Please note that all of these meals are able to feed a family of 4 or 5 (depending on how large the appetites are!). Many of these meals could probably feed larger families as well while remaining under $5, but you’d have to reevaluate the list – some of the meals might end up costing more. Also, different ingredients have different prices depending on where you shop and what region you live in. I have therefore generalized prices below based on average cost for different ingredients.
Looking for other ways to save? Consider these 10 ways to reduce your grocery bill.
1. Ramen Noodles. Pair with a salad. Comes to $3 or below (even less if you have vegetables from your own garden!).
2. Frozen Pizza. You can easily buy a large frozen pizza for $3 or $4. You can even find some brands that cost $2, which makes the overall price of your dinner much less or allows you to buy 2 pizzas and still stay under $5 if you have a larger (or hungrier!) family.
3. Pasta Dishes – pasta salad, spaghetti, etc. Depending on where you shop, you can get a pound of pasta for around $1. Add some vegetables for pasta salad, or tomato sauce for spaghetti and you’re in the price range of $2-$3 (less if you use vegetables from your garden and make your own sauce). You could even add meat (half a pound of chicken or beef, maybe even a pound if you find a good deal) and still stay under $5 for the meal.
4. Egg meals – friend or scrambled eggs, omelets, egg burritos, hardboiled egg salad, etc. for between $2 and $5 depending on how gourmet you decide to go!
5. Quesadillas. You just need tortillas and cheese (shredded mozzarella or sandwich cheese is fine). You could even add a slice of deli chicken, turkey or ham and stay under $5.
6. Chef salad. This one’s up to you – the sky’s the limit. You can put in your basic vegetables, hardboiled eggs and some deli meat for under $5 (way under if you use veggies from the garden). At the same time, if you want more meat or more expensive meats, you might go above $5.
7. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. You can add tomato soup on the side and still keep it in the right price range! You could also make a different soup to pair with sandwiches, starting with a bouillon base and adding noodles, vegetables and seasonings (also totals under $5).
8. Lentil soup. Or lentil anything pretty much (lentils and rice, lentil salad…). Lentils are healthy and cheap and can turn into savory dishes with just a few other ingredients and seasonings.
9. Potato salad. Boiled potatoes, chives or onions, a few other vegetables, a little mayo (or none!).
10. Stuffed peppers. If you go heavy on the vegetables and rice in the stuffing and light on the meat, this can come to considerably less than $5. If you add a lot of meat, you could spend more.
11. Chili. Vegetarian chili can be made for around $3. Add a little beef or chicken and you can still stay under $5.
12. Bean enchiladas or bean tacos. Pick your type of beans (pinto beans or black beans work well), cook them with seasonings and serve them in soft tortillas or hard taco shells, adding toppings if desired (vegetables, cheese, etc.).
13. Baked potatoes with toppings. Yes, this can turn into a full meal, especially if you serve some heavier toppings like sour cream and cheese, as well as veggies and seasonings. Go gourmet by adding some shredded deli meat; go over your price range to splurge once in a while by adding bacon or more expensive meats.
14. Macaroni and Cheese. You can usually make a box or two for $2-$3.
15. Hot Dogs. Another meal that, including buns, can stay in the $3 range.
16. Bean and rice dishes. Use white, red, black or pinto beans. Cook them with onion, garlic and other seasonings and vegetables. Serve on rice. Depending on the type rice you choose and how many beans you use, you’ll probably be in the $3-$4 price range.
Don’t forget to check out Coupons.com before shopping to see if you can save even more on some of these meals!