55 Frugal Meal Ideas (for when you are broke -or anytime.)
Check out this list of frugal meals to try when you are broke. You can save money on food and use cheap and frugal meals to put money back in your pocket.
What do I Eat If I am Broke?
If you are broke, it is best to find meals that are $5 or less to help you save money on food. Some popular choices of low-cost meals are pancakes, eggs, tuna fish sandwiches, tuna noodle casserole, macaroni and cheese, and/or oatmeal. These choices will help you cut costs until you can get ahead financially.
Learning to live below your means can be tough, especially if you are not used to being frugal. Yet, saving money on food is the easiest way to cut costs and start padding your bank account.
According to Mint Intuit, the average family of four spend $892 on groceries per month.
Obviously, food is a need, yet $892 is a mortgage payment for some. Imagine cutting that enormous amount in half and putting an extra $450 toward debt or savings. And by eating frugal meals, cutting your food cost is definitely obtainable.
Not to mention, using frugal living tips will help cut the cost of food now, so we can live better later.
Also, if you want to save even more on groceries, check out my favorite cashback app Ibotta. I have literally earned hundreds back on food and groceries in the past few years and the app is easy to use, so why not get money back on the cheap meals you are about to make?
The best part about Ibotta is you do not need to clip coupons, which most of us dislike. Everything is organized on the app and it is easy to add your stores to your account or upload your receipt for some extra cashback when you finish your grocery shopping.
Sign up with my link and get $10 when you use it
What Makes a Meal Frugal?
Although frugality means different things to different people, I consider a meal to be frugal when I budget my grocery bill below my means. This means that my grocery bill is lower than the amount that I have to spend on food.
I do not consider the meal so much as I consider my actual grocery cost. I create a balance of lower-cost meals and average-cost meals so I can still budget in some fresh healthy foods as well. Then I search for sales and rebates. If I am ordering online, I make sure to use Rakuten to get a percentage of my money back on my purchase.
Yet, like any habit, if we make things too difficult we often give up and the same holds true for frugal living. So make sure to add meals you like to your grocery list so you are not tempted to order out where you will typically spend way more.
Eating frugal meals is a small part of the big picture of one’s frugal journey.
In thrifty living, I like to meal plan and add some low-cost meals to my budget, mixed in with moderately priced meals so I have a mix of both. I figure the low-cost meals help balance out the higher-cost meals (which are still under $7 and this is all relative to how much money you’re working with). In this way, I can have a balance and a little bit of both worlds.
What to Cook When You Are Broke
Yet, if you are living paycheck to paycheck, it may take a while for you to work up to my method above. You may need to eat cheaper foods at the beginning of your frugal journey until you can pad your bank account and get ahead with your finances.
Super Frugal Meals
One of my all-time favorite frugal meals is soup. Unfortunately, my kids don’t enjoy most soups I make, but I still make them and feed the kids a sandwich which, by the way, is also a super frugal meal. We also like hot dogs and grilled cheese. Bean burritos and tuna noodle casserole were on our menu for a while, until we started to get sick of them. Remember, everything in moderation. When we get sick of a frugal meal, I will pull it out of my meal plan rotation for a while and bring it back a few months later.
More Frugal Eating Articles:
- Budget-Friendly Meal Plan With Printables
- Cheap Meal Plan for Two
- 70 Slow Cooker Recipes
- 20 Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
- Cheap Aldi’s Meal Plan
- 5 Best Ways to Save on Groceries
- Frugal Hacks to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- Ibotta vs. Rakuten: Which is Better?
- 10 Frugal Tasks You Can Try Today
55 Cheap Frugal Meals to Try When You Are Broke
Frugal Chicken Meals
Grab your free Meal Plan and Menu Template
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Frugal tips for buying chicken
We used canned chicken in some of these recipes including chicken quesadillas and chicken salad. Chicken thighs, wings, and drumsticks are cheaper cuts of meat and even better when you can get them on sale. Store-made frozen chicken pot pies are pretty cheap or you can make your own. We usually get two meals out of a rotisserie chicken which is great plain or in other recipes.
1. Chicken Quesadillas (We use canned chicken)
2. Rotisoire chicken (You could get two meals out of this by eating it plain and then using leftovers for bbq chicken pizza, quesadillas, or rice bowls.)
3. Seasoned chicken thighs
4. Chicken drumsticks
5. Chicken and rice bowls
6. Chicken salad
7. Chicken wings
8. Chicken pot pies
9. Chicken fried steak
10 BBQ chicken pizza
Finding deals on beef is always amazing so stock up. You can buy a higher-fat beef for less money and frozen meatballs are pretty cheap or you can make your own.
I like to stock up on meat when Target has a sale about every two months. If you buy $20 worth of meat (which is easy to do) you get a $5 gift card. Often you can find meat on clearance if it is about to expire and just through it in the freezer or eat it that night.
11 Beef tacos (You can find crunchy shells for around $1 at Kroger, Meijer, and Aldi.)
12. Hamburger soup
14. Spaghetti (One of my favorite easy meals)
15. Meatballs, noodles, and sauce (I often buy frozen meatballs but every once in a while I will make my own.)
16. Chili (This could be made with ground turkey too and this is the go-to easy recipe I make every fall and winter.)
19. Sloppy Joes
20. Nachos (My kids and husband’s favorite)
21. Beef stroganoff
Frugal Fish Meals
22. Fish and chips (I often buy Gortons and get at least two meals out of the smaller bag.)
23. Tuna noodle casserole (You can find my super easy recipe here)
24. tuna sandwich
Other Frugal Food Posts:
- 50 Cheap Family Meals
- Slow Cooker Soups
- 70 Slow Cooker Recipes
- Organic Food on a Budget
- Aldi Meal Plan
- How to Create a Stockpile on a Budget
- 5 Best Hacks to Save on Groceries
Frugal Vegetarian Meals
25. Baked Ziti (One of my favorite comfort foods. You can find my recipe here.)
26. Beans and toast
27. bean burrito
28. Beans and rice
29. Cabbage stew
30. Vegetable soup
31. Tortilla soup
32. Egg salad sandwiches
37. Homemade veggie or cheese pizza
39. Seafood quiche (This sounds pricey, but I use imitation crab to make it.)
40. Loaded baked potatoes
41. Pesto and pasta
42. Stuffed shells
43. Noodles and Sauce
45. Grilled Cheese
46. Biscuits and gravy
47. Ranch Noodles
Other Pork/Turkey Frugal Meals
48. Avacado Turkey Sandwiches (Check out this easy recipe here)
49. Pulled pork (Which I LOVE – by the way. Here is my favorite recipe.)
50. Smothered pork (Check out my easy recipe here)
51. Pork Loin (cooked in the crockpot – super delicious)9. Turkey Chili
52. Turkey burgers
53. Hot dogs
54. Homemade bread sandwiches (Check out these yummy bread recipes)
55. Leftover turkey meals
55 Cheap and Frugal Meals to Save Money Final Thoughts…
Saving money on food can literally change your finances. If you start eating on the cheap now, your wallet will thank you later. I hope you enjoy these frugal meals and save a ton!
What are your favorite frugal meals? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.
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