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When it comes to eating on a budget, it can be easy to stick with the same few meals that you know are inexpensive or provide leftovers for several days. As a result, people who spend less tend to fall into a rut of eating familiar foods that can get boring over time. To prevent you from getting burned out on the same meals, let’s take a look at some foods that are very versatile.


One of the cheapest foods out there is rice. You can buy bulk bags of rice that will last for weeks or even months at many grocery stores. This makes rice a staple in many cultures and many households. To liven up rice, try looking into various cuisines from around the world that use it. For example, rice is often used in Asian food, whether as a main portion of the entree or as a side. However, there are plenty of hispanic dishes that incorporate rice. You can also look into making risotto for a bit of a European flair. Depending on the kind of rice you buy, you may need to adjust some of the other ingredients to account for extra absorption.


When people think about pasta, they are often reminded of foods like spaghetti, lasagna, or fettuccine alfredo. Although pasta is primarily used in Italian food, there is no rule that says you cannot try using traditionally Italian noodles in Asian dishes. This may seem unconventional, but when you are tired of eating tomato sauce every night, a different flavor palate is going to be a welcome treat.


Vegetables, whether fresh or leftover, can be used in a multitude of ways. You can steam, fry, or bake vegetables. Or, you can even eat them raw. Leftover cooked veggies can be used in an omelette that is suitable for any meal. Try mixing up the spices you use on your vegetables to get more variety out of them. Potatoes, for example, can be sliced and cooked in a pan on the stove with some butter and paprika. Or, they can be bought whole and sliced hasselback style. Carrots can be cooked with some butter and a little brown sugar, or they can be eaten raw with some ranch. Don’t let vegetables go to waste, as they are simple and quick to prepare and they can keep in the fridge for a day or two.

There are so many foods you can get cheaply that are very versatile. Eating cheap does not have to mean eating the same three meals every day. Be sure to look into different recipes that use the ingredients you commonly have on hand.