The self-isolation feelings are kicking in, and you’re realizing we only have about 4 weeks left in the semester! The leftovers in your fridge will only last so long and after that, grocery shopping is a must.


Photo by Kelsa Katzfey


Nobody likes spending a ton of money on food and since we’re going to need to dedicate extra time to working from home and studying for the rest of the semester, here are 10 easy recipes for under $10 to spice up your lunch hour!


1. BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls

BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowl by Budget Bytes

Chipotle, who? Make 4 servings of your own burrito bowls to share with roommates, or keep for the week and save plenty of money doing it.

Total Cost: $7.10

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4


2. Pesto Stuffed Shells

Pesto Stuffed Shells by Budget Bytes

As an Italian, I approve of this message. This is a great meal to make for you during a Zoom study session.

Total Cost: $7.81

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 5


3. “Make-Ahead” Microwave Breakfast Scrambles

“Make-Ahead” Microwave Breakfast Scrambles by Budget Bytes

Every time I pass those “just crack an egg” breakfast scrambles, they are tempting to me. But, here is a way to make your own version for way cheaper.

Total Cost: $3.93

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1

Servings: 4


4. Weeknight Black Bean Chili

Weeknight Black Bean Chili by Budget Bytes

A light and easy way to make chili for those super chili–see what I did there?–nights. You’re ready for a cozy evening!

Total Cost: $7.19

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6


5. Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad by Budget Bytes

On the opposite end, this is a meal for the days when you are longing for summer. It doesn’t have to be re-heated, so take it on the go to your backyard for a picnic.

Total Cost: $8.91

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4


6. Rice Cooker Spanish Chickpeas and Rice

Rice Cooker Spanish Chickpeas and Rice by Budget Bytes

Fun Fact: you don’t have to have a rice cooker to make this. But, it makes it easier if you do! You can make it all in the rice cooker and it will make your life so much easier.

Total Cost: $4.41

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4


7. Vegetable Lo Mein

Vegetable Lo Mein by Budget Bytes

As it goes with all these meals, you can customize this in different ways. Add meat and toppings to make it how you like!

Total Cost: $6.33

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2


8. White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli by Budget Bytes

This is an easy way to upgrade your mac and cheese game. Blow your friends and family away with your skill and enjoy this awesome comfort food.

Total Cost: $6.66

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4


9. Freezer Ready Mini Pizzas

Freezer Ready Mini Pizzas by Budget Bytes

Curb your urge to buy frozen pizza and make your own with this easy recipe. They last for 3 months in the freezer and you can look cool while eating your mini pizzas.

Total Cost: $4.31

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 12


10. Chicken and Mandarin Salad

Chicken and Mandarin Salad with Simple Sesame Dressing by Budget Bytes

If you know you won’t have time to re-heat food, here is a quick salad that you can just grab from your fridge!

Total Cost: $5.20

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2


Final Thoughts:

Here are some pro-tips to help you through your cooking journey!

  • If you have roommates, share spices and items that are less frequently used. Really, you don’t need 3 different containers of garlic salt in your pantry. Just share and you’ll have less waste and ultimately, you’ll spend less money.
  • Write a list of what you need at the store. Wandering aimlessly leads to over-spending. We’re on a budget here, so stick to it!
  • The world is your oyster, and there are plenty of options on the internet. Google, Pinterest and other search engines will help you with your search to find cheap and easy meals for you.

Share your successes, mishaps and favorites in the comments!


Updated by Hailey Seipel (04.06.2020)