7 Budget-Friendly Meals To Make When You’re Out Of Time

If you’re like us, you’re pressed for time. Our life seems like a never-ending to-do list that doesn’t always get checked off. Between full-time work, raising our daughter, taking care of our pets, and maintaining our home, there isn’t always a lot of time leftover to make elaborate meals. So, what do we do? We have a running list of backup meals that are not only quick and easy, but they’re nutritious, too!Lucky for us, Mr. Mad Money Monster works mostly from home which gives us some scheduling flexibility. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s still really tough to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.

Because of our busy schedules, we love batch cooking, crock-pot meals, and quick fixes. The combination helps us keep nutritious food on the table without going insane. And thankfully, we have quite a few budget-friendly recipes in our arsenal that also fall under the easy meal prep category. Score! Check out our top 7 budget-friendly meals!

Top 7 Budget-Friendly Meals


  1. Breakfast

    Budget-Friendly Meals | Budget Meals | Budget Recipes | Cheap Recipes | Frugal Recipes via @MadMoneyMonsterWhen I say we sometimes eat breakfast for lunch or dinner, I’m not saying we eat a bowl of Froot Loops – although I do love Froot Loops. A hearty breakfast meal for us consists of an egg dish, a fruit smoothie, and a side of Canadian bacon. Did I mention that Mr. MMM makes the best cheesy eggs in town? Well, it’s true! So glad I married him!

  2. London Broil

    London Broil sounds elaborate and that’s partially why I enjoy listing it here. You wouldn’t think London Broil would be one of our top budget-friendly meals we make on the fly – but it is. The only real prep that goes into it is deciding to have it at least a few hours beforehand for marinading purposes. After that, it’s all gravy. We broil it for a few minutes on each side, nuke (read: bake) a few potatoes, and make a side of greens. Easy peasy in under 30 minutes.

  3. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

    Can you really go wrong with this oh-so-easy comfort meal? Um, my vote goes for…NO. There is nothing we love more than grilling some sandwiches and heating up some soup. To give it a little nutritional kick, we add a few pickles on the side. And, we don’t feel guilty at all. Dinner is served!

  4. Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken

    We love our Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken. Fortunately, we always have a plentiful amount of chicken on hand for various recipes. It’s definitely one of our main staples that we like to purchase in bulk. Whenever time seems to be fleeting, which is often, we whip up a Caesar salad with tomatoes and chicken. It’s delicious, nutritious, and ready in a flash.

  5. crock-pot - budget-friendly meals

    Our most awesome life-saving crock-pot.


    Pasta for the win! Let’s face it, pasta is basically fast food that you make at home. In 7 minutes, we’re able to have dinner on the table without being asked if we wanted fries with it. It’s also super-duper healthy in comparison to the alternative. Whenever possible, we aim to buy whole wheat pasta for our overall health. Woot!

  6. Vegetable Stir-Fry

    Mr. MMM loves, loves, loves his vegetables. And he has a mighty fine way of preparing them. I’m not sure what he does, but he makes them delicious. Even Mini and Mommy (me) love ’em. And that’s saying something! I don’t mind vegetables, but it’s safe to say I’ll never be a vegetarian. My palate just doesn’t work that way.

  7. Crock-Pot, Casserole, or Leftovers

    If we anticipate not having lots of time to make meals in the upcoming days, sometimes we opt for a casserole dish, a crock-pot meal, or just plain old leftovers. Oftentimes, we enjoy our leftovers for work lunches, but if we still end up with leftovers leftover, we’ll do an everyman-for-himself meal. It’s quick and budget-friendly. Waste not, want not. 🙂

  8. Bonus

    Mad Money Pups - budget-friendly meals

    Mad Money Pups making an appearance. #totalgoofballs

    Never underestimate the power of a grocery store rotisserie chicken. They’re really inexpensive and they’re already cooked! #winning

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There you have it! On a standard weeknight, you’ll likely find us preparing a variation of one of the 7 items listed above. Not to worry, we do enjoy breaking out the apron and devoting the time to make elaborate meals on special occasions. And sometimes, that special occasion is nothing more than a Saturday evening.

If you’re pressed for time, how do you handle meal prep in your household? And if you’re not pressed for time, please let me in on your secret!

Budget-Friendly Meals | Budget Meals | Budget Recipes | Cheap Recipes | Frugal Recipes via @MadMoneyMonster

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kelly Dec 1, 2017, 9:16 pm

    I am not pressed for time because I don’t have kids 🙂 I lead a very simple life, I do shift work in healthcare and unless there is an emergency at the hospital I get out after 8 hours.
    Even so I still have meals on hand all the time instead of meal planning. I always have stuff for lentil stew, burrito bowls, and stirfry. I also have some freezer meals and chicken sausage on hand if I don’t want to cook or clean up after.
    I am lucky I don’t mind left overs I pack them for lunch the next day when I am cleaning up after dinner.

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 2, 2017, 9:45 am

      Sounds like you have a great system. Leftovers for lunch are the best. I do it almost every day. 🙂

  • Laura Nov 9, 2017, 2:20 pm

    Just last week I came across a recipe for roasted garlic tomato soup – yum! The recipe called for cream but since I’m vegan I just threw in a ripe avocado instead. It added creaminess and some extra nutrition so that worked perfectly as a substitute.

    I made a big batch of the soup and had a bowl of that with a toasted “cheez” sandwich for lunch all week (luckily we have a toaster oven at my work). It was so good that I’m probably going to do it again next week!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 11, 2017, 5:04 pm

      That sounds absolutely delicious! I just might have to add it into our budget-friendly rotation 🙂

  • Miguel (The Rich Miser) Nov 7, 2017, 11:36 pm

    Hey MMM! I really like the tomato soup and grilled cheese, I’m putting it on the list!

    My wife and I sometimes make lots of slow cooker meals in advance, which she puts into big ziploc bags and freezes. Then, the night before eating, we put it in the fridge overnight to thaw. We then dump it into the slow cooker in the morning.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 8, 2017, 5:11 am

      I love the idea of freezing slow cooked meals in ziplock bags. We’re not quite at that advanced level of efficiency – but I think we’ll give it a try! Thanks for the tip!

  • Marleigh Nov 7, 2017, 12:37 pm

    Yes to all of the above, except pasta. I can’t have any grains due to a strict medical diet. But to save time, just last night, seasoned and browned the turkey meat, pour pasta sauce over it. Cooked up some garlic parmesan zucchini noodles, and voila. A meal in 30 minutes and leftovers for lunch today. I believe the key is simplicity. Nothing wrong with bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Tacos are always fast and fun. Chicken salad is on the menu for tonight.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 7, 2017, 7:44 pm

      Ooh, that sounds absolutely delicious. It certainly beat what I had for lunch today!

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