Rent week can be a huge strain on your budget, which is why you may need to cut corners on what food you eat in order to afford the big bills. If you’re wondering what meals to make during rent week, then we’ve got you covered.
Listed below, we have all the cheapest recipes out there that you can make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or as a snack!
Don’t worry, we’ve got lots of options for you to choose from. Pick recipes that are going to work with your needs and don’t be afraid to alter them if you need too.
One important tip when reading these recipes is to keep in mind what grocery prices are around you. For instance, during the summer some veggies will be much cheaper than others. You might also live in an area where chicken is cheaper than fish. So it pays to find the cheapest grocery stores near you so you don’t have to overpay for ingredients.
I used the Produce Price Index to estimate the prices of these recipes.
What will I learn?
So What is Rent Week?
Rent Week refers to the week where you have to pay your monthly rent. But it’s not just for renters. This applies to homeowners as well. Of you’re a homeowner, your rent week is the week you have to pay your mortgage payment. It’s like the end of the month where you’re running low on cash and are waiting for your next paycheck to clear.
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So you have a tight budget and have to work with limited funds to get through the remainder of the week. The ideas below can be used for anyone who has to feed themselves and their family on a tight budget.
Affordable Breakfast Recipes for Rent Week
While people can’t decide if Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, I think we can all agree that breakfast food is delicious.
Here are some cheap food recipes you can use for yourself or your family.
This quick meal is a good source of protein. It makes for a good breakfast or lunch.
Combining ancient grains and hearty greens, this breakfast is both healthy and refreshing! You can also double the recipe and take a serving with you to work for lunch.
This recipe makes for a comforting morning meal on a chilly day. If you buy a full loaf and a carton of eggs, you can stretch this recipe to last a whole week.
If you have the time, this low-carb breakfast feeds four. Since eggs are the main ingredient, it’s quite cheap to make.
A simple twist on a readily-available fruit. Perfect for a light breakfast or as a side with dinner.
Got bread? Got Eggs? Bored with the same old peanut butter and jelly? Try this one on for size.
This handy recipe allows you to make a bunch of breakfasts ahead of time. Switching up the ingredients every other sandwich or so will give you a pleasant surprise when you unpack it later.
What’s an Ebelskiver, you ask? It’s like a muffin, but made of pancake! The recipe is complete with a little powdered sugar and maple syrup.
As a cheesy twist on egg-in-a-hole, this recipe is sure to delight your whole family! Just make sure they’re fans of eggs over easy first.
It doesn’t take much to make this unique twist of a pizza. Eggs are super cheap, depending on where you live, which makes this very affordable. You can also microwave the leftover slices at work if you like to pack lunches.
Omelets are quite simple and can be done with basically just one ingredient. You can also choose to stuff them with whatever you have around the house. Bacon. Sausage. Cheese. Broccoli florets. It’s up to you!
12. Crustless Quiche
Ten eggs. Ten servings. This thing can last you a week or, if you have kids, at least a few days. If you live in an area where eggs are super cheap, this recipe can cost you way less than a dollar per serving.
These muffins are dense and feature varied ingredients. It’s a simple recipe with a few steps, so you can get on with your day!
This sandwich is a protein powerhouse and a perfect start to the day. Use thick, sturdy bread for this recipe, it’s not for the faint of grain.
These scrambled egg muffins offer plenty of sausage and Cheddar cheese. It makes a filling and fun treat for everyone in the family. This meal costs less than $10 and makes 12 servings.
16. Quick Shakshuka
It takes only five ingredients to make this delicious recipe. It’s cheesy, warm, and fulfilling.
17. Basic Crepes
Crepes sound fancy but are actually quite easy to make. They also can have tons of unique toppings to suit whatever your taste is. I suggest powdered sugar and whatever cheap fruit is in season near you.
This takes very little ingredients to create. Plus, if you make some rice you can pour it over a serving and eat that for lunch!
The best thing about this meal is that gives you so many servings for such a cheap recipe. The total cost for everything required is less than $10, especially if you already have seasonings in your pantry.
