Dirt Cheap Meals

30+ Dirt Cheap Meals – Delicious and Easy

Looking for dirt cheap meals? In today’s article, we’ll be sharing some super budget-friendly options that could save you and your family a fortune on your grocery bill! 

Cutting back on food costs may seem like a difficult challenge, but trust me, it is completely doable. Each meal in this post is easy to make and won’t take over your life. Let’s get started…

Why would I make dirt cheap meals?

Let’s start with an obvious point, these meals are super cheap to make. I get it, something that’s ‘dirt cheap’ may not sound very appealing. Please, don’t let that put you off! These meals are all super tasty. Not only that, they’re also quick and easy to make too. 

Our cheap meal suggestions will definitely help you and your family survive during tough times. You don’t have to suffer with a bad diet either. You can make balanced and nutritious meals and not have to worry about missing out on things such as fruit and vegetables. 

If you’re looking for a place to start cutting down expenses, your grocery bill is a great place to start. 

Let’s take a look at some of the meals on offer!

Our favorite dirt cheap meals

Check out these dirt cheap meal ideas below for breakfast, lunch, and dinner below. Whether you’re dining solo or cooking for the whole family, these are all simple and hassle-free. Plus, they can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less. Saving you both time and money!

Dirt cheap meals – breakfast ideas

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Fuel your body ready for the day ahead with these delicious and fast meal ideas. Most importantly, they’re all budget friendly and come in at under $5 for you and your family.

Overnight oats

Overnight oats is a really quick and easy breakfast idea that you can prep the night before. Grab a cup or jar, pop all your ingredients in, then place into the fridge overnight. You can add all sorts of flavors like fruit, nuts and delicious peanut butter.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of rolled oats 
  • ¼ cup of yogurt (greek, natural, etc)
  • ½ cup of milk
  • Optional flavorings

Total: $2.70 to serve four (depending on flavors chosen)

 Price per serving: $0.65

French toast

This is another delicious favourite in our household at the weekend! Simply preheat your pan and add cooking spray, then whisk together your egg, millk, salt and vanilla into a separate pan. Dip your bread on either side, place onto your heated pan and sprinkle with sugar (or cinnamon, delicious!) 

Wait for it to turn golden brown then add your favourite toppings like strawberries or syrup, and you have yourself a cheap, delicious breakfast

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 slices bread
  • Pinch of salt

Total: $3.20 to serve four 

Price per serving: $0.80

Scrambled eggs

Eggs are relatively cheap and if you buy in bulk, you can save money and use them in multiple meals across the week. Crack your eggs into a bowl and add any salt, milk or butter, depending on what you prefer. 

Then, whisk with a fork and pour onto a preheated pan. Mix with a spatula in the pan and serve when ready. You can also add cheese or serve with a slice of toast to help fill you up more.

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Slice of bread (optional)

Total: $3 to serve four

Price per serving: $0.75

Breakfast muffins

I love this one! Breakfast muffins are great because you can multiple batches and freeze to last you throughout the week. Simply whisk some eggs up, add your favourite fillings, pour into a muffin tray and pop them in the oven for like 20 minutes. Job done!

 Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Vegetables e.g. pepper, spinach, tomato
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Butter

Total: $3.50 to make 12
Price per serving: $0.29

Cereal

Ingredients

  • 30g of whatever cereal you like – e.g. cornflakes
  • Milk

Total: $1.90 per box (average)

Price per serving: $0.23

More cheap breakfast ideas

Some more tasty and cheap breakfast options include

  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Omelette
  • Breakfast burritos 
  • Yogurt and fruit

Dirt Cheap Lunch Ideas

Lunch can be made very cheap and healthy, yet it’s the one where most of us fall down and spend $5-10 daily on convenient lunches at work. This list will help you find super simple lunch options that you can literally make in minutes for very little cost…

Chicken salad

Despite popular belief, salads do not have to be a fancy, expensive lunch. You can buy cheap cuts of chicken and reduced salad in the supermarket to make it a dirt cheap yet tasty lunch.

Ingredients

  • Pack of pre-cooked chicken
  • Salad leaves 
  • Salad dressing

Total: $6.35 (based on ingredients for 5 lunches)
Price per serving: $1.27

Vegetable soup

Vegetable soup is delicious and since meat is often the most expensive cost, vegetable soup suits even the tightest budget. Buy loose veg or frozen packs, but try to avoid pre-packaged soup packs, as they work out more expensive. 

Simply choose your favourite vegetables, boil up some stock, blend up and heat. You can also freeze soup, which makes it perfect for a quick lunch too!

