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100+ Frugal Meals for When You’re Broke or on a Budget

Inside: Looking for delicious, budget-friendly meals? Look no further! This guide has 100+ delicious and frugal recipes that will help you stick to your food budget.

When it comes to keeping your grocery budget in check, meal planning is a powerful tool. It can simplify your life, save you precious time, and stretch your dollars further.

You don’t always need pricey ingredients to whip up something delicious. Creating frugal meals doesn’t mean you have to compromise on flavor.

Sometimes, a frugal meal could mean something cheaper but equally, if not more, delicious than takeout! The key to this art is using simple, inexpensive ingredients, being creative in their application, and not shying away from condiments, herbs, and spices that can elevate your dish.

Remember, eating frugally is not just cost-effective but also simple and stress-free, utilizing common kitchen staples, and easy-to-locate items.

Join me on my mission to make frugal meals that are adored by my family and my thrifty self appreciates.

Looking for delicious, budget-friendly meals? Look no further! This guide has delicious and frugal recipes that will help you stick to your food budget.

Frugal Breakfast Ideas:

A frugal breakfast should not equate to boring. Here are a few ways to start your day off right without stressing your wallet:

Waffles/Pancakes: These could be made with basic ingredients like flour, eggs, and baking powder. Top with peanut butter or dust of cinnamon sugar for extra flavor!

Eggs: Cooked to your preference, be it fried, boiled, or scrambled, they are not only easy on the pocket but also a rich source of protein.

Oatmeal: Buy oats in bulk and pair them with over-ripe bananas, pumpkin butter, or a sprinkle of brown sugar. It’s a hearty and filling for just about anyone.

Muffins: Basic muffin ingredients include flour, eggs, and baking powder. For an element of surprise, add in nuts, blueberries, or mashed bananas.

French Toast: With eggs, cinnamon, and loaves of French bread, you can whip up a scrumptious breakfast.

Homemade Bread/Toast: If you’re up to the task, making your own bread could be a money-saving option. This is something I do with sourdough bread. Pair the fresh bread with either sweet or savory toppings.

Omelets: Eggs are a cheap source of protein. Whip up an omelet and serve it with your choice of inexpensive veggies.

Homemade Biscuits: Biscuits are a great addition to any frugal breakfast, with just “milk” and flour ingredients. Pair them with a little meat or enjoy them in butter. Just like my great Aunt Marie made at the ranch.

Choose Spice for Breakfast: This recipe for Mexican baked eggs uses budget friendly canned beans and eggs as a protein source. It’s super simple to make in less than 30 minutes, with eggs baked in a smoky, spicy tomato sauce with black beans, poblanos, and corn. Serve with plenty of corn tortillas for a super satisfying meal.

Frugal Lunch Ideas:

Picture of frugal meal ideas for lunch if you are on a budget.

Lunch should be something to look forward to, even if you’re on a tight budget. Here are frugal lunch ideas that keep your tummy and your wallet happy.

Salad: A salad is an excellent choice for a frugal lunch, it’s both cost-effective and healthy. Based on what’s available in your fridge, you can combine different vegetables, proteins, and dressings to create a filling and tasty meal every day.

Sandwiches: The humble sandwich can be as frugal or as lavish as you like. Tuna, grilled cheese, peanut butter, and jelly, ham… you name it, sandwiches offer a great variety.

Homemade Soup: Consider creamy potato soup, creamy vegetable soup, or even curried cauliflower soup. They can be light yet fulfilling, and the ingredients are reasonably priced.

Toast Pizza: Save money by using toast as your pizza base, add what you have in the fridge, top it off with cheese, and cook it under the grill or in the oven.

Baked Potatoes: A toasty baked potato with butter is a delightful, inexpensive lunch. Top it up with fillings such as cheese or broccoli.

Remember, lunch doesn’t have to be expensive to be delicious! Use what you have at home for a more sustainable, economical, and satisfying meal.

Frugal Dinner Ideas:

Dinner is the time when families come together, share their day, and unite over food. There’s a common misconception that frugal foods are bland and monotonous. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make dinner delicious and satisfying.

