You don’t have to spend a fortune on food if you’re trying to stay within a budget. These easy, dirt cheap meals will help you eat cheap.
Sometimes there’s too much month and not enough money. We’ve all been there! If you find yourself a little short of cash before your next payday, you may be wondering how you can make ends meet.
Related: Learn Paycheck Budgeting
One way of saving a substantial amount of money is by cutting your spending on food.
The absolute first thing you should do is stop eating out. If you’re like most people you spend a small fortune eating out every month.
And you probably don’t even realize it. Unfortunately, those latte runs and sub stops add up.
Plus, if you’re feeding a family, that quick drive thru meal for 4 can easily set you back $50, let alone a dinner out in a real restaurant. Even a casual meal out for 4 can run close to $100.
So, if you want to save money stop eating at restaurants and start making frugal meals at home. I highly recommend creating a monthly meal plan to make it easier!
Save Money on Food
Eating dirt cheap meals are really not that much of a sacrifice and it’s most likely temporarily. Just keep your eye on the prize! **The prize is financial freedom guys – just in case you forgot.
The average food bill for a family of 4 is around $1000 per month. Your family might spend more or less.
But I’m betting that if you spend anywhere near the average then you have room to cut your grocery bill.
Even if you just temporarily cut your food bill for a few months, you should save quite a bit and can put that saved money towards other expenses until you get your budget back where it needs to be.
The great thing about cutting your food budget is that you can do it almost painlessly. There’s truly so many great low cost, frugal meals you can make for your family without a ton of effort.
Most of the really dirt-cheap meals are quite simple and easy to prepare. In fact, for a lot of these super cheap meals you probably won’t even need a recipe because they’re that easy!
Where to Shop for Cheap Groceries
To really save on your food budget you need to look at it holistically. This includes considering where you’re shopping for groceries.
If you really want to maximize our savings and get super dirt-cheap meals, then where you buy your groceries does matter! There are some stores that are so much cheaper than others.
I’m an Aldi fan because they have awesome prices. I don’t buy everything at Aldi, but I do buy staples like pasta, eggs, milk, olive oil, seasonings, some produce and frozen foods.
I know some people who look down on Aldi and think it’s cheap because it’s not quality, but that’s not the case. They’re cheap because their business model is different from the normal grocery store and they offer very few frills.
If you’ve been reluctant to try Aldi, maybe knowing that Aldi is owned by the same company that owns Trader Joe’s will entice you to give it a try!
Other great options are Walmart, Target and Costco. They all have great deals on groceries!
The Best Cheap Foods
If you’re wondering how you can eat cheap, there are definitely certain foods that are better deals than others. There’s a lot of food out there that may be cheap but is totally unhealthy.
That’s not what you want. Because if you eat enough unhealthy food, no matter how frugal, you’ll end up paying for it later with your health.
Hotdogs and mac & cheese every now and then won’t kill you, but overall, you want to stick with the healthier frugal foods.
It’s not hard to add a salad to your dinner.
A head of iceberg lettuce is less than $1.50 so it’s dirt cheap and it’s good for you.
Same goes for frozen vegetables. You can buy a bag of frozen broccoli for less than $2.00 at most stores.
It’s super easy to throw a steam-able bag of veggies in the microwave to make your frugal meal a little more-healthy!
Favorite Frugal Meals
Here are some of my favorite options for dirt cheap meals – most of which don’t even require a recipe!
Dirt Cheap Meals for Breakfast
Omelets. Broccoli & Cheese Omelets are easy & delicious.
Pancakes. Serve with fresh fruit and powdered sugar with just a little syrup for a lighter and cheaper breakfast. I love these super simple cornmeal pancakes.
Egg Sandwiches. Serve a fried egg topped with a slice of cheese on a bagel or English muffin.
Huevos Rancheros. Scramble up some eggs with sautéed onions & peppers. Serve with a tortilla & salsa on the side.
Quiche. Crustless quiche is super easy. Try this delicious and healthy crustless quiche.
Egg Casserole. Egg casseroles are another super easy & frugal meal. Cover bottom of 9 x 13 pan with diced potatoes. Add any combination of diced veggies like mushrooms, onions, peppers, and broccoli.
Top with eggs mixed with a little milk. Make sure the entire casserole is covered with egg mixture. Top with a little shredded cheese. Cook for about an hour at 350F degrees.
Overnight Oats. A dirt cheap & delicious breakfast that couldn’t be easier! All you need is ½ cup milk, ½ cup rolled oats + peanut butter.
