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cheap quick meals

Cheap, Quick Meals

If you are looking for cheap, quick meals, then look no farther! This is the article for you! 🙂

In this article I am going to share more than 20 super cheap, quick meals you can make with virtually no (real) cooking required! These cheap, quick meals will help you stretch your dollar farther and get food on your table fast!

If you are in a season of life when time is scarce and the thought of meal planning overwhelms you and when money is really tight or you need to save money fast, then these meals are a good option. They will help you to make the most of a small grocery budget!

And if you want the easiest one-month meal plan ever (and one of the cheapest, too!), simply repeat these same meals (or some combination of them) for the next three or four weeks, as well. That will give you a whole month’s worth of super simple, cheap meals!


Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for the cheap, quick meals later!



Make Your Cheap, Quick Meals Even Cheaper!

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries so that you can prepare really cheap meals is to use money-saving apps! My favorite FREE grocery money-saving app is Ibotta.

I’ve been a member of Ibotta for years, and they are a fun and easy way to save money whenever you shop! With the free Ibotta app, you earn cash back on purchases you make every day from your favorite grocery and other stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Sam’s Club, Amazon, and many, many more! With the easy-to-use Ibotta app you can get cash back when you shop not only for groceries but also for clothing, home improvement supplies, travel services, and more!

I can even use Ibotta at several of our smaller, local grocery stores, which I love! 

Signing up takes just a minute, and then you can start to save money whenever and wherever you shop, at physical stores and online! Sign up for your free Ibotta account here!



Check out these related articles:

100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for When Money Is Tight
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
75 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
19 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment


20+ Cheap, Quick Meals

Below are more than 20 ideas for some of the quickest and cheapest meals you can make. These simple meals are ready in less than 10 minutes!

Though I list these meals in order of what you would traditionally eat for breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner, you can of course eat toast and jam for dinner and chili and chips for breakfast, if you prefer! 🙂


Quick caveat: These meals are quick and cheap; they are not necessarily uber nutritious or totally balanced! For awesome ideas for eating healthy on a budget, then check out this article! And you can also find 47 of the cheapest healthy foods you can eat to slash your grocery budget!

And for even more cheap and easy meals (though not as easy as these; cooking is required for most of those :)), check out this huge list of 100+ cheap and easy meals for when money is tight.

OK, now, without further ado, here are 20+ cheap, quick meals to eat when money and time are scarce! (Or these meals are great for when you are doing a no spend challenge or other money challenge and want to save as much money as possible!)


Cheap, Quick Meals for Breakfast

Below are several ideas for cheap, quick meals that you can prepare for breakfast (or they would work for lunch or dinner, too! why not?!).

Instead of skipping breakfast or running to the drive-thru on the way to work, make these simple cheap and quick breakfast meals, instead!

Pro tip: If you can, keep instant oatmeal and toaster pastries, granola bars, fruit and grain bars, cereal in zip-top bags, or similar foods in your desk drawer or cubby at work so that you will have an easy backup plan if you don’t have time for breakfast before running out the door to work.


1. Oatmeal

You can eat the little packets of oatmeal that come premade that you just need to heat up in the microwave for about 25 cents each. That is a pretty economical breakfast, if you eat a packet of oatmeal and a banana or other fruit of your choice (or a couple of packets of oatmeal).

However, you can make oatmeal for even much cheaper than that if you put half a cup of oatmeal in a glass bowl with three-fourths to a cup of water (depending on how thick you like your oatmeal) and simply add your sweetener of choice. Sugar is likely the cheapest, but you can also get no-calorie sweetener for a pretty good price if you get the Great Value brand from Walmart, for example (and it lasts a long time because it is sweeter than sugar so you do not need to use very much at a time).


2. Eggs with Toast

This is another very cheap, quick meal that we love! (We sometimes eat it for lunch or dinner, and not just breakfast!) You can top with salsa to get in more vegetables.

To make this a no-cook meal, you can stir the eggs with a little bit of water or milk and cook them in a mug, a glass bowl, or plastic egg poachers. When you microwave them, cook them on medium and check them every minute or so so they don’t explode (they will only take a couple of minutes or less, so you will not need to watch them for long).


