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42 Poor Man Meals

You don't have to sacrifice flavor with these tasty, budget friendly, meals.

By: Editors of
Updated March 05, 2018
Poor Man Meals and Frugal Recipes

Our collection of inexpensive meals will make you feel anything but poor. Budget friendly meals can still be abundant with quality and flavor. Whether you're trying to save money or have a lot of mouths to feed, these are the recipes for you!

Planning meals on a budget can be a stressful task for many reasons. Inexpensive meals require that you plan ahead, and they also require a little more thought when you're at the store. They aren't difficult to make, however, once you get that part down, and they can be truly delicious. For this reason, we took on half the work for you and listed some of our favorite budget friendly meals below. These dishes are sure to be a hit with any family. 

We also included some tips for shopping on a budget below, so many sure to check those out before you head off for supplies. 

Plus, check out our video for pizza pockets using crescent roll dough below. (Find this printable recipe in the "Frugal Favorites" section of the page!)


Budget Friendly Meals You'll Crave

Old Fashioned Salisbury Steak Recipe

It can be a challenge to come up with meals for large families that won't break the bank, but it's certainly not impossible to do. The recipes below use a lot of ingredients that you probably already have on hand, so they're easy to pull together for a weeknight win. Take the stress out of mealtime and get right to the best part: eating! 

>> Pro Tip: Buy in bulk at a discount or club store and cook up a lot of food once a week for school lunches or planned dinners (think Sunday prep!) 

  • Poor Man Chicken Broccoli Casserole

    Trying to feed a family on a budget? Then Poor Man Chicken Broccoli Casserole is the hearty meal for your family. Baked with chicken, broccoli and cheese this easy chicken casserole recipe has everything a dinner needs, all in one dish.

  • Poor Man Husband Casserole

    Poor Man Husband Casserole is an "everything but the kitchen sink" type recipe. This easy and cheap casserole recipe is super tasty and will keep your wallet happy. When you're looking for budget-friendly meals, it doesn't get better than this.

  • Ultimate Cowboy Casserole

    Made with ground beef, tater tots, sour cream and more, these beefy casseroles are comfort food defined. This Ultimate Cowboy Casserole recipe is no exception. We call it the "ultimate" because it really is one of the best cowboy casserole recipes we've seen. 

  • Skillet Beef & Macaroni

    Made with simple ingredients that you likely already have in your house, it is a budget-friendly pasta recipe that your taste-buds and wallet will appreciate. With a touch of Pace Picante hot sauce, it a has a little kick that you're sure to love.

  • Easy Skillet Beef & Hash Browns

    Hash browns, cheese, ketchup and ground beef combine for a stick-to the-ribs, family-pleasing supper. Quick and easy it is perfect for a quick weeknight fix. And the best part is that it's all made in one skillet for an easy cleanup.

  • Chicken Biscuit Melt-Aways

    There's no better way to make your chicken recipes more delicious than by putting them atop a buttery biscuit. Chicken Biscuit Melt-Aways are a wonderful weeknight recipe that comes together in minutes. You can enjoy them hot or cold, and even for lunch the next day.

  • Muffin Tin Bisquick Puffs

    Well, there is not much to say about this recipe with Bisquick other than that it is so darn tasty! Plus, being made with Bisquick, it is also super easy to make. Muffin Tin Bisquick Puffs are packed into a muffin tin and then loaded with a perfectly seasoned ground beef mixture that the family will eat up.

  • Skillet Cheesy Chicken & Rice

    In these busy times, one-skillet chicken recipes are the way to go...and this cheesy dish is a family-favorite! Made with rice and vegetables, it's a meal made all in one pot. Convenient and delicious,make Skillet Cheesy Chicken & Rice tonight.

  • Tin Foil Hobo Dinners

    Whether you're going on a camping trip or simply want a budget-friendly recipe to make at home, this recipe for Tin Foil Hobo Dinners is a great cheap dinner idea. Simply pack all the ingredients in tin foil pouches and grill for 30 minutes! 

  • Bacon, Eggs, and Cheese Breakfast Cups

    This wonderful crescent roll recipe is simply unbeatable. Packed with cheese, bacon and eggs you won't be able to stop at just one. Having breakfast for dinner is sounding better and better.

