There are many ways to stretch a dollar at dinner time. Usually these meals are the most expensive because many families think they need to eat meat with their meal. One way to make the most of your grocery dollars is to either incorporate meatless meals or to get creative with your meat a few meals a week.
Here are a few meatless meal ideas.
- Fettucini alfredo
- Bean and cheese burritos
- Black bean soup
- Beans and corn bread
- Breakfast for dinner
- Loaded baked potatoes
- Pizza (cheese and veggie only)
- Chef salad (skip the ham)
- Greek salad
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Open tacos
Adding one of two meatless meals to your weekly menu can cut your grocery bill, and your family might be delighted with breakfast for dinner.
Another way to save money is to stretch your meat. Some families feel they must have some sort of meat with their meal. You can achieve this with recipes where meat is not the main dish. Casseroles, pastas, and salads are great meals that use meat as a side.
- Mexican Chicken Skillet
- Steak and Wild Rice with mixed veggies
- Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Pink Pasta with Grilled Chicken (add 1 sliced grilled chicken breast to the recipe)
- Chicken Tetrazzini
- Chicken Pot Pie
If your family must have meat as a main dish, consider cheaper cuts of meat. My family has grown to love chicken legs, which are significantly cheaper than chicken breasts. Purchase a whole chicken, cook it in the slow cooker all day, and then save the broth for chicken stock. Pull the meat off the chicken for use in many meals to come, casseroles, pot pie, chicken salad, etc. You can get 3 or 4 meals out of one chicken.
Try substituting ground turkey for ground beef in you meals. I substitute turkey for beef in tacos, chili, shepherds pie, and sloppy joes, just to name a few. Any meal where the meat absorbs the flavor of the sauce is a good start for substituting.
Consider starting your family’s meals with a salad. It will help fill everyone with healthy vegetables before the main dish arrives.
Drink water with meals. Juices, milk, teas, sodas all raise the price of a meal considerably.
Serve smaller portions. I am not suggesting starvation. But rather serve smaller portions to start and if your family is still hungry they can have seconds. Smaller servings for kids can mean less food in the garbage after meals.
Incorporating even a few of these ideas will help cut your weekly grocery bill. If your family is hesitant make the changes slowly, don’t overwhelm them with your new menu plan.
Thanks for these great ideas! We do all water and I only buy apple juice for the little ones! We have been able to save lots by having 2 ground meat/turkey meals in a week and using 1 package for the 2 meals. I also check the “Manager’s Special” section in the meat department to get great deals on protein items…just cook right away or freeze right away! We also do breakfast for dinner…takes the pressure off to think up and create “another big meal”!
Great tips…I’m just realizing that we don’t need meat in every dish. As in just in the last few weeks! There are a ton of great recipes out there with beans and other sources of protein. Why am I just figuring this out?
great tips, I am being super frugal after a recent splurge on some furniture…just found your blog, off to look around for more tips, we survive on one income too, best decision I ever made 13 yrs ago to stay home with my kids!
Great post! Another idea for your list is fried rice. I always make vegetable fried rice, its so easy! I make a double portion of rice the night before. I melt a little butter (that is how they do it at hibachi) in a large skillet, then mix up the cold rice with some grated carrot, peas, chopped spring onion, and a couple eggs that I scrambled and chopped up into little pieces. I just dump it all in the pan, add a a little bit of soy sauce (just enough to give it a light brown color) and fry it for 5-10 minutes.
Great post. We had beans & rice for dinner last night. 🙂
I just planned our menu for the month of August, and made sure to incorporate one meatless (or practically meatless) meal every week.
Thanks for the recipes!
These are great ideas! I’m working on lowering our food budget to be able to stay home when we have our first child in December! Thanks for the great ideas!
Breanne Vasquez says
Thanks – I will work on some of those. We have a hard time not eating meat at every meal (and I used to be a vegetarian). My husband is not! OK – I have never done a whole chicken in the slow cooker. Do you just stick it in there? Spices?
I agree. We do Meatless Monday and then Brinner on Wednesdays and so far hubby hasn’t balked. LOL!
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for letting others know about incorporating some meatless (or
near meatless) meals into their menus. People don’t often think of all
the vegetarian foods they already eat that might be frugal in their
Eating everything with meat in it can make everyone want the taste of
meat in all their foods and thus make the demand for the expensive
ingredient: meat. It can be an endless cycle. Give your taste buds
something new to try. Eat a vegetarian meal! =)
My version of this is to cut the meat amount in half in most of these dishes (I feed 5 adults and 2 littles). We use the amount of meat needed to serve four in most meals and increase the other stuff to fill in.
Audra Krell says
I grew up eating meat every night so I was so shocked to realize that we don’t have to eat meat at every dinner! It was so freeing and I’m sure much healthier too!
Great ideas! Can’t wait to implement some of these ideas and to try to casserole too!