Each week, I sit down and write out a schedule of meals for my family. From this schedule, I make a shopping list which allows me to save money groceries shopping. Sounds good right? Sure, except coming up with meals that are nutritious, delicious, cheap, and easy is a nightmare. Seriously. It’s horrible. A lot of times I either end up staring blankly at my weekly menu planner sheet or recycling the same meals over and over. In order to combat this problem, I set out to create a stockpile of cheap and easy family meals.
Since I suspect I am not alone in my struggle to come up with an easy and cheap family meal that my picky eater will actually eat, I’d like to share my cache of recipes.
Below you’ll find 56 of my favorite cheap and easy family meals.
56 Cheap and Easy Family Meals
1. Banana Nut Oatmeal (Freebie Finding Mom) – I love this cheap family meal because the crockpot does most of the work, and it makes your house smell absolutely amazing. Trust me, waking up to the aroma of this recipe is a great way to start the day.
2. French Toast Casserole (Freebie Finding Mom) – There’s no reason cheap and easy family meals can’t be decadent. This crock pot recipe is a simple way to enjoy a hearty and delicious breakfast any day of the week.
3. Breakfast Casserole (Freebie Finding Mom) – Don’t let the long list of ingredients in this recipe fool you; this really is a cheap and easy family meal. Tip: Freeze leftovers for an even quicker breakfast option.
4. Breakfast Pizza (Freebie Finding Mom) – Have a picky eater on your hands? If so, this cheap family meal may work wonders for getting him or her to eat a vegetable or two. Simply allow your child to help pick the ingredients and decorate the pizza and he or she will be much more likely to eat it.
5. Simple Cinnamon French Toast (My Heavenly Recipes) – This cheap and easy family meal requires just 5 minutes of prep time, so it’s perfect when you’re facing a time crunch. Tip: Leftovers can be frozen and used later so consider making a double or even triple batch.
6. Blueberry Pancakes (My Heavenly Recipes) – Believe it or not, thanks to this cheap and easy family meal, you’re just 15 minutes away from homemade blueberry pancakes. The blueberries add a touch of sweetness which helps alleviate the need for tons of sugary syrup.
7. Southwest Style Breakfast Casserole (Caroline’s Cooking) – Spice up your day with this cheap family meal that only requires 5 minutes of prep time. This recipe does need to cook for approximately 40 minutes, so I would recommend waking up, throwing this recipe together, sticking it in the oven, and then getting ready for your day. By the time you’re ready this casserole will be too.
8. Beef Stew (Freebie Finding Mom) – Want a hearty and healthy dinner for your family? Consider this cheap and easy family meal. Simply add the ingredients to the crockpot in the morning and when dinner time rolls around you’ll have an irresistible stew ready to go.
9. Sweet and Spicy Beef and Peppers (Freebie Finding Mom) – If you’re tired of the same-old, same-old for dinner, I highly recommend this cheap and easy family meal. It’s a fusion of classic beef stew and Chinese takeout. I know, I know… it sounds strange but sometimes strange is good (really good)!
10. Stretch Your Beef Sloppy Joes Recipe (Thrifty Jinxy) – There’s a reason sloppy Joes are a classic, am I right? Make this cheap family meal even cheaper by stretching your ground beef with bulgur wheat. Oh, and don’t forget the napkins!
11. Homemade Beef Stew (Smart Party Planning) – Can’t get enough beef stew? I can’t blame you; it is delicious and pretty darn good for you as well. Here’s another take on this cheap and easy family meal that requires just 10 minutes of prep time.
12. Homemade Hamburger Helper (Sincerely Jean) – Save money by making your own hamburger helper at home with the help of this cheap and easy family meal. Tip: If you want to cut calories, consider using ground chicken or turkey instead of ground beef.
13. Beef Stroganoff in Crock Pot Dinner Recipe (Coupon Cravings) – Admittedly, this cheap family meal is a little “Plain Jane” but it really packs a punch in terms of flavor. Throw the ingredients in the cock pot before work and you’ll come home to a tasty dinner.
