Delicious Poverty Meals For Those In Need

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Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Lori Pace

Food is an important expense for a family budget. Since I was a kid, I have been creating ideas for cheap and simple poverty meals. It’s good to use cheap ingredients and make affordable meals using healthy, low-cost food. This plan will help you get rid of the stress about “What’s for Dinner?”.

In order to meet the immediate needs of people and families living in poverty, poverty meals are extremely important. These meals are made to be reasonably priced, simple to make, and nutritionally balanced so that beneficiaries can support themselves and their families in a dignified manner without jeopardizing their health.

Easy Bean Poverty Meals

Beans are one of the staple poverty meals, but they don’t have to be boring. There are many varieties of beans, each with its own flavor. Soup is a staple food for the poor. To make it more substantial, you can add broth or water.

Lentils and beans are rich in fiber and protein. They are also the most affordable source of protein. Cooking beans can be slow and have a few drawbacks.

There are many solutions to this problem. You can soak the beans overnight and drain them. Then add fresh water to the beans and let them cook overnight in a crockpot. To save time, you could also use an Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker Red Beans


  • 1 bag of Camellia red kidney beans
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp chicken base
  • 1-2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups water 


Soak the beans at least one day before you cook them. It is easy, but it is very important. Add the beans to a large pot or bowl and cover it with 3-4 times as much water as the beans. The beans will expand and require water to keep them covered. This is because the beans will need to be drained before being cooked.

Let them soak for about a day. Drain the water and then pour the beans into your slow cooker. Olive oil can be added. To soften the beans, you need to add olive oil or another fat. It can be substituted for another fat but I do not recommend skipping on it.

Add your chicken base, creole seasoning, and garlic. You can adjust each of these to your taste. I use 2 teaspoons of creole seasoning and then add more as needed. You can always add more but once you have added too much, it’s pretty much over.

Add water. You can adjust the amount of water to suit your taste. Different people prefer their beans thinner or thicker. Some slow cookers have higher evaporation rates than others. Cover the pot with a lid. Cover with a lid. The cooking times of different appliances will vary. 

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice


  • 1 lb dried red beans
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package Hillshire American Craft Garlic & Onion Sausage, sliced
  • 2-3 Tbsp Creole seasoning


Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Mix ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 7 hrs and then serve with rice. Garnish with celery and chopped bell pepper.

Poverty Meal: Red Beans and Rice

Vegan Sloppy Joes


  • 1 cup dried green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup dried red lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • ½ cup water or vegetable broth (to saute)
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 2 medium red bell peppers diced (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp sea salt add more to taste
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water


Follow the package directions to cook the green lentils. Mix the red lentils with the green lentils halfway through. Stir to combine and then let them finish cooking in the same pan. While the lentils cook, heat the vegetable broth in a large saucepan. Once the onions and bell peppers are soft, saute them in the vegetable broth until they become translucent.

Mix the minced garlic, chili powder, and smoked paprika with the tomato paste and salt. Mix well and cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it becomes fragrant. If the mixture becomes too dry or sticks to the pan, you might need to add some water. 

Mix the maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and ketchup together with the water. Mix well and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir the lentils into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the mixture for 15 minutes. Enjoy the filling-in burger buns.

Green Lentil Daal


  • 4 cups green lentils 800g
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp mild curry powder
  • 2 bay leaves or 4 curry leaves if you can find them!
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 2 inches ginger minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 red chilis minced
  • 27 fl. oz coconut milk (2 cans) or cream if you want it thicker. 800ml
  • 1 cup water 200 ml ( more if needed)
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper


Place the lentils in large bowls of water. Chop all ingredients and prepare your spices! Over medium heat, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds begin to pop add the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and bay leaves. Stir for a few minutes to make the spices fragrant.

