HomeHealthBest Frugal Meals to Prepare on a Limited Budget {Under $5}

Best Frugal Meals to Prepare on a Limited Budget {Under $5}

Are you looking for quick and frugal meal ideas? I was in the same situation a few years ago. FRUGAL – a simple and plain meal when you have no money makes a lot of sense to save money instead of splashing one unnecessary thing.

frugal meals

If you face a dilemma, it is perfect for investing in one frugal eating habits for a big family. After looking at the average spending on food, it is found that Americans are eating away their income by spending massive amounts on groceries and dinner dates.

But as an alternative, you can cook a myriad of tasty and cheap meals at home with limited ingredients. Along with my ideas and some which I tried from the internet, here is a list of super delicious frugal dinner ideas to help your family eat well.

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Wondering How to Save Money? Why Do People Choose to Eat Frugal Meals?

Some families spend too much on buying groceries and dining out instead of saving money for the future. Recently I have noticed food can be expensive. This is because I love to eat in large quantities, and every morning, we store it for the next time. 

meals on a budget

Suppose you decide to save money on a weekly plan. The one plan you choose will help with the spending, and you can end up visiting the store just once per week. 

What Makes a Meal Frugal?

If a recipe only needs some ingredients to make a full-blown dish, it is regarded as a frugal meal. Your grocery items’ affordable list can last you for a long time with less than five ingredients.

But that doesn’t mean you can omit the recipe if the ingredient list is very long. Sometimes most of them include herbs or seasonings. Try to exclude meat a few times a week as meat makes your list expensive to make budget email work.

Also Read: 9 Types of Honey With Amazing Facts {2020}

10 Frugal Meals To Make When You’re On a Tight Budget

Here is the list of meals that you can eat to save money:-

frugal eating

1. Black Beans and Rice

This simple dish is served as a staple in many cultures. To make, you only need a handful of ingredients that costs little. To do this, follow simple steps like-

frugal meals

  • Heat oil in a stockpot
  • The heat should medium-high
  • Add onion and garlic to saute for 4 minutes.
  • Now, add rice and saute it for another 2 minutes.
  • It’s time to add vegetable broth and slowly bring it to boil.
  • From medium heat, lower the heat and cook 30 minutes more.
  • Don’t forget to add all the spices and black beans to finish it off.

List of Ingredients for frugal eating

Olive oil (1 Tbsp)  25 Cents
Vegetable broth (1- ½  cups) 50 Cents
Ground cumin (1 Tbsp) 25 Cents
Cayenne pepper (¼ tsp) 25 Cents
Uncooked rice (¾ Cup) 50 Cents
Garlic cloves (2) 50 Cents
One large chopped onion 99 Cents
Canned black beans (3 – ½ Cups) $1.98

By making this dish, you will have saved 80 cents from the total of $4.79

2. Grilled Cheese With Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato sauce is a classic recipe that makes my mouth water every time I think about it. It is one of the most nutritious frugal meals for a perfect lunch with your loved ones. 

meals on a budget

  • Butter some slices of bread
  • Now lay them out on a hot frying pan.
  • Lay a slice of cheese on each bread and top it with another buttered bread
  • Heat it on both sides till the cheese looks melted.
  • You can eat it with a box of organic tomato bisque or homemade creamy tomato soup as well.

Ingredients for both Grilled cheese and Tomato soup

Bread  $1.99
Sliced Cheese 50 Cents
Creamy tomato soup $2.99
Can of vegetable stock $1.99
Can of crushed tomatoes 99 Cents
Heavy cream (1 Cup) 50 Cents
Fresh Basil Leaves $1.99

3. Homemade mac n’ cheese

Every kid in the house loves mac n’ cheese, so it’s time to stop spending on takeaways and make it by yourself instead. 

frugal eating

  • Start by boiling a box of pasta.
  • In another pot, blend the milk and flour with salt, sugar, and pepper for flavor.
  • Keep stirring the pot occasionally until it is boiling and lower the heart.
  • But keep stirring till it thickens.
  • Now, it‘s time to add the shredded cheese and continue mixing till it’s melted.
  • Add the mixture to pasta, and it’s’ ready to serve

You can add extras like ham, tomatoes, bacon crumbles, tuna for elevated taste.  

Box of pasta $1.9
Whole milk (3 cups) $1.09
Flour  (3 Tbsp), sugar, salt 25 cents
Shredded cheese $2.24

4. Oatmeal and banana

Oatmeal is a popular frugal meal and one of my favorites in the meatless area.

frugal dinner ideas

  • Cook steel-cut oats and add your favorite fruit.
  • Add cinnamon and raisins.

Also Read: How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat? Check it Out – 21 Day Flat Belly Fix Complete Review

This meal has a tendency and tons of energy to get you through the day, and it doesn’t take much to make. Overall you can expect to spend only 83 cents per serving.