14. Shredded Beef Enchiladas: Crock Pot Dinner (Coupon Cravings) – You only need 6 ingredients and 6 steps to pull off this cheap and easy family meal. While I haven’t tried it, I think you could easily swap the beef for chicken or pork if you prefer a different meat option.
15. Steak & Chicken Kabobs (My Heavenly Recipes) – You may love steak but your wallet probably isn’t the biggest fan, am I right? Save money while enjoying steak with this cheap and easy family meal. Since you only use a little steak on each kabob, you’ll be able to purchase less (thereby saving money).
16. Homemade Manwich (My Heavenly Recipes) – Not only is this a cheap family meal but it is also easy and healthy (compared to buying a can of Manwich at the supermarket). This may be a great option when you need a quick dinner idea since it only requires 6 ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen.
17. Crock Pot Pot Roast (My Heavenly Recipes) – Having family over for dinner tonight? No worries! This cheap and easy family meal is made to feed a crowd, and the slow cooker does 90% of the work. Note: Unfortunately, the slow cooker will not do the dishes.
18. Healthy Meatloaf (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Meatloaf gets a healthy makeover in this cheap family meal option. Tip: Make the meatloaf even leaner by opting for ground chicken or turkey instead of beef.
19. Meat Lasagna (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – I bet you thought lasagna was strictly a weekend dinner option due to the amount of time it typically takes. However, thanks to this cheap and easy family meal recipe, you can enjoy a hearty serving of lasagna any night.
20. Beef Pho Recipe (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Feeling exotic? Take a trip, without breaking the bank, thanks to this cheap and easy family meal. In case you didn’t know, Pho is a Vietnamese soup made from beef stock and spices with noodles, vegetables, and beef slices.
21. Easy Homemade Hamburger Pie (Cleverly Simple) – Hamburger helper meets pot pie in this cheap family meal. In addition to being an affordable dinner option, this recipe is also quick. The chef says she can get it on the table in right around 30 minutes.
22. Crockpot Beef Stew (Cleverly Simple) – Feel like curling up with a steaming bowl of stew? Look no further than this cheap and easy family meal which requires just 4 steps. Tip: The chef behind this recipe recommends “no peeking” – meaning you shouldn’t lift the lid off of the slow cooker while the stew is cooking. This is honestly a good tip for anything you make in your crockpot unless the recipe specifically tells you to stir or add ingredients while cooking.
23. Basic Italian Meatballs (Mission to Save) – Keep a batch of this cheap and easy family meal in the freezer to pull out when you need dinner fast. The meatballs can be used in a variety of ways including with spaghetti and subs.
24. Easy Biscuit Beef Bundles (Mission to Save) – Trying to use up odds and ends in your fridge? This cheap family meal is a great way to do that as you can easily use any vegetables you have on hand and swap the ground beef for ground chicken or turkey. Bonus: Your kids may get a kick out of the little mini pies and actually eat a veggie or two.
25. Easy Ground Beef Stroganoff “Mock Stroganoff” (Mission to Save) – You can put together this cheap and easy family meal with just 10 minutes of prep time. Tip: The chef recommends making this meal even quicker and easier by preparing ground beef ahead of time and then freezing it (so in this case you’d just defrost and add to the recipe).
26. Classic Chipped Beef on Toast (Mission to Save) – I’ll admit that this cheap and easy family meal isn’t the healthiest of options. However, it’s totally okay to indulge yourself and your taste buds once in a while! Trying to eat strictly healthy 100% of the time is bound to lead to failure; plus, it’s no fun!
27. Beef Fajitas with Homemade Tortilla Chips (Frugal Minded Mom) – Whether you’re whipping up a meal for your family or an appetizer for a party, this cheap family meal is a great option. Tip: Add flavor to your homemade tortilla chips by adding different spices. For example, achieve a hint of lime by adding a little fresh lime juice.
28. No-Boil Crockpot Baked Ziti (Thrifty Jinxy) – Craving some homemade Italian food complete with cheesy goodness? This cheap and easy family meal is a great way to enjoy this Italian favorite without all the time and effort it would usually require. Tip: Serve with a salad to get in some much needed veggies.
