Meals That Feed a Family of Four for Under $15

Jess Richardson | Jul 23, 2019 Food & Party
Meals That Feed a Family of Four for Under $15
Image: iStock

stuffed sweet potatoes
iStock

When it comes to dining well on a budget, we know that it's not always obvious (or easy). But focusing on good, simple ingredients; knowing the cheapest cuts of meat; and going for meals that use in-season, inexpensive produce can go a long way. One of our favorite hacks is to buy large quantities of frozen chicken thighs, frozen shrimp, and other meats that freeze well from place such as Costco. It's an investment up front but saves lots of money down the line, and because the food is frozen, we don't get sick of those flavors, either. To that same end, anyone who can spare a Saturday once every two to three months can put together a ton of these freezer-to-Crock-Pot meals, which mean there will be ready-to-go fully-prepped meal packs in the freezer waiting. Even better: Do it with a group of friends, so everyone goes in on the cost of the ingredients and everyone gets the maximum amount of variety. 

Relatedly, we're a big fan of these kid-friendly family dinners for less than $5, which make budgeting a breeze, and these budget-friendly baby food recipes, which are helpful for moms looking to DIY baby food, which definitely takes time but also saves a lot of cash, if that's an option. These thrifty casseroles recipes help families on a budget (most of which freeze really, really well too). Also check out these easy make-ahead breakfasts on a budget, which really help cut down on expensive frozen breakfast items, such as brand-name waffles that we love but which are ridiculously expensive compared to making and freezing our own. Also super worthwhile, especially for families where one or more member thinks a meal "isn't a meal" without meat: Crock-Pot recipes that make "budget" cuts of meat taste amazing.

  • Weeknight Spaghetti With Clams

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    Weeknight Spaghetti with Clams
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    A whole pack of frozen clams costs only about $7, so add pasta and roasted veggies on the side, and there's a tasty healthy meal for $15. This recipe for weeknight spaghetti with clams is an absolute winner.

  • Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

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    Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken
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    A whole chicken is only about $6, which leaves some extra room in the budget to invest in spices and extra veggies. This recipe for Moroccan-spiced roast chicken involves sweet potatoes, a pound of cauliflower, and red onion, so it's a complete meal.

  • Easy Garlic Pork Stir-Fry

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    Easy Garlic Pork Stir-Fry
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    This easy garlic pork stir-fry comes together easily and combines plenty of vegetables with delicious pork tenderloin, which is only about $4 per pound. Serve with rice or noodles, which can absorb the sauce.

  • Turkey Burgers

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    Turkey Burgers
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    Ground turkey meat is healthier and cheaper than beef, costing about $4 per pound. Make this delicious recipe, the juiciest turkey burgers, for a family of four with toasted buns, sweet potato fries, and roasted broccoli for under $15. 

  • Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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    Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
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    This recipe for black bean stuffed sweet potatoes is delicious, especially served with sliced avocado and hot sauce. Double the amount of cumin for a little boost of flavor -- and serve with sautéed veggies for an even bigger boost of vitamins.

  • Crispy Butter Dijon Parmesan Crusted Chicken Thighs

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    Crispy Butter Dijon Parmesan Crusted Chicken Thighs
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    This recipe for crispy butter dijon Parmesan crusted chicken thighs is so incredibly flavorful and delicious, and chicken thighs are a very inexpensive cut of meat. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

  • Vegetarian Lasagna

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    Vegetarian Lasagna
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    This recipe for the best vegetable lasagna involves making a super-simple DIY sauce, which is very easy and considerably cheaper than buying the jarred kind. This makes 12 servings, so it leaves plenty for lunch or dinner the next day. 

  • Smoky Shrimp and Rice Pilaf

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    Smoky Shrimp and Rice Pilaf
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    Shrimp may seem expensive, but buy bulk bags of frozen shrimp, which last ages and doesn't cost much. Smoky shrimp and rice pilaf is really delicious when served with a side salad. 

  • Beef Kofta Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables

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    Beef Kofta Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables
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    These beef kofta meatballs with roasted vegetables are so incredibly easy and are a very well-rounded dinner. It's delicious served with Spanish rice, and the meal costs $11 for the entire recipe.

  • Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls

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    Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls
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    These quinoa black bean burrito bowls are extremely tasty, and even though rice is cheaper than quinoa, quinoa adds such a big protein boost that it's worth the extra expense. The whole meal will still cost less than $15.

  • Roasted Drumsticks with Tomatoes

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    Roasted Drumsticks with Tomatoes
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    Chicken legs are one of the less-expensive part of a chicken, and these roasted drumsticks with tomatoes are incredibly tasty. Serve with baby new potatoes and steamed asparagus for a totally rounded meal.

  • One Pot American Goulash

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    One Pot American Goulash
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    This recipe for one pot American goulash is such a wonderful recipe, and even with the red wine, the whole recipe comes to less than $15 -- even less if a bottle of Trader Joe's two buck chuck is picked up instead of something more expensive.

  • Dump-and-Bake Ravioli Casserole

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    Dump-and-Bake Ravioli Casserole
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    Although this recipe for dump-and-bake ravioli casserole is as easy as humanly possible, it calls for jarred marinara sauce. Save even more money by making sauce instead, although the original recipe still comes to far under $15 for a family of four. Serve with a side salad or sautéed broccoli. 

  • Creole White Beans with Chicken

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    Creole White Beans with Chicken
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    This recipe for Creole white beans with chicken keeps the seasoning simple by using a blend everyone from New Orleans loves, Zatarain's. It's an all-purpose seasoning easily found online if the local store doesn't have it. 

  • Thai Coconut Curry Braised Chicken Thighs

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    Thai Coconut Curry Braised Chicken Thighs
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    Bold and rich, this Thai coconut curry braised chicken thighs recipe can be adjusted for preferred spiciness levels by lowering or adding to the curry paste. Serve with a side salad for something light. 

  • Bay Scallops With Pasta, Butter and Lemon

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    Bay Scallops With Pasta, Butter, And Lemon
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    A pound of frozen bay scallops is just $6 at Wal-Mart, and this recipe for bay scallops with pasta, butter, and lemon is really delicious. Add a side salad and toasted garlic bread to soak up the sauce.

  • Pork Chops with Peaches and Walnuts

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    Pork Chops with Peaches and Walnuts
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    This recipe for pork chops with peaches and walnuts is fantastic, easy, and under $15. It also takes about 15 minutes to make, which makes it ideal for weeknights. Round out the meal with mashed potatoes and green beans.

  • Shrimp Tacos

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    Shrimp Tacos
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    This recipe for shrimp tacos is absolutely delicious. Buying taco seasoning is cheaper for one night, but if this is a recipe the family loves, consider making a DIY blend with bulk spices -- it's way cheaper over time.

  • Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

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    Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs
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    These slow cooker BBQ ribs are less than $2 per serving, and they're really delicious. The recipe author says it can be made with Guinness instead of apple sauce. They pair beautifully with mashed potatoes.

  • Southern Ham and White Beans

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    Southern Ham And White Beans
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    This is a budget-friendly, classic meal: Southern ham and white beans. Serve with braised collard greens and cornbread -- the Jiffy brand box mix is often just 50 cents each at the store. 

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