Mini Meatloaves for the Comfort Food Win

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Talk about quick and cheap eats! Mini meatloaves full of flavor pair with made-from-scratch mac and cheese for filling comfort food that won’t disappoint.

Mini Meatloaves for the Comfort Food Win | Life as Mom

Creating a dinner for four under $10 is not rocket science. Anyone who shops the sales and coupons can probably pull it off easily. However, creating a fully-homemade-from-scratch dinner for less than ten bucks can be a little more challenging.

In our efforts to get away from chemicals, GMO’s, and processed foods, I’m trying to feed my family more natural food — and still stay under budget.

This meal is that and more. Savory meatloaves are made miniature so that they cook quickly. Old fashioned macaroni and cheese cooks on the stovetop in about the same time it takes you to prepare that blue box. Serve steamed broccoli on the side and you’ve got a tasty, whole foods meal that really isn’t more work than opening a few cans and boxes.

In the old days I might have made meatloaf with canned bread crumbs and a packet of dried onion soup mix. Today I used the heels of a loaf of bread. Practically free since who wants to eat the heels anyway? You’ll be amazed at the great flavor this has with just a few spices from your cupboard.

Mini Meatloaves for the Comfort Food Win | Life as Mom

Serve these meatloaves with Stovetop Mac and Cheese for an easy but hugely filling meal for a bargain price! The mac would have come from a box back in the old days. Instead a little butter, flour, milk, and cheese melted together “just so” far surpasses the boxed variety. Did you ever stop to think that you’re already adding butter and milk to the boxed packet? This is so much better for you and just as easy. Really.

This meal is a step up from the blue plate special of yore, but it’s still very budget friendly. And it’s good for you! πŸ˜‰ My kids gobble it down, and I’m always so pleased to recreate those comfort foods of the good old days — from scratch!

Here’s how the numbers crunch:

  • ground beef – $3.99
  • bread – free because I use the heels that no one wants
  • spices – $0.25
  • onion – $0.25
  • soy sauce – $0.10
  • macaroni – $0.88
  • cheese (1/4 pound) – $1.00
  • milk – $0.25
  • butter – $0.38
  • flour – $0.25
  • broccoli – $0.99

Total for this meal to feed 4 to 8, depending on ages and appetites: $8.34

Boom! Comfort food win!

0 from 0 votes
Mini Meatloaves
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Talk about quick and cheap eats! Mini meatloaves full of flavor pair with made-from-scratch mac and cheese for filling comfort food that won’t disappoint.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: meatloaf, meatloaves, mini meatloaves, mini-meatloaf
Servings: 4
Calories: 203 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 slices bread ground into crumbs, about 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Β°.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients gently. Don’t overmix.
  3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each one into a small loaf or patty. Place in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Recipe Notes

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Mini Meatloaves
Amount Per Serving
Calories 203 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 70mg23%
Sodium 400mg17%
Potassium 447mg13%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 175IU4%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 33mg3%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Mini Meatloaves for the Comfort Food Win | Life as Mom

Originally published October 24, 2012. Updated April 21, 2017.

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. The boxed stuff just doesn’t compare to homemade.

    Thanks for the linky.

  2. I am going to try this Mac & Cheese. I have yet to find a non-Velveeta homemade recipe for Mac & Cheese that doesn’t come out kinda gritty… I am hoping this is the one, because we’re trying to do away with the processed stuff!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I wonder why it’s gritty. What grind of flour are you using?

      • All purpose? It has been a while… but yeah most of my cheese sauced recipes come out kind of flour-y

        • Jessica Fisher says

          I would try cooking the flour in the butter a little longer and then whisking in the liquids. It also might be too much flour.

    • Sarah says

      I struggled to find a Mac & Cheese (homemade) that my daughter liked – until I found a recipe for homemade Velveeta! Simple recipe…gelatin, water, cheese, milk. Just Google ‘homemade Velveeta” and you’ll find some options.

    • Selena says

      I make my stove-top mac and cheese by cooking up elbow noodles (one lb), immediately after draining I add half a stick of butter and 2 cups pre-shredded cheese to melt naturally with the heat of the pasta then add one tablespoon sour cream and a 1/4 cup of milk stirring it all until the sauce blends then serve. I have used plain whole fat Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and had it still work. I hope this helps, enjoy!

  3. I make a “Versatile Beef Mix” for the freezer and make meatballs, mini meatloaves and Salisbury steak with it. We love the mini version of meatloaf better than the big one and you are right – it does cook in less time. Thanks for the recipes!

  4. Kathy says

    First meatloaf I have seen without eggs! How does that affect recipe?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I don’t think so. I’ve done this for several years with great success.

  5. What a great URS subject! Looking forward to clicking around to the other meals. Thanks Jessica!

  6. Charlene says

    My husband eats the heels of the bread if he sees them. It’s so annoying. I grew up in a house where they weren’t eaten, and there were always plenty for meatloaf, etc. Now I have to improvise! Oh well, it just inspires creativity! πŸ™‚ Great ideas here!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Ha! I will eat the heels sometimes, too, but they’re always the last to go.

  7. Jenny D says

    Just made the mac and cheese for my twins for lunch. It was sooo tasty, everyone enjoyed it! I’ve been trying homemade mac and cheese recipes for a few months now and this will probably be our go to recipe now. It’s crazy that we have bought the boxed stuff for so long and homemade is seriously just as easy… and better for you and tastier! Thanks!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Yeah! Isn’t it crazy how the boxed stuff isn’t any easier than homemade? Weird.

      • Amanda says

        When I make homem-made mac and cheese I keep adding milk to the sauce until smooth, it takes out the grit. Also make the roux w/more butter than flour. I add ham, sauteed onions to mine.. and I top w/ crispy onions and bake. Not the healthiest, but sure is yummy. When i make it I have enough for 2 dinners and freeze a pan for next time.

  8. Kelly says

    This was the first homemade mac and cheese that my husband didn’t make weird looks about! The sauce turned out really smooth! I usually end up with gritty/lumpy cheese sauces, so something was happening right tonight, whether it was recipe or me. Haha. I added some extra seasonings (Mrs. Dash shaker is my favorite!) to bump up the flavor as a main course. Next time I want to try using a sharper cheddar for more cheese flavor.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Yay! Always glad to hear about successes. And happy husbands. πŸ™‚

  9. Robyn says

    I thought the meatloaf needed a little more moisture or an egg or katsup? I followed the recipe as it, but maybe our 3000 foot elevation effects the moisture content? Should there be some other moist or binding agent to hold it all together?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I live at sea level, so I’m not really sure. I should have specified which grade of ground beef I used. I think that could make a difference. Do you remember what you used?

  10. Sarah says

    Can I use skim milk for this? Or another alternative?

    Thanks! πŸ™‚


    • Jessica Fisher says

      I think that would be fine. It may not be as creamy as full fat, but it will still be good.

  11. Carmen says

    I put the mac and cheese in a baking dish and bake it at 425 for 25-30 minutes until it’s browned and bubbly on top. I also use extra sharp cheddar. It is awesome baked!

  12. Angie says

    How would you sub the homemade white sauce into the mac & cheese?

    • Steps 2 and 3 are basically the white sauce step. You can use more milk (per my white sauce recipe) for a saucier texture, or just do the 1 1/2 cups here. Stir in the cheese gradually to melt and toss with the cooked pasta. Hope that helps!

  13. Bree_Nett says

    When I click the print button on the Mac and Cheese recipe, it opens the meatloaf recipe page instead. :-/

  14. Stephanie says

    Made this as a meal tonight for dinner – it was great.

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