Spaghetti: Who knew that the ultimate comfort food could be so cheap? Combine spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce or cheese, add your favorite seasonings, and voila! You have a delicious meal.

Baked potatoes: Fully customizable and super simple to be a dinner game-changer. Top them with cheese, sour cream, or any other leftovers like chili!

Stir Fry: This is a perfect way to use up any veggies you have. Throw in some meat if you have it, cook with rice and tasty sauce, and your stir fry is ready!

Tacos: Pick up tortillas, get ground beef, or use dried beans, lettuce, and salsa, and there you have your Taco night. You can also swap out the beef for beans, and it’ll still taste delightful.

Breakfast for Dinner: Who said breakfast foods are only for mornings? Whip up scrambled eggs, toast, or pancakes, and enjoy a breakfast-style dinner!

Creating a delicious, nutritious, and frugal dinner can be easier than you might think. It’s all about making the most out of the resources you have, every day.

Recipe Breakdown : Variety Of Frugal Meals

Image of recipe breakdown for frugal meals and if on a budget.

Satisfying Soup & Salad Recipes on a Shoestring

When it comes to frugality, nothing beats the soup and salad combination. These meals are not only hearty and satisfying but also easy on your wallet. With just a few ingredients, these recipes will bring variety and nutrition to your kitchen without putting a strain on your wallet.

Here are a few of our favorite frugal soup and salad recipes:

  1. The Best Chicken Soup Recipe: Simplicity meets flavor without breaking the bank. Utilizing affordable ingredients and leftover chicken, this soup is a testament to how economical choices can still yield rich, comforting results.
  2. Cauliflower and Bacon Soup:
  3. Instant Pot Three Sisters Soup: A blend of corn, beans, and squash.
  4. Root Vegetable Soup: Healthy, comforting, and made with only a few simple and inexpensive ingredients! It’s prepared with veggies like carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and potatoes simmered in a savory broth.
  5. Healthy Roast Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup: Winter favorite loaded with nutrients.
  6. Instant Pot Cabbage Roll Soup: Comfort food at its best.
  7. Smoky Black Bean Soup: Protein packed, tasty, and hearty.
  8. Hearty Lentil Soup: Healthy and will keep you warm during the winter! It’s made with only a few ingredients and requires no special equipment. This soup is made with lentils, veggies, and spices simmered in a savory tomato broth.
  9. Vegan Coconut Curry Lentil Soup: Exotic, aromatic, and down-right delicious.
  10. Instant Pot Split Pea Soup Recipe: Classic soup, ready in no time.
  11. Vegetable Barley Soup: With protein-rich chickpeas, cabbage, potatoes, and the twist of curry spices, this soup is easy, comforting, and delicious!
  12. The Very Best Ham And Potato Soup With Peas: Savory, delicious and economical.
  13. Cheap and Easy Hamburger Soup: Mouthwatering and super easy to prepare.
  14. Creamy Vegetarian Potato Soup: Originally named 45-Cent Potato Soup because that was how much it cost per serving over a decade ago! The cost has increased a bit but this hearty potato soup is still a keeper. Creamy potato soup with veggies and milk – thick, velvety, and hearty. It’s on constant rotation at our house! 

Moreover, when it comes to salads, using seasonal produce, beans, or leftover veggies can be an affordable way to create nutritious meals. Add chicken, tuna, or boiled eggs for protein, or keep it simple with fresh greens and a homemade dressing.

Remember, a frugal lifestyle does not mean you have to compromise on taste or variety. It’s about being creative with what you have!

Cut Costs with these Cheap ‘n Cheerful Chicken Recipes

Dinner necessity is the mother of so many amazing chicken dinners! Plus it is an excellent protein option that can be inexpensive, especially if you seize sales or buy in bulk.

