Sandwiches are comfort food, and the nostalgia evoked by classics such as simple grilled cheese makes them all the more delicious. These days, bread is dressed up with everything from imported oil-packed sardines to air-dried wagyu beef, but sandwiches are still generally budget-friendly. Plenty of tasty sandwiches can be made for less than $1.
Whether you prefer scrambled, fried, or poached, one egg (30 cents) sprinkled with salt and pepper and sandwiched between two slices of toasted bread (40 cents) makes an excellent start to the day or a quick afternoon snack. There's even room to dress it up with a smear of mayo (5 cents) or slice of cheese (20 cents) and stay under $1 a serving. (Frugal tip: Check out these ways to put stale bread to use.)
This classic sandwich can be enjoyed with cold cuts straight from the fridge, at room temperature, or heated up in the toaster for a crunchy exterior and slightly melty interior. To make, layer one thick slice of deli ham (30 cents) and one slice of cheese (20 cents) between two slices of bread (40 cents).
This sandwich makes a decadent snack, dessert, or breakfast for those who crave sweets in the morning. While it is delicious at any temperature, toasting it lightly creates a warm treat with a slight crunch. To make, spread an ounce of Nutella (30 cents) onto a slice of bread (20 cents), add sliced banana (30 cents) and top with another slice of bread (20 cents). (Here are a bunch of banana recipes, each offering its own appeal.)
A combination of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff hits all the right flavor receptors with its sweet and salty profile. To make, simply spread an ounce each of peanut butter (20 cents) and marshmallow creme (15 cents) on two slices of bread (40 cents). (Peanut lovers might enjoy some of these easy, nutty recipes, too.)
This lunch or snack is sophisticated enough to be cut into fours and served as an hors d'oeuvre with wine. A drained can of white beans ($1) blended with dried or fresh Italian herbs (20 cents) and the juice of a lemon (70 cents) makes enough filling for five sandwiches. Spread evenly on five slices of toasted bread ($1) and top with sea salt and a small handful of fresh arugula (50 cents), then top with toasted bread ($1). (Here are a dozen more recipes that celebrate the humble bean.)
Just two pieces of bread (40 cents) with two slices of cheese (40 cents) and an ounce of butter (20 cents) griddled, toasted, or melted in the oven is a combination that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. There are few simple, cheap meals as satisfying as melted cheese between lightly toasted or grilled bread.
These delightful tea sandwiches are light, refreshing, and perfect for sharing. Spread half an ounce of cream cheese (13 cents) on a piece of bread (20 cents) and layer slices of cucumber (15 cents) with salt and pepper, then top with another slice of bread (20 cents) also covered with cream cheese (13 cents). They're even more budget-friendly in summer when cucumbers are in season.
Add some mayonnaise, carrots, celery, onion, and pickles ($1 worth) to a can of tuna ($1) and it's easy to make four sandwiches from one batch. Divide among four pieces of toasted bread ($1.60), add a leaf of crunchy lettuce (15 cents), and top with more toast for a heart-healthy meal. (Frugal tip: Check out these simple kitchen hacks that save food and money.)
Using hummus that you make at home can bring the cost of a hummus sandwich down dramatically, but even those who prefer to save time with pre-made hummus can enjoy this sandwich for pennies. Spread 2 tablespoons of a preferred store-bought hummus (55 cents) between two pieces of toasted bread (40 cents) for a simple, savory snack.
This crunchy, sweet, and savory sandwich is healthy and tasty any time of day. Slice one-quarter of an apple of any variety (25 cents) and layer with 1 ounce of cheddar cheese (30 cents) between two slices of bread (40 cents) to enjoy this farmer-style snack. (Here are some more creative apple recipes to consider.)
Pack flavor into vegetables by roasting or grilling them with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. One tablespoon of vinegar (10 cents) is enough for a small onion (30 cents) and bell pepper ($1). Once cooled, use the veggies to make three sandwiches by dividing them over three slices of bread (60 cents). Smear a half-ounce of creamy cheese such as boursin or chevre (30 cents) on three more slices of bread (60 cents) and combine.
A simple and comforting classic, an egg salad sandwich is easy, cheap, and satisfying. To make, simply combine a hard-boiled egg (30 cents), a half rib of diced celery (5 cents), a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste (15 cents). Put the egg salad between two pieces of bread (40 cents), whether soft and fresh or toasted for crunch. Adding curry powder can be a nice twist. (Here are some more easy egg recipes to nibble on.)
Take the basic elements of pizza and repurpose them into a scrumptious, easy-to-eat sandwich built with a quarter-cup of marinara sauce (20 cents) and a thick slice of mozzarella (20 cents) between two pieces of bread (40 cents). Place in a hot oven or toaster until the cheese melts and the flavors combine. Marinara sauce can also be easily made at home, too.
A riff on the classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, this version replaces the bacon with heart-healthy avocado for a creamy, rich flavor. The avocado also stands in for mayonnaise, making this a vegan-friendly option. With a fork, mash a quarter of a large Hass avocado (40 cents) onto two toasted pieces of bread (40 cents) and top with salt. Layer on a thick slice of tomato (10 cents) and crunchy lettuce (10 cents).
A list of inexpensive sandwiches wouldn't be complete without this classic. Satisfying at any age, salty peanut butter with fruity and sweet jelly on soft bread is an easy-to-pack sandwich that also couldn't be easier (or cheaper) to make: Spread an ounce of peanut butter (20 cents) on a slice of bread (20 cents) and an ounce of jelly (10 cents) on another slice (20 cents), then combine.