  • Pineapple BBQ Slow Cooker Baked Beans

    On those chilly winter nights when you want to curl up with something hot, try this Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder. Nothing's better than a bowl of something creamy and comforting when it's cold outside, and this recipe is sure to hit the spot.

  • Budget Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

    Steak strips are stir-fried with broccoli and simmered in a tangy tomato sauce. Served over rice, this tasty dish from Campbell's Kitchen is sure to please your dinnertime crowd. It's one of the easiest and frugal stir fry recipes you'll find.

  • Homestyle One Pot Goulash

    Enjoy the comforts of home-cooking just like grandma used to make with this super simple recipe for Homestyle One Pot Goulash. With a medley of delicious flavors like ground beef, onion, green pepper, mushroom, tomato and more, it's easy to see why this goulash is a crowd pleaser every time it's served.

Inexpensive Casseroles

Hubby's Favorite Hobo Casserole

Embrace the always-rewarding casserole! There is so much room for creativity and flavor when it comes to making a casserole. Another perk? Most casseroles are already pretty budget friendly in nature, so finding recipes that suit your family should be a breeze! 

>>Pro Tip: Make multiple casseroles ahead of time and freeze them for an easy dinner you can pull out at a moment's notice and reheat. Learn more about freezer meals here.

  • Easiest Layered Cabbage Casserole

    Even those who don't care for cabbage will love this beefy unstuffed cabbage casserole recipe. Easiest Layered Cabbage Casserole has all the flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls, but it's made the lazy way. With only five basic ingredients plus cheese, it's as easy as mix, layer, and bake. 

  • Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Casserole

    Who doesn't love a comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup? What if you could have that same comfort in the form of an easy chicken casserole recipe? Now you can with this Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Casserole. 

  • Easy Stuffed Pepper Casserole

    Recipes with ground beef always save the day when you are thinking of something delicious to do for dinner. By stuffing corn, ground beef and onions into green peppers, you get this flavorful dish that kids and adults love. 

  • Taco Pie Casserole

    Recipes with ground beef always save the day when you are thinking of something delicious to do for dinner. By stuffing corn, ground beef and onions into a green peppers, you get this flavorful dish that kids and adults love. Made in under 45 minuteness it's as simple as it is delicious.

  • Mama's Pizza Casserole

    For an easy dinner recipe that will please the whole family, try Mama's Pizza Casserole! This pizza casserole recipe can be customized to include your favorite pizza toppings or you can follow it as is for a fool-proof casserole recipe everyone will drool over. 

  • Cheesy Baked Potato and Asparagus Casserole

    Get ready for a deliciously easy potato casserole with this Cheesy Baked Potato and Asparagus Casserole recipe. The best part about this easy cheese potato casserole is that it's great for dinner or a side dish. 

  • The Easiest Chicken Pot Pie

    Chicken pot pie recipes have been a household favorite for years and years. In the Easiest Chicken Pot Pie, cream of chicken soup, frozen veggies, and a biscuit crust are baked together for a savory 30 minute meal. It's so delicious, you might want it twice a week.

  • Budget Ritzy Comfort Bake

    Chicken and broccoli casserole is a classic comforting dinner that everyone loves. Budget Ritzy Comfort Bake is a budget-friendly recipe that can be put together in 10 minutes, and baked for just 40 minutes more. 

  • Jiffy Cornbread Casserole

    Jiffy Cornbread Casserole is a corn lover's dream come true. This cornbread casserole recipe is so moist, full of flavor, and slightly sweet, that in addition to being one of the most popular side dishes around, it is sometimes served as dessert with a bit of honey.

  • Busy Night Minnesota Hot Dish

    When your hectic, weekday schedule has you running around without a moment to spare, Busy Night Minnesota Hot Dish is just what you need so that you won't have to stress about cooking dinner on top of everything else. 

Frugal Favorites

Crescent Rolls Pizza Pockets

There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying every bite of a meal that's saving you money! Here are a few more recipes -- some of our personal favorites -- for the frugal cook inside all of us. From pizza pockets and skillet meals to stuffed peppers and pork chops, there is truly a dish for every preference below. 

