Let’s be honest, most of us dream of indulging in luxuries like a fancy breakfast of Iberico ham, white truffles, duck eggs, and Osetra caviar. Later, you can conclude your day with an even fancier dinner of wagyu beef, matsutake mushroom, and a side of black watermelon. It would help if you enjoyed all these luxuries on a yacht with a private chef, somewhere on an exotic island. But, the reality is different for most of us.
We can’t exactly enjoy all the expensive and delicious food mentioned above, but we can make cheap food look and taste good. If you are hosting a small group of friends over the weekend and want to make your dinner table look boujee on a budget, then there are cheap foods you can add to your menu. I bet you’d also enjoy looking for and eating boujee food on a budget. If you’ve been looking for a list of 10 cheap foods that will make you look boujee, then you are in luck.
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10 Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
What’s the easiest choice for a comforting meal that’s easy to prepare, is incredibly filling, and costs next to nothing? Mac and Cheese! I know it’s hard to think of mac and cheese as a boujee meal, but here’s why the smoked Gouda mac and cheese is excellent for your fancy lunch.
First, this recipe replaces the traditional mac and cheddar cheese ingredient with a bolder, smoky flavored, and boujee option; smoked Gouda cheese. Additionally, it’s a typical meal that’s likely a hit with anyone but with a new and welcome upgrade in flavor.
To make this meal even better, you can add some crunch by adding sausage or bacon, green chilies or jalapenos, and some minced herbs. The smoked gouda mac and cheese is an ideal meal for family dinner or lazy weekend afternoons when you want to make something familiar but with a kick of boujee.
9 Broccoli and Egg Fried Rice
Few things match up to an egg in versatility, taste, and price. It’s one of the few indisputably delicious things that are cheap. If you’ve restricted your egg meals to breakfast or brunch, this is your chance to create a boujee yet tasty meal with eggs as the base ingredient.
To make broccoli-fried rice, you only need a few ingredients—mainly broccoli stems, eggs, carrots, garlic cloves, rice, and fresh ginger. You can also add flavor by mixing soy sauce and garnishing with coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
You can’t go wrong with broccoli and egg-fried rice if you want a balanced meal that doesn’t compromise texture or flavor. The key to making this meal look boujee is in the presentation. Serve the meal in a bowl, then place small broccoli florets on the side; if you can use chopsticks, that’s even better.
The presentation and the meals’ contrast in color and texture make for a standard dinner fare in a top restaurant or something equally fancy at home. Another benefit of broccoli and egg-fried rice is that it’s a filling meal serving up to five. Additionally, you don’t need many accompaniments. Pairing this meal with a fruit salad bowl and a select red wine will put you on the contenders’ list for the most boujee person of the year.
8 Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Roasted cauliflower soup doesn’t sound remotely delicious, let alone fancy, but you’d be making a mistake to ignore this delightful soup. Creamy roasted cauliflower soup is one of those meals that becomes your regular after tasting it. Making this soup is also simple and calls for everyday ingredients. If you have a head of cauliflower in your fridge, you likely have all the ingredients you need for this soup.
The main ingredients for this soup include cauliflower, garlic, vegetable broth, butter, nutmeg, and lemon juice. The soup will also be a perfect accompaniment for salads, sandwiches, and other seasonal flavors like brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and greens like kale and arugula. The best news is it freezes well and can remain refrigerated for up to a week.
Creamy roasted cauliflower soup is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a signature soup perfect for every occasion, from brunch with friends to family dinner.
7 Butternut Squash Rounds
It is difficult to miss a bag of potatoes in any household. Potatoes are an easy fallback meal for breakfast and dinner. But, when you’ve had your fill of potatoes or have invited your cute neighbor for dinner, consider the best but seasonal potato alternative: butternut squash.
There are various ways to make fancy butternut dishes, from mashed and roasted to baked. But, for that boujee dinner, make grilled butternut squash rounds with hazelnut and apple toppings. It’s a quick recipe that effortlessly looks fancy.
Another excellent reason to make butternut squash rounds is that it’s an economical meal. One butternut squash can efficiently serve three to four people as a main dish and six to eight as a side dish. Additionally, you can find everything you need to prepare this meal at your local grocery store for less than $20. The main ingredients include butternut, garlic oil, sage leaves, green apples, hazelnuts, and lemons.
It’s also an all-vegetable and gluten-free meal. That’s a great reward point for guests looking for a delicious and boujee vegan dish.
6 Pasta Napoletana
Canned tomatoes are a staple in many households because they are inexpensive and versatile. Additionally, few groceries cost less than $2 and still have a good shelf life like canned tomatoes. In addition to creating various delicious meals, canned tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. Wondering what fancy meal you can whip up with the several cans of tomatoes in your pantry, wonder no more. Pasta Napoletana it is.
To make this hearty pasta dish, you only need a few kitchen staples like onions, garlic, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. Preparation and cooking times total about thirty minutes. Meaning it’s a perfect choice for a Sunday family dinner or simply a night with friends.