Then, stir in the chili, ginger, garlic, and ginger. Stir until the spices coat the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the lentils to the pot. Drain them. Mix the coconut milk, lime juice, and water together. Cover the bowl with a lid for 15 minutes

After 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir. At this point, you can add any additional vegetables you like. Continue to cook the dish for about 10 minutes more, until any excess liquid is gone. You can add some spinach or herbs to the dish – parsley, coriander, and other herbs work well here!

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie


  • 500 g (3 cups) new potatoes
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 625 g (6 cups) mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed chilies (optional)
  • 250 g (1 cup) ready-to-eat puy lentils (pre-cooked packet)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400g/15oz can)
  • 2 tablespoon tomato purée
  • sea salt and black pepper


Boil the potatoes for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Season and then gently crush the potatoes with a potato mashing or fork. Add half of the chopped parsley. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy frying pan on a medium heat. Once the oil has melted, add the onion to the pan and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Fry for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.

Stir the mushrooms into the oil and fry them for 7 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are softened and have released their juices. Add the water, garlic, and dried crushed chilies. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and then reduce heat to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Turn the grill on high.

Place the lentil mixture in a large baking dish. Next, add the crushed potatoes. Grill for about 8-10 minutes or until potatoes turn golden and crispy.

Surefire Easy Frugal Vegan Poverty Meals

It’s a great way of reducing grocery costs by adding meatless poverty meals to the meal rotation. These delicious meals are great for any occasion, whether you’re doing a meatless Monday once a week or several times per week.

Mexican Vegan Tacos


  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 150 g (1 cup) dried lentils rinsed ( I used brown lentils)
  • 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 480-720 ml (2-3 cups) vegetable stock to your preference
  • shredded lettuce
  • cheese
  • coriander cilantro
  • lime
  • sour cream
  • salsa


In a large saucepan, heat the oil and simmer the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer until lentils become tender. You can add more stock if needed. Keep an eye on it. Season and then remove from heat. Lentils can be served with tacos or any other toppings.

Poverty Meal: Mexican vegan Taco

Peanut Tofu Curry

  • 400 g (14 oz) firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or sub-vegetable or rapeseed oil)
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cm (½ inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of curry powder
  • Pinch cayenne chili pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 150 ml (⅔ cup) coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 200 g (7 oz) French (green) beans, trimmed and halved
  • Salt + pepper to taste


Tofu should be rinsed and drained. Once it is rinsed, dry it with a towel and then cut it into small pieces. Mix the peanut butter, tamari, and water in a large bowl. Mix in the tofu. Make sure that each cube is coated with the sauce. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the spring onions and ginger to the pan and fry for about a minute until softened. Stir in the curry powder, chili, and turmeric. Fry for one minute to make it fragrant.

Mix the red pepper, coriander, lime juice, stock cubes, coconut milk, peanut sauce, tofu (and any remaining marinade), salt + water, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Stir in the French beans, and continue to simmer until they are tender.

Coconut Vegan Korma

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 14-ounce (400g) diced tomatoes or passata
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon fennel
  • ½ teaspoon milk chili powder
  • 1 14-ounce (400ml) can of creamy coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional
  • 1 14-ounce (400g) can butter beans drained and rinsed
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley chopped
  • Naan or basmati rice for serving


Over medium heat, heat olive oil in a saucepan. Cook the onion until translucent and soft. Next, add the garlic and ginger. Mix in diced tomatoes, all spices, and let it cook for about a minute until the mixture becomes fragrant.

Stir in coconut milk, lemon juice, and 1 cup water. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Blend the curry until smooth. Add butter beans to the skillet and heat for one more minute. Serve with basmati rice, naan bread, and garnish with fresh cilantro and parsley.

Eggplant Chickpea Peanut Curry


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided (or sub-vegetable or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 eggplant (aubergine), cut into thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cm (½ inch) ginger, minced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of curry powder, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 150 ml (⅔ cup) coconut milk
  • Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 400 g (14oz) tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Salt, to taste
  • 00 g (7oz) mange tout (or sub-sugar-snap peas or French (green) beans)


In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Keep the heat medium and fry the eggplant slices until golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Once the oil has boiled, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the curry powder, turmeric, and ginger to the pan.