  1. Maple Chicken & Potato Supper: This recipe turns an affordable cut of chicken and two types of potatoes into a family favorite.
  2. One-Pot Chicken and Potatoes: Chicken thighs are cheap, add in potatoes, onions, and carrots for a hearty comfort meal.
  3. Leftover Chicken Curry and Vegetables: Lots of recipes use leftover chicken or turkey. But this “All the Leftovers” Chicken Curry also uses your leftover vegetables. Clean out your refrigerator today!
  4. Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup: A quick, deliciously rich, and slightly spicy meal made up of chicken, black beans, and stewed tomatoes.
  5. Crockpot Chicken Tacos: With just 3 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep, this is a lifesaver for busy nights.
  6. Chicken Curry and Quinoa: Simple, tasty, and feels like a treat without the expense.
  7. One Pan Baked Chicken Thigh Recipe with Green Beans and Red Potatoes: This recipe is easy and inexpensive when you grab the chicken thighs on sale! It is easy to prepare, a healthier option and a family favorite! 
  8. Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas: A perfect, weeknight meal.
  9. Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Carrots: A value for money meal with chicken thighs – one of the cheapest chicken cuts.
  10. One-Pan Chicken Legs with Chickpeas and Quinoa: A wholesome, naturally sweet dish with a few spices.
  11. Easy Cheesy Chicken Taco Spaghetti: Made with pantry staples, this comforting dinner recipe is frugal and filling. Full of pasta, creamy sauce, and canned chicken, your family will be asking for seconds!
  12. Chicken Fried Rice: Uses leftovers efficiently, add veggies, and you have a meal.
  13. Easy Pizza Chicken Recipe: A low carb and high protein meal, especially when you use ordinary cheddar.

Remember, maximizing flavor in cheap chicken recipes often relies on using good quality, inexpensive ingredients, and cooking techniques like slow cooking or sautéing. Happy cooking!

Beautiful Beef Dishes that Benefit Your Wallet

Picture a beef dish that will benefit your wallet and one of the frugal you can afford.

When trying to maintain a frugal lifestyle, using affordable cuts of beef like ground beef, shin, or skirt steak can yield mouth-watering meals that don’t bust the budget. Here are a few beef recipes that are both economical and satisfying:

  1. Ground Beef Stroganoff: A classic comfort food that is simple, quick, and incredibly hearty.
  2. Poor Man’s Stew: An excellent choice for a filling, cheap, and tasty meal for a whole family.
  3. Simple Hamburger Hotdish: This simple hamburger hotdish (casserole) makes delicious use of affordable and easy-to-find ingredients like ground beef, pasta, and tomato sauce. This is a great meal idea to feed a family.
  4. Beef Skillet Nachos: Layer chips, ground beef, and cheese in a skillet for an easy, cost-effective meal.
  5. Homemade Beef and Noodles: An economical-friendly classic that can serve a good number of people.
  6. Tortellini Bake: This 4 ingredient Tortellini Bake uses common ingredients like ground beef and marinara sauce to make a satisfying and hearty meal for families!
  7. Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole: Across the realms of deliciousness and frugality, this casserole rings the bell.
  8. Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup: Combining the wholesome elements of beef, macaroni, and tomatoes provides a satiating meal at an affordable cost.
  9. Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry: Brimming with colorful vegetables and protein-rich beef, this dish is a delight to both the stomach and the wallet.
  10. Taco Skillet: It’s the taste of tacos in a convenient and cost-friendly rice skillet.
  11. Classic Stuffed Peppers: Filled with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and a zesty sauce, it’s a comfort meal that’s easy on the pocket.
  12. Sesame-Ginger Beef: This dinner calls for an inexpensive cut of meat.

By creatively utilizing budget cuts and leftovers, you can create economical, hearty, and tasty beef dishes for yourself and your family, fostering a love for cooking while sticking to a money plan.

