3 Quick & Easy Budget Meals for a Family of 4

All Things Mandy
by All Things Mandy

This week, I am going to share budget meals for a family of 4. These are the most delicious meals that we had this week. They were easy, affordable, and delicious. Let's get in the kitchen, and let's get cooking.

Italian sausage and ricotta stuffed shells

I have a 1-pound package of sweet Italian sausage for the first meal.

Browning Italian sausage in a skillet

I put that in my cast iron skillet to brown it. 

Next, I take a container of ricotta and put that into my mixing bowl. Once I have the ricotta in my mixing bowl, I will add a bunch of seasonings. I'm going to start with garlic powder and liberally season the ricotta.

I'm also going to add in some minced onion and Italian seasoning, ground red cayenne pepper, and ground black pepper. I'm not going to add any extra salt because there's going to be a lot of salt in the other items that I'm going to put in this mixture. 

I'm also going to add some Parmesan cheese and mozzarella to the ricotta cheese. Then I'm going to stir the cheeses together to combine. 

Mixing ricotta with an egg

The next thing I'm going to add to the ricotta mixture is an egg to act as a binder. 

I stir that egg into my mixture, and then I'm going to be ready to add the sausage. 

I take the browned sausage, and I'm going to use half of it in the stuffed shells. I'm going to reserve the other half, and I'm going to put it in the freezer so that I can use it with another meal. 

After adding the sausage, I stir the mixture.

Now it's time to stuff my shells. I have my 9 x 13 casserole dish. I'm going to take some of a jar of pasta sauce, and I'm going to spread that evenly over the bottom of my pan. 

The last time I cooked stuffed shells, I only used half of the box, but I had cooked the whole box. So I figured I could freeze the cooked shells, which worked perfectly. So for this meal, I took the frozen shells out of the freezer, let them thaw, and now they're already cooked and ready to stuff. 

I'm going to stuff the shells with the sausage ricotta mixture, and I'm going to line them up in my casserole dish. I will keep doing this until I have used up all the shells. 

Pouring sauce over the shells

I'm going to pour a little more of the sauce over the shells, and they will be ready to bake after I cover the top of the shells with some mozzarella cheese and more of the Parmesan cheese I had. 

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees. I am going to put the prepared shells in the oven, covered with aluminum foil at first for about 20 minutes.

Adding cheese to melt over the top

Then I'm going to uncover and let the cheese melt, about 10 minutes.

Serving pasta shells with garlic bread

I'm going to serve this with some garlic breadsticks. I'll cook those according to the package. 

Ingredients for sub sandwiches

Submarine sandwiches

My family decided they wanted subs this week, so we went to the store and got all the fixings for subs. 

We had a make-your-own sub night. So I've got pepperoncini that were left from another recipe. We have sub buns. We got provolone, some pepper jack cheese, turkey, Black Forest ham, sliced Roma tomatoes, and chopped romaine lettuce.

I meant to get a photo of one of the completed sandwiches, but I didn't. They were a hit, and my family was very happy. 

Shepherd's pie

I'm going to start by taking one pound of beef that I got from my butcher box. I'm going to put that in a skillet and get it browned. Then we are going to be making the mashed potatoes and getting everything ready for the shepherd's pie.  

Browning ground beef

Once the ground beef is on the stove and browning, I have half of an onion that was left from another recipe that I'm going to chop up, and I'm going to add to the skillet with the ground beef.  

Next, I will add two pinches of kosher salt, one good pinch of coarse black pepper, and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce, stirring well to combine everything.

While waiting for the beef to finish cooking, I will prepare a family-size package of instant potatoes according to the package directions. This is also a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes in a recipe.  

Now that my ground beef mixture is cooked through, I'm going to be adding some elements for the sauce. I'm going to add a dash of cayenne pepper. I have one packet of beefy onion soup mix I am going to use, then add in some water. 

Mixing vegetables with the beef

I'm going to stir in a package of frozen mixed vegetables. 

I'm going to add that to my skillet and let that begin to heat through while I'm waiting on my mashed potatoes. 

Next, I shredded a block of sharp cheddar cheese that I had. I sprayed the inside of a 3-quart casserole dish lightly with cooking spray so nothing would stick to the bottom of the dish. 

Pouring the beef mixture into a casserole dish

I'm going to add the beef mixture to the bottom of the casserole dish.

Adding mashed potatoes over the top

Next, I'm going to take my mashed potatoes and spread them in an even layer on top of the meat mixture.  

Sprinkling cheese over the top

Once I spread the mashed potatoes in an even layer, I sprinkled the shredded cheddar cheese over the mashed potatoes. 

I am going to cover this dish with foil and put it in the preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Then I'm going to remove the foil. I'm going to turn the temperature up to 425 degrees and let it cook for another ten minutes to brown the cheese. 

Budget meals for a family of 4

This is my shepherd's pie ready to come out of the oven.

Budget meals for a family of 4

This week, we had delicious, filling budget meals for our family of 4. They were all easy to make, and my family loved them. What is your favorite budget family meal? Share in the comments below.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Alisa Penninger Alisa Penninger on Jan 23, 2023

    Sounds like a few new very delicious ideas!

  • Mabel Jacobs Mabel Jacobs on Jan 23, 2023

    I like the meals are all nutritious with the meat (protein), veggies (vitamins and fiber), and starch (potatoes) are all in one dish. less cleaning in the kitchen. i will try the shepherd's pie. Thanks