6 Genius Struggle Meal Recipes You Never Knew You Needed

by SouthernFrugalMomma

We have all made struggle meal recipes, even if you didn't struggle financially growing up. You've come home from school, and there's nothing to eat. Your parents are still at work, and you have to make food with whatever you can find. That's what a struggle meal is, putting together a meal with the limited resources you have on hand.

I decided to make the struggle meal recipes I had growing up to have my boys taste them and see what they think. Some of these may be weird, and others may be very common.

Woman holding a barbeque chip sandwich

1. Barbecue chip sandwich

This first one was good, from what I remember. We just had regular white bread. Then we used barbecue potato chips. 

This was our struggle meal, a barbecue potato chip sandwich. You take your barbecue chips and layer them on your bread. When you have them layered, you put the other piece of bread on and smush it. It has to be squashed. If we were really lucky, we would have ham, and we would put ham on it.

After school, when there was nothing to eat in the house and our parents were still at work, we made a potato chip sandwich, and you got a glass of water or Kool-Aid. 

Cheese nachos on a plate

2. Cheese nachos

We used anything we found in the house. If we had shredded cheese, we would use shredded cheese. If we had plastic-wrapped cheese, we would use plastic-wrapped cheese. Just whatever we had, we used it. 

We would always have a baggie of plain tortilla chips or Doritos. We would get our paper plates and our bag of Doritos and layer the crust with Doritos. We will be using the cheap stuff, the epitome of a struggle.  

Of course, you rip the cheese to pieces. Place the cheese on top of the chips, then zap it in the microwave until it is melted. You have the delicacy of homemade nachos out of random things you find in your kitchen. 

Best struggle meals

3. Cinnamon butter toast

This next one, I would ask for this all the time, and my mamma would say there are other things — cinnamon butter toast!

For this magnificent recipe, you will need cinnamon. You'll want to add sugar, and you'll need bread. You will also need generic margarine. Not the good butter stuff. You have to have the dollar margarine, like Blue Bonnet or Country Crock. It tastes better when you use the cheap stuff. 

What you do is get your white bread, and we are going to place chunks of margarine across the top of the bread. Next, we're going to take our cinnamon, and we are going to sprinkle it on top.

Then you're going to take sugar and sprinkle that on top. Some people use brown sugar for this struggle meal, but we didn't have brown sugar.  Now you'll bake it in the oven until it looks toasted. This is tasty.

Struggle meal ideas

4. Homemade pixie sticks

This next one was when you wanted candy, but there was no candy money. You have to have a packet of Kool-Aid mix and sugar or the kind where you don't need to add sugar. 

We're going to make homemade pixie sticks. You'll need to pour in some of your Kool-Aid mix or packet. Add more sugar if you have a Kool-Aid packet because it's very sour. Then you mix it.  

You lick your finger and stick it in the packet, then lick the mixture off your finger.

Pringle dipped in chocolate frosting

5. Chocolate frosted chips

This next one is weird. I remember the first time my sister Nikki and I did this. We were home by ourselves. Mom and dad were out grocery shopping. My sister Nikki loved chips. Chips were her absolute favorite thing in the world to eat. We had a small amount of chocolate frosting in a container and some sour cream and onion Pringles. 

I was licking my finger in the chocolate icing, and Nikki ate chips. I took a chip, and I still had chocolate on my finger, and that's how we discovered chocolate frosting on chips was so good.

Hot dog wrapped up in a slice of white bread

6. Barbecue-sauced hot dog

This next one was my go-to struggle meal. I would cut a hot dog so it's not so big. I would take the hot dog, barbecue sauce, and a slice of bread, then I took my hot dog and laid it on a paper towel.  

I put a little squirt of barbecue sauce on the paper towel. Then take the corner, fold it over, and start rolling your hot dog. Then like a burrito, you zap this in the microwave for 30 seconds. As the microwave cooked our hot dog, we smashed our piece of white bread.  

After you zap your hot dog in the microwave, you will unroll it (it will be messy). You want to pick up your hot dog with your bread, and you will roll it up like a burrito.  

This struggle meal has to be microwaved. It doesn't taste the same if you cook it on the stovetop. 

Struggle meal recipes

These were a few of my favorite struggle meals from my childhood. What things did you eat growing up that you would consider a struggle meal? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 of 15 comments
  • Debra L Jacklin Debra L Jacklin on May 01, 2023

    I used to make potato chip sandwiches with French’s mustard and smushed utz

    potato chips. Also for an after school snack I would Pearce a carrot with a fork and hold it over the flame of the stove until it got black and then I’d eat it like a marshmallow

  • Julie Lonergan Julie Lonergan on Jul 31, 2023

    Peanut butter, jelly, and cheddar cheese sandwich.