What to Cook for the Week When You've Only Got $7 in the Bank


Total Bank Balance: Seven Dollars

My heart hit the floor and butterflies rose in my stomach. I was terrified.

There’s nothing quite so stressful as looking at your bank account and realising you’ve only got a few dollars in there to survive until payday.

Life throws us curve balls and unexpected expenses pop up, and every now and again, we need to survive on very little while we save to get things back on track.

If you’ve only got a few dollars in your bank account and you’re wanting to eat for the week, it’s not all over. The secret is meal prep: cooking a batch of food for a low cost and freezing it to eat throughout the week.

I’m going to share with you a recipe which is delicious, simple, and cost less than $7 for a week of dinners.

And, even if you’re not down to your last seven dollars, spending only seven dollars on dinner for the week is a great routine to get into to build up emergency savings, or to save up for something amazing.

The $7 delicious lentil soup recipe

I classify myself as a beginner cook. The recipes I share are super simple because that’s my level. I try to cook with five ingredients or less to make it even easier – but I’m not compromising on flavour.

This lentil soup is a little twist on a recipe I spotted online. It’s full of veggies and legumes, so it’s healthy and hearty.

Let’s break it down.


  • 2 x cans of lentils
  • 1 x carrot
  • 1 x brown onion
  • 1 x can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 x sweet potato
  • 2 x cups of water
  • Vegetable Stock

Optional extras:

  • A sprinkling of oregano leaves, pepper or cheese for garnishing the soup
  • Bread rolls to eat with the soup


Makes around 5 – 7 portions of soup


Yep, all that costs less than $7, and it makes enough around 5 – 7 portions.

In fact, I think it was closer to $5.25 for the soup ingredients, but I wanted the bread rolls, too.

You can bet I bought the no-name lentils for half price, so they were only $0.75 per can. (And you can read why I’m proud of this act of rebellion right here).

And, I make my own vegetable stock using leftover vegetable scraps, so it’s free.

Cost effective and delicious. Let’s cook.

How to do it

To prepare this amazing meal, I needed:

  • a chopping board
  • a good knife to chop the veggies
  • big pot for boiling the soup
  • a wooden spoon for stirring
  • a ladle to serve my soup
  • and 5 + freezer-safe containers to store my soup in (I use previously-loved jam jars).

It took about ten minutes to prep the food: I chopped up all these veggies, then put all the ingredients in the pot to boil.

I boiled it for around an hour, stirring it every ten minutes or so so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom and burn. (If you’re worried you’ll forget, pop a timer on your phone!).

After about an hour when my sweet potato was nice and soft, I turned off the heat and let the soup cool.

Then, I poured these into separate containers and froze them to eat throughout the week.

Simple, healthy, delicious and affordable. Who says you can’t have everything?!

My take

It’s been a few years since I’ve been down to my last $7 – but that feeling is still with me. And I don’t want to be in that position again. One simple thing I can do to get better with money is to learn to cook.

I look back on the times when I was tired at night and didn’t want to cook, so I spent $20 on takeout.

Not only was it unhealthy, but I either ate too much because I felt guilty about the money spent, or forgot to eat the leftovers the next day, so wasted the money by not eating what I bought.

I must have spent thousands a year on takeout.

Now, I can spend an hour on the weekend, spend $7 and have dinner for the whole week.

I am so glad I’ve spent the time over the last few years to learn a few more recipes, so I don’t need to rely on takeout when I’m tired.

It’s a pretty big win for me because I’m learning new skills, eating better and saving loads of money.

And my kitchen after all this cooking? Looks a real happy mess.

DIY inspo

Check out our Pinterest board of easy and delicious meals. Pick one to cook this weekend, freeze it up and eat it over the next week.

Let us know if you managed to make something for the week for less than $7!

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