Ahhhhhh!!! Have you ever had more month than money but your family still wanted to eat….
Some weeks, those paydays are smaller than you hoped. Short paydays are a reality many of us have faced from time to time. You might face short paydays more often than not, depending on your season of life. When those seasons hit, your grocery budget is the easiest place to cut back on to help stretch our dollars.
Families need to know how to feed their family quality food and meals even if the budget is tight. Just because a meal is frugal doesn’t mean that it is bad for you or won’t satisfy your family.
I find that many of these cheap meals are just as healthy as meals that cost a few more dollars and are delicious!
Here are some of our favorite Cheap Meals for when you are broke…
Cheap Meals for Breakfast
Everyone loves muffins, but you might not have the funds for creative, bakery-style muffins. Egg muffins are baked in muffin tins, and you can add whatever toppings you have on hand. Cheese and bacon bits are a favorite for my kids and who am I kidding… me too!!!
I’ve also used sliced ham instead or just cheese. You could put tomatoes, mushrooms or spinach in your egg muffins. These are versatile, making them a great cheap meal.
Sawyer loves baked oatmeal. You can eat it warm without milk, in a bowl of milk, or topped with berries. All of the ingredients used in this baked oatmeal recipe are basic, pantry staple items that won’t cost a fortune.
Breakfast burritos are a cheap breakfast you can make in bulk. You can make a dozen or more, and put them in the freezer wrapped. They are easy to reheat and take on-the-go if you have a busy morning. The great thing about breakfast burritos is that you can put whatever items you have on hand. Eggs are the basic ingredient, which happens to be cheap food. Aside from eggs, you can add whatever you want! Meat, beans, cheese, and veggies are choices.
Another choice is to make breakfast bowls! The base of the bowl is cubed seasoned potatoes. After that, you add eggs to the bowls. You can add meats if you have them on hand. Salsa is delicious, especially with the potatoes! Breakfast bowls are freezable as well.
Pancakes and waffles are cheap to make. You can make them with milk, but you also can make them with water. Don’t limit yourself to just syrup. Try peanut butter, powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar as toppings.
Cheap Meals for Lunch
Grilled cheese is a classic lunch menu choice. Don’t knock them just because you are an adult! Kids love grilled cheese, but you can make yours feel a bit healthier by using different cheese or adding veggies and deli meat. Just think of your grilled cheese as a cheap panini without the press.
Vegetable soup is cheap because it doesn’t include any meat. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. In fact, my great-grandma saved all of her extra vegetables after dinners to toss into a pot of vegetable soup at the end of the week. The mixture was eclectic but delicious.
We love soup for lunch because it is so easy to make. You need very few ingredients to make egg drop soup, plus it only takes less than 20 minutes to make.
Mac and Cheese
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese?! You can make boxed mac and cheese, which is pretty cheap. You can also make homemade mac and cheese. If you have an Instant Pot, give this recipe a try.
Quesadillas are another versatile menu option for our family. We make chicken and cheese, lunchmeat and cheese, and veggie quesadillas. To make veggie quesadillas, you can add any veggies you like. Some that we use often are:
- Sauteed onions
- Bell Peppers
- Banana Peppers
We always add cheese, because cheese makes everything better. You can cut out the cheese if you can’t afford it that week.
Cheap Meals for Dinner
Beans are a cheap source of protein. Soaking and cooking dry beans is even cheaper than purchasing canned beans. You can add lettuce and tomatoes for some extra flavor. To make a complete meal, cook rice for a side dish.
Baked Potato Bar
Potatoes are cheap, costing less than $5 for a 10lb bag in most cases. Our family recently tried a baked potato bar, and it was a hit for everyone. All you need to do is cook one or two baked potatoes per person in your family. Then, supply a variety of toppings. Options include:
- Cooked deli meat
- Sour cream
The options are truly endless. Put out the toppings and let your family build their baked potato. It is easy, cheap and versatile.
Cook a Whole Chicken
If you want to stretch your dollars, learn how to cook a whole chicken. A whole chicken can stretch for two or more meals.
First, I boil a chicken with a diced onion, carrots, celery and a clove or two of garlic. I let this boil and simmer for two or three hours until cooked. Then, I pick off the meat.
Our family eats the shredded chicken on a sandwich with a side dish; then we save the chicken for another meal.
Chicken and Dumplings
You have broth from the chicken you boiled. Take that broth out of the pot and strain the bits and pieces out of the broth. That includes the veggies. Put back into the pot and bring it back to a boil.
Next, whisk six to eight eggs in a boil. Add two to three cups of flour and a tsp of salt. Mix well together until you create a dumpling batter. It should be thick.
Once your broth is back to a boil, drop dumpling into the broth off of a spoon. Afterward, put a cup or two of shredded chicken into the soup. When the dumplings come to the surface, they are cooked and ready for dinner!
We love one pot meals as a family. Chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breasts, so that makes this meal even more affordable. Potatoes are cheap, and you could change the vegetables if you don’t have carrots on hand.
Anything with rice is frugal. Rice is cheap, so you can add more rice to this recipe if you need to stretch it further. You can also add more vegetables, rather than meat, to feed more people.
Without a doubt, one of the cheapest meals to make is pasta. All you need is noodles and a jar of spaghetti sauce. Together, you can purchase both for less than $4. You could make homemade bread to go along with the dinner or a tossed salad.
Tuna is relatively inexpensive. A can costs less than a dollar. Purchase a generic can of mushroom soup to make the meal cheaper. Tuna noodle casserole is a dinner of my childhood, and it is delicious!
Potatoes are cheap, so why not utilize them as often as possible when you are broke? Potato soup is easy to make and filling. You can add bacon or ham, but it is far from a necessity. Put crackers or cornbread on the side, because everyone needs something to dip in that yummy soup.
These are just a few of our favorite meals for when we are broke. Use some creativity and less meat to stretch your budget further than you ever thought. Pantry staples will fill your bellies and make from-scratch cooking even easier.
Another great way to save money is to meal plan. You know you have eat every day… so why not make a meal plan so that you can save money and frustration.
Are you currently looking for keto recipes? Check out these keto meal prep recipes!