Cheap Meals to Make
We’ve all been there: gotten to the middle of the month (or maybe not even that far!) and our grocery budget is gone. You frantically look through grocery receipts from the month and wonder how it went so fast. Because surely your cash must have just fallen out of your pocket the last time you were at the store! But no, it’s true, your budget for the month has been used up and there isn’t anything else left to spare.
But, of course, you still have to feed your family! It’s times like these that I’m thankful that we know to keep a hearty pantry stockpile on hand at all times, because you never know when it could happen that you might need to use it. (More about stockpiling here and here.)
When that time hits, you will want to have this post on hand for ideas. The meal ideas that follow are frugal, use many pantry staples, and could save your budget on months when you are stretched thin. Please make sure to add your own cheap and frugal meal ideas in the comments section!
- Homemade Pancakes (make with Homemade Pancake Syrup for an even cheaper meal!)
- Cooked Whole Chicken
- Vegetable Soup
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Taco Salads (or anything made with home canned beans!)
- Tacos with Homemade Tortillas (or Enchiladas with homemade Enchilada Sauce)
- Stretching a Buck Lasagna
- Hashbrown Casserole
- In the summer…Simple Squash Bake
- BBQ Drumsticks (made with homemade BBQ Sauce)
- Anything with homemade Refried Beans (or Refried Black Beans)
- Breakfast Burritos using Homemade Tortillas
- French Toast Casserole
- In the summer…anything using garden produce.
Of course, during those lean times, it’s also important to skip store bought expensive products such as condiments and other pre-packaged items. We have a big list of Make Your Own recipes you can check out for cheap alternatives!
Of course, what better way to find cheap meal ideas than to ask our community! A few weeks ago I asked on our Facebook page for you to share your favorite cheap meals to eat when your budget is stretched. Here are some frugal meal ideas from you, our readers!
- Mini Ground Turkey Meatloaves, made in muffin tins so extras can be frozen for later. – Patricia S.
- Pinto Beans and Rice. – Robin C.
- Beans and Cornbread. – Julie S.
- Chili (to be used for taco meat, chili dogs, etc). – Karen B.
- Cabbage Casserole (Cabbage cut into small bite size pieces add cooked hamburger (or not), salt, and pepper to taste, then add tomato soup. Cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes). – Betty W.
- Navy Beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread. – Mary Beth W.
- Biscuits and Gravy or Toast and Gravy. – Mary J.
- Pasta with steamed veggies and butter. – Barbara P.
- Grits and Cheese with eggs on top. – Cindy A.
- Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. – BethAnn H.
- Lentil Soup. – Kate J.
- Pork Noodle Soup (Uses one pork chop (plus the bone), a handful of vegetables, soy sauce, a handful of noodles, salt and pepper to taste.) – Kathleen M.
- Tuna Melts – Faith F.
- Scrambled Egg Skillet (With almost anything tossed in: left over veggies, meat, whatever little bit of cheese you might have left, potatoes. Add salsa or hot sauce to jazz it up.) – Tammy M.
- Poorman’s Dinner (A package of hot dogs pan fried up with potatoes and onions and a can of green beans …served with baked beans if you have them.) – Catherine R.
- Sweet potatoes and steamed seasoned veggies – Kristine M.
- Gumbo with red beans and rice. – Annette W.
(You can read even more suggestions, over 300 of them, here on our Facebook page.)
What are some of your favorite meals to make for yourself or your family when the budget is stretched thin? Share them with us!