Money is tight. This month especially, since my refrigerator is hopelessly broken and I have to buy a new one…and replace the spoiled food inside (grrr). I really needed some cheap healthy meals that would fit into my THM lifestyle.
Special note: this post was updated to reflect pricing as of 2021. However, I understand that prices vary depending on sales and your current location. If you can't find foods at these prices, they are still fairly frugal ideas that should help you feed your family on a budget, even if it doesn't quite come out to under $7 for you in your area!
I am constantly searching for inexpensive dinners, but since we’ve started eating gluten-free and I am still eating Trim Healthy Mama style, I can’t find many resources for cheap meals that work for us. 90% of the cheap meal ideas I could find were loaded with white potatoes and pasta, both no-nos for Trim Healthy Mama, especially a gluten-free Trim Healthy Mama diet.
It took a lot of time, but I finally have an inexpensive, easy, and healthy week of dinners with no special ingredients and no coupons required. Best of all, I spent less than $50 for 7 dinners to feed my family of 6! That means that the 7 meals averaged to less than $7 each, or quite a bit less than $2 per serving!
Not quite as cheap, but still very helpful, is a new 2-week Trim Healthy Mama menu with FREE printables! This is new to workingathomeschool.com, and perfect for a busy mom who needs menus and shopping lists – or would just like to print her own blank templates to plan her own meals. Either way, it's a great resource!
You can buy all of these easy-to-find ingredients at just about any store, but I chose Target, which I find to be middle-of-the-road price-wise. I saved about $1.69 with my Target card, but I didn't use any coupons, or even my Target Cartwheel, which means you can definitely get these ingredients cheaper than I did!
Here is Exhibit A, my Target receipt (note how I couldn't even keep it unwrinkled and untorn for 20 minutes until I got home. I'm sure one of my kids is to blame for the condition of the receipt):
The one thing I didn't count on was that Target was totally out of four ingredients I needed. So I checked the prices at my local Kroger, and found that those four would add $15.11 to my Target total of $33.25…bringing me to a grand total of $48.36, definitely keeping me on a budget! Even with that addition, I'll still have about 3 pounds of pork shoulder leftover, which will create almost an entire meal on it's own, since the pork is only sold in 5 lb packages and I only need 2 pounds for Tuesday's recipe. That means that I technically spent closer to $45 total for this week of dinners, which is just over $1 per serving. Here is exhibit B, my Kroger receipt:
I know I personally have bought chicken broth, olives, ground beef, brown rice, pork shoulder, and chicken thighs MUCH cheaper in bulk at Costco, so I really think you could get all of the ingredients for less than $40!
Here are the recipes links and instructions, with the price breakdown, and the free printables are at the bottom of the post.
Prep: Sometime before Friday, make these black beans in your crockpot. It should yield about 6 cups of cook beans, and you'll use three cups on Friday and the remaining three on Sunday. The recipe calls for you to soak them overnight, so make sure you plan with that in mind.
Monday: Ground beef taco salad w/ lime dressing (S)
1 lb. Ground Beef $3.49
1-2 heads of lettuce depending on how much your family eats (reserve the third head of lettuce in a 3-pack of Romaine for salad on Wednesday). $2.99 for a package of three
1 Tomato .17
Black Olives $1.34
Green onions $1.29 a package, you'll use just a few stalks today and the rest later in the week
Taco Seasoning (I make my own)
Dressing: ¼ cup olive oil, juice of one lime ($.69 today, although I usually find them for $.33), ½ tsp cumin, salt and pepper to taste. This is a super simple dressing and I usually just taste it until I like it.
Directions: Brown one pound of ground beef, drain fat. Add 1-3 Tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning to taste, or just add cumin, salt, and pepper, and a bit of chili powder to taste. Move to a plate to cool. Chop lettuce and tomato and toss with beef and olives. Whisk Dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and toss with salad to combine.
Optional: Spend more to add avocado, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, or add more meat or lettuce to make more if you need to.
Another option is to make some brown rice (you'll only need a cup of rice for Friday) for the kids to make the meal stretch further.
Tuesday: Melissa D’Arabian’s Crockpot Carnitas (S) I’ve shared this one before. Whether you're gluten-free or THM, serve it without tortillas.
