One of the best ways I’ve found to stretch the grocery budget is by adding in “Cheap Eats.” We had a whole roster of such meals when my daughters were younger. The criteria for “Cheap Eats” was that it had to be reasonably filling, quick to make, (cooking utilities add up too), and less than a dollar a serving.
Let me preface this with the fact that Cheap Eats aren’t necessarily the healthiest of meals, but when your budget is tightened to this level, you can’t afford fancy organic crackers made from gluten-free grains ground with volcanic stones under the full moon. So, while you want to be as balanced as you can in order to stay healthy, your healthy diet is likely to suffer when times are tough.
My usual Cheap Eats strategy is to have a thrifty breakfast and lunch, and then a nicer meal at supper time. But if times are really bad, you could be looking at Cheap Eats three meals a day for a little while.
25 Cheap Eats
I consider breakfast to be interchangeable with other meals, so I’ve compiled a single list of our family’s Cheap Eats.
- Peanut butter and saltines
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Bean burrito
- Macaroni and cheese (from a box – here are some tasty ways to improve that meal)
- Pasta and canned marinara
- Canned soup and toast or crackers
- Canned pasta (Only if found on sale)
- Egg-fried rice
- Noodle bowls (ramen, etc.)
- Apple with peanut butter
- Eggs and toast
- Tuna sandwich
- Baked potato with butter
- Potato soup
- Rice, frozen veggies, soy sauce
- Beans and rice (made with canned beans)
- Split pea soup
- Tortilla crust pizzas
- Pasta salad with tuna and mayo
- Baked beans and weenies
- Chicken and dumplings
- Biscuits and gravy
- Breakfast burritos with eggs and whatever you have on hand
How to get your family on board with Cheap Eats
When you change your eating style dramatically, you generally need to have a conversation with your family members. I find you get fewer complaints when you discuss things as opposed to laying down the law. Here are some tips for talking to your kids about the family’s financial problems.
If you have picky eaters in the house this will be a bit more difficult. Try to find at least a handful of things your picky person will eat without complaint that fit into the Cheap Eats category. Here are some more tips on dealing with picky eaters.
Cheap Eats can be a real budget saver when it comes to food or when you’re trying to get through a tight spot. What are your favorite meals that cost less than a dollar a serving?