42 Poor Man Meals
You don't have to sacrifice flavor with these tasty, budget friendly, meals.
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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.
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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!)
Table of Contents
Budget Friendly Meals You'll Crave
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!
To get you started, try out this frugal recipe for Old Fashioned Salisbury Steak. This classic meal will give you so much nostalgia. You'll make it again and again!
>> 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!) Click here for our comprehensive guide on how to meal prep. Learning this simple trick can revolutionize your weekday meals and save you a whole lot of money -- and it couldn't be easier!
- Poor Man Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Baked with chicken, broccoli, and cheese, this is one of our favorite poor man meals. Trust us, this easy chicken casserole recipe is so easy to make - just cook, layer, bake, and you're done!
- 5-Ingredient No Peek Chicken
To make this 5-Ingredient No Peek Chicken dish, all you need to do is dump all of the ingredients together in the pan. And it only requires five simple ingredients! This is one of our best cheap chicken casseroles.
- Ultimate Cowboy Casserole
We call this Cowboy Casserole recipe the "ultimate" because it really is so delicious and easy to make. Loaded with ground beef, seasoning, and tater tots, how can this recipe go wrong?
- Skillet Beef & Macaroni
This cheesy one-skillet dish is perfect for a quick dinner. Made with simple ingredients, Skillet Beef & Macaroni is a budget-friendly recipe that your wallet will love. Add a dash of hot sauce to kick it up!
- Easy Skillet Beef & Hash Browns
This savory skillet recipe combines hash browns, cheese, ketchup and ground beef. For a quick and easy recipe, you've got to try this inexpensive one-skillet meal.
- Chicken Biscuit Melt-Aways
Make your chicken recipes the best they can possibly be by putting them atop a buttery biscuit. These Chicken Biscuit Melt-Aways come together in mere minutes, and they're even great cold!
- Muffin Tin Bisquick Puffs
By making this recipe with Bisquick, it's as cheap and easy as it can possibly be. These Muffin Tin Bisquick Puffs are packed into a muffin tin and loaded with seasoned ground beef. Yum!
- Skillet Cheesy Chicken & Rice
This one-skillet chicken recipe is essential for any busy family! Made with rice and vegetables, this Skillet Cheesy Chicken & Rice is convenient and oh-so-delicious.
- Tin Foil Hobo Dinners
You don't have to be camping to enjoy this recipe for Tin Foil Hobo Dinners! There's no easier recipe than this one. Wrap the ingredients in tin foil pouches and grill for 30 minutes!
- Bacon, Eggs, and Cheese Breakfast Cups
Enjoy a kicked-up breakfast for dinner with this wonderful crescent roll recipe. Made with bacon, eggs, and cheese, this recipe is bursting with classic breakfast flavors!
- Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder
Nothing's better on those chilly winter nights than a bowl of this Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder. We swear it will beat out any of your favorite restaurant soups. And it's cheaper, too!
- Pineapple BBQ Slow Cooker Baked Beans
These Pineapple BBQ Crock Pot Baked Beans will make you the star of your next potluck or tailgating party! They only require 7 ingredients, so they couldn't be easier -- or tastier!
- Budget Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
This Budget Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry is the savory recipe you need this weak. These steak strips and broccoli are simmered in a tangy tomato sauce, and they're perfect served over rice!
- Homestyle One Pot Goulash
Cook just like (or better than!) Grandma with this recipe, complete with delicious flavors like ground beef, onion, green pepper, mushroom, tomato, and more.
For cheap sweets you'll want to make over and over, check out these 26 Cheap Desserts You'll Crave
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!
To ease into casserole-making, give this Hubby's Favorite Hobo Casserole a shot! It's healthier than normal lasagnas, and it will put a smile on everyone's face.
>>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
Cabbage-lovers and people who hate veggies with both love this beefy cabbage casserole. Our Easiest Layered Cabbage Casserole boasts all the flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls, but made the lazy way!
- Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Casserole
We know you love chicken noodle soup, so now you can have it in an easy chicken casserole recipe! Best of all, it's made in the Slow Cooker for maximum laziness.
- Easy Stuffed Pepper Casserole
This ground beef casserole recipe will save the day for all your cheap dinner needs! Simply stuff some cheap, humble ingredients into green peppers and make something great.
- Taco Pie Casserole
This casserole recipe is a little crazy -- crazy delicious! You'll love the gooey cheese, salsa, pasta, and yes, Fritos corn chips. This recipe will knock it out of the park.
