Cheap Meals... - Olathe,KS

Updated on September 25, 2011
C.R. asks from Olathe, KS
19 answers

Okay moms, I need your ideas please. What are some meals that are $5 to $10 per dinner for a family of five. Yes, I know that is low, but honestly it is all we can afford right now. My husband works full time and pays all the house/car bills and I work 4 1/2 hours a week because that is all can get. I was laid off in 2008 and still have not found another full time job. I have applied a million places and still have not been hired except for my part time job once a week. Anyway, any ideas would be great! Thanks!!

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answers from Phoenix on

I love rice and beans (dried pinto beans.) You can dress them up any way you want and their cheap and yummy. You can make spanish rice and beans with salsa and cheese toppings and serve with corn chips. Or you can make chili or refried beans by smashing them up and making tostadas. You can also make soup. You can use one can of chicken, in water with onions, garlic, carrots, frozen veggies or fresh, with noodles and seasoning. You can serve it with tortillas, corn bread, bread or corn chips. A little bit goes a long way! I hope this helps.

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answers from Salinas on

My girls and I are mostly vegetarian (we do eat fish) and my hubby doesn't totally abstain from meat but he only eats it occasionally. I spend a lot of our food dollars on high quality fish once or twcie a week but honestly the true veggie only meals are just naturally very cheap.
Try forgoing the meat more often and you will save $$$ as well as serve more healthy and world friendly meals.
I cook a big pot of dry black beans with garlic, hot sauce, S & P, splash of OJ. It's good for a side dish with tortillas, quesadillas, fish or shrimp tacos, burritoes etc. Then a couple days later I puree the leftover beans in the food processor and we have veggie totadas with them. Lettuce, toms, corn tortillas and any other toppings you like. There are usually still leftover beans and I freeze them for lunch burritoes or snacks. I bet all 3-4 meals come in under $10 and the homemade beans are so much better than canned. Cheap meals I also do are...
Veggie burgers and homemade potato salad
Tofu dogs and homemade cole slaw
A million types of pasta (it's always inexpensive w/o meat)
Make your own pizza night w/homemade crust, YUM
Veggie tacos
Homemade chili or soup
Breakfast for dinner
Lasagna w/any veggies you have on hand (always make two and freeze)
Just try your favorites with out the meat and you'd be surprised and how much cheaper it is.

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answers from Phoenix on

I love rice and beans (dried pinto beans.) You can dress them up any way you want and their cheap and yummy. You can make spanish rice and beans with salsa and cheese toppings and serve with corn chips. Or you can make chili or refried beans by smashing them up and making tostadas. You can also make soup. You can use one can of chicken, in water with onions, garlic, carrots, frozen veggies or fresh, with noodles and seasoning. You can serve it with tortillas, corn bread, bread or corn chips. A little bit goes a long way! I hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I buy split chicken breast for $1.19 per lb, a family pack is less around $5, it would easily feed your family of 5 and you'd probably have leftovers to use for chicken sandwiches, quesodillas etc the next day. I traditionally find chicken to be the cheapest meat - cheaper than ground hamburger and healthier as well! I find chicken legs - $.99/lb and leg quarters - $.79/lb.
Bake @375 for 45min legs, 1hr leg quarters and 1hr 15 min for split breasts. Rub with evoo or butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put in oven.
Sometimes I find good deals on pork too - a whole pork loin for $8-9 could be used for 2 meals for your family.

Frozen veggies are cheap - peas, green beans. Fresh good deals are carrots, potatoes and usually broccoli, cauliflower and green cabbage. Rice is cheap
Lg can of Tomato juice with cooked elbow macaroni =homemade spaghetti O's
Buy box mac and cheese and add in some tuna and froz peas.

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answers from Dallas on

We call our favorite meal "mexican crocpot." Dump 2 cans of corn, 2 cans of black beans, some chicken breasts, and then a jar of salsa. Let it cook all day. (I put the breasts in frozen.) Shred the breasts, it goes a looong way like that. Dump some shredded cheese in before serving and let it melt. Eat it on tacos, over rice, in enchiladas, etc.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Quesadillas are quick and cheap too. 1 pack of tortillas, 1 bag of shredded cheese (deli sliced cheese will work too), then add any meat or veggies.

And it's fun to have 'breakfast for dinner' occasionally. :-)

We even have 'make your own sandwich' meals: 1 bag of sandwich rolls, deli slices, onion, green pepper, black olives, lettuce and tomato.

