6 Good Cheap Eats to Save You Money

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Need some healthy budget recipes to feed your family? These fit the bill and the wallet perfectly.

6 Good Cheap Eats - six easy and delicious recipes that fit the budget and please the kids. What's not to love?

I’ve been busy testing bargain meal plans this week. I’m thrilled about this new feature coming in March. The meals not only build on one another, sharing common ingredients, but they are also quick to prepare and cost less than ten bucks each.

Making the dollar stretch and using ingredients creatively is very fresh in my mind. So, for a quick Frugal Friday, I thought I’d share six of our family’s favorite good cheap eats.

Oatmeal Bar – I buy oatmeal in bulk, getting my rolled oats from Sprouts for $0.69/pound and buying my Bob’s Steel Cut Oats from Amazon via Subscribe and Save. I regularly (at least once a week) serve an oatmeal bar. I’ve been doing this since FishBoy16 was a little guy. The breakfast is tasty and filling and we all love it.

Pancakes – Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, my family loves a pancake meal. Since I make my own pancake mix from scratch, I control the ingredients as well as keep the price low.

Skillet Eggs – Eggs are a super cheap protein. Spinach, even the organic kind, is amazingly affordable not to mention nutritious. The two join forces in one of my favorite breakfasts of all time. If you buy your eggs on sale, you can easily make this for less than a dollar per person.

Pasta with Red Sauce – I stopped buying jarred or canned pasta sauce about 18 years ago. Homemade tastes better, is cheaper, and doesn’t contain the junk that is in commercial sauce. One of my go-to cheap meals is pasta with red sauce with a seasonal steamed vegetable. Mara did a cost analysis of my recipe a few years ago, proving that it was a better all-around deal.

Beans and Rice – I credit beans and rice with helping us get out of debt so many years ago. We ate it a lot for lunch or dinner. Topping it creatively is what elevates this humble meal and makes it just a little bit more exciting that “beans and rice”.

Pizza Night – I quizzed the folks on the Good Cheap Eats facebook page last night about how much their local, non-chain pizza place charges. The consensus is that $18-22 is the going rate. For a pizza! I can easily feed my family all the pizza they can eat (about four 12-inch pies) for less.

6 Good Cheap Eats - six easy and delicious recipes that fit the budget and please the kids. What's not to love?

This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.

What’s YOUR favorite Good Cheap Eat?

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  1. Frugal meals have changed for me lately. I used to be able to take and add anything to pasta and make a casserole deluxe. It was our best go to frugal food. But eating less pasta now, I have turned to soups. Our kids love soups. If you make your own bone broth you can create soups from just about any leftovers in the fridge. Soups are filling and nourishing if made with tons of vegetables and good bone broth.

    I have been making bread, I got a great natural yeast start and I love making good nourishing breads with the soup. What could be more simple and frugal. Soup and bread.

  2. Pancakes and pasta are our two go to fast and frugal meals. I’ve also found that if I make a stash from our leftover chicken when we bake it I can make a pretty inexpensive casserole. I just throw the leftover chicken, bag of mixed veg, and some cream of chicken (canned or homemade) add milk, salt and pepper to taste and maybe sprinkle some cheese on top. Serve w bread and salad – everyone is blissfully unaware that they are eating leftovers :).

  3. Our low-cost meals are often variations on the salad bar idea.

    Salad bar: start with the lowest-cost greens in the store that week and set out toppings made from leftovers in the fridge. For a side dish, I usually make muffins or a quick bread and brew up some iced tea.

    Sandwich bar: set out an assortment of bread and rolls, an assortment of meat and cheese, low-cost veggies and condiments. Other than the condiments, usually most of the options are leftovers from earlier in the week. It is a great way to use up the random leftovers such as the lone hamburger bun or dinner roll or ounce of sliced turkey or the 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. To accompany the sandwich I set out a low-cost side such as applesauce and a pitcher of cold milk.

    Potato bar. Bake the potatoes and set out a variety of toppings (again, mostly from leftover odds and ends). When it’s cold outside, I often make apple cider or hot chocolate to accompany this meal.

    The kids enjoy “making” their own dinner and I get to clean up the leftovers. By adding at least one side dish that it not a leftover, my husband thinks it’s a new meal. As they say a win-win for everyone.

  4. It sounds unhealthy but i have 3 teen boys 13, 15, 17 yo, who eat differently than the rest of us? I bought premade breakfast sandwiches biscuit eggs sausage and they all loved them so i decided to make my own version. Jessicas biscuits, eggs and sausage individually froze them and at least 1 day per week the boys have a breakfast they can get from the freezer and they love it. Next time i will make them with jessicas turkey sausage recipe! Which will make this an inexpensive breakfast.

  5. Fried rice with a small piece of leftover meat, eggs and veggies is by far our cheapest meal. I feed my family of 4 for about $1.

  6. Hi Jessica,
    Whatever that is in the picture with pasta and red sauce looks really good. Can you please share what that is? I see pasta with red sauce and broccoli along with another dish but I can’t figure out what it is (I know it has cheese though), but anything with cheese has to be good in my book.