13 Best Poverty Meals That Fill You Up Without Costing You an Arm and a Leg

13 Best Poverty Meals That Fill You Up Without Costing You an Arm and a Leg


Looking for meals that are affordable but still taste great?

The saying goes, if you want to live like the rich, eat like you’re poor. These meals show you how to use simple ingredients in creative ways, proving that good food doesn’t have to be expensive.

Rice and Beans

If you’re part of any of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps finance Facebook groups, you probably already know this. Any combination of rice or beans is dirt cheap.

There are countless recipes out there that can transform these basic ingredients into delicious and filling meals. The possibilities are endless, from classic dishes to creative twists, and they can be adapted to suit any taste or dietary need.

PB & Pickles

While the Great Depression was an era of suffering and pain nationwide, PB & Pickles was one of the best things that came from it. 

During these difficult times, people would slather peanut butter on the bread and pair it with crispy, sour pickles to level out the sweet taste of the peanut butter. The combination of peanut butter and pickles made this staple food a huge hit among the people. 

This staple food gained so much recognition that people started selling it at lunch counters. If you know someone from Generation X, they are likely to have fond memories of PB & P still! 

Biscuits with Gravy 

When looking for the best poverty meals, it is impossible to count on Biscuits with gravy. This staple has become significantly well-received amongst the netizens for its distinctive taste. 

While everyone may not be able to see the connection, biscuits, when paired with gravy, become an excellent combination at a very low price. 

Nevertheless, if you want to make this dish more effective, pair it up with butter. With butter/buttermilk as the by-product, you can add a unique touch and amp up the calories and carbs in the serving.

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Elevated Canned Soup 

Irrespective of how much money you have, a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup is an irreplaceable treat at minimal costs! 

Although this canned soup has enough serving to make it a complete meal, here is an improvisational penny-pincher that can help stretch the can of soup more than its quantity. Start by adding pasta as a base, and you will be able to spread the dish according to your preference. 

To further improvise and add more taste to the dish, consider including additives like canned tune elevate canned soup. With additives, you will be able to extend the meal further, allowing you to enjoy a long-lasting concoction! 

Butter Noodles 

Noodles are everyone’s favorite dirty cheap meal. But if you want to pass noodles as one of the best poverty meals, consider transitioning it to Butter Noodles! 

Butter Noodles are a delicacy you can create by adding parmesan and garlic to your noodles. Start by setting the noodles to boil. Once they have turned soft, continue cooking them with the ingredients you usually use. 

Once you are done, add garlic and parmesan to your noodles! Stir the pot for at least two minutes before you serve them, and enjoy a delicious, inexpensive meal! 


Among various ideas, one of the best combinations of Spam is with rice. A Spam can paired with rice makes for a delicious meal, allowing you to function on a full stomach. 

Apart from rice, Spam is a great addition to just about any meal. Some users have also reported frying Spam in a pan and pairing it with a meal. Adding Spam will not only add a new taste to your dishes, but will also add a crispy surprise to the dish. 

Another great idea for Spam is making sandwiches. Making a Spam sandwich is an inexpensive delicacy that proves adequate for calming down hunger. 

Considering the taste it adds to meals at a very low price, Spam has become significantly popular amongst the Pacific Islanders and Hawaii. Spam is also a go-to dish for US Navy Marines. 

Instant Noodles 

A college student staple that can be customized in many delicious ways.

The best thing about instant noodles is the ability to tinker around. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to mix the egg with the noodles.

Just when your noodles are ready to be served, break an egg and add it to the noodles. Stir the pot until you can visibly see the egg particles. Ensure to make the noodles sticky; otherwise, adding an egg could turn into a disaster! 

Another trick you can do with eggs on instant noodles is to add boiled eggs. While the noodles are boiling, add two eggs and top the serving with sour cream and hot sauce. Stir the noodles to incorporate the taste of cream and hot sauce. 


Mac-N-Cheese should be the go-to choice when looking for the best poverty meals, considering the low costs and easy preparation method. With its distinct taste and easy prep, Mac-N-Cheese has made its way into the hearts of many people worldwide. 

Like instant noodles, you can tinker around with this meal to enhance the taste and calories. For example, some people suggest adding hot dogs to the meal. Adding hotdogs to Mac-N-Cheese gives it the meaty touch it lacks.

Another popular tweak to Mac-N-Cheese is adding Spam to it. Depending on which Spam you choose, your Mac-N-Cheese will turn into a perfect, crunchy meal. Finally, you can also add a cheese slice and top it with black pepper.

Adding cheese and black pepper will allow you to strike a perfect balance between spiciness and the traditional taste. 

Lentil Dishes

Lentils are inexpensive and can be used in a variety of recipes, such as soups and Indian dishes. They’re a fantastic budget-friendly option that’s also nutritious, being a good source of protein and fiber.

Lentils come in different types, like brown, green, red, and black, each adding unique flavors and textures to meals. They’re versatile enough to be the main component in a dish or to enhance other ingredients.

Potato Wedges

Easy to make and can be seasoned with basic pantry spices, potato wedges are a perfect meal for those on a tight budget.

They are a great combination of a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior, which makes them a comforting and satisfying choice. You can bake or fry them and season them with simple spices like garlic powder, paprika, or just salt and pepper.


Originating from Latin America, tamales are made with masa (a dough usually made from corn) and are typically filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies, or any combination thereof. They’re wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and then steamed.

Sauerkraut Stew

Combining sauerkraut with vegetables like potatoes and carrots, Sauerkraut Stew is a hearty and affordable dish.

This traditional meal, rooted in Eastern European cuisine, is known for its tangy and savory flavor profile. The slow-cooking process melds the flavors beautifully, creating a rich and comforting stew.


Simple yet can be turned into a creamy dish with just butter and cheese. It’s so delicious that I could eat it for breakfast every day. You can top it with different ingredients each time to keep it exciting.

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