>>Pro Tip: Plan your meals ahead of time to make grocery shopping a breeze! Check out our free, printable, meal plan cards to help get you started.

  • Cheesy Scalloped Pork Chops

    This Cheesy Scalloped Pork Chops recipe is great when you're craving a hearty and comforting dinner because it combines two great dishes into one. This pork chops and scalloped potatoes casserole is a delicious way to serve a full dinner without thinking.

  • Beefed Up Ramen Noodle Bake

    If we had to succinctly describe what this Beefed Up Ramen Noodle Bake tastes like, we'd say it's like a cross between lasagna and American chop suey. Using inexpensive ingredients like Ramen noodles, spaghetti sauce and ground beef, this easy casserole recipe is also one of our favorite budget meal ideas. 

  • Taco Pizza

    Start with a basic pizza crust and layer it with refried beans. Then, taco meat and cheese. For the meat, we go with ground turkey, but, use ground beef, chicken, pork..whatever you want. They all will work. Top off with all the taco-fixings and you have dinner ready to go!

  • Cheesy Skillet Meatballs

    Start with a basic pizza crust and layer it with refried beans. Then, taco meat and cheese. For the meat, we go with ground turkey, but, use ground beef, chicken, pork..whatever you want. They all will work. Top off with all the taco-fixings and you have dinner ready to go!

  • Creamy Tortellini Skillet

    Jazz up your meatballs with this hearty dish! This is a nice, simple, dinner dish. Meatballs that are cooked in your skillet with a bit of canola oil, then, they are finished off baking with spaghetti sauce. Then, they are topped off with mozzarella cheese for a melty topping. 

  • Amish Sausage-Stuffed Green Peppers

    One pan. One hour. Dinner is ready! It would be super easy to toss in some spinach, shredded carrots, baby tomatoes, whatever works for you and your family. Also, if you aren't a big fan of sausage, leave it out. This dish is delicious with or without it. You can also go with turkey sausage or beef.

  • 10-Minute Peanut Butter Skillet Granola

    These Amish Sausage-Stuffed Green Peppers are an easy dinner to highlight fresh summer produce. Full of hearty and comforting flavors, the freezer-friendly meal appeals to both children and adults for a simple dish that brings family together around the table!

  • Handheld Breakfast Quesadillas

    You're going to love this short-cut method for preparing a delicious batch of homemade granola! This 10-Minute Peanut Butter Skillet Granola is salty, sweet, crunchy, delicious, and FAST. 

The Budget Saving Tips You Need

Follow a few of these money saving tips next time you're at the grocery store, and you're sure to save some monthly moolah. If you're smart with your savings during the week, you can treat yourself to a more extravagant meal when the weekend or a special occasion rolls around. And who doesn't love to treat themselves?

1. Minimize your meat. You can get protein from so many other (cheaper) sources! Eggs, peanut butter, beans, and tofu are just a few!

2. Don't chuck that chicken! Buy a rotisserie chicken and use every last bit. You can eat the meat and then soak the bones for homemade chicken stock

3. Slow cook and save. You can cook a lot of food at once and save it to eat throughout the week.

4. Freeze for later. If you're okay with eating the same meal over the course of the month, you can prep and freeze portioned meals and thaw them when you're ready. This is a good lunch idea for families with kids. You should also consider freezing food instead of throwing it away! 

5. Plan ahead. Make a list before you head to the store and stick to it once you get there. You might also try planning your meals using a meal-planning app.

>>> Pro Tip: Don't go to the store hungry! The empty stomach blues can get the better of you and lead to unnecessary snack shopping. Don't fall victim to those hangry impulse buys! Sale or no sale, you don't need 5 boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups and 4 jars of nacho cheese sauce. You just don't.

5. Did someone say discounts? Almost every store out there has a rewards card these days. Sign up and start saving! At the very least, you'll get emails (and probably coupons) when the store is having sales on what items. 

6. Buy in bulk. Stock your pantry with non-perishables for cheap! Spices, pasta, rice, baking goods, etc. Cha-ching! (This is where stores like Sams' Club and Costco are gonna come in real handy, just saying).

