Dirt Cheap Lunch Ideas:
Whether you pack your lunch for work, or are preparing a meal for your kiddos at home, here are some inexpensive ideas for lunch!
11. Grilled cheese Theres just something so satisfying about a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich. Makes ya feel like a kid again!
12. Panini sandwiches You can use an electric grill , panini maker, or even a waffle maker, to make a delicious hot sandwich.
13. BLT Bread, lettuce, and tomato are certainly inexpensive, and you can buy bacon in whatever amount you want from the meat counter.
14. Quesadillas Cooked in a similar fashion to a grilled cheese, quesadillas are so flexible! You can put almost anything inside 2 tortillas from pizza ingredients, to bean, veggies, leftover cooked meat, or even banana and peanut butter.
15. Leftovers One of the very best ways to stretch your food budget is to make sure that nothing goes to waste. Eating leftovers for lunch is a great way to save yourself time and money.
16. Soup Stock up on some cans of soup when theyre on sale for $1. They make an easy, quick lunch. Or here are 61 easy and delicious soupsyou can make in your slow cooker!
17. Macaroni and cheese You can prepare the boxed or frozen kind, or make a super easy 3-ingredient mac n cheese like this one.
18. Wrap Can you tell that tortillas are a staple ingredient in many dirt cheap meals? You can make a wrap out leftovers, frozen chicken strips, or lunchmeat.
Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
Wake up to a hearty and nutritious morning meal with this easy, cheesy crock pot breakfast casserole that cooks to perfection while you sleep and serves a family of six. Simply load up the appliance with packaged hash brown potatoes, eggs, and a few other simple ingredients and leave to cook overnight.
Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
This uses a small slow cooker. Just put 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats, 2 cups of milk and 4 cups of water into a slow cooker just before bed. To that, add whatever flavorings you like. We often add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 2 or 3 overripe mashed bananas, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, as our family loves peanut butter-banana oatmeal. Aside from the oats, milk and water, you can add pretty much anything you like. Just set the slow cooker on low just before you go to bed and youll wake up to perfect oatmeal.
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats $0.26 2 cups milk $0.30 Flavorings of choice $1.00 Total cost to serve four $1.56
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Cheapest Meals For Breakfast
1. Breakfast casserole
One of my favorites is this four-ingredient sausage breakfast casserole from the Lazy Dish serves eight and comes in at $1.46 per serving. This is perfect to add to your list of cheap family meals.
2. An oatmeal bar
Oatmeal is such a cheap staple by itself , you can afford to jazz it up a little. The Modern Honey website shares tons of different ideas for toppings and none of them break the bank. You can always sub fruit out or in, depending on what’s in season, to make it even cheaper.
Pancakes are always a cheap and easy favorite and there are so many cheap recipes for families. This pancake recipe from All Recipes is low in cost but high in flavor once you add in some butter and syrup.
5. Yogurt and fruit
This simple yogurt recipe from Let The Baking Begin teaches you how to turn a quart of milk into a quart of yogurt in three hours. Top some homemade yogurt with honey or fruit, and you have a cheap on the go breakfast. Yogurt is also great in breakfast smoothies, which are filling and easy too.
5. Breakfast scramble
One of the easiest ways to save money at any meal is to cut meat, and this breakfast scramble from the Urben Life does just that. Just substitute the egg alternative for a dozen regular eggs, and this meal comes in under $10 to make.
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Smoky Turkey And Pepper Fajitas
There’s more to leftover turkey than turkey curry or turkey sandwiches. Make these delicious smoky turkey and pepper fajitas with red onion and Cheddar cheese.
Total cost: £3.50 Cost per person: 87p
Items: 2 red peppers 80p each, red onion 9p, seeded tortilla wraps £1, Counter Pilgrims Choice Mature Cheddar 90p
Low Fat Chicken And Vegetable Pies
Use a little more veg than chicken to keep these low-fat chicken and vegetable pies within budget. This budget recipe takes only 20 minutes to prep.
Total cost: £3.92 Cost per person: 98p
Items: National Halal Centre boneless chicken thigh £1.17, onion 10p, Everyday Value Mixed Vegetables 75p, savoury white sauce mix 40p, Jus Rol Frozen Filo Pastry Sheets £1.50
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Egg And Bean Burritos
Make the scrambled eggs in advance, as described above. Along with them, set out a package of flour tortillas, some heated beans, some shredded cheese, and some salsa, and allow people to assemble their own egg and bean burritos. These are very portable for a grab-and-go breakfast.
Scrambled eggs with cheese $2.91 15 oz. black beans $0.58 Salsa $0.94 1 cup shredded cheese $0.80 Total cost to serve four $6.86
Homemade Chicken Rice Soup
One of my favorite workweek lunches is my homemade chicken rice soup. I usually make a big batch after weve had roasted chicken for supper because half the work is already done for me.