29. Easy Cheesy 5-Ingredient Pizza Pasta Bake (Two Healthy Kitchens) – This pizza pasta hybrid is a delicious cheap and easy family meal. As is, this recipe is definitely light on the veggies; however, I think you could modify it to include some additional “toppings” like onions and peppers. Otherwise, follow the recipe as is and serve with a salad.
30. Easy Zucchini Kale Pasta (Smart Party Planning) – Here’s another meatless option that is a healthy and cheap family meal. Kale is rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and B6 making it a welcome addition to any recipe. Bonus: You can be enjoying this dish in just 20 minutes.
31. Pesto Pasta Recipe with Avocado, Parmesan, Romano & Tomatoes (Happy Deal – Happy Day!) – This cheap and easy family meal is so tasty your family probably won’t realize it’s meatless. The avocados take the nutritional value up a notch (they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acid, oleic acid, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin c, and much more) as well as add a creamy rich taste and texture.
32. Cheesy Pasta Bake (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Not only is this cheap and easy family meal delicious, it is also super customizable. You can add your choice of meat or leave meat out to please vegetarians (or save additional money). You can also add in additional vegetables to suit your tastes. Bonus: It is also a freezer-friendly meal meaning you can easily freeze leftovers and use later.
33. Fettucine Pasta With Meatballs (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – There’s a reason spaghetti and meatballs are a classic combination, am I right? Treat your family to this beloved dish without spending tons of time or money. The crockpot will do the bulk of the work and this cheap family meal only requires a few ingredients.
34. Hillshire Farms Gourmet Creations Sausage Pasta Meal (Everyday Savvy) – When you’re looking for cheap and easily family meals the trick is to be creative and be willing to try new things. The second part isn’t always easy when you’re dealing with a picky eater (or multiple picky eaters). This is one of those dishes that sounds yummy to me, but I’m honestly not sure my son would eat even a bite. When you encounter recipes like this, consider saving them for date night.
35. Lasagna Casserole (My Heavenly Recipes) – The chef behind this cheap and easy family meal has creatively turned lasagna into a budget friendly casserole. This is an excellent meal option if you need to feed a crowd (or a teenager) or want leftovers.
Soups and Stews
36. Turkey Chili (Freebie Finding Mom) – I love chili. It’s great for tailgating parties or just cuddling up on the couch with a good book. In my case, that “good book” is usually written by Dr. Seuss thanks to my little man but still…. Anyway, back to chili. This cheap family meal is given a healthy twist thanks to the use of ground turkey in place of ground beef.
37. Ham and Potato Soup (Freebie Finding Mom) – If you have leftover ham, this cheap and easily family meal is a yummy way to use it up. Once you add the ingredients to the slow cooker you can go about your day with no additional input until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve dinner.
38. Irish Lamb Stew (Smart Party Planning) – If you’re up for trying something new, I highly recommend this cheap and easy family meal. This is a great introductory dish to lamb if you’ve never had it before.
39. Ivars Clam Chowder (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Warm up with this hearty cheap family meal. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it really isn’t that hard to prepare and is well worth the effort!
40. Slow Cooker Ham Soup (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – One way to save money on meat is to buy it in large quantities. For example, in the long run, it is cheaper to buy a whole chicken than a chicken breast. Unfortunately, when you’re buying large quantities of meat you run the risk of letting it go to waste which will definitely not save you money. If you’re looking to use up leftovers (in this case ham), here’s another cheap and easy family meal that’ll come in handy.
41. Chunky Crockpot Chili (Mission to Save) – In my opinion, you can never have too many chili recipes. First off, most chili recipes are cheap and easy family meals. Second off, they’re all a little different. You have your vegetarian chilis, spicy chilis, chicken chilis, and on and on. Here’s another chili recipe to add to your stockpile.
42. Slow Cooker Vegan Barley Stew (Mama Likes to Cook) – Yes, believe it or not, there are vegan cheap family meals. Here’s one that any vegan (and even non-vegans) is sure to love!
