Frugal Meal Ideas: The Basics of How to Construct a Frugal Meal

frugal meal ideas how to planWe’re constantly bombarded with grocery store items that promise a quick and easy meal. What’s not advertised is that those quick and easy grocery items are loaded with fats, sugars, and oils. That’s not ideal. Anyone interested in saving money ought to also be interested in health. Poor health will cost you much more than healthy grocery options cost.

However, we still look at those quick and easy options with lustful eyes. Of course we all want easy options in our lives. This post will tell you how to get quick and easy meals that are also healthy.

Following what this post tells you won’t be difficult. Follow along and pretty soon you’ll bring the perfecta of meal planning into your home: quick, healthy, cheap. Life can’t get any better.

Meal Plan

You want to find recipes that use similar whole ingredients that are typically on sale. I’m always seeing chicken breasts, eggs, flour, certain kinds of fish, etc. on sale. If I find an interesting recipe that includes those ingredients, I’m all over it! Meal planning also keeps you from making impulse buys. Furthermore, you may find meal planning in the long run to be far less stressful than asking yourself, “What’s for supper?” just as you’re getting hungry. This can also lead to a meal of snack foods which is very expensive.

Most people set aside 20 minutes on Sunday to decide their meals for the week. It really can be done in just a short amount of time. Get your calendar and a recipe site like pulled up. Plan tasty meals for the different times you’ll be eating at home.

Get Deals

Capitalize on your knowledge. Go out and score deals on all the staple foods you’ll be using nearly every day. When you find nonperishable foods on sale – stock up! Fill your cart if the sale allows! Remember, frugal meal planning is just that – planning! Plan for future meals. Remember to buy all food groups. You want to grab the proper amount of nutrients, remember. If all you want is a low cost way to eat, this post could be over with two words: Ramen Noodles.

Buying a lot of varied grocery items is essential in order to save money in the long-term. Onto step 3.

Shop Your Stocked Pantry

stock your pantry frugal meal idea tips
Don’t be afraid to make your pantry look like a store.

Now that you did a massive shopping trip, you have a lot of food stockpiled! Use the meal plans you outlined in step 1 and ‘shop your pantry’. This keeps you from having to run out and buy something not on sale just to prepare one meal. This is also an efficient use of your time.

Plan Your Leftovers

Waste not, want not. Have an idea of what you’d like to do with your leftovers. You can simply reheat them and enjoy or you can incorporate them into a new recipe. Leftover taco meat can mean nachos for lunch. Consider using leftovers as part of a salad. Leftover lemon chicken breasts can be sliced and put atop a salad. Leftovers just take a little imagination in order to create a second or third meal. And despite their bad reputation, sometimes leftovers (particularly tomato-based leftovers) actually taste better after the flavors have ‘mingled’ for a day or more.

If you find yourself with a lot of miscellaneous ingredients left over from, say, a fondue night, use this search tool: You simply input the ingredients you have available; it suggest recipes you can make using those ingredients.

Create Consistencies

You want to keep the frugal meals going. You need to create a habit. Create enough recipes so you won’t get bored but not so many that you feel overwhelmed. When you create consistencies, you take a lot of the guess work and stress out of frugal meal planning. I know many people who eat out each night. They admit it’s because recipes make them feel overwhelmed.


For extra motivation, try to get your groceries down to a minimum! There are a lot of people online bragging about their low food budgets. Compare your budget with others. Learn from each other. Make it a friendly competition. Have fun!

Congratulations! You now have all of the ‘quick and easy’ and a minimum amount of processed fats, sugars, and oils!

As you can now see, designing frugal meal ideas isn’t particularly difficult or time consuming. The reason more people don’t do it is because it requires planning. But once you get in the flow of things, it won’t even feel like planning. It will be your new norm.

Now get out there. Meal plan, find deals, stock your pantry, plan your leftovers, and create consistencies!