If you’re trying to feed your family on a budget, you’re going to want to add these dirt cheap meals to your weekly meal rotation!
Feeding your family when money is tight can be difficult! And no one wants to eat rice and beans for every single meal. Take some of the guesswork out of feeding your family on a budget with these delicious options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
And don’t fret, just because a meal is cheap, it doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! You’ll find dirt cheap meal options below for a variety of diets. And the great thing about most of these meals is that they’re incredibly versatile.
Dirt Cheap Meals for Breakfast
Amp up the traditional pancake with this budget-friendly recipe by Amy’s Delicious Mess! I love her idea to fuse together the concept of banana bread and pancakes – so much yum! And you don’t have to worry about feeling guilty after eating this because there is no added sugar in this recipe! Just grab a few basic ingredients and make these for breakfast. I recommend doubling the batch and freezing them to reheat for a quick breakfast the next time you’re craving pancakes but running short on time!
Whether you’re easing into your morning at home or rushing out the door, this versatile breakfast meal from Thrifty Frugal Mom is a winner! Add it to a bowl with a splash of milk or toss it into a container on your way out the door. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry and if not, that’s okay! You can easily change up the recipe by adding in or taking away the “extras” if you prefer. But I love the suggested combo of coconut and granola!
Who doesn’t love a good donut for breakfast? The Ottawa Mommy Club has come up with an inventive way to enjoy donuts for breakfast with this easy breakfast casserole dish. Ever grab a dozen donuts but find that you didn’t eat them all before they started to go stale? This is perfect for that! Or even grab the donuts on the bakery rack that are marked down due to freshness.
Easy and cheap come together for this classic casserole dish from Winding Creek Ranch! It’s incredibly versatile and there are great suggestions on ways you can add a variety of ingredients you may already have on hand or those that are cheap grabs from the grocery store.
Who says you can’t have tacos for breakfast?! Here’s a dirt cheap meal idea for breakfast from Meals and Mile Markers that adds a little spice to kick off your morning. This meal will only cost you a few dollars but will keep your belly full until lunch time with its hearty ingredients.
No extensive baking skills are required for this one! This ooey-gooey breakfast recipe from Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt will get you excited to wake up in the morning! Use a can of refrigerated biscuit dough and a handful of pantry staples to make this dirt cheap meal ASAP!
Dirt Cheap Meals for Lunch
If you’re looking for something light and super easy to make for dinner, look no further! This chicken salad recipe from Aspen on Main checks all the boxes. On top of being an incredibly simple dish to prepare, with ONLY 6 INGREDIENTS, it’s also very affordable, making it a perfect dirt cheap meal.
Let’s face it, sandwiches can get a little boring sometimes, especially if you’re needing to eat on a tight budget. I love this lunch idea from Saving Dollars and Sense that combines pizza and sandwiches into one tasty bite! C’mon, who wouldn’t love toasty garlic bread with cheese and sauce in the middle for lunch?! It’s a winner for the whole family.
Grilled cheese sandwiches are not only to be made in a frying pan, my friend! Bites with Bri gives us a new and easy way to make a dirt cheap lunch with this grilled cheese sandwich recipe by using the air fryer! Add this into your meal rotation to stay on budget this month!
Run to your pantry and you’ll most likely find that you already have just about everything to make this pasta dish by Erica’s Recipes for lunch! Pasta dishes are always a hit for lunch because they’re usually quick to make but very satisfying. And you’ll love the homemade taste of the sauce without having to use a store-bought version. Have leftovers? Save it for tomorrow!
When you think of cheap dinners, you don’t usually think of lobster rolls. Of course, actual lobster would be far from budget-friendly. This version of the lobster roll from Dad Feeds the Fam relies on imitation crab meat instead of the real deal. Using imitation crab meat gives that familiar seafood taste you’d expect in a lobster roll, just at a fraction of the price!
If you’re strapped for cash and time, check out this lunch recipe from The Clever Meal! Just a handful of simple, inexpensive ingredients and you’ll have lunch served in about 10 minutes. Have some fresh produce like spinach or mushrooms on hand? Throw it in there to amp up this simple yet delicious dish!
Dirt Cheap Meals for Dinner
Don’t think you’re a baker? Think again! This simple pizza roll recipe with homemade dough makes baking a breeze. You and your kids will love these tasty and inexpensive pizza rolls. Tip: They freeze incredibly well. So make a big batch for dinner and freeze the rest for a quick and easy meal when you want them again (and I promise, you will want them again)!
Whenever it gets a little chilly out, a hearty bowl of beef stew is just what the doctor ordered. You’ll love this Instant Pot version of the classic beef stew from Emily Fabulous. It has all of the beef stew ingredients that you’re familiar with: beef, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Plus, you can toss in any other root vegetables you have on hand for added variety and nutrition. And, if you make a little too much, don’t worry! Freeze it for later. You’ll save money and have an extra meal on hand for those hectic days when cooking just isn’t an option.
This recipe is simple but ranks high on the flavor meter. I mean, who doesn’t like Ranch seasoning?! In addition to being flavorful and, of course, budget-friendly, this sheet pan chicken and veggie dinner from Budget Delicious is perfect for anyone looking to go low-carb. And, with a few adjustments, you can have yourself a simple keto meal.
