Join our mailing list to find out more ways to make and save money with little time and effort.

10 Simple Money Saving Recipes For A More Frugal Lifestyle

Some of these links may be affiliate links and we may receive compensation when you sign-up for offers. See our disclosure policy. All information on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.

If you are trying to save more money, one of the first places to start is in the kitchen.

Most often, when people are overspending it is usually on either eating our or at the grocery store.

Eating out every day obviously gets very expensive fast, even if you are eating at cheaper restaurants or fast food chains. 

And when you grocery shop without a plan, it is easy to overspend on items or pick up things you don’t need simply because they caught your eye. 

That being said, grocery shopping can get a little intimidating, especially if you aren’t much of a cook. Thankfully you don’t need to be a fancy chef to put together delicious, simple and cheap meals.

The recipes I’ve listed below will definitely help you save money and if you shop at discounted grocery stores like Aldi’s or the Grocery Outlet, you can really stretch your dollar and stock up on goods.

With most of these recipes you can have lunch or dinner covered for $10 or less, with leftovers too!

1. Spaghetti Bolognese

One of my favorite meals and probably one of the simplest out there is spaghetti bolognese, or spaghetti and meat sauce. 

Spaghetti is a meal that comes together quickly and can feed a large or small family with ease. Pair it with a simple side salad and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.  

Keep in mind that this is the bare minimum kind of spaghetti recipe. If you are feeling fancier you can chop up some fresh onion and garlic and add to your meat as you brown it. 

Or you could top your pasta with fresh parmesan cheese. Or instead of sticking with ground meat, roll them up and turn this into spaghetti and meatballs. 

To make this meal even cheaper, you can cut out the meat entirely and go vegetarian to save some extra cash.

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Spaghetti Noodles: $.50
  • Pasta Sauce: $1.00
  • Ground meat of choice: $3
  • Approximate Meal Total: $4.50

2. Tuna Casserole

I love a classic dish like tuna casserole because it is so easy and fuss free.

Plus it is another meal you can make a large batch of and enjoy leftovers throughout the week or even freeze some for future use. 

Since this meal has the peas and carrots thrown in, I consider it to be complete and doesn’t require something like a side salad. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Egg noodles: $1.50
  • Canned tuna: $.75 (x 2 = $1.50)
  • Cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup: $.94 (x 2 = $1.88)
  • Can or frozen bag of peas and carrots: $1.00
  • Approximate Meal Total: $6.00

3. Beans and Rice

I know beans and rice may not sound like a hearty dinner, but trust me it is. And with so many different types of beans available, you can switch this meal up easily. 

Traditionally, I like to make this meal with red beans, but black beans, kidney, pinto and great northern beans work too. 

The beans will provide you with the protein and fiber to keep you full, while the carbs from the rice will keep you energized. If you choose brown rice over white, the meal with keep you satisfied longer. 

This is another meal that you can have a salad on the side for some green on your plate or choose your favorite vegetable and enjoy. 

For meat lovers, you can opt to throw in some ground meat  or sausage of choice or serve with a piece of chicken or pork on the side. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Beans (Dry): $2.00 for lb
  • Onion: $.50
  • Rice: $1.50 for lb
  • Celery: $1.00
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: $2.00
  • Approximate Meal Total: $7.00 (tack on another $3 – $5 if adding meat

4. Nachos or Tacos

Nachos and tacos are always a crowd favorite, with kids and adults alike. It is one of those meals that can come together last minute because it requires minimal ingredients. 

When having this as leftovers, you can have one night of nachos and one night of tacos. That way you feel as if you are eating something new.

Nachos and tacos can actually have a lot of extra ingredients if you want them to. You can top with things like cilantro and sour cream. Or even chop up some jalapeno or avocado to throw on top.

Just keep in mind that the more you add the more expensive everything gets. Also, if you omit the meat above and stick with beans as your source of protein, you can keep this meal under $10.

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Tortilla chips or taco shells: $1.50 
  • Onion: $.50
  • Canned black beans: $.99 
  • Lettuce: $1.25
  • Ground turkey or beef: $3.00 
  • Shredded cheese: $2.00 
  • Salsa: $2.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $11.50 

5. Grilled Cheese and Soup

Grilled cheese may seem like a child’s meal, but I find it to be really satisfying. Especially in the fall and winter when paired with a side of hot soup. 

Lunch and dinner don’t get any simpler than toasted bread with cheese. Any novice cook can throw this one together. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Bread: $1.50 
  • Block Cheese: $2.00 
  • Butter: $$1.50 
  • Canned soup: $1.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $5.00 

6. Burger and Fries

I love a good burger and tend to make them a lot during the warmer months, when you can pretty much grill every day. 

I also love that you can vary the type of burger you have, from a classic burger with cheese to a greek burger or turkey burger. Vegetarians can even enjoy black bean burgers.

Throw some homemade fries on the side and you have a satisfying meal. And since you’re already grilling, feel free to toss on some bell peppers for roasting or even corn. 

I listed onion because I like to mix it in with my ground meat, but you could skip this and opt to use the onion as a topping for your burger instead, along with lettuce and a slice of tomato.

