All-Time Favorite Cheap Foods

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There are endless ways to stretch your food budget. With a little planning, one chicken can equal four meals—say dinner one night, chicken salad for lunch the next day, soup for a snack, and finally, leftovers stuffed into quesadillas. Combine a little rice here, some pasta and spices there, and an overall efficient, waste-nothing approach in the kitchen, and you can feed your family for pennies (OK, maybe quarters) per person. Today, we’re celebrating a different kind of cheap eating: the foods you live off when you are college student poor. Two weeks until your first paycheck arrives poor. Lonely old shut-in poor.

To make the list, an item has to not only attract those of paltry budgets, but those with crazed schedules or organization problems as well—because when you don’t have money, you generally don’t have the time or wherewithal to plan much either. Prepare to be nostalgically transplanted to a time when your wallet was empty, your stomach was rumbling, and your cooking skills were nil. Are these foods good for you? Not necessarily. Do they even taste good? Again, not necessarily. Even so, there’s something about them you just gotta love.