One of the things I’m always looking for are Inexpensive Meals Under $5! Sometimes you need a good recipe that you can throw together quickly without much time that won’t break the budget. I’ve been thinking about the recipes that allow me to stay on budget, just mix and match these recipes in your weekly meal plan to help reduce your overall cost per meal each week.
We love eating Grilled Chicken, Asparagus, Steak, and other higher cost meals but to balance that out I also try to throw in a couple quick and inexpensive meals each week. I always hear from readers that they can’t save money on groceries because their family (Or Husbands) want specific things. What I’ve found is that balance in this area works really well for the long term. If you try to stick to beans and rice for 5 months you’ll give up and bust the budget, but having 1 or 2 nights a week where you stick to a smaller budget meal allows the wiggle room in your weekly meal plan to have those nights where you pick your favorite meals. This balanced approach makes meal planning and budgeting more realistic in the long term, especially if you have picky eaters in your home!
Tips for Making Meals Under $5
1 – Skip the Meat
I know this one isn’t popular in most households, but having 1 or even 2 meals without meat each week is a great way to reduce your grocery budget since meat is one of the most expensive ingredients. You can add in protein other ways by having Eggs, Beans & Rice or other Nuts and proteins.
2 – Reduce the Meat
If you are making a Soup/Stew, etc. you can often reduce the amount of meat in the recipe without much difference at all. Another trick is to add Beans or Rice to your Taco Meat to help stretch it. I have foud that these simple tricks work for a lot of different recipes and it’s a great way to reduce the amount of meat needed in a meal.
3 – Don’t Overcook
I know this seems simple but if you have younger kids or a small family it’s easy to follow a recipe and then realize after the fact that you have more than you need or can possibly eat. If you are cooking for 2 people try cutting a recipe in half before you cook it. You will save a lot of money by cooking only what you need and not throwing out food at the end of the night.
4 – Use Different Cuts of Meat
If you’re cooking a recipe calling for Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast try switching it out for Dark Meat. Things like Chicken Thighs or Chicken Legs are less expensive and a great substitute when grilling out or in recipes like Barbecue Chicken, Chicken and Rice and other traditional meals. You can also experiment with different cuts of Red Meat and Pork. I use Beef Stew Meat in stir fry, fajitas and more because it’s less expensive and often my family would never know the difference.
5 – Use Filling Sides like Rice & Potatoes
If you have hungry boys (or men) to feed then making meals with hefty sides is often a great trick! You can get things like Potatoes and Rice for really cheap and they are a great items to help fill up those hungry bellies! There are also a million ways you can cook both of these items so that you don’t get tired of the same thing.
Here are a few of my favorite Meals for $5
Broiled Drumsticks – I love using just about any Chicken Marinade on Drumsticks and Chicken Thighs, Especially during the summer months this is a great way to Grill Out without the added expense.
Chicken & Dumplings – This is a great recipe that you can use Leftover Chicken in as well.
Black Bean Soft Tacos – Such a great recipe you can use with Beans and Rice then top with your favorites like Sour Cream or Avocado. Keep in mind that ingredients like Cheese or pre-made guacamole can add up fast so keep those to a minimum.
Baked Fried Chicken – This is a simple recipe that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Add in a few Cans of Green Beans and some Fruit for a great summertime meal!
Italian Macaroni & Cheese – This is a great recipe for kids or lunch time during the summer months!
Eggplant Parmesan – This is another great recipe for summer when Vegetables are cheap! You can used pre-made pasta sauce and pasta for
Ground Beef Stroganoff – This is a great classic meal that doesn’t require a lot of meat.
Easy Sesame Chicken – I love that this recipe uses Chicken Thighs to reduce the cost of the meat. You can make this entire meal with rice for around $5!
Black Bean Burgers – Use your choice of Beans, Breadcrumbs and seasonings to make your own Black Bean Burgers! Such a fun recipe to make on the grill without the cost of expensive red meat.
Turkey Chili – This is a great recipe that only requires around 1 lb. of Ground Turkey. Add in canned beans and tomatoes for an inexpensive meal that feeds a crowd.
Mexican Pile Up – This is a great recipe you can make using leftover chili. Layer Chili on top of Rice, Chips, and top with Taco Toppings like Cheese, Lettuce and Tomato for a Taco Salad type twist on Chili.
Mexican Chicken Spaghetti – This is a fantastic twist on Traditonal Spaghetti that you can make quickly in one skillet. This is also fantastic for nights where you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
Spinach & Cheese Quiche – You could easily remove the Mushrooms from this recipe and add in leftover turkey, ham, or tomatoes to get the price under $5, but since this feeds 6 it’s a great option when you are having company over or if you have a larger family.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes – Try Breakfast for Dinner for a filling twist. You can make these Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes for just under $2 which leaves room to pick up some Eggs and Bananas to go with your meal. This is also another crowd pleasing recipe that won’t break the budget.
Crockpot Chicken Tacos – This is my go to meal for simple, easy and cheap! You can make Shredded Taco Chicken in the crock pot with just a few simple ingredients. Serve in Taco Shells one night, then use the leftovers in Enchilada’s or on Taco Salads to get the maximum use out of your chicken!