Cheap meal or snack ideas...Cutting the grocery bill...

[deleted account] ( 21 moms have responded )

I don't know about you but I never get anywhere looking up cheap and simple meal ideas on Google! So I thought it would be a good idea to get good ideas here. My BIGGEST battle is the grocery list. I always think I got a good plan going and then we still end up running out of everything by the end of the pay period! So if we could all share are tips and tricks on making good meals and snacks that will save money, I'm betting it will be a big help to almost every mom that reads this!

My tips and tricks: First of all I always make 2 grocery lists(and I stick to them)! One is for four things: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Drinks. The second list is for dinner food. and for that list its more of a chart where we plan out our meals. When we get to the store our dinner plans sometimes change if there is any sales then we come up with a new schedule to fit in that sale item. We always make a couple of bulky meals like chili, stew, roast, or casserole, because then we can have a couple nights that are leftover nights! My favorite cheap meal is chili! We use the leftover chili (for leftover night) and make chili cheese dogs. You just have to buy shredded cheese, hot dogs, and buns. Sometimes I switch it up and make chicken chili!
Any other cool meal ideas or grocery slashing tips?? Share them please.... :)


Crystal - posted on 12/30/2010




One of the biggest problems I have been having is how to eat healthy and still be able to afford it.

I almost never buy any vegetables in cans if at all possible.. especially after reading about metals leeching into cans of tomatoes on Prevention... ugh, used to make the handiest spaghetti, but such is life. I have also found there isn't a box mix on the planet than beat what I can make from scratch, and on things like cornbread and mac & cheese, it does not save me a large amount of time buying the box. It also allows me to switch the elbows for whole wheat ones and switch out the creaminess for some greek yogurt (love this stuff). I have genetic issues with cholesterol these days, so finding out I can switch out oil for apple sauce in baking recipes has done wonders for my diet. You also cannot put in a dash of bran, bulgar, wheat germ, or flax if you don't do it from scratch either. psssst... you CAN sneak spinach into brownies too if you puree them small enough >;)

1. Eat local and in season. The farmer's market is awesome, but if you don't have one, google farms in the area, I was surprised to find a blueberry patch nearby that charged $1/lb for all you can pick. So the inside of my mouth is purple for about 2 months. Sometimes local hobbyists sell veg out of the back of a pickup, don't fear them if they are pretty consistently there. Flea Markets may also be havens for these veg/fruit vendors.

2. Signup for email lists for places you actually shop. I say "places you actually shop" because it can be addictive (as can those coupons) for places and things you would never normally buy. I put coupons in that category. However, if you have regular spots you shop, you generally get better deals by being on the lists.

3. Generally I start off my trips at Aldi's after (getting the veg). Though it isn't a bang-and-dent store, they keep things low by not providing bags and only staffing about 1 to 2 people, so don't expect to be pampered, bring bags and bring a quarter... you'll need it for the cart (you get it back). I do like the idea above about the salvage grocery and found a place called Save-A-Lot here in SC. I will be checking this out. You get a $5 off $25 for signing up for their email list too.

4.Even though they are a bit expensive (not as bad as earthfare though), there is a natural food market nearby, very mom and pop, but I can get spices in just the quantities I need for a lot less than I would waste on the bulk preset quantities you get at a concentional market. Love the bins! No loss from spoilage.

5. this was my dirty little secret when I was hit with a 10% paycut a couple years ago (and only recently has that been changing). I clicked on every email they sent, signed up for every one I could really justify, installed the toolbar, did the searches and accrued whatever points I could. If I was planning to buy anything, I would go there first and see if I could get points for earning it from buying it online. I have managed to amass about 250 bucks a year in gift cards that I then spent to make my daughter's Christmas better than I ever could otherwise. They also provide the same coupons you can get at other online sites, but you get points just for using them. Generally, I would print them all, cut out what I needed and shared them with coworkers... so even if I wasn't the one using them, guess who benefited? They also have rewards for dining in select areas.

I've recently discovered Groupon isn't half-bad for some oddly otherwise high dollar items, or things that would normally be inaccessible to me.

Btw, I know it sounds like my inbox is a nightmare... but I use one specific account just for "lists" and nothing else. No personal stuff goes to it, and I can filter out and clean out what is no longer applicable. I highly recommend having a junk email you use for signing up for stuff.

