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If your grocery budget has you wondering how to get more out of your already cheap grocery list, give these tricks a try.

Grocery shopping was a chore even before the price of everything doubled.

But now, it’s annoying and stressful.

If you wonder how you can possibly squeeze more out of your already tight grocery shopping list, I have tons of ideas for you right here.

These are things I do in my own kitchen so I can afford to feed my family of eight on a tight budget.

How To Get More Meals Out Of Your Cheap Grocery List

The Grocery List

First, I’ll tell you which cheap groceries to get from the store.  Then, I’ll tell you how to get more out of those things.

And if some of these groceries sound like things you’ve never made before, don’t sweat.  I’ll tell you the easiest way to make these foods into meals your family will beg for more.

Pick up these groceries:

  • whole chicken
  • chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • ground beef
  • roasts or bigger cuts of meat on sale

Sound too simple?  Well read on to find out how very many meals you can serve with a few simple groceries.

My Secret For Fall Apart, Delicious Roasts

Any larger cut of meat you find (whether it’s beef, pork, venison, or whatever you have access to) will automatically taste amazing if you just do this:

Take your favorite cast iron skillet (this one is perfect, and so affordable) and heat it up on medium heat. Season your meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Brown each side in the hot skillet, just for a few minutes.

Leave the meat in the skillet, put the lid on it, and bake it in its own juices for 15 minutes per pound of meat.

You’ll never make it any other way again.

And the leftovers?  Use them in:

  • sandwiches
  • quesadillas
  • casseroles
  • soups

Whole Chicken Or Drumsticks/Thighs

Whole chicken is super frugal, and you can do so many different things with it.  

Then, try these ideas to make that chicken a bigger bargain!

  • Throw it whole in the crock pot with your favorite seasonings.  If you don’t like it mushy, put some balls of tin foil under it to keep it out of the juice.
  • Roast it whole in the oven.  Just put it on 375 for 15 minutes per pound of bird or until it’s reached 160 degrees.
  • Try beer can chicken on the grill for a juicy bird.  We like this recipe.
  • Cut it into pieces to bake or fry.  Here’s a great tutorial on how to cut a whole fryer.

To use your leftover chicken:

  • Pull all the meat from the bones once the bird has cooled.  Bag it and put it in the freezer to use in casseroles, this delicious white chicken chili, pizza toppings, and more.
  • Put the bones from your chicken in a stock pot, and cover with water.  Add celery, carrots, and your favorite herbs and spices (salt, pepper, garlic, basil, etc.). Once it comes to a boil, turn it down to low and simmer it all day to make an amazing broth for soups or noodles.

Hint: Make it even more frugal!

When you buy whole chicken, be sure to buy the biggest chickens they sell.  You’re paying for the bones, so you want as much affordable meat as possible hanging on those bones!

Look for whole chickens at their lowest price and fill your freezer.  

Find cheap turkeys in November and substitute turkey for chicken in your favorite recipes.

Chicken Breasts

While whole chicken is affordable, you can often find boneless chicken breasts at a decent price, too. 

Perfect for the family that doesn’t have the time for cutting around bones (or doesn’t want to).

There are a million ways to cook up chicken breasts.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Cook in the crock pot with barbecue sauce for pulled chicken sandwiches.  Just shred it, add a little extra sauce, and put it on a bun.
  • Put it in a ziploc type bag with your favorite marinade.  Let it sit overnight or freeze it until you’re ready to grill or bake it.
  • Mix it up with brown sugar, honey mustard…I don’t have to tell you that Pinterest is your BFF when it comes to recipes, right?

Hint: Make it even more frugal!

Grill, fry, or bake up a large batch.  Chop all of it.  Bag it and freeze it.

Make it last by mixing it with beans, noodles, topping salads, and (you guessed it) casseroles or soups.

Ground Beef or Ground Turkey

Ground beef isn’t as cheap as it once was, but sometimes you can still find a great deal on it.  Ditto ground turkey.  

Some ideas for using that ground beef:

  • Make homemade “hamburger helper” or goulash.  Brown your ground beef, add noodles, leftover veggies, cheese, sauces (tomato sauce, cream of soups, milk, etc.), and spices to create a dish your family will love.
  • Tacos or taco soup are easy and frugal.
  • Barbecued beef sandwiches: just brown your beef, drain the fat, and cover the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce.  Serve on buns or bread.
  • Chili (use more beans and less meat for money savings that still tastes yummy!)
  • Make your own hamburgers, meatballs, or meatloaf.  Pack ground beef into a plastic container lid to form your own hamburgers.

Hint: Make it even more frugal!

Each time you brown your beef, pull out a spoonful and put it into a freezer bag.  You won’t notice a difference, but after a while you’ll have a “free” meal of browned ground beef in the freezer.

Low on time?  Brown a big batch of ground beef at a time in the crock pot.  Directions here. 

Some nights, it’s a sweet relief knowing there’s ground beef ready to go for a quick dinner.


If you’re a Scrubs fan, then you already know that brinner is breakfast for dinner.  Definitely a favorite at our house!  

Pancakes for supper feels like a treat, but it’s actually a great way to have a frugal meal.  

Other ideas include:

  • Breakfast casseroles and quiches (keep an eye on egg prices!)
  • Hash browns (make your own by shredding or cutting up potatoes)
  • Toast (French style or regular old toast)
  • Breakfast sandwiches.  Use whatever breads you have on hand (English muffins, bagels, or toast), and fill it with seasonal veggies, sale priced meats, and cheese.

Hint: Make it even more frugal!

Serve breakfast meats as a side item rather than the main course.  

Or skip out on the meat and fill up with other breakfast foods instead.

Stretch Out the Holidays

Certain seasonal meats go on a big sale when the holidays hit.  

If you can find it in the budget, grab extra ham and turkey for the freezer in December.  

Use my never fail, m-word and delicious turkey recipe…I promise you’ll love it (and you won’t believe how easy it is!).

Serve it at a big meal, and then save all of those leftovers for other meals.  

Use some on sandwiches for cheap lunches.  Freeze the rest of it in portions perfect for future meals.

large family meals, the best easy homemade pizza dough

Use Your Leftovers

For a long time, my family didn’t enjoy eating leftovers.  So I found ways to repurpose them instead.  

Probably our favorite way to use those scraps of meats, veggies, and cheeses is on my genius 10 minute homemade pizza dough recipe.

Other Cheap Dinner Ideas

Easy Large Family Meals

Get over 40 recipes of cheap meals for large families!

Rescue your cheap grocery list with these ideas that will make your food stretch until it screams.

One more great benefit from simplifying our meals?  I was in a much better mood for dinner conversation.

What is your family’s favorite cheap dinner idea?  If you’ve got a recipe, be sure to leave it in the comments!

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