40 Dirt Cheap Meals For A Family (Plus Desserts)

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If you are looking for some dirt cheap meals for a family, then you’ve come to the right place!

One of our most significant budget expenditures is on food. In fact, it’s the third-largest expense for the average household, only preceded by housing and transportation.

On average, about 10% of your money goes straight to your belly. That’s why finding dirt cheap meals can be so crucial for many families.  

But you’re in luck! I’ve compiled a list of 40 super cheap meals that will ease your wallet and your budget.

Most of these cheap, easy dinners can be made in less than 10 minutes and are super tasty and filling.

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    Cheap Breakfast Meal Ideas For Families

    Cheap Breakfast Meal Ideas For Families

    Here are some dirt cheap breakfast meal ideas that you can quickly make…

    Oatmeal

    One of the best dirt cheap breakfast meals for a family is oatmeal.

    It’s super easy to make; it’s healthy and pretty cheap!

    While it’s not the best-tasting meal, you can spruce it up with some fruits.

    Ingredients:

    • Oatmeal
    • Fruits of your choice

    French Toast

    Another cheap but excellent breakfast meal that you can make for your family is french toast.

    It’s quick and easy, so it’s a great option, especially for children!

    Use this recipe to make some delicious french toast.

    Ingredients:

    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Cinnamon
    • Bread 
    • Butter
    • Maple syrup

    Egg In A Hole

    A really simple, delicious, and cheap breakfast meal that the whole family can enjoy is egg in a hole.

    It’s simply cooking an egg in the middle of a slice of bread, super simple and quick!

    You can check out this recipe for more information.

    Ingredients:

    • Bread slices
    • Eggs
    • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

    Scrambled Eggs

    My go-to cheap and easy breakfast meal is simply some scrambled eggs.

    It’s super easy to make, and it’s a filling and nutritious breakfast!

    You can spruce up your eggs however you’d like but just make sure you stay within your budget.

    Check out this recipe for a cheap but interesting scrambled eggs recipe.

    Ingredients:

    • Butter
    • Eggs
    • Yellow onion
    • Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
    • Black beans
    • Monterey Jack cheese
    • Green Onions

    Crepes

    A delicious but quick and cheap breakfast idea for the family is crepes.

    You can’t go wrong with crepes, and here is a simple recipe to quickly whip up crepes in the morning.

    Ingredients:

    • All-purpose flour 
    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Water
    • Salt
    • Butter

    Breakfast Frittata

    Frittatas are great breakfast meals for a family!

    They take a bit longer to make than other meals on this list, but it’s super simple and well worth it.

    Check out this mouth-watering frittata recipe!

    Ingredients:

    • Olive oil
    • Potatoes
    • Green onions
    • Package of deli ham
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Parmesan cheese

    Eggs & Toast

    I know eggs & toast is not glamorous, but it can be a clutch meal when times are tough!

    It’s super easy to make and dirt cheap, so it’s definitely worth considering.

    Ingredients:

    • A dozen of eggs
    • Loaf of bread 22 pieces

    Breakfast Burrito

    Breakfast burritos are a cheap, easy, and fast option everyone will love for breakfast.

    Simply cook the hash browns, scramble the eggs, and load the tortillas, topping them with cheese. Voila! 

    Ingredients:

    • A dozen of eggs
    • Hash browns
    • Tortillas
    • Shredded cheese

    Dirt Cheap Lunch Ideas

    Check out these cheap lunch ideas that you can make quickly and for a low cost…

    Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

    This is the ultimate cheap lunch idea that can also work for dinner. At a super low cost and due to how easy it is to make, it ranks as one of the top dirt cheap meals for a family!

    Ingredients:

    • Peanut butter
    • Jelly
    • Loaf of bread

    Quesadillas

    I make quesadillas at least once every week. It’s one of those dirt cheap meals that everyone loves, and it’s such a comfort food.

    Just slap a tortilla in a pan, add cheese and black beans, and heat it until the cheese is melted. So simple! 

    Ingredients:

    • Tortillas (18 counts)
    • One can of black beans
    • Shredded cheese

    Hot Dogs

    Who doesn’t love a good hot dog at times? Just top it off with your favorite sauces and toppings, and you are all set!

    It definitely is not the most nutritious meal, but it can be a great dirt cheap meal for a family once in a while.

    Ingredients:

    • A pack of hot dogs
    • Hot dog buns

    Salad

    So far, there haven’t been any really healthy meal options, but a cheap and healthy meal you can make for your family is a salad.

