30+ Dirt Cheap Meals – Delicious and Easy

Are you looking for dirt cheap meals? In today's article, we'll share 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 entirely 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, but they're also quick and easy to make too. 

Our cheap meal suggestions will help you and your family survive tough times. You don't have to suffer from a bad diet, either. You can make balanced and nutritious meals without worrying 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. 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. These meals will save 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 are a quick and easy breakfast idea that you can prep the night before. Grab a cup or jar, pop all your ingredients in, then place it into the fridge overnight. You can add 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 favorite in our household at the weekend! Preheat your pan and add cooking spray, then whisk together your egg, milk, 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 favorite toppings like strawberries or syrup, and you have yourself a cheap, delicious breakfast.

Ingredients

  • One egg
  • One teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Four 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 them 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 it with a slice of toast to help fill you up more.

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs 
  • One tablespoon butter 
  • One 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 make multiple batches and freeze them to last you throughout the week. Whisk some eggs up, add your favorite fillings, pour into a muffin tray, and pop them in the oven for like 20 minutes. Job done!

Ingredients

  • Twelve 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
  • Omelet
  • 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 you can make in minutes for minimal 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 five 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. 

Choose your favorite vegetables, boil stock, blend, and heat. You can also freeze soup, which makes it perfect for a quick lunch!

Ingredients

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

Total: $3 (based on ingredients for five 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 it with mayo or salad dressing and chop up red onions or relish to add to the flavor.

Ingredients

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

Total: $4.20 (based on ingredients for five lunches)

Price per serving: $0.84 per sandwich

Pasta Salad

Pasta is fantastic for both dirt cheap lunches and dinners! Boil your favorite 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, which will bump the price slightly.

Ingredients

  • 280g of your favorite 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 five servings)

Price per serving: $0.66

 Blt Sandwich

I had to include this in the list! One of these could set you back up to a whopping $7 in a sandwich shop. However, we're talking less than half of that price if you make them at home.

Ingredients

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

Total: $4.30 (based on five servings)

Price per serving: $0.86

Leftovers

Let's be honest; leftovers taste fantastic! 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, 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 each evening. 

Here are our top picks for 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

  • Three sliced carrots
  • Three sliced celery 
  • One diced pepper (your choice of color)
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups dry green or brown lentils 
  • 4 cups of water
  • One can of crushed tomatoes
  • One can of diced tomatoes 
  • One 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. Like 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 that week. 

Boil the rice, fry your mince, add 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 of rice
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Can 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, and cheese, what's not to love? You can also make a veggie version if beef isn't your favorite. 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 six 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, beat them together, and then heat a wok or frying pan. 

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

Ingredients

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

Total: $4.65 (based on four 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; 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 fill up your pot with all the flavors and ingredients you love.

Ingredients

  • Frozen roast potatoes 
  • Four chicken breasts
  • Two onions 
  • Four carrots
  • One small broccoli
  • Chicken stock
  • Seasoning

Total: $5 (based on five 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 medium heat. Then, add your evaporated milk and stir. Finally, add your cheese and serve it up. So cheap and yummy!

Ingredients

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

Total: $3 (based on four servings)

Price per serving: $0.75

Pizza

You can buy ready-made pizzas relatively 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. Mix 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 
  • One small diced onion
  • One egg
  • One tbsp vegetable oil
  • Four burger buns
  • Any optional sauces or salad (sliced tomato, lettuce, ketchup, mayo, etc.)

Total: $4.35 (based on four burgers)

Price per serving: $1.08 per burger

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are so underrated as a cheap dinner idea! They are quick and fun to make and don't cost the earth. 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 six 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 flavored rice to ensure it's never boring! Buy a pack of frozen chicken, have a few packs of rice handy, chuck in some vegetables and spices, and have a delicious, dirt cheap meal.

Ingredients

  • One 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 six servings)

Price per serving: $0.91

Spaghetti

Finally, I can't recommend this Italian favorite enough! Spaghetti is super cheap and makes a perfect meal you can enjoy as a quick midweek meal or spice up for a special treat. My version is basic and affordable, but it tastes fantastic if I 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 four 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 various 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 start.

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 tight, there are still plenty of things to eat when you're broke. I 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 favorite 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

Did you know you can get free food if you're struggling? Search online for freebie sites in the US and collect coupons in supermarket magazines for 100% free food offers. You can also get 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 organized and keep on budget the next time you go to the supermarket. Let us know how you like the meals in the comments.