It takes only five minutes to make this. Perfect if you’re someone who has to work early in the morning but needs a fulfilling breakfast.
Casseroles are famous for being a great way to cook a lot of food without spending a ton. This one, especially, does this with cheap ingredients that still manage to be flavorful.
This is a creative way to make a beautiful meal for cheap. If you make a full sheet of them you can end up preparing a reheatable breakfast for every day of the week.
23. Breakfast Grits
As one of the comments on this recipe says, “If you’ve never tried grits…you haven’t lived!” You can get an 80z bag from Walmart for only $3. That’s almost 61 servings!
It costs about $2.19 for each serving of this extremely healthy scramble. That’s around the cost of a McDonald’s breakfast item, but twice the amount of food and nutrition.
All you need for this to last a week is a loaf of cheap bread, some sliced cheese, and a few large tomatoes. Now that’s what I call cheap and easy!
If you have kids that need to eat before school, or if you work early in the morning, you may want to look into this recipe. You can make a huge amount of them before your week starts and then pack them away for easy access.
Three ingredients are all it takes to make this:
28. Cinnamon Rolls
This makes twelve servings which is more than enough to last for a week.
29. Classic Waffles
If you have a waffle maker, pull it out and start using it. Waffles are actually super cheap to make and you can choose toppings like fruit instead of syrup to make it healthier.
30. Oatmeal Muffin
My favorite thing about this recipe is that everything can be made in bulk. One tray of muffins can last you a week and you can take some to work with you.
Cereal bars don’t have to be dry or disgusting. These bars are a sweet treat that your family is sure to love. They’d make a good snack too.
Oatmeal generally costs $2.24 for 31 servings, according to Iowa State University. That makes this meal super cheap even with all the extra toppings.
Buy yourself a pack of bagels. Scramble some cheesy eggs. That’s all you need for this one.
This is another oatmeal recipe that takes a simple ingredient and makes it sweet and delicious.
If you’ve got $6 in your budget, this might be a good meal for you to do. It doesn’t require many ingredients and you might actually have most of them in your fridge already. My favorite part? It only costs an estimated $0.72 per serving.
Potatoes. Herbs and spices. Butter. That’s literally all you need to make this.
37. Potato Pancakes
I wouldn’t call this healthy but I would definitely call this delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with
Affordable Lunch Recipes for Rent Week
A lot of the recipes listed below could easily be packed into Tupperware and taken to work if you need too. Save money by eating a home-cooked meal instead of fast food.
This video shows you how to make a 7 serving meal for only $3. Best of all, it’s actually tasty and has lots of flavors!
This recipe is both cheap and filling. The tomato soup is easy to make and super nutritious. Plus, who can say no to a recipe that costs less than $1 per serving?
40. Chorizo Tostada
A recipe straight out of a food truck that won’t break the bank? Sign me up! Combining spicy chorizo with savory refried beans, these tostadas will taste like a night out.
Need a meal fast? Poached eggs in a tomato sauce will do the trick, and mint adds a neat twist!
Want to be able to brag about the vinaigrette you made for your dinner? Want to do it without having to empty your wallet? Look no further.
It’s like a taco, a quesadilla and an enchilada had a baby!
This meal only cost the creator $7. That’s a deal considering how easy and delicious it is. Plus, if you make enough of the spread it can last you throughout the week.
45. Tomato Rice
This takes two inexpensive ingredients — tomatoes and rice — with some herbs to make a tasty meal. Add some shredded cheese on top if you want it to be more filling.
This salad may sound fancy but it is actually quite affordable to make! There are very ingredients in it. The most expensive thing in the recipe is the walnuts, which you can swap out for something like almonds if you need too.
It’s a classic for a reason. It’s tasty and fast to make. Once you buy the ingredients for this, you can make one of these every day for a week or until you run out of bacon.
If you have spices in your pantry, the only thing you’ll need to buy for this is the chicken. It has eight servings, which is a lot for such a cheap meal!