    A salad can be as plain or extravagant as you want, so just use your best judgment.

    Ingredients:

    • Head of lettuce
    • Dressing
    • A protein such as eggs, bacon bits, shredded chicken, etc…
    • Additions if wanted (craisins, corn, nuts, etc..)

    Egg Salad Sandwich

    Perfect for lunch or dinner, an egg salad sandwich always hits the spot. 

    It’s one of those dirt cheap meals I always forget about but love to eat. 

    If you have some dill in your pantry, sprinkle it on and enjoy. 

    Ingredients:

    • Eggs
    • Mayonnaise
    • Mustard
    • Green onion

    Fried Bologna Sandwiches

    This may not be a meal for everyone, but this meal is simple and delicious!

    These sandwiches are super easy to make and make for an easy and cheap lunch.

    All you need to do is put some butter in the pan and fry the bologna to your liking and then spread some mustard on the bread and drop the bologna on the bread; you can top it off with a slice of cheese if you’d like.

    Ingredients:

    • Bologna
    • Bread
    • Butter
    • Yellow mustard
    • Slices of cheese (optional)

    Tomato Sandwich

    One of the best dirt cheap meals for a family is tomato sandwiches!

    The kiddos might not like this one, but it’s healthy and cheap to make, so it’s definitely worth considering.

    All you need to do is toast some bread, spread some mayonnaise on top, and then add the tomatoes; that’s it! You can add some basil if you want.

    Ingredients:

    • Bread
    • Mayonnaise
    • Tomatoes
    • Basil (optional)

    Peanut Butter Apple Wraps

    A really interesting and dirt cheap meal that I’m sure your kids will love is peanut butter apple wraps.

    It’s like a healthy dessert!

    Check out the full recipe here.

    Ingredients:

    • Tortillas
    • Peanut butter
    • Granola cereal
    • Apples

    BLT Sandwich

    A classic but absolute favorite meal of mine is the BLT sandwich.

    It’s cheap and easy, which makes it one of the best dirt cheap meals for a family.

    Just cook the bacon, toast the bread, then put lettuce and tomatoes with the bacon on the bread and then enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • Bread lightly toasted
    • Mayonnaise
    • Tomatoes
    • Lettuce leaves
    • Bacon strips
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup

    This was my go-to cheap meal in college. Heck, I still have this at least once or twice a week!

    It’s cheap, easy, and tastes great!

    Get adventurous and try a different cheese if it’s on sale! 

    Ingredients:

    • Loaf of bread
    • Cheese
    • Tomato soup

    Tuna Sandwich

    This is one of the best dirt cheap meals for a family, and they taste great! 

    Mix a can of tuna with ¼ cup mayo and slap it on two slices of bread.

    A little salt and pepper can go a long way to add some flavor to this super simple meal.

    Ingredients:

    • Loaf of bread 22 pieces
    • Canned tuna
    • Mayonnaise

    Cheap Dinner Ideas For A Family

    Cheap Dinner Ideas For A Family

    To end the day off right, check out these cheap and tasty meals for the entire family…

    Pizza

    When you don’t have the energy to cook dinner, you can just pop a frozen pizza in the oven, and it will be ready in a few minutes!

    You can pick up frozen pizzas at almost any grocery store and store them in your freezer for these emergencies.

    Ingredients:

    • A Frozen pizza (any brand you like)

    Spaghetti

    This is one of the best dirt cheap meals for a family!

    It’s also a quick and easy dinner, taking roughly 10 minutes from start to finish.

    Ingredients:

    • Spaghetti 
    • Pasta sauce
    • Meatballs (optional for an added cost)

    Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos

    Most crockpot meals are relatively easy, but this one is super simple and one of my favorite dirt cheap meals.

    Place the chicken in the crockpot, and cover it with 1 cup of salsa and one package of taco seasoning. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. 

    Take chicken out, shred, place back in the pot, and mix. Add to your tortilla and either eat as is or add your favorite toppings (cheese, lettuce, avocado). 

    And you didn’t think you could eat tacos on a budget! 

    Ingredients:

    • Tortillas
    • Chicken breast
    • Salsa
    • Taco seasoning

    Beans & Rice

    One of the classic dirt cheap meals that deserve a spot on this list is beans and rice.

    It’s definitely not a meal to drool over, but it will fill your stomach and save you a lot of money, so it’s worth considering.

    Ingredients:

    • Red beans and rice mix
    • Sausage or chicken

    Black Bean Soup

    Here’s another excellent option for those bean lovers out there!