3. Toast with Jam

Toast with jam is another quick, cheap meal option that is even easier than eggs with toast. The very cheapest jelly is generally grape, but even if you buy a more expensive jam such as raspberry, this still makes for a super economical meal!


Check out these related articles:

100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for When Money Is Tight
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
75 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
19 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment


4. Breakfast Rice

One of my best friends introduced me to this cheap breakfast back in high school. All you need is some instant rice (from Great Value or your brand of choice; leftover rice from dinner works great, too, and it is a great way to use it up!) and water to cook it (with optional salt). Then when it is done add some milk and sugar (or other sweetener) and cinnamon to taste! This cheap, quick meal is a tasty comfort food perfect for cool mornings!


5. Fruit and Yogurt

Fruit and yogurt can be another great option when you are looking for cheap, quick meals. To save money, buy the generic yogurt in the biggest tubs, and measure it out or portion it out into individual servings yourself. Bananas are generally the least expensive fruit you can eat with yogurt, but strawberries and other berries are a great option when they are in season and on sale!


6. Cream of Wheat

Our kids, and particularly our older daughter, love cream of wheat. We generally add some brown or white sugar to sweeten it, and as a rare treat, we even put sweetened condensed milk (did you know they even have caramel flavored?) in it sometimes. Totally fattening but totally tasty!


7. Cold Cereal with (or without!) Milk

Most of the cereal we eat costs about 10 cents an ounce or less—that’s the rule of thumb I go by when I buy it. My husband’s favorite cereal (and one of the few that he really likes) is raisin bran, which is great since it is one of the cheapest. 🙂 The other cereals we buy when they are on sale.

Some other less-expensive breakfast cereals are crispy rice, corn flakes, and shredded wheat. And of course many of the sugary cereals you can buy for cheap, too, especially the less-expensive brands when they are on sale.


8. Toaster Pastries (PopTarts)

Another cheap, quick option for a super easy meal are toaster pastries. You don’t even have to microwave them if you don’t want to. (I know these have virtually no nutritional value, but occasionally I just loving having s’mores [s’mores-flavored toaster pastries] for breakfast!)

At our local Walmart, you can get a box of 12 for $1.50, so you can eat two for breakfast for about 25 cents!

Cheap, Quick Meals for Lunch

Below are several ideas for cheap, quick meals that you can prepare for lunch (or they would work for a quick, easy dinner, too!).


9. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Good old PB&J is another one of our favorite cheap, quick meals. Or if you prefer, you can make peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Or peanut butter sandwiches alone are great, too!


10. Tuna Fish Sandwiches

Though not as inexpensive as it used to be, tuna is still an inexpensive way to go for lunch. My husband and kiddos love to add chopped-up pickles to theirs (and I like it too, even though I generally don’t really care for pickles).


11. Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

With a slice of cheese, a few slices of ham (or another favorite lunch meat), a few slices of tomato if you like, and a handful of lettuce or spinach if you want, this is another quick and cheap meal.



 12. Egg Salad Sandwiches

To make egg salad sandwiches with no cooking required, use plastic poaching cups (or use a glass mug, if you prefer). Then just chop them up, and mix with a little mayo or salad dressing and your choice of seasonings.


13. Cheese Sandwiches

Though grilled cheese sandwiches (with tomato or another favorite soup) are delicious, you can get food on the table even faster by simply heating a slice or two of cheese betwen two slices of bread. This is one of my kiddos’ very favorite foods.


14. Quesadillas

This is another cheap, quick meal you can easily prepare in the microwave in just a few minutes! 

Quesadillas are so easy! You can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese to keep things very simple, or add sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, or your favorite cooked vegetables. Yum!


15. Simple Green Salad

For another cheap, quick meal, prepare a simple salad for lunch with foods such as your favorite lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, sliced carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or other favorite vegetables.

Or for a heartier option (if you want to have salad for dinner this is a good way to add some bulk), you can do what I do to make my favorite green salad: I basically turn it into a sandwich by adding croutons, chopped cheese, and chopped luncheon meat (generally ham). 🙂


Meal Planning Made Even Easier: Consider Using an Inexpensive Meal Planning Service

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create a meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution is a service like $5 Meal Plans could be a great option for you. $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month, and they do all of the planning for you!

