5 Cheap Meal Ideas for a Tight Grocery Budget

5 Cheap Meal Ideas - Plus 6 Tips for Stretching Your Grocery Budget

This winter has been out of control!  We have had tons of snow here in Pennsylvania.  Plus we can’t forget about the epic “polar vortex” that has been bringing bone chilling temperatures.

All of this cold weather has put a significant dent in our bank account.  Nate and I have been buying oil to heat our home at an alarming rate.  It. is. so. expensive.  We are getting by (and we are so thankful for all that we do have!), but things are tight.  There isn’t much extra laying around these days.

To help our dwindling bank account get through another week until payday, Nate and I came up with a cheap meal plan for the week.  I rarely share my meal plans here, but I figured that we aren’t the only ones who are feeling the weight of heating bills on their shoulders.

5 Cheap Meal Ideas for a Tight Grocery Budget

1) Spaghetti – Spaghetti is cheap and easy.  Duh, right?  This one is a no brainer.  My total cost for the sauce and pasta was $4.24.

2) Sausage, Lentil, & Rice Skillet This dish is so tasty!  I had a pound of sausage in my freezer from the discount grocery store, so this week I only needed to buy an onion and green pepper.  My total cost was $2.33.

3) Tuna Melt Sandwiches – This is a fun twist on a typical tuna salad sandwich.  Make tuna salad (combine tuna, mayo, and any desired extras like relish or hard boiled eggs).  Then spread the salad on buttered bread with a slice of cheese and toast it in a pan just like when you make a grilled cheese sandwich.  For two large cans of tuna, mayo, and loaf of bread, the total cost was $8.34.  We will probably have plenty left over for lunch the next day.

4) Homemade Pizza – We will be having pizza with heart shaped pepperoni for Valentine’s Day.  I had shredded cheese in my freezer, so I only needed to buy the crust, sauce, and pepperoni.  My total cost was $5.33.

5) Breakfast for Supper – Nate makes really good eggs and potatoes.  We already had a bag of potatoes and some bacon in our freezer.  I only had to buy eggs.  Usually I try to buy cage-free or local eggs, but this time I got 1.5 dozen of regular grocery store eggs for $2.59.

So that is what we are eating this week, but the cheap meal ideas certainly don’t stop there. Want more cheap meal inspiration?

6 Tips for Stretching Your Grocery Budget

1) Eat from the Pantry and Freezer – Many of the meals listed above are cheaper because I already had some of the ingredients at home.  When you make your meal plan for the week, look for inspiration in your pantry and freezer.

2) Don’t Make Meat the Main Thing – This week I avoided dishes that focused on meat.  It helped my budget not to have to buy beef or chicken.

3) Eat Leftovers –  We have a 4 year old girl and boy who will be 2 in a couple months.  Our family doesn’t eat a whole lot at this point.  We always have extra food at the end of the meal.  If possible, I serve it for supper the next night.  If there isn’t enough for supper, then it gets put on the lunch menu.

4) Rice, Beans, & Lentils are Your Friends – The cheapest meals I make are from rice, beans, and lentils.  They are filling, high in protein, and tasty.  (see above for recipe links)

5) It Doesn’t Have to Be Organic – I love buying organic food.  I don’t love the extra cost that comes along with it sometimes.  I use Veggie Wash on all of my produce and it helps me feel better when I can’t buy afford to buy organic.

6) Use the More With Less Cookbook – There are so many reasons why I love this cookbook.  It features recipes from around the world, focuses on using less of the world’s precious resources, and many (if not all!) of the recipes are inexpensive to make.  If you buy the More With Less cookbook, email me and I will send you page numbers of my favorite recipes!

What are your favorite cheap meals?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah and my crazy high heating bill!


  1. says

    One of our favorites is Quesidillas – We usually just use what we have on hand but our favorite go-to for cheap is cheese, black beans, and pickled jalapenos. Cheese you can easily get for 1.99 (if not cheaper), beans are around .60 and you can get pickled jalapeno’s on sale for .99 making this an under $4 meal! Sometimes we add salsa and plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) if we have them on hand.

      • says

        Kind of, but not as sweet – more like a spicy pickle. lol. But they are generally found in the same section of the grocery store. 😉

        And I realized I forgot to add tortillas to the list – so you it would be more like an under $6 meal – but for 2 people (at least) that isn’t bad!

  2. says

    Yes! We cook some rice, heat up the beans with have the liquid from the can, then put it all in a bowl an melt butter over the whole thing. Then we top it with the bacon.

  3. Lori says

    I’m newish to your blog, I saw on another of your posts that Pakistini Kima is one of your favorite recipes in More with Less and I have to laugh because that’s my favorite, too! I also love the Apple Crisp recipe and make it often with my husband (I should send you the page I’ve marked up with “Ways to make this recipe while still maintaining marital harmony” – we’ve had some disagreements over the years. Also like the peanut butter popcorn balls (and so does my niece; started making it when she was little; she’s now 23 and still loves it). I’m sure there are more. Such a great book; always was recommended to new missionaries on our field in West Africa.

  4. Nena says

    great ideas.. we do grilled cheese or sandwich night … or fend for your self 😉 like hot dog and fruit for kids and I eat cereal lol.

  5. Rhonda H says

    I just found your blog today!
    I am enjoyed reading about your Love Story!
    Such a sweet story!
    OK, back to meals on the cheap., We like to have
    Fried eggs, fried in Olive oil, then I put fresh spinach on top of the egg,
    while frying, so it welts and is heated. Then, I add black beans on top of that, heat through, add salt and pepper to taste.
    It’s so good!


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