Frugal Eats

SUPER Cheap Meals Your Family will Love, with Cost Effective Proteins!

I’ve amassed a HUGE list of super cheap meals to feed my family as frugally as possible. I’m sharing some of my best, go to meals in this post to keep our budget tight and right! Meat, is generally the most expensive component of a meal, so I’ve tackled that issue head on. We don’t eat vegan (no offense to vegans), so cutting out meat entirely just isn’t an option. This list of 25+ “cheap meat” meals is a lifesaver!

Super Cheap Meals, Protein Options:

These are the proteins I typically base our meals from, their costs and how far they stretch:

  • Pepperoni$2.26 and feeds us 6-8 times.
  • 8 oz Ham Steak$1.98 and feeds us twice.
  • Rotisserie Chicken$7.99 and feeds us 4-6 times.
  • 12 pack Chicken Thighs$8.19 and feeds us 4-6 times.
  • 6 pack Chicken Legs$3.69 and feeds us twice.
  • 12 oz Beef Kielbasa$2.66 and feeds us 2-3 times.
  • 16 oz Ground Sausage$1.94 and feeds us 2-4 times.
  • 4 Pack 12.5 oz Canned Chicken$7.48 and feeds 8-16 times.
  • 4 pack 5 oz Canned Tuna$2.68 and feeds us 4-6 times.
  • 16 oz Great Value Original Bacon$3.12 and feeds us 2-3 times
  • 32 Count Eggs, $4.65 and feeds us 4-16 times

I’ve divided my go-to super cheap meals by protein type below:

Poultry

Thighs and legs are the cheapest cuts of chicken to get the most bang for your buck. But, the cheapest and quickest way to get bulk chicken for meals is with a deli rotisserie. Pair these meals with healthy veggies and a small portion of rice or pasta for a wholesome family meal.

Italian Parmesan Chicken

  1. 12 Chicken Thighs, Boneless & Skinless
  2. 1/3 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  3. Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Salt & Italian Seasoning to Taste

Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Toss chicken thighs in remaining ingredients. You can be very liberal with the seasonings. Spread out in greased pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the top is slightly crisp and golden brown.

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My Italian Parmesan Chicken Thighs; in a snap!

Baked “Fried” Chicken Legs

  1. 6 Pack Chicken Legs
  2. Vegetable Oil
  3. Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Garlic Salt, Paprika, Pepper and Season Salt to Taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss chicken legs in just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle, liberally with each seasoning on all sides and under the skin. Bake on foiled baking sheet for 45 minutes, rotating once.

Eggs

Eggs are SUCH a frugal staple and make for fast, super cheap meals. You can add them to any meal to punch up the protein or to make a meal stretch. I often make a quick fried rice or breakfast hash for lunch when I’m in a pinch, using left over rice or potatoes. Adding in the scrambled eggs makes a quick and cheap meal that will give you lasting energy.

Chow Mei Fun & Fried Rice

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My Chow Mei Fun Stir Fry Noodles. Perfect for lunch or dinner!
  1. 1 Egg
  2. Chow Mei Fun Noodles (1 Section) or 1 1/2 C Cooked Rice
  3. Grated Carrot, about 1/4 Cup
  4. Green Onion, two sprigs, chopped
  5. Garlic Powder, Ground Ginger to Taste
  6. Oyster Sauce, about 4 dashes or to Taste

If using noodles, cook according to package directions. Lightly oil medium sized pan or wok and heat over medium high heat. Add in carrot and cook until soft. Add in egg and scramble. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pork

There are so many pork, protein variations and I use a lot of it because it is so inexpensive. Super cheap meals come easily with this ingredient.

Sausage & Rice casserole.

PRO TIP: I love a good french bread pizza, especially because I can get an entire loaf for $1 at Walmart. I pre-cut sections and put them in the freezer until I need them (be sure double bag and thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter before baking!).

Sausage Stroganoff

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My Sausage Stroganoff; in a snap! Fast, family dinner!
  1. 16 Oz Mild Sausage Case
  2. 16 oz Wide Egg Noodles
  3. 2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
  4. 1 Package Onion Soup Mix
  5. 1/2 Cup Sour Cream

Cook noodles according to package directions. Brown Sausage in medium sized pan over medium/high heat. Mix with remaining ingredients. Done! Makes a ton!

