3 Budget-Friendly Family Meal Ideas



Looking for some budget-friendly family meal ideas that your kids will actually eat? I have 3 meal ideas that my family loves—and hopefully, yours will too. With our large family, our grocery bill is our 3rd largest expense after our mortgage and health insurance. Once, one of my kids filled out a sweet preschool Mother’s Day questionnaire about me and said my job was to go to the grocery store. He is right! One of my roles in our family is to make our food dollars stretch as far as I can. Meal planning is a big part of keeping our grocery bill in check. Here are 3 of our favorite budget-friendly family meals.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers 

This recipe is a staple in our monthly meal planning. On nights when we have multiple kids’ activities it is so helpful that I can put everything into the crockpot in the morning and dinner is done by the time everyone gets home from school. Total cost = $19



  • Family Pack of Mild Italian Sausage (3 lbs): $11
  • Marinara Sauce (3 jars): $3
  • Bell peppers cut into strips (3): $3
  • 2 boxes of pasta: $2


Put all the ingredients into the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. We serve it with pasta or on hoagie rolls with melted provolone. If you don’t have 10 kids, you will have plenty of leftovers!

Brinner (aka Breakfast for Dinner)

My crew loves having breakfast for dinner. It is a great meal to have the kids help out in the kitchen. Total cost = $17

Breakfast for dinner


  • 18 eggs: $2
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 8 oz package of shredded cheddar cheese: $2
  • 1 package of frozen hash brown patties (10 count): $3
  • Fruit salad (We like strawberries, grapes, and apples): $10


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8×11 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Whisk all the eggs with milk, season with salt and pepper. Pour into the greased tray.
  4. Add your favorite omelet toppings (cheese, veggies, or meat). You can even leave half of the tray plain and just put toppings on just one side.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are cooked.
  6. Bake hash browns per instructions.
  7. Assemble fruit salad with your family’s favorite fruit.

Tex Mex Mac and Cheese 

This recipe turns mac and cheese into a meal. It is easy to double or triple this recipe. If you already had taco night earlier in the week you can use the leftover seasoned ground beef for this. You can really customize this recipe to your family tastes. For example, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef and even add in diced bell peppers or other vegetables into the meat mixture. Total cost = $10


  • 8 oz box of elbow macaroni: $1
  • 1 lb of ground beef: $5
  • Taco seasoning mix: $1
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • All-purpose flour (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 (8oz) block of sharp cheddar cheese shredded or already shredded cheese: $3
  • Optional toppings: avocado, sour cream, salsa


  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain, and keep warm.
  2. Brown ground beef, drain fat. Stir in taco seasoning and ¾ cup of water and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes. Remove beef mixture from heat.
  3. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Next, whisk in flour until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually mix in milk; cooking for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 ½ cups of cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Add cooked pasta to the beef mixture and combine. Stir in the remaining ½ cup of cheese.

This recipe is from Southern Living, and we truly love it.

I am always looking for new meal ideas, do you have some budget-friendly family meals that your crew loves? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Jane was born and raised in Wilmington, DE. She met her husband 20 years ago and settled in Fairfax, VA in 2004. Jane is an only child turned big family mom of 10 kids ages 15 to newborn. They are the family next door just supersized. Jane considers herself an expert in free and low cost family friendly activities in Fairfax County and DC. Jane has battled Hypermesis Gravidarum (HG) in 7 pregnancies and Postpartum Depression last year, she is an advocate for awareness and support of HG and PPD moms. Likes: a good cup of Earl Grey tea, working out or walking with friends, exploring new parks and activities with her family, and reading travel websites. Follow Jane on IG at @10busybeesfamily or FB at @10busybees.