20 Really low budget meals if you’re feeling the pinch

low-budget meals Beanstalk mums

This article about low-budget meals was last updated in 2024.

It doesn’t matter how much you struggle with money; you still have to feed your family. But, when funds are low, it can be a real challenge.

You need to keep the costs down while still producing something yummy and nutritious … and get the thumbs up from your kids.

We get it. It’s hard.

For this reason, we’ve put together a list of really low-budget meals if you’re feeling the pinch.

20 Really low budget meals for if you’re feeling the pinch

This one-pot sausage bolognese is one of our fave low-budget meals. It’s cheap, filling, and easy to prepare even if you’re in a rush (it’s on the table in 30 minutes).

One Pot Sausage Bolognese | low budget meals

Recipe source: Taste

Next time you’re craving meat, try this veggie-packed spin on the dinner staple. The zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, and extra lean mince make it healthier and more flavourful.

Veggie Packed BBQ Meatloaf

Recipe Source: Celebrate Health

This meal is perfect if you have kids who are not fond of vegetables. It has carrots, celery, and capsicum, but we bet they will not even notice because of the cheesy goodness!

Creamy Tuna Mornay | low budget meals

Recipe Source: Australia’s Best Recipes

We absolutely love cheesy, filling, low-budget meals. This kid-friendly meatball recipe comes together in half an hour and costs next to nothing.

Baked Cheesy Meatballs

Recipe source: Best Recipes

Get ready to salsa your way into a fiesta of flavour with this zesty Mexican Quinoa! Packed with colourful veggies, spicy jalapeños, and protein-rich black beans, it’s a fiesta in a bowl. Simply cook quinoa, mix in your favourite Tex-Mex ingredients, and voila! It’s one of my go-to low-budget meals that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.

Mexican Quinoa | low budget meals

Recipe source: Freebie Finding Mom

If you want a cheap, tasty dish that’s easy to make and tastier than any boxed mix, sneak in some cauliflower in the mac and cheese for dinner tonight (we promise the kids won’t notice).

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Recipe source: Country Living

Say bonjour to the ultimate pizza hack! French bread pizza is the epitome of comfort food that meets convenience. Just grab a baguette, slather it with marinara sauce, sprinkle on your favourite toppings, and bake until bubbly and golden. It’s quick, it’s budget-friendly, and it’s customisable—perfect for a casual dinner or midnight snack.

French Bread Pizza | low budget meals

Recipe source: The Pioneer Woman

Here’s another easy, low-budget meal that lets you sneak in veggies without disappointing your children. Spaghetti just got healthier with finely chopped mushrooms, zucchini, and celery.

Veggie Filled Bolognaise Sauce

Recipe source: Stay at Home Mum

Super cheap meal ideas to feed your family

Craving the classic taste of a juicy cheeseburger without the fuss (and on a budget)? Say cheese because this cheeseburger casserole has got you covered! Layered with savoury ground beef, melty cheese, and golden tater tots, it’s a comforting twist on a beloved favourite. Bake it up and watch your kiddos flock to the table. This flavour-packed low-budget meal will satisfy even the pickiest eaters!

Cheeseburger Casserole | low budget meals

Recipe source: The Pioneer Woman

Bean dishes are some of the healthiest, low-budget meals you can make. Even bean-haters will love you if you make this tasty spin on cottage pie for dinner tonight.

Easy Baked Bean Cottage Pie

Recipe source: Taste

Jamie Oliver’s spiced veggie rice is not only cheap and yummy but also a dish you can serve all day. It takes less than an hour to make and is packed with flavour, nutrition, and texture.

Spiced Veggie Rice with Poached Eggs | low budget meals

Recipe source: Jamie Oliver

This affordable and super easy comfort meal gets a nutrition boost from broccoli florets. If you don’t want to scare away the kids, cut the broccoli into really tiny pieces.

Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Pasta

Recipe source: BBC Good Food

One cup of low-budget meals should be in every mum’s recipe box. Make this easy quiche with pantry staples in no time at all. Throw in your favourite shredded veggies for a healthier dish.

One-Cup Quiche | low budget meals

Recipe source: Best Recipes

Vegetable soup is perfect when the days are cold, and you want something hearty and full of flavour. Serve with chicken or meat or enjoy it on its own. It also makes a great lunchbox soup.

Vegetable Soup

Recipe source: Kid Spot

Really low-budget meals (cont.)

Let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting with this tater-tot masterpiece! Simply toss in layers of crispy tater tots, seasoned ground beef, and creamy cheese sauce, then set it and forget it. Hours later, you’ll be rewarded with a bubbling hot dish that’s as cozy as it is comforting. It’s the ultimate comfort food with minimal effort—perfect for busy weeknights or lazy Sundays.

Recipe source: Damn Delicious

Low-budget meals like this peanut butter chicken freeze well and make excellent brown bag lunches. The spice is just right, and the taste is a crowd-pleaser.

Peanut Butter Chicken

Recipe source: BBC Good Food

This tasty, low-budget pulled pork recipe requires only three ingredients. It is cooked in the slow cooker for six hours and served on hamburger buns.

3-Ingredient Pulled Pork | low budget meals

Recipe source: Table Spoon

Chicken and mushrooms smothered in butter and garlic? What could be better than that? This low-budget meal will be a guaranteed hit for the whole family. Plus, it takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook!

One-Pan Garlic Butter Chicken with Mushrooms

Recipe source: Australia’s Best Recipes

Take a break from meat dinners with this easy and healthy one-pan Greek risoni. It comes together in less than an hour with ingredients that you already have in your pantry.

One-pan Greek Risoni with Tuna | low budget meals

Recipe source: Taste

Make low-budget meals like this cheesy potato and bake them healthier with veggies. The three cheese mix perfectly masks the zucchini taste to please picky eaters.

Cheesy Potato and Zucchini Bake

Recipe source: Best Recipes

Summary: Yummy low-budget meals for your family

Providing our kids with proper nourishment on a budget can feel like a daunting task. One big hurdle for me is the idea that eating healthy has to cost a lot. Plus, finding the time to plan and cook wholesome meals from scratch isn’t always easy, especially with a busy schedule.

Then, there’s the challenge of finding affordable ingredients. Depending on where you live, getting your hands on budget-friendly staples and fresh produce might not be as straightforward. Limited access to affordable groceries can make it tough for families trying to eat well without spending a fortune. And let’s not forget the pressure to make every penny count. Fresh fruits, veggies, and lean meats are sometimes pricier compared to cheaper, processed alternatives. Sometimes, we feel like the only option is to go for cheap, calorie-packed foods that aren’t exactly filled with nutrients.

But there are plenty of tricks and tips to help you overcome these challenges. Start with our list of low-budget meals, and use them to whip up scrumptious but nutritious dishes that won’t break the bank. You can also plan meals and buy in bulk to get creative with leftovers. It also helps to explore budget-friendly protein sources like beans and lentils. With a little planning and a lot of love, you can serve up delicious low-budget meals that will nourish both body and soul. Happy cooking!

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