Steel-cut oats $2.99
Sliced Fruits $2

5. Spaghetti with marinara

To save costs by preparing these frugal, healthy meals, you can make marinara sauce easily at home.

frugal healthy meals

  • Start by adding a large can of tomatoes onion and saute it.
  • Add a pinch of garlic and keel sauteing for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste during the process.
  • Now, your marinara sauce is ready; all you have to do is add the flavourful sauce to cooked spaghetti.
Can of tomatoes (1 large) $1.49
Medium Onion (½ ) 50 cents
Garlic 25 cents
Loaf of bread $1.99
Spaghetti Package $1.19

6. Lentil stew

This recipe was recommended by one of my cousins, who shared it over Instagram. 

frugal meals

  • Add 2 cups of lentils, diced tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic, dried dill, a stick of butter in a big pot.
  • Add water and bring it to a boil.
  • After a while, lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes more, occasionally stirring so that the lentil won’t get dried.
  • Add salt and pepper to the dish as a finishing touch for flavor.
Lentils (2 cups) $2
Diced Tomatoes (½ ) $1.49
Onion 99 cents
Garlic and dill 50 cents
Butter 49 cents

7. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a classic high always proclaimed by celebrities in most movies. As an iconic dish, you must give this a try as a frugal eating habit.

meals on a budget

Just use the bread, peanut butter and slather homemade jelly on the tip –  the taste is suitable to please anyone.

Jelly $1.99
Peanut Butter $1.99
Bread $1.99 

8. Bean burritos

Bean burritos is another one of the frugal meals that are considerably cheap and healthy. 

frugal eating

  • Add chopped vegetables and toppings like tomato, onion, and a few cilantro.
  • Now, heat a can of black beans.
  • It’s fine if you heat the tortillas on the stovetop  – seconds.
  • Now, lay each of the tortilla Flatley and add spoonfuls of bean on the center.
  • Wrap the tortillas with additional toppings like rice or cheese, and it’s done.
Flour Tortillas (8) $1.88
Can of Black Beans 99 cents
Lettuce head 99 cents 
Tomato 60 cents
Cilantro $1
Onion 79 cents
Shredded cheese $1

9. Scrambled eggs and toast

Scrambled eggs and toast is the first dish for many families in the Midwest. It is one of the frugal healthy meals for breakfast, and you can whip up the dish in a few minutes without much effort.

frugal dinner ideas

Start whipping up a dozen eggs and toast the bread. You can also add Nutella, jam, or jelly to make it more fun for kids.

Dozen of eggs $1.99
Bread $1.99 
Toppings $1


Also read: Why Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump is Life-Changing For Moms? A Complete Review {2020}

10. Pancakes with apple slices

Pancakes – just the word brings a pleasant smell like breakfast, which I make every weekend.

frugal healthy meals

Instead of preparing pancakes from scratch, you can use the premade mix as well. All you need as an ingredient is pancake mix, milk, and fruits. Just make sure to follow the instructions mentioned in the package.


Best Frugal Meals Which Includes Chicken

Here is a list of dishes made with chicken if you like meat very much. Chicken is my absolute favorite, and I eat them at least twice a week.

 frugal dinner ideas

1. Grilled Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

Grilled chicken is a delicious dish that can cure your non-vegetarian cravings. Start the process by washing sweet potatoes and cutting them in thick circles. 

 frugal meals

  • Add the sweet potatoes to a bowl and add olive oil until they are covered everywhere.
  • Lay them on a baking sheet
  • Sprinkle some of the cajun seasonings on them and bake them for 400 degrees up to 35 minutes
  • Grill and cooks chicken breasts until they are not pink anymore and serve it with barbeque sauce
Chicken breasts (6) $8
Sweet potatoes $2
Barbeque sauce $1

2. Bacon and broccoli pasta salad

Bacon and broccoli pasta salad and an easy frugal meal that makes your day warmer. By doubling the ingredients, it can serve four people.

meals on a budget


Basics pasta shapes

Cooking bacon


Baby leaf spinach

3. Lamb kebabs in pitta

This meal can be completed within 4 dollars. The map and mutton mince makes a great kebab dish making your dinner special.

frugal eating


Lamb and mutton mince

Bread crumbs

Greek-style yogurt



White pitta

4. Spaghetti Bolognese

This recipe is quick and much cheaper than you think. After buying simple ingredients, you can go ahead with all the spices you’ve got.

frugal dinner ideas



Beef mince




5. Sausage, peppers, and onions

This dish is simple to make and full of first-class flavors. All you have to do to taste the wonder is Slice up some Italian pork sausage, bell peppers, sweet onion, garlic and saute them in a large pot. Add olive oil, paper, and salt to taste. Now, with a box of pasta, enjoy and serve them together.

frugal healthy meals


Italian sausage links

Sweet onion

Bell peppers

Box of pasta


Olive oil




List of Frugal Red Meat Meals

frugal healthy meals

My mothers’ favorite meat is beef. Here are the red meat dishes, which I found amazing while making it weekly for my family. 

1. Pizza Casserole

frugal healthy meals

2. Mongolian Beef

frugal meals

3. Beefy Cheesy Tortellini Bake

frugal meals

4. Calabaza

meals on a budget

5. Korean BBQ Meatballs

frugal eating

6. Keto Big Mac Salad

frugal dinner ideas

7. Korean Beef

frugal healthy meals

8. Taco Spaghetti

frugal meals

9. Beef Stroganoff

meals on a budget10. Cheeseburger Casserole

frugal eating

What Do People Think About Effective Meals on a Budget? According to People’s Opinion and Internet Research

Here are the screenshots to know know what people really think about it

frugal dinner ideas

frugal healthy meals

The Bottom Line

To have guilt-free and frugal healthy meals, all you have to do is spend less than 1 dollar per head. Instead of eating through your income, make sure to save money by preparing easy and cheap meals with few ingredients at a time. Moreover, it also doesn’t take much time to prepare.

If you have found this article helpful, do let us know in the comment section below!

Ishwar Deep
Ishwar Deephttp://ishwardeep.com
Head of Content @ Whitedust (or, in plain English), I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC.

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