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24 Great Frugal Meals For Families

Are you fed up with spending a significant amount of your monthly budget on groceries? Well, Food isn’t cheap and this is a fact. But taking advantage of these frugal meals for families can help you eat well and save money on your groceries!

Frugal meals for families

A challenging and time-consuming part of mom life is deciding what to cook for your family. What makes it even harder is to do so in a wallet-friendly way without compromising on nutritional value.

We are here to make mealtime easier and cost-effective for you! Feed your family for less with these 24 meal ideas.

1. Eggs

Eggs are super easy to cook with, affordable, and good for you. Not only are they a good protein source, but they also make a quick and tasty breakfast too. There are so many frugal meals for families that you can create with the humble egg.


Back to basics scrambled eggs

Sometimes simple meals are the best. Grab your eggs, some cream (milk or water will also work), and salt and pepper. Whisk the ingredients in a pan until frothy, then pour them into a hot pan with melted butter. Stir gently until your eggs are cooked through.

Baked eggs

Baking eggs gives them a delicious flavor and texture. Baked eggs with spinach and tomato are a popular breakfast choice.

Eggs Benedict

For an indulgent breakfast, rustle up some eggs benedict of poached eggs and bacon on an English muffin and impress your family!

Eggs cost approximately $4.25 for 12, making them a perfect food choice if you’re cooking on a budget.

2. Banana bread

Cake for breakfast? Yes, you can!

Homemade banana bread that doesn’t include refined sugar can be a much healthier choice than some of the sugary cereals that you can buy. It’s also really inexpensive to make.

Banana bread is basically sweet bread that is made from bananas. All you need are some eggs, whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, bananas, honey, vanilla extract, and seasoning. Here’s a proven banana bread recipe to try!

Banana bread ingredients will cost you less than $15 at most grocery stores. You could also make more than one loaf with the items. It’s perfectly safe to freeze, so you can save some for another day.

3. Frittatas

Frittatas are a popular choice for the whole family. They are similar to an omelet but with additional ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and cheese added to it.

Frittatas are traditionally cooked on low heat for a longer time than an omelet, and you can serve frittatas at room temperature so there’s no pressure to get it served immediately.


For a simple breakfast frittata recipe, whisk up your eggs with some cream and set aside. Cook some bacon, onions, tomatoes, and spinach in a pan, then add your eggs in. Sprinkle with cheese, give it a stir then let the frittata bake for around 15 minutes.

You might easily spend less than $10 to make delicious frittatas for the whole family. To find creative ways to save money, change some ingredients to make it more cost-effective.

For example, swap the spinach for mushrooms or broccoli.

4. Waffles

Waffles are so versatile! Many people prefer them to pancakes because they give you endless topping opportunities, and they don’t go soggy as quickly as pancakes do.

If you’re short on time, they are also great for breakfast in a hurry. Simply make a batter from eggs, flour, sugar, salt, milk, and butter.

Then add your mixture to your waffle maker, sit back, and wait. Adding fruit and yogurt to your breakfast waffles makes them a healthier and more satisfying meal, but you can add anything.

Waffles are a great frugal breakfast choice. You can spend as little as $1.20 per waffle! If you do have more cash to spend then you can add extra toppings such as chopped nuts or syrup. Check out these breakfast waffle recipes for inspiration.

5. French toast

The fantastic thing about French toast is that it looks fancy, but it’s actually quick to prepare and only costs around $4-5, depending on your choice of toppings.

To make French toast for your family, all you need to do is whisk together eggs, milk, and your choice of flavoring (typically vanilla or cinnamon). Soak the bread in this for a few minutes, then add to a hot pan of melted butter.

Cook for approximately five minutes, or until golden, then flip and cook the other side. Once cooked, top with your choice of ingredients.

You can make sweet or savory varieties depending on what you fancy.

6. Smoothie bowls

Smoothie bowls are an easy way to make sure you get your five a day all before 10 am! They are also a smart way to ensure you get lots of fiber in your diet.

But what exactly is a smoothie bowl? Think of it like a smoothie that contains fruit, seeds, and nuts that is served in a bowl rather than blitzed up and put in a cup.