Fry the eggplant for approximately one minute to make it fragrant. The browned eggplant, coconut cream, coriander and agave syrup, lime, stock cubes, stock cubes, peanut butter, chickpeas, salt, and enough water to cover it all. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Cook the mange tout for a few more minutes, until it is cooked through. You can freeze leftovers.

Bean Burgers

Ingredients: makes 4 burgers

  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free quick oats


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper with cooking spray. Mix the beans until you have no more whole beans. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Stir until combined.

Divide the mixture into four equal parts and roll it into balls using clean hands. Place the mixture on a baking sheet and flatten using your palm. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the pan carefully. Bake for 10 minutes more on the opposite side.

Savory Poverty Meals: Soups

Soup is a great way of increasing the amount you can feed people. You can make the perfect poverty meals for cold winter nights by adding homemade bread to your soup bowl.

Cream of Mushroom


  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 6 cups Fresh Mushrooms, diced
  • pinch Thyme, dried
  • ● Salt, to taste
  • ● Pepper, to taste
  • ● 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • ● 2 TBSP Cornstarch
  • ● 2 TBSP Cold Water
  • ● 1 cups Sour Cream
  • ● 1 cups Half and Half


Use the saute function to add the butter and garlic to the instant pot bowl. Cook the mushrooms and shallots for about 4 to 5 minutes. Season the dish with salt, pepper, and thyme.

The chicken broth should be added to the slow cooker. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook. Mix the cornstarch with the water at the end of cooking. Mix the cornstarch, half-and-half, cornstarch slurry, and the cornstarch mixture. Let the cream of mushroom soup thicken for 15 minutes more. Check the seasonings again and adjust if necessary.

Potato Soup


  • 1 ½ Pounds of Potatoes Scrubbed and Peeled
  • ¼ Cup Butter
  • ¼ Cup Flour
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon Chicken
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream
  • ½ Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese Shredded
  • 3 Green Onions Sliced
  • Bacon 8 Slices Cooked Crisp and Crumbled


Place one cup of water in the Instant Pot and then put it in the trivet. Place potatoes on top. Cover the trivet with a lid and seal the pressure valve. Cook at manual high pressure for 20 min. Do a quick release. Put potatoes aside and drain water. Set the Instant Pot to saute. Mix the butter with one tablespoon of flour until smooth. Salt and pepper to your liking.

Once the milk has dissolved, add in Better than Bouillon. Mix occasionally until it thickens. Keep the Instant Pot warm by turning it on. Add the cheese and sour cream. Use a potato masher or a potato peeler to mash the potatoes to your preferred texture. Add the bacon, potatoes, and green onion.

Poverty Meal: Potato Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup


  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis undrained & ½ can (270ml) of other diced tomatoes (unless you want it really spicy use two cans of Rotel)
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or 2 tsp if not using Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilis)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander (ground)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (depends on size & how much you want about .75kg or 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 can (540ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Chopped cilantro to taste (optional)
  • Optional toppings: tortillas, tortilla chips, sliced or diced avocado, guacamole shredded cheese, or sour cream


In the Instant Pot, add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and onion. Next, add the chicken breasts and then sprinkle with the remaining spices. Next, add the black beans and corn. Stir well.

Cover your Instant Pot and allow it to cook at manual high pressure for 6 mins. Note: Pressure builds slowly and can take several minutes. Ten minutes of natural pressure release is enough. To release any remaining pressure, use the quick-release lever

After the chicken has been depressurized, take it out and shred it. It will almost fall apart. Mix the soup with the lime juice. Add the chicken back to the pot.