    Mix the two cans of black beans, 1 cup of chicken broth, and a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes in a pot.

    Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend. 

    Ingredients:

    • Two cans of black beans
    • Chicken broth
    • Can of diced tomatoes

    Ramen Noodles With Eggs & Veggies

    One of the top dirt cheap meals for a family is ramen noodles!

    They are one of the cheapest foods to buy and, therefore, the ultimate dirt cheap meal option!

    This recipe spruces up a simple favorite. Start by cooking the ramen noodles per the directions, adding your frozen vegetables when you add the noodles.

    There are two options for adding the egg.

    1. Once the noodles are finished cooking, remove them from the heat and add the egg. Don’t stir, but gently surround with the noodles. The egg will be poached after about 1-2 minutes. 
    2. If you prefer the eggs are scrambled, drop the egg in while the noodles are still cooking. Mix everything up until the eggs look cooked and scrambled.  

    Ingredients:

    • Ramen noodles
    • A dozen eggs 
    • Frozen vegetables 

    Soup

    Not much to say here. Soup is one of those dirt cheap meals that everyone can enjoy. 

    Grab your favorite can, heat it, and serve.  

    Ingredients:

    • Can of soup

    Macaroni and Cheese

    You can buy boxes of mac & cheese for really cheap and store them in your pantry for quick meals.

    If you enjoy cooking and want more of a homemade meal, try making your own. It’s still really cheap but tastes better, in my opinion.  

    If you do choose to make it from scratch, bring 5 cups of milk to a boil, add 1lb of elbow pasta, cook for 10 minutes, remove from heat, add cheese, and stir. Yummy! 

    Ingredients:

    • Elbow pasta 
    • Shredded cheddar cheese
    • Milk

    Hamburger Casserole

    There’s nothing like a good casserole. This one is perfect for larger families; it’s crazy affordable and flavorful.  

    Ingredients:

    • Pasta shells
    • 1 lb Ground Beef 
    • Two cans tomato soup
    • Shredded cheese 

    Ravioli

    I always have a bag of cheese ravioli in the freezer. It’s for sure one of my quickest dirt cheap meals the whole family will love.  

    Ingredients:

    • Frozen ravioli 
    • Pasta sauce

    Sloppy Joes

    I grew up eating sloppy joes, a lot of sloppy joes. I still love them!

    This is a great dirt cheap meal for large families as well, and it’s super easy to make.

    Ingredients:

    • Sloppy joe sauce
    • 1 lb Ground Beef
    • Hamburger buns

    Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry

    This is one of those super easy cheap meal ideas you’ll love! 

    Start by cooking the chicken (cut into cubes) in a wok or pan. Once cooked, place aside and cook the frozen vegetables in the same pan.

    Cook until tender, add the chicken back to the pan, and add your stir fry seasoning and soy sauce.

    Remove the chicken for a vegetarian option, which also helps your budget.

    Ingredients:

    • Stir fry seasoning
    • Frozen stir fry vegetables
    • Soy sauce
    • Chicken breast

    Chili

    A great budget meal for families that you can quickly whip up is Chili!

    Cut the onion in half and mince. Add the ground beef/turkey and onion to a pan over medium-high heat until cooked.

    Transfer to a crock pot, adding the rest of the ingredients. Stir it and cook for 7-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  

    This should be enough for around 6-8 servings. Add cheese, sour cream, or oyster crackers to enhance your meal!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb Ground beef/turkey
    • Onion
    • Three cans of diced tomatoes
    • Two cans of kidney beans (or one can of kidney and one can of black beans)
    • Chili powder

    Hamburger & Fries

    You can make an effortless and cheap meal for your family: burgers and fries.

    Split the ground beef into four parts, grill or cook them on the stovetop, and you’re done.

    It’s easy to replace ground beef with turkey if you’d like, and there are also vegan options but there usually pricier.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb Ground Beef 
    • Hamburger buns
    • Frozen french fries

    Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

    My favorite way to prepare this is in my instant pot. The thing is fantastic!

    You can cook chicken even if it’s frozen, which is crazy. Perfect for someone like me who always forgets to throw that frozen chicken in the fridge.  

    Cook the chicken in the instant pot (you can always use your crock pot), and then add the barbecue sauce. So simple, cheap, and delicious!

    Ingredients:

    • Chicken breast
    • Hamburger buns
    • Barbecue sauce

    Slow Cooker Stew

    If you’re looking for a cheap and simple meal that tastes great and is nutritional, here’s a winner.  

