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60 Cheap Meals To Make When The Budget Is Tight

Look for some easy family meals that won’t break the budget? This list of cheap meals should help you stretch the grocery budget to get through the month.

Family Meals On A Budget

Make any of these cheap meals when you are short of money and the grocery budget gets cut. We all encounter a time when we have decided either out of necessity or want that we decide to cut back on the grocery budget.

60 Meals to make when the budget is tight. See the list at intelligentdomestications.com

If we are saving for something we want for our home or for some reason the budget gets tight, it’s the grocery bill we cut first.

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Soup and Sandwiches

  1. How much soup you need and what kind depends on your family. If you are feeding two, try to keep your favorite canned soup in the pantry when it’s on sale.

2. Bagged packaged soups like Bear Creek Soup Mix is relatively cheap, It makes a huge pot, about 7 or 8 cups which would feed a few folks. You can add canned chicken for protein.

Make a big pot of soup, dip up what you need for dinner and freeze the rest for another meal.

Cheap Soup Recipes

3. Taco Soup, a dump recipe cooked on the stove or in the Crockpot.

4. Cabbage soup is super cheap to make.

5. Homemade Vegetable Soup is a one pot meal loaded with flavor and veggies. Ground meat optional.

Salad and Sandwiches

6. We are talking leafy green salads which go well with a sandwich to make a filling meal, however you can make any kind of salad you like.

7. Make your own salad with fresh lettuce and fresh toppings of your choice. You can also purchase packaged salads with the toppings already included which is actually cheaper. Add some Deli fried chicken tenders to make a meal like this one.

Use leftover Cornbread to make your own delicious Croutons! It’s easy, here’s how to do it.

Cheap Sandwich Ideas

You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to sandwiches. I can hear Bubba Gump right now naming all of the many sandwich toppings in the world.

8. Bananas which is sort of a lunch time meal in our home

9. Bananas with____, you fill in the blank. I like banana with mayo but I understand peanut butter and banana sandwiches are also a thing

10. Peanut Butter and Jelly

11. Peanut Butter and Honey

12. Grilled Peanut butter and jelly

13. Bologna or Fried bologna

14. BLT-how cheap it is depends on if the bacon is on sale

15. Meatloaf sandwich using leftover meatloaf

16. Meatball sandwich using leftover meatballs

17. Tuna Salad

18. Egg Salad

19. Grilled cheese (use any sliced cheese you like)

20. Grilled cheese with jelly sandwich

21. Rotisserie Chicken Salad

22. Pimento Cheesetop burgers with it too for a low carb meal

23. Tomato Sandwich

24. Lunch meat of your choice

25. Egg Sandwich

26. Avocado Lettuce and Tomato

27. Sloppy Joes( a can of Manwich is still under $2)


Baked Potatoes Make A Delicious Cheap Meal

Yes, you can make a meal out of a Baked potato.

28. Do you have any leftover meat, especially shredded meat like either this Crockpot Ranch Chicken for sliders or this Pulled Pork. Add it to your baked potato.

29. See 20 Potato Topping Ideas along with a recipe for Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Onions.

Peas & Beans Dinner Ideas

Dried peas and beans are very versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes to make them into a cheap meal.

Peas and beans are a source of fiber and make a good meat substitute as well due to their protein content.

30. Hoppin John aka Black Eye Peas and Rice generally served for New Years but good anytime of the year.

31. 3 Days of Meals From One Pot of Beans. Yes, I really did do this but keep in mind, I was cooking for two. You can do this also, increase the amount of beans you cook on that first day.

32. White Beans and Ham Soup. Most of the ingredients are seasonings. If you don’t have vegetable broth on hand, you can substitute water or chicken broth.

33. Crockpot Maple Beans and Franks. I have fond memories of eating this growing up. We had no idea it was cheap food, my brothers and I just loved it.

34. Black Eye Pea Salsa is a yummy snack or lunch idea. This recipe is versatile and can be tweaked to suit your taste. We like to have this for a Saturday lunch.

35. Red Beans and Rice

36. Pinto Beans and Cornbread is Day 1 of our 3 Days of Meals from One Pot of Beans

37. Beans and Sausage

38. Bean Burritos

39. Beef and Bean Burritos

Also see, 15 Recipes for Dried Beans that are not soup

One Dish Dinners

One Dish Dinner recipes are often great for what I call ‘Cook once, Eat twice meals’ They can be prepared in the oven, stovetop, Slow Cooker or Instant Pot.

The great thing about these meals is they are typically budget friendly AND make enough for two meals so it’s a Win, Win.

40. Homemade Chicken And Dumplings which is surprisingly cheap to make because we boil the chicken from scratch

41. Crockpot Black Bean Chili

42. Cabbage Rice & Sausage One Pan Dinner

43. Homemade Chicken Pot Pie (use leftover chicken or turkey)

44. Crockpot Broccoli & Sausage Macaroni Casserole

45. 35 Crockpot Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less

46. Fried Riceleave out the shrimp, add chicken instead or no meat

47. Jazzed Up Meat & Potato Casseroleskip the jazzy part for a cheap dish

48. 29 Casseroles and One Pan Supper Ideas

10 More Cheap Meal Ideas

49. Spaghetti

50. Hot Dogs with Baked Tater Tots

51. Crescent Roll Hot Dogs

52. Pierogies. Dump frozen pierogies into your Slow cooker and pour a jar of Alfredo sauce on top. Cook on low a couple hours and dinner is done. See this Crockpot recipe for Pierogi and Meatballs.

53. Tacos

54. Breakfast for Supper is always good. Make Homemade Waffle Batter using common staples. Grits and toast make a filling meal.

55. Homemade Pizza (use up leftover fresh veggies for toppings) Use this 3 Meat Pizza or Crockpot Pizza.

56. Pasta Salad

57. Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs. Cook the hot dogs then slice into bite size pieces and stir into the prepared Macaroni & cheese

59. Quesadillas. Add any stuffing you like that you have on hand with cheese. Leftover black beans and corn are good in quesadillas.

60. Baked Sweet Potatoes make a nice meal


Don’t forget to use the leftovers. No matter if you eat them as is or use them in another recipe, leftovers are a valuable asset to the grocery budget.

Here’s a tip for saving leftovers for soup. Use a large freezer safe plastic container with a lid to add leftovers into such as; boiled potatoes, vegetables, rice, meats, broth and whatever you would like in your soup. Once you have enough, thaw in a large pot on low, add broth along with canned tomatoes, chopped celery and your favorite seasonings. Add a small can of Tomato paste to help thicken the soup if you like.

There are loads of ideas here for making cheap meals while you work on your family budget or save for something special. Truth of the matter is, most of these are quite desirable and we most often enjoy them just because we like these meals.

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