The 12 cheapest meals in South Africa (most under R100)

Looking for cheap meals you can make at home on a budget in South Africa? Here are our favourite dinner ideas. Most costing well under R100.
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R100 isn’t a lot to work with. But, with the right meal, you can feed up to four people.

I grew up on some and make most of these meals to this day. (#1 is my favourite :))

Here are twelve awesome affordable dishes you can make at home in SA.

Let’s get cooking.

 

12 cheap dinner ideas for South Africans

  1. Lentil and tomato pasta
  2. Chicken, rice, and veg
  3. Bolognese
  4. Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches
  5. Boerewors rolls & chips (or pumpkin mash)
  6. Vegetarian burrito bowl with rice
  7. Chickpea broccoli and rice bowl
  8. Chicken wraps
  9. Veggie Burger and chips
  10. Boerewors, green peas and mash
  11. Grilled mac n cheese
  12. Frozen fish, fries and salad

 

Bolognese with lentils, parmesan, and basil on a plate.

1. Lentil and tomato pasta

Ingredients:

  • Canned lentils – 1 can
  • Pasta – 1 Cup
  • Tomato paste 50g – 1x sachet
  • Baby Plum Tomatoes – 100g
  • Optional extras: Add All Gold and sweet chilli sauce to the lentil mix and cheese or feta to the dish.

 

Total cost: Under R45

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

This Lentil and Tomato Pasta is a secret weapon for anyone cooking on a budget. It’s hearty, and it’s cheap. With just a can of lentils, some pasta, and a few tomatoes, you’ve got a dish that feels gourmet without the gourmet price.

This dinner idea proves you don’t need to spend big to eat well. Quick, cost-effective, and utterly satisfying—this is smart cooking at its best.

Pro tip: Use a can of Pot O’ Gold Lentils In Tomato Puree & Brine [from Checkers] for a little extra flavour. (It’s what I use to cook this dish.)

 

Chicken and vegetable rice in a skillet, with herbs on the side.

2. Chicken, rice, and veg

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts – 1 pack
  • Frozen stir-fry vegetable mix – 350g
  • Rice – 1 Cup
  • Optional extras: A sauce of your choice. Just a dash mayo or sweet chilli sauce can go a long way with this dish.

 

Total cost: Under R100

Serves: 4

This chicken, rice, and veg dish isn’t just cheap. It’s also nutritious. It’s simple: one pack of chicken breasts, a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, and a cup of rice. With ingredients like these, you’re crafting a meal that feels both nourishing and indulgent, all while keeping the cost under R100. It’s smart, satisfying, and oh-so-simple.

 

Spaghetti bolognese with meat sauce and shredded cheese on a dark plate.

3. Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti – 100g
  • Tomato relish – 450g (or 1 can)
  • Mince – 700g – 1kg
  • Optional extras: Cheese

 

Total cost: Under R135

Serves: 4

Want to enjoy an Italian dinner on a budget? This budget bolognese is a smart choice for anyone looking to dine well on a budget. With just 100g of spaghetti, a can of tomato relish, and between 700g to 1kg of mince, you’re on your way to a classic dish that really hits the spot. (Without the hefty price tag.)

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Tomato soup with chives and grilled cheese sandwiches on the side.

4. Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches

Ingredients

  • Creamy tomato soup – 400g (or 1 can)
  • Sliced bread – 8 slices
  • Cheese
  • Optional: Swap the toasted cheese sandwiches with garlic bread for some variety.

 

Total cost: Under R60

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

Craving comfort food without the cost? This tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwich combo is the way to go. Just a can of soup, 8 slices of bread, and some cheese. Dinner for two for under R60. It’s the definition of delicious affordability.

 

Grilled boerewors in toasted buns on a paper tray.

5. Boerewors rolls & chips

Ingredients

  • Boerewors – 1 pack
  • Hotdog rolls – 6 pack
  • Frozen chips (fries) or homemade potato wedges  – 120g
  • Tomato sauce
  • Optional extras: Use relish instead of tomato sauce or a side of frozen veg or mashed pumpkin instead of chips.

 

Total cost: Under R100

Serves: 4

A traditional South African dinner idea for under R100 for the whole family. Kids love this one. Boerewors rolls & chips feed four with just a pack of boerewors, six hotdog rolls, and your choice of frozen chips or homemade potato wedges. 

For a healthier alternative, sneak in some greens by adding a side of frozen veg or swapping chips for mashed pumpkin.

 

Burrito bowl with rice, beans, corn, cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

6. Vegetarian burrito bowl with rice

Ingredients:

  • Canned black beans – 1 can
  • Tomato – 2 whole tomatoes
  • Onion – 1 whole onion
  • Rice – ½ Cup
  • Cheese (grated)
  • Avocado – 1 whole avo for Guac
  • Optional extras: Avocado 

 

Total cost: R75

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

Nachos are delicious, but the tortilla chips [the nacho chips] and meats are pricey. So, why not swap it for cheaper alternatives like rice and beans? Enter… the vegetarian burrito bowl with rice.

For just R75, this dish combines the rich textures and tastes of black beans, fresh tomatoes, crisp onions, and creamy avocado, all atop a bed of perfectly cooked rice. It’s healthy, filling, and best of all… cheap.

