Here at Old Fashioned Families, we are all about being self-sufficient. Cooking our own meals at home is one of the easiest ways to accomplish that, and what’s great is typically it can save us a few dollars too! Even if you are trying to save some money and cut back on your grocery bill, you don’t need to sacrifice taste.
Today, I’ve compiled a list of 12 meals that shouldn’t cost more than $5 per person. I’ve tried to put it in order from the cheapest to the most expensive, but the cost may vary depending on where you live or shop.
1) Gourmet Mac and Cheese
- Garlic, oregano, cayenne pepper, or any other seasonings
- Extra cheese
I know, I know— you’ve already discovered mac and cheese. There are a ton of ways to improve it, though! Even with boxed mac and cheese, I add in a little cream cheese, some extra shredded cheese, and plenty of garlic and seasonings to help bring the flavor to the next level. Check out these 10 easy variations for mac and cheese!
- Meat (optional)
I could probably take this list from 11 items to 100 simply by adding all sorts of pasta dishes. If you’re looking to maximize your money with meals, pasta is a wonderful option. It’s as diverse as you are creative— there are dozens of pasta meals to be made other than spaghetti, each with these basic ingredients. My personal favorite is a spicy chicken alfredo 🙂
3) Soup & Grilled Cheese
- Soup of your choice (tomato, chicken noodle, potato)
While it’s probably not something you’ll want to eat every day, don’t forget about the much-loved soup and grilled cheese combo! I always sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt on the outside of my grilled cheese and it’s undeniably delicious.
4) Black Bean Tacos
- Black beans
- Tomatoes / Salsa
I actually just mix together my black beans, corn, and tomatoes or salsa and keep a little mixture in my fridge. Then I use it for tacos, quesadillas, or even nachos whenever I’m in the mood! You can easily tweak this or add more ingredients if you are able (like avacado- yum!) but this basic mixture is not only cheap, but filling and diverse!
5) Hot Dogs with Bacon
- Hot dogs
Another twist on a classic, bacon wrapped hot dogs will be a hit with your kiddos and get them a nice boost in protein! Why not pair it with some gourmet mac and cheese?
6) Regular Chili
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 white onion
- 2 cups diced tomato / green chiles
- 2 cans of beans (black, kidney, pinto, or any combination)
- Chili powder and other seasonings
Chili is super easy to make, whether on the stove top or in a crock pot, and the leftovers are great too! Plus, it’s great on your pocket.
7) Corn & Black Bean Chili
- 2 cans black beans
- 2 cups diced tomato
- 1 onion
- 2 cups of corn
- 1/2 cup green chiles
- 2 cups salsa verde
Somewhat similar to my own chili verde recipe, this is an interesting twist on the classic chili. Feel free to add ground beef or keep it vegetarian! View a full black bean chili recipe here.
8) Shepard’s Pie
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 cups mashed potatoes
- 1 cup corn
- 1/2 cup cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup gravy (optional)
Also referred to as “poor mans pie,” I had to include this on the list. Shepard’s pie is one of my favorite options when I have a super busy week, because the leftovers are quite tasty and you’re able to make so much at once!
9) Sloppy Joe’s— Try them spicy!
- 1 – 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- Hamburger buns / Bread
Sloppy Joe’s are a really simple and cost effective meal for you and your family. Use as many, or as little, veggies and spices as you want to fit your budget and taste buds. Check out this spicy sloppy Joe recipe if you’re wanting an extra kick!
10) Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Pork shoulder
- Barbecue sauce
- Buns / bread
- Salt, pepper, seasonings of choice
Pulled pork is an easy meal that you can leave in your slow cooker! If your family is getting tired of the sandwiches, try making some nachos with the pulled pork!
11) Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Lasagna noodles
- Cooked squash
- Ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese
A delicious lasagna recipe with a twist— get the step by step instructions here.
12) Orange / Sesame Chicken
- 1 lb chicken
- 1 large egg
- Soy sauce
- Green onions
Check out an easy sesame chicken recipe here! The sauce is easily changed!
Even as a family living on a budget, by no means do you need to try and keep every meal this cheap. These are just some cost-effective options for meals that will help you lower your grocery bill or even get through tough times.
Do you have any go-to meals to save money? Share with me in the comments!