I’m always looking for ways to save money, especially when shopping for my family. One way to save money is by cooking at home instead of eating out.
However, busy parents sometimes don’t have the time to cook complicated meals. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 20 easy recipes anyone can make, even on a tight budget.
So take a break from takeout and try one of these delicious (and affordable) recipes tonight.
Before we get into the meal plan for the week, let’s quickly go through some meal planning tips.
Get the Family Involved if possible: When you’re meal prepping with your family, they’ll get a chance to see what goes into planning and enjoy helping out in any way possible.
Whether that means handing over cooking utensils when we need them or asking which vegetables are ready first before putting something else on top, this will make everyone feel more involved!
Start Small: If you have a little background in cooking, that is okay. Don’t whip out the recipes that call for 10+ ingredients and knife skills.
You do not want to get discouraged; you want to feed your family for less.
My favorite recipes I started cooking with were from the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook. I suggest this to anyone wanting to start cooking and has no idea where to begin.
It gives you the basics on everything from the cuts of meat to basic spices and how to shape your loaves of bread.
Once you feel how food blends, you will gain confidence and feel proud.
If you are looking for printable meal planning sheets, check out my shop on my BJs blog here.
You should have many of the items in your pantry already; if you don’t have a stocked pantry, this list makes it so much easier to come up with meals and save money.
When I added these items to the Aldi pickup order, it was about $45, but the prices are higher when you pick up. If you were to grab every item in-store, it would cost around $33.
You can tap here to get the items in the meals below at Aldi.
BUT again, I think you will have at least half of the items- which means each meal costs about $1.57.
I’ve included THREE FREE printables at the end of this post.
These are my favorite meal planning tips/hacks:
- 10 Hacks to Meal Prep When You Are Short on Time
- How to Live Off Your Pantry & Not Shop
- How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month
- 2 Proteins You Can Buy That Will Feed Your Family for a Week & Cheap
- 3 Ways To Save Money on Groceries Right Now
Meal Plan for Seven Days
Let’s get started with your day one meal plan. Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast: Scrambled Egg Muffins- this is a great option when you can’t afford to eat fast food on the go.
All you need is some muffin tins and eggs; add whatever your heart desires, such as meat and veggies—all of which you can easily find at the grocery store for under $5. I love using these silicone muffin liners for so many things.
Lunch: Easy Macaroni and Cheese- You can make this meal by boiling some water, throwing in the noodles, stirring in the cheese packet (or you can buy block cheese and grate it yourself), salt, pepper, butter, and milk. Here is another good option for those of you on the go.
When you need cheap meals for a week, Mac & Cheese is an American classic and is a kid-pleaser for the most part. Nothing wrong with that.
Snack: Apples and peanut butter- You can buy apples for around $1.25 per pound when in season. Sometimes $0.99 in our area.
You can easily make your peanut butter by throwing peanut and honey into a food chopper and mix it yourself.
Dinner: Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches – First, cook some noodles( I buy a box of elbows and use them in so many dishes), then throw in the tomato soup (can be made from canned tomatoes or even tomato sauce).
Then, toast some bread and add cheese (which you can also make yourself) with a side of chips. Easy and cheap!
DAY 2 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwiches- All you need is an egg and bacon or sausage and toast with bread or our go to- English muffins.
Since we raise our chickens, we eat eggs every morning. We typically use whatever bread is on sale that week. In my early paying off debt days, I made homemade bread every week.
Lunch: Nacho Tacos – Grab a bag of Tortillas and ground or turkey meat. Depending on what is on sale this week at your local store.
Top with your favorite toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, black olives, guacamole, etc.
Get a recipe here.
Snack: Cheese crackers – All you need are some Ritz or Townhouse crackers ( Townhouse is a couponers choice of cracker because there are always coupons and sales), cheese slices/shreds to make this one.
Pair with an apple or other fruit.
Dinner: Chili dogs – If you have ground beef, beans, shredded cheese, mustard, and hot dogs, you’ve got a meal! I find bread items to be the cheapest at Aldi.
The Aldi brand hot dogs for $0.99 are a kid favorite in our home. Even at parties, kids always go for the Aldi brand.
Make these in your air fryer or Ninja foodi recipe here.
DAY 3 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Oatmeal Packet – Add in some water and microwave or cook on the stovetop.
You can add whatever sweetener, fruit, or even protein to it when serving.
Let’s not underestimate the convenience of an oatmeal packet. Plus, you can find coupons for this item frequently.
Lunch/Snack: Yogurt Smoothie- All you need is some yogurt, milk, fruit, and protein powder (optional). I find the cheapest places to score protein powder is wholesale clubs.
Dinner: Spaghetti – All you need is some pasta noodles, spaghetti sauce (you can even use canned tomato sauce), garlic, salt, or sugar for seasoning/sweetening.
I can a lot of tomatoes every week, and in the winter, pasta and homemade sauce are a cheap and delicious go-to meal.
DAY 4 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Banana Bread and eggs – Combine all the ingredients in one bowl and mix well. Bake for an hour, and you’re done! Try this delicious recipe here.
Lunch: Omelets- use whatever veggies you have on hand.
Snack: PB&J Crackers. Use the townhouse or whatever brand of crackers and add peanut butter and jelly- Or peanut butter and Nutella.
Dinner: Cheesy Chicken and Rice – All you need is some chicken, rice, veggies, and broth. All of these pantry staples help keep the grocery budget low each week.
You can even add these restaurant-like buns to your air fryer here.
DAY 5 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Oatmeal packet again! You don’t want to waste them.
Lunch: Grilled Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The first time I had this was a few years ago, and it is surprisingly tasty.
Snack: Yogurt smoothie – Add in some yogurt, milk, fruit, and protein powder (optional).
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Potato Chips – or if sweet potato fries are on sale, grab those. I tend to make work whatever is on sale for meals.
DAY 6 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Toast with Nutella/ peanut butter – All you need is some bread or English muffins, Nutella, or peanut butter.
Lunch: Pasta Bolognese – All you need is some pasta noodles, ground beef/ chicken/turkey, veggies, and sauce. Grab the recipe here.
Snack: Hard Boiled Eggs- Toss in a salad or make egg salad sandwiches
Dinner: Homemade pizza with salad – All you need is pizza dough (which can be bought or create your own), mozzarella cheese, sauce, pepperoni/ veggies, and whatever else you’d like for toppings.
I highly recommend making your pizza dough. It’s super easy and cheap. I buy yeast from Costco or BJs and store the leftovers in a mason jar in the fridge.
DAY 7 Meal Menu
Breakfast: Toasted bagel with peanut butter – Buy the bagels from the store, spread on some Nutella or peanut butter, and enjoy!
Lunch/Snack: Apple and Cheese slices – All you need is some cheese slices/shreds and apples( In the fall, caramel dip is pretty cheap and a fun snack for the kids)
Dinner: One Pot Stroganoff- You will probably have leftover ground beef you can use in this recipe. You can substitute chicken broth for white wine too.
For 60 more cheap meal ideas to make, go here.
So there you go! Seven budget-friendly meal ideas that will feed your family for $10 or less.
You most likely will have leftovers you can use for next week or freeze and use a few weeks down the road when the family forgets about these meals!
I went through this list and added everything to an Instacart order at Aldi, which came to under $45. I’m guessing you will already have some of these ingredients, bringing your total to even less.
For more inspiration, check out how I keep to a $65/week grocery budget here.
Want to make this shopping plan even EASIER?!
Grab a 5-day meal plan filled out for you below Then keep this meal plan for the time money is tight.
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Check out some of my Ninja Foodi Articles below too!