A standard smoothie bowl will cost around $3-5 per portion. To make your smoothie bowl even more frugal, use frozen or tinned fruit, as these both cost less than buying fresh.

Start the day off well with one of these delicious smoothie bowl recipes.

7. Stuffed peppers

Are you looking for a frugal meal for families that is quick, nutritious, and tasty?  Stuffed peppers are a great lunch idea that you can make to suit your budget.

Peppers are either halved or hollowed out and filled with a variety of different fillings. Then they are cooked in the oven until done.

Stuffed peppers

Popular fillings for peppers include:

  • Ground beef
  • Rice
  • Cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic

The cost of serving your family stuffed peppers for lunch depends on your choice of fillings, but it should cost between $4-$10 for the ingredients.

8. Sandwiches

Everyone loves a sandwich, including your bank account! They are so convenient, easily customizable, and extremely comforting.

The best thing is that they take minutes to put together in advance. You can rustle up a sandwich for less than $3 if you are savvy about your filling choice. The average cost of bread in America is $2.50, which will last you for several lunches.

And sandwiches don’t have to be boring with these mouth-watering ideas.

9. Pasta salad

Frugal meals for families can also be great time savers. Pasta salads are a perfect, quick, and fulfilling lunch that the whole family will enjoy.

They are ideal for taking to school or work or on a picnic as they are easy to store and eat for meals. Whole-grain pasta is also a great source of fiber and energy and can be eaten as part of a balanced diet.

Pasta salad is a good way to get rid of any leftovers in your fridge. From vegetables to meats and cheeses, you can pretty much add anything you fancy.

For a simple pasta salad recipe that’s guaranteed to get the family asking for seconds, follow this tasty recipe. Making this dish will cost around $10, a cost-effective choice for lunch!

10. Chicken fried rice

Frugal meals for families can be just as tasty as your favorite takeaway. This take-out classic is a real crowd-pleaser and so simple to make.

Chicken fried rice is basically chicken, onions, carrots, peas, eggs, and rice. You can also add some Chinese five-spice for flavor. The key to this is to use leftover rice from the previous day that has had time to dry out.

Scramble your eggs in a pan, fry the chicken then add all of your ingredients to the pan until they are cooked through. That’s it! Serve up this delicious lunch for 4-6 people for around $8.

11. Quinoa bowls

If you love a good bowl meal, this frugal family meal is for you. Quinoa bowls can be changed really easily, so you have an exciting new lunch each day.

Quinoa bowls

The main ingredient of a quinoa bowl is cooked quinoa, which costs around $1.64 per kilogram. You will only need about 2 cups per bowl, so one bag will make several lunches for your family.

Once you’ve got your cooked quinoa, top it with your choice of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats such as nuts or avocado. You can add a dressing or simply eat the quinoa bowls as they are!

12. Muffins

Muffins don’t have to be sweet! Savory muffins make the perfect midday meal. They are also great frugal meals for families because you can hide lots of vegetables in them. You can either eat them alone or serve them with a fresh side salad.

Cheese, spinach, ham, zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, and carrot all work well in savory muffins. Simply whisk some eggs and add your choice of ingredients to a bowl, mix it all together, and then add to some muffin cases and cook them for 15-20 minutes.

You can pick up the ingredients you need to make some tasty muffins in a grocery store for $6-10. Get creative and make your own flavors or take inspiration from this savory muffin recipe.

13. Vegan shepherd’s pie

Hearty vegetables, a rich broth, and creamy mashed potatoes are hard to resist. What’s even better is that you can serve this dish to your family for less than $4!

Sometimes it can be hard to make vegan dishes as satisfying as meat dishes, but you won’t have this problem with a vegan shepherd’s pie.

Want to know how to do it? Here’s a tasty recipe to try!

14. Tacos

Tacos are one of the best frugal family meals that are guaranteed to fill your tummy without breaking the bank.

So, what can go in a taco? Anything you fancy! You can keep them simple or add some unusual ingredients.

If you’ve got picky eaters in your family, these are also great to schedule in your monthly meal planner, and you can hide some hidden vegetables, too.

