Poverty Cooking

For the past several months, we have been on a really tight grocery budget and so I had to really be inventive to spread it as far as it would go. These are some recipes that worked out really well for us and we ended up eating rather well! Some of the veggies came from our garden, so they were free!

Spanish Rice


  • Rice
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Mexican seasoning
  • 1/2 – 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • Diced onion
  • Diced bell pepper
  • Beans (rinsed & drained)


Make the rice according to package directions for the amount you need, cook in chicken broth if you can afford. Brown the meat and drain. Add the cooked rice, onion, bell pepper and beans to the meat and stir-fry until everything is heated through.

French Bread Spaghetti Bake


  • 1 loaf French bread (get at day old bread store or clearance at Wal-Mart)
  • spaghetti
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • Grated mozzarella cheese


Tear bread into bite size pieces. In a skillet, heat some oil and butter. Toast the bread until golden on all sides. Place bread into the bottom of a casserole dish. Pour cooked spaghetti and sauce over the bread. Heat in a 350° oven until heated through. Top with mozzarella and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Ground Meat Gravy and Mashed Potatoes


  • 1/2 – 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • Brown gravy mix (use as many as you need to spread)
  • Mashed potatoes (as much as you need)


Brown the meat and drain. Mix the gravy mix according to package directions. Add to the meat and heat through. Pour gravy over servings of mashed potatoes.

Chicken and Rice


  • 1/2 – 1 lb. chicken drumsticks, boiled, deboned & shredded
  • Rice
  • Chicken broth


In a saucepan, add the dry rice, chicken and salt & pepper. Add enough water to the chicken broth to cook the rice according to package directions. Let cook until rice is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Budget Goulash


  • 1 lb. macaroni
  • 1/2 – 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 can green beans, drained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup


Cook macaroni according to package directions. Brown the meat and drain off grease. Mix together the macaroni, meat, green beans and mushroom soup. Heat through.

Potatoes and Smoked Sausage


  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Smoked sausage


Cut the potatoes and onions into thin slices. Put in a large skillet with just enough water to barely cover. Season with salt and pepper. Cut sausage into small chunks and add to the potatoes. This will make it’s own gravy.

Leftovers Soup

We have a big plastic tub in the freezer (from ice cream). Every time there’s left over veggies (with left over juice), meat, or gravy we put it in there and freeze. When it’s full, I put it into my soup pot and add water, tomato juice and things like onions or potatoes and maybe some noodles or rice. I know this sounds kind of gross, but it has always turned out REALLY good! I’ll make cornbread, biscuits or bread to go with it. Makes a pretty good meal on cold winter days. I’ve also done it in my crock-pot.

Hobo Hash


  • Potatoes
  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 2-3 diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced bell pepper


Cook the potatoes, onion and pepper in a little oil until potato is done. Add the meat and brown. Drain. Season to taste. This can spread pretty far by adding more potatoes.

Ground Meat Stir Fry


  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3-4 ribs of celery diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce


Brown the meat until almost done, drain. Add the vegetables and stir-fry 2-3 minutes before adding the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to stir fry until vegetable are crisp-tender and meat if done. I’ve also done this with shredded cabbage and thinly sliced carrots.

Nanny’s Tomato and Bacon Macaroni


  • 2 lb. hot cooked Macaroni
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • Vinegar


Cook the bacon crisp and break into small pieces. In a large bowl mix together all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a splash of vinegar to taste.

Tuna Pie with Gravy


  • 1 can tuna
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tuna can of milk
  • Parsley
  • 2 pie crusts (one for the top and bottom)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup


Mix together first 4 ingredients and cook in a saucepan for just a few minutes, stirring all the time. Place 1/2 the pie crust into the bottom of a pie plate. Pour in tuna filling and top with remaining piecrust. Cut slits into top piecrust. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the soup into a saucepan and add 1/3 can of milk or water. Heat, but don’t allow to boil. Cut pie into wedges and serve with gravy poured over top.

The Author:

Susan Godfrey is a Christian wife, mom and homemaker and is the owner of the Homesteader’s Heart Blog at http://www.homesteadersheart.blogspot.com where she shares homesteading, gardening and country living articles.

Photo. Anastasia Belousova

Source: EzineArticles.com



  1. None of these qualify as “poverty cooking” in our household because we can’t afford meat. I couldn’t make any of these.

  2. My grandma used to make a casserole out of old bread and biscuits (smushed and squashed), diced up tomatoes and onions from the garden, a couple of tablespoons of sugar to taste all stirred together in a bowl and then turned into a casserole dish. Bake till ends are turning brown. My husband like that to this day. She also made gravy from cut up tomatoes to cover macaroni or toast. Soups were a staple. There was no meat unless you killed it yourself. The chickens were mostly for eggs. Beans of some kind always sat on the stove cooking in back-fat. Biscuits at every meal. Fried potatoes, onions, and eggs quite a few times. The lady is right. These aren’t exactly poverty meals.

  3. I think these are good budget friendly meals. I am always looking for cheap and extremely cheap meals not only because I think grocery prices are ridiculous but because my kids are struggling and I try to help them come up with ideas. Thank you for your post.

    Also thanks to Kari for her post with her ideas!


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