    Cook the beef in a pan. Drain the grease. Add to your crock pot with the chopped-up potatoes, onions, carrots, and seasoning mix. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb Ground Beef 
    • 1.5 lb potatoes
    • Onion
    • $0.59 – 3 carrots
    • $1.31 – Beef stew seasoning mix

    Chicken Kiev & Rice

    Here’s another simple and delicious dinner idea you’ll enjoy. You can pick up the raw but ready-to-cook chicken kiev in the freezer section. 

    Cook per the directions and set it on top of your rice.

    Ingredients:

    • Frozen chicken Kiev
    • Rice

    Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Here’s a meal that will show off your cooking abilities, tastes excellent, and is pretty simple and cheap.

    Cut the tops off the peppers, removing the stems and finely chopping the rest. Scoop out the seeds and membrane.

    Cook the beef and finely chopped peppers on your stovetop; remove and mix with your cooked rice.

    Fill each pepper with the beef and pepper and top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. 

    Ingredients:

    • Four bell peppers
    • 1 lb Ground Beef 
    • Rice
    • Shredded cheese

    Tilapia

    I had to add a fish recipe to the list. It’s the most expensive meal on the list, but it’s still cheap and very delightful.

    You can cut down on costs by purchasing frozen filets.

    Ingredients:

    • Tilapia filet
    • Butter
    • Lemon
    • Rice

    Black Bean Veggie Burger

    If you are vegetarian or just looking for a healthy burger, I recommend considering this black bean veggie burger meal.

    It’s super simple, cheap, healthy, and delicious!

    Ingredients:

    • Black beans drained and rinsed
    • Green bell pepper
    • Onion
    • Garlic
    • Eggs
    • Chili powder
    • Cumin
    • Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
    • Bread crumbs

    Taco Lettuce Wraps

    One of my favorite dirt cheap meals for a family is taco lettuce wraps.

    It’s super easy and cheap to make, plus it’s healthy and delicious!

    All you need to do is cook the ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) until fully cooked, mix in the taco seasoning and then put it on the lettuce leaves.

    Then top it off with your favorite toppings, and that’s it!

    Ingredients:

    • Ground beef (or turkey)
    • Taco Seasoning mix
    • Water
    • Butter lettuce leaves

    Bonus Desserts

    While desserts are not dirt cheap meals for a family, they are a great addition after dinner!

    Here are a few cheap dessert recipes to enjoy after dinner…

    Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

    This dessert is so simple, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand, so I have it all the time. 

    I highly recommend checking it out if you are craving some sweets after dinner.

    You can find the recipe here

    Ingredients:

    • Flour
    • Baking soda
    • Unsweetened cocoa powder 
    • Sugar
    • Salt
    • Milk
    • Oil
    • Vanilla extract 
    • Chocolate squares or chips 

    Easy Ice Cream Sundae Dessert

    Who doesn’t love a good sundae for dessert? It’s a quick and cheap sweet treat!

    You can make this quickly after dinner; you only need a few ingredients.

    Check out the full recipe here.

    Ingredients:

    • Chocolate chips
    • Evaporated milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Vanilla wafers
    • Butter
    • Vanilla ice cream or another flavor of your choice

    Lemony Cream Cheese Bars

    Another great dessert you can make for a low cost is lemony cream cheese bars.

    It’s a sweet and quick dessert that the entire family will enjoy!

    Check out the full recipe here.

    Ingredients:

    • Lemon cake mix
    • Egg substitute
    • Canola oil
    • Reduced-fat cream cheese
    • Sugar
    • Lemon juice

    Icebox Cake

    The icebox cake is a really cheap and easy-to-make dessert, plus it’s delicious!

    This is a must-try cheap dessert for a family!

    Check out the recipe here.

    Ingredients:

    • Heavy whipping cream
    • Confectioners’ sugar
    • Vanilla extract
    • Chocolate wafers
    • Chocolate curls, optional

    Conclusion

    These are 40 dirt cheap meals for a family that will save you money and satisfy your taste buds!

    As mentioned earlier, food is one of the biggest expenses we all have, so you should always look for ways to cut costs to save money.

    If you like this post, then I recommend checking out my posts on How To Get Free Food With No Money and 21 Awesome Apps For Free Food! [With Bonuses].

    What do you think about these dirt cheap meals for families? Have any other meals to add? Let me know in the comments below!

    Are you ready to take control of your money? Check out these awesome money resources which will help you to make and save $1,000’s!
     

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