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Meal Ideas

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Meal Ideas

Cheap Meals Your Family Will Love

One area of our budget that I have always struggled with has been groceries. I’m really likely to overspend in this category if I’m not careful. Meal planning has been a really useful tool in addition to following some of these steps for grocery shopping on a budget.

When times have been tight, I have had to be really thoughtful about the foods I buy and the meals we prepare.

I’ve also  found that during these lean times it’s super easy to get caught in a rut. I go for what I know is cheap and easy and we eat the same things week in and out.

Honestly, there is only so much spaghetti a person can eat.

If you’re like me and are looking for some new cheap family friendly recipes to spice up your meals than this list of budget meals is for you!

Cheap Meals For When You're Broke #familyfriendlyrecipes #budgetmeals

A Few Things Before I Get Started

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I mentioned meal planning above, but if you skimmed right over that part I just want to stress again what an important tool meal planning has been in helping us reduce our grocery bill. You can download my meal planning guide here. This guide will give you a weekly meal plan printable, master list of meals, grocery list template and more!

Now that that’s out of the way here are the recipes.

All of these recipes can be made for under $10 and are all family friendly meals! I’ve tried to include recipes that only include pantry staples. No crazy ingredients that you’ll try once and never use again.

Dinner Recipes

Chicken Divan - Cheap Family Friendly Meals

Easy Chicken DivanMore the Marier (pictured above)

Crunchwrap SupremeDelish

Orange Glazed ChickenSouthern Living

Stewed Pork and SquashMy Recipes

Chicken PaprikashMartha Stewart

Baked Ranch Chicken Tenders and VeggiesDamn Delicious  

Poor Man’s Stew The Magical Slow Cooker

Meatball SubsGood Cheap Eats

Pizza CupcakesBigger Bolder Baking

Chili Pasta SkilletI Wash You Dry

One Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice The Girl Who Ate Everything


These hearty soups are delicious and filling. You can serve them alone or with bread, fruit or a side salad.

Potato Soup - Cheap family Friendly Meal Ideas

Easy Slow Cooker Potato Soup Families with Grace (pictured above)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla SoupBudget Bytes

Cheesy Ham Corn ChowderTaste of Home

Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup  – Peas and Crayons

Easy Italian Sausage and Pasta SoupThrifty Frugal Mom



A good inexpensive side can transform a meal immediately.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese - Cheap Family Friendly Meal Ideas

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese Journey to SAHM (pictured above)

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Green BeansSavor and Savvy

The Easiest Homemade Steak FriesFaith Filled Food For Moms

Restaurant Style Fried RiceAll Recipes

5 Minute Parmesan Ranch BroccoliYellow Bliss Road

Baked Sweet Potato ChipsMinimalist Baker


Snacks and Treats

3 Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies - Cheap Family Friendly Meal Ideas

3 Ingredient Healthy Oatmeal Banana CookiesTons of Goodness (pictured above)

Choco Banana BarsLittle House Living

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake CookiesFabulessly Frugal

Homemade Strawberry MuffinsThe Hillbilly Housewife


Gluten Free Meal Ideas

Mediterranean Dish - Cheap Family Friendly Meals

Simple Mediterranean Tomato DishSage and Citrus (pictured above)

No Fuss Gluten Free MeatloafThe Spruce Eats

Steak FajitasPaleo Newbie

Mustard Glazed Salmon SteaksWoman’s Day

Crispy Gluten Free Chicken StripsThe Movement Menu

These cheap meal ideas that are kid friendly are good for your budget and your health! These easy dinner recipes are perfect for when you are low on cash. Each recipe is under $10! #cheapmeals #budgetrecipes
meal plan for busy nights | easy meals
Meal Ideas

25 Easy Meals for Busy Nights

Now that school has started, we are getting back into the swing of things. This means after school activities, homework and everything in between. It also means it’s time to pull out my list of easy meals for busy nights.

There are many nights we are running from one place to another. Especially now that the kids are older, they are much more involved in after school activities.

While I love that my kids are participating in after school sports and arts, it makes for more hectic afternoons and much less time for cooking and getting dinner out on the table.

A lot of the times we get home late and everyone is starving or we need to leave early for practice and there isn’t enough time to prep dinner.

Planning ahead is so very important to making sure we have something quick and easy for dinner on these nights. You can check out this meal planning guide to see how we build our weekly meal plan.

If you’re looking for tips and inspiration for making a healthy meal plan, you should check out this Healthy Meal Planning Bundle – It includes tons of recipes, ready to use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes and a whole bunch more. You can download some sample meal plans from the bundle for FREE here.

In addition to meal planning, I have created a go to list of easy meals for busy nights. These are easy meals are tried and tested by yours truly. Also, they are all kid tested and approved.

