One of the biggest places in my budget to save more money is groceries. In fact, I think that I will be able to drop my grocery budget a bit after the holidays. But to maintain this, I am desperate for some new ideas for quick and easy meals. By this, I mean to replace the Ramen nights and the sandwich nights. We are getting a bit tired of both.
Now don’t get me wrong, we (or rather I) do not eat Ramen very often. The kids eat it a bit more frequently when they have to make their own food. But sandwiches are my go to choice when we are rushed or tired or I just don’t have an hour to prepare dinner. (I eat a sandwich every day for lunch if there are no other leftovers to eat, which is fine.)
Princess especially does not like sandwiches. Even though I often have different sides…chips, pickles, grapes, veggies and dip. I think the sandwiches are just getting old.
Leftovers aren’t really available come dinner time because both History Buff and I will eat them for lunch if available. So I must provide a new dinner nightly. And there are just some nights, I need something quick. I’m sure this is not an unusual issue in busy families, whether there are two working parents for a single one.
Hit me with your best ideas for quick and easy and health and cost effective dinners. Preferably made from ingredients that stay fresh for a week or two.
I have started prepping some additional sides to be able grab and go as well:
- Pasta salad with feta cheese, olives and little pepperonis.
- Chopped up veggies with a new dip every week or two.
- Cut up fruit for smoothies (this is great, except Princess doesn’t do smoothies.)
We don’t own a microwave so I don’t do any pre-made items. Although that thought has crossed my mind more and more. Especially as we get into soup season, it would be nice to be able to quickly re-heat soup versus having to put it on the stove.
What are your go to meals when you need something quick? I’m placing a grocery order tomorrow, so any advice would be great!
Hope is a digital marketing manager and foster/adoptive single mom to five kids. She has run her own consulting company for over 15 years and took a leap of faith returning to the corporate world in 2021 to a job and team she loves! Hope began sharing her journey with the BAD community in the Spring of 2015 and feels like she has finally mastered the balance between family first and wise financial decisions.
7 can chili or chicken taco soup + baked potato/quesadilla/cornbread/grilled cheese. It’s pretty healthy, cheap, and ingredients are all shelf stable. Also, frozen veggie stir fry over rice comes together quickly (use jarred sauce to make it even easier or make your own).
Pancakes and sausage (or waffles or french toast)
scrambled eggs and toast
hot dogs or bratwurst
taco salad (using left over nacho ingredients)
baked potatoes with fun toppings
Sheet pan dinners – lots of ideas for these online – just throw stuff on a cookie sheet and bake
shepherds pie (scramble hamburger with onions and salt and pepper – drain, place in casserole dish, cover with a can of corn, and then use an instant potato packet and put over corn, bake for 30 minutes)
Also, to jazz up sandwiches – use tortillas or na’an bread or fun cheeses, etc. Sometimes just warming them up or grilling them makes them more delicious.
Crock pot is your friend! You can do big soups, chilis, pulled pork or chicken, etc. You can freeze portions for later and enjoy what you want at the time. You can make a big batch of corn muffins that would go with any of the above and freeze those as well. You can also cook a large amount of chicken breasts and shred the meat and freeze for easy starters for tacos, salad, etc.
Pasta with jarred sauce or a quick homemade meat sauce (Brown 1 lb of hamburger, season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and italian seasoning, add 4 small cans tomato sauce, bring to boil) tacos, chicken salad (steamed chicken breasts on top of salad), breakfast for supper. You can also cook a double batch of food to plan for more left-overs.
There are many things that are quick and easy to fix for dinner when life gets busy.
Scrambled eggs with toast
peanut butter toast with yogurt and fruit
spaghetti with meat sauce
pancakes and sausage
grilled cheese and soup
oven baked brautwurst and fries
steamed rice with veggies and a protein
crock pot chicken noodle soup
crock pot chili
crock pot beef stew
chicken thighs in the crock pot with carrots and potatoes
crock pot vegetable soup
crockpot pork tenderloin with bbq sauce serve on rolls
from scratch mac and cheese with a white sauce (basically any kind of cooked pasta, butter flour, milk, and cheese made on the stove top)
fresh vegetables, fruit, hard boiled eggs, and cheese
whole chicken in the crock pot with vegetables
I make many doubled/tripled soups and stews in our 6 quart crockpot. We eat some that evening and freeze the rest in single serving sizes. Doing this once every week or two, we soon have a freezer full of a wide variety of meals. I also make and freeze a crockpot full of pasta sauce with no added sugar or salt and add a pound of shredded carrots to up the vegetable content. Having pasta once a week, this lasts the two of us 3-4 months and is almost as easy at the end of a tough day as the frozen crockpot soups and stews . It’s lots cheaper than bottled sauce and better for us. I’m vegetarian and have no trouble finding loads of great slow cooker recipes online and meat-eaters have it even easier! Doing this for a short time should cut the grocery budget enough that you could justify a small microwave.
Chicken, beans, and salsa. Put 2 cans of rinsed, drained beans in the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. Put a pound of chicken breasts on top. Pour a 16 oz jar of salsa on it. Cook til the chicken is done.
Go follow onehundreddollarsamonth.com. She has an infinite number of ideas and suggestions. Every single recipe I’ve found on that blog has been a hit. She also lives simply and frugally, and you can find plenty of inspiration.
Aren’t you diabetic? If so ideas like pasta or rice may be cheap but would be difficult on your body. A website I enjoy is Prevention RD. Her recipes include nutrition information(she is a dietician) which makes it easier to determine whether the carbohydrate numbers fall within the range your health team has recommended for you. Once you get a diabetes diagnosis it becomes more important than ever to fill your body with good and healthy food to fuel it even if it means you spend a little more on food. Things like losing kidney function due to damage or going blind are not a good trade offs when it comes to saving money on food. Just a reminder.
I agree. The cost of good low carbohydrate food now is more than offset by the medical costs of unmanaged diabetes in the medium to long term future. Not to mention the loss of income and trauma that comes with diabetes related illnesses. Diabetes related illnesses are guaranteed, so it’s not speculative, the cost of appropriate food is 100% an investment in future health.
a person will require in the medium to long term future.
I thought you had type 2 diabetes? I have found that the cheapest way to cook relies heavily on carbohydrates. Since my own diagnosis I have found it hard to keep the cost of groceries down, as meat, fish, cheese, and above-ground vegetables are nearly 100% of my diet. I have resorted to keeping a diary of what each food costs at each location and working out where I can get what I need for the cheapest price per kilo. If you don’t moderate your carbohydrate intake then the possibilities for cheap meals are endless. I would double your dinners and put the extras into your freezer at a minimum.