  • 2 tablespoons oil or calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 2 pounds (900g) stewing beef cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 bell pepper deseeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 cups (500mL) beef stock
  • 1 cup finely sieved tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons red wine
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour made into a paste with 1 tablespoon of water
  • salt to taste
  • parsley for garnish


Select saute and heat half of the oil in the Instant Pot insert. Quickly brown the beef in batches. Remove from the insert and let cool. Continue to saute the onions and peppers for 5 minutes. Switch off the Instant Pot and quickly stir in garlic.

Add the beef stock to the pot and fully deglaze it. Cover the pot with the remaining ingredients and seal it. Set the stew timer for 25 minutes. After a 10-minute NPR, perform a QPR.

Chicken Pot Pie


  • 1 large chicken breast boneless, skinless, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can mixed vegetables Libby’s Mixed Vegetables, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1.5 c chicken broth
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cold water or chicken broth
  • 1 tube refrigerated biscuits large variety


To saute your chicken breasts, add olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic salt to your pressure cooker. Combine. Sauté until chicken pieces are not pink on the outside. Cancel/turn off the pot. Your chicken broth and can of Libby’s mixed vegetables (that have been drained from the can) to the pot. Mix gently. Set your pressure cooker lid closed and the steam valve open. Let the steam valve open and allow it to naturally release for about 2-3 minutes.

Lift the lid and release the steam valve. Then turn the pot off and press the saute key again. Add your heavy whipping cream. Mix the cornstarch with the cold water/or chicken broth in a small bowl until it is smooth. Stir this mixture into the pot. It will begin to bubble once it thickens. Let it bubble for approximately 2 minutes, stirring slowly. Then turn off the heat. It will thicken as it sits.

Make mini bread bowls by following the instructions on the package. Flatten each large biscuit. Turn a muffin pan upside down. Form a circle of biscuits around the muffin pan humps. Bake for approximately. Bake for approximately 11 minutes, or until the tops turn a light/medium golden brown. Take the soup out of the oven, and let it cool on a towel.

Poverty Meals With Leftover Pork Roast

If you pay attention to the sales, pork is one of the most affordable meats that you can purchase. These poverty meals using leftover pork are a great way for your family to stretch their meal budget.

Pork Fried Rice 


  • Any Vegetable You Have
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Ginger (Optional)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • Leftover Pork


Stir fry any vegetables that you have, such as carrots, broccoli, and water chestnuts, along with mushrooms and bamboo shoots. For flavor, add garlic, onion, and ginger, or leave out ginger if you don’t have it. Season the dish with soy sauce and toasted sesame oils. Cook rice until it is nearly done. Add an egg to the mixture and stir again until the egg is incorporated.

If you don’t have any, you can leave out the toasted sesame oils. However, a small amount really enhances the flavor and is well worth it. It lasts almost forever if kept in the fridge.

Sweet And Sour Pork


  • Leftover Pork
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Pineapple Chunks (Optional)
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce


Stir fry bell peppers and carrots. You can also add a small container of pineapple chunks. You can make your own sweet-and-sour sauce, or you can use this one.

Pork Quesadillas


  • Leftover Pork
  • Bell Peppers
  • Mango Salsa


If you wish, you can add bell peppers or black beans to your quesadillas. These are delicious with mango salsa.

Cuban Sandwich


  • Leftover Pork
  • Mustard
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Bread (Cuban Rolls, Italian Bread, or Hoagie Rolls)


This recipe can be made with pork roast, mustard, and Swiss cheese. You can make this bread with Cuban rolls, Italian bread, or hoagie rolls.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


  • Leftover Pork
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Sour Cream


This is the easiest recipe on the list. Make the sweet potatoes by baking them, then dividing them in half. Then add the warm, cut-up pork roast and a dollop of light sour cream. To complete the meal, add a vegetable salad.

Bottom Line: Poverty Meals For Those In Need

Poverty meals play a crucial role in addressing the persistent issue of hunger and poverty within our society. These meals provide a lifeline for individuals and families who are facing financial hardship, allowing them to access nutritious food and maintain their well-being.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!