Here are several of our favorite affordable fillings:

  • Refried beans
  • Veggies
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Battered fish

Serve them as a tasty meal for your family for between $5-$10.

15. Pies

Who doesn’t love a pie?

Pies make a frugal dinner choice for budget-conscious families. They make a great mid-week meal that can be made for between $10-$25.

Obviously, the price will depend on what you use as a filling, but there are ways that you can make one cheaply.

Whilst it’s definitely easier to buy a store-bought pastry, it’s actually much cheaper to make your own. Ready-made pastry will cost just over $4, whereas you can purchase the ingredients you need to make pastry for less than $2.

Cheap pie filling choices include cheese and onion, chicken and bacon, and vegetable pie.

16. Peanut butter chicken

Frugal family meals that have only a small amount of ingredients and take less than half an hour to prepare are like gold dust, but peanut butter chicken is one of them! Make this for dinner, and then try out some of the best family night ideas for a frugal but fun evening!

Peanut butter chicken

All you’ll need to create this tasty dish is chicken, peanut butter, tinned tomatoes, onions, and rice. This will cost you approximately $8.

Melt butter and some oil in a pan, then add your chicken until browned. Add the onion, tomatoes, and water, and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer for 10 minutes, then add some peanut butter to make a sauce. Leave to stew on low heat while you cook the rice. Once it’s ready, simply serve and enjoy!

17. Fajitas

Fajitas are another frugal family meal that can be adapted each week, so your family won’t get bored of the same food. It’s much cheaper to make fajitas at home than it is to eat them in a restaurant.

Buy some chicken, tortilla wraps, onion, pepper, garlic, salsa, and seasoning (optional) from your local grocery store for around $10. Simply cook your meat, add the veggies, and season to taste.

Serve at the dinner table and let the family create their own tortillas. Simple, delicious, and fun!

If you don’t fancy chicken fajitas, vegetables and steak also work well.

18. Seafood chowder

Seafood chowder is basically a creamy fish soup typically made with a mixture of shellfish, salmon, haddock, and potatoes.

Seafood chowder

There are no fancy steps involved, and it’s a tasty, inexpensive meal that you can rustle up for around $10 to 15.

You’ll find lots of different seafood chowder recipes online, but we’ve found one that keeps the price low.

19. Cheese straws

Snacks can become costly if you’re not careful, but they can help balance out frugal meals for families without busting your budget. Cheese straws are a great, cost-effective option if you’re feeling peckish between meals.

Fancy trying some yourself? All you need are three ingredients: cheese, flour, and ready-rolled puff pastry.

These will cost you around $8 and give you enough to make several batches that you can freeze and then defrost when you need them.

To make this a meal, add soup or a salad with it!

20. Popcorn

For an extremely frugal snack, try making your own popcorn at home. Not only is it less costly, but it’s also tastier! You can also control the toppings and make it a healthier snack if you wish.

All you need to buy is some popcorn kernels (approximately $3) and some oil.

Here’s an easy recipe to follow that will guarantee perfect popcorn every time.

 21. Yogurt

Yogurt is packed full of nutrients that make it a healthy snack choice. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find.

Plain Greek yogurt is a popular choice and only costs just over $1 in most grocery stores.

Want to make your yogurt snack into a meal? Top it with whatever fruit you have in your fruit bowl.

22. Veggies with dip

In a rush? Nothing is simpler or more satisfying than cutting up some fresh vegetables and serving them with a dip. Carrots, peppers, and celery all work well, but you can use a whole range of veggies. You can use up any leftovers that you have in your fridge.

Some great dips to add to your vegetables are:

  • Peanut butter (trust us, it’s good!)
  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki
  • Tomato salsa

You can easily prepare a plate of veggies and dip for your family for less than $5. Bargain! To make a full meal, serve with sandwiches.

23. Cottage cheese and crackers

If you’re looking for a snack that won’t break the bank or your diet, crackers, and cheese is a good choice.

Choose your favorite cracker (Ritz, Triscuits, and Wheat Thins all work well) and cheese with a strong flavor, such as cottage cheese. Spread on your desired amount and get snacking.