The chicken is already cooked and I use the drippings from the roasted chicken for broth. All I really need to do is boil the rice, sliced carrots, and celery and Ive got a cheap and easy meal that I could just grab out of the freezer anytime!
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Cheapest Meals For Lunch
There are so many different variations of wraps out there that you could easily make a different one every day for a month and not even have scratched the surface. If you snag bacon when it’s on sale, you can make these bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado wraps in a snap.
7. Burrito bowls
If wraps aren’t your thing, try a burrito bowl. You can always grab rice and beans for a fraction of the price of other foods. Grab cheese when it’s on sale and a bottle of salsa, then voila! Instant lunch for a week for under $5. You can also try this recipe from Brooklyn farm girl if you’d like to spice it up.
Soups are reasonably frugal meals and are top on the list of cheapest meals. This slow cooker chicken tortilla soup promises to come in at $1.63 a serving.
Salad doesn’t have to be expensive or tedious. Check out this recipe for a chickpea tuna one. Chickpeas and Tuna are both packed with lots of nutrition for a fraction of the price. We can’t imagine this meal being too expensive, but we can imagine it being extra tasty.
As mentioned above, there are various wraps for just about anybody, but we also wanted to share pinwheels because they are more fun and less messy. This turkey pesto pinwheel looks like it’s going to be happening in my near future. I always suggest grabbing turkey from the deli because you can buy what you need and pick whatever’s on sale.
Bacon With Sprout Bubble And Squeak
Using plenty of filling spuds and a little rich bacon you can make this bacon and sprout bubble and squeak for under £4 for the whole family.
Total cost: £3.84 Cost per person: 96p
Items: Smartprice unsmoked streaky bacon £1.04, Smartprice British small potatoes 69p, loose sprouts 70p, Smartprice mixed weight eggs £1.41
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Grow Your Own Produce
If you can, its a great idea to grow your own produce or join a community garden.
Having a continuous supply at home saves you money at the store.
Home-grown produce may also taste a lot better than the store-bought varieties. You can also guarantee that it is picked at peak ripeness.
With some time and effort, its easy to grow your own produce, such as herbs, sprouts, tomatoes, and onions.
Cheap Family Meals: Budget Recipes Under 1 Per Head
Feeding a family on a budget is doable with our cheap family meal ideas. All of these budget recipes are under £1 a head.
From meatballs to burgers, from cottage pie to risotto, our cheap family meals are ideal if youre trying to cook on a budget but dont want to scrimp on flavour or comfort.
Our collection is full of simple cheap recipes that cost less than £1 per person but still make sure you eat well on a budget.
For example, our beer-battered fish and chips cost only £3.76 to make serving four, thats 94p per person. Our hearty sausage omelette recipe costs only £2.38 to make serving four, thats 59p per person.
A majority of these recipes exclusively use store cupboard ingredients too which is a great way to cut the weekly shopping bill down as you could bulk buy most of the items at the beginning of the month which can sometimes work out cheaper.
For more tips on how to make more of your food shop, see our handy money-saving guide.
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Sausage And Bean Soup
This warming sausage and bean soup can be a filling meal on its own, but you can serve it with Everyday Value garlic baguette for an extra 32p too.
Total cost: £3.54 Cost per person: 88p
Items: Shallots 75p, Everyday Value pork sausages 66p, thick pork sausages £1.39, carrot 8p, borlotti beans in water 55p, Savoy cabbage 80p, fresh flat leaf parsley 70p
Cheap And Easy Meals That Cost Under $10
The average American household spends more than $6,600 per year on food, according to the Bureau of Labor StatisticsConsumer Expenditure Survey. That makes up roughly 10% of the median household income in America.
This is particularly noteworthy from a personal finance perspective because food is one of the major household expenses for which frugal choices can make a huge difference. Committing to preparing most meals at home, coupled with a smart and sensible grocery store strategy, can significantly cut the amount of money spent annually on food. Even cutting your food spending by 30% can save $2,000 per year.
The challenge, of course, is time and effort. For busy families, food preparation is a task that is often relegated to others simply by grabbing takeout, getting delivery, or buying premade meals. The solution isnt to abandon them entirely, but to move toward a greater reliance on very inexpensive and easy to prepare meals. The easiest way to do this is to center your meals on low cost and easy to prepare ingredients, such as beans, rice, eggs, chicken, pasta and oatmeal, and accentuate them with a wide variety of flavorings and ingredients. If the core of your meal is inexpensive, then your whole meal will be!
Prices listed in this article were taken from Walmart.com at the time of writing, in order to approximately standardize nationwide pricing. The recipes themselves are ones used in our own family kitchen, mostly from handwritten notes.
Aubergine And Potato Curry
Make this healthy, hearty aubergine, bean and potato curry. We’ve used a value curry sauce and dried herbs to keep it under budget.