- Mama's Pizza Casserole
This Mama's Pizza Casserole can be customized to include your favorite pizza toppings. Everyone will love this homey pizza casserole baked with lots of love.
- Cheesy Baked Potato and Asparagus Casserole
Looking for a casserole that's an entree and a side dish all in one? Let us introduce you to this Cheesy Baked Potato and Asparagus Casserole recipe. It's delicious!
- The Easiest Chicken Pot Pie
Did you know that chicken pot pie can be cheap to make and come together in 30 minutes? No, seriously! You would never have guessed that this was a "poor man meal."
- Budget Ritzy Comfort Bake
This comforting casserole recipe only takes 10 minutes of prep and 40 minutes in the oven. It's totally hands-off, and the results are mouthwateringly good!
- Jiffy Cornbread Casserole
Jiffy Cornbread Casserole is a dream come true! You have GOT to try this moist, flavorful, savory-and-sweet cornbread casserole recipe. It can be an entree, or it can be a dessert served with honey. Yum!
- Busy Night Minnesota Hot Dish
Get a little taste of an American classic recipe with this Busy Night Minnesota Hot Dish! Filled with tater tots, green beans, and lots and lots of cheese, your stomach will thank you.
Nothing is easier to make than a dump cake. Plus they're pretty inexpensive! Find all our favorites here: 40 Easy Dump Cakes, Cake Mix Recipes, and More
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.
Sometimes most of your budget can go to snacking! Stop the cycle with this Crescent Rolls Pizza Pockets recipe. It's cheap and addictively delicious.
>>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 a hearty, comforting dinner. Make both your side dish and your pork chops at the same time with no fuss.
- Beefed Up Ramen Noodle Bake
This Beefed Up Ramen Noodle Bake tastes like is like a cross between lasagna and American chop suey. And, of course, any recipe with ramen noodles is going to be delightfully inexpensive!
- Taco Pizza
Don't spend $20 or more ordering delivery pizza! Make this super easy and MUCH cheaper pizza at home with a fun Tex-Mex twist. You might not have thought of taco pizza when you thought "poor man meals,' but this is truly one of our favorites.
- Cheesy Skillet Meatballs
These nice, simple meatballs are just as good as the ones your grandmother used to make. Top them off with plenty of ooey, gooey mozzarella cheese, and you have a perfect dinner.
- Creamy Tortellini Skillet
One pan. One hour. Dinner is ready! This Creamy Tortellini Skillet will bring out the inner Italian in any chef. Pasta is inexpensive, but it sure does taste good!
- Amish Sausage-Stuffed Green Peppers
This hearty recipe for Amish Sausage-Stuffed Green Peppers is packed with nutrients and protein. It'll fill you up, and the leftovers are wonderful served cold or hot.
- 10-Minute Peanut Butter Skillet Granola
Make this 10-Minute Peanut Butter Skillet Granola for a quick, sweet, crunchy, salty, fast snack recipe. It's great as a breakfast on the go or as a filler between meals!
- Handheld Breakfast Quesadillas
Rise and shine and take a bite out of these Handheld Breakfast Quesadillas! Shake up your morning routine with this flavorful, bold breakfast on the go.
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
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.
For a health-conscious frugal meal, this recipe for Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry is essential. Most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry!
>>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 isn't fried at all! For a baked, lemony "fried" chicken recipe, this one just can't go wrong.
- 2-Ingredient Ultimate Cookie Bars
There's no catch with this 2-ingredient, 5-minute cookie bars recipe! Your kids will love these in their lunchboxes, and you'll be sure to sneak a bite or two as well.
- Ultimate Sloppy Joes
It's ridiculous how easy it is to make these Ultimate Sloppy Joes with rich tomato gravy. On top of that, they come together in only 20 minutes -- perfect for a busy family!
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos Recipe
You can make these bold, flavorful Instant Pot Chicken Tacos with only three ingredients. This is a cheap meal you'll make over and over, but your family won't ever get tired of it!
- Spiced Tomato Soup with Grilled Sandwiches
Say goodbye to the thin, bland tomato soup that comes out of cans. Make this Spiced Tomato Soup at home for a perfect grilled cheese pairing!
- Barbecue Chicken, Bacon, and Pineapple Kabobs
These tasty chicken kabobs are utterly killer, complete with pineapple, BBQ sauce, and smoky, crispy bacon. It tastes like it should be in a restaurant!
For another favorite recipe for two, check out How to Make Fondue
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