10 Cheap Meal Ideas That You'll Want to Make Again and Again

Put down the KD! Looking for cheap meal ideas that are easy, budget-friendly, and drool-worthy? I gotchu! Here are 10 super cheap family meals on a budget that are kid-friendly (and you will love too).

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Cheap Meal Ideas for Family

I don’t know about you but when I think “cheapest meal ideas” the two things that immediately come to mind are Kraft Dinner and ramen. Now I won’t knock either of those options, especially ramen (and I like this over trad KD), there are more options out there. Ones that include things like, you know, protein, and veg. Here are 10 yummy cheap meal ideas for families.

If you’re interested in cheap keto eats, check out this post.

And this one for the best paleo meals on a budget.

Notes on these Easy Cheap Meal Ideas

These cheap meal ideas are super easy to throw together. They should take literally minutes to prep, that’s it.

You will see that there are no strict 2 cups + 1/8 tsp kind of measurements. These super cheap meal ideas are meant to be loose.

They are all very forgiving recipes, so don’t stress! These family meals on a budget are meant to make your life easier. Let’s get cooking!

Related post: Meals for Large Families: Tips to Save Time and Money.

10 Cheap Meal Ideas the Whole Family Will Love

1. Cheese and Spinach Pastries

These easy cheap meal idea takes minutes to prep and it’s something kids can help with too.

Mix ricotta and spinach together with salt and pepper. Cut a sheet of ready-made pastry dough into 4.

Put a spoonful of ricotta spinach mix in the middle of pastry square and fold into a triangle. Press edges together. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

You could also add feta, olives, sundried tomatoes, onion…etc.

Related post: Easy Spinach and Brie Quiche with Press-In Pie Crust.

2. Potato Bake

This potato bake is one of the most family-friendly cheap meal ideas. You can keep it bare minimum or add all the vegetables your kids like. You can even hide vegetables you want them to try.

Cut six potatoes into thin slices (about 3 – 4 mm thick).

Put a layer of slices at the bottom of a casserole dish.

Sprinkle grated tasty cheese over the potatoes. Keep layering potatoes and cheese. Make sure cheese is on the top of the final layer. Pour 1 cup of milk over the top of the casserole.

Put it in the oven at 350F until cooked (check by inserting a knife or metal skewer and testing softness and heat).

Related post: HelloFresh Review: How I Went From Total Skeptic to Fan in 3 Meals.

3. Garlic Parmesan Pasta

Cook pasta of your choice.

Drain pasta.

In a saucepan melt two tablespoons of butter. Drop in half a teaspoon of garlic.

Put the drained pasta into the saucepan and mix with the butter and garlic. Serve on plates with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Add vegetables if you want.

4. Zucchini and Red Pepper Frittata

Egg dishes are one of the best cheap meal ideas because they include more protein than pasta-based or rice-based cheap meals.

Mix 3 eggs and ½ cup of milk in a mixing bowl.

Chop ½ a zucchini and ½ a red pepper into tiny pieces.

Put the chopped vegetables at the bottom of a pie dish.

Pour the egg mixture over the top.

Sprinkle herbs of your choice on top. Bake at 350F. It should take about ½ an hour to cook.

You could substitute any vegetables, or add bacon and cheese.

Related post: Healthy Meal Planning Tips To Save You Money and Reduce Food Waste.

5. Fried Rice

Boil rice. When cooked, drain.

Cook two eggs (so as they are like an omelet) and cut into small pieces. Cook a few strips of bacon and cut into little pieces.

Put a tablespoon of oil in a fry pan and fry rice.

Add bacon, egg, 1 cup of frozen vegetables and a splash or two of soy sauce (until you think it tastes good). Stir until fried.

Related post: 5 Borderline Genius Ideas For Stocking The Pantry On a Budget.

Check out this Ultimate Meal Planner for Busy Families; it’s a must-have to help you plan ahead of time to save money on meals.

6. Tuna Bake

Cook 16 oz of instant noodles (2 minute noodles) or ramen. (I couldn’t do a post on cheap meal ideas without at least including ramen as an ingredient!)

Mix in 2 cans of tuna and 1 cup frozen vegetables.

Top with cheese. Heat through in the oven for five minutes at 350F.

Related post: Saving Money by Growing Your Own Food + 7 Best Vegetables to Grow to Save Money.

7. Nachos

Nachos are hands-down one of the most kid-friendly cheap meal ideas.

Layer nachos, salsa and tasty cheese on plates or a baking sheet.

Add olives, tomatoes, any other toppings you like.

Cook either in microwave (1-2 minutes) or oven (a few minutes at 350F to melt the cheese).

Related post: How to Save Money on Groceries (Even During the Pandemic).

8. Sausages in Bread

Cook 8 sausages on the barbecue.

Wrap each in slice of fresh bread and add a squirt of tomato sauce or mustard.

Related post: Perennial Vegetables: Grow These 5 Vegetables to Save Money on Your Garden.

9. Sausage Casserole

Boil 8 sausages. Cut them into 1 inch pieces.

Chop 1 onion into small pieces. Put sausages and onion in a casserole dish.

Add salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce, 1 cup of water and bake in oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes.

10. Risotto

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan.

Add ½ a diced onion, and a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Add 2 cups of Arborio rice and stir for 1 minute.

Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of boiling water. Pour the stock into the rice mix. Simmer and stir continuously until water is gone.

Add steamed vegetables of your choice and ½ a cup of parmesan cheese.

For more great cheap meal ideas, check out these canned chicken recipes.

They’re perfect for picnics, quick lunches, school lunches, camping, and budget-friendly dinners!

Pin these cheap meal ideas to save for later:

What are your favorite cheap meal ideas?

Suchot - The Curious Frugal
Want more details about this and other budgeting & minimalist living ideas? Check out more here!
Join the conversation