Are you looking for ways to stretch those food budget dollars even further? Try some of our Dirt Cheap Meals – Recipes and Ideas.
Try some of our favorite cheap meals!
Sometimes your meal planning needs to include some super cheap meals if extra money is needed in the family budget for something else. Maybe a bowl of homemade soup with a grilled cheese sandwich or a yummy peanut butter and banana sandwich for a dirt cheap lunch. Saving money on the weekly food budget is easy if you know where to look for cheap dinner ideas.
There are many foods that are relatively inexpensive and can provide a filling and nutritious meal. Some of the cheapest foods include:
Rice is a staple food for many people around the world and is an excellent source of carbohydrates. It can be bought in bulk for a low price and is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.
Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and nutrients, and they are also relatively cheap. They can be used in a variety of dishes, including chili, soups, and salads.
Potatoes are another inexpensive food that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, and potato salad.
Pasta is an affordable food that is filling and versatile. It can be combined with sauce, vegetables, and meat to create a complete meal.
Canned vegetables are a cheap and convenient option that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, and casseroles.
Easy Ways to Save Money on Food:
- Use one piece of meat to make 2 different meals. This is a great way to make 2 meals from just 1 might of cooking. Bake chicken thighs for dinner and use the leftover meat to make a quick and healthy chicken noodle soup.
- Eat less meat and more beans and vegetables. If you are making chili, buy less beef and add more beans!
- Learn to make your own. Making your own pizza can save substantial money and it can be fun! Have pizza night with homemade pizza. Homemade pizza night is cheap.
- Make a large pot of soup and eat for dinner for a few days and then freeze the rest. Substantial savings by making a vegetable soup with a little meat and tons of canned or frozen vegetables.
Meals That Are Cheap
We love cooking eggs for breakfast, but how about some healthy scrambled eggs for dinner? Eggs are one of the most economical foods you can put on your table.
Eggs are cheap to purchase, but are high in nutrients. Eggs make a great dinner when there isn’t a lot left in the food budget. Scrambled eggs are good for dinner, but give these yummy eggs in a nest a try!
Penne or Rotini Pasta with Simple Tomato Sauce
One of the cheapest meals you can eat is pasta with tomato sauce.
- 8 ounces of pasta (such as rotini, penne or macaroni)
- 1 can (14-16 ounces) of tomato sauce
- 1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it’s al dente. Drain the cooked pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, you can prepare the sauce. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. If you’re using garlic, sauté the minced garlic in the oil until it becomes fragrant, but be careful not to let it burn.
Pour in the canned tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes until it’s heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the cooked pasta with the tomato sauce and toss until the pasta is well coated.
Serve hot, optionally garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.
The cost of this meal primarily depends on the price of the ingredients in your area. you could typically make a plate of pasta with tomato sauce for a very affordable price, often about $150.00 per serving.
Remember that you can customize this basic meal with additional ingredients like vegetables or ground meat if you have a slightly larger budget and want to add more flavor and nutrition to your meal.
Rice and Mixed Vegetable Stir Fry
- White Rice
- Bag of Mixed Vegetables
- Salt and Pepper
Cook white rice according to package directions. Thaw a bag of mixed vegetables and stir into the cooked hot cooked rice. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to a skillet and stir-fry the rice and vegetables.
Use cooked Ramen noodles instead of rice.
Add chopped scrambled eggs.
Sprinkle with soy sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cook rice in chicken broth or save money by making your own chicken broth or use a chicken soup base.
Cook boneless chicken thighs and use the broth in the stir-fry. Shred chicken and use about 1 cup for the stir-fry. Save the rest of the shredded chicken for another recipe later in the week.
Chili – Dirt Cheap and Easy Meal!
Chili is one of the best meals to cook when the food budget is low. It’s economical, healthy, and very filling to keep you fuller longer. Chili is also delicious and easy to prepare and simple to serve. Chili is probably one of our favorite low-cost meals. Chili can still be delicious using less ground beef and more beans. You can even make chili without beef and add extra beans and some corn.
Chili stores well in the refrigerator and can be eaten for lunch or dinner for the next few days, saving even more money!
Egg noodles are not only cheap, but they are also super-delicious no matter how you prepare them!
Try our delicious recipe for – Butter Garlic Noodles Made with Egg Noodles
Easy Lentil Soup – Crockpot Soup
Add 1 cup of dry lentils with 1 can petite diced tomatoes to your slow cooker. Add in 1 cup each of chopped onion, carrots and celery. Stir in 4-5 cups of chicken broth. Add salt and pepper, cook on low for 8 hours.
Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste.
Add 1 small can of tomato sauce.
1 cup of diced ham.
Add 1 cup of diced sausage. (Save some for the eggs and beans below)
How about Eggs and Baked Beans – Cheap Dinner Idea
Eggs are such a money saver for any meal and come with an extra bonus of being extremely nutritious.
We love both cooked eggs and yummy baked beans so why not pair these two for a cheap yet nourishing dinner. Skip the expensive meat protein but add the bean protein.
- Eggs – cooked sunny side up or poached or fried.
- 2-3 cans Baked Beans
Add some leftover cooked sausage.
Fresh sliced tomatoes.
Pittsburgh Fried Pierogis
We love Pierogis – Find out How to Cook Pan Fried Pierogis here.
We times are tough financially, a few bags or or boxes of frozen pierogis can go a long way. But don’t just boil them, fry them in a pan with a little oil and salt & pepper.
Add some of that leftover sausage to the pan along with green peas.
Add thawed chopped broccoli to the skillet.
Baked Cheesy Pasta
This is one of our favorite dirt cheap recipes because it’s so good and it can be made over and over. Leftovers are awesome for another dinner or a late lunch. Use your favorite noodles in this baked pasta recipe. Penne vs. Rigatoni
- 1 box of Rotini Pasta
- 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
- 1 bag of Mozzarella cheese
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and leave in the pan. If you like your noodles a little firmer, cook a few less minutes than directed because noodles will continue to cook in the oven. Add the sauce to the pan with the cooked noodles and heat over medium heat until the sauce is warm. Pour noodles and sauce into a casserole dish and top with Mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Fry 1 lb. of ground beef – pour in the jarred sauce and heat through.
Add some sliced ham from the deli.
Add a layer of Ricotta cheese.
Fold in a can of mushrooms or fresh cooked mushrooms.
Tuna Noodle Casserole with No Tuna
We love cooking with egg noodles because they are cheap, quick and very versatile.
- Medium Egg Noodles
- Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
- Can of Green Peas
- Shredded Cheese
Cook egg noodles and drain. Leave cooked noodles in the pan and stir in 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup and a can of green peas. Add a little bit of milk or water. Cook over medium heat until everything is hot. Stir in cheese and eat right from the pan or pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes.
Add some of that leftover chicken thigh meat.
Add some leftover sausage slices.
Use chopped broccoli instead of peas.
Few Foods That Are Cheap to Purchase:
Potatoes – A baked potato can be dinner when topped with leftover chili and cheese.
Rice – buying rice in bulk to save even more
Noodles – Almost all noodles are cheap to purchase.
Canned Beans – Black beans, kidney beans and even baked beans are a great choice to use in many recipes.
You will Love some of our Frugal Meals –