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Category: From My Kitchen

15 Dinners to Make When Your Cupboards Are Bare

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for dinners to make when your cupboards are bare and money is tight? Here are some of our family’s favorite ideas. Best of all, most of these are super quick and easy ideas, too:

Meals to Make When Your Cupboards Are Bare

1. Grilled Cheese

You can use any kind of cheese and any kind of bread!

2. Eggs and Toast

This is an easy meal that even younger kids can make!

3. Loaded Baked Potatoes

Get creative with whatever you might have on hand that would work as a topping: taco meat, chili, beans, ham, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. You could even do chopped chicken, salsa, and cheese.

4. Any Pasta With Pasta Sauce

If you have any canned tomatoes or ground beef or onions, you can add it to the sauce. Then, serve it sprinkled with any kind of cheese you might have on hand.

5. Sandwiches

The options are pretty ended here: Peanut Butter/Jelly (or PB & honey — we love to toast the bread for a little extra something!) Egg Salad, Meat/Cheese, etc.

Tip: Did you know you can freeze PB&J sandwiches?

6. Build Your Own Taco Salad

Use whatever taco-like ingredients you have on hand: Ground beef or turkey with homemade taco seasoning, beans, lettuce, chips, tomatoes, cheese, etc.

7. Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

This is a staple at our house. If I have kielbasa in the freezer and I’ve gotten peppers on markdowns, I’ll chop up both and add some onions or potatoes or sweet potatoes (if I have them) and cook this with a little water and seasonings in the crockpot for 4-6 hours on low. You can you serve over rice or pasta (if you didn’t include potatoes).

8. Meat/Potatoes/Frozen Veggies Hash

This was a standby recipe at our family’s house growing up. If we needed a quick dinner, we’d brown some ground beef with onions, and then add some chopped potatoes and fry those until tender. Then we’d add corn or peas. I think this recipe originally came from the More With Less Cookbook.

9. Refried Beans and Cheese

We like to spoon refried beans into a baking dish and top with cheese and then heat these up in the microwave (or you can bake in the oven) until heated through and then serve with chips and salsa or spread onto tortillas to make bean and cheese burritos.

10. Breakfast For Dinner

Breakfast foods are always a quick and easy pantry meal idea, depending on what you have on hand. Pancakes, Waffles, or French Toast served with eggs and/or bacon (if you have any) and fruit. You could also do a big pan of Baked Oatmeal and top it with any fruit you have and serve it with yogurt or milk.

Tip: Have extra eggs on hand and some meat and cheese? Make these yummy Egg & Cheese Bites.

Pantry Meal Ideas From My Followers:

11. Quesadillas

Betsy said, “We have what I call refrigerator quesadillas. Tortillas, cheese and anything else leftover– chicken, ham, zucchini, corn, etc. Stick it in between tortillas and cheese and you’re pretty much set!

12. Have a Chopped Competition

One of my followers, Amanda, said that they love to play Chopped when they are trying to use up what they have on hand. (If you’re unfamiliar with it, Chopped is a TV show where contestants are given random ingredients and they have to make a recipe with those ingredients.) What a fun idea!

13. Tortilla Soup

Charity said: “I almost always have bullion, diced tomatoes, canned black beans, an onion or garlic and some veggies (typically celery, carrots and corn) and a handful of rice and crushed tortilla chips around. We’ll top it with shredded cheese.”

14. Cheater Chili

Tanya said: “I always have the ingredients for ‘Cheater Chili’ in my pantry and boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix. A can of chili beans, a can of white beans, a can of kidney beans (or whatever kind you want really) and a jar of Pace Picante sauce. Heat until hot. I add ground beef when I have it or have time, but it’s great without it too.

15. Barbecue Cups

Amanda said: “We make Barbecue Cups — ground beef with bbq sauce, place on top of raw biscuit in a muffin tin add cheese to top, bake in oven.”

What are YOUR favorite budget-friendly meals to make when money is tight?

P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on my Facebook Page.

Last Week’s $70 Grocery Budget + Menu Plan

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

I’ve been finding a LOT of random markdowns at Kroger recently, so my shopping trips this week were mostly made up of those!

