Pasta with White Beans and Kale is a flavorful budget friendly dinner that's loaded with protein and cooks in about 30 minutes. It is also one of my favorite cheap vegan meals to make!
Dinner on a Budget
This white bean pasta with kale is easy to make but also nutritious so it's a great bang for the buck.
About 7 or 8 years ago, Newark, NJ mayor, Cory Booker, took on a food stamp challenge to spend under $30 for his weekly food intake. The average monthly food stamp benefit back then was only about $133 per person in New Jersey. It went up a little and when I last checked it was about $200 per person. That is still pretty tough for most of us to live on, wouldn't you say?
When I heard about this challenge, it made me think about the meals I would prepare if I was in that situation. This budget friendly dinner of pasta with beans would definitely be one of them. A great benefit of this meal is that it's quick and easy to make and the ingredients can be purchased almost anywhere. Cheap family meals don't have to come from a box.
White Bean Pasta Budget Meal Cost Breakdown
I updated the costs of this meal to present day prices and it is still a good cheap dinner.
Here is the breakdown of my cost to feed 4 to 6 people:
- 16 ounces dried pasta $1.50
- 15 ounce can of white beans $1.00
- 28 ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes $2.00
- 3 cups of kale (or other greens) $2.00
The total came to $6.50 for a dinner meal fit for a small family. I make this meal at home often and if you buy the ingredients on sale, the meal can be as low as $4.00.
Pantry Ingredients and Substitutions
I used some pantry ingredients in this pasta with kale recipe such as olive oil, dried spices, garlic and grated cheese if you don't need the meal to be vegan.
I know not everyone has the luxuries of a well-stocked pantry like I do. But this recipe can be adapted to whatever you have on hand.
- Use Canola oil or butter instead of olive oil
- Use spices you have on hand such as onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, dried basil, or dried oregano to add flavor to the pasta with white beans and kale. Keep a jar of chopped garlic in your fridge if you can. It's cheap, lasts a while and can flavor many dishes.
- Any greens such as spinach or escarole could be substituted for the kale. Look for greens that are on sale. A bag or box of frozen spinach works too.
- Really any dried pasta noodle will be tasty. I like to use bow ties or penne.
- For the beans, look for Cannellini or white kidney beans. You can also substitute red kidney beans, great northern or Navy beans.
This meal contains pasta, vegetables and beans for protein. It is a great vegan choice and if you wanted to add meat to it, you could also add a few links of sliced sausage or chicken to make it even heartier. Or serve it with a simple tossed salad for more nutrition.
How To Make This Cheap Vegan Meal
While this meal is a budget friendly dinner and healthy, it also is super easy to make. Anytime, I can get a meal on the table in under 30 minutes, I am happy.
Here are the simple steps:
- Boil pasta. Drain and keep warm.
- Saute garlic in olive oil; add crushed tomatoes, kale, beans and seasoning.
- Add drained pasta with a bit of pasta water to the tomato, kale and bean mixture. Season the pan of pasta.
- Mix together well. Serve with grated cheese if desired.
Helping Your Local Food Pantry
During the holiday season we are often reminded to help those less fortunate. During the rest of the year it is easy to forget that there are so many families struggling to make ends meet and get enough food on their table. I challenge you to make a meal like this for your family but then donate a few bucks or some canned goods to your local food pantry.
Here are some places that could always use our help:
Whether you are struggling to pay bills or not, everyone loves a quick nutritious meal. What are some of your favorite cheap family dinners? Links in the comment box are always welcome.
More Budget Friendly Dinners:
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese (Easy 5-Ingredient Recipe!)
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs - The Best Crispy Drumsticks out there!
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan Rounds
- Smoky Sausage Vegetable Soup
- Hamburger Steak with Onions and Gravy from Kylee Cooks
If you like this Prosciutto and Blue Cheese Pear Appetizer, please leave a 5-star rating.
Pasta With White Beans and Kale
- 1 lb pasta
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS chopped garlic
- 3 cups kale torn in pieces
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes I used ones flavored with basil
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 can 15 ounces small white beans, rinsed and drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Italian cheese if desired
- Cook pasta ala dente in a large pot of water according to package directions. Drain and keep warm but make sure to reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
- In the meantime, heat oil on medium heat in a large frying pan . Add garlic and kale. Cook for about 5 minutes or until kale starts to wilt.
- Add tomatoes, onion powder, and basil. Sir, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.
- Add beans, cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and simmer for a few minutes or until sauce thickens and sticks to pasta.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cheese if desired.
First Published February 2013; Updated March 2021