   Begin by adding the pasta to boiling water for the length of time as per the instructions on the packet until al dente. Once complete, drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan.

2)   Add the salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes to the pasta and stir together well.

3)   Serve the pasta warm and sprinkle some dried basil on top for additional flavour.




#4 Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

Baked Eggs in Ham CupsIf you don’t want to indulge in a full blown English breakfast, then this little mini version can be a great way to still enjoy one without the calorie intake. This budget, protein-rich meal can be eaten as a snack or with some bread and cheese. The ingredients you will need are as follows:

  • 12 slices of streaky bacon or cured ham
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 1 pinch of paprika


1)   Initially, you need to pre-heat the oven to 180’C and find yourself a tin cupcake holder.

2)   Line each cupcake space with the meat, creating a mini bowl for you to pour the egg into. Then crack 1 egg into each cupcake space and add a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika to each.

3)   Pop the tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 2 minutes after removing from the oven and enjoy your simply yet tasty meal.




#5 Fresh Lemon and Sage Veggie Pasta (v)

Fresh Lemon and Sage Veggie PastaThis is a very light dish that doesn’t require too much preparation and delivers delicious results for the more health conscious eaters out there. The ingredients you will require are:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 500g bag of frozen vegetables
  • 1 bunch fresh sage chopped
  • 500g farfalle noodles
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 mozzarella cubed


1)   Bring water to the boil in a pot, after which add some salt for flavouring followed by the pasta. Before the pasta reaches al dente, add the frozen vegetables to the water and cook for a further 3 minutes.

2)   Once complete, drain the pasta and vegetables with a colander and return the pasta and veg to the empty pot.

3)   Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of both halves into the pot along with the salt, fresh sage, pepper and mozzarella. Stir until the cheese has melted and serve immediately.


  • Nomadx
    Thanks for these helpful article! I can't wait having a try
  • FisherMan
    Hey Nomadx, glad you found these recipes helpful. My personal favourite is the Baked Eggs in Ham Cups, I can never get enough.

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