25 simple weeknight dinners for busy families #mealplanning #familyfriendlyrecipes

25 Easy Meals for Busy Nights

No/Little Cooking Meals

Friends, I’m here to tell you that home cooked meals don’t always have to involve home cooking. Grant yourself a little bit of grace and check out these no to little cooking easy meals for busy nights. I serve all these options with fruit and raw veggies on the side for quick and healthy weeknight meals.

Sandwiches  Ham and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Tuna fish. Pick your favorites, slice up some fruit and carrot sticks and voila! Healthy meal. This is a great one for on the go dinners.

Scrambled Eggs

Macaroni and Cheese

Hamburgers  Throw those bad boys on the grill, top with some cheese and you have a group of happy kids and very little clean up!


Instant Pot Meals

The Instant Pot is awesome for so many reasons, but mainly because it cooks things so fast and the meals are usually one pot meals. Less mess + less cleanup = Happy Mom.

These are a few of my favorite east Instant Pot dinners that the kids love:

Easy Lo Mein From Kirbie Cravings

Sesame Chicken From Julie Harrington

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole From Adventures of a Nurse

Picadillo From Skinny Taste

Bang Bang Pasta From Kirbie Cravings

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta From Rebooted Mom

Instant Pot Pizza Pasta From Family Fresh Meals


Slow Cooker Meals

I love crockpot meals but some can actually be really time consuming! I have listed a few favorites that only require you to dump the ingredients in the crockpot and walk away. You can always make double batches if you have particularly busy weeks!

Salsa Chicken With Black Beans and Corn  From Skinny Taste

Cowboy Brisket From Country Living

Chicken Soup From Delish

Slow Cooker Jambalaya From Creme de la Crumb

Lemon Chicken From Melanie Makes

Kielbasa Green Beans and Potato Casserole From Bake at Midnite

Chicken Tortilla Soup From Country Living


Make Ahead Casseroles for the Freezer

Nothing is easier than opening your freezer, and reheating some already cooked meals. Yes, you can buy pre-made freezer meals at the store but a lot of the time they are chock full of sodium and other questionable ingredients and quite frankly, they just don’t taste as good as homemade. With a little planning, you can make a whole bunch of freezer meals on the weekend and set your self up for a month or two of pre-prepared healthy meals. Here are a few of my favorites.

Easy Cheeseburger Casserole From Six Sisters Stuff

Baked Chicken Pesto Alfredo From Happy Money Saver

Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon and Potato Bake From Kylee Cooks

Freezer Bean and Cheese Burritos From Money Saving Mom

Spinach Lasagna Rollups From Six Sisters Stuff

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole From My Recipes

Traditional Meatloaf From Taste of Home


With a meal plan and this list of easy meals for busy nights you will easily be able to get healthy dinners on the table with a lot less stress. What are your go to easy meals for busy nights?

 Download the Meal Planning Guide to organize your meal plan for those busy weeknights!

25 easy meals for busy nights

easy meals for busy nights
Super Easy 30 minute meals or less for busy families. All kid-friendly and budget friendly meals.

Salad dressing | recipe | clean eating recipe
Meal Ideas

Mustard Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

This recipe is actually the only salad dressing I make in our house because everyone loves it so much! My four-year-old dips absolutely everything in this “dress up” and she is a huge salad fan. She never ate salad until I started making this dressing.

It’s also great as a meat marinade. At least once a week I marinate chicken in this dressing and I know the dinner will be a hit. My son actually told me my marinated chicken is better than Chik-Fil-A. Take that!

Prep time is quick and this recipe uses simple ingredients most people have on hand or that can be used for a variety of different purposes.

Making your own salad dressing is a great way to cut down on costs. For what it costs to buy the ingredients you can make more than a months worth of dressing for a fraction of the cost. And there are no preservatives or other funky ingredients in this homemade salad dressing.


Mustard Vinaigrette Salad dressing. Simple clean ingredients the whole family will love this!


½ cup White Vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

½ Tsp. Pepper

1 ½ Tsp Salt

2 Tsp minced Garlic

1 Cup Grapeseed Oil

I have recommended using Grape Seed Oil for this salad dressing for a couple of reasons:

  1. Grapeseed Oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids.
  2. It makes the dressing smooth. Other oils like Olive Oil, can get chunky when left in the fridge our will separate really easily. Using Grapeseed Oil ensures all the ingredients blend really nicely and come out of the bottle as a dressing not oil than vinegar.
  3. Grapeseed Oil has a high smoke point. This just means you can cook it at higher temperatures than other oils, like olive oil, without smoking and burning. If you plan on using this as a marinade, this will help to ensure your marinated foods don’t get charred.
  4. Be sure to purchase grapeseed oil that’s cold pressed or expeller pressed. This means that there were no chemical solvents used in the processing of the oil.

Combine and Whisk all ingredients. Let rest for at least 2 hours before serving.


You can download the Recipe Card!


Super Easy and Clean Salad Dressing | The only homemade salad dressing you will ever Need | My kids dip everything in this salad dressing #healthyeating #healthyfood #eatingclean #eatingwell #groceryhaul #homemade




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