Total cost: £3.61 Cost per person: 90p
Items: 2 x loose aubergines 50p each, red onion 12p, Smartprice mild curry sauce 16p, Smartprice British small potatoes 69p, salad tomatoes 75p, Bonduelle Cut Green Beans 44p, Smartprice low-fat natural yogurt 45p
Food Hacks: 32 Genius Tips And Tricks To Save Time And Money
Please note that prices are average. We assume you have basic store cupboard ingredients such as oil, flour, butter, milk, soy sauce, dried herbs, stock cubes, etc.
We have allowed for alternative ingredients to be used to cut the cost down without compromising the recipe. And that the recipe serves four unless otherwise stated. We have included different pricing from a variety of supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, and Asda.
See our collection of cheap family meals below
Vegan Cauliflower Tacos With Crispy Chickpeas
The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
Make your next taco night a healthier affair with tasty cauliflower tacos with crispy chickpeas. Even carnivores will enjoy these vegetarian tacos with plenty of awesome flavor from classic Mexican seasonings. Serve topped with the simple lime crema and slaw for a filling family meal.
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli And Rice Casserole
Via Mom On Time Out
If youre really looking to save money with your dinner recipes one great way to do that is with casseroles. You can create casseroles out of almost anything imaginable and if you know to mix it with a few key ingredients, they can come out pretty tasty. This particular recipe includes rice and chicken, which makes it extra hearty and filling.
Chuck Steak Dinner Baked In Foil
Start with a single, thick, budget-friendly chuck steak to create a complete, delicious dinner that will satisfy a family of four. The beef bakes to perfection in a foil packet along with potatoes, carrots, celery, and dry onion soup seasoning for a flavorful, filling dish with little effort and minimal clean-up.
Squash And Green Tart
This delicious squash and green tart from Woman’s Weekly makes the perfect Sunday lunch or dinner. You can use cabbage or other green veg and whichever cheese you prefer.
Total cost: £3.89 Cost per person: 97p
Items: Butternut squash 72p, broccoli 60p, leeks 49p, ready-rolled puff pastry £1.25, Italian mozzarella cheese 83p
Bangers And Apple Mash
This hearty, cheap family meal works out at only £3.31 to make – that’s 82p per serving. Use fruit to add an extra, sweet flavour to this classic sausage and mash recipe.
Total cost: £3.31 Cost per person: 82p
Items: Essential Waitrose pork sausages 99p, Essential Waitrose baking potatoes 75p, Essential Waitrose Golden Delicious apples 60p, Essential Waitrose onion 19p, Colman’s Sausage Casserole Sauce Mix 79p
Courgette Garlic And Herb Oaty Crust Quiche
This Women’s Weekly recipe for courgette, garlic and herb oaty crust quiche is perfect for Sunday lunch. You can use any cream cheese with garlic and herbs, but we’ve used Roule here as its a cheaper option.
Total cost: £3.96 Cost per person: 99p
Items: Highland Oatcakes 69p, loose courgettes 50p, French Roulé cheese £1, Basics mixed sizes barn eggs £1, Yeo Valley Organic Half Fat Crème Fraîche 77p
Pf Changs Garlic Noodles
Recipe Via Dinner Then Dessert
Why go out and spend loads of money on PF Changs when you can make your own version at home? This recipe makes for the perfect cheap dinner idea that can save your weeknight cooking plans and that doesnt have to eat a big hole into your grocery budget. If youre looking for a budget-friendly meal to feed the whole family, this is it.
Avoid Buying Highly Processed Food
You might be surprised to see how much youre paying for highly processed foods like soda, crackers, cookies, and prepackaged meals.
Despite the fact that they often lack beneficial nutrients and may be high in sodium or added sugar, theyre also very expensive.
Avoid buying highly processed foods. Not only are they expensive, they often contain lots of sodium or sugar, with little to no nutritional value.
+ Easy Budget Friendly Meals For One
Moving out from my family of 7, one of the biggest adjustments was cooking! In college, I almost never ate out and now that Im out of school, I eat out maybe 1-2x a week depending on how lazy Im feeling!
I see a lot of lists for meals for one and meals for college students. Many of these lists require things that are hard to get/unrealistic or ingredients that only work for a handful of meals. I decided to compile a list of my favorite recipes, great for only one or two people.
- Few ingredients/ingredients you can use for multiple recipes
- No special appliances other than stove, microwave, oven
Here are some of my favorite recipes that are budget-friendly and that work well for a single person. I used them throughout college and still use these as a single person! All of these recipes have ingredients you probably already have, or that work well for multiple meals.
Easy Dinner Recipes That Are Budget
There are endless easy meals to make that wont break the bank. The problem is, sometimes you just forget or are at a loss for inspiration on how to come up with your inexpensive dinner ideas. Hopefully, this list gave you some awesome ideas and gets you out of the same dinner rut .
Budget meals dont have to be a pain when you get a little internet recipe savvy and start saving money on food along the way. If you know of any cheap food recipes worth mentioning, make sure you mention them below.