3 Best Frugal Meal Plans That Save You Time, Money, & Sanity

frugal meal plans featured image of different healthy options

Frugal meal plans will save the day when time and energy are low.

Being smart about your food spending is a must-do for long-term wealth. After all, Americans spend thousands each year on what they eat (only spending more on housing and transportation).

Use this step-by-step guide + best tips to feed yourself cheaper than you thought possible, without sacrificing health, time, or sanity.

How to Begin Frugal Meal Planning

How to start frugal meal planning for a family of 4, 5

1. Know Your Budget. How much money do you have to spend for the week and month?

Without knowing this number, you’re treading water. With a set budget, you’ll be swimming to a destination.

2. Check your inventory. It’s best practice to use up what you have first. So, check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you can use for upcoming recipes.

3. Keep your family’s preferences in mind. If you plan a bunch of meals your family will hate, you might have a riot on your hands. (Speaking from experience)

4. Check for sales or coupons. If your budget is particularly tight, planning around these two things can help you stretch every dollar.

5. Write your meals and grocery list. Base your meals on steps #1-4 and the ideas below. You can use the free printable at the end of this article to plan.

3 Different Frugal Weekly Meal Plans

Each frugal meal plan gives you four options per meal. Put a few on repeat during the week to make things easier.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to fit exactly into one. My family uses a mix of all three throughout the week to keep things fresh, easy, and healthy.

1. Basic Frugal Meal Plans

First, these foundational meals are perfect if you don’t like cooking, are super busy, single, or cooking for 2. They are simple and get the job done in record time.

roasted loaded potatoes with toppings


  • Oatmeal with berries
  • Fruit parfait (make your granola)
  • Scrambled eggs and toast
  • Cereal (beware the sugary expensive kind though!)



Bonus: Leftover Night – establish one dinner a week as a time to use up what needs to be eaten.


2. Frugal Meal Plans for Healthy Eaters

If you are restricted on what you eat (vegan, gluten-free, etc) or striving to eat healthier, these frugal meal plan ideas are for you. They feature lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole foods, without breaking the bank.

frugal meals for large families, small too: avocado toast



  • Veggie or chicken wraps
  • Chickpea salad sandwich
  • Salads using leftover protein and veggies
  • Stir fry using up leftovers


Key Takeaway: The best frugal meals are the ones that allow for flexibility. Soups, stir fry, and casseroles are forgiving – and allow you to use up cheaper and “cook ASAP” items.

3. Frugal Meal Plans for Large Families

Next, these frugal meal ideas are kid-friendly and parent-approved.

pizza cheap frugal meal ideas for single, couples of 2, and family tips



  • Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup
  • Quesadillas
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Bean burritos (I like to make these ahead and freeze them for the kids to take to school)


Free Pdf of Weekly Frugal Meal Plans Template

weekly meal plan for frugal planning and meal ideas template blank pdf

Best Tips for Creating Frugal Meal Plans

Now that you have the meals, these best tips will help you skyrocket your savings.

Commit to Going to the Store LESS Often

Commit to only going one day a week or stretch it to every two weeks. The less you go to the store, the more money you’ll save on impulse buys.

Consider a Repeating Meal Plan

Simplifying your frugal meal plans can be a game-changer! Taco Tuesday doesn’t have to be the only meal you enjoy every week.

Related: What Happened on a Weekly Rotating Meal Plan

Embrace Leftovers in Your Frugal Meal Plans

Cook once, eat twice. Plan to have leftovers that can be repurposed into another meal.

Waste Less

Freeze extra fruits, vegetables, and proteins you won’t be able to eat in time. And work to incorporate leftovers into new meals.

Try a Challenge

Rev up your motivation and supercharge your savings with one of these:

Test Out Less Expensive Proteins

Americans eat a ton of meat. The cheapest meals can also be healthier for you – if you opt for other types of proteins. Beans, lentils, and eggs are all cost-effective ways to get your daily protein.

3 Quick Shopping Tips for Frugal Meal Plans

Shop Seasonal

Capitalizing on seasonal produce and sales is a smart way to stock up at a lower cost. If it’s fresh, freeze what you don’t use for later. If it’s canned, many items stay good for over a year.

Buy in bulk when it makes sense

Utilize your closest Sam’s Club or Costco if you know you need a lot of something. But buyer beware, make sure you’re only buying things you:

A. Need (In my case, a bucket of chocolate doesn’t count)

B. Use in time (it’s not saving money if you have to throw out food)

Jot Down Prices

And finally, a price notebook can bring awareness to the items you purchase a lot. Jotting down a quick note may help you realize that the same dog food is $10 cheaper at one store. This also helps you determine if a “sale” is really a great deal.

What’s Next?

Now, start making your frugal meal plans! And grab access to my free resource library and ongoing wealthy woman ideas – straight to your inbox.

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