Simple Chili (for low-budget food challenge)

Simple Chili
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One of the meals I made to last most of the week for the low-budget food challenge was a simple chili. I was surprised I was able to pull this off without my usual poblano and jalapeno peppers, among other ingredients. This isn’t the best chili I’ve made, but it tasted good and it was quite filling.

I made this in the dutch oven, but it could easily be made in any large pot. It could also be made in a slow cooker after browning the beef.

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Simple, Low-Cost Chili

A budget-friendly chili recipe.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Bean Soaking Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: budget friendly chili, cheap chili, chili, low cost recipe
Servings: 7 servings
Cost: $6.12



  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • ½ cup dried black beans
  • ½ cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package McCormick Original Chili Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt


  • Soak beans per the instructions on the bag, either quick soak or overnight method. Do not get rid of the liquid!
  • Preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown, stirring occasionally and breaking up the pieces. (Note: Normally I would start with olive oil and cook some garlic and onions first, but being limited in resources due to the low budget challenge, I did not have olive oil to use, and I didn’t want to waste any of the butter. I decided the fat from the beef would be just fine for cooking the onions.)
  • Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
  • Add beans (including the liquid from soaking), canned tomatoes, chili seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes. (Note: I let mine simmer for about an hour (stirring occasionally) because I was doing other things, but it would have been fine to eat after 20 minutes.)


The 7 servings is based on 1½ cups per serving – the recipe makes 10½ cups of chili.
If your package of ground beef isn’t quite half a pound, it’s totally fine. The package I used was 0.44 lbs. 
You can use canned beans instead of dried. I’d just recommend using one can of chili beans or one can of kidney beans. Using one can each of black and kidney will be too much.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

I estimated the nutritional information using the recipe builder on the USDA SuperTracker. If you’re on a low sodium diet, you can reduce the amount of sodium by about 78% if you don’t add the 1tbsp of salt to the recipe.

% of Daily Target or Limit
Total Calories165 8% limit
Protein12 g26% target
Carbohydrate21 g16% target
Dietary Fiber7 g30% target
Total Sugars4 gNo daily target or limit
Added Sugars0 g0% limit
Total Fat4 gNo daily target or limit
Saturated Fat1 g6% limit
Monounsaturated Fat 2 gNo daily target or limit
Polyunsaturated Fat1 gNo daily target or limit
Linoleic Acid0 g2% target
α-Linolenic Acid0.1 g10% target
Omega 3 – EPA1 mgNo daily target or limit
Omega 3 – DHA0 mgNo daily target or limit
Cholesterol18 mg6% limit
Calcium68 mg7% target
Potassium563 mg12% target
Sodium1269 mg55% limit
Copper224 µg25% target
Iron8 mg42% target
Magnesium55 mg17% target
Phosphorus159 mg23% target
Selenium6 µg11% target
Zinc2 mg27% target
Vitamin A29 µg RAE4% target
Vitamin B60.3 mg22% target
Vitamin B120.6 µg23% target
Vitamin C16 mg21% target
Vitamin D0 µg0% target
Vitamin E1 mg AT5% target
Vitamin K6 µg7% target
Folate106 µg DFE27% target
Thiamin0.8 mg75% target
Riboflavin0.1 mg13% target
Niacin2 mg17% target
Choline34 mg8% target

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