April 8

16 comments

10+ Frugal Dinners For When You’re Broke


Frugal meals don’t have to be boring!

It’s great to have a few go-to frugal meals for when you are short on cash. I absolutely love my Crock-Pot and couldn’t live without it, especially during the week when it is so busy I sometimes forget to eat!

Crockpot and freezer meals are also great frugal options as you can make a lot without spending a lot. And let me tell you, with a big family, I try and stretch my grocery budget as much as possible!

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It can feel like a challenge to feed your family hearty and nutritious meals when you are living paycheck to paycheck. Although Ramen is always an option, it’s not exactly a healthy go to. Did someone say MSG?!

But fear no more!

Here is a list of hearty and frugal dinners to feed your family when you are pinching pennies.

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Frugal and Hearty Dinners

These frugal meals are also a great option for picky eaters, as they are generally very simple and the ingredients can easily be changed to fit even the pickiest palettes!

1. Almost Homemade Cheesy Hamburger Helper

This almost homemade hamburger helper is an easy dinner to make that the whole family will enjoy. It's simple enough to make when you have the ingredients on hand and will definitely satisfy a cheesy craving. Click to see the full recipe. #hamburgerhelper #groundbeefrecipe #cheesymac #macandcheese

This is the very first, original recipe that I have added to the blog. I make this for my family on a regular basis and it is one of my hubby’s favorites! It makes enough to feed a family with some veggies on the side or two to three very hungry adults. This one will quickly become a family favorite!

Related: 25 Cheap and Easy Recipes Using Canned Tuna

                          Frugal Holiday Dinners for $10 or Less!

2. Bean and Cheese Freezer Burritos

From Graceful Little Honey Bee. 

At roughly $0.55 per serving, you can’t go wrong! These are so simple to make and are great for those days where you don’t have time to cook a full meal. Just pop them into the microwave for a couple minutes and you are good to go!

I like to make 2 sizes, a larger burrito size for the hubby and older kids, and a smaller taco size for the younger kids. There is less wasted food for us that way. You could also pair this with a quick side of frozen veggies for a more complete meal.

Related: Crazy Cheap and Delicious Iced Coffee ☕ Recipes

3. Budget Shepherd’s Pie

From Divas on a Dime.

Shepherd’s pie is a great option for a frugal yet hearty meal. Packed full of veggies and frugal ingredients like onions and potatoes.

4. One Pot Chicken and Potatoes

From Let The Baking Begin.

Recipes with chicken thighs are great because you can get them pretty cheap. Add in some potatoes, onions, and carrots and you got yourself a filling meal.

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5. Super Simple Beans and Rice

From Graceful Little Honey Bee. 

When I need a frugal meal in a pinch, I generally turn to Mexican cuisine. It is a great way to pack in a bunch of veggies on the cheap! Plus when you go for dried beans, although there is a little more prep involved, it’s so easy to make a substantial meal for a whole family on a budget.

6. Vegetable Soup

From Cooking Classy.

Soup is a classic go-to for a healthy and hearty family meal. A vegetable is an especially frugal type of soup to make because in comparison to meat, they are much more affordable.

7. CopyCat Panera Tuna Salad Sandwich

From Cincy Shopper.

You can’t go wrong with a hearty and filling sandwich. The great thing about sandwiches, or any kind, is you can personalize them with whatever you like!

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8. Chicken Fried Rice

From The Recipe Critic.

Rice is always a good frugal staple to keep around the house. So versatile and easy to make. This simple chicken fried rice recipe is a great option for the whole family.

9. Baked Potato Bar

From Moneywise Moms

I absolutely LOVE recipes that can be personalized. With 6 kids, it can be very difficult to find something that everyone likes. This baked potato bar is a great alternative to making tacos. Plus everyone can add whatever they like while also being cheap!

10. Kielbasa and Potato Skillet

From Mom Needs Chocolate.

A delicious blend of juicy kielbasa, soft and chewy potatoes and spicy peppers.

11. Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew

From The Magical Slow Cooker.

To finish off the list is a super cheap meal to feed the whole family. I absolutely love a meal that I can toss in a crockpot and forget about!

Related: 30 Easy Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners

What is your favorite frugal dinner recipe? Share it below!


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  • If you did your bean burritos starting with dried beans they would be even cheaper and you’ll be able to control the amount of sodium. Thanks for the great ideas.

  • I frequently buy a rotissorie chicken, small ($5) or large($8) at my local grocery store. I dice up the breasts with red, orange and yellow sweet peppers and diced celery. I then make a dressing of lite mayo and either ranch dressing , for a savory flavor, or Italian dressing for a spicier flavor, making chicken salad to serve on a bed of lettuce and a veggie tray fir meal for 4 to 6 people.
    Then, I shred the meat from the pickings from the bird and the legs, thighs and wings. I can use this with celery and lite mayo to make chicken salad sandwiches served with potato chips for a light second meal or use it to make shredded chicken stew with broth made from the skin and bones and drippings from the container the bird came in and a cup or two of canned or frozen vegetabled served over noodle or rice for a one pot meal.
    I always cook down the skin and bones to make a couple of cups of concentrated broth. Then divide into 4 oz containers and freeze. One makes gravy for a meal, two containers with two cups water makes soup base and thickening creates a stew base.

  • We always like to make ground beef, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. Mix it all up and serve as is with biscuits or as a breakfast burrito with salsa! I just made teriyaki chicken fried rice tonight and it was a huge hit with the kids! Thanks for all of your tips!

  • Mmm..number 3 and 7 look yummy! I definitely have to try them! I recently started tracking my expenses and found out me and my fiancee spend $350 a week just on food for us too! I was shocked lol Thanks for these great ideas!

    • Thanks for reading Clary! Yes, it’s amazing how quickly food expenses can add up, especially when the kids want to stop somewhere and there are 5 of them eating plus us-easily $75-100! (And that is why I do my best to cook at home!)

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