Rice and Beans
Our favorite super cheap and easy meal is rice and beans. We make basmati rice in the rice cooker (but any variety would work), and meanwhile rinse and drain a can of beans. We usually use kidney or black beans, but any variety would be fine. Put the beans in a pan with some chopped onion or garlic over medium heat, then add a small amount of water and a veggie bouillon cube.
You can add different herbs and spices for different flavors, or add other veggies. You can make a chili/salsa-esque dish by adding some diced tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce. Or, try some Italian seasoning. The other night I just added some ground coriander and a little shake of red pepper flakes. Dried beans would make it even cheaper, but canned beans are more convenient.
Fresh Baked Bread
Another cheap and quick idea is the "Bread in five minutes a day" books - of course, the books are pricey, but you might be able to get them at your local library. Otherwise, you can find the basic white recipe here: Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day
. Or, you can find the whole wheat master recipe in the video here: Healthy bread in five minutes a day
. The white recipe literally only uses flour, yeast, salt and water. The wheat recipe requires some wheat gluten, which is a little more pricey, but you only use 1/4 cup for a 4-pound recipe. Both recipes are delicious and don't require any special equipment besides a large 5-qt bowl. They recommend a baking stone, but a cookie sheet will work just fine. If you like an extra crispy crust, you just take the bread off the cookie sheet for the last 10 minutes of baking.