Extreme Budget Meal Plan: Simple and Delicious Meals Under 25 Dollars

Leanne's Life
by Leanne's Life

Hello everyone! Today, I'll be putting together an extreme budget meal plan for a week, with a budget of $25. Join me as we go shopping and aim to create a variety of meals under $25.

Ingredients for meal ideas for the week

1. Vegetarian Chili

For my first meal idea of the week, I'm making vegetarian chili. I have a can of tomato sauce, a large 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and two 15oz cans of mixed chili beans.

I chose the beans in chili sauce to add more flavor. This should make around 7-10 servings depending on how many people you're feeding.

To spice it up, I picked up a Mild Chili Seasoning Mix by Great Value for less than a dollar. It has all the seasonings you need, so this shows you that you don't have to have a big spice pantry.

With one dollar left over, I bought some Cotton Country cornbread mix. All you need to do is add water, and it makes five servings.

I wanted to buy a bag of frozen vegetables to make my life easier and show that you don't have to buy fresh produce, which can be more expensive. However, my local Walmart was out of stock, so I had to buy a fresh green pepper and an onion instead. That's perfectly fine with me, and to be honest, I think it was cheaper. You just have to look for sales, compare prices, and decide what's better for you.

Chili ingredients in a pot on the stove

I'm going to add everything into a big stockpot and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes to melt all the flavors together.

In my Dutch oven, I'll use a little bit of olive oil, you can also use vegetable oil or butter if you don't have olive oil. In the worst-case scenario, you can just use water.

I'll set the heat to medium-high and sauté the vegetables until they're softened before adding everything else. Then, I'll add the beans, stir it, add the tomatoes and sauce, and finally the spice mix.

Cornbread mixture being spooned into a pan

As I mentioned earlier, the reason I chose this cornbread mix is that you only need to add water. It's a bit more expensive than the Jiffy corn mix, which requires an egg and milk, but it's worth it. For just a few more cents, I decided to go for this one, because it's easy to use - you just dump and go.

Frying French toast in a pan

2. French toast

For this week's budget meal plan breakfast option, we'll be having French toast. I have a loaf of white bread, a dozen eggs, and a few pantry items such as plant-based butter and cinnamon. If you don't have plant-based butter, you can use regular butter or a vegetable spray such as olive oil or avocado spray.

Although optional, I highly recommend adding cinnamon for extra flavor. I'll be making twelve servings of French toast, which amounts to twenty-four pieces that we can freeze and enjoy throughout the week.

To prepare, I'll whisk together six eggs with some cinnamon, and then dip the bread slices into the mixture. Next. I'll fry the pieces up to make French toast.

A plate of grated cheese next to a dish with layered pasta sauce, ravioli and cheese

3. Lasagna

Moving on to our lunch/dinner option, we have a lazy man's lasagna. To make this, all you'll need is some pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and frozen ravioli. I opted for beef ravioli to add some variety since most of the other meals this week are vegetarian.

To prepare, simply layer your ingredients in a baking dish. Start with a layer of pasta sauce, followed by the ravioli, and then a layer of cheese.

Repeat this process until you've used up all your ingredients, making sure to end with a layer of cheese on top. Cover with tin foil and bake.

Baked ravioli lasagna

My pan was a little too small, so I wasn't able to use all of the ravioli, but it still yields at least seven servings. The dish is quite filling with the cheese and ravioli.

The package of ravioli stated that it was intended for five servings, with nine pieces of ravioli per serving, but I found that my portions were smaller than that.

Overall, this is a super quick and easy, extreme budget-friendly option for lunch or dinner.

Stir frying vegetables

4. Stir fry noodles

My final dish for the week is Veggie Lo Mein Noodles. For this, I'll be using fresh garlic, but you can also use powdered garlic. Additionally, I'll be using a Deluxe Stir-Fry mix from Walmart, which includes a variety of veggies.

To add some flavor, I'll use soy sauce and chili garlic sauce that I have on hand. I'll start by boiling water for the noodles and heating some oil in another pan to cook the veggies. Once they've softened a bit, I'll add the garlic.

Topping stir fried vegetables and noodles with fresh cilantro

I have to say, this was my favorite meal of the whole week. It was delicious, and my daughter and I enjoyed it immensely. I would say it makes about seven servings, so you will get a lot out of this meal. I also had some fresh cilantro, so I added that on top for extra flavor.

Meals under 25 dollars

I love budget meal planning, so I hope that this has inspired you to try some new budget-friendly meals for your family.

What is your favorite quick and affordable recipe? I would love to read your ideas in the comments down below.

Join the conversation
3 of 5 comments
  • Tiffany Ray Tiffany Ray on May 08, 2023

    are u talking about like canned ravioli? I’m vegetarian so I would do cheese or ricotta cheese. But where would I find them?

    • Tina Barnott Tina Barnott on Aug 26, 2023

      Frozen ravioli. You can get it with just cheese filling.

  • Basha Zackavich Basha Zackavich on Aug 27, 2023

    I liked all these recipes, esp. the lasagna idea. Pretty clueless as a cook, so … questions:

    • are the raviolis frozen when you layer them?

    • what temp and how long do you bake the dish?