The Best Budget Recipe Ideas from Ina Garten

updated May 24, 2019
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Ina Garten has good taste — like, really good taste. Her very specific preferences for the finer ingredients in life have birthed countless memes, aspirational fan accounts, and a swath of devotees who want to cook just like her (but don’t have limitless funds to spend on a sack of saffron).

We have good news for Ina fans across the globe: You don’t have to break the bank to be (or cook like) the Barefoot Contessa.

Yes, there are occasions that call for an extravagant four-hour leg of lamb recipe and your finest bottle of red. (Ina can help with that.) And then there are nights when you just want to be Barefoot on a Budget. (Ina’s got you covered there too.) Here are a few of Ina’s best budget recipes that won’t cost you an arm and a leg — of lamb.


  • Sunday Morning Oatmeal: You guys, Ina Garten has quick-cook oatmeal every single day for breakfast. If that’s not a budget breakfast, I don’t know what is! Of course, she doctors up her oats with some banana slices, dried cherries, and golden raisins, too.
  • Country French Omelet: Do you have eggs? Some bacon? A potato? Good olive oil? Boom. Breakfast.
  • Homemade Muesli with Berries: Another use for quick-cook oatmeal: homemade muesli! Ina recommends that you combine the oats with chopped nuts, granola, and salt and soak in a little bit of hot water. Macerate whatever berries you have with sugar and stir into the oats.


  • Summer Garden Pasta: Pasta is always my fallback when I’m running low on groceries for the month. Ina just gets it. This gorgeous summer pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese is speaking to me.
  • Spaghetti Aglio e Olio: This is one of the most basic pasta dishes of all time, and if you have a box of spaghetti and a few cloves of garlic on hand, you are halfway there.
  • Easy Parmesan “Risotto”: If you’re trying to cook on the cheap, but still want to make an indulgent meal, risotto is the way to go. Ina’s recipe calls for Arborio rice, chicken stock, Parmesan cheese, white wine, and frozen peas.


  • Roasted Ratatouille with Polenta: Ina likes to make a big bowl of creamy polenta for Jeffrey when the weather turns chilly at night. The weather is now chilly at night, so I’m going to make a big bowl of creamy polenta for myself.
  • Lentil Vegetable Soup: Our food team swears by lentils to make budget-friendly (yet still-filling) meals. Clearly so does Ina! This hearty soup recipe calls for a pound of them.
  • Roasted Potato Fennel Soup: The moral of the story is, always keep potatoes on hand. Like Ina, this soup will warm your soul — and will not send you into a tailspin of credit card debt.


  • Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken: Roast chicken has magical powers and Ina would know because she makes it every Friday night. This roast chicken is both magical and budget-friendly. It calls for a whole chicken, which is significantly cheaper by the pound compared to pre-sliced chicken breasts.
  • Individual Meatloaf: While a personal meatloaf is nothing short of aspirational, the ingredient list here is nothing short of attainable. (Leave it to Ina to have me use “meatloaf” and “aspirational” in the same sentence.)
  • Parmesan Chicken: Put this chicken recipe in your back pocket because you’re going to need it when funds are running low. The priciest ingredient necessary is good olive oil — which we know you already have because you trust in Ina before all things.