Pork shoulder around $3.50 for 2 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (already in my pantry)
2 teaspoons dried oregano (already in my pantry)
Wednesday: Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Thighs and Salad (S)
Chicken Thighs $3.98 for six bone-in thighs (one per person in my family)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon) $.59 (I know these are much cheaper elsewhere!)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (already in my pantry)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (already in my pantry)
1 garlic clove, minced (cost already included above from purchase of 1 head of garlic)
salt and pepper (already in my pantry)
Salad: use remaining lettuce from taco salad and whatever veggies you have in your fridge
This is another meal that you could stretch by adding rice for the kids or non-THM eaters. Just make sure you reserve 1 cup of long grain brown rice for Crockpot Beans and Rice later in the week.
Thursday: Fried Eggs over Spinach (S)
This is incredibly simple, but very filling and packed with protein!
Baby Spinach $2.99
Parmesan: $1.02 for a small canister
olive oil or butter (butter is included in my list at $3.44 for a whole pound, but just use a pat of butter in your pan for this)
Heat butter or olive oil over low heat and add several handfuls of spinach (I usually end up using an entire bag). Season with salt and pepper, and stir for about 2 minutes or until wilted. Distribute spinach among six plates. Fry eggs in butter and season with salt and pepper, then put 1 or 2 eggs over spinach on each plate. Top with grated parmesan.
This looks similar to my recipe, except I don't use shallots and I use the less-expensive parmesan instead of Asiago. I also don't bake my eggs because this is one of my quick-and-easy meals, but you could cook your eggs her way, too. The end result looks very similar.
Friday: Crockpot Beans and Rice from Stacy Makes Cents (E)
1 pound black beans $.99 cents
1 pound long-grain brown rice $.99 cents
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes with mild green chiles $.99 cents (in the recipe, the author calls for one can of diced tomatoes and an optional can of diced green chiles. I just go for the Rotel and kill two birds with one stone).
1 Tablespoon of butter (remember I have that pound of butter on my shopping list)
salt to taste (already in my pantry)
1 teaspoon cumin (already in my pantry)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (already in my pantry)
I usually keep some cooked, shredded chicken breasts in my fridge. If you have any on hand, I love to throw it in in the last 1/2 hour of cooking in the crockpot to add some extra yummy protein and texture to the rice and beans. But this is really fine without the additional cost of meat. Remember to check the instructions on the recipe for how much you can eat if you're a THM.
Saturday: Egg Roll in a Bowl from Jessica Shepherd:
2 teaspoons oil (already in my pantry)
1 lb. ground beef $3.49
1 head of green cabbage $1.69 (another item I know you can find cheaper!)
1 cup shredded carrots $.69
1 onion $.36
3 cloves garlic (already purchased for previous meals this week)
2 green onion stalks (already purchased for previous meals this week)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (already in my pantry)
1/4 cups Bragg's liquid aminos (already in my pantry, recipe also allows for soy sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
Sunday: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (E) Special notes: Please omit the cheese to keep this an E!
Sweet potatoes $1.78 for six
black beans (use remaining 2 or 3 cups from your prep earlier in the week)
0% Greek yogurt $1.00 + lime $.69 + salt (already in my pantry) + chili powder (already in my pantry) chives (sustitute a few finely chopped green onions leftover from previous recipes)
pumpkin seeds (unfortunately, I couldn't find pumpkin seeds or pepitas ANYWHERE so they aren't included in the prices. They are optional, but if you find some your total should still be under $50).
This price does include butter but does NOT include other staples, or cheese, sour cream, and pumpkin seeds which are all optional, so if you have bare cupboards and no spices you might need to spend a little more. But I did include the staples on the shopping list, so cross those off if you already have them. If you don't, just be aware that anything under the “Staples” heading on the shopping list will add to your cost.
I am not a couponer, so I was really excited to make a week of dinners for under $50, or about $7 per dinner! If you are a coupon Queen and are able to save even MORE money using this list, please let me know! I will be posting a new week’s worth of 7 dinners under $50 soon, so stay tuned!
*Update: NEW list of $7 Dinners is HERE! <—– Click the link for another list of cheap easy gf Trim Healthy Mama dinners! And if you are interested in cheap breakfasts, and lunches, check this out —–> How I fed my family of six for a week for under $100
I've done the meal planning for you!
I'll send you free meal plans and shopping lists! All gluten-free, all sugar-free, and all work for THM.