Steven W. Siler

Firefighter/Chef, Author-Signature Tastes cookbook series

281w ago

Ahh, this gives me the opportunity to showcase my favourite food. The humble bean.  Far and away, the bean, be it, black, october, navy, whatever, is the ultimate inexpensive superfood. It contains scads of fiber, good protein, no sugars, and no fat. And dried beans are cheap, cheap, cheap.

Some great ways to prepare:

Black Bean Soup (Use a low-fat cream of celery, Rotel, and a can of Black beans, onions and cumin…yum!)

Turkey Chili
It’s one of the best lean proteins, and one of the cheapest.

5-Bean Salad
Add a bit of hot sauce and enjoy on a hot day!

Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Still a bean, and wilted Kale and curry makes this!

Refried Bean Casserole
Refried beans, salsa, chilis, avocado, a scant of cheese, olives and fresh tomatoes. Add liberal amounts of cumin and chili powder, and this is perfect!

All of the above can easily be made for under $5, typically for 3-4 servings.  All are healthy, will make you wealthy, and leave you wise!  Email me if you need additional ways to make anything,.

Kaitlin Johnson

Jack of All Trades, Master of a Couple. Maybe.

254w ago

Many of the answers here seem to be aiming for the least expensive meal possible using “real food” (i.e. not fast food or highly processed food). While that’s certainly a worthy topic, the author of the question allows for $5 per person, which is actually a decent amount of money — enough to buy some truly nutrient dense foods without having to resort to calorie-rich, nutrient-poor fillers.

Lately for lunch (which I need to carry with me and eat cold), I’ve been eating a can of sardines packed in olive oil, along with some carrots, spinach, and maybe some raw almonds.

Calorie for calorie, sardines are nutritional powerhouses, though they are often overlooked. They are affordable (even some of the more expensive brands come in around $3/can), easy to store and, if you like the taste (like I do) require no preparation to eat (just have breath mint for afterward). Personally, I prefer the two-layer brisling sardines as they are smaller and, I think, the most flavorful.

A tin of sardines with bones and skin typically contains 50% of the recommended daily value of calcium, 100% DV vitamin D, 200% DV B12, 100% DV selenium, 25% DV iron, a hefty dose of EPA and DHA, and as much protein as steak.

UPDATE: Since there are some sardine fans out there who have liked this answer, I thought I should share with you my most recent canned seafood adoption: canned oysters.

Oysters are incredibly rich in nutrients. They are particularly rich in zinc and iron while being very low in calories.

Sadly, I have to admit that I’ve never been a raw oyster fan. I’ve tried them in several different locales and in different seasons and they still just remind me of salty snot. Moreover, raw oysters are usually an expensive delicacy, not exactly an easy, inexpensive lunch.

I finally realized that I needed to try canned oysters and I think they are delicious. The ones pictured above are the only I’ve found that are canned in olive oil (as opposed to cottonseed oil, which I think is pretty gross). They can be difficult to find in grocery stores, but Trader Joe’s sells them for less than $3 a tin.

Kent Fung

spends far too much time thinking about food.

280w ago

Eggs. You already know how to make them, of course. A dozen run less than $4. You should be able to get three meals out of them — at four eggs per. This gives you egg sandwiches, omelettes (add vegetables and/or cheese), fried rice (add some frozen peas and rice (duh)), deviled eggs, and egg sandwiches.

Tuna. Obviously you can make tuna salad. With some spices, an egg and some bread crumbs, you can fry up some tuna-fish cakes/fritters, too.

Whole chickens. Can be had at roughly $2/pound. A six-pound chicken, roasted alongside some vegetables, yields three meals, easily: two in which you eat the meat, and another involving a hearty chicken vegetable soup made from the bones and carcass.

Marti LaChance

Faux foodie

280w ago

To round out this excellent list, I’ll add some inexpensive* and low-fat cuts of meat.

Pork loin is extremely lean and often sells for $2 per pound or less. You can cut fillets and fry them, but my favorite method is to stuff the roast. Use breadcrumbs, onions, and whatever interesting and inexpensive ingredients you have on hand. Butterfly the roast, (instructions:…), layer on the stuffing, roll up and tie, and then roast at 375 degrees for an hour. It’s an impressive-looking meal! Excellent warmed up in a pan the next day, too.

Also under $2 per pound: chicken breasts. One innovative way to prepare them is to pound them flat, dip them in egg batter, and then coat in flour and your favorite seasoning combination. Fry with a bit of oil in a non-stick skillet. These are wonderful as fillets, in sandwiches, and cut into strips for small children.

Also, chicken thighs. Although fattier than pork loin or chicken breasts, they are tasty and cheap — often on sale for a dollar per pound. I marinate them in balsamic dressing or teriyaki and grill them.

I sometimes buy chicken tenderloins (the delicate meat under the breast) or boneless,skinless thighs for $1.50 a pound. These make wonderful morsels in a stir fry — with fresh vegetables in season. 

*Naturally, the price of meat varies by region and by neighborhood. I live in the Midwest, and at my local market standard cuts of pork and chicken sell for $3 per pound — or less if they’re “on special.”

Badier Velji

Health Coach and Owner, The Lazy Caveman Health and Wellness.

279w ago

Actually, the most nutrient dense foods with the highest bio availability (sorry bean folks) are organ meats (offal). Yes, kidneys, livers, heart, brains, sweetbreads, and tongue are incredibly nutrient dense, and because modern Americans don’t know how to cook them, are quite inexpensive. It is important to learn how to prepare them properly, because there are higher risks of food borne illness, but once you do, you’ll benefit from Vitamins A, K, B12, Copper, and cholesterol and saturated fat.

Comparison of nutrition in 100g each of beef liver and black beans:
liver (…)
beans (…)
The true disparity is much larger, as the beans are much harder for most people to digest and assimilate.

Garrick Saito

likes food

281w ago

Tofu is pretty inexpensive (under $2 per package).

Mapo tofu is nutritious, tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare.

The main ingredients are tofu and ground pork (about $1.30/pound).