Christy - posted on 01/08/2011




One of my favorites is breakfast burritos. I scramble up a dozen eggs with some green pepper and onion, throw in either diced ham or sausage, some shredded hash browns (cooked) and some cheese. You can make probably 12-15 burritos, I put two in a baggie and freeze. To eat later you can either thaw overnight and microwave in the morning or I will take a few out and bake them in the oven with a little salsa over them. Eggs are about the cheapest protein you can buy!

Jennifer - posted on 12/29/2010




I do something I call the 20/20/20/20 which is $20 meat, $20 produce, $20 snack/milk products and $20 lunch items. Typically I am able to stay on budget because I take 20 or so mins on Sunday with all the ads and only buy meat on sale and/or larger packages that I can use for multiple dinners. With regard to the produce if it is more than $1/lb I don't buy it. And I usually get my produce at our local Growers Market (year round Farmers Mkt). I write a blog and on my blog I share 5 ingredient recipes that are quick, easy and for the most part healthy (5 on Friday series; each Friday). Check it out.

Stacy - posted on 12/03/2010




You should consider coupons. My cabinets are full and I'm running out of places to put things...all because of coupons. Check out to help you get started. You won't be sorry.


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Bethe - posted on 03/22/2011




Every Monday I make a large crockpot of beans. Than on Monday we have a bown of rice and beans. Wednesday we have tacos or burritos. Friday we have Taco salad.
I will make Lentil soup, 16 bean soup, pasta with mushrooms or another cheap veggie and Veggie burger.
(We are a vegatarian family)

Tracy - posted on 01/11/2011




Campbell's Kitchen has some great ones...I list alot of grocery-bill slashing ideas on my web-site, stop by if you want! OH and Kraft sometimes has great recipes...

Jennifer - posted on 01/09/2011




I always get my Sunday paper and the grocery store sales papers. I then match up my coupons to the sales at the various stores. Ingles will double your coupons up to 50 cents. So i always try to use coupons for things that are on sales there, and I can get them doubled. Just don't get caught up in the "I have a coupon and have to use it" for things that you really don't need or normally buy. I also buy store brands when they are on sale. Most of the time they are just as good as the name brands.
I don't have alot of cheap meals, but I too would love to find some. Money is always tight around my house.

Jennifer - posted on 01/05/2011




I know walmart has a deal where you can buy two whole chicken for ten bucks. It last for a few meals, (diner, lunch, leftovers) and is if done in cockpot or presure cooker, get a can of veggie all (super cheap) and there is a whoe meal there.

Jessa - posted on 12/29/2010




Tater tot cassorle! It's one of my favorite things that is cheap to make. Mac n chesse and hot dogs another cheap favorite that kids will always like. There are lots of ways of making the same ingredients into diffrent meals. I know that we use chilli alot also for frito pie (chilli, cheese, fritos), then use it for chilli dogs without the buns we use toast. We also make alot of the frozen bag dinners that you get just about anywhere in the frozen meal area. Some are really healthy and they are so easy.

Kyla - posted on 12/20/2010




Kathrine that sounds like a great idea but who has time for that, and really by the time you drive all over town how much money have you really saved when youve used that much gas

Sylvi-jane - posted on 12/10/2010




use stores own recipy cards like sainsbury's feed the family for £5 or under depending where you buy you ingredience

Sylvi-jane - posted on 12/10/2010




Dont forget the for sale section in any supermarket use that day or freeze what can be frozen and use at a later date

[deleted account]

Awesome ideas! Alycia~ I do the mac and cheese and tuna thing also! Love it! I also know a good bulky dish...Mashed potatoes, sour cream, broccoli, cheese, diced ham, butter of course, and some bacon bits. Mix all that together and that dish will last for a week. I use it as a side dish for my meats (for dinner). Or its a quick lunch! Its sooo yummy too.

Ashley - posted on 12/04/2010




I see you have lots of replies but I have found in the recent months a way to cut our grocery bill in half and couldn't be happier!

You know that bulk of sale ads that comes in the mail every week that everyone just throws away?? Keep it!! Go thru the sale ads and see who has the better prices. We just started shopping at Tom Thumb (Safeway) about 6 months ago and I love it so much, I absolutely hate Walmart now. Here is what I do.
I go thru the ads every week, especially Tom Thumb's ad to see what they have on sale, focus on meat specials because obviously that is where the majority of your money goes. At first we were spending a little more money because we had to get stocked but they always have a special in the meat market. So whatever is on sale for the week is what I buy, I don't buy it if its not on sale. You would not believe the money we have saved by doing this, they put pork chops on sale for .99 a pound, chicken is often .30 or .40 a pound or buy one get one free, pork ribs are on sale often and usually about every other month they put steaks on sale for $2.99 a pound. They have an awesome meat market. And then everything else that is on my list, if they have a store brand for the product I buy it, I price match and I buy in bulk when there is really good sales. I make a list of course before I go and make a menu for 2 weeks at a time.

