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7 Easy Staple Meals You Can Make For Cheap

If you are on a strict budget, the first thing you may want to try is to cut back on how much you are spending on groceries. Of course, the number one way to do that is to meal plan. If you are on a limited food supply, 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 the store to get these two proteins that will save your family a bunch of money, check your pantry and freezer right now.

If you want to make things fun, list what meals you could make from your pantry.

Suppose 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 week’s 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, a layoff, or any other type of emergency expense, try making these meals this week to save your family money.

2 Proteins

1 Whole chicken

Ground Beef

You may need to add only five 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 chickens and eat throughout the year. But if you buy these from the store, they are VERY cost-efficient. 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 three meals out of this chicken for us.

easy staple meal

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)

Ground Beef

The following protein to buy is ground beef. It is another cheaper-priced meat.

I always get a huge pack from BJs unless Tops runs 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 ground beef.

When I get a massive meat pack from BJs, it will last us two weeks. We can make it last longer if I only do one beef meal a week. So UT for this tip, we will use it for a week.

The three meals to make from ground beef.

Now you have six meals.

For 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 like this.

  • Whole chicken
  • Beef
  • Hamburger Buns
  • Cheese
  • 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 a super basic easy way to save money.

Read this if you want to learn how to meal plan for an entire month.

If you don’t have pantry items, you will need to get 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 meat-like texture when you chop them very small.

I get hamburger buns from Costco or BJs. We get 16 for $1.99. This is the way we get two meals out of one pack. It is a great place to get cheap bread too.

ultimate simple meal planner mockup

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. The t’s only $3.42 a day or $0.85 per person. Su e beats taking the family out to eat for $40 or $50.

Plus, when you have these two proteins on hand, you can quickly whip up any meal if you want even MORE frugal ways to stretch your ground meat; read this post here.

Yours will be more with the whole chickens. It is just inspiring you. To get an idea of how much I spend for an entire week’s 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 best to cook this chicken quickly and meal prep. It takes about 40 minutes when I put my chicken in the Ninja food from start to finish.

7 Easy Staple Meals You Can Make For Cheap

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.

7 Easy Staple Meals You Can Make For Cheap

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 dd a little water to it and let it heat up. Su r easy, super cheap friends.

7 Easy Staple Meals You Can Make For Cheap

We put it on a bun with a little bit of lettuce, and boom. Meat is done. You can add cheese, whatever you have on hand.

The next night I season the chicken with taco seasoning and heat tortillas. Tortillas are something I always try to have on hand. Mainly because they go super cheap at Tops, and they never go bad.

chicken soup ninja foodi

For the chicken soup, I use everything left in the Ninja Foodi. I g 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, and it’s delicious just how it is.

Check out more Ninja Foodi Recipes:

Raising our chickens, I can easily make the girls chicken egg wraps in the morning,

Use whatever veggies you have on hand. For example, depending on the season, you can have tomatoes from your garden, or I only use salsa on the tacos when I don’t have fresh tomatoes.

Sour cream is a must for our tacos.

For the rest of the meat, I section it into three or four pieces. I’ll freeze the last one. I’ll keep the others in the fridge.

You could quickly cook all your ground beef to save time, but I like to keep my options open if I change up a meal at the last minute.

I hope this helps inspire you to think smaller when making dinner for the next couple of weeks. Please feel free to leave a comment to help others stretch their protein options and meal plan.

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Sunday 19th of April 2020


My husband and I will be retiring in a few years. We plan on getting a place on the lake this year so we can enjoy it with our grandkids and grown kids.

I have gotten into the habit of spending more money than I need to on groceries. I need to learn how to eat healthy and spend less. Are there any posts that you can think of to direct me in this direction? I am new to your blog and there is a lot of information on it. I would appreciate your help. Thank you.


Monday 20th of April 2020

Hi Linda! That is so exciting about retirement. The good news for food there is always a way to spend less. I'm including a few posts I think you might find helpful.

Debbie Fox

Monday 16th of March 2020

Great information and tips for everyone to keep in mind .

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