Good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

We don't have much to spend ither. We eat alot of pasta dinners. And when I buy meat I buy in bulk. Making homemade hamberger helpers and chicken helpers. Making meals w/ rice. I have not masters cooking legs or whole chickens so I normally don't buy them. I go to save-a-lot and buy cream of chicken and cream of mushroom and you can do almost anything w/ them. We do hamburger and hot dogs. I make lazana w/ meat, but can also be just veggie. (husband has to always some type of meat.)

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answers from Kansas City on

5 Can vegetable soup...1 can DelMonte Zucchini in Italian Tomato Sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes w/garlic, onion, oregano, 1 can beef or chicken broth and two cans of your favorite veggies, drained. Nice size pot of vegetable soup for about $7-$8. I put hamburger or turkey in mine sometimes too. It is really good!!! Hamburger Helper, Cheeseburger Macaroni is also cheap and pretty good!

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answers from Washington DC on

I was going to suggest dried beans & rice as well :0) What about chicken legs, they can be baked in the oven with spices that you already have and pair nicely with just about anything. I would google Depression meals (you know as in the Great Depression) that shoud give you some ideas.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Homemade chicken soup (use 2 breasts, celery, onions, carrots)
Burgers & hot dogs
Baked, breaded chicken
Tuna noodle casserole (fake by stirring 2 cans or pouches tuna into 2 pouches of prepared Lipton butter noodles)

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answers from Denver on

If you have a supermarket nearby, talk to the manager or the manager of the meat department. Ask when things are marked down. Usually they start putting things at half price or lower at a certain time, like 6 pm. I never hesitate to buy the meat that is a day away from or exactly on it's sell-by date. And if you don't know how to cook it, but it's only $2, buy it anyway and look up a recipe for it. Also, the manager of the dairy department usually marks milk way down just before its sell-by date. But the secret is, to talk to these guys and learn their systems and procedures. Most big supermarkets have clearance sections, too. The packages might not be pretty, but you're not going to eat the packages anyway, right? Also, look for bread discount stores in your area. If you look on the internet for discount food stores, you may find quite a list.

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answers from Phoenix on

Check out this site:

The meals have been well researched, tried, and passed the test of being tasty.

My faves:

Red Beans and Rice
Bean and Cheese Burritos
Ma Po Tofu (this is tofu simmered in a curry sauce, sauteed veggies, served over rice)
Soup, salad and rolls

Buy all your meats and veggies on sale, your fruits in the bag, and plan your meals around that, plus what's in season.

Also, do you have any seniors in your family? A lot of senior centers receive huge deliveries of wonderful breads, and they just bring them home and pass out to their families.

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answers from Phoenix on

Actually, that seems high to me. I have a lot of recipes that are cheap and easy if you message me your email address, I will be happy to send it to you or anyone else that wants it.

We are a family of 5 also and we like tostadas. A pack of 24 premade shells are like $2.00, a can or two of refried beans ($1) some lettuce and shredded cheese and you are good to go. EVERYONE loves them and they are basically no cook too!

I buy everything on sale at the store and I don't use coupons. Like if there are a pack or two of chicken legs on clearance, then guess what we are having for dinner that night??? I build my menu around what I bought on sale. Good luck!!!

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answers from Dallas on

Crock pot meals are usually cheap!
-Roast with carrots, onions and potatos- you could even do sandwiches for your husband's lunches.
-Costa Vida Chicken-so yummy!
-French Dip Sandwiches- there are a ton of recipes out there.
-Not sure what the name-4 chicken breasts, taco seasoning, jar of salsa, black beans, corn, onions. Right before serving add block of cream cheese. Serve on tortillas/tostada/taco shells. usually has some good, cheap crock pot recipes. has One Bag, 5 dinners-it even makes the shopping list for you.

Wal-Mart has Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches & a chicken one in their frozen bin, not aisle section. It comes with everything you need and makes four sandwiches, depending on how old/much your children eat, a sandwich could be split. The package is $9.98.

Foil-Pack chicken- Make one for each family member in individual foil packs. Red Potatoes=1st layer, Chicken breast coated in taco seasoning=2nd layer, top with salsa and cheese. Bake @ 350 for about an hour until potatoes are soft. You could really do anything like pork chops/hamburger meat with potatoes, onions & carrots.