Ham, Tortellini Alfredo

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My 20 Minute Tortellini Alfredo with ham and broccoli. So delicious!
  1. 1/2 8 oz Package Ham Steak, Chopped
  2. Great Value Frozen Cheese Tortellini
  3. Alfredo Sauce, 1 Jar (I use Classico 4 Cheese)
  4. 1/2 lb Broccoli, Chopped
  5. 1/3 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  6. Garlic Salt to Taste

Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees. Combine ingredients through, 4 in mixing bowl and pour into greased (sprayed) 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with garlic salt to taste and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Pizza Ravioli

  1. About 24 Slices Pepperoni
  2. Great Value Frozen 5 Cheese Ravioli
  3. 1 Jar Great Value Chunky Garden Pasta Sauce
  4. 2 1/2 C Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
  5. 1/3 C Parmesan Cheese

Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread frozen ravioli over the bottom. Pour Sauce over top, covering as much of the pasta as possible. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and Parmesan Cheese. Top with pepperoni. Bake for 20 minutes.

Bacon, Zucchini Stir Fry (Inspiration From my Aunt Teresa)

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. Bacon & Zucchini Stir Fry; in a snap!
  1. 1/2 Package of 16 oz Great Value Original Bacon, Cut into Bite Sized Pieces (I use kitchen scissors)
  2. 3-4 Medium Sized Zucchini, diced
  3. 1 Very Large Onion Cut into Rings
  4. Soy Sauce

Cook Bacon halfway done in a medium pan or wok over medium high heat, then add in zucchini and onion until veggies are fully cooked, but not mushy. Eat over rice with a little soy sauce.

*The French Bread Pizzas and Individual Tortilla Pizzas are super customizable. The basic instructions are as follow: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a backing sheet with aluminum foil and spray or grease. Bake for 10 minutes.

Easy, peasy, barbeque chicken tortilla pizza.

Beef

Beef is generally the most expensive meat. However, I’ve found that Beef Kielbasa is a cost effective and tasty way to enjoy beef in super cheap meals. I do get the occasional ground beef when it’s on sale for yummy traditional tacos, chili, or spaghetti, but my money saving favorite is Kielbasa. Below, are my go-to Kielbasa meals.

Country Baked Beans & Sausage

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My Country Sausage and Baked Beans. Easy, delicious dinner!
  1. 22 oz Can Barbecue Baked Beans.
  2. 1/2 Kielbasa Rope, Cut in Bite Sized Pieces
  3. Medium Onion Cut into Rings
  4. 1 T Butter

Cook onion in butter over medium high heat until translucent. Add kielbasa and baked beans and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Serve with cornbread muffins and salad.

Red Beans & Rice

  1. 1/2 Rope Kielbasa
  2. Medium Onion, Diced
  3. 1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
  4. 1 Can Kidney Beans
  5. Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Salt to Taste and Cajun Seasoning to Taste
  6. Couple Dashes of Soy Sauce
  7. Chicken broth to thin if desired.

Brown Kielbasa and onion over medium high heat. Add Remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice.

*There are so many crockpot recipe options out there for gumbo that sound great. I usually just eyeball my own as we’re a big gumbo eating family and I’m used to the flavor profile and ingredient amounts. Any recipe will make for a super cheap meal because it’s basically just veggies and your inexpensive protein. Pick one, and sub out whatever meat their using with Keilbasa. You can also add rotisserie chicken. We always include chicken in our gumbo.

From a Can!

Don’t count these out! I promise these are delicious and don’t feel like “from the can” eating! Trust me! Super cheap meals from cans, that taste good, are totally doable.

8 Can Taco Soup.

Super Frugal Hawaiian Haystacks

25+ Super cheap meals your family will love, using cost effective proteins. My Easy & Quick Hawaiian Haystacks, kids love!
  1. 1 Can Chicken
  2. 1/4 of 8 oz Cream Cheese Block
  3. 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  4. About 1/2 Can Milk
  5. Garlic Salt to Taste
  6. Toppings of Choice (i.e. Pineapple, Green Onion, Bell Pepper, Cheese, Olives, Lettuce, etc.)

Drain Chicken and break up in medium pot. Add in remaining ingredients through 5. Mix and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Eat over rice with favorite toppings.

Tasty Cheap Chicken Salad Sandwiches

  1. 1 Can Chicken
  2. 1/4 of 8 oz Cream Cheese Block
  3. Light Mayo, 1/4 C
  4. 1/2 C Chopped Grapes
  5. 2 Sprigs Green Onions, Chopped
  6. 1/4 C Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (Optional)
  7. Onion Powder, Garlic Powder and Garlic Salt to Taste

Warm cream cheese in microwave for 10 seconds. Mix with remaining ingredients.

Super Cheap Meals Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoy these super cheap meals with our family. I love finding and creating new frugal recipes! For even more super cheap eats, check out my 25+ Best Healthy Frugal Snacks.

What are some of your favorite super cheap meals? Let me know in the comments and like and share if you loved these ideas!

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2 Comments

  1. Cool site. Thank you for posting

    1. Olivia Hall says:

      Thank you, Carey! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

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