3 Extreme Budget Meals You Can Make For Just $3 Per Serving

Leanne's Life
by Leanne's Life

Do you need budget-friendly meal inspirations? If so, this video is for you. These three extreme budget meals are $3 or less per serving, and they are definitely not lacking in flavor.

The items I have aren’t from Walmart, but I am basing the price point as if I were shopping at Walmart according to their prices for similar items.

Cheesy, hot, beef sandwich

So, for this first extreme budget meal, I’m making a cheesy, hot, beef sandwich.

Ingredients for the extreme budget meals

What you will need is: ground beef (I’m halving this recipe, so I’m only using half the package), cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, a couple of garlic cloves, a green pepper, the steak seasoning of your choice, some Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and salt and pepper. You can either use a hoagie bun or a hamburger bun.

Chopping the green peppers and garlic

1. Chop the veggies

The first thing I need to do is chop up my green peppers into small little cubes, get my garlic chopped, and then I’m going to get that on the stove and saute it. Then I will add in the ground beef. I am also grating the cheese.

Seasoning the beef

2. Season

Next, I added the seasonings and the Worcestershire sauce and mixed it up until the beef was cooked. Next, I will be adding the cream of mushroom soup and a little bit of water to thin it out. And last, but not least, I will add the cheese and mix this until the cheese is melted through. 

Budget beef sandwich

Next just plate it up and serve it on the buns. This is the cheapest meal of the three extreme budget meals. This came in at $1.71 per sandwich, so there’s definitely room in the budget to add a side dish.

Ingredients for the Mediterranean salmon

Mediterranean salmon

For the salmon recipe, I'm making Mediterranean salmon. I got my salmon at Trader Joe's.

There are two pieces here, I will cook them in the air fryer. I will have a side of spaghetti and to make the sauce, I’ll use butter, lemon (for the zest and juice), salt and pepper, greek kalamata olives, capers, olive oil, parsley, oregano, and fresh garlic.

I’m going to blister these tomatoes in the saucepan. They will open and create a beautiful sauce, along with the garlic, oil and lemon juice, and mushrooms.

Zesting a lemon

1. Chop, juice, and zest

First, I’ll prepare the ingredients. I’m slicing up my mushrooms, getting my lemon juiced and zested, and prepping the rest of the ingredients. 

Seasoning the salmon

2. Season

I’ll season the salmon with parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt, and place it in the air fryer, which takes 15-20 minutes to cook and boil the water for that pasta, which cooks in the same amount of time. So, out of the three meals, this was my favorite. I enjoyed it the best. It has all the flavors I love: lemon, garlic, and salmon.

Mashing the veggies to make a sauce

3. Saute and mash

Put the oil in the pan, add the mushrooms, and saute. I’ll add the tomatoes and get them cooked until they are soft and splitting open and season the sauce with parsley and oregano. If you have Italian seasoning you could use that as well.

Then I take a potato masher and gently, because the oil is hot, mash them. All the juices will come out. Once you add the lemon and the butter, you have a delicious sauce. 

Simmering the salmon in the sauce

4. Simmer

Once the salmon is done in the air fryer, I’m going to nestle it into this beautiful, delicious, mixture of a sauce and let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes, and let the juices soak up into the salmon. 

Budget salmon pasta

I also added capers to the meal and plated the finished salmon on top of the pasta.

Slicing the cucumbers

Barbeque chicken bowls

This extreme budget meal I'm making is barbeque chicken bowls. I have to prepare the pickles and coleslaw ahead of time, so they have time in the refrigerator to marinate and get all delicious. So I’m slicing an English cucumber up pretty thin. 

Marinating the cucumbers to make pickles

1. Marinate the cucumbers

Now, I’m adding water and white wine vinegar. You can also use apple cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, or even red wine vinegar if you prefer. I’m adding dill, garlic, and salt. I’m going to add the liquid to the mason jar, pack in my cucumbers, and let them marinate in the refrigerator all afternoon.

Mixing up the coleslaw

2. Make the coleslaw

Next, I will be making coleslaw. I bought the packaged coleslaw mix from the store and added mayo, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and juice from one lemon. I love lemon in my coleslaw; I think it makes a world of difference in the flavor. So, I mixed it up, put a cover on it, and placed it in my refrigerator to marinate for the day.

Prepping the sweet potato

3. Prep the sweet potato

Next, I’ll be preparing my sweet potato. I’ll dice it into half-inch pieces and add olive oil and seasoning on top. I use this seasoning called buttery steakhouse seasoning. I just mixed it up and placed it on my air fryer rack and cooked it on the french fry setting. I added an extra ten minutes to the french fry setting time, and it came out perfect, and so nice and crispy.

Cooking and shredding the chicken

4. Cook and shred the chicken

Meanwhile, as you can see, I’ve also had two chicken breasts cooking in my small crockpot all day with barbeque sauce. I’m going to remove them and shred up the chicken. Then, I’m going to put it back in the crockpot with more barbeque sauce, to warm it up and coat the chicken better. This meal was my daughter's favorite. 

Extreme budget meals

Mix up the chicken and sauce in the crockpot. Then plate up the chicken, coleslaw, pickles, and fries.

Extreme budget meals

Budget doesn’t mean boring. It’s possible to make delicious and flavorful extreme-budget meals. What cheap meal idea do you like? Leave a comment and let us know.

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3 of 7 comments
  • Patty Patty on Mar 01, 2023

    What do you do with the grease from the hamburger?

    • Nancy Nancy on Jan 27, 2024

      Drain it off or buy 94 percent fat free hamburger.

  • Leslie Leslie on Feb 12, 2024

    Sweet potatoes are soooo hard to cut.. are they precooked at all before chopping?