And instead of buying pre-packaged fries, it’s cheaper to buy a bag of potatoes and cut and bake them yourself. Not only will fresh fries taste better, but you can use those potatoes with other meals.

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Burger buns: $1.50 
  • Ground Meat: $3.00 
  • Onion: $.50
  • Block cheese: $1.00 
  • Bag of potatoes: $2.00
  • Lettuce: $1.25
  • Tomato: $.50
  • Approximate Meal Total: $9.75

7. Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great spring and summer meal since it doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. 

But I also find it satisfying in cooler weather too, as I think the meal can be enjoyed warm as well as cold, depending on the vegetables used.

This recipe can be customized to however you like it. I provided the standard version of pasta salad, but I like to add carrots, cucumber, and beans or cubes of cheddar cheese to make it more filling.

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Pasta of choice (typically penne or fusilli): $1.00 
  • Italian salad dressing: $1.25 
  • Broccoli: $1.50 
  • Cherry tomatoes: $2.00 
  • Black olives: $.50 
  • Bellpepper: $1.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $7.25 

8. Grilled Vegetables and Chicken

This is another dish that can be customized to include whatever vegetables that you love. It’s also a great meal for the spring and summer months.

This recipe also works in the winter as then the vegetables can be roasted instead of grilled. I didn’t provide a recipe link since this is best prepared however you want to flavor it.

I like to throw a little salt and pepper on the vegetables and some basic barbecue sauce on the chicken to keep this dish quick and easy 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Chicken (thighs are generally cheaper): $4.00 
  • Bellpepper: $1.00 
  • Mushrooms: $2.50 
  • Zucchini: $1.00  
  • Approximate Meal Total: $8.50 

9. Lasagna

Lasagna can be a real labor of love in the kitchen but is oh, so delicious once it is ready to eat. 

This is a great meal for large families or if you are cooking for friends, as you can easily make a lot of it. 

Even if you aren’t feeding a large crowd, you can still make this and freeze some for future use. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Ground Meat: $3.00 
  • Pasta Sauce: $1.00
  • Lasagna noodles: $1.50 
  • Ricotta cheese: $3.00 
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese:$2.00 
  • Shredded parmesan cheese: $2.00 
  • Eggs: $2.00 (price for a dozen, but you only need two for the recipe)
  • Approximate Meal Total: $14.50 

10. Chili

There are so many different types of chili you can make. Classic, turkey, chicken, vegetarian and even white chili. 

All of them are delicious and contain basically the same formula of ingredients such as beans, tomatoes, and meat (if not vegetarian). 

Chili is one of those dishes that can be enjoyed year round and I’ve seen it served on it’s own, and over things like rice, nachos and even spaghetti noodles. 

Because of the different ways you can enjoy this meal, I feel like it never gets old. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Ground Meat: $3.00 
  • Canned diced tomatoes: $1.00
  • Black beans: $.99 
  • Kidney Beans: $.99 
  • Chili seasoning packet:$.50 
  • Onion: $.50
  • Shredded cheese: $2.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $9.00 

11. Loaded Baked Potato

That bag of potatoes you bought to go with your burger can be used again with this meal, along with the chili from above.

Again this is one of those recipes that can be tweaked to your preferences. You can cover yours in chili, or just stick with bacon and cheese.

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Bag of potatoes: $2.00 
  • Canned chili: $1.00 ( or use your chili leftovers from above)
  • Shredded cheese:$2.00 
  • Onion: $.50
  • Bacon: $3.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $8.50 

12. Lentil Dal

I make this meal at least once a week. It is incredibly easy to make and very filling.

With just four ingredients, the cost is pretty cheap, assuming you already have spices like cumin, salt, pepper, and paprika on hand. 

I don’t usually add anything extra to this dish, but if you have vegetables starting to go bad in the fridge, just dice them up and throw them in the pot.

It won’t hurt this recipe at all. 

Average cost of ingredients and meal total:

  • Dry Lentils (1lb): $1.00 
  • Tomato (4-6): $2.00 
  • Onion: $.50
  • Garlic: $1.00 
  • Approximate Meal Total: $4.50 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully one of these recipes caught your eye and you give it a try. I make all of them pretty regularly for my family.

Not only only are all of these cheap but  most of them require very little effort to make.

When you are busy, the last thing you want to worry about is spending hours making dinner. Some of these can be made in advance over the weekend, so you only have to reheat throughout the week.

Number 12 is my absolute favorite of the bunch because it is both vegetarian and so easy, and even my meat loving husband devours it. If you decide to make any of these, I highly recommend that one.

Thanks for reading and happy eating!

Earn Fee Cash Online: The Survey Junkie survey site is a FREE survey site that pays you to take surveys online. There's absolutely no cost to join, and payouts can be made to either PayPal or for a gift card of your choosing. The best part? Some people are earning at a rate of up to $15 - $20 per hour. It's 100% free to join. We've partnered with Survey Junkie to give you a 25-point sign-up bonus when you register using our link and complete your initial profile information.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.