Feeding a family of at least four people on a budget can be tough, but you don't have to sacrifice the family bank account to keep food on the table. There are a number of meals you can prepare for as little as $1 per person, and many of the options are both healthy and nutritious.
Rolled Oats and Fruit
Start the day right with a healthy but inexpensive breakfast of instant oatmeal. To liven up an otherwise mundane dish, chop a single banana into slices and distribute across each dish. You can even add a little yogurt to thicken and add flavor. According to Save-A-Lot Food Stores, this entire breakfast costs less than $5, including the fruit and yogurt.
Oatmeal is an inexpensive but hearty food. Buy oatmeal in bulk to keep costs low over the long term.
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a savory favorite for kids and adults alike, and a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich can sell for more than $10 at specialty restaurants. Unlike a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, the grown-up version adds extra nutrition by including fruits and vegetables like tomato, onions and nutrient-rich spinach. You can make your own at home for significantly less than restaurant prices with just some white bread, shredded cheese and an assortment of your favorite vegetables. According to Cooking Light, a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich with shredded sharp white cheddar cheese costs just $2.14, feeding a family of four for less than $9. If cheddar cheese isn't your favorite, try American or mozzarella to change the flavor while keeping costs low.
Chicken with Rice and Mushrooms
Grilled chicken is a healthy, low-calorie and high-protein meal. Served over an inexpensive bed of rice, it also is very filling while keeping the price tag low. According to Cooking Light, you can serve grilled chicken over rice for $2.31 per serving as of July 2015, or $9.24 for a family of four. This budget even allows for seasonings like sweet paprika, olive oil and thyme to add flavor.
Chicken is a versatile meat, and can be paired with potatoes, couscous, pasta and various flavors of rice to create numerous inexpensive dishes. Maximize your budget by buying chicken breasts in bulk and create a number of inexpensive pairings.
This classic entree combines hearty, filling ingredients like ground beef, mushrooms and noodles into one delicious dish. According to Save-A-Lot, you can prepare enough of this dish to feed a family of four for less than $5. Beef Stroganoff keeps well, and can be reheated easily, so a large batch will feed your family while providing leftovers for another meal the next day.
If you purchase ground beef in bulk, you likely freeze it until it’s ready to use. If you’re planning beef stroganoff for dinner, be sure to thaw the beef that morning so it will be ready.
Spaghetti night has long been a staple of budget-conscious family dinners. A single package of spaghetti sells for less than $2 at many grocery stores, and can feed an entire family. Noodle preparation requires only boiling water; then top with marinara sauce, tomato paste or any of a wide variety of other sauces to provide flavor. You also can add an array of vegetables, meats and spices to change up flavors and keep spaghetti night interesting.
Prepared spaghetti and other pastas will keep for several days, so it is an ideal meal for enjoying leftovers. Keep the pasta and sauce separate, as they will reheat at different rates in the microwave.