Are you looking for super cheap meals you can make to save money on a tight budget? With the record inflation we’ve recently seen, stretching your food budget is more critical than ever.
In fact, paying for groceries may just be one of your largest biweekly expenses. With that said, one of the best ways to stretch your food budget is by making inexpensive meals.
But what meals will give you the best value for your dollar without sacrificing taste? Which one will be quick and easy to make? If you’re asking these questions, you’re in the right place.
This article will cover not only 28 dirt cheap meals but also ones that taste delicious and are easy to make. We’ll discuss super cheap meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Note: This article focuses on quick and cheap meals and not necessarily healthy meals. However, some of them are indeed healthy. With that said, if you’re interested in healthy meals that are also cheap, you can find 50 here.
Super Cheap Meals for Breakfast
Breakfast for dinner, anyone?
Here are 8 inexpensive meals for breakfast that are quick and easy. However, they are also great for lunch and even dinner as well!
Many of them can be prepared during the weekend if you’re usually in a hurry in the mornings.
While we have included quintessential cheap breakfasts like oatmeal, we have also included some more indulgent options.
1. French Toast
French toast is a wonderful breakfast you can make with some of the cheapest foods out there – bread, eggs, sugar and cinnamon mix, and a bit of milk.
Use the rest of whatever bread you have and make a big batch. Freeze the leftovers for a super quick meal later in the week.
Not only is cereal a super cheap breakfast option, it’s also a great option when you’re in a hurry.
My favorite cereal is Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, which is only $0.13 per ounce when you buy a two-bag box on Amazon. However, you can buy cereal such as generic rice crispies to save even more.
3. Breakfast Burritos
I don’t know about you, but breakfast burritos are my all-time favorite.
I like to add sausage, cheese, hot sauce, and veggies in mine, but all you really need is tortillas, scrambled eggs, and potatoes.
Oatmeal may just be the cheapest breakfast out there and should be a go-to if you’re trying to save some money.
You can top it off with sliced bananas or any other fruit to add some extra flavor.
5. Eggs and Toast
Eggs and toast is another one of the cheapest breakfasts that we all love. Just pop some bread into the toaster and make some fried, scrambled, or over-easy eggs to go with your toast!
6. Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits and gravy are another one of my all-time favorite breakfasts. To make the biscuits, you can use Bisquick mix or buy Pillsbury biscuits in a can.
As for the gravy, you can make it from scratch or buy some in a jar.
7. Waffles or Pancakes
Waffles and pancakes are inexpensive, super easy to make, and everyone loves them!
Either make them from scratch or buy Krusteaz pancake mix. Top them off with powdered sugar and a few strawberries.
Muffins are a great go-to breakfast, and the options are endless. You can make blueberry, cinnamon roll, yogurt streusel, or even sausage muffins!
Either buy muffin mix or make them from scratch yourself.
Super Cheap Meals for Lunch
Spending $7 or more on fast food for lunch every day is one of the biggest budget busters ever! However, if you make your own lunches, you can save tons of money.
With that said, whether you’re making a meal to eat at home or packing lunch for work, here are 11 inexpensive meal ideas.
In addition to being cheap, they are also quick and easy. Some may even remind you of growing up.
9. Cheese Quesadillas
Cheese quesadillas are a great quick, flexible, and cheap lunch option. The possibilities are nearly endless. You probably also already have all the ingredients you need at home.
Use whatever cheese you have and add any toppings you like that are available, such as leftover cooked meat, beans, veggies, etc.
However, don’t be afraid to make a quesadilla with nothing but cheese. It’s still delicious, and it’s dirt cheap!
10. Hot Dogs and Chips
While hot dogs and chips aren’t healthy, and you shouldn’t eat them daily, they make a great quick and super cheap lunch every once in a while.
If you find them on sale, you can get a package of cheap hot dogs for close to $1 or all-beef for around $4.
Although I like to put cheese, onion, and relish on mine, all you really need is some ketchup and mustard.
11. Bean Burritos
Considering beans are one of the cheapest foods ever, bean burritos make a great quick and easy lunch that’s inexpensive. I like to have rice on the side with mine.
With that said, just heat up your favorite canned refried beans and sprinkle some shredded cheese and whatever else you like.
To save even more, you can cook some dry beans instead. Use a little bit of oil and fry them in a pan until they have the right consistency.
12. PB&J Sandwiches
In a hurry? Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not only is it a super cheap meal and kid-friendly, all you need is bread, peanut butter, and jelly. You can also make one in just a few minutes if that.
If you’re not a fan of jelly, make a peanut butter and banana sandwich instead.
13. Mac and Cheese
If you have young kids, mac and cheese is a super cheap lunch they’re sure to love!
You can make it using a box for around $3 or under $1 if you buy an off-brand when it’s on sale. However, you can also make your own!
14. Egg Salad Sandwiches
If you have a lot of eggs, egg salad sandwiches make an excellent cheap lunch option. The only other things you need are bread, mayonnaise, and some seasoning.
Simply boil the eggs and then let them cool down. Once they’ve cooled down, peel and chop them and then put them in a bowl.
Add some mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and paprika to the bowl, and then stir. Next, serve it on whatever bread you have, and you’re ready to eat!
15. Grilled Cheese and Soup
Not only is grilled cheese and soup cheap, but it’s also one of the kings of comfort food that we all love.
You probably also already have all the ingredients you need. Just use whatever bread and cheese you have on hand.
Pair your grilled cheese with a can of whichever soup you prefer, and you’re off to the races!
16. Ramen With an Egg and Veggies
Ramen noodles with an egg and veggies is another excellent super cheap meal for lunch. In fact, ramen noodles may just be the most inexpensive food you can buy.
