Home » 5 Easy and Cheap Meals

5 Easy and Cheap Meals

We’re a big fan of delicious-tasting easy and cheap meals here at The Frugal Farmer.  Keeping the grocery budget around $400 a month for our family of six takes some work, so we always take note when we find great meals that cost under $5.  Here are some of our favorites: DSCN2709





Beans and Rice This seemingly “boring” meal is easily spiced up with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and a little sour cream, black olives or jalapenos.  You really can do a lot with these two simple staples if you’re willing to get creative, and by buying bulk beans and rice at a warehouse club, you can serve your family this meal for pennies on the dollar. DSCN2288





Mac and Cheese

Our kids rarely eat boxed mac and cheese now that they’ve experienced the creamy goodness of homemade mac and cheese.  The great thing about mac and cheese is that you can really change it up by experiencing with different cheese types, like parmesan and mozzarella, and if we’re feeling extra fancy, we’ll throw in some ham or hotdogs for the kids on occasion.   Add a bit of sour cream into the mix for extra creaminess.  You can find our recipe for frugal mac and cheese here.   DSCN2306





Navy Bean Soup


There’s nothing to help make the long, cold winter bearable like a bowl of hot soup.  Navy bean soup, with some carrots, celery and onion, and a few bits of chopped ham, is a thick, rich soup that is cheap, low-calorie, and fills the tummy well. DSCN2311





Chicken Noodle Soup

One of the ways we save money on groceries is to do double duty with our soups.  We boil a chicken to make the broth, then take half the broth, put it into a separate pot, fill both of the pots by adding water to the broth, and then make one into Chicken Noodle Soup, and one into Wild Rice Soup.  By utilizing the extra water, we are able to get four batches of soup out of this deal.  Much better deal than store-bought soups, and delicious, too! DSCN2247





Chipotle Rice with Guacamole

We make our own version of Chipotle restaurant’s rice, and serve it with homemade Guacamole for dinner on occasion.  This meal is super fast to make, and if you can find a good deal on fresh avocados, you can easily whip this one up for under 5 bucks. Add that to the fact that it’s vegan and super healthy, and you’ve got yourself a real winner here. There are all sorts of ways to utilize easy and cheap meals to help stretch your grocery budget.  By using inexpensive ingredients, cutting down on the meat, and simply getting creative, a little can go a long way. What are your favorite easy and cheap meals?


  1. As a life-long student so far, I love fast, easy, cheap meals. Another favorite not listed is tuna salad. You can eat tuna right out of the package for a health snack full of protein, or spice it up with chopped egg or relish. I had a post about it not too long ago: http://collegeapprovedfood.blogspot.com/2014/02/less-than-5-tuna-salad.html
    Ohhh also, you can make some ramen (just the noodles, save the seasoning for something else) then drain and mix in a can of tuna and a can of cream of mushroom. Cheapest tuna noodle casserole ever!
    Vegetarian burgers are super simple to make. I made some kidney bean & quinoa patties (http://collegeapprovedfood.blogspot.com/2012/04/kidney-bean-and-quinoa-burgers.html) with a little oil, flour, mashed beans & grain. You could try black beans and rice, kidney beans & couscous… And things with eggs. Breakfast burritos are amazing, and just boiled eggs as a snack to tide you over between meals. Enjoy!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for the ideas!! We used to eat tuna noodle casserole lots as kids. We don’t eat much cream of mushroom soup now, because of the chemicals, but I could add a homemade one.

    • Laurie says:

      It’s yummalicious, Aaron. Try Basmati Rice for a good, similar flavor to Chipotle. And don’t forget the homemade guac! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Those rainy and gloomy days are no fun – a big bowl of soup would be perfect! You have a great weekend too, Shannon. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      We boil the pinto beans up and make our own “refried beans”. We don’t actually fry them, just boil until they’re mushy, add some garlic, salt and pepper, and it’s healthy and delicious! 🙂

      • Scott says:

        You can try adding olive oil to your refried beans. Most recipes call for bacon grease, but I have found substituting olive oil makes them just as delicious.

        I want to try the mac & cheese recipe. My son loves Kraft Mac & Cheese, but I would like to find a less processed recipe. I need to figure out how to make it just as creamy without the American “cheese” Perhaps the sour cream element.

        • Laurie says:

          Yeah, we don’t use any oil at all, but I do love the idea of adding olive oil. We just use salt, pepper, cumin and garlic. You’re right about the sour cream, but the more cheese you add (and milk) the creamer it will be. Having processed cheese slices helps with creaminess too and keeps a bit of that commercial taste in it for the kids. 🙂

  2. anna says:

    I love black beans and rice – it’s so filling and so cheap! I also like mac and cheese, though discovered a parmesan orzo recipe that I absolutely love. Great ideas, Laurie, I hope you have a nice weekend! 🙂

  3. These look awesome Laurie! I am a big fan of pasta for making inexpensive meals. I also just blogged about roast chicken, because it is the great two-for-one meal option. I always have leftover chicken that can be used for something else.

    • Laurie says:

      We do lots of that too, Shannon. Chicken is the perfect two-for-one ingredient. We also have a big turkey in the freezer that we got from a friend – that’ll make a nice bunch of meals for us too. 🙂

  4. Certainly not an article to read now when I am hungry 🙂 We started to experiment recently with soups (we actually have here something called “ciorba” which is a lot thicker and not with a clear liquid and certainly delicious). The good thing about the soups is that they are extremely easy to make and we can cook once and eat for a few days – clearly an advantage.

    I’ve never tried the Beans and Rice combination, it surely looks delicious and I will give it a try!

  5. Those dishes look really yummy!!!

    I too like to make cheaply priced meals that are healthy and deelish. I made an Indian dish the other day that featured butter pork, brown basmati rice and frozen veggies…all for about ten bucks. The meal fed myself and two friends plus I had enough left over for another dinner last night. The butter pork sauce did come from a jar, but it was all natural with no additives or preservatives. I might make a post about it this week!

    Thanks again Laurie for some great dinner ideas and enjoy the weekend. My best to all and take care.


    • Laurie says:

      That sounds delicious, Lyle!!! You should write a post about it – I’d love to try it out. 🙂 Happy day to you, Lyle!

  6. Oh, we are totally stealing your Chipotle rice recipe. I love that stuff — it’s so much better than the rice I typically make.

    I’d love to get into soups, too: I feel they are the backbone of a frugal diet. Healthy, inexpensive, and easy to make in big batches.

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  8. MM. I’m going to try the Chipotle rice. I’m a fan. And I can eat guac by itself.

    My go-to-cheap meal is baked sweet potato with a baked egg and cheese on top, and then sauteed spinach or broccoli on the side.

    • Laurie says:

      🙂 Yeah, Guac is definitely on that list for us too. We need to try more sweet potatoes – I have bad memories of them from childhood. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, grilled cheese is one of my top faves. I order it nearly every time on the rare occasions we go out to dinner. 🙂

  9. Julia @ Save Big Live Better! says:

    OMG, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is an absolute winter fave in our house! Thanks so much for sharing:)

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