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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.
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:
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. [...]
If you’ve ever suspected that it’s more expensive to fly on certain days of the week than others, your hunch is right.
The cheapest days to fly are… drumroll… Tuesday and Wednesday. Fewer people want to fly on those days because they don’t fit the typical Monday-through-Friday work schedule. So, airlines discount tickets on those days slightly.
That’s the short answer. But there’s much more to consider when booking a plane ticket so you’re sure to get the best deal.
Cheapest Days to Fly, Explained
A 2019 study by the travel site CheapAir.com found what every study before it had: You’ll pay less for airfare if you fly midweek.
In some cases, nearly $85 less. That’s compared with the most expensive day of the week, Sunday, with Friday coming in second. Again, most people travel over the weekend when they’re off work and the kids are out of school. If you’re willing to fly on less convenient days, you’ll save a few bucks.
And for the record, it doesn’t matter when you actually purchase a ticket. Many travel experts agree there’s no meaningful difference in price based on the day you book.
When to Buy: Aim for the Prime Booking Window
Another factor that affects whether you get a bargain on airfare or get hosed is how far out you book your ticket.
The sweet spot is the prime booking window, and it falls between three weeks and four months before your trip. CheapAir.com says fares in this zone are within 5% of their lowest point, and they tend to stay consistent without spiking.
But say you like to plan things way in advance. Booking a ticket more than six months out will cost you — possibly $50 more than in the prime window — but the tradeoff is you’ll have lots of flight options to choose from.
On the other hand, there’s rarely any reward for waiting until the last minute. Booking less than two weeks in advance will cost you.
There Is a Season
So with your sights squarely set on the prime booking window, bear in mind this advice about traveling at different times of the year.
If you’ve ever flown home for the holidays, you know this to be true: Winter is the most expensive season to travel. The average price of a domestic ticket during the winter, according to CheapAir.com, is $433. Ouch.
The upside? You get to fight your way through extra-crowded airports. Oh, wait…
You can ease the sting of popular winter travel a little by booking about 94 days in advance, which is, on average, the best time to buy in winter.
Spraaang Break, y’all. Oodles of families and college kids take a vacay when school is out for a week in March and April. Beat them all to better fares by flying midweek. Average best time to buy: 84 days before your trip.
Think late in the season. We know, school just got out and you’re ready to escape. But July is the most expensive month of the year to fly, while late August and September harbor some serious deals. Try to book about 99 days out.
Airfare in the fall makes us want to frolic in some autumn leaves!
Fall is shoulder season — the time between peak and off-peak — for many destinations when fewer people in general are traveling. (Yeah, the term doesn’t really make sense to us either.)
There are deals to be had — as long as you avoid Thanksgiving week; 69 days out is the time to book.
FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM
Save my money!
6/13/19 @ 9:38 AM
SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME
6/7/19 @ 9:31 AM
Always buy used when possible
6/12/19 @ 1:48 PM
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See more in Save Money or ask a money question
We don’t just mean that it’s cheaper to fly to Phoenix than Dubai. (Although — pro tip — it is.)
CheapAir.com is also here for us on this important question: How far out you should book tickets to different areas of the world? Here’s the breakdown:
Canada: 59 days in advance
Mexico & Central America: 61 days
Caribbean: 76 days
South America: 81 days
Middle East/Africa: 119 days
Asia/Pacific: 90 days
Europe: 99 days
Finally — and this has less to do with the cheapest days to fly but everything to do with saving money — don’t overlook alternate airports. Smaller carriers serve regional airports and often offer fares that seem like they’re from a bygone era. $55 to Orlando? Hello!
Use this handy list of lesser known airports outside big cities and check for cheaper fares before you book.
Molly Moorhead is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]