Minimizing Food Expenses: My Favorite $2 Meal

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2 min read

For most people, the three biggest expenses are housing, transportation, and food. I like to think of these as the “big three”. If you can minimize the big three expenses without depriving yourself, you’ll be in great shape to save some serious money.

Between groceries and dining out, food is always one of my highest expenses each month. Here’s a look at my typical monthly expenses:

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Groceries alone account for about 15% of my monthly spending. Besides dining out less, the best way to minimize my food expenses is to find cheap and easy meals to cook at home.

Today I want to share a $2 meal I cook almost every day that helps keep my food expenses low.

The Chicken & Rice Medley

There’s two main ingredients in this meal.

One can of chicken breast and one serving of long grain rice:

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I typically buy these ingredients at Kroger. I pay $1.80 for the can of chicken and about 20 cents for one serving of rice (5 lbs / 25 servings = 20 cents) for a grand total of $2. 

The Process

This meal takes about 5 minutes to make and is incredibly difficult to screw up.

Side Note

I should note that I cook the rice for this recipe in a huge batch over the weekend using my Aroma rice cooker:

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This rice cooker is hands down the greatest consumer item I have ever purchased. That’s not an exaggeration. All I do is put in a few cups of rice and water, hit the “white rice” button, and perfectly delicious rice is created essentially from magic in 40 minutes.

I cook rice in huge batches over the weekend and store it in a Tupperware container in my fridge. When I need it for this recipe, I take out the rice, put some on a plate, and heat it up in the microwave.

Back to the recipe

To start, heat up some cooking oil in a skillet and throw the entire can of chicken in:

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While the chicken is cooking, heat up some rice in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes:

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Next, sprinkle in some spices with the chicken. I personally use garlic powder, chicken seasoning, ground cumin, thyme, and a custom chicken seasoning from a local meat shop:

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I don’t measure out specific amounts. I just sprinkle a bit of each into the skillet. I live life on the edge.

Let the spices marinate for a couple minutes and take the rice out of the microwave. When the chicken looks finished, drizzle it on top of the rice. Throw some hot sauce on it too if you’d like. 

Here’s the final culinary masterpiece:

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Simple & Cheap

I love this recipe because it’s simple and cheap. It’s also filling and nutritious. Even when I come home late in the evenings after a long day at work and the gym, I always have the energy to make this simple meal. 

Do you have any cheap meals you regularly make at home? What tactics do you use to minimize food expenses?

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14 Replies to “Minimizing Food Expenses: My Favorite $2 Meal”

  1. Here’s a way to make your rice more flavorful; add two tablespoons of white vinegar to your rice and water prior to cooking it. It adds a wonderful flavor to the rice.

  2. Great idea! You may be able to get your cost for this meal lower with buying a whole chicken, roasting it ahead of time, pulling it, and freezing it for individual meals. We started using whole chickens and it’s saved a lot on our meat costs!

    I’ve found a formula that works well for affordable dishes:
    1. Large portion of hearty staples like beans, rice, quinoa, farro, etc.
    2. Small portion of meat for flavor
    3. Load on flavorful veggies like carrots, broccoli, etc.
    4. Tie everything together with a homemade sauce.

    1. Occasionally I do buy chicken in larger quantities to reduce the price even further. Sometimes it’s just more convenient to get the small cans though. And I love that 4-step formula, I’ll have to keep that in mind for future meals. That does seem to be a good 4-step formula to follow. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. For Mr. Grumby and me, it’s all about meal planning and batch cooking. Here’s one that we did last week:

    Cook 1 pound ground beef with chopped onion and taco seasoning. Mix with 2 cans of black beans (strained & rinsed) & 1 -2 cups brown rice. (These additions are great for flavor & texture. They also greatly cut cost per serving!)

    Freeze in serving size containers, heat up, and serve over bed of spinach. Add shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped bell pepper, shredded carrot, avocado, or whatever suits your fancy.

    A Chipotle-esque meal for home? ;o)

  4. Looks yummy! By coincidence, last night I made a veg option of the above by cooking my white rice with half a head of chopped cauliflower. The cauliflower was from my partner’s parents so I think the dish was also under $2. Thanks for sharing Zach! Enjoy those leftovers today, as will I! ?

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