10 awesome cheap eats for busy families
Our weekly grocery store trip was today for our weekly grocery haul and do you know how much I spent? $113 No, that’s not a typo, that’s exactly what I spent for a week’s worth of groceries for our family of 6. Dinner time can be one of the most expensive meals of the day. Here is a list of cheap easy dinner ideas for families on a budget or what I like to call Cheap Eats.
I’d like to preface this list by saying that you can make “healthy” versions of everything I’m listing. When you are super careful with your grocery budget and stay in your limits, you can get that organic cheese, pasture raised eggs, and no high fructose grape jelly. Cheap easy meals don’t always mean unhealthy.
1. Breakfast for dinner
My kids would eat breakfast food every night if I let them, but I don’t mind. It’s a super cheap way to get some carbs, protein, and fat into their tiny tummies. A lot of times our breakfast night will include some scrambled eggs, a few pieces of toast with peanut butter, and a slice of bacon. ~ Eggs: 2.79 carton, Bacon: 2.96, 1/2 Loaf of bread: 1.29. Those calculations meant I just fed us all for less than $7.00 my friends. I’ll take it.
2. Meatless spaghetti
I talked about this meatless spaghetti during my Pantry Challenge post and I’m not kidding…no one complained once. What did I add as the “filler” item? Beans. I bought them organic canned from Aldi, rinsed them off, and added them to the spaghetti sauce. Boom, dinner is served. I even made “garlic toast” with almost too old bread. Lets be honest, not only is meat expensive, but it’s better for us to back off of it a little. We eat entirely way too much meat as a whole.
3. Quesadillas & fruit
My 19 year old makes the best quesadilla in the world. I’m not exaggerating. She adds paprika, basil/pesto, and it is delicious. I always ask her to make my a 2nd one. Guys, this is literally cheese and flour tortillas. By far the cheapest meal on a budget.
4. whole chicken with veggies
Have you actually ever seen the price difference on say a pack of chicken breasts vs. a whole chicken? It’s astounding the difference. The best way to tell if you’re getting a deal is to look at the price per pound. Has anyone ever told you that? Most likely you’re paying for the process of that chicken breast package up all pretty. lol. Just buy the whole bird, pop that baby in the oven for an hour with some potatoes and cut up carrots and it’s a meal and then some. Buying more conscious like this is the best way for families to eat cheap dinners.
5. taco Tuesday or Wednesday
This is a place again where you can stretch that package of meat. If I didn’t use filler items (ie: beans) to add to our pound of meat, I could never afford to feed our family. Example: 1 pound of ground beef/turkey/chicken doesn’t go very far in this house, but a pound plus say 2 cans of black beans mixed in…goes a whole lot farther. And no, it doesn’t taste any different. Another example: Tonight we had chicken tacos ( I called them street tacos because I found the cutest tiniest tortillas at Aldi). Do you know how much meat I actually used? One package of chicken tenders.
I took that package of raw tenders, placed them in the instant pot with my package of taco seasoning, added a little broth to the pot, and high pressurized them for 12 minutes. I then shredded the chicken and we had a fiesta complete with shredded cheese (always cheaper to buy block cheese and shred yourself), salsa, avocado, & sour cream. YUM. This was a cheap and easy healthy meal for my family.
Lastly, I put a bowl of fresh in season cherries for them to much on while everyone made their tacos.
6. Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Obviously when it’s freakin 100 degrees outside, no one wants this crap, but normally it’s a very filling meal. You can get organic canned soup from the store or make your own! This vegetable recipe is a great one!
7. Snack plates
Snack plates usually happen when it’s almost time to hit the grocery store again and I want to get the perishables eaten up before they go bad. My kids think it’s just me being lazy. It may be a little of both ;). Get a plate and start adding items you know they’ll eat. Saltine crackers with peanut butter, string/block cheese squares, any and all fruit, cucumbers, apples & almond butter, & maybe some carrot sticks thrown in there for good measure.
8. Oatmeal and Smoothies
So here is what I’ve noticed about my kids recently. If I make their plate, they won’t eat it. If I set the table up like a buffet where they can add what they want, they eat. Go figure. Who said oatmeal had to be for breakfast only? A big pack of quick cooking oats, with a side of cinnamon, fruit, yogurt, or even I dare say…vegan chocolate chips? Yeah, it works. Top it off with a smoothie of their choice while you sneakly add a veggie to it? Golden.
Listen to me…it’s ok to have sandwiches for dinner. There I said it and I feel liberated. Grab a bag of sub rolls (yep, Aldi has them), and use the lunch meat I know you already have in your refrigerator and let the kids make their own subway sandwiches. You’d be surprised at what a different bread will turn a dinner into.
I’ll admit it, I can’t stand leftovers. I don’t know why. Now my oldest son…loves them. He would much rather eat something he can just heat up. We, including us, waste so much dang food and I’ve gotten so much better about making everyone eat something that has been saved for another glorious day. I’ve even turned the leftovers into an entirely new meal. Remember that whole chicken I spoke about? Save what’s left and make some homemade chicken salad, maybe a casserole? I promise, if they get hungry enough, they’ll eat it.