If you are on a really strict budget, the first thing you may want to try is to cut back on how much you are spending on groceries. The number one way to do that is to meal plan. If you are on a limited supply of food I’m sharing my go to easy staple meals you can make in a pinch.
I’ll get straight to the point on this one, BUT if you are new to meal planning and saving money on groceries go here and check out these posts.
Before you even head to to the store to get these two proteins that will save your family a bunch of money, go check your pantry and freezer right now.
If you really want to make things fun list what meals you could make from your pantry.
If your pantry is bare bones, no worries. You can check out this list to get your basics stocked up.
Shopping from your pantry first will save you so much money. It also helps to learn this skill for anything unexpected that may come up.
Today you can buy these two proteins and get a weeks worth of dinner meals from them.
Once you have your basics in your pantry you can meal prep and come up with quick healthier meals in a few minutes.
If you have an unexpected bill, or a layoff, or any other type of emergency expense try making these meals this week to save your family money.
1 Whole chicken
You may need to add only 5 or so more items to your list depending on what’s in your pantry. Don’t worry I’ll get to that.
Let’s Get to It.
Buy a whole chicken. We raise our own chickens and eat throughout the year. But if you buy these from the store they are VERY cost efficient. I opt for under $0.99/lb as a decent deal.
Sometimes our local grocery store will run specials where they are 69¢/lb. that’s the price to stock up and get as many that will fit in your freezer.
We are a family of four and I can get 3 meals out of this chicken for us.
Here are the three meals to make from one whole chicken.
- Shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches
- Chicken Tacos or Quesadillas
- Chicken Soup
- (How I make these further down)
The next protein to buy is ground beef. It is another cheaper priced meat.
I always get a huge pack from BJs unless Tops is running a better deal. If you don’t have the freezer space look for meat priced at $2.89 and under per pound. ( This will vary based on region, we live in New York)
You can also ask BJ’s to pack you a smaller package of the ground beef.
When I get a huge pack of meat from BJs it will last us two weeks. I can make it last longer if I only do one beef meal a week. BUT for the purpose of this tip, we are going to use it for a week.
The three meals to make from ground beef.
- Hamburger Helping ( our own take on Hamburger helper but better recipe here)
- Harvest Hamburger
Now you have six meals.
The last meal you can opt to eat leftovers if there are any or make homemade pizza.
If you are stocking your pantry like you should be when meal planning properly, your grocery list will probably look something like this.
- Whole chicken
- Hamburger Buns
- Sour cream
Of course you will fill in with snacks, fruits and veggies for a complete grocery trip. But for meals this week, this is super basic easy way to save money.
If you want to learn how to meal plan for an entire month read this.
If you don’t have pantry items you will need to get a few more ingredients. Don’t feel discouraged if your pantry isn’t well stocked right now. If you stock it right, you won’t have to feel this way again.
If you have venison meat you can save even more. Or if you don’t like ground beef, try substituting mushrooms blended up with beans. The mushrooms can give a beef like texture when you chop them very small.
I get hamburger buns from Costco or BJs. We get 16 for $1.99. This way we get two meals out of one pack. Aldi is a great place to get cheap breads too.
Are you an app lover? Tired of coming up with meals? Maybe your family has a lot of restrictions? Grab my FAVORITE meal planning app that even has a spot to put all your pantry items in! Get it here.
How Much I Spend For These Meals
- $1.99 per bag of mozzerlla cheese
- $1.99 for hamburger buns
- $17 for ground meat
- $2.99 for two huge packs of sour cream at BJs
$24 for a week worth of dinners. That’s only $3.42 a day or $0.85 per person. Sure beats taking the family out to eat for $40 or $50.
Plus when you have these two proteins on hand you can easily whip up any type of meal quickly. If you want even MORE frugal ways to stretch your ground meat read this post here.
Yours will be more with the whole chickens. This is just giving you inspiration. To get an idea of how much I spend for an entire weeks worth of groceries check out my weekly grocery trip posts here.
Here’s how I prep mine.
I think for meal prepping I love to use my Ninja Foodi. If you have a pressure cooker it’s the best way to cook this chicken quickly and meal prep. It takes about 40 minutes total from start to finish when I put my chicken in the Ninja foodi.
When the chicken is done I let it cool for a few minutes. Then I start shredding. I shred as much meat off the bones as I can. I also add extra water when pressure cooking because that’s my soup base.
I use two containers for the shredded chicken. The same night I put the shredded chicken in a pot with BBQ sauce. Our favorite is Sweet Baby Rays. I add a little water to it and let it heat up. Super easy, super cheap friends.
We put it on a bun with a little bit of lettuce and boom. Meal done You can add cheese, whatever you have on hand.
The next night I season the chicken with taco seasoning and heat up tortillas. Tortillas are something I always try to have on hand. Mainly because they go super cheap at Tops and they never go bad.
For the chicken soup I use everything left in the Ninja Foodi. I go through and make sure to get any bones out. When I want to serve it for dinner I add a little water and simmer it up. I add carrots and celery. The best part is it doesn’t need any seasoning, it’s delicious just how it is.
Check out more Ninja Foodi Recipes:
- Easy Restaurant Quality Ninja Foodi Yeast Rolls
- Upside Down Taco Nachos in the Ninja Foodi
- Easy Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie in Ninja Foodi
- Easy Way to Make Hot Dogs in Ninja Foodi
Raising our own chickens I can easily make the girls chicken egg wraps in the morning,
Use whatever veggies you have on hand. Depending on the season you can have tomatoes from your garden, or when I don’t have fresh tomatoes I only use salsa on the tacos.
Sour cream is a must for our tacos.
The rest of the meat I section into three or four pieces. I’ll freeze the last one. I’ll keep the others in the fridge.
You could easily cook all your ground beef to save time, but I like to keep my options open in case I change up a meal last minute.
I hope this helps inspire you to think smaller when it comes to making dinner for the next couple weeks. Please feel free to leave a comment to help others stretch their protein options and meal plan.