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Kroger Eggs — marked down to $1.29
  • Cinnamon Raisin Bread — marked down to $1.29
  • 2 cans of canned Pineapple — marked down to $0.49 each
  • JIF peanut butter — marked down to $0.99 each
  • Kettle cooked chips — marked down to $0.79
  • Kroger sour cream — $1.39
  • Deli chicken — marked down to $2.39
  • Elbow macaroni — marked down to $0.39
  • 1 bag of peppers/squash — marked down to $0.99
  • Kroger peanuts — marked down to $0.89
  • Sirloin Steak — marked down to $4.40
  • 1 bag of cucumbers — marked down to $0.99
  • Strawberries — $1.50
  • 2 cans of Kroger soup — $0.79 each
  • 1 bag of lemons — marked down to $0.99
  • Bananas — marked down to $0.39/lb. = $0.71
  • Tyson Frozen Chicken — $6.99
  • 2 cans of salmon — marked down to $1.99 each
  • Package of Kind Breakfast Bars — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 cans of green beans — marked down to $0.29 each
  • Simple Truth organic seltzer water — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 2 boxes of Rice-a-Roni — marked down to $0.49 each
  • Kroger taco seasoning — marked down to $0.19
  • Total with tax: $41.96

I was excited about the Weekend Deals at Kroger this week and am going back to hit some of the others on Monday!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • Salad Kit — $1.99
  • Nature Valley Granola Bar — marked down to $0.69
  • Kroger eggs — marked down to $1.29
  • Annie’s Mac & Cheese — marked down to $0.59 each
  • Capri Sun — marked down to $0.69
  • JIF Peanut Butter — marked down to $0.89
  • 3 packages of Smithfield Bacon — $2.99 each with Weekend Deals
  • Kind bar — Free with Free Friday coupon
  • Creamed Corn — $0.99
  • Kroger Green Beans — $0.59
  • 5 Lara Bars — $0.50 each with Weekend Deals
  • Franks Red Hot Sauce — Well, I thought this was supposed to be $0.99 with the Kroger Weekend Deals but as I was typing this up, I realized that I think I actually paid $2.99 for this!! Now I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth taking back to the store. Probably not? But I kind of surprised that I didn’t catch that I overpaid for this. 🙁 I usually am really good at carefully checking everything. Here’s another good reason why you should check your receipt really thoroughly before leaving the store!
  • Lettuce — $1.79
  • Total with tax: $26.18

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Toast, Oatmeal, Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwiches (Silas and Kaitlynn have been loving this for breakfast recently!), Eggs

Lunches:

  • Ham Sandwiches, Granola Bars, Yogurt, Capri Sun, Salad, Leftovers, Fruit

Snacks:

  • Cookies, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Go-Gurts, Apple Crisp, Fruit, Veggies

Dinners:

Total spent on groceries: $68.14

Cashback earned this week: 50 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards

{Last Chance!} Get the Eat at Home Menu Plan Service for 30% off!

It’s the LAST DAY to get a subscription to Eat at Home Menu Planning service for 30% off! If you haven’t taken advantage of this deal yet and have been meaning to, this is your gentle reminder that you need to run over and purchase — because the deal ends at midnight!

I’m just loving getting these messages from those of you who are signing up:

My Top 3 Reasons I Love Eat at Home

  1. My favorite thing about the Eat at Home Menu Plan Service is that — unlike many other menu plan services — you don’t have to pick one menu plan — you get access to four complete menu plans every single week. Yes, that’s right!
  2. I also LOVE that the plans were put together with busy families in mind — and many of the recipes can be made in less than 15 minutes.
  3. Finally, the recipes are GOOD! Someone asked this morning on Facebook Live whether we like all of the recipes and I could genuinely say that we typically love 50% of them, that we like 40-45% of them, and there are just 5-10% that aren’t necessarily ones we like. I think that’s pretty impressive considering we’re feeding 5 people here who have different palates!

On the Fence About Purchasing?

Many of you have already purchased the Eat at Home menu-planning service and have written to tell me you are excited about all of the time and effort and money you are going to save with it.

But others of you are still sitting on the fence and wondering whether it’s worth the investment. And I totally get that.

I don’t want you to spend your hard-earned money on something that isn’t going to be a great fit for you. But I also don’t want you to miss this opportunity to get such a great deal… because this deal only comes around two times per year and it’s the lowest price that you’ll ever find this menu-planning service.

If you’re on the fence about purchasing, I want to help you out. Here are three steps I encourage you to take to make sure this is for you:

1. Leave a Comment… I’m Here to Answer Your Questions!

I will be checking comments here this afternoon and evening and am happy to answer your questions about the Eat at Home menu-planning service. Just leave a comment and ask whatever questions you have.

I’ll personally do my best to answer your question or to find out the answer for you! And trust me, I will be incredibly honest with you and let you know if I don’t think this menu-planning service is a good fit for you.

2. Download the Sample Menus

Want to see some samples of what the Eat at Home menu-plan service is like? You can view a sample menu plan for each of the 4 different menu plans you’ll get when you sign up for this service. Just go here to check out the sample menu plans here.

