Oatmeal is the ultimate cheap and filling food! Since I started eating porridge made with jumbo oats every morning I have had no trouble making it through until lunch. Oats are packed with fibres that release energy into the bloodstream nice and slowly keeping you full until the next meal. The great news is that oats aren’t the only contender. In this post, I am going to take you through all my favourite cheap and filling foods for each meal of the day.
Cheap and filling foods tend to be whole foods rather than processed. High fibre foods such as oatmeal, beans and lentils do a great job of filling you up cheaply. At breakfast start the day with a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit. At lunchtime fill yourself up with some eggs and or cottage cheese. For snacks, grab some fruit, popcorn or a homemade flapjack. For dinner, choose jacket potatoes, beans and lentils. Buy what you can in bulk to save even more on your grocery bill.
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Not sure what to eat to stay full at each mealtime? Here are the top foods to choose from at each time of the day which will be kind to your wallet, and keep your tummy satisfied.
Cheap breakfast foods that fill you up
Of all the cheap and filling foods, oatmeal is my number one pick! If you buy oats in their whole form (I love jumbo oats) rather than the individual packets you will get the best value for money. Plus, oats give you an increased feeling of fullness compared to ready to eat cereals.
Oatmeal suppresses appetite, increases satiety, and reduces energy intake compared to the RTEC [oat-based ready-to-eat breakfast cereal]Rebello CJ, Johnson WD, Martin CK, Han H, Chu YF, Bordenave N, van Klinken BJ, O’Shea M, Greenway FL. Instant Oatmeal Increases Satiety and Reduces Energy Intake Compared to a Ready-to-Eat Oat-Based Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016;35(1):41-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1032442. Epub 2015 Aug 14. PMID: 26273900; PMCID: PMC4674378.
There are a variety of ways to make yourself oats for breakfast. Overnight oats are a popular option. You can cook oats on the stove, or if you are time-pressed they are just as good cooked in a microwave.
Did you know you could also cook porridge in a pressure cooker? Check out my guide – How To Make Porridge In A Pressure Cooker (perfect every time!).
Cheap lunchtime foods that fill you up
Eggs are cheap and filling to eat any time of the day. They are full of nutrients and proven to keep you full compared to other foods with the same calorie content.
The price of eggs can vary. The most expensive are organic free-range. If you want to save the most money, go for eggs that come from caged hens.
There are countless ways to prepare your eggs in the morning (or any other time of the day). If you are time-pressed, you can fry them quickly in a pan or boil them for 5 minutes. Here are some ideas for cooking your eggs to perfection.
Cottage cheese seems to be less popular than it used to be. It’s an unmatured cheese, also known as curds and whey. Cottage cheese is often popular with those on a calorie-controlled diet due to its low-calorie count.
Cottage cheese is usually low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein. It’s the high protein content that gives you a full feeling.
There are a variety of ways to eat cottage cheese. You could have it on toast, in a salad, or even as a mayonnaise replacement.
You can drink smoothies at any time of the day of course. Any type of smoothie that includes porridge oats will do a great job filling you up. Try this one – Banana oat breakfast smoothie.
Cheap dinner time foods that fill you up
If you are looking for foods that fill you up, then look no further than legumes. Legumes include lentils, beans, peas and nuts. These types of foods have a high protein value and low calorific count. The high fibre content combined with protein makes them a very satisfying food.
Lentils and beans can be bought in a can ready use. But, if you are looking to save money, the cheapest way by far is to buy them in their dried form.
To cook dried beans, you will need to soak them overnight and then boil them for several hours according to the directions.
An alternative and much quicker option is to cook them in a pressure cooker. You can then avoid having to soak them first and the boiling time is much less. You can usually cook them this way in less than an hour. Once cooked use them to bulk up any recipe.
Red lentils can be used in recipes raw with no soaking required. Here is an easy to cook chicken and lentil recipe for the slow cooker.
Thinking of getting a pressure cooker? Read this first – Are Pressure Cookers Worth Buying?
Make sure you always have a bag of potatoes in your cupboard because they are regarded as one of the most satiating foods you can eat. Plus, they are super cheap to buy and very easy to prepare.
The easiest way of course is the famous jacket potato. All you need is a little butter and perhaps some cheese and you have a very filling lunchtime meal or a light dinner.
Potatoes are high in carbohydrates and should keep energy levels up all day.
Check out these 10 delicious dinner ideas with jacket potatoes.
If you have more potatoes than you can eat now, why not freeze your potatoes? As long as you cook them or parboil them first, potatoes will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Potatoes are very high in carbohydrates, so not such a good choice if you are on a calorie-controlled diet. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and greens are very low in carbs compared to the potato. Plus they are high in fibre which makes them very filling but low calorie.
Rice is super cheap to buy and fills you up extremely well. Plus there isn’t much that is easier to cook than rice!. For the highest fibre content go for brown rice rather than white. Brown rice takes a little longer to cook than white rice. Make sure you buy it in bulk to get the best savings.
- Is It Safe To Meal Prep Rice?
- How To Cook Brown Rice Quickly (no fuss guide)
- Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Lentil Tandoori Curry
Cheap snacks that fill you up
Fantastic cheap foods to snack on that fill you up until the next mealtime include whole fruit, homemade flapjacks and homemade popcorn. Always eat your fruit whole for the added fibre content. Popping corn is super cheap to buy and very easy to cook. Drizzle some golden syrup over your popcorn for added sweetness.
Fruits such as bananas and apples do a great job of filling you up at mealtimes or as a healthy snack. If you are going to add more fruit to your diet, make sure it is the whole fruit rather than just the juice. That way, you consume the fibre too which is better for filling you up.
Did you know that popcorn can be very filling? If you opt for the homemade sort (without added sugar) it is very low calorie too. You can buy a bag of popping corn very cheaply and it will make a huge amount of snacks.
Pro tip: Keep an eye on the use-by date as the corn won’t pop properly when it is too old.
Homemade flapjacks are the perfect snack to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Plus, they are very simple to make yourself.
- 175g/6oz melted butter
- 175g/6oz golden syrup
- 175g/6oz muscovado sugar
- 350g/12oz porridge oats
Then press the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 150C (130C fan oven) for 40 minutes. When cooked cut into squares.
What’s the cheapest meal to make?
The cheapest meal we make at home is vegetarian chilli made with kidney beans and served with rice. Depending on where you buy your ingredients a meal for four can cost as little as $1-$2. Save more by cooking the beans from scratch rather than buying them precooked in a tin.
For this dish, you can use a variety of beans which makes it a store cupboard favourite. Simply use up whatever you have available. I like to use kidney beans, borlotti beans, black eye beans, chickpeas or a mixture. The choice is yours.
To make this dish, soak about 3-4 handfuls of dried beans in a pan of water overnight or for about 4 hours. Then change the water and boil them according to the packet instructions which should be about 45 minutes to an hour or until they are soft but not mushy.
Gently fry some onions and some chopped fresh chilli or dried chilli flakes. If you have some fresh veg available such as zucchini, carrots, chopped greens, celery add that too.
Fry the veg until soft. I like to turn down the heat very slow, clamp on a lid and let the veg steam in its own moisture for 10-20 minutes. If you can’t get your stove down low enough you will need to check and stir every five minutes.
When the veg is softened add a tin or two of chopped tomatoes, and the boiled beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer for five minutes. Add seasoning.
Serve in any way you prefer such as boiled rice, tacos, sour cream, guacamole.
All of the cheap foods I have listed in this post will not only fill you up until the next meal, but they are also super-healthy. I wonder how many hamburgers and fries you would have to eat to get as full as you would on a vegetarian chilli with rice?