This filling meal is quite popular in Egypt, especially for people who don’t have a lot of money. It’s comforting to eat, tasty, and cheap.
Don’t have a lot of time to cook? This is a perfect recipe for you. Add in a bag of instant rice to make this meal more filling.
Get yourself a five-pound bag of potatoes for $3 and raid your fridge for whatever toppings you want. This is a meal you can prep ahead of time and take to work with you.
You might have figured out by now that Chicken is one of the cheapest meats you can buy. This recipe is so simple yet delicious. Plus, it’s healthy too. That’s a win-win!
A can of chickpeas costs less than a dollar, which means you might want to start loving these little things! This recipe is delicious and has a lot of healthy ingredients despite being so cheap.
This costs about $7 to make and ranges to only $0.87 per serving. Best of all, they’re freezer-friendly. You can make them ahead of time and then pull them out when you need them!
This $4 recipe is so comforting to eat. If you’ve got a spice collection in your pantry, it’s likely you don’t even have to buy most of the things needed to make this.
It takes only fifteen minutes to make this dish. Perfect if you just got home from work and need to eat but don’t want to take a lot of time cooking.
A delicious meal in only five inexpensive ingredients? I’m all for it! Especially when a box of noodles only costs $2.
This doesn’t take much time to make and it’s pretty filling. The added veggies also make it nutritious.
I’m a big fan of meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients to make. The less you have to spend at the grocery store, the better.
With this sandwich, you won’t have to spend much at all! The ingredients are cheap to get and you can make multiple sandwiches out of what you buy.
Okay, I’ll admit this recipe is more like “3 ingredients and some seasoning”. However, it’s such a cheap and easy recipe I just had to include it on the list. Plus, if you have the right seasoning all you’ll really need to buy is chicken and honey!
I love this meal because it’s perfect for eating at home or taking it to work. It’s so filling and delicious, you won’t even notice how cheap it is to make it. A small bag of rice costs around $3 and can last months.
62. Kielbasa Hash
Next time your grocery store has a sale on sausage, try out this meal. You can get a ton of servings out of this and eat it basically all week. Lots of veggies in it too!
It takes just six ingredients to make this quick and easy meal.
The great thing about this recipe is you can really just use whatever you have laying around your house. Canned beans. Salsa. Cheese. Buy yourself some rotisserie chicken from the deli and some tortillas and you’re all set!
65. Peruvian Shrimp
Do you know what sounds fancy? Peruvian shrimp. Do you know what’s actually cheap to make? Peruvian shrimp. It takes only 15 minutes to make.
This $5 pizza is so easy to make and it only costs $0.56 per slice.
67. Chili Hash
The most expensive ingredient here is probably ground beef. The rest is just cheap veggies and potatoes.
If you’re used to eating on a tight budget, you’re probably used to the beans and rice meal. It’s filling, extremely cheap, and fast to make.
69. Ham and Beans
Make this, along with some buttered toast if you like, and you’ll have a great meal right there. Most cans of beans cost less than $2 and while ham is more expensive, you can make a small ham last for many meals.
You can’t go wrong with cheese and noodles. It’s so easy to make, so cheap to create, and so delicious!
Double this recipe to make yourself lunch for the entire week. You can also keep extras in the freezer for a time when you don’t want to cook.
If you haven’t ever tried egg drop soup, here’s a chance to make it. Egg drop soup is basically just egg in a chicken broth that’s been seasoned. As you can guess, it’s quite cheap to make.
Here’s the second version of Egg Drop soup that uses different spices and adds scallions to the mix! Plus it doesn’t cost much to make since a dozen eggs usually cost less than a dollar, depending on where you are located.
74. Easiest Burrito
This is another burrito recipe but, unlike the others mentioned previously, this recipe can be made in bulk. If you have a big family to feed, check this one out.
Noodles are definitely one of the cheapest ways to get calories in you. This is a comfort meal for when you just need to eat something filling but don’t have time or money for anything fancy.
76. Paprika Chicken
Serve this with a side of beans or rice to make your servings last longer. Depending on the price of chicken near you, this shouldn’t cost more than $6 to make.