Add crackers and cottage cheese to your next food shop for less than $6. To make this snack into a meal, add deli meat like turkey or ham.

24. Homemade granola bars

There’s something extremely satisfying about making your own snacks. Granola bars are a great meal for when you’re in a hurry. They can be adapted to suit the tastes of both kids and adults.

The main ingredient you will need is whole rolled oats. These are relatively inexpensive at $4 for two pounds of oats.

Add things like mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and honey to create a delicious bar. You can easily make a batch of granola bars for less than $10, which will be considerably less than the packs you can buy.

Give them a go, you may just be surprised at how much tastier they are than store-bought versions!

Expert tip: Make meals that require simple ingredients

There are plenty of easy meals to make that don’t cost a lot of money. As a general rule, try to pick recipes that use only a few ingredients to save on cost.

Frugal cooking tips

So now you’ve got some great meal ideas to choose from. Let’s help you cook in a frugal way too.

Cooking frugally is a skill worth learning, even if you’re thinking, “I hate cooking!”. The more you prep and cook, the easier you will find it to eat well on a budget.

These ideas will help you save both time and money.

Choose recipes that use everyday ingredients

Complicated recipes with lots of steps require a long list of ingredients that you’ll need to purchase, pushing your grocery spend over budget. Not to mention that they will take you way more time to prepare and cook than a simple recipe.

There’s no point buying saffron if you’re only going to use it once, then leave it sitting in your spice cupboard! Try out some frugal living tips and choose recipes that have fewer steps and mainly need everyday ingredients.

Prepare meals in advance

There are so many benefits to prepping meals. Not only can you save time, but you’ll also have more money in your pocket. By planning ahead, you may also find that you portion meals correctly, allowing you to freeze food for another day.

Follow our meal prep tips for optimum efficiency:

  • Invest in a variety of different-sized food containers so you can store lots of meals.
  • Keep stock of basic ingredients such as grains, legumes, and canned goods so you can streamline meal prep.
  • Make time to bulk cook! Spend an allocated amount of time each week in the kitchen doing budget meal planning and cooking to make your week ahead easier.

Use less meat

Frugal meals for families don’t have to include meat. Meat can be pricey, so try to substitute it for beans and pulses where possible to make your meals more cost-effective.

Beans also add protein and fiber to your diet. Lentils, beans, and pulses usually come in tins and have a good expiration date, which means you are less likely to waste food (saving you money in the long term).

If you’re not quite decided on giving up meat entirely, use a 50/50 split of meat and lentils or beans to bulk out your meals.

Grow your own food

Make a tight food budget go further by growing your own food. It’s also extremely rewarding, and you avoid wasted money!

Bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes, and berries are some of the easiest foods to grow. The initial cost of seeds and compost is low, especially compared to the money you will save on produce when they are fully grown.

Cook with tinned food more

Not only is tinned food cheaper, but it is also just as great for you as fresh food, and were you aware that people who eat more food out of cans typically consume more nutrients than those that just eat fresh varieties? This is mainly because tinned food is easier to prepare and costs significantly less.

Other benefits of canned goods include saving time and longer shelf life, so less waste!

What is the least expensive meal to make?

A very inexpensive option is either eggs or sandwiches. Though you can use any of the frugal meals here and know that you’re saving money!

Can you really reduce your grocery budget by being more frugal?

Yes, you can if you are conscious of your purchases and choose inexpensive ingredients. It’s also essential to use what you already have at home when possible. The more you practice being frugal, the more you gain motivation for saving money.

What is an inexpensive meal to feed a lot of people?

If you have a crowd to feed, doubling up on a meal like chicken fried rice or tacos is an easy solution. These are frugal family meals that won’t ruin your budget.

Enjoyed this frugal meals article? Here are others to check out!

Frugal meals for families are easy to make!

Feeling inspired to start cooking frugal meals for families? The tips in this article prove that it can be done when you know how.

Pick a few of your favorite frugal meal ideas for families and start slashing your grocery spend. If you need more motivation, think about all the things you could do with the cash you save.

Learn how to save even more money each month with our FREE financial savings challenge. For even more inspiration, check out these cold lunch ideas to make weekdays easier.

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