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Dirt Cheap Meals to Make For Your Family

We all know about hangry, but what’s the word when you are hungry and short on cash?
I’m going to share cheap meal ideas and recipes that taste good. The ingredients are all similar, and they won’t cost a fortune. Utilize the sales at your local grocery store to make these even cheaper.

I know the struggle. We were BROKE when we started our family and decided to pay off debt. Making cheap meals was our only option.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be like this forever. Truly.

If you are here looking for cheap meals for the week, you are already taking positive action.
Whatever your financial situation, there is a way to shrink the bill.

dirt cheap frugal meals

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Dirt Cheap Meals to Make For Your Family

Let’s start with some of the most budget friendly foods to buy.

( You should also strive to have your pantry filled with these items here.)

  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Milk
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Tuna
  • Ground Turkey
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Canned Tomato Sauce
  • Tortilla Shells
  • Bread
  • Beans
  • Broths
  • Cheese
  • The bigger tubs of yogurt ( not single ones)
  • Whole Chickens

If you’re looking for ways to make the most out of the food you have at home, try taking a quick inventory of your fridge and pantry. You may be surprised by how many ingredients you’ve already got on hand that can be used to make a tasty meal.

To help you save even more on groceries, check out the Rakuten and IBOTTA apps. I’ve been able to save big on orders from Walmart and Target by stacking deals on these two apps.

If you’re new to Rakuten, sign up here for a bonus $20, and if you sign up for IBOTTA here, you’ll get $10.

To inspire you with cheap and delicious meals, I’ve gathered a few recipes perfect for stretching your budget. You can also check out my blog, where I shared some of my extreme couponing adventures back in 2015.

Personally, I like to shop at Tops (when they have sales and coupons), BJ’s, Walmart, and Target. It’s amazing how much money you can save with just a bit of planning and strategizing.

You could go to your pantry and fridge right now and see how many of these items you currently have.

Read: How to Live Off Your Pantry & Freezer For AWHILE

Dirt Cheap Meals to Make For Your Family

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  1. Scrambled eggs with toast
  2. Toad in a hole ( Piece of bread with the middle cut out for the egg)
  3. Homemade French Toast
  4. Homemade Waffles
  5. Homemade Pancakes ( especially if you don’t have a waffle maker- these are great things to find at thrift stores)
  6. Cereal- Use coupons to get cereal for always under $1!
  7. Hashbrown Casserole Try this recipe.
  8. Eqq Quiche- can leave out bacon. I go with Betty on these.
  9. Breakfast burritos- I make a batch and then wrap it with plastic wrap and throw it in a big freezer bag. I scramble eggs, add cheese and whatever veggies, and then refried beans. So good!
  10. Smoothies- I find grabbing the big bag of frozen fruit at BJs the easiest for smoothies. But you can check local grocery stores for clearance or quickly reduced produce items to blend up or freeze for smoothies too.
  11. Oatmeal- not the packets, the real stuff- it can be microwaved for quick meals too!
  12. Make your own Bran muffins or whatever you like and have on hand, and pair them with yogurt. Recipe HERE.
Dirt Cheap Meals to Make For Your Family

We are light eaters for lunch, and it’s always helped us keep our grocery budget lower.

A lot of times, we have leftovers from the meal before. When we have leftovers, and the kids don’t really care for them, I’ll end up freezing the rest and using them for another meal down the road or lunch. Usually, by the third time, it’s not so bad. 🙂


  1. Salads- It’s really the easiest. I’ll boil up eggs to add. I keep a BJs brand salad topping bag on hand. This one at Walmart is similar.
  2. BLTS ( Bacon, Lettuce Tomatoes) also make great dinners!
  3. English Muffin Pizzas- or can make your own mini pizza dough or regular pizza dough
  4. Pasta Salad- classic oil, mayo and veggies
  5. Quesadillas use any leftover meat or even just cheese
  6. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  7. Macaroni and Cheese
  8. Any type of Soup
  9. Black Bean Chili try this recipe here
  10. Tuna Sandwich
  11. Peanut Butter & Jelly Crackers- Yep Switch it up from Bread and put on crackers like Townhouse and make a sandwich my kids loved this as toddlers.
  12. Smoothies again
  13. Upside Down Nacho’s – we use the Ninja Foodi
  14. Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  15. Turkey and cheese roll-ups
  16. Veggie and hummus wrap
  17. Easy Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad
  18. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas
  19. Tuna Melt Sandwich
ultimate simple meal planner mockup
Dirt Cheap Meals to Make For Your Family


Oh dinner. Again the amount of money you spend will depend on your family size, but there are always ways to cut back your grocery bill NO matter the family size 🙂

  1. Chili- I love using our venison recipe here
  2. Stew- Use a cheaper cut of meat and look for discounted meats at your local grocery store. For us venison stew is a go to.
  3. Homemade Pizza
  4. Homemade Mac And Cheese with Spinach
  5. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
  6. Baked Ziti Homemade Garlic bread this is a delicious easy and CHEAP recipe.
  7. Tacos- use refried beans to make them more filling and use less meat.
  8. Hamburgers or try black bean sweet potato burgers
  9. Meatloaf- This recipe is a hit around here!
  10. Pizza Pasta Bake- Another one of my favorites.
  11. Goulash- or I throw in whatever we have in the fridge with sauce and noodles.
  12. Baked Chicken Thighs with Steamed Frozen Veggies
  13. Rotisserie Chicken and use it for a few different meals. Meal ideas here.
  14. Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloins recipe here( I wait for BOGO deals to grab these)
  15. Sloppy Joes
  16. Italian Style Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Broccoli Casserole
  17. Seasoned Chicken Thighs with Yellow Rice
  18. Midwinter Minestrone Soup with Kaiser Rolls
  19. Crispy Fried Chicken Thighs with corn and Kaiser rolls
  20. Chicken Quesadillas-
  21. Whole Oven Roasted Terragon Chicken ( depending on family size this can get you two meals)
  22. Spaghetti make your homemade garlic bread here( This recipe takes 15 mins! It’s my FAVORITE! )
  23. Chicken Enchaladas 
  24.  Harvest Hamburger
  25. Black Bean and Rice Wraps
  26. Italian Marinated Chicken Breasts 
  27. Poor Man’s Dinner(use the black beans in substitute for ground beef, truly a simple dinner! )
  28. Meatball Subs with side salads
  29.  Grilled Balsamic Venison Tenderloins with Asparagus and Radish Salad with Tarragon Pesto ( if you have venison)
  30. Garden Wraps
  31.  Oven Baked Pork Chops 
  32. Breakfast for dinner
  33. French Toast Casserole
  34. Stuffed Zucchinis with rice, veggies and turkey bacon
  35. Angel Hair Pasta with cream-based sauce and zucchinis
  36. Pasta Broccoli
  37. Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
  38. BBQ Chicken Pizza
  39. Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

In conclusion, making frugal meals doesn’t have to be boring or time-consuming. As we’ve seen in our list of “70 Frugal Meal Ideas for You to Make this Week,” countless affordable and easy-to-prepare meals can delight your taste buds and keep your wallet in check.

From pasta to soups, sandwiches to salads, and everything in between, there is an endless range of possibilities to explore. By incorporating some of these frugal meal ideas into your daily routine, you can save time and money while still enjoying delicious and nutritious meals.

So, why not give it a try? Your wallet, and your taste buds, will thank you. Don’t forget to share these ideas with your loved ones and encourage them to start budget-friendly meal planning today!

Let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to Follow me ON Tiktok for more money-saving tips!

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