One of my favorite meals is pasta e fagioli. If you grew up around Italians, you heard it called pasta fazool.
And it is a very inexpensive meal. And, to top it off, it's very healthy.
I start with a large onion. I chop it in big pieces because we like onions, but if you and your family aren't big fans, then just dice the onion. I sweated the onions in a 2 quart saucepan, using my garlic infused oil described in previous posts, but any would be fine. Just add a clove of garlic as the onions are nearly done if you don't have the garlic oil. Burnt garlic is nasty, so add it when the onions are almost done.
Then add a large can of tomatoes. I used Whole Foods store brand organic (365) whole tomatoes so I got the best for less. Pureed or chopped would work just as well. Use whatever you get on sale.
Add 2 cups (or one 16 oz can) of white Northern beans (or whatever you have on hand or got on sale.) I use White Northerns that I buy dried and then soak overnight, and cook first.
Let it simmer for a few hours on the lowest heat. This would be great in a crock pot.
Add some oregano (tsp) near the end of cooking.
Usually this dish would then have pasta (cooked first) added and simmered minutes before the end.
Garnishing with grated Romano cheese is optional.
Here's how I keep it healthy:
I use whole wheat pasta (ziti this time) and can control my pasta portion. I use it almost like a sauce, mixing a large ladleful with my pasta portion in the bowl.
It is good for diabetics because white beans have been shown to help control blood sugars. Also, various studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is better for diabetics. I like making it this way also because by not adding the pasta until serving, it doesn't get mushy when left over. I always make a batch large enough for leftovers. : )
Nice variation: don't add the pasta, and use a stick blender, and turn everything into a creamy soup. Very low cal, and tasty. Especially good for winter.