Money-saving Meatless Meal Marvels

When it comes to cost-saving, meatless or vegetarian dishes are a winner. Not only are they usually cost-effective, but they’re also often packed with nutrients. Here are meatless recipes that are sure to delight your taste buds, without denting your wallet:

  1. Quinoa Edamame Salad with Peanut Sauce: Use cabbage and edamame to make a balanced lunch. The peanut sauce is flavor-packed and uses pantry staples, and the quinoa is easy to swap with rice or pasta.
  2. Vegan Lentil Curry: Packed with nutrition, this dish makes an inexpensive, protein-rich meal.
  3. Jamaican Rice and Peas: Economical rice and beans doesn’t need to be boring. Jamaican rice and peas are easy to make in the slow cooker. This flavorful, easy recipe brings delicious Caribbean flavor to any meal as a side dish or a complete meal on its own.
  4. Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups: Proof that vegetarian dinners can be delightfully hearty, this twist on classic lasagna is a crowd-pleaser.
  5. Bean, Tomato, and Spinach Stew: A hearty and richly flavored dish that is low cost and satisfying.
  6. Vegan Texas Tamale Pie: Great down-home, budget-friendly meal is perfect to whip up when you need something hearty, healthy, and filling to serve to your hungry family or friends in under an hour. Prepared with basic canned ingredients you might keep in your cupboard, this simple recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes with the groceries you have on hand.
  7. Stuffed Bell Peppers: Fill peppers with a delicious mixture of quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, and spices.
  8. Eggplant Parmesan: Classic Italian dish, easy to make, and delicious to eat.
  9. Pasta e Fagioli aka Pasta and Beans: Feed your family for pennies a bowl with pasta e fagioli. Cucina povera Italian food is the food of peasants, but it is so delicious! Only three inexpensive ingredients are needed to make this quick and easy, nutritious, one pot weeknight meal.
  10. Potato & Zucchini Frittata: Use up your leftover veggies and whip up a quick frittata for dinner.
  11. Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese: A classic that’s both inexpensive and palate-pleasing.
  12. Vegetarian Stir-Fry: A colorful medley of veggies stir-fried in a savory sauce served over rice.
  13. Spaghetti aglio e olio: This spaghetti aglio olio (with garlic and olive oil) is probably one of the most popular classic Italian pasta recipes and yet it’s so simple, budget friendly and super easy to make! 
  14. Butternut Squash Risotto: This dish, while sounding fancy, is frugal and straightforward to make.
  15. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese: This is a rich, hearty, and flavorful dish that’s lighter on the wallet than traditional bolognese.
  16. Crispy Pan Fried Gnocchi: A simple and quick & inexpensive recipe to make in only 20 minutes for an easy weeknight meal. Crispy gnocchi coated in a light sauce made with garlic, herbs, butter and parmesan.

Implementing meatless meals can significantly cut down on grocery bills, with the added bonus of being healthier and environmentally friendly.

So why not give these recipes a try for your next frugal feast?

Luscious Low-Budget Lunch Ideas

The midday meal can often be overlooked when planning budget-friendly meals. Don’t let lunch blow your allowance! Here are a few low-cost, lip-smacking lunch ideas:

  1. Bean Burritos: Beans and cheese wrapped in a tortilla can be quite satisfying and light on the pocket too.
  2. Tuna Salad Sandwiches: A classic frugal lunch option that’s rich in protein.
  3. Egg Salad Wraps: Egg salad in a wrap is a fulfilling lunch that’s economical.
  4. Homemade Hummus and Veggies: Prepare hummus at home and pair it with fresh veggies for a light and inexpensive lunch.
  5. Mixed Bean Salad: Beans are a powerhouse of nutrition and offer a low-cost lunch option. Mix different beans and dress them up with herbs and spices for a flavorful lunch.
  6. Veggie and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes: A cheesy baked potato with veggies is filling and affordable.
  7. PB&J: Peanut butter and jelly never go out of style and are a great low-cost lunch option.
  8. Tuna Tomato Pasta: Tuna tomato pasta is a delicious healthy and easy recipe that only takes 20 minutes to make. With just a few basic ingredients it’s budget friendly too!
  9. Falafel Wraps: Homemade falafel is quite reasonable and can be wrapped up with pita and fresh veggies for a satisfying meal.
  10. Pasta Salad: Cold pasta salad with veggies is a cheap and filling lunch idea.
  11. Vegetable Fried Rice: Leftover rice, mixed with whatever veggies you have on hand, makes for a delectable and affordable lunch.