Cheese. Veggies. Pasta. You can’t go wrong with that combination. Best of all? This meal only has 5 minute prep time!
Lasagna has literally never been so easy or affordable. This recipe is so cheap to make and has six servings! Perfect if you have a family or want to pack lunches to work to save money.
This tasty and healthy-ish meal costs around $7 to make. That’s only $1.68 per serving!
Two ingredients. Eight servings. Does it get any better than that? Steam a bag of frozen veggies and you’ve got yourself a decent meal!
It doesn’t take much to make an excellent chili. I could see this being a popular dish to make during autumn or winter when it’s cold out. Don’t forget to adjust seasoning to your preference!
This isn’t quite a full meal, but if you added some rice on the side it would work in a pinch. Either way, it is extremely cheap to make.
This would work as a side dish to any of the recipes we listed above or alongside some rice. Carrots cost only $0.99 a bag, depending on where you live. Kids will especially love this dish.
This article covers three ways you can make roasted potatoes. This makes a filling side dish or when mixed with toppings, a full meal. All you need is a $5 to $10 bag of potatoes and seasoning.
This recipe was designed specifically to fit the needs of people on SNAP. It takes boring rice and makes it something tasty for you to look forward too. Best of all? It only costs $0.22 a serving.
Affordable Dinner Recipes for Rent Week
After a long hard day at work or school, dinner is one of the most important meals for you to have. It’s got to be filling after all the calories you burned during the day but you also don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.
Here are some recipes to help you.
86. Potato recipes
Depending on where you are located, a five-pound bag of potatoes only costs around $4. Here are some recipes you can use to prepare potatoes in many ways.
87. Vegetarian Chili
This chili makes twelve servings that could either feed the whole family or provide you with freezable leftovers.
88. Crispy Pork
This recipe costs about $10 to make, depending on where you live.
This recipe is healthy and easily adjustable. If walnuts are too expensive near you, try using almonds or cashews.
90. Gnocchi Alfredo
This simple pasta doesn’t take much to make, but it’s still delicious.
91. Lazy Squash Soup
This creamy soup would be good for a winter or autumn week.
Roasted chicken is a great investment because you can stretch many meals with it and then use the leftover bones and meat for soup stock.
You probably have all the ingredients for this one in your pantry right now.
You can make this recipe for less than a few dollars and get a lot of servings out of it.
Brussel sprouts are about $3.24 per pound, which is the main ingredient in this recipe. You can easily make this for less than $5.
A packet of ramen only costs about $0.25. The only thing you need is some seasoning and you’re good to go.
Use a cheap bag of frozen veggies to make this meal even more affordable. The sausage provides lots of flavor so you don’t need a lot of seasoning.
You can get four servings out of this meal and it only takes six ingredients, including seasoning.
The total cost of this is $7, averaging out to be $1.67 per serving.
91. Basil Pork Chops
Pork chops are fairly cheap, being just slightly more expensive than chicken in most places.
The key to this recipe is to use vegetables that are in season and cheap. Don’t be afraid to alter as needed.
This recipe is more for people who live on the coast where shrimp is cheaper and fresher.
94. Aglio E Olio
This dish works either as a side or a full meal.
95. Cabbage E Pepe
Cabbage generally costs about $1.50 per pound at most stores. Meal serves four to six, depending on portion size. Regardless of how much you eat, it’s still quite cheap.
This is one of my favorite chili recipes. It’s adds a unique take by using salsa verde but manages to be affordable.
This recipe teaches you how to make a tomato sauce serve more by simply mixing it with blended cashews and water. It’s also a cheap way to add creaminess to your sauce.
If you’re wondering what meals you can cook for a week, this is a good place to start. It lasts a long time and doesn’t take a lot of fuss because it is all done in a slow cooker.
99. Lemon Butter Cod
If you live in an area where fresh fish is readily available, then it will be easy for you to get your hands on some cheap cod.
