Cooking a meal for $5 can seem impossible! Especially if your looking for real food that actually has subsistence to it.

Even though I’m on a budget, doesn’t mean I want to feed my family junk. I want my family to eat the best I can afford.

And I know it isn’t always easy to eat cheap and healthy.

But I’m here to help you.

Over time, I’ve come to love a few good cheap and simple meals that I want to share with you. We’ve gone through some times were money has been extremely tight and life was chaotic.

These meals come together quickly, and are actually quite filling. It’s perfect for those weeks when you realize you don’t have much money left in the bank account but your trying to make it all work.

Don’t worry, I got you.

Here they are:

Healthy Fried Rice

1. Veggie Fried Rice (serves 2)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 3 cups of cooked brown rice ($1.00)
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots ($0.50)
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion ($0.50)
  • 2 eggs ($0.33)
  • 2 tsp. garlic ($0.50)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce ($0.75)
1. In a large skillet or wok, heat up a small amount of butter. Saute garlic and onions on medium heat until onions are tender. Then add frozen peas and carrots. Saute for about 3-5 minutes or until peas and carrots are heated. 
2. Push veggies to the outside of the pan. Scramble the eggs in the middle until done.
3. Add brown rice and soy sauce. Fry up for about 5 minutes.

Total Cost: $3.58

2. Shredded Chicken Fajitas (serves 4)

Prep time:10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes


  • 3 cups of shredded chicken breasts ($3.00)
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced ($0.75)
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced ($0.50)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • wheat tortillas ($0.75)


  1. Thinly slice onions and bell peppers.
  2. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onions and bell peppers and saute until tender.
  3. Add in shredded chicken, seasonings, and toss until everything in the pan is evenly coated and warmed through.
  4. Warm tortillas on a griddle.
  5. Add chicken, bell pepper, and onion mixture to a tortilla and serve.

Total cost: $5.00

3. Rice Bowls with Black Beans and Avocado and Cilantro Dressing (serves 4)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


The dressing-

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice ($0.40)
  • 1/4 cup of minced cilantro ($0.25)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

The Rice-

  • 1 teaspon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced ($0.50)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup rice ($0.25)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth ($0.50)

The Rest-

  • 1 (14 ounce) can black beans ($0.98)
  • 3 tomatoes ($0.75)
  • 1 avocado ($1.00)

Total Cost: $4.63


4. Veggie Pizza (serves 3)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


  • Wheat Pizza Dough ($1.30)
  • Marinara ($1.00)
  • Mozzarella ($1.50)
  • Spinach ($0.50)
  • 1/2 thinly sliced Onion ($0.50)
  • Any other veggies you may have on hand (mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, basil, broccoli, etc.)

Total Cost: $4.80

I get pre made wheat pizza dough at Winco next to the cheese section. It is super cheap and saves so much time. But if you don’t have a Winco nearby here is a fast pizza dough recipe that I use often. The recipe says to use bread flour, but regular flour or wheat works great too!

5. Carrot, Broccoli, and Cheese Orzo (serves 4)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small onion or shallot ($0.50)
  • 1 cup baby carrots ($0.50)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets ($0.75)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo ($1.00)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth ($0.75)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese ($0.75)

Total cost: $4.25

Other tips and tricks to keep food costs low:

  • Never let food go bad in your fridge. If something is about to turn, be creative and find ways to incorporate it into a dish. Tacos, sandwiches, wraps, and burritos are all great ways to use up leftovers in the fridge!
  • Meats are usually the most expensive part of a dish. Find ways to make it go farther. Such as shredding the chicken, adding more vegetables, or chopping up meat and adding it into a soup.
  • If a meat goes on sale that you know your family likes, stock up! When you take it home portion it into 1 lb. increments and freeze it for another day. We save so much by doing this!
  • Try to substitute a vegetarian dish into your weekly meals. Meat can really drive up the cost of your grocery bill and just going a day or two without meat can really reduce costs.
  • Be flexible in the recipes you choose. Most recipes can substitute vegetables for ones that are in season or that you already have. Being flexible based on what is available goes a long way!
  • Keep your pantry stocked with the low cost healthy items. Need some ideas? I have a free printable with all the lowest cost staples that I use to keep my grocery budget super low. Check it out here.