Food & Recipes

14 Budget-Friendly Meals For When You *Think* You Have Nothing In Your Kitchen

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 3:00 AM, April 3, 2018

Aired April 3, 2018

We all know the feeling of opening your refrigerator or pantry and realizing that you’re due for a trip to the supermarket.

(And it always happens in your "hangriest" moments, right?)

Well, if you're either too tired to take the trip or pinching pennies until your next paycheck, home cook and author of Rustic Joyful Food: Generations, Danielle Kartes has no doubt that you can whip something up with what you already have.

RELATED: How to Make Cheap Wine Taste Expensive (Or At Least Moderately Priced)

In fact, when she visited our show, she walked the walk and made two hearty meals that she calls "rent week dinners!"

Check them out below -- along with several other budget-friendly recipes we’ve whipped up over the last 12 seasons.

RELATED: 8 Creative Ways to Feed Your Family Healthy Meals on a Tight Budget

(We have breakfast, lunch AND dinner options!)


Curtis Stone's Brekky Bagel Sandwich

Even if your bagels aren't the most fresh, Curtis moistens these sammies with provolone cheese, spicy mayonnaise and a sunny-side-up egg.

GET THE RECIPE: Curtis Stone's Brekky Bagel Sandwich

Bottom-of-the-Jar PB & Chocolate Overnight Oats

You can literally make this one RIGHT in your nearly finished peanut butter jar!

WATCH A VIEWER MAKE IT HERE: Bottom-of-the-Jar PB & Chocolate Overnight Oats

Raw Oat Power Bowl

This 3-ingredient breakfast OR snack can be made overnight, too.

GET THE RECIPE: Raw Oat Power Bowl

You can make our Senior Culinary Producer Jeannette’s salad with essentially anything in your veggie drawer. To make it a meal, add canned beans, tofu or chopped lunch meat.

GET THE RECIPE: Bottom-of-the-Veggie-Drawer Chopped Salad

Green Chili Ham and Cheese Omelet

Chef Richard Blais made this dish look *so* fancy -- using only on-hand pantry items!

GET THE RECIPE: Green Chili Ham and Cheese Omelet

Spicy Corn Soup

Not a fan of spice? Drop the jalapeno for a standard creamy corn soup. Yum-o!

GET THE RECIPE: Spicy Corn Soup

Jazzed Up Ramen

Behold, the mother of all low-cost meals!

GET THE RECIPE: Jazzed Up Ramen

Mac n' Ham n' Cheese

Because who doesn’t have store-bought macaroni and cheese on hand?

GET THE RECIPE: Mac n' Ham n' Cheese


Danielle Kartes' Chickpea Fried Rice

You can use any veggies lying around the kitchen for this quick and easy vegetarian fried rice. Serve it with Danielle’s Teriyaki-Style Salad!

Watch Danielle and Rach make this in the video above!


GET THE RECIPE: Danielle Kartes' Chickpea Fried Rice

Danielle Kartes' Breakfast-for-Dinner Savory Cornmeal Waffles and Fried Eggs

Take it from Danielle: "These waffles are amazing topped with chili and cheese. They also make a mean ham and Swiss sammie!"

Danielle Kartes' Breakfast-for-Dinner Savory Cornmeal Waffles and Fried Eggs

Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Garlic, Vinegar and Tomatoes

"The spicy, piquant sauce of vinegar, garlic and tomatoes has an assertive flavor that complements the bird well," chef Jacques Pepin says.

GET THE RECIPE: Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Garlic, Vinegar and Tomatoes

Teriyaki Chicken Satay

The magic is all in chef Richard Blais’ easy 5-ingredient dipping sauce.

 Teriyaki Chicken Satay

Cacio e Pepe

Look familiar? This Italian restaurant staple only has 3 ingredients!

GET THE RECIPE: Cacio e Pepe


That’s right, all you need to make this traditional Mexican soup -- including enchilada sauce and chicken stock -- is probably hiding in your pantry.