When your lunch is as tasty as it is affordable, you’re winning at the game of frugality. Enjoy these luscious lunch ideas without breaking the bank!

Delightful Dinner Recipes That Don’t Dig A Hole In Your Pocket

Picture of the affordable dinner dish and one of the frugal meal ideas.

Dinner is the meal you eagerly look forward to after a long day. Unfortunately, it can also be the priciest meal of the day. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are delightful, cost-effective dinner recipes:

  1. Sloppy Joe Pasta: A homemade mix of pantry staples for a mouth-wateringly filling, budget-friendly twist on the classic Sloppy Joe.
  2. Easy Chilaquiles: Fresh made tortilla chips smothered in homemade salsa, chilaquiles are the best way to make a flavor-packed meal on a budget!
  3. Cottage Pie: Make a delicious cottage pie in the instant pot pressure cooker from scratch. Ideal for using up leftovers and easy to make!
  4. Chicken Pot Pie: Homemade and padded out with cheap, seasonal veggies, it’s a classic favorite, perfect for a weeknight dinner.
  5. Mince & Potato Stew: Heartwarming, flavorful dish that’s easy to make and easier on the pocket.
  6. Linguine with Clam Sauce: Using canned or jarred clams, this linguine dish is made from simple pantry ingredients that won’t break the bank. Dive into a dinner of delicious choice for yumminess.
  7. One Pot Sausage, White Beans, and Kale: It combines flavorful sausage, rich canned tomatoes, white beans, fresh kale, and a few herbs and spices – a cupboard-friendly, inexpensive dinner option.
  8. Tacos: They’re versatile, they’re delicious, and most importantly, they’re cheap.
  9. Potato and Salmon Fish Cakes: Canned salmon and potatoes create a delicious, inexpensive dinner the family will love. They are super easy to make and you can freeze them, too. Even those who dislike salmon enjoy these fish cakes!
  10. Asian-Style Chicken Noodles: This recipe uses leftover chicken and packs a lot of flavors without a lot of cost.
  11. Pasta Arrabbiata: This inexpensive pasta dish is full of garlic, tomatoes, and spicy red pepper flakes. Simple, yet incredibly delicious.
  12. Garlicky Spinach and White Bean Pasta: This recipe is packed with flavor thanks to a surprise, budget-friendly ingredient – tinned anchovies! Simply toss cooked pasta with spinach, white beans, and a garlicky anchovy sauce. It’s easy to throw together for a satisfying weeknight dinner.
  13. Egg Fried Rice: It’s a quick, healthy meal that anyone can cook.
  14. Leftover Pasta Bake: Don’t waste food! Turn your leftovers into a treat with our leftover pasta bake!
  15. Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles: A quick, healthy dinner full of veggies and flavor.

Low-cost does not mean low taste. These dinner recipes prove just that. So get cooking and start saving!

Put it in Pot and Forget It – Cheap and Easy Crockpot Creations

Using a crockpot or slow cooker can be a real lifesaver for busy individuals or families. Not only does it save time but it’s also a great way to save money by making inexpensive cuts of meat tender and flavorful.

  1. Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken Soup: A simple 4 ingredient recipe that’s inexpensive yet tastes amazing.
  2. Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers: Slowly simmered in marinara sauce for a frugal dinner that’s hard to beat! Just serve over pasta or polenta for an easy dinner. Plus, the leftovers are just as delicious for lunches.
  3. Crockpot Beef and Broccoli: The economical version of your favorite takeout dish.
  4. Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup: Inexpensive, full of flavor, and so hearty!
  5. Creamy Crockpot Chicken: Warm shredded chicken and gravy in your slow cooker for the win.
  6. Crockpot Baked Beans: Cheaper and healthier than store-bought!
  7. Crockpot BBQ Chicken: Sweet, tangy, and made with a handful of pantry staples.
  8. Crockpot Lentil Soup: Super hearty, packed with nutrients, and so easy to whip up!
  9. Slow Cooker Pot Roast: The easiest one pot meal and is an instant win for family dinner! Plus, it’s budget-friendly! Easy to prepare for weeknight meals or special occasions alike, this easy pot roast recipe is always a crowd-pleaser!
  10. Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken: Just two ingredients are required for this super versatile recipe.
  11. Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup: Healthy, hearty, and incredibly easy to make.
  12. Chicken Paprikas Recipe: Use chicken thighs and cauliflower which make it a super frugal meal. If you prefer you can serve it over rice instead of the cauliflower but even her kids agree that the cauliflower version is delicious.
  13. Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese: Yes, even mac and cheese can be done in a crockpot! Even better try this Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole.
  14. Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup: This recipe uses inexpensive and filling beans and veggies, perfect for when you’ve leftover ham.
  15. Slow Cooker Vegan Chili: A vegan twist on this classic comfort food for those chilly days ahead makes for a healthy dinner packed with nutrients brimming with flavor!