Another thought b/c I have ordered these for a party- In the deli at Wal-Mart- you can order sub sandwiches--4 feet for 20 dollars or 6 feet for 25 bucks. It comes with amercian cheese, turkey, ham and roast beef on it and then packaged seperately you get lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions. The sandwiches freeze great too.


answers from Joplin on

As the weather gets cooler my grocery bill goes down, we make big pots of chili, we buy the bigger bag of baking potatoes and have a baked potato bar ( everyone picks their own toppings)
I will make muffins and corn bread to round out meals...sides are relatively inexpensive and help stretch meals. We usually do breakfast for dinner one night a kids absolutely love french toast and I buy the frozen brown and serve sausage links, 2 packages will feed our family of 5 and that brown and serve is only 99 cents per box. When making french toast you can buy a loaf of bread fairly cheap, and I dip them in milk and egg mixture, I think it ends up being a pretty cheap meal, you can always round it out with some fruit or apple sauce. We also usually have one night a week that is either soup or stew and have sandwiches or rolls with it...I love making homemade vegetable soup and I love canned tomato soup served with grilled cheese sandwiches.
Tacos are a hit at my house, we have had all kinds, we have made shredded chicken tacos and beef tacos and even vegetarian figure a can of black beans is cheaper than a pound of hamburger and a head of lettuce is not expensive.
We like casseroles, they also reheat well for leftovers.
Sloppy joes are not expensive.
Also another almost weekly meal is spaghetti...we generally use hamburger, but we have also used ground turkey when it was on sale, and we have also had lean weeks when we did not have any meat in it as well.
If you can buy a whole chicken or turkey you can make it go far, when we buy a turkey we can usually make the meat stretch pretty far, sandwiches, a pot pie, turkey noodles, soup...
we love scalloped potatoes and ham, and I have even scrimped and used lunch meat ham!
Kraft has some great recipes on their site.
Check out local food pantries for assistance, a lot of churches have food pantries, also some churches offer great prices on meals, the church I teach preschool at has a Wednesday night dinner that is only $13 per family, and they have really great meals.
Hang in there. We all have had to cinch our belts from time to time.


answers from Dallas on

cut back on the amount of meat you use and bulk up the meals with Pasta, potatoes, rice, beans

Huevos Rancheros
Brinner = Breakfast for dinner - pancakes
Chicken Fried Rice
Vegetable Lo-Mein
Stir Fry
Spaghetti and meatballs
Taco/Nachos/Quesadillas/Taco Salad
Sausage link sanwhiches with sauteed bell peppers and onions
Meatball Sandwhiches
Tuna Casserole
Baked Ziti
BBQ Baked Chicken legs and thighs with macaroni or potato salad



answers from Topeka on

crock pot meals with fresh or frozen veggies with a meat like rump roast,pork loin,pork shoulder I love to use Sazon seasoning packets to add to my meats can be found in the mexican food section it adds better flavor to the meat
BLT's,home made fries or frozen tator tots,side of fruit
Potato soup have yet to try to make it but it is good
Chicken noodle soup fresh veggoesd make it taste better with an added can of chicken stock
Beef stew
pork roast,white rice,beans
Spaghetti,french bread,green beens
pork chops
mini drum sticks grilled with a honey BBQ sauce,or Ranch dressing for dipping
I don't care much for Hamburger Helper meals just not satisfying but when I do I offer veggies & fruit to make it more of a meal,side salad
whatever you cook you can always add baby carrots,cucumbers with dressing,side salad with toppings,fresh cut up fruits or canned.
The more the lay offs the harder it gets & now the prices for food & clothing are going back up slowly & some not so much but yikes don't they realize we just can't afford all this food that is getting expensive there for we don't buy it it sits there on the shelves because it is too expensive but since they are unable to sell their products they keep increasing their prices



answers from Cleveland on

I have an amish cookbook that has alot of recipes that are simple, easy and use alot of the same ingredients: potatoes, carrots,ham, cheese etc.
And they go far. If you are interested PM me and I will send you a few. I've been making them alot lately and they are GREAT!!!!! And cheap!


answers from Cincinnati on

Vegatarian Gumbo (you need 1 bag frozen gumbo mix, cajun spice, a little oil and flour and a can of stewed tomatoes)
Beans and rice (self explanatory)
stir fry (frozen stir fry veggies, soy sauce, garlic pwder, oil and red pepper flakes, you can throw in chicken or tofu or beef leftover is fine. serve over rice or noodles)
veggie soup (1 bag frozen veggies, beef bullion, and 1 can tomatoe juice)
potatoe cakes (I use boiled potaoes mashed with fork, whatever spices you want, an egg, shredded cheese and smashed pinto beans. you can fry or bake them)
Another good idea is roasting a turkey and freezing half and using the other half of the meat in different recipes. If you don't use meat as the main course (but instead toss it in things like stir fry, soups ect) you save alot of money.

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