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25 Ways to Make Cheap Healthy Meals Between Paydays


If you live paycheck to paycheck, you can easily find yourself struggling to put cheap healthy meals together when the money starts to run out. Cooking for a family isn’t always easy, especially when you have to count coins and stretch dollars as far as they will go. But the good news is, there are ways to help stretch out your food budget between paydays no matter how tight funds may seem. Take a look below at 25 ways to stretch your food budget between paydays so you can make the most of your money and feed your family for less.

25 Ways to Make Cheap Healthy Meals Between Pay Days

1. Price match.
If you see a sale on bananas at Store A which is 20 miles away, see if Store B which is down the street will price match. This way you get the same great deal and don’t have to waste any of your budget on gas. If you have a Walmart nearby, they price match. You can see the price match policy on their website.

2. Take surveys on Swagbucks.
Spend a few minutes a day taking a survey on Swagbucks and redeem your points for restaurant gift cards. This way you have those to spend when money starts to run low.

3. Stock up on canned goods.
Canned goods can typically be purchased for less than $1 each. Stock up on these when you see a good sale so you can make a quick meal of soup, vegetables, chili, or beans when funds are low.

4. Get creative with canned goods.
A can of corn isn’t much on its own, but toss in some rice, chopped pepper, and a piece of shredded chicken and you have a quick and easy taco bowl. You can also add fresh ingredients to canned soups and beans.

5. Try meatless meals.
Some options of meatless meals include soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, bruschetta, beans and rice, salads, and loaded baked potatoes. These will cost you less since meat isn’t in the recipe.

6. Clip coupons.
This may seem like a given, but if you can buy an item for less why wouldn’t you? Clip those coupons and enjoy your weekly shopping for less cash. You can easily get more for your money this way.

7. Try freezer meals.
When an item such as ground beef is on sale, stock up and create freezer meals. You can make and freeze beef and bean burritos, beef stew, or even casseroles so you have them on hand when funds get low.

8. Infuse your water.
When money is tight, skip the soda and instead infuse your water. Lemons are cheap and a slice or two can make your water taste great.

9. Have “brinner.”
Breakfast foods tend to cost less than dinner foods, so why not have breakfast for dinner? Enjoy some eggs and sausage links and perhaps a side of toast for a great meal.

10. Buy what is in season.
Produce can be pricey, so always buy what is in season. This way you can stock up on it and either freeze, can, or dry it to use it for weeks after.

11. Know where the clearance shelves are.
Every grocery store has a clearance shelf. Be sure you know where it is so you can snag gently bumped and bruised items. This is a great way to get name brand foods for less.

12. Check out the scratch and dent stores.
Do you have a scratch and dent grocer in your area? If so check it out for a great deal on gently scratched and dented food items that are still perfect for use.

13. Try kids eat free night.
Visit a local and inexpensive restaurant where kids can eat free. For the cost of two adult dinners, you can get a meal for four. Order water, of course, to save even more.

14. Get creative with leftovers.
Use leftover chicken in a chicken salad, leftover beef in beef stew, and leftover bread to make croutons. You can find so many ways to get creative with leftovers to make them appetizing and turn them into a second meal.

15. Save scraps.
A half cup of cereal may not be enough for a bowl of cereal, but it can be crushed and used to make crispy chicken coating. That last half cup of orange juice can be added to marinades, and the last few strawberries can be used to infuse water. Find easy ways to use your last scraps of food and get the most out of them.

16. Try powdered milk.
Many people don’t enjoy the taste of powdered milk, but it can be used when baking! Substitute it for fresh milk and you will save money and not know the difference.

17. Shop discount grocers.
Aldi and Grocery Outlet are two stores that will always give you more for your money. Enjoy great food products that come with a satisfaction guarantee and cost as much as ¼ of what you pay for name brand.

18. Check out Aldi’s Wednesday deal.
Most Aldi stores tend to have a Wednesday meat deal. Check it out and stock up if interested as these deals are limited. Once they are gone, they are gone.

19. Dress up a frozen pizza.
A frozen pizza may not excite you, but add a drizzle of olive oil, some canned or fresh olives, some chopped veggies, and even some leftover ham and you have a gourmet pizza.

20. Dress up pasta.
Pasta is so cheap, and you can dress it up in so many ways! Add baked chicken, fresh veggies, cheese, or even fresh herbs to make a fantastic meal.

21. Make your own garlic bread.
Stale bread can be saved when you brush on a little butter, oil, and garlic salt. Bake it until crispy and you have the perfect garlic bread.

22. Try Dollar Tree.
Your local Dollar Tree has all sorts of frozen and dried foods to choose from for just $1. Check out their frozen snacks, pizzas, chips, salsa, pasta, rice mixes, and get creative for just a few dollars.

23. Look for depression era recipes.
Do a search for depression era recipes and get inspired by some of the popular dishes then. People found all sorts of ways to get creative with what they had and feed their families for less.

24. Cut out dessert.
This is an unnecessary luxury when budgets are tight. Skip the sugar-filled foods that don’t satisfy and instead put that money towards high protein snacks like granola bars.

25. Invest in Tupperware/Throw nothing away.
Make sure you have Tupperware containers on hand so nothing gets thrown away. Save all leftovers and find creative ways to use them. Making sure you have Tupperware on hand will prevent the urge of throwing anything away since you will have containers ready.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck and worry about putting food on the table, give these tips for stretching your food budget a try.

  • Mo says:

    My trick for squeezing an extra meal from leftover roasted chicken (e.g. from Costco) is to use the carcass to make a yummy chicken vegetable soup. After cooking for a couple of hours, I remove the bones and then add pasta, rice, beans or some other economical legume along with whatever other veggies I have on hand to stretch into a hearty, healthy and delicious meal.

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