Dirt-Cheap Budget Meals

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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.

Buying Tips:

  1. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when in season, (they are typically cheaper and taste better).
  2. Buy case goods on sale (purchase only what your family will enjoy eating).
  3. Use coupons for those food items you will eat. You’re not really saving money if the discounted food doesn’t get eaten.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Buy oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and sausage in bulk. Freeze the bacon and sausage in family size portions.

Skills To Learn:

  1. Learn to make bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls, and French bread.
  2. Learn to make biscuits and crackers.
  3. Learn how to can fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  4. Learn how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
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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

Breakfast Meals

Week One

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

Week Two

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

Lunch Ideas

Week One

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

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Saturday: Quinoa made with the broth of choice, chopped onions, bell peppers, and sliced oranges and grapes

Week Two

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

Saturday: Vegetable soup with homemade French Bread and apple slices

Dinner for the Family

Week One

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

Wednesday: Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Dinner Rolls, tossed salad with chopped tomatoes

Thursday: Potato Soup with French Bread, tossed salad with chopped tomatoes, and sliced apples

Friday: Tacos with hamburger, cheese, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes with apple slices

Saturday: Homemade pizza (my Pizza Dough recipe), tossed salad with sliced pears

Week Two

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

Snacks

Popcorn

Caramel Corn by Linda

Celery with peanut butter

Celery with cream cheese

Deviled eggs

Cheese sticks

Sliced cucumbers with ranch dressing

Homemade Cookies

Cake

Rice Krispie Squares

Homemade brownies

Apples

Oranges

Pears

Strawberries

Boiled eggs

Cinnamon Rolls

Final Word

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.

Copyright Pictures

Egg bites: AdobeStock_122475300 by Azurita

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