43. Vegetarian Crockpot Chili with Bulgur Wheat (Thrifty Jinxy) – There are tons of variations on vegetarian chili out there, but I really like this one because the addition of bulgur wheat helps create the consistency of “real” (meat) chili without the actual meat. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, this cheap and easy family meal is definitely worth trying.
44. Simple Chili Recipe (My Heavenly Recipes) – Intimidated by the thought of making chili? If you’re a novice chef or simply not very confident in your chili cooking abilities than this cheap and easy family meal recipe is for you. It’s simple, quick, and nearly fool-proof.
45. Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Whether you’re addicted to Panera’s broccoli cheese soup or just broccoli cheese soup in general, this cheap family meal is a winner. This recipe also makes a great lunch option so think ahead and make a batch on Sunday to take to the office throughout the week.
46. Copycat Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli Soup (Thrifty Northwest Mom) – Copycat recipes, like this one, can be a fantastic way to enjoy your favorite restaurant foods in the comfort of your own home. Copycat recipes will also save you money, so there’s really no reason not to try them. This cheap and easy family meal is pretty impressive and would make a great choice if you’re having company over for dinner.
47. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili (Happy Deal – Happy Day!) – There’s no denying this is a cheap family meal. You can make this yummy dish for less than $1 per serving (according to the chef).
48. Easy Crockpot Potato Soup (Cleverly Simple) – There’s just something really comforting about homemade potato soup. This soup could stand alone as a cheap and easy family meal, but you could also serve it with a salad and/or chicken.
49. Simple Split Pea Soup (Cleverly Simple) – One of the only perks to cold weather is that it makes it permissible to serve soup for dinner on a regular basis. This hearty recipe is definitely a cheap family meal that you’re going to love. It’s rich in flavor, filling, and will keep you warm on those long winter nights!
50. Southwestern Pinto Bean Soup (Cooking Mimi) – This cheap and easy family meal has just a hint of spice and is sure to get you out of that dinner rut. Tip: Choose vegetable broth (over chicken broth) in order to have a vegetarian-friendly dish.
51. Homemade Onion Soup Mix (The Holy Mess) – You can use this homemade onion soup mix in a variety of cheap and easy family meals in place of store bought soup packets. Tip: These packets would also make great frugal gifts, especially if the recipient enjoys cooking.
52. Stovetop Mac N Cheese (My Heavenly Recipes) – Serve your cheap family meals with this frugal side dish. The chef says once you try this you’ll never go back to the store-bought variety again… and I believe her!
53. Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce (Sidewalk Shoes) – Think you have to be Julia Child to make your own marinara sauce? Think again! This recipe only takes 4 steps and can easily be mastered by beginners. This recipe would be great for many cheap and easy family meals including the spaghetti and meatballs meal mentioned previously.
54. Homemade Mashed Potatoes (My Heavenly Recipes) – Cheap and easy family meals don’t get much cheaper or easier than this. You only need 5 minutes of prep time to whip up creamy homemade mashed potatoes. Yum!
55. Homemade Hershey Chocolate Syrup (My Heavenly Recipes) – No list of cheap and easy family meals would be complete without at least a little something sweet. Instead of paying for name brand chocolate sauces and exposing your family to unpronounceable ingredients, make your own chocolate syrup with this simple recipe.
56. Homemade Garlic Bread (My Heavenly Recipes) – Bread has gotten a bad rep recently but I still love it. In my opinion, no Italian meal would be complete without a piece of garlic bread. If you agree, round out your cheap family meal with this simple garlic bread recipe.
Hopefully these 56 cheap and easily family meals show you how to make a meal your family will love without breaking the bank or spending your whole day in the kitchen.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration for cheap and easy family meals, be sure to check out:
- 39 Cheap Meals for Large Families – Even if your family is small, you can still take advantage of these great recipes.
- 40 Cooking for a Crowd Recipes – These recipes are great for large families, parties, or if you just want to ensure there are leftovers.
- 36 Easy Cheap Chicken Recipes – See just how exciting chicken can be with these cheap and easy family meals.
- Freebie Finding Mom’s Easy Dinner Recipes on a Budget Pinterest board.
Cynthia Gore says
Would love to have this book!