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Cheap Meals To Make When The Budget Is Tight

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Cheap Meal Ideas Are A Necessity

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. 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.

Soup and Sandwiches

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.

Bagged packaged soups like Bear Creek Soup Mix is relatively cheap, usually between $3-$5 depending on the flavor and which store you shop at. It makes a huge pot, about 7 or 8 cups which would feed 4-5 folks. We add canned chicken to the potato soup 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

Salad and Sandwiches

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.

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. Those are often on a two for, sale. fd

Let’s be honest about eating salads with lettuce and greens. In our home we can do this about twice in one week but then we need a break. I wouldn’t plan to serve a salad more than once per week in reality.

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.

  • Bananas which is sort of a lunch time meal in our home
  • Bananas with____, you fill in the blank
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Peanut Butter and Honey
  • Grilled Peanut butter and jelly
  • Bologna or Fried bologna
  • BLT-how cheap it is depends on if the bacon is on sale
  • Meatloaf sandwich using leftover meatloaf
  • Meatball sandwich using leftover meatballs
  • Tuna Salad
  • Egg Salad
  • Grilled cheese (use any sliced cheese you like)
  • Grilled cheese with jelly
  • Rotisserie Chicken Salad
  • Pimento Cheesetop burgers with it too for a low carb meal
  • Tomato Sandwich
  • Lunch meat of your choice
  • Egg Sandwich
  • Avocado Lettuce and Tomato
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Please leave a comment with your cheap sandwich idea

Baked Potatoes Make A Delicious Cheap Meal

Yes, you can make a meal out of a Baked potato. Do you have any leftover meat, especially shredded meat like either this Crockpot Ranch Chicken for sliders or this Pulled Pork.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Pinto Beans and Cornbread
  • Beans and Sausage
  • Bean Burritos
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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.


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.

10 More Cheap Meal Ideas

  • Spaghetti
  • Hot Dogs with Baked Tater Tots
  • Crescent Roll Hot Dogs
  • 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.
  • Tacos
  • Breakfast for Supper, always good
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Pasta Salad
  • Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs. Cook the hot dogs then slice into bite size pieces and stir into the prepared Macaroni & cheese
  • Quesadillas. Add any stuffing you like that you have on hand with cheese. Leftover black beans and corn are good in quesadillas.
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes-serve a salad with these

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.

Recap: Cheap Meals to Make

  1. Soup and Sandwiches
  2. Sandwiches and Salads
  3. Just sandwiches
  4. Salads
  5. Baked Potatoes
  6. Recipes using dried peas and beans (see recipe suggestions above)
  7. Spaghetti
  8. Hot Dogs
  9. Crescent Roll Hot Dogs
  10. 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.
  11. Tacos
  12. Breakfast for Supperalways good
  13. Homemade Pizza
  14. Pasta Salad
  15. Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs. Cook the hot dogs then slice into bite size pieces and stir into the prepared Macaroni & cheese
  16. Quesadillas. Add any stuffing you like that you have on hand with cheese. Leftover black beans and corn are good in quesadillas.
  17. Baked Sweet Potatoes-serve a salad with these
  18. Leftovers
  19. One Dish Dinners
  20. Cook once, Eat twice meals
  21. Rice and _____, you fill in the blank. Tell me what you cook so others can use your idea also.


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7 Tasty Meals Served with Rice

Rice may be one of the main ingredients or it may be buried under meat and gravy. Either way, we use rice as a delicious side dish and grocery budget stretcher.

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