Cheap Meals for Tight Budgets: 12 Ideas for Baked Potato Toppings

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Looking for ideas for baked potato toppings? Here are twelve budget ideas that are cheap, healthy and sure to please the whole family.

baked potatoes with toppings

Looking for a cheap dinner idea?

Well, you can’t get more frugal than the humble spud.

And it doesn’t get any easier than throwing a few in the oven to bake.

Potatoes have long been a poor man’s meal. In an episode of one of my favourite shows, Larkrise to Candleford, the narrator’s father, played by Brendan Coyle, had a single baked potato for his work lunch.

We’re not going to eat our spuds plain, however. We’re going to jazz them up with some easy, delicious, frugal toppings.

There are hundreds of ways you can load up your spud. You’re only limited by your imagination. But I’m sharing 12 ideas below that are family-friendly, easy and frugal.

Potatoes aren’t just a cheap meal when the budget is tight. This essential food staple is a great source of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, Vitamin C, fibre and phytonutrients to name just a few. They’re also a great source (once cooled) of resistant starch, which feeds your gut bacteria.

What if you can’t or don’t want to eat potatoes?

I hear you.

Neither of my kids like potatoes but they do love sweet potatoes. You can easily substitute regular white potatoes with sweet potatoes if you prefer. Prep and cook your sweet potato in the same way.

Best potatoes to use: big Russet potatoes

Best time to eat potatoes in Australia: March – September

12 Family Friendly Baked Potato Topping Ideas

Yield: 4

Plain Baked Potatoes to Stuff

baked potatoes with toppings

How to bake potatoes ready to stuff with your favourite fillings. Plus 12 ideas for baked potato toppings.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • pinch salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Wash and scrub your potatoes if necessary. Use potatoes that are all a similar size so they cook at the same time.
  3. Prick around your spuds a couple of times with a fork
  4. Rub with a little bit of oil and sprinkle on a little good salt.
  5. Bake in the oven for around 1 hour, or until soft and cooked through when tested with a knife (the bigger your spud, the longer the cooking time).
  6. Cut a cross into the cooked potato and squeeze slightly to open. Top with your favourite toppings and serve as is or with a side salad.



  1. Baked beans
  2. Cheese and sour cream
  3. Butter and garlic salt
  4. Sour cream and chives
  5. Bacon, sour cream and cheese
  6. Leftover bolognese sauce
  7. Leftover chilli mince or savoury mince
  8. Leftover vegetarian nacho filling
  9. Steamed vegetables in cheesy white sauce
  10. Tinned tuna, steamed vegetables and mayo or cheesy white sauce
  11. Bacon, cheese, avocado and chopped tomato
  12. Homemade coleslaw
  13. Leftover Bolognese

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 63mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 7gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g

*Nutrition is calculated for potatoes only, not toppings. Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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6. Leftover bolognese sauce


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  1. In the UK, they loved loading their spuds with this concoction of canned tuna with mayo and corn mixed through, then topped with cheese. Sounds weird but tasted good.

    1. Melissa Goodwin says:

      Sounds yummy! Can’t go wrong with tuna and mayo.

  2. Teena Putt says:

    Yum! Thank you so much for your recipes Melissa!! Being pensioners with children at home, we’re on such a tight budget!
    Your recipes are a HUGE HELP to stretch our finances that much further.
    Kind regards,

    1. Melissa Goodwin says:

      Thanks, Teena. Glad they help :)

  3. This is a great meal for feeding a crowd too – you can cook as many potatoes as fit on your oven shelves! We did this for my 40th and provided a range of toppings for people to customise their potatoes.