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Budget-friendly meals for a family

Sometimes we find ourselves scraping by for the week or the month or just in general. A person can only stomach so many Ramen noodles, and honestly I can’t stand them at all. I think they smell awful. In place of that, I’m sharing a couple of recipes here for you to adopt into your meal plan that don’t break the bank. If you have a discount store such as Aldi, the foods should be available there. These recipes are intended to feed my family of 7, including one hungry teenage boy, so you may be able to use the leftovers for another meal.

1 pound ground turkey (or any ground meat but this is what’s cheapest here typically)
1 small onion, diced
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic

Brown ground turkey over medium heat. Add onion when meat is nearly cooked. Cook until onion is tender. Meanwhile, boil elbow macaroni per box instructions. Remove meat from heat for a while if more time is needed to cook pasta.

When the macaroni is done, drain and put back into pot. Add meat, tomatoes, beans, salt, and garlic. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. When beans are hot, meal is ready to serve.

Total cost in my area: Less than $6



1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, diced
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans chili beans in gravy, undrained
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp salt

Brown meat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes to allow flavors to blend. You can add macaroni to this to make a second meal or serve over hot dogs or baked potatoes.

You can also add all ingredients to the crock pot after browning the meat on the stovetop and cook on low for at least four hours. Chili is pretty forgiving and will slow cook for a long time without scorching.

Total cost in my area: under $6, assuming you already have the seasoning on hand

Some other tips:

  • Add a can of black beans, drained, to a pound of taco meat to make the meat go further.
  • Cut meat in casseroles or soups in half and increase the amount of veggies when possible.
  • Make a basic chicken dinner (Here’s a recipe if you need it) and serve the leftovers in a casserole the next night. Then use the bones as a base for broth and make chicken soup the third night. We’re at a point in my house where we need two chickens to do this but when my older kids were little, one was plenty.
  • Plan meals that can use the leftovers with a simple addition, such as the chili above. For just a couple of dollars more, you are making a completely separate meal the second night and it won’t seem so much like leftovers.
  • Serve soup as an appetizer. It’ll fill you up and you’ll eat less of your main dish.
  • Shop sales and discount grocers. Even if you don’t use coupons, you’ll save quite a bit.


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