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Budget Friendly American Goulash- Super Easy!

Have you ever gone through a season where money is tight?

My family’s eaten pretty cheaply a few times in our lives. Whether it was through a job loss or having a baby, we know how to stick to a super cheap budget!

Pasta can be good pantry staples during those lean times because you can get a box for around a dollar. And you can do so many things with it!

Goulash in a bowl with text "budget friendly goulash"

This American Goulash recipe (Also known as American Chop Suey) is just one way to make this classic delicious meal. Think of it almost like a homemade Hamburger Helper, made right on the stove top. It has a tomato-based sauce and a melty cheesy topping.

With just a few ingredients, you’ll have both a cheap and hearty dinner! And it’s done in just 30 minutes, perfect for busy weeknights.

Scroll to the bottom of the post to get to the recipe card for this easy recipe. Or keep reading to get extra tips and ideas!

How much does this recipe cost?

Your cost may vary greatly, depending on where you live. For me, the biggest expense was the ground turkey at $2.49.

Altogether, the ingredients used in this recipe equals $4.89.

That’s $1.22 per serving if it serves 4, or $.81 per serving if it serves 6.

It’s a super cheap recipe, and very filling!

Ingredients for goulash


Like I said above, this is just one way to make goulash. There are all sorts of variations for this pasta dish! I’ve seen it made with tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, yellow onion… honestly, you can use pretty much whatever you have at home.

Macaroni noodles

Ground turkey (Or lean ground beef)

Diced tomatoes

Green pepper- My peppers were frozen, but fresh is just fine

Shredded cheddar



Salt and black pepper

How to make

A large pan with raw ground turkey and frozen diced peppers

In a large saucepan, cook the ground turkey and bell peppers on medium heat until the meat is fully browned.

A pot of boiling water with elbow noodles

Meanwhile, heat a large pot to boiling and add the elbow noodles, cooking until soft. Drain macaroni and add back to pot.

A large pan with cooked ground turkey and peppers, diced tomatoes, and spices

Add diced tomatoes and seasonings to the meat mixture.

Goulash mixed together in a large pan

Add the cooked macaroni and stir.

Goulash in a pan with shredded cheese on top

Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, then divide into 4 bowls and serve.

Goulash in a bowl

How to store

Once the leftovers have cooled to room temperature, the best way is to store them in an individual-sized airtight container in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh for 3-5 days.

Leftover goulash is REALLY good the next day! The noodles absorb some of the liquid, and also the flavor.

What to serve with this

Honestly, this easy goulash recipe is filling enough that you may not need a side item.

But if you feel like it needs a little extra, you can heat up some frozen vegetables. Or serve with a side salad or some crusty bread! Talk about comfort food on a cold night.

As far as healthy recipes go, I’d say this one is still on the list. You’ve got protein from the meat and cheese, and a little fiber from the vegetables. For an extra fiber boost, use whole wheat pasta instead of regular!

More budget meals

Looking for more cheap meal ideas the next time your budget is low? Check out my master post on Meals to Make With Little Money! This post is full of simple recipes that are really cheap and that we relied on a lot during our lean times.

Print the full recipe for this American style goulash:

Budget Goulash Recipe

Budget Goulash Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

On a tight budget this week? Try this Budget Friendly American Goulash recipe! It's cheesy, hearty, and makes a ton!


  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


    1. In a large skillet, cook the ground turkey and diced peppers until the meat is fully browned.
    2. Meanwhile, heat a large pot to boiling and add the macaroni, cooking until soft. Drain and add back to pot.
    3. Add diced tomatoes and seasonings to the meat mixture.
    4. Add the cooked macaroni and stir.
    5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, then divide into 4 bowls and serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 599Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 705mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 50g


Saturday 29th of July 2023

Why are you calling this goulash? Goulash is beef stew. This is pasta salad.


Saturday 29th of July 2023

This is not the traditional goulash. As you see from the title, this is "American" goulash, which is completely different. =)

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