7 Easy Family Recipes that Can Turn Into a Week’s Worth of Frugal Meals

I’ve sworn by weekly meal planning for years and now, more than ever, I feel like I’ve been training for this time. This time where I’m challenging myself to be extra resourceful, spacing out grocery trips, and still keeping diversity in our dinners. Leftovers are great but there’s something thrilling (yes, I said “thrilling” which probably makes me a super nerd) about getting lean on food waste while still coming up with a variety of flavor profiles for the same-week menu. I’m a big believer in “evolving” meals and using ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes so today, I’m sharing a few recipes — that have already been shared on KN — that this practice is perfect for. Make it a game and see how little you can spend at the store or how far you can stretch a single bunch of celery. Get your shopping list ready and prepare to cut down on food prep and make things a lot easier in the kitchen with these seven family friendly recipes that can turn into a week’s worth of frugal meals.

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*Each recipe link can be found below each image*

Chicken BBQ

I actually already wrote a similar post a while back on seven easy weeknight dinners made from one batch of crock pot chicken bbq. This stuff is yummy and there isn’t much you can’t pair with it.

Shredded Chicken BBQ Crock Pot Recipe Ideas

Get the Recipe

First, Make This: 

  • chicken bbq in the crock pot

Then, Make This:

  • chicken bbq baked potato
  • chicken bbq salad
  • chicken bbq quesadilla
  • chicken bbq stuffed peppers
  • chicken bbq lettuce wraps
  • chicken bbq stuffed crescent rolls
  • chicken bbq nachos
  • *not pictured in the post: chicken bbq pizza
  • *not pictured in the post: classic chicken bbq sandwiches

Make a big batch at the beginning of the week and you’re guaranteed a ton of meal options throughout the week. And from the quesadillas with peppers and onions and stuffed peppers to the salad and lettuce wraps, you also have the opportunity to use and finish all the produce between dinners. It sure beats bbq sandwiches for every meal 😉 I have the recipe I use for each chicken bbq spin-off HERE.

Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

While this is more side-dish territory, the ingredients that make up this household favorite have a ton of potential to be used throughout the week. With the addition of a large head of broccoli and cauliflower, most items can likely already be found in your fridge or pantry. Only using 1/2 head of broccoli and 1/2 head of cauliflower, there are still easy ways to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

Favorite Casserole Side Dish- Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Get the Recipe

First, Make This:

  • cheesy broccoli cauliflower casserole

Then, Make This:

  • roasted broccoli & cauliflower
  • steamed broccoli & cauliflower with cheese sauce
  • chicken casserole using the leftover broccoli and cauliflower
  • veggie/chicken stir fry using the leftover broccoli and cauliflower
  • keep raw and use as crudite stacks with dip
  • salad toppings
  • broccoli salad
  • turn your cauliflower into riced cauliflower to serve as a base instead of rice
  • steamed and served on top of pasta with a cream sauce

 Chicken Noodle Soup

The basic ingredients that go into chicken noodle soup are likely some of the same ingredients you will already have on hand from some of your other meals.

Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Get the Recipe

First, Make This:

  • Anything else that requires/can use shredded chicken (kill two birds with one stone by prepping one big batch of shredded chicken to split between meals)
  • Anything else that requires/can use onions, celery, and carrots

Then, Make This: 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (with the leftover chicken and produce)

Lasagna

Lasagna requires several steps and while none are difficult, it is a bit of a time commitment. For that reason, it’s a great dish to prepare over the weekend. The good news is that while you’re making the lasagna, you can prepare extra layer batches for other meals entirely, and even to store as entire freezer meals for a later date.

Favorite easy two-layer lasagna recipe with ground beef- a simple Italian favorite!

Get the Recipe

These are actually prepped simultaneously so you can essentially make multiple meals at the same time and stash a few in the freezer.

First, Make This:

  • spaghetti sauce (and then store the excess as a batch for spaghetti and/or stuffed shells in a few weeks)
  • ricotta mixture (make a double batch to go ahead and use for a baked ziti, finish the baked ziti and store in the freezer)

Then, Make This:

  • lasagna

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is one of those “evolving” type meals where one things turns into another, which turns into another.

Get the Recipe

First, Make This:

  • Mexican crock pot chicken mixture

Then, Make This:

  • chicken tacos
  • chicken taco salad
  • stuffed peppers
  • chicken & rice bowls
  • ultimately, the leftover chicken can be used for chicken tortilla soup which can be eaten immediately while a huge batch can be frozen for a later date

Chicken Taco Salad

Similar to the crock pot Mexican chicken that I use for tacos and chicken tortilla soup, this Mexican chicken mixture is made on the stovetop and can be used in the same way!

Mini Chicken Taco Salad Recipe for an easy weeknight dinner

Get the Recipe

First, Make This:

  • braised Mexican chicken mixture

Then, Make This:

  • chicken tacos
  • chicken taco salad
  • stuffed peppers
  • chicken & rice bowls
  • chicken soup

Fried Chicken Tenders

I only recently shared this recipe of Dave’s but as I indicated in the recipe post, two breasts make anywhere from 20-24 tenders! This is a great, economical way to stretch some fried chicken strips into several different meal options.

How Long to Cook Fried Chicken Tenders -- and how to make the best coating ever!

Get the Recipe

First, Make This:

  • fried chicken tenders

Then, Make This:

  • fried chicken salads
  • chicken tender wraps
  • chicken parmesan
  • chicken & waffles

A Few Other Evolving Recipe Ideas

Whether or not you try any of the above recipes, I’m sure there are plenty of meals in your own rotation that can be prepared and planned to make your meal prep and planning and grocery shopping a breeze, while cutting down on waste. Here are a few other ideas:

  • First, make sloppy joes; then, make stuffed shells with the excess
  • Throw all your leftover veggies from the week into a stir fry, casserole, or quish/omelets, vegetable soup, etc.
  • First, make tacos; then, make taco salads, nachos, a taco bake, stuffed shells, etc.
  • First, make steak; then, make steak salads or steak wraps with blue cheese/salsa
  • First, make chili; then, make nachos or chili mac (you can freeze a ton for later, too!)

Do you have a tried and true recipe that continues to provide ingredients or a base for other meals throughout the week? Let us know about it in the comment section below!

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7 Frugal Family Meals that Will Feed You for a Week!

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2 Comments

  1. 4.26.20
    Josselyn Novella said:

    Thanks so much for the great ideas! Since I have about an hour drive home, time is crucial in preparing dinners. I also try to plan all the weekly dinners on Sunday. You provided a lot of wonderful ideas! I did try the bbq chicken and loved it. The chicken tortilla soup week looks and sound so yummy! Thanks again!

    • 4.29.20

      Josselyn, Your weekly planning sounds amazing to me. You must be so very organized! You have mentioned two of our favorites. I hope you try the chicken tortilla soup soon. I appreciate you!

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