Ingredients

  • 500g of vegetables of your choice (e.g. carrots, leeks, tomatoes)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Total: $3 (based on ingredients for 5 lunches)
Price per serving: $0.60

Tuna sandwiches

Tuna sandwiches are a delicious and healthy lunch idea that won’t cost a fortune. You can mix with mayo or salad dressing and chop up red onions or relish to add to the flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of  tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions or pickles (optional)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 2 slices of bread

Total: $4.20 (based on ingredients for 5 lunches)
Price per serving: $0.84 per sandwich

Pasta salad

Pasta is amazing for both dirt cheap lunch and dinners! Boil your favourite kind of pasta and chuck in some vegetables. Once it’s ready and drained, stir in a creamy mayo or salad dressing. You can also add chicken and things like tuna, but this will bump up the price slightly.

Ingredients

  • 280g of your favourite pasta
  • Vegetables e.g. peas, carrots, broccoli, etc 
  • ¼ cup of mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • ⅓ cup of vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon of salt 

Total: $3.30 (based on 5 servings)
Price per serving: $0.66

 BLT sandwich

I couldn’t not include this in the list! One of these could set you back up to a whopping $7 in a sandwich shop. However, if you make them at home, we’re talking less than half of that price.

Ingredients

  • Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato (obviously!)
  • Bread

Total: $4.30 (based on 5 servings)
Price per serving: $0.86

Leftovers

Let’s be honest, leftovers taste awesome! If you’ve had a cheeky takeaway, why not save a few slices of pizza or a portion of Chinese for your lunch the next day? If you’re looking for a healthier or cheaper leftover option, have a look below at some of our delicious, dirt cheap meals for dinnertime…

Dirt cheap meals for dinner

So we’ve covered breakfast and lunch. Do you find it difficult to save money when it comes to dinner? Are you tempted by takeaways when you get home from a hard day at work? Don’t worry, we know it’s tough! That’s why we’ve included our list of dirt cheap meals for dinner to help save you spending more than you need to each evening. 

Here are our top picks of cheap dinner ideas….

Lentil stew

Lentil stew is a great dirt cheap meal to serve you and your family at dinner. You can also use alternative beans and pulses to mix it up. As there’s no meat, it’s a fab, cheaper alternative to traditional stew. The best part? You can just chuck it all in a pot and let it cook.

Ingredients

  • 3 sliced carrots
  • 3 sliced celery 
  • 1 diced pepper (your choice of colour)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups dry green or brown lentils 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Total: $3.99 (serves four plus loads of leftovers!)
Price per serving: $0.99

Chili con carne

This is another popular choice in our household. Chili con carne is super cheap to make and once you buy your staples, you can use them again and again. Similar to other meals on this list, you can also use a slow cooker to make this and cook extra for lunch leftovers or a second dinner time that week. 

Boil the rice, fry your mince, add your beans, tomatoes and veg, then let it all cook. So yummy!

Ingredients

  • 500g of Beef mince (or quorn mince if vegetarian) 
  • Boil in the bag rice
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Tin of red kidney beans
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • Chilli powder 
  • Salt and pepper

Total: $4.55 (based on 4-6 servings)
Price per serving: $0.75

Lasagne

Lasagne is another perfect dish to save money on food in your house. It’s also a guaranteed crowd pleaser. After all, pasta, cheese, what’s not to love? You can also make a veggie version if beef isn’t your favourite. Grab your lasagne dish, load up all your sheets and meat, cook your veg and pour on your white sauce, then leave in the oven until done.

Ingredients

  • Lasagne pasta sheets
  • 400g of beef mince (or Quorn/veggie alternative)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Carrots and peppers (optional)
  • Chopped onions
  • Mixed herbs
  • Grated cheese
  • White pasta sauce

Total: $4.70 (based on 6 servings)
Price per serving: $0.78

Egg fried rice

Egg fried rice is a delicious dish in its own right and it’s super cheap to make at home. Simply crack your eggs into a bowl and beat them together, then heat a wok or frying pan up. 

Pop your eggs into it and scramble up your eggs. Then leave them to one side and use your pan to cook your vegetables and rice. Mix it all up, add soy sauce, and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 cup of diced red onion 
  • ½ a bag of frozen veg
  • 4 cups of cooked rice 
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Total: $4.65 (based on 4 servings)
Price per serving: $1.16

One pot casserole

Casseroles are a lifesaver if you’re on a budget! They are a hearty and filling dish, and you can add whatever you like to the pot. Below are some really simple ingredients to use in your one pot casserole dish but you can obviously fill up your pot with all the flavours and ingredients you love.

Ingredients

  • Frozen roast potatoes 
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 onions 
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 small broccoli
  • Chicken stock
  • Seasoning

Total: $5 (based on 5 servings)

Price per serving: $0.83

Mac and cheese

Mmm another tasty midweek dirt cheap meal classic! This one is SO easy to make too. Simply add your macaroni to a large pan or pot, add water until covered, then boil on a medium heat. Then, add your evaporated milk and stir. Finally, add your cheese and serve up. So cheap and yummy!