Sidenote: If you’re enjoying this post, then you may like some of our other content.

Here are a few that can help you increase your dinner budget.

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Chickpeas and broccoli over rice with sesame seeds on top.

7. Chickpea broccoli and rice bowl

Ingredients:

  • Canned chickpeas – 2 cans
  • Broccoli florets – 350g
  • Rice – 1 Cup
  • Optional extras: Add some sauce. Mayo, jalapeno, or blue cheese sauce all complement this dish.

 

Total cost: Under R100

Serves: 4 (half serves 2)

Whip up a chickpea, broccoli, and rice bowl for a meal that’s nutritious and wallet-friendly. With just two cans of chickpeas, a generous helping of broccoli florets, and a cup of rice, you’ve got a healthy meal for two for under R100.

 

Chicken wrap with fresh veggies on a white plate.

8. Chicken wraps

Ingredients:

  • Wraps  – 2 wraps
  • Lettuce – 30g
  • Tomato – 1 whole tomato
  • Chicken breast – 2 chicken breasts
  • Frozen stir-fry vegetable mix – 175g
  • Frozen chips (fries) or homemade potato wedges  – 80g

 

Total cost: Under R80

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

For a quick, tasty, and budget-friendly meal—try chicken wraps. For under R80, grab two wraps, a bit of lettuce, a tomato, a couple of chicken breasts, and a handful of frozen stir-fry vegetables. Then, add some frozen chips or homemade potato wedges to make it even more filling.

Perfect for a busy night or when you’re simply looking to keep costs low, this recipe serves two but is easily doubled to cater to four.

 


Sesame seed bun with greens and sprouts on a rustic table.

9. Veggie Burger and chips

Ingredients

  • Hamburger rolls – 4 rolls
  • Veggie patties – 4 patties
  • Lettuce – 40g
  • Tomato – 2 whole tomatoes
  • Onion – ½ onion
  • Frozen chips (fries) or homemade potato wedges – 120g

 

Total cost: Under R100

Serves: 4 (half serves 2)

Want to enjoy a cheap burger meal? Swap out the beef patties for veggie patties. It’s a cheaper, healthier, and kinder alternative that satisfies the craving.

With just four hamburger rolls, veggie patties, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and a side of either frozen chips or homemade potato wedges, you can prepare a cheap meal and serve four for under R100.

Pro tip: Woolworths has delicious vegetarian patties between R40 -R50 for four.

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Sausages with mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy on a plate.

10. Boerewors, green peas and mash

Ingredients:

  • Boerewors – 1 pack
  • Frozen peas – 90 to 100g
  • Potatoes – 6 potatoes

 

Total cost: Under R120

Serves: 4

Boerewors, green peas, and mash—a budget-friendly South African style classic. This simple yet satisfying meal combines the rich flavours of boerewors with the freshness of green peas and the homey goodness of mashed potatoes.

With just a pack of boerewors, a small serving of frozen peas, and six potatoes, you can serve a delicious dinner for four at under R120.

 

Spoonful of baked macaroni and cheese with a golden top.

11. Grilled mac n cheese

Ingredients

  • Macaroni or elbow pasta – 200g
  • Cheese – 120g to 160g of cheddar
  • Egg – 1 whole egg
  • Flour or corn flour – ⅛ cup
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Optional extras: butter adds more flavour. (It also adds more cost.) 

 

Total cost: Under R60

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

A classic. Mac n cheese. To make it affordable, just use less ‘fancy’ ingredients. Instead, try just 200g of macaroni or elbow pasta, a good amount of cheddar, one egg, a bit of flour (or corn flour), and a cup of milk, you’re all set to create this cheesy masterpiece for two for under R60.

Need to serve four? Just double up on ingredients.

 

Breaded fish with fries and a side salad with lemon.

12. Frozen fish, fries and salad

Ingredients:

  • Frozen crumbed fish fillet – 1 fish fillet
  • Frozen chips (fries) or homemade potato wedges  – 80g
  • Lettuce – 30g
  • Tomato – 1 whole tomato
  • Red onion – ½ onion
  • Feta – 50g [or less]

 

Total cost: Under R50

Serves: 2 (double to serve 4)

Enjoy a quick, budget-friendly feast with frozen fish, fries, and a crisp Salad. All for under R50 for two or under R100 for four. This meal combines the crunch of crumbed fish alongside your choice of fries or potato wedges, complemented by a fresh salad sprinkled with delicious feta.

Perfect for a hassle-free dinner that satisfies both your taste buds and your budget.

Pro-tip: Get I&J Fish Fingers from Pick n Pay for the kids. Serving fish fingers can help lower the cost. Especially if you buy the 600g or 24 fish finger box.

 

Final thoughts

There you have it. Twelve budget-friendly dinner ideas for you to try at home. To come up with your own affordable recipes, try the following:

  • Swap meats for veg (like beans or veggie alternatives)
  • Use rice, pasta, and potatoes to bulk up your meals without making them expensive.
  • Use frozen veg wherever you can. It usually costs less, and it doesn’t go off.

 

Bon Appétit

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