101. Zucchini Hummus Wrap
Check this recipe out when Zucchini is in season because it will be cheap to buy then.
102. Green Curry
The most expensive ingredient in this is the tofu. Everything after that is super cheap.
Cauliflower is a cheap veggie, costing about $3.50 for a full head. That plus a can of $0.50 chickpeas makes this meal only $4 for 4 servings.
104. Hashbrown Casserole
The author of this recipe is all about saving money. This casserole dish is no exception.
I know this sounds way too fancy to be affordable but, surprise, it’s actually really cheap! According to the author of this recipe, you’ll only spend $6.43 to make 8 servings. This ends up being approximately $0.80 per serving.
106. Pasta with Sauce
This meal costs less than $5, with servings averaging out to be around $1.06. It’s easily doubled if needed and you can also pack it for lunches at work or school.
This is the last time I’ll tell you to eat chicken as a meal, I promise. This slow cooker meal is great because once it’s in the slow cooker, you don’t need to fuss over it.
Affordable Snacks & Desserts Recipes for Rent Week
Eating cheaply doesn’t mean you can’t snack on things.
Here are sweet treats and snacks you can make that are affordable and tasty. Just don’t expect this stuff to be particularly healthy!
108. White Bean Dip
Get yourself a bag of $1 corn chips or some baby carrots to pair with this meal.
109. Olive Cheese Bread
This cheesy bread is perfect for a party or for a late-night snack.
110. Cheeseburger Cups
If you have kids, consider making this snack for them. It’s easily reheatable and healthy because it gives them protein and calcium.
111. Brown Butter Cookies
These cookies are for people who don’t like to bake or aren’t experienced with baking. You can make a batch of these with only six ingredients.
It takes about five minutes to make this. Best of all, cucumbers only cost about $0.62 depending on the season.
113. Every Day Cornbread
The total cost for this is around $1.51. That rounds out about $0.19 per serving. Perfect for the holidays or just when you are craving cornbread!
114. Caramel Popcorn
It’s about $5 for 40 ounces of popcorn kernels from Walmart. That can make you tons of servings which you can top with things like cheese, garlic, or this caramel recipe!
115. Deviled Eggs
This is a fancy snack that works great when you’re throwing a classy party. They take some prep to make but they aren’t expensive if eggs are cheap in your area.
116. Parmesan Knots
Cheesy bread. How can anyone go wrong with that?
117. No Bake Cookies
Because the main ingredient for this is oatmeal, which is cheap, this treat is actually affordable and gives you tons of servings. Great for adults who need a pick-me-up at work.
118. Orange Julius
Kids will love this sweet treat that takes almost nothing to make. It’s actually not super sugary either.
119. Peanut Butter Bars
This recipe tastes just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and serves more than twelve.
Need more ideas and tips for how to cook healthy food during rent week?
Check out these awesome resources:
- Where to Get Printable Grocery Coupons: A big list of over 60 places where you can print grocery coupons so you can save more money.
- Sample 2-Week Menus: Government’s ChooseMyPlate (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) program has great sample menus that help you follow a healthy diet by giving you recipes for cooking healthy meals at a modest price.
- SNAP Recipes: A great list of healthy and thrifty recipes with a short list of ingredients that are easy to make.
- Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap eBook: If you want to learn even more recipes, I recommend checking out Leanne Brown’s book Good and Cheap, which has tons of $4 meals for you to choose from.
- Tips for Every Aisle: Has great tips that help you fill your cart with budget-friendly and healthy options from each food group.
- r/EatCheapAndHealthy: This is a big subreddit with over 1.7 million members where people share all kinds of recipes for eating healthy on a cheap budget.
It is possible to eat well while working on a tight budget.
You just need to:
- Pay attention to what’s cheap in your area
- Be willing to modify recipes to your needs
- Plan around what produce is in season
Take advantage of the resources we mentioned above. And don’t forget to check YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and other sites for more ideas.
By the way, before you go grocery shopping, check out our article on grocery rebates to save more money on food. yes, you can earn cash back even on ingredients for cheap recipes!