Ingredients

  • 45g of box elbow macaroni 
  • Can of evaporated milk
  • 4 cups shredded cheese of your own choice

Total: $3 (based on 4 servings)
Price per serving: $0.75

Pizza

You can buy ready made pizzas quite cheap in supermarkets, but they can be even cheaper if you make them yourself from scratch. Choose cost-effective toppings like cheese, pepperoni and peppers, and you’re onto a winner! Pick up a premade base, spread your sauce and toppings across, and stick it in the oven to bake.

Ingredients

  • Pizza base (or make your own)
  • Tomato puree 
  • Grated cheese 
  • Toppings of your choice e.g. pepperoni, vegetables, etc

Total: $2.50 (based on one pepperoni pizza)
Price per serving: $0.41 per slice

Beef burgers

Sometimes, you just crave a takeaway burger. Well, why not make your own at home for a fraction of the cost? Believe it or not, beef burgers are pretty easy to whip up. Just mix up all your ingredients into a bowl and bind with an egg, flatten out into burger shapes, leave the ingredients to stick together for at least 30 mins, then pop on the grill or BBQ to cook and enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 500g of beef mince 
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 burger buns
  • Any optional sauces or salad (sliced tomato, lettuce, ketchup, mayo, etc)

Total: $4.35 (based on 4 burgers)
Price per serving: $1.08 per burger

Hot dogs

Hot dogs are so underrated as a cheap dinner idea! They are super quick and fun to make, and don’t cost the earth either. You can even make a real night of it by adding a movie night with your kids.

Ingredients

  • Hot dogs in a can
  • Hot dog bun
  • Mustard and toppings e.g. onions

Total: $4 (based on 6 hot dogs)
Price per serving: $0.60

Chicken & rice

Chicken and rice is the ultimate easy and cheap dish to whip up mid-week. There are loads of different variations, spices, and packs of flavoured rice to make sure it’s never boring! Simply buy a pack of frozen chicken, have a few packs of rice handy, chuck in some vegetables and spices, and you have yourself a delicious, dirt cheap meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of frozen chicken (600g)
  • Vegetables e.g. peas, carrots, broccoli, etc 
  • Packet rice of your choice
  • Spices of your choice

Total: $5.50 (based on 6 servings)
Price per serving: $0.91

Spaghetti

Finally, I can’t recommend this Italian favourite enough! Spaghetti is super cheap and makes a perfect meal that you can enjoy as a quick midweek meal, or spice up for a special treat. My version is very basic and cheap, but still tastes amazing, if I do say so myself! You can cook and serve however you choose.

Ingredients

  • 224g of spaghetti 
  • Canned tomatoes  
  • Frozen vegetables 
  • Any herbs or sides as chosen e.g. garlic bread

Total: $1.50 (based on 4 servings)
Price per serving: $0.37

Cheap meal sides & extras

If you’re looking for sides to add to your meal, you can also find cheap staples that you can eat again and again with a variety of meals throughout the day.

Here are some ideas…

  • Frozen fruit & vegetables
  • Baked potatoes
  • Side salads
  • Yogurt
  • Fries & wedges
  • Mash potato
  • Creamed spinach 
  • Cauliflower cheese
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Deviled eggs
  • Coleslaw
  • Sweet potato

FAQS – Dirt Cheap Meals

Hopefully, these meals have inspired you to try or create your own dirt cheap meals. In this last section, we help answer any questions you may have before you get started.

What meal can I make for $5?

You can make most of the meals above for $5 or less. Each of our suggestions contains super cheap ingredients such as pasta, canned tomatoes, and cheaper options like frozen chicken. In addition to meals like spaghetti, chicken and rice, casseroles, etc. you can also make risotto, burritos, soups and noodles for less than $5.

What do you eat when you’re broke?

If money is seriously tight, there are still plenty of things to eat when you’re broke. I would always recommend canned goods and buying things like pasta, rice and pulses in bulk to cook for multiple meals. You can also find cheaper cuts of meat at supermarket counters and reduced ingredients closer to their sell-by dates.

What’s the cheapest meal to make?

One of my favourite and cheapest meals to make is spaghetti. You can make it with two basic ingredients – a pack of spaghetti (which you can pick up for like 80 cents) and canned tomato sauce, which costs very little too. It’s a great option whether you’re living alone and only cooking for yourself, for students, or if you have a family.

How can I get free food with no money?

If you’re really struggling, did you know you can get free food? Search online for freebie sites in the US and collect coupons in supermarket magazines for 100% free food offers. You can also get so many free samples on manufacturer websites and apps for new and existing companies launching new products. 

Some companies will even send you free food samples or coupons in the post if you email them and ask nicely. You can also get paid to test food and drink as a mystery shopper, or become an influencer to get free stuff to try in exchange for a post online.

Conclusion

There we have it! Our ultimate list of dirt cheap meals to try this week. You can also create a meal plan to help you stay organised and keep on budget next time you go to the supermarket. Let us know how you like the meals in the comments.