Need meals that are cheap and easy? Check out these cheap easy meals on a budget!
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Sometimes you want to eat cheap, but you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. That describes me a lot of the time! I buy lots of healthy frugal foods which need to be prepared. But, I don’t want complicated recipes and I definitely don’t want to be in the kitchen all day.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you make cheap easy meals on a budget. And, of course, these meals are healthy-I always want to be healthy and help my readers to be healthy too.
Main Dish Recipes that Use Less Meat
One easy way to make cheap meals is to use less meat. Here are some recipes that use less meat but still have plenty of protein.
White Chicken Chili
This White Chicken Chili has plenty of protein from the beans, chicken broth, milk, and cheese. So it only uses a small amount of chicken for extra flavor and protein. The recipe only calls for 3/4 of a pound of chicken for the entire recipe-and there are 10 servings!
For my small family, we would be able to eat 2-4 times off of this. Especially if I served it with some cucumbers or salad to really make it stretch. Get the recipe here.
This bean dip makes a quick easy dinner. You can make it with canned beans or use dried beans. Canned beans can be easier, but dried beans are cheaper and more nutritious. If you decide to use dried beans, you can be cook and freeze them ahead of time so that you can make some super quick dinners when you are ready.
Meals made with beans are super cheap, because you can cut down on the meat in a recipe since beans will meat some of your protein requirements. If you want to learn more about beans, I recommend the Everything Beans Book for it’s detailed tips and recipes.
This chili includes 1 lb of beef, but you can cut down on that and still get protein from the quinoa and kidney beans in the recipe. In fact this recipe started out as a vegetarian recipe!Get the recipe here.
This three bean soup recipe is kid friendly and freezer friendly. You could double the recipe and freeze half. That way you could just reheat it for an instant meal next time! Get the full recipe here.
The three bean soup doesn’t actually contain meat, but it does have chicken broth.
Other Ways to Make Meat go Further
There are some other ways to make meals that use less meat. Try some of these tricks to help make some cheap easy meals:
- Try shredding zucchini into beef while it is cooking.
- Try using 1 part beans to 3 parts ground beef when you make burgers. Make sure to season well with salt, pepper, fresh garlic, Worcestershire sauce, onions or onion powder (This tip came from Molly at Hopefully Home.)
- Use homemade broth and you can cut down the amount of meat you use in recipes. Broth has a protein sparing effect which means your body can make better use of the protein you eat.
Cheap, Easy, Vegetarian meals (+ Kid friendly!)
Another way to eat cheaply is to occasionally eat vegetarian meals. You can get enough protein by combining legumes (beans) and whole grains. Many vegetarian dishes also contain cheese or eggs which are complete proteins.
Here are some vegetarian recipes that are cheap and easy and family friendly-I know most of my readers are going to want recipes that are kid friendly and/or husband friendly!
These “meatballs” with cheese and enchilada sauce are perfect kid friendly fare. They are made from super frugal ingredients like sweet potatoes, brown rice, black beans and spices. They can be served with cauliflower rice. Get the full recipe here.
Make your kids and your budget happy by serving pancakes for dinner! These are paleo pancakes and would be delicious with some yogurt and fresh fruit. Get the full recipe here.
For a super cheap meal, serve them with a side of butter beans. Get the fritter recipe here.
Another way to make cheap easy meals on a budget is to use your own recipes or ideas, but think like a vegetarian.
Eat Cheaply by Thinking Like a Vegetarian
First let me explain that I do think that protein is very important. If you go completely vegetarian, and you aren’t careful, you can end up with many health issues. But, you can be very healthy by replacing some of your meat containing meals with vegetarian meals. (Or by doing extensive study on vegetarianism and trying it on yourself-but that is a whole different article!)
Now, let me explain how thinking like a vegetarian can save you a lot of money! Vegetarian meals are often much cheaper than meals with meat. If you simply replace some of your meat containing meals with a vegetarian meal, you could shave quite a bit off of your grocery budget.
Of course, you still want to get enough protein for you and your family, and you can do that by combining certain foods:
- Eat legumes (beans) with whole grains. Things like peanut butter on whole grain bread, or lentil soup with whole grain muffins.
- Eat milk products with whole grains. Think macaroni and cheese with whole wheat noodles or pizza with whole grain crust.
Here are some other vegetarian ways to pump up the protein content in your meals. All of these ways are way cheaper then including meat in your meal!
- Add peas to your dinners. Peas have almost 10 grams of protein per cup.
- Use eggs for protein. Eggs are a high quality protein and are quite cheap compared to meat!
- Use recipes that include peanuts or peanut butter.
- Add beans to your meals. Beans are dirt cheap and full of protein.
Do you have any tips for cheap easy meals on a budget? I would love to hear them!