7. Don't throw away leftovers! Use those leftover bits of meat and rice in a stew, use leftover veggies in an omelet, and leftover fruit can be frozen and tossed in a smoothie for a mid-morning snack. You can even freeze your leftover coffee in an ice cube tray for iced coffee ice cubes on a hot afternoon. So many options!

8. Learn how to properly store foods to get the most bang for your buck. Did you know that if you empty a plastic box of salad greens into a zip-top bag with a couple paper towels, they'll keep their freshness for at least a month? You're welcome.

Cheap Meals for Two

Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry

Eat on the cheap when it's just you plus one! The recipes in this section will help you out when you need to eat, but you don't want a bunch of leftovers. From chicken stir fry to sloppy joes, the recipes below are cheaper than going out to eat and no food will go to waste when you're only cooking for you and one other person! Try any of these cheap meals for 2 below.

>>Pro Tip: Look for discounts and deals at multiple stores and always check for coupons before you go! There are 2-for-1 deals and other savings to take advantage of everywhere if you make the time to research.

  • Crispy Lemon Chicken

    This Crispy Lemon Chicken recipe will be your new favorite go-to dinner recipe. The chicken tastes just like it was fried in oil, but it is in fact baked so it is much healthier than a fried chicken recipe. 

  • 2-Ingredient Ultimate Cookie Bars

    With just 2 ingredients and 5 minutes preparation time, there feels like there should be a catch with this cookie bars recipe, but there's not. Turn store-bought cookie dough into something amazing with this recipe for 2-Ingredient Ultimate Cookie Bars.

  • Ultimate Sloppy Joes

    Ultimate Sloppy Joes made in just 20 minutes with a rich tomato gravy and melted cheese. Your family will ask for them all the time! With just a few pantry ingredients you’ll have a whole new appreciation for classic sloppy joes.

  • Instant Pot Chicken Tacos Recipe

    This easy Instant Pot Chicken Tacos recipe is so easy and versatile that you could cook it as a slow cooker chicken taco recipe, prepare it as chicken taco freezer meal recipe or make it the way I did in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. The best part? You only need three ingredients to make this easy chicken taco filling!

  • Spiced Tomato Soup with Grilled Sandwiches

    You could use canned or fresh tomatoes for this recipe, I have tried both and they taste great either way. For this time, however, I decided to use baby Italian tomatoes, and it has a sweet spicy tang to it. That is what I love about baby tomatoes, they hardly ever have that acidic taste.

  • Barbecue Chicken, Bacon, and Pineapple Kabobs

    From barbeques to block parties, there is not a party where serving these tasty chicken kabobs with pineapple and bacon will not be a big hit. This tasty dinner party idea combines an impressive flavor palate of pineapple, barbeque sauce, and smoky bacon to create a killer kabob. 

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These are some great tips because I definitely struggle with grocery shopping. It's just one of those things I would rather put off... or just not do and order take out instead. Hopefully by putting a few of these into practice, I can get better at it!

Thank you so much for this post. I have a family of fussy eaters, and they can run up a pretty high weekly food bill or financial emergencies that you can solve following tips -https// == -with-financial-anxiety-when-you-are-short-of-fund == s/ . I cant wait to try some of these recipes. Im hoping to try out these recipes this week, and hopefully, Ill save some money as well as getting them eating healthier. Im going to try the other tips as well. I havent been batch cooking and freezing, and Im going to try that. It should save me some time during the week. Im also going to try bulk buying ingredients, and planning our weekly meals ahead of time.

I tried the tip about making salad greens last up to a month. "Up to" is a very elastic term. They went bad in under a week, which is a shorter time than when I store them in the bag the store put them in.

This is such a great collection. I love that this takes into account that budget doesn't just mean cheap ingredients, but everyday ingredients that you have around the house! I made the skillet beef hashbrowns, and it was so good! I had lots of leftovers, too.

I?m No Longer Certain Where You Are Getting Your Information, But Great Topic. I Needs To Spend Some Time Studying More Or Working Out More. Thanks For Excellent Information I Was Looking For This Info For My Mission. http//


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