Each of these meals will serve you without making a significant dent in your grocery budget. Enjoy the convenience and frugality that slow cooking brings!

Make It Snappy With Instant Pot Recipes

The Instant Pot is a versatile kitchen appliance that’s excellent for fast, delicious meals when you’re on a budget.

  1. Instant Pot Ground Beef Enchilada Pasta: This easy dish combines a few affordable ingredients into a hearty meal that your family will love.
  2. BBQ Beans Instant Pot Recipe: A frugal recipe that’s great as a main dish or a filler for burritos.
  3. Easy Pizza Potatoes in the Instant Pot: A simple pairing of pizza flavors and potatoes for a wallet-friendly dish.
  4. Air Fryer Pita Bread Pizza: Only 5 minutes and a handful of low-cost ingredients to a delicious DIY pizza.
  5. Sweet Potato, Lentil and Chickpea Curry: This vegan instant pot recipe is full of flavor, super hearty and delicious, and extremely reasonable to make.
  6. Mushroom Masala- Mushroom Curry: An exotic and easy-to-prepare mushroom curry that satisfies without stretching the dollars.
  7. Chicken and Sausage Paella in the Instant Pot: Cut down cost by using sausage and chicken thighs for this easy, savory dish.
  8. Instant Pot Tuna Casserole: Comfort on the cheap, using pantry staples.
  9. Fast and Easy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice: Made using basic pantry staples and suitable for both adult and kid taste buds.

These Instant Pot ideas are not only quick and easy to prepare but also budget-friendly. They’re proof that frugal doesn’t mean boring!

Handy Kitchen Tools for Budget-Savvy Cooking

Image of frugal kitchen tools ideas that can be purchased in friendly and  affordable price.

When it comes to frugal cooking, your kitchen gadgets can be your best companions. These tools can save you both time and produce restaurant-quality dishes at home for a fraction of the cost.

Many are the same as frugal home must haves!

Only rely on tools that you use regularly in order to maximize their cost. So, equip your kitchen with these practical, cost-effective tools, and enjoy a more manageable culinary journey.

FAQs: Navigate Your Approach to Cost-Efficient Eats

Eating lunch at work doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune, following these tricks can save you a lot of money:

  • Meal prep: Plan your meals ahead of time. Invest in a few hours during the weekend or your day off to cook large amounts and portion them out for the week ahead.
  • Leftovers Are Your Best Friend: Make a bit extra while cooking dinner, and voila, you’ve got lunch for the next day. A yummy, cheap, no-fuss, and no-waste solution!
  • Pack Your Own Snacks: Trade small shop-bought packs of snacks for a large bag or bulk-buy from a wholesale store. Divide them into small reusable containers for your daily hunger itch.
  • Invest in a Flask: A good quality thermos flask can keep your homemade soup or stew warm until lunchtime and it’s a lot cheaper than buying soup from a cafe.

Remember, the key is not to take complicated dinners which takes a lot of time. Rather, simple sandwiches, yogurt with fruits, homemade soup even boiled eggs can make great inexpensive lunch options. Planning ahead is key when you’re trying to eat on a budget.

There are several cheap meals you can whip up using budget-friendly ingredients. The absolute cheapest would depend on what you already have on hand in your pantry or the cost of ingredients in your locality.

