45+ Frugal Meals to Help You Eat Well, Spend Less

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For over two years I joined forces with eight fabulous bloggers to share different ways to eat well and spend less. What a great collaborative effort it was! We’re from different backgrounds, different food cultures, and different parts of the continent. But, we are united in feeding our families as well as we can, making the most of the resources we have at our disposal.

This post, originally posted on April 16, 2011, features some of our favorite meals that are good and cheap.

Beans and Rice

Earlier this week, I shared my five go-to meals for staying under budget and how we dress them up with a little something extra.

  1. Beans and Rice
  2. Pasta with Red Sauce
  3. Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables
  4. Soup from Leftovers
  5. Grilled Chicken Salad

If you haven’t planned next week’s meals yet, you’re going to want to check out each of these ladies frugal meals:

photo source: Simple Bites

Aimee from Simple Bites shared some amazing meatless main dishes:

  1. Black Bean Burgers
  2. Crustless Quiche
  3. Chocolate Chip Chili
  4. Seasonal Soup
  5. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom posted meals that are simple and well loved by the masses:

  1. Pasta
  2. Beans & Rice
  3. Soups
  4. Roast Chicken
  5. Tacos/Burgers

Carrie from Denver Bargains encouraged folks to spend nothing and eat from the pantry. And she shared some recipes to go with that resolve:

  • Pancakes
  • Chili
  • Gumbo
  • Burgers
  • Beans
photo source: Good Life Eats

Katie from Good Life Eats demonstrated all that you can cook from a well-stocked pantry:


  1. Pancakes or Waffles
  2. Oatmeal
  3. Crepes
  4. Granola Parfaits
  5. Toast Creations


  1. Pasta Dishes
  2. Frittatas
  3. Soup Night
  4. Homemade Pizza
  5. Fried Rice


  1. Brownies
  2. Cookies
  3. Crepes
photo source: Kitchen Stewardship

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship posted how to make feasts from very frugal foods:

  1. Homemade Yogurt
  2. Homemade Chicken Stock
  3. Dry Beans
  4. Oats
  5. Potatoes

Mandi from Food Your Way rocked it on the quick and easy meals. As a work at home mom, she knows how precious that time savings is.

  1. Easy Baked Ziti
  2. Twice Baked Cheeseburger Potatoes
  3. Dutch Puff
  4. Smoothies and Popcorn
  5. Leftovers

Shaina from Food Your Way explained how to make meals build on one another:

  1. Roast Chicken
  2. Mediterranean Bean and Barley Salad
  3. Chickpea and Vegetable Curry with Leftover Chicken
  4. Catch-All Pizza
  5. Southwest-Style Chicken Vegetable Soup

Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes shared her twist on all kinds of “from scratch” meals:

  1. Oatmeal for Breakfast
  2. Beans & Rice
  3. Soup
  4. Homemade Bread
  5. Homemade Yogurt or Kefir

Got a great frugal meal?

Share it with us!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Patti says

    Thank you for such a complete list!! This will be so helpful.

  2. Sarah says

    My lentil soup in the crockpot uses mostly organic ingredients and is $.26 per serving!


  3. I have a frugal meals tag in my blog. There can be a lot of variation around the country concerning which ingredients are frugal. Where we currently live pork is cheap. Where we used to live shrimp was cheap. The area that I lived before that ground turkey was the cheapest meat that I could buy. If I bought ground turkey here frequently, I would be broke, so I think you can see a lot of variation around the country about what meals people think are cheap. http://creatingnirvanatoday.blogspot.com/search/label/frugal%20meals

  4. Autumn says

    I’m not a mom, but these ideas are important to me as a young woman that lives alone. Something that I learned from my mom (that she learned from her mom) is making a “soup bag.” You know how you have that one spoonful of something leftover… not enough to throw away, but not enough to keep? Put it in a gallon sized freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. Depending on how often you add to it, you’ll have “homemade soup” very soon, just add some hamburger meat and tomato paste. Anything from chuck roast and baked chicken to string beans, pasta, cabbage, stir fry, saffron rice, you name it! It never tastes the same but it’s always delicious!

    • Sue says

      I have a huge gallon plastic jar with a lid that odd bits of pasta go in, when I’m going to use it, just shake it up and a couple of handfuls go in my “kitchen soup”, that’s what my grandkids call my veg/meat/whatever is around soup! Saves opening new packages,

      Something to consider also, have you tried Crock Pot Bread? I have totally sold on it, won’t buy a load of bread from the store now. Started with just putting the dough in the crock pot to bake, then, decided to “change” the recipe a bit, instead of water, I used milk, which makes a softer bread, substituted brown sugar for the honey called for, let the bread rise about 20 min, punched down and kneaded about 2=3 min, formed, put in a loaf pan and into the crock pot. 2 hours later, a beautiful fresh loaf! Then, I took it one step further, same recipe, but let it rise twice. Formed it, into the pan and pot and 2 hours later an absolutely perfect loaf of bread. As good or better than any done the old fashioned all day way. I am totally sold on this. Takes about two and a half hours total, but the actual time you spend doing anything is maybe 15 min, so well worth your time. I’m going to guess an say that lovely loaf cost maybe, including electricity, .75 cents to make. Can’t beat that price or flavor in any store! Worth a try, Baking time may vary depending on your crock pot, so keep an eye on it the last 15 min.
      Here’s the link to the recipe I use:

  5. Avoiding expensive meats and cuts are definitely the way to save money. I like your list of 5 go to meals. Growing up, these were staples in our house. 🙂

    • annie says

      i agree with watching the price of meat. i’ve determined that my problems with feeding my family lately have been a lack of stocked up meat at good prices.

      Starting back to the basics. Recommit to watching and stocking up on properly priced meats.

      i’m leaving shortly to head out to Whole FOods to see if they have any $1.99 pound whole organic chickens left.

  6. sona says

    Love the list all together. Is there a link for ALL the recipes shared in this series? The other sites too?

  7. Shirley says

    I love to cook meals that are easy to make and budget friendly. This list is very helpful! Thanks for sharing it!

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