Mix all together in a jar, making sure oats are fully immersed in liquid. Let sit overnight in the fridge and that’s it!
Avocado Toast. Avocado toast is a really savory, filling breakfast that’s easy on the wallet. Just mash up an avocado, spread on whole grain bread and top with a fried egg if you’d like. Simple and cheap!
Oatmeal with Bananas. Bump up your potassium and fiber with a healthy & frugal breakfast of oatmeal and bananas. This is an easy, healthy breakfast for everyone.
Dirt Cheap Meals for Lunch
Tuna Pasta Salad. Boil some bowties and cool. Add chopped carrots, onions and canned tuna. Excellent with lots of salt & pepper and super cheap.
Hamburger Soup. Brown & drain a pound of ground beef in a large pot. Add two diced potatoes along with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables or about 3 cups of fresh veggies.
Add 3 cups low sodium beef broth, 1 can tomato soup and Italian seasoning. Mix all together. Simmer until flavors are combined.
Hummus & Turkey Wraps. Wraps are a filling, cheap and healthy way to satisfy your hunger pangs. Spread hummus on a wrap, add deli turkey, lettuce, roll up and enjoy.
Egg Salad Sandwiches. Egg salad is a super old fashioned and still favorite lunch meal. It’s like eating deviled eggs on toast.
Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese. Tomato soup & grilled cheese is another family favorite. Kids and adults alike love grilled cheese. Serve with a can of tomato soup and you’ve got a winner!
Hot Dogs & Pork & Beans. Also known as beanies & weenies!
This is a classic lunchtime favorite that still works well for a quick and inexpensive lunch. It’s not the healthiest choice, but everything in moderation.
Dirt Cheap Meals for Dinner
Cheese Enchiladas. Everyone at my house loves enchiladas. This recipe is super simple. Take a can of enchilada sauce and pour half on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
In a bowl, mix a can of fat free cream of chicken soup with a container of sour cream. Mix in 2 cups of shredded cheese.
Fill 8 -10 tortillas with the cheese mixture. Roll up tortillas and place side by side in the pan.
Cover with rest of enchilada sauce. Top with some shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil.
Bake for about an hour at 350F degrees. Enjoy!
Charcuterie Board. I don’t know who invented the charcuterie board, but I’m super glad they did. A charcuterie board dinner is a fun, casual way to serve up a meal for both family and guests.
And it’s a great way to stretch your food budget because you don’t have to buy a lot of fancy ingredients to make a good charcuterie board.
To keep it on the frugal side, just grab a few or your favorite cheeses, fruit, crackers, add some hummus and you’re set.
Chili. Chili is always a winner. Make it with ground turkey and it’s even more economical. Try this Instant Pot turkey chili.
Olive Oil & Parmesan Pasta. Nothing beats a scrumptious bowl of pasta and this meatless version does not disappoint.
Just toss cooked pasta with olive oil and parmesan cheese and you have yourself a very quick and cheap meal. It’s also delicious and about as frugal of a meal as you can get.
Taco Salad. Salads are a great food budget stretcher and taco salads in particular are always a fan favorite.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes. Stuffed baked potatoes are super versatile for a cheap dinner. Use russet potatoes or sweet potatoes and stuff with leftover chili or black beans & cheese.
Sloppy Joes. Sloppy Joes are another throwback that are still one of my go-to’s. They’re fast, inexpensive and delicious. If you want to switch it up, use ground turkey instead of beef.
Sheet Pan Chicken Legs & Roasted Veggies. Sheet pan cooking has become a favorite due to its simplicity. I also love its versatility. So many meals can be cooked on a single sheet pan.
I like to do chicken legs with roasted sweet potatoes. It’s super flavorful and dirt cheap to make. The sky’s the limit on what you can make on a sheet pan, so use your imagination!
Frugal Meals Don’t Have to Be Boring
Hopefully these recipe ideas convince you that just because you’re eating at home and staying on a food budget, your meal time doesn’t have to be boring.
Make it a point to make your meals special. Use your nice dinnerware. Serve fun drinks like a 7up punch or a cheap bottle of Trader Joe’s two-buck chuck.
It’s also fun to spice things up and have a picnic at the park or dinner on your deck. Little extra touches will make it easier to stick to your frugal meals and save a lot of money!
What are some of your favorite dirt cheap meals to prepare? Leave a comment below and let me know!