What’s Your Most Inexpensive Meal?

frugal food, inexpensive meal, pancakes


Over the Thanksgiving break, my house was overrun by a gang of high school freshman. My son and a bunch of his friends went to a movie, and then came back to our house to hang out, sleep over, and play video games until the early morning hours.

My first thought in the morning was what I could feed them when I was faced with the standard teenager morning grunt of, “Food.” I knew that when they did finally wake up and emerge from our basement they would want something fast, and since there were ten of them I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive. The perfect thing instantly popped into my head.


I’m not talking about just regular pancakes, I was going to give them options.

  1. Plain Pancakes: It was an option, but nobody picked it.
  2. Pancakes with Cinnamon: It’s amazing how much a pancake’s flavor is enhanced with just a little cinnamon mixed into the batter.
  3. Chocolate Chip Pancakes: After putting the pancakes on the griddle, dropping a small handful of chocolate chips into each cake.
  4. Banana Pancakes: After putting the pancakes on the griddle, placing some banana slices onto each cake.

After a dizzying half an hour the teenager tornado receded back into the basement for more video games, and then one by one they were picked up by their parents.

Here’s the damage for the pancake breakfast:

  • 1 Box of Store Brand Pancake Mix: $1.87
  • 1 Bottle of Store Brand Syrup: $1.98
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips: $2.87
  • 1 pound of Bananas: $0.47

Total: $7.19

*Note: I had the cinnamon in my cupboard so I didn’t add any expense for that

I fed twelve people (ten teenagers plus myself and my wife) for $7.19, which comes to just under 60 cents per person. As an added bonus, my son hung out with some of the same friends a couple of days later and they were all talking about how awesome my pancakes were.

I’d call that a success at every level.

What’s your favorite inexpensive meal? How much does it cost?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I like lentils and stews in general. They don’t cost much because every veggie about to go back in the fridge gets chopped and thrown in there, and it can fill you for days if you cook a full pound of beans or lentils.

  • @Pauline – that’s a great idea….we’ve been trying to eat more vegetables, but I can only eat so many salads and raw carrots. Shamefully we’ve been wasting some food because of it…a stew would be a GREAT way to use those vegetables. Thanks for the great idea!

  • I can’t beat that….but I will share one of my cheapest.

    Ultimate Smoothie
    – Quarter of Spinach Bunch (Bunch costs $1 so $0.25 for a quarter of it)
    – 1 Banana (Something like $0.35)
    – Half cup of Almond Milk (8 cups in $3 carton so about $0.25 give or take)
    – Apple ($0.50)
    – Ice (Practically free)
    – 1 of 8 celery stalks (Probably $0.10)

    Boom! For about $1.45 I have a super healthy meal or large snack.

    The Warrior

  • @TheWarrior – I’m a huge smoothie fan, but I’m intrigued how the combination of fruits and green vegetables gels together. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • @Daisy – my brother in law makes crepes….SUPER AWESOME, especially if you fill with them with fruit. I need to have him teach me how to make them. Thanks for the idea!

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