They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool! With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And the service comes with a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose! If this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out $5 Meal Plans here.

If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out per month, one of these services could really help you get on the right track and save your food budget.


Cheap, Quick Meals for Dinner

Below are several ideas for cheap, quick meals that you can prepare for dinner (or they would work for lunch, too!).

These cheap, quick dinners, like all of the meal ideas included in this article, can be prepared and on your dinner table in less than 10 minutes!

So don’t blow your monthly food budget on takeout or fast food! Make these super cheap, quick meals, instead, and save your money!


16. Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Though not as inexpensive as buying chicken breasts (or the even cheaper chicken thighs), when you are looking for quick and cheap meats, chicken patties are an easy and tasty option.

Just microwave the chicken patties (if you have 4 or 5) for about five minutes, flip them over, and microwave them for a few more minutes. If you want to include cheese, then melt that over the top of the patties during the last minute of cooking.

Then top with your favorite sandwich fixings such as lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, mustard, barbecue sauce, ranch, mayo or salad dressing, or other condiments.


17. Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes is such a super cheap and easy meal! And by cooking them in the microwave in these awesome cooking pouches, you can have perfectly cooked potatoes in just four minutes! I love them!

Once your potatoes are cooked, top them with shredded cheese, chili, sour cream, barbecue sauce, salsa, butter or margarine and salt and pepper, seasoned salt, or other favorite toppings.


18. Bean and Cheese Burritos

You can make your own bean and cheese burritos really easily by using canned refried beans and shredding your favorite cheese over a flour tortilla. Then simply warm in the microwave for a minute.

Or the frozen variety of burritos, at about 35 cents per burrito, are a fairly inexpensive option, as well.


19. Ramen Noodles (with Vegetables)

I know that ramen noodles are not really healthy, but they are super cheap and they are super easy. We make eating them healthier by adding our favorite vegetables.

To cook them in the microwave in a matter of minutes, cook the noodles first with the seasoning in a large glass bowl, and then add your favorite canned vegetables such as corn, peas, or carrots.

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20. Hot Dogs (or Corn Dogs) and Chips

Hot dogs and chips are another one of our go-to cheap, quick meals.

Since I don’t like to have to keep hot dog buns on hand, we generally eat our brats and hot dogs with bread rather than buns. To me they taste just as good, and they are also cheaper that way! (We do the same thing with bread instead of hamburger buns, for the same reasons.)

Corn dogs are another simple option, for variety.


21. Chicken Nuggets

This is another cheap, quick meal loved by many young children. Serve with ranch or barbecue sauce. To keep this a no-cooking-required meal, eat with potato chips, chips and salsa, corn or other vegetables (cooked in the microwave), or baked potatoes from the microwave (see above).


22. Chili

Chili is a great cheap, quick meal, especially when the weather turns colder.

To cook in the microwave, put in a large microwave-safe bowl, and either cover loosely with a glass lid or use a splatter guard. Cooking on medium for a little bit longer time will also help to avoid splattering.

Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers. You can also top with cheese, sour cream, or other favorite toppings.


23. Noodle Dinners

Noodle dinners such as those made by Nissin and Maruchan are a notch up from their sibling ramen noodles. Some common varieties are teriyaki chicken or beef, spicy chicken, and regular chicken or beef.

These cook up in about four minutes (depending on your microwave), and if your microwave is large enough, you can cook more than one at a time.


Frozen Pizza

I decided to add one more super cheap, quick meal idea: frozen pizza. This doesn’t require cooking, but an oven is preferable (though my young siblings cooked the little Totino’s frozen pizzas in the microwave when they were in college …).

When you can get the little frozen pizzas like Totino’s for a dollar or less, that is a great deal. But check your prices; sometimes you can get the (better tasting and probably better for you) store-brand pizzas for close to the same price, or not much more. Our local grocery store has a brand of frozen pizza that is really good and a quite a good price, and so we buy it pretty regularly.


These 20+ ideas for cheap, quick meals will let you get super inexpensive food on the table fast! And with virtually no cooking required, mealtime cannot get much easier than this. 🙂


What do you like to eat for your cheap, quick meals? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to meals that you love? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts! 


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