3. Try it Out for 30 Days

Eat at Home offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you think the service might work for you but you’re not sure, I recommend that you go ahead and signed up and try it out for a week to see if it will work. If it doesn’t, you can just email in and ask for your money back — no questions asked!

Have Picky Eaters?

Someone asked in the Eat at Home Facebook Group whether the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service would work if you have picky eaters. I can’t promise or guarantee you anything, but here were some of the responses:

You can go here to read the rest of the responses to this question.

What You Get When You Sign Up

When you sign up for the Eat at Home Menu plan service (it’s just a few dollars per week — or less!), each month, you’ll get:

You can choose to stick with just the traditional menu plan or just the slow cooker menu plan or just the whole foods menu plan or just the no flour, no sugar menu plan. Or, you can rotate different menu plans on different weeks, depending upon what you feel like cooking or how much time you have!

Go sign up here — and use coupon code YES at checkout to get 30% off! That makes the annual plan just $1.13 per week!

If you have any questions about the Eat at Home Menu Plan service, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question promptly!

P.S. Don’t forget, the Eat at Home Menu Plan service is only on sale until tonight at midnight! Use coupon code YES at checkout to get 30% off — that’s the lowest price you’ll get this year! Find more details on these fantastic menu plans here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we will receive a commission — at no additional cost to you! Thank you for your support.

This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget + Our Menu Plan

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.


Did you see that the Eat at Home Menu Plan service is on sale for just $1.13/week for the next few days? I love this menu plan service and think it is so fantastic if you need quick and easy menu plans that are family friendly and affordable.

You get access to 4 different menu plans (No Sugar/No Flour, Instant Pot/Slow Cooker, Traditional, and Traditional Wholesome) AND you get a color-coded grocery list for each menu plan every single week!

If you want to get some ideas of how this menu plan works and what the recipes are like, I’ve been making the recipes this week on live video. Here are three of them that I made:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Ground Beef — marked down to $4.29
  • 2 bags of apples  — marked down to $0.99
  • 1 bag of onions — marked down to $0.99
  • Santa Cruz lemonade — $0.99 when you buy 5 participating items
  • 2 Nourish bowls — marked down to $1 each
  • 1 carton of Siggi’s — marked down to $0.99
  • Milk — $2.69
  • 3 boxes of Cheerios — $1.49 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1.50/3 coupon = $0.99 each
  • Corn Chips — $0.99 when you buy 5 participating items, used $0.45/1 coupon that Kroger emailed me = $0.54
  • Diced tomatoes — $0.50
  • Teriyaki sauce — $2.29
  • Total with tax: $19.57

My Toilet Paper Order

I ordered the toilet paper deal and it came in this week. I paid just $19.49 for the equivalent of 128 regular rolls! We should be stocked up for awhile!

By the way, this deal is still available! Check out all of the details here.

I was excited about the Friday-Saturday deals at Kroger — including a stock-up price on butter ($1.99 per pound!) I bought 5 and stuck them in the freezer!

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

  • Ham Sandwiches, Granola Bars, Yogurt, Capri Sun, Salad, Leftovers, Fruit

Snacks:

Dinners:

Total spent on groceries: $67.04

Cashback earned this week: 50 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards

Get the Eat at Home Menu Plan Service for as low as $1.13/week!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

(A sample of one of the Eat at Home menu-planning service grocery lists. I love how organized & time-saving these are!)

I am SO excited that my favorite Eat at Home Menu Plans are on sale this week!

If you struggle to make menu plans and would love for someone to make them for you + make a grocery list for you, it’s well worth spending a few dollars every week to let Eat at Home do the work for you.

Through August 27th, when you sign up for their plan (either the monthly plan, the quarterly plan, or the yearly plan), you can get 30% off by using coupon code YES at checkout!

That makes the done-for-you menu plans and grocery lists as low as $1.13 per week. And you get access to all four plans and the freezer cooking plans for the whole month at the rate!

Get the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service for as low as $1.21 per Week!

This is the menu planning service I have used many times during busy seasons of life and I cannot sing the praises of it enough!  The recipes are so simple, so yummy, and have been a hit at our house.

Most all of the recipes can all be fixed quickly — often with less than 15 minutes of hands-on prep. Because the recipes use common pantry ingredients, it’s likely that you have everything you need to make many of the recipes.

It’s also convenient because all the work is done for you! You just choose which menu plan you’ll use, print the grocery list, go shopping, and then spend a few minutes prepping food each day and dinner is D-O-N-E!

