If you are on the hunt for cheap easy meals on a budget for your family, you’ve come to the right place.
Each week I am feeding a family of eight. Six growing boys, myself and my husband.
For years I have implement large family meal planning strategies to feed our ever growing family without breaking the bank.
This week we are cooking three meatless meals, we are using chicken breasts we bought in bulk for $1.88 a pound and using a slow cooker or electric skillet to prepare most of these meals.
Ready for the recipes?
Meatless Meals that are Comfort Food
Beans are an awesome alternative to meat. They can be used in so many different ways. We bought 12 pounds of dry pinto beans in bulk from Sam’s a few weeks ago. Honestly, for a family of eight, 12 pounds won’t last long, but they are great to have on hand for dinner options. You can see a list of the things I buy in bulk and see if any of the items are things that make sense for you. It saves me money every month.
Beans and legumes are an excellent source of fiber, protein, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals. There are studies that show beans can help reduce blood sugar (that is awesome!), improve cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy gut! It’s worth looking into. My family likes beans, so I don’t mind serving them as a protein replacement here and there.
You will see one of the night below on our menu we are having beans and rice. I also bought 50 pounds of white rice from Sam’s on that same trip. This bag of rice will last us a long time. I wish I could find 50 pounds of brown rice locally. I know there are places I can order online, I just don’t want to pay for shipping.
Another bean that we like to eat is lentils. You can do so much with them. You can see one of our personal favorite below.
Cheap Easy Meals on a Budget
Broccoli Chicken Pasta– this is a recipe I’ve been making for a while and we love it! A great way to use broccoli up. I took the bulk package of chicken breasts I bought at Sam’s and divided it up. I used 3 of the large breasts to make this recipe, doubling it. I love that this recipe includes creating your own oil and vinegar based dressing to go over it. So good!!
Quick Spaghetti for a Crowd– this is always a go to at our house! I use Italian pork sausage (mild or spicy). Here is a video of how I make homemade spaghetti. It is in my Get Dinner on the Table group, so you will need to request to join. But once you’re added you can watch me cook it!
Sweet Potato Hash– this is a vegetarian recipe and it’s amazing! I served it with chips and avocado slices. Five to six sweet potatoes can go a long way. And, they are high in carotene, vitamin C and magnesium! You add beans for additional protein. So good! This will be made in my large electric skillet. Makes dinnertime so easy!
Instant Pot Black Bean Chicken Bowls– we love this recipe. You can cook it in the Instant Pot or the slow cooker. Both ways come out great! I am using up the other half of the chicken breasts I bought at Sam’s to make this meal. We already have rice on hand and I have salsa. Super easy dinner. You could use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead if that is what you have on hand.
Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos– lentils are an amazing alternative to ground beef. Here is the digital programable slow cooker I love. Just FYI, I have a ton of slow cookers and I love how easy they make the daily task of making dinner for a large family.
Alaska Pollock– my husband found these frozen and on clearance. We will either bake or grill them. I will serve with side dishes like a salad and another fresh vegetable.
Pinto Beans and Rice– a cheap meal that is super filling. I like to add sour cream, cheese and salsa to mine. If you don’t want rice, serve it with cornbread instead. I grew up eating beans, my mom made a pot in her slow cooker almost once a week. You can add onions, garlic, salt, pepper and cilantro when you cook them, or you can do what I did this time and keep it simple with just salt. I encourage you to use the leftover beans to make something else with the leftovers (like nachos or burritos) or freeze them to use for another meal later.
How to Cook Dry Pinto Beans
If you’ve never made dry beans before, don’t be intimidated. The slow cooker or your Instant Pot are the best ways to cook them. Personally, I prefer the slow cooker.
First, I always out the dry beans in a large bowl, cover them in water and stick them in the fridge over night.
The next morning I take them out of the fridge and drain the water and rinse them really good. I go handful by handful (this is how my mother taught me) checking for bad beans and rocks. As they are inspected I dump the handful into the slow cooker.
Then I cover them in water, add some salt and pop the lid on.
Here are my best tips for cooking in the slow cooker.
Black Magnetic Dry Erase Menu Planner for Your Fridge
For years and years when we lived in Dallas, I had a white, small dry erase board that I kept on my fridge and it displayed my weekly meal plan. My friend Kim bought it for me. She had found it in the dollar spot at Target. I loved that thing!
When we moved I lost it and miss displaying my menu on my fridge.
Now, you know me, I do not actually identify what we are having by day of the week. That is really not important to me. But, this menu is labeled Sunday-Saturday, but I just pick and choose as I go.
If you struggle with meal planning I really encourage you to gran our How to Meal Plan guide. It walks you through planning and succeeding at dinner every single night!
More Cheap Meal Ideas
Since we are a homeschool family and eat three meals a day at home, here is a look at what we are eating for breakfast and lunch.
Lunch Ideas on a Budget
- pasta salad
- pb j sandwiches
- turkey sandwiches
- leftovers- we always have leftover. Use the beans to make nachos for lunch or burritos, for example.
- Ramen noodles… or as Luke Henry calls them Robin noodles. lol
Cheap Easy Meals for Breakfast
- Breakfast Smoothie- a great way to use up fruit!
- Bacon and Eggs- always easy!
- Cereal- we buy in bulk at Sams
- Pancakes- we buy 10 pound bags of pancake mix at Sams, but you can also make homemade buttermilk pancakes which are awesome!!
- Waffles- use the pancake mix to make waffles instead.
If you are struggling with recipe ideas I encourage you to take a look at our 31 slow cooker recipes for busy moms in our instant download. It’s convenient and it’s food my family love!
What is on your menu this week?