Frugal Foods for Meals on a Budget

Frugal Foods for Meals on a Budget #frugalfoods #frugalmeals #budgetmeals

Right now, spring 2020, is a tough time for a lot of people. Not just financially – emotionally and physically, too. Now, more than ever, we need things to be simple. A great place to simplify and to save money is in the kitchen. Simple, wholesome ingredients make up my list of our favorite frugal foods for meals on a budget.

Our kitchen is currently stocked with the majority of these frugal foods (minus chicken and eggs). With trips to the store on hold, these foods were easy to stock up on – but not go crazy with – so we can cook from home.

First, a note on our frugal minimalist pantry.

You’ll find that in our list of frugal foods that we keep in our pantry, that most are available with either little packaging or no packaging. We strive to be as low waste as possible, but sometimes that isn’t always the case.

These food are also not highly processed items. We keep those to a minimum. The less processed foods you buy (think toaster pastries, sugary cereal, chips, etc) the more money you will save. For us, keeping our pantry minimal but still frugal is possible! We don’t buy crazy one-off ingredients, substitute when we need to, and avoid food waste. That’s what makes our pantry pretty minimal, but well stocked and frugal.

Save money on already frugal foods

I love buying frugal foods for our regular budget meals. But did you know you can also earn cash back on those purchases?

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What’s in our frugal foods pantry?

Brown and White Rice


Dry Beans
– Black Beans
– Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
– Red Beans (Kidney Beans)
– Pinto Beans
– Lentils (Both Red and Brown)

Canned Beans

Pasta Sauce
– Alfredo
– Red Sauce


Pancake Mix

Popcorn (snacks)


Canned Tuna


Peanut Butter






Sweet Potatoes

Kale or Spinach(frozen)



Canned Tomatoes

Frozen Vegetables
– Regular Mixed Veggies
– California Blend Veggies
– Peas
– Corn
– Broccoli

Baking essentials such as:
– Granulated Sugar
– Brown Sugar
– Baking Powder
– Baking Soda (also used for cleaning)

Where’s the meat?!

Meat for us is not a regular purchase. We occasionally buy lunch meat for our son’s school sandwiches and canned tuna, but other than that it just doesn’t enter our home.

Becoming vegetarian has helped us save money in the long run. If you want to cut back on your meat consumption, introducing meatless Monday to your family can be a great start! They may not even notice!

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    What to make with frugal foods from the pantry.

    Last week, I shared with you my 15 favorite meals to cook during quarantine. They’re easy and cheap. Bonus: they are all made using these frugal foods.

    Here is an easy list of meals you can make from these foods. If you need more ideas, follow my Easy Recipes board on Pinterest!

    Breakfast Ideas

    Lunch Ideas

    • Sandwiches – PB&J, lunch meat with cheese
    • Chicken salad (made from rotisserie chicken or whole chicken)
    • Ultra frugal beans and rice
    • Tuna salad sandwiches
    • Grilled cheese with tomato soup
    • Pasta salad

    Dinner Ideas

    • Meatball subs (see this post for recipe)
    • Bean and cheese burritos
    • Minestrone soup
    • Taco salad
    • Black bean quesadilla
    • Shredded chicken sandwiches
    • One pot pasta
    • Stir fry with frozen veggies
    • Curry with frozen veggies
    • Spaghetti with red sauce
    • Fettuccine alfredo with broccoli
    • Mac n cheese
    • Swedish meatballs
    • Stuffed bell peppers with rice and chickpeas
    • Lentil bolognese

    These are just a few of the many, MANY meals you can make with frugal foods from your pantry.

    What are your favorite frugal foods to cook with?

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