Plus, it’s only a few dollars per week and you get four different menu plans for every week — which is so worth it if it saves you a lot of time, money, and stress!

When you sign up for the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service, each month, you’ll get:

  • An entire money of No Flour, No Sugar menu plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Traditional Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Crockpot/Instant Pot Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Wholesome Traditional Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • Each menu plan comes with recipes created for small family (3-4 servings) and large family (6-8 servings)
  • Color-coded grocery lists make it easy to swap out ingredients or whole meals
  • Printable Menus to hang on the fridge or near your calendar, so you can easily see what’s for dinner that week and your family can too
  • Access to the entire month at once!
  • 1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – a new plan each month to stock your freezer with 6 meals in 1 hour!

You can choose to stick with just the No Flour/No Sugar menu plans, or just the Crockpot/Instant Pot menu plans, or just the Traditional Wholesome menu plans,  or just the Traditional menu plans. Or, you can rotate different menu plans on different weeks, depending upon what you feel like cooking or how much time you have!

Get the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service for as Low as $1.13 per Week!

If you struggle to make menu plans and would love for someone to make them for you + make a grocery list for you, it’s well worth spending a few dollars every week to let Eat at Home do the work for you.

Through August 27, 2019, when you sign up for their plan (either the monthly plan, the quarterly plan, or the yearly plan, you can get 30% off with coupon code YES at checkout!)

That makes the done-for-you menu plans and grocery lists as low as $1.13 per week. And you get access to all four plans and the freezer cooking plans for the whole month at the rate!

Go sign up for this incredible menu-planning service here!

(Oh and they have a fantastic two-week money-back guarantee if you think you want to try it out but aren’t sure whether it will work for you or not!)

Cheap Meals for Large Groups | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 25+ People

Need some easy recipes or cheap meals for large groups? Here’s how we fed 27 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities.

Be sure to also check out these Easy Meals for 20 people + these Recipes for a Crowd of People. Both include full vacation menu plans!

Cheap Meals for Large Groups

Cheap Meals for Large Groups

Last week, we drove to Lampe, MO to spend a week at Table Rock Lake with almost all of my extended family. (This time around, it was my parents, 2 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids. My youngest brother couldn’t come because he’s working at the Wild’s Christian Camp this summer).

My dad rented Caboose Junction Resort for us all (it has a main house and then 6 caboose that have been turned into small “cabins”).

In addition to spending lots of time skiing, boating, and swimming, we ate a lot of yummy meals. But in order to feed 27 people without it being too much work, we not only stuck with cheap meals for large groups, but we also all pitched in and helped with the food.

Since you all loved my other vacation menu plan posts about easy meals for 20+ people, I wanted to, once again, share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 25+ people.

southwest roll-ups for large groups

salad and fruit for large groups

cheap meal ideas: Spaghetti pie  family gathering eating dinner together takeout pizza sliced

How We Planned and Divvied Things Up

Like last time, my sister planned the menu with cheap meals for large groups and sent out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of.

Perfect Potluck meal planning for large groups

(A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.)

Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking.

We also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that one person didn’t have to do a bunch of the clean up and everyone could enjoy plenty of time for fun!

menu plan on fridge

Easy Breakfasts for Large Groups

Here’s what we served for breakfast:

easy french toast breakfast for large groups

Easy Lunches for Large Groups

For lunch, we had our usual huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Croutons, Dressings

easy meals for large groups: build your own taco bar

baked potato bar for dinner

easy meals for large groups: baked potatoes

Simple Dinners for Large Groups

If you’re looking for some really easy and cheap meals for large groups, here’s what we made for the dinners:

  • Spaghetti Pie, Lettuce Salad, Garlic Bread, Green Beans, Fruit
  • Southwest Rollups (Toppings: Shredded Lettuce, Sour Cream, Salsa), Mexican Rice, Fruit
  • Pizza & Soda Pop (We ordered from a local pizza place — we ordered it online and then my dad went and picked it up.)
  • Baked Potato Bar & Five Cup Salad (The toppings we had: Baked Potatoes, Taco Meat, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, Chopped Green Onions, Shredded Cheese, Bacon, Salsa, Chopped Tomatoes, Broccoli.)
  • Grilled Chicken, Lettuce Salad, Homemade Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Fruit Salad, Steamed Veggies,  Twice Baked Potatoes. (I used the leftover baked potatoes to make these.)
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Homemade French Fries, Veggie Tray, Leftover Corn on the Cob, Leftover Fruit Salad

It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 25+ people if we all pitch in and help!

What other ideas of easy recipes for 25+ people or cheap meals for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear!

Cut your grocery bill!

Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.