Some cheap meal ideas from a southern girl ; )

homemade hamburger helper: ground meat, elbow noodles or a package of mac in cheese, milk and water with seasonings to taste

soft tacos are extremely famous at my house

tex mex enchiladas: what I do is brown the ground meat and drain, add taco seasoning. Take a can of red enchilada sauce and cheap regular chili and stir together in a large bowl. Using burrito size tortillas dip them in the chili sauce on both sides and then lay flat in a baking dish, then spoon some hamburger meat onto the tortilla and a little bit of shredded cheese and roll it up, my pan hold about 6 and is always enough to feed a family of 4. When you have the pan full pour the remaining chili sauce over the tortillas and cover with shredded cheese and bake for about 20 minutes.

nachos with ground meat, refried beans and shredded cheese.

chicken alfredo, buy a can of alredo sauce, fettucine noodle and shred some chicken.

Katherine - posted on 12/03/2010





Start your quest by making a list of things you need to shop for. This doesn't have to be all food items, because we all know you can buy everything from apples to zucchini in the grocery store and everything in between. Collect the coupons you may be able to use for the items you need most.

After you've made your shopping list, look under salvage groceries in the phone book. A salvage grocery store sells cans of items that may be dented, boxes that may be crumpled or crushed and even jars of food that have no label. You may want to get your local newspaper and check the grocery ads to determine if they have good deals on meats and items you really need.

Once you've located the salvage stores and the grocery stores with the deals on items you need, write down their location and the names of each store. Now you can begin your journey. If you have several stores you are shopping at, begin with the farthest away from your home. Then you can work your way in towards home.

Get everything on your list at each store that you can find. If you have 30 items listed and can find 20 of them at one store, then you are more than halfway finished and have already saved money. The more you can buy in one place the better off you are. Once you get home, sit down with your receipts and compare the prices of items you bought. You will see you have saved on the average of 15 to 30 percent off of your usual grocery bill just by shopping around and locating salvage stores ahead of time.

Check out the meat "specials." These may be meats that the store had to rewrap or is simply going out of date that day. These items can be a very good buy. Many stores have unadvertised "manager specials" every week. These specials may range from meats to milk and are usually an excellent buy as well. Price matching is also recommended. To price match, find out which stores match another store's price on the same item if you have proof of the other stores pricing. Example: A circular may advertise sodas, but when you go to another store, the price is almost double. Ask the manager of the higher priced store if they will match the circular's price from the competition store.

Most salvage stores sell bread items and some bakery items. If you can't find them in the salvage stores, make sure you check out the bakery at your local market. Day old bread isn't always stale and can offer the same item for less money. Larger groceries offer pastries from yesterday at a remarkable discount. These too make very smart buys.

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Read more: How to Grocery Shop on A Budget |

Alycia - posted on 12/03/2010




use frozen instead of fresh veggies anytime you can. cheap lunch for is is frozen peas, kraft mac and cheese, and a can of tuna. I'm not a huge fan of cooking out of a box, but this makes enough for AT LEAST the whole family to get full once and is quick and cheap

to save we try to shop in bulk whenever possible, but we're trying currently to slash our grocery bill too

[deleted account]

I get a 4 dollar sirloin stakes and slice them up real thin and cook them in different ways. I am able to then stretch that out to 2-4 meals.

We also roast a turkey every other month and freeze some of the meat. I make homemade stock from the carcus and then can it.

There are also things that I only buy with a cupon like yogurt. I also take advantage of this time of year and all of the sales on canned and other non-perishable items that can help make a quick dinner, like boxed stuffing and cream of chicken soup to make a casserol.

Caroline - posted on 12/01/2010




i always make extra and then freeze throw it in the microwave and you have a quick easy lunch for the kids,spagg works really good

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2010




You can cook a turkey, and it lasts all week...with the leftovers you can make turkey wraps, pita sandwiches, turkey soup, and so can also make meals that incorporate a lot of beans, lentils, and rice streches a long way. Cooking from scratch also can really save you. Try making your own biscuits, gravy, ...hope this helps

Krista - posted on 11/29/2010




at walmart they have a pot roast package of everything u need to make a pot roast for like $10 and it lasts us a week! its in the meat section

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