  • Rice & Beans: This is a universally cheap and filling meal that can be flavored with some stock, onions, and spices.
  • Pasta with Tomato Sauce: This is a popular choice when it comes to cheap ideas. All it takes is a rigatoni of your choice, a basic tomato sauce made from canned tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
  • Cereal & Milk: A bowl of generic brand cereal and milk is an incredibly cheap meal. It lacks in terms of proteins and fats, but it can be a good quick fix.
  • Eggs on Toast: Eggs and bread are both cheap elements. Whip up scrambled eggs or make a simple boiled egg sandwich.
  • Potato Soup: One of the cheapest vegetables around, and they make a filling, simple potato soup.
  • Homemade Pizza: Using basic homemade dough and simple tomato sauce, you can add anything you have on hand to make a delicious pizza.

Remember, the cheapest dinners typically use basic pantry staples. By having a well-stocked pantry, you’ll be able to whip up a variety of low-cost dinner ideas.

A frugal meal doesn’t equate to scanty or tasteless. Here’s what defines a frugal meal:

  1. Inexpensive Ingredients: Frugal meals predominantly use cheaper ingredients. Find plenty of cheap foods when broke (and you don’t need to be broke).
  2. Fewer Ingredients: Meals with minimal ingredients are typically more economical. They aren’t stuffed with fancy extras, but they make up for it in hearty flavor.
  3. Uses Pantry Staples: Rely on pantry staples like rice, dried pasta, canned goods, and dry baking ingredients.
  4. Repurposes Leftovers: Instead of wasting ingredients incorporate leftovers in innovative ways.
  5. Meal Prep and Batch Cooking: Cooking in bulk and freezing dinners for later can be a massive money saver, reducing waste and reducing the number of ingredients needed overall.
  6. Limited Meat or Vegetarian: As meat is typically one of the more expensive ingredients, frugal cooking is often vegetarian or uses meat sparingly.

While frugal meals won’t always hit all these factors, if they contain a few of these aspects, you can be assured they will provide a cost-effective dining experience. A frugal meal strives to offer nutritional balance, satisfying taste, and minimal impact on your wallet.

Perfecting the Art of Frugal Cooking

Preparing budget-friendly cooking not only saves money but also reduces food waste and can create a warm, comfortable home. This is how to be frugal with food. Here are some expert tips to get you rolling:

  • Plan Your Meal Calendar: Plan out your menu for the week, keeping in mind what ingredients you already have.
  • Shop Smart: Shop for groceries with a list in hand so you don’t end up buying unnecessary items. Look out for sales, and discounts, and try to shop in bulk.
  • Utilize Leftovers: Don’t throw away leftovers. Repurpose them into a new meal or use them as an ingredient in another dish.
  • Use More Vegetables and Grains: Vegetables and grains are generally cheaper than meat and can be used to bulk out dinners.
  • Freeze Extras: If you cook in bulk, freeze the extra portions for a later date. This can act as a lifesaver during busy periods.
  • Use Cheap Cuts of Meat: Cheap cuts, such as chicken thighs, can be just as delicious as expensive ones, especially when slow-cooked.
  • Cook from Scratch: Convenience foods often cost a lot more than the sum of their parts.
  • Grow Your Own: If you have a garden, consider growing your own vegetables and herbs.
  • Reduce Waste: Get creative in the kitchen and use parts of food that you’d otherwise throw away.

Remember, with a bit of planning and creativity, you can prepare delicious, healthful meals without breaking the bank! It’s all about making smart choices.

Which Filling Cheap Meals are You Going to Try?

Image of frugal meals with vegetables, few meat and grains.

Embarking on these frugal meals can help stretch the budget while still enjoying a variety of flavorful and satisfying dishes.

Whether you are budgeting on a low income or just want to stretch your dollar further with going teens, we have given you plenty of options to eat well and healthy.

Many on this list are my personal favorites. This is how we stay on our grocery budget.

The biggest step is learning how to meal plan and stick to the menu! Now, off to move frugal living tips to save money!

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