This chicken and rice recipe is another great Instant Pot dish on our list. Not only is the Instant Pot a frugal, energy-efficient device, but rice is one of our favorite thrifty foods. It’s inexpensive, versatile, and basically lasts forever! This dirt cheap meal from This Old Gal consists of only a few budget-friendly ingredients. To make this dish even more cost-effective, consider subbing white or yellow onion for shallots, choosing white rice over jasmine or basmati, and using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.
This chicken pot pie and biscuit skillet meal from Platter Talk is sure to become a family favorite. It’s simple, chocked full of flavor, and has a flaky, buttery biscuit topping. And, with less than 10 ingredients, it’s easy on the wallet. If you want to save a little extra time and some extra cash at the same time, swap fresh vegetables for a can of mixed veggies.
Casseroles are a staple of frugal eating. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Mexican seasonings. That’s just a couple of reasons why we absolutely love this taco bake from DIY Candy! This dirt cheap meal has only 7 simple ingredients many of which you probably have in your pantry. To top it off, it’s a great heart-healthy option, using ground turkey, which is super-lean, instead of fattier alternatives like pork or beef.
Another hearty stew has made our list because of how budget-friendly and delicious it is! You can toss the ingredients for this Poor Man’s Stew from Cook at Home Mom into the crockpot in just a few minutes, and before you know, you’ll have a simple and tasty dinner the whole family is sure to love.
This is one of our go-to dirt cheap meal ideas. It’s a twist on a classic chicken tortilla soup. It has all of the familiar Southwest flavors you love like cumin, garlic, lime, and cilantro. This dish is a year-round favorite that’s both hearty and very healthy. Also, it fits perfectly into a keto or paleo diet!
We all love premium cuts of meat, but one trick to saving money on groceries is eating a little lower on the hog, so to speak. That’s one of the things we love about this dish by This Mama Cooks! It relies on elevating the humble chicken thigh by placing it at center stage. It’s also a very versatile dish. You can use the marinade provided in the recipe or make your own. And, you can use any combination of veggies you like. This is a great dish to use up any vegetables that are close to their expiration dates!
If you’re needing a dirt cheap meal that comes together in about 30 mins, try this one out! We love this recipe from The Oregon Dietician that breaks down to just $1.51 per serving. And while it’s easy on your budget, it really packs a punch, keeping you full and satisfying your tastebuds all at the same time.
You can eat cheap AND look forward to a great meal with this family favorite! Mexican dishes are always a hit around the house, and we love how simple this one is to make. It really only requires 3 core ingredients and the rest are completely optional (albeit the toppings are very cheap too if you want to get a little “extra” with it). This is a dish that will have everyone coming back for more because who doesn’t love warm, toasty Doritos?!
This easy Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole recipe could quickly become a family favorite! We love this dish for so many reasons. It’s packed full of flavor, easy to make, and is also very budget-friendly. You start by layering tater tots, ground beef, jalapeño, and cheese in a casserole dish. Then, bake in the oven until the tater tots are crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly. I’m not sure it gets much better than that!
Dirt Cheap Meals for Dessert
No campfire required for this nostalgic dessert! If you’re a huge fan of s’mores, then you’re going to gobble up this delicious recipe from The Six Figure Dish! It only requires a few ingredients and an air fryer. Get the whole family involved in making this tonight!
Enjoy this refreshing, cool treat for only pennies! These popsicles from Keep Calm and Eat Ice Cream are the perfect icy treat to make at home. Just use three simple ingredients: water, lemons, and ice. Then, all you need to do is add the mix to popsicle molds. Go check out this easy budget-friendly dessert!
“Fresh and creamy” is what this dessert from The Short Order Cook is all about! All of the ingredients are very cheap but when you combine them all together, you’ll wind up with a “wow” worthy, dirt cheap dessert. You may think making homemade mousse sounds complicated, but it’s so easy! Check out this one for sure.
Not sure if you want brownies or cookies? Combine the two concepts together with this budget-friendly recipe from Salt and Baker! I love the simplicity of this recipe. And it should only cost you pennies per serving given that brownie mixes are very inexpensive.
For a fun twist on a classic dessert, you have GOT to try out this banana pudding recipe! It’s very budget-friendly and it feeds a crowd with only using very basic ingredients that are all relatively inexpensive. Not only is it a dirt cheap dessert idea and absolutely delish, but it’s also a breeze to whip up regardless of whether you’re a rockstar in the kitchen or a complete newbie!
Saving money on food is not only about knowing what to make, but it’s also about knowing how to shop. So, you’re absolutely going to want to know these tried and true money-saving hacks for keeping your costs low at the grocery store with this article: How to Save Money on Groceries: the ULTIMATE Guide!
Go grab The Ultimate Cheap Grocery List for a Month free printable to help with your meal planning this week!
And if you’re on a low-carb diet, you’ll find our article 6 Tricks for Doing Keto on a Tight Budget helpful.
Which one of these dirt cheap meal ideas are you excited to try? Eating meals on a budget does not have to be boring! You can do so much with so little. You just may need some inspiration, that’s all.
Most of these meals call for simple ingredients that can be elevated to something amazing. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry. It’s time to get in the kitchen and start cooking up some delicious meals!
Don’t forget to join me over at Pinterest for more budget-friendly food inspiration!