Can you use some ideas for dirt-cheap budget meals? The price of groceries continues to rise, and it looks like they will continue to go up for the foreseeable future. With all the challenges for families trying to feed their families, I wanted to update this post in hope it will give my readers so good ideas about dirt-cheap budget meals.
It’s really sad to hear more and more families are depending on food stamps, and even needing to go to the food bank to feed their families. Our local Southern Utah Food Bank has reported they are really low on food to give out to those in need.
I’m aware of a few churches that are delivering food to those who need the help, as well as meals being prepared for others for various reasons. In my neighborhood, we have a few elderly people who don’t have the energy to prepare meals for themselves anymore.
It’s nice when we can take a plate of food to those couples who could use a hot meal once or twice a week, that way they don’t have to prepare those meals since they struggle to make mealtime a positive experience. It’s actually a blessing to those of us who drop off meals and see the smiles of those involved.
When you’re younger, you don’t realize sometimes how the elderly deal with a lack of energy to clean the house, shop for groceries or cook a meal. If you are aware of a family in this situation, they will love a hot meal occasionally. Some also have very limited funds for groceries. Trust me, I know.
If you make lasagna, freeze half of it for another meal. Do the same with chili, soup, or just about any meal. It not only saves you time but money as well.
Let’s break down my dirt-cheap budget meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Just so you know, I raised my family on all of these meals, putting Mark through school with four daughters. Life is good when you eat at home, I promise.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when in season, (they are typically cheaper and taste better).
- Buy case goods on sale (purchase only what your family will enjoy eating).
- Use coupons for those food items you will eat. You’re not really saving money if the discounted food doesn’t get eaten.
- Check out the meat department to see if they have a buy one get one free option, or have a section marked with a “Clearance” sign. Know your prices to make sure what they have on display really is discounted.
- Look at the end of the meat aisle for discounted meat that may be nearing its “use by date.” I’ve picked up meat for 75% off the regular price several times. If I find some great buys, I’ll buy a bunch and then freeze some for later.
- Buy oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and sausage in bulk. Freeze the bacon and sausage in family size portions.
Skills To Learn:
- Learn to make bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls, and French bread.
- Learn to make biscuits and crackers.
- Learn how to can fruits, vegetables, and meats.
- Learn how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
You learn that to really be effective at stretching your dollars it takes planning. Do some research and find out when the various fruits and veggies are in season so you can purchase them at the more cost efficient times of the year. Take note of when you favorite store tends to put canned goods on sale, then stock up so you can open those cans all year long.
And speaking of stocking up, try to set some funds aside so they’ll be available when things go on sale or the item is in season and at their best for cost and freshness.
Part of your plan is establishing a menu for the meals coming up, so when you go shopping and looking for cost effective purchases you have your meal plans in front of you and you buy based on meals to prepare, not some random approach.
If you take your plans seriously, you’ll also be acquiring those canning jars, lids, and other items so the canning efforts are pulled off at the right time with the desired fruits and vegetables. Timing can make all the difference in the world when it comes to availability and price.
Whether it’s in a fridge, freezer, pantry, or basement shelving, your plan needs to incorporate where the food items will go before the canning and dehydration projects start, and where the finished products will go for storage until put to use.
My favorite dirt-cheap budget meals are scheduled for up to 14 days, then the menu starts all over again. If you get in the habit of doing this you may get tired of a particular meal. With meals you’ve made ahead of time if you want to skip a particular meal item, you can then substitute another of your own meals.
Dirt Cheap Budget Meals
Sunday: Pancakes, sausage links, and orange slices
Monday: Oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, apple slices
Tuesday: Waffles with bacon strips and applesauce
Wednesday: Egg bites (scrambled eggs made in muffin pans), hash browns, and mandarin oranges
Thursday: Scrambled eggs, toast, and tomato slices
Friday: Puffy Pancakes, bacon, sliced pears
Saturday: Fried eggs on English muffins with ham slices, cheese, and sliced peaches
Sunday: Poached eggs on toast, steamed broccoli, and sliced tomatoes
Monday: Ebelskivers (my recipe) with ham slices, and applesauce
Tuesday: Bagels, cream cheese, cheese slices, and sliced apples
Wednesday: Deviled eggs, toast, and strawberries
Thursday: Toast with peanut butter, and sliced peaches
Friday: Cereal with sliced bananas, and a hard boil egg
Saturday: Egg bake (my 5 Favorite Recipes), hash browns, sliced pears
Sunday: Tuna salad on bread or crackers, pickles, celery slices, and applesauce
Monday: Ham slices with cheese on toast, carrot sticks, and sliced pears
Tuesday: Bean burritos with or without cheese, salsa, carrot sticks, and tomato slices
Wednesday: Turkey slices on bread with celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and apple slices
Thursday: Rice and beans, salsa, carrots, and sliced peaches
Friday: Steamed rice with broccoli, carrots and green onions, and mandarin oranges
Saturday: Quinoa made with the broth of choice, chopped onions, bell peppers, and sliced oranges and grapes
Sunday: Tuna salad on crackers with carrot sticks, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, and grapes
Monday: Chicken salad on bread with pickles, olives, carrot sticks, and apple slices
Tuesday: Egg salad on bread (my Egg Salad Recipe) with lettuce, celery sticks, peach slices
Wednesday: Bacon and tomato sandwiches with carrot sticks and strawberries
Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches with celery sticks and cucumber slices, and grapes
Friday: Ham fried rice with frozen peas, carrot sticks, and sliced tomatoes
Dinner for the Family
Sunday: Lasagna, with a tossed salad and apple slices
Monday: Costco baked chicken, baked potatoes, green beans, and sliced peaches
Tuesday: Hamburgers with Homemade Buns, pickles, chips, carrot sticks, and sliced tomatoes
Friday: Tacos with hamburger, cheese, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes with apple slices
Saturday: Homemade pizza (my Pizza Dough recipe), tossed salad with sliced pears
Sunday: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, steamed rice with orange slices
Monday: Manicotti with a tossed salad, sliced pears
Tuesday: Pulled pork (pork tenderloin with barbecue sauce in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low) on rolls, tossed salad, sliced apples
Wednesday: Baked Beans, cornbread, jello with fruit and celery sticks
Thursday: Spaghetti with marinara sauce, meatballs, French Bread, tossed salad, and sliced pears
Friday: Clam Chowder, broccoli pieces, tomato slices, and mandarin oranges
Saturday: Chili, cornbread, tossed salad, sliced apples
Caramel Corn by Linda
Celery with peanut butter
Celery with cream cheese
Sliced cucumbers with ranch dressing
Rice Krispie Squares
Having your plan in place to take advantage of all the things outlined above is only helpful if followed. Yes, you can swap out and change up what is prepared for any given meal, but if you deviate too much by purchasing more expensive items on impulse or due to meal prep bordom, you lose out on the benefits you were striving for. The goal of taking advantage of dirt-cheap budget meals is very worthwhile, just layout your plan and then follow it.
Remember, part of the issue here is the term “budget.” It doesn’t just doing things on a less expensive basis, it also means outlining how much money is available for meals. Having a plan is only workable if the funds are there to support it. Be realistic about what you can spend, and then follow that guideline every time you visit the store.
Please let me know how many of these dirt-cheap low-budget meals you are making right now, or have in the past. Let’s teach our families to sit around the table for dinner, now, not next week. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world.
Egg bites: AdobeStock_122475300 by Azurita