What’s even better about this meal is that any pasta works well. Additionally, you don’t have to be picky about the onions—use red, white, or sweet. Any of those onions will still guarantee a delicious meal. If you’ve been looking for a pocket-friendly vegetarian meal but still want it boujee, let pasta Napoletana be your go-to meal.
5White Bean Peach Panzanella
Nothing makes a dish look fancier than different food textures and a pop of color on a plate. A plate of white bean peach Panzanella achieves just that. It’s quick to prepare, is filling, and looks as good as you want. And the best news is, it will cost you less than you think.
Preparing white bean peach Panzanella takes only a few everyday ingredients. The main ingredients include bread cubes, a can of white beans, ripe peaches, and basil leaves. Use regular red wine vinegar, peach jam, dijon mustard, and virgin olive oil for the salad dressing.
If you have cans of white beans and old regular bread and are wondering which quick meal you can whip up without much hassle, then white bean peach Panzanella is the answer. This meal can serve as a main dinner course with other side servings of fruits. Additionally, you can prepare this meal when you have friends over for lunch and top it off with red wine.
4 Pasta with Lentils and Mushrooms
An Italian dish is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. If the dish tastes as good as it looks, even better. The best thing about cheap food that looks boujee is that no one expects it. And, for your next family meet-up, you can make a lasting impression with pasta with lentils and mushrooms.
The best thing about this meal is that it’s vegetarian. This way, you don’t have to make a separate dish if you are entertaining any vegetarian friends. Additionally, you can make the dish vegan by omitting grated cheese from the recipe while still retaining the food’s excellent taste (or replace it with a plant-based alternative).
This meal is cheap because you can buy all the ingredients you need for less than $30 at your local store. Honestly, it’s hard to believe you can make a fancy meal from lentils, penne pasta, garlic cloves, mushrooms, and parsley.
Another factor that makes this meal a hit is it only takes about an hour to prepare, with an average serving of three. Additionally, pasta with lentils and mushrooms tastes just as good if you keep them refrigerated for one or two days. You can refresh the meal by adding a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of water, then reheating in a pan. No one will be able to tell the difference.
3 Hawaiian Grilled Chicken
Many people prefer chicken breasts to thighs, but it’s because you’ve not had a proper chicken thigh meal. If you’re looking to swear off the chicken breast with a filling, this tasty and boujee meal should be on your list: Hawaiian grilled chicken.
The best thing about this meal is chicken thighs cost a fraction of what you’d otherwise pay for chicken breasts. Additionally, it’s an all-in-one preparation meal. It takes little time to prepare and cook but with incredibly delicious results.
Marinate the chicken thighs in coconut milk and sesame oil to add more flavor. After cooking, serve the dish by adding fresh lime salsa and pineapple slices. Other ingredients for this meal include soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and green onions. It’s a budget-friendly meal because you likely have most of the necessary ingredients in your pantry. If you don’t, it will still cost you much less than most fancy restaurant meals.
Hawaiian grilled chicken is a perfect dinner choice, especially when served over a bowl of coconut rice.
2 Balsamic-Glazed Steak Rolls
Steak is generally expensive, yet, for some reason, a juicy and tender steak is the highlight of any occasion. You might not have wagyu beef or another expensive cut for your occasion, but you can certainly replicate the experience by serving delicious Balsamic-glazed steak rolls.
Balsamic-glazed steak rolls make an excellent low calorie, low carb, and low-fat dish if your guests prefer healthier food. What’s even better is that this meal looks expensive. A plus for you because looking boujee never hurt anyone.
These tender steak rolls are stuffed with sautéed onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini, then drizzled with a garlic, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar glaze. The rolls are simply gorgeous on a platter and are scrumptious. Who knew that your regular grocery shopping list could result in a wonderfully boujee meal?
Additionally, these steaks rolls work well for those impromptu guests who drop in because they take about 30 minutes to prepare. Also, you can prepare them in advance and then wait to grill after guests start arriving.
1 Mediterranean Shrimp Kabobs
When you say food that makes you look boujee, seafood comes to mind. And this thought is not far from the truth. If you check the list of the most expensive meals globally, the majority are seafood. But, one misconception about seafood is that it has to be costly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Several seafood options are pocket-friendly and delicious.
There’s no need to miss out on the seafood goodness during friends and family meet-ups because preparation looks intimidating. Just make Mediterranean shrimp kabobs. Shrimp kabobs soaked in a Mediterranean marinade with fresh herbs, garlic, and a hint of lemon are the perfect dinner for a small crowd.
The best thing about shrimp kabobs is that they can double up as an appetizer or a side for the main dinner dish. You also don’t have to worry about an outdoor grill. You can grill shrimp kabobs indoors using an iron cast skillet. If you are looking for a meal that ticks all the boxes, delicious, fancy, time-saving, and cheap, Mediterranean shrimp kabobs are top of the list.