When the noodles are cooking, add a raw egg and then stir it until the egg is scrambled. Once the ramen is almost done, toss in your favorite cooked frozen or fresh veggies, such as carrots, green beans, peas, or corn.
To add more nutrition, you can even toss in some shredded chicken for protein.
17. Frozen Pizza
If you’re ever feeling too lazy to make lunch, just toss a frozen pizza into your oven. It’s very easy, super cheap, and a very satisfying meal.
Walmart has countless frozen pizza options for well under $5. In fact, you should be able to find some for right around $1.
If it’s a plain cheese pizza, just add some topping you have at home before putting it in the oven.
If you’re looking for dirt cheap healthy meals, salad should be your go-to.
Depending on the ingredients you have, you can make a garden salad, chicken Caesar salad, or whichever type of salad you prefer!
For example, if you’re a fan of mangos, you can even consider making a mango salad with peanut dressing.
Never forget your leftovers! The best way to save on food is to ensure none of it goes to waste, and leftovers from dinner will always be great for lunch.
Whether it’s leftover spaghetti or soup, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes to have a delicious lunch and save loads of time.
Super Cheap Meals for Dinner
Like picking up fast food for lunch, dining out or ordering to-go for dinner is another one of the biggest budget busters.
Whether you’re just feeding yourself or a big family, here are 9 inexpensive meal ideas that are great for dinner and will always be cheaper than takeout.
In addition to being super cheap, most of them can be prepared in 45 minutes or less!
20. Sloppy Joes
What’s a list of super cheap meals without classic sloppy joes? Not only are they inexpensive to make, but they’re also delicious!
You can use ground beef, turkey, or even chicken. I usually use whichever is on sale.
As for the sauce, you can either buy canned Manwich sauce or make your own with ketchup and brown sugar.
If you have a lot of people to feed, spaghetti should be one of your go-to super cheap meals for your family.
The most inexpensive way to make it is vegetarian, using a jar of plain old pasta sauce that only costs a few bucks.
However, you can also toss in some ground beef or turkey to make it more filling. If you get the ingredients when they’re on sale, you should be able to make each serving for around $0.70.
22. Stir Fry
Veggie stir fry on top of some rice is one of the best super cheap meals for nights you don’t want to feel like you’re eating on a tight budget. You can also make it very quickly.
To make veggie stir fry, all you need is a bag of rice and some mixed frozen veggies. You should be able to get both for right around a few bucks.
With that said, if you want to add some extra flavor, you can also get some sriracha, sesame oil, and soy sauce to go with it. You can even top it off with a fried egg.
23. Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Chicken fettuccine alfredo may just be my favorite dinner, and it’s not as costly as someone may think, especially if you have some leftover chicken.
You can make it for just a fraction of what you would pay if you got it at a restaurant like Olive Garden.
Aside from chicken, all you need is some fettuccine noodles, parmesan cheese, broccoli, egg, butter, and some light cream or milk.
Chili is a comfort food great for cold evenings that can be made in countless ways.
Most chili recipes will call for ground beef, but you can use ground turkey as a cheaper alternative.
You can even forgo meat altogether and make vegetarian chili to save even more. All you need is beans, diced and crushed tomatoes, onions, and some spice.
25. Ham Sliders
Ham sliders are fantastic for dinner when you’re on a tight budget because they’re inexpensive and easy to make. They’re also excellent for a cold evening.
My family always makes them after a holiday when there’s leftover ham. The kids love them because they’re bite-sized, and the adults appreciate them for their flavor.
If you’re not a fan of ham, you can make chicken, turkey, or even pulled pork sliders instead. You can also make vegetarian sliders and just fill them with veggies and cheese.
26. Pot Pie
If you’re ever feeling lazy and don’t want to make dinner, a pot pie is a wonderfully easy and cheap option.
However, you can also make one from scratch. A great part about making a pot pie from scratch is that you can modify ingredients to make it even cheaper.
For example, if the recipe you’re following calls for hamburger meat, you can swap it out for ground chicken or turkey instead.
If you don’t like pot pie, you can opt for shepherd’s pie instead.
27. Lentil Stew
While there are countless recipes that call for lentils, one of the best is lentil stew, especially during cold winter nights.
Besides, lentils are one of the most inexpensive pantry items you’ll find. Considering this, you should probably stock up on them to use for various meals if you’re trying to save money.
They’re a great ingredient to incorporate into your budget meal planning!
With that said, the only other ingredients you will need are vegetable broth, onion powder, cinnamon, olive oil, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. All of which you should be able to get for a cheap price.
Tacos are also one of my favorite cheap dinners. Simply combine ground beef with taco seasoning and a can of black beans to stretch the meat.
Top off the tacos with onions, tomatoes, and whatever else you like. Or, you can keep it simple and just add lettuce and cheese.
Super Cheap Meals FAQs
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about super cheap meals:
What Can You Cook for $5?
A few (but not all) meals on our list that you can cook for $5 or less include:
- Mac and cheese
- Hot dogs
- Sloppy joes
- Lentil stew
What Meal Can I Make for $10?
Unlike meals you can cook for $5 or less, there are many more meals you can make for $10 (or less). Here are a few examples:
- Biscuits and gravy
- Chicken fettuccine alfredo
Final Thoughts on Super Cheap Meals
Whether you’re paying off debt, building an emergency fund, or just finding yourself short before your next paycheck, feeding you and your family on a tight budget doesn’t have to be stressful.
All you need to know is which meals to make, and as you can see from the list above, there are many quick and super cheap breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you can make throughout the week to save money.
I hope the list helped you get some good ideas for delicious meals to cook when you’re on a tight budget!
If you have any super cheap meal ideas that didn’t make the list, we would love to hear about them in the comments below.