Skip to Content

Cheap and Easy Chili

Share this recipe:

This homemade chili recipe is a quick, easy and cheap meal idea. Perfect for chilly days when you’re craving a comforting bowl of soup or stew. Ground beef, onions and kidney beans are mixed with diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and chili powder. It’s an easy family favorite!

Serve this homemade chili with toast or garlic bread. Or try our garlic parmesan knots, gluten-free four seed crackers, or even sweet potato biscuits.

A white bowl with chili and a spoon. Slices of toast are on the side of the bowl.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • It’s easy and budget-friendly! Ground beef isn’t too expensive, and all other ingredients are nice and cheap.
  • The ground beef and kidney beans help to fill you up. To make it even more filling, add a side of sliced toast, garlic bread, or serve with pasta.
  • It’s so easy to prepare. Just brown the ground beef and dump in the other ingredients.
  • Add this chili recipe to other meals! Check out our 109 Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas that include adding chili to a burrito casserole, on top of hot dogs, corn dogs or as a base to make chili garlic pizza bread.
Recipe ingredients on the counter including raw ground beef, a can of kidney beans, and bowls of diced tomatoes, chili powder, tomato paste and chopped onion, cornstarch, salt and pepper and a garlic bulb.

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients here are cheap and simple. When mixed together, it creates a delicious chili recipe. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need plus variations:

GROUND BEEF: The recipe uses ½ lb of lean ground beef. You can use any kind of ground meat including ground turkey, ground chicken and ground pork. Consider cooking 1 lb of ground beef then storing half in the freezer for a future recipe.

CHILI BASE: Chopped onion and garlic are sauteed with the ground beef. Then a can of diced tomatoes, some tomato base, chili powder, water, salt and pepper create the base. A can of kidney beans adds extra protein. A little bit of cornstarch is added at the end to help it thicken.

Four images of a white pot showing steps to make the recipe. First is pot with raw ground beef and chopped onion. Second is cooked ground beef and onion. Third is kidney beans, spices, and liquid in the pot. Fourth is cooked chili in the pot.

How To Make This Budget-Friendly Chili Recipe

It’s an easy recipe with three main steps. Brown the beef with onion, add all other ingredients, and stir in cornstarch in the last few minutes. Here’s a quick overview with the full detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Cook the chopped onion, garlic and ground beef in a pot with cooking oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Mix in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, kidney beans, salt and pepper. Let simmer until thickened.
  3. In the last 10 minutes, stir in a water and cornstarch mixture. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Leftover chili can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or frozen. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

Close up of homemade chili in a white bowl with a spoon.

Recipe Tips

  • Stir the chili frequently while it’s cooking.
  • Swap out ground beef with ground pork, ground chicken or ground turkey to help save even more money.
  • Add hot sauce, red pepper flakes, or more chili powder for more spiciness.
  • Top the chili with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sliced green onions.
A white pot with chili inside and a wood spoon. Kitchen towel, metal spoons and sliced toast surround the pot.

More Soup and Stew Recipes

Chili recipe in a white bowl with a spoon inside.

Budget-Friendly Chili Recipe

Save Recipe! Pin This Print It
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings



  • Add chopped onion and ground beef to a large pot over medium high heat. Break apart the ground beef with a flat wood spoon. Stir and cook until the beef has browned, about 2-3 minutes.
    Two images of a white pot. First with chopped onion and a brick of raw ground beef. Second cooked ground beef and onion mixed together.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes (with the liquid from can), tomato paste, 4 cups water, kidney beans, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir together.
    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently.
    Two images of a white pot. First with kidney beans, diced tomatoes and spices dumped overtop of ground beef. Second with a red soup base of ingredients mixed together.
  • While soup is simmering, mix together the cornstarc and ¼ cup of water in a small bowl.
    A white bowl with white liquid and a green silicone spatula with wood handle.
  • Pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup in the last 10 minutes. Stir together and simmer until thickened.
    Remove from heat and serve.
    Two images of a white pot. First with cornstarch poured on top of chili and a wood spoon. Second with mixed chili recipe and a wood spoon.


Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 855mg | Potassium: 1321mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1359IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 7mg
Save This Recipe:Follow us on Pinterest @MadeByAndi

Share this recipe:

Recipe Rating