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My 10 Favorite Cheap (and Quick) Hamburger Meals

Are you tired of spending so much money on food? Maybe you’re eating out too often, buying a lot of ‘convenience meals,’ or just going to the store too often! Whatever it is that’s causing you to overspend on food, let me tell you that the solution is not to eat rice and beans for every meal! Instead, I’ve got some great cheap meals that you can put on the table in under 30 minutes!

One way to guarantee that you’ll end up at the drive-thru or at the store picking up something quick (again) is attempting to scrimp on groceries and feed your family ‘poor food’.

Many financial gurus will lead you to believe that if you want to better your financial situation, get out of debt, or save a lot of money, you have to sacrifice a healthy, varied diet to do so.

Not true!

You just have to be a little smarter about how you grocery shop. But if you try to eat oatmeal for breakfast, rice for lunch, and beans for supper every night, it won’t take very long at all until you (and your family) are tired of it!

And what happens when everyone gets tired of it? That pizza commercial looks awfully good! That coworker’s Chinese food makes you hate your stupid budget. And that snack machine in the hallway gets All. Your. Money!!!!!  

The bottom line? You feel deprived, and you don’t like it. Neither does your family.

They beg more often to go out to eat or to get snacks. You struggle within your own brain to convince yourself that you shouldn’t wreck your budget. Your husband may even complain about the less-than-stellar meals you’ve been making.

Are you a worse mom by making your family eat food they don’t like or by blowing your budget when you cave and take them through the drive-thru?

Why don’t I show you a way where neither of those scenarios plays out?


Smart Menu Planning

I usually ask my family members for input when I put together a menu plan.

But if I left it completely up to them, we’d eat frozen foods (pizza, corn dogs, chicken strips, burritos, etc.) for nearly every meal.

Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s also pretty expensive!

There are also some really great meals that I love to cook that just require more (or more expensive) ingredients.

So it’s up to me to figure out how to honor (some of) my family’s requests without blowing my budget.

My solution is to plan for these more expensive meals by spacing them out with some cheaper (but still delicious) meals along the way.

In that spirit, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite cheap hamburger meals that are also delicious and filling (and can get on the table in under 30 minutes)!


My 10 Favorite Cheap (and Quick) Hamburger Meals

Note: I use 1 ½ pounds of hamburger for my family of 5, but I don’t adjust any of the other ingredients. If you have more than 5, or more than one big eater (my husband is mine), you’ll probably want to double these recipes.

Also note: I have not factored in the cost of spices, condiments, baking items (i.e. flour, oil), or typical staples that you would expect to have on hand (i.e. milk, butter, eggs).

Let’s get to the recipes!



A good-ol’ standby, hamburgers are a fan favorite in my house. They are especially nice because they can pretty much be cooked-to-order, and each person can dress theirs up to suit their individual tastes. So it’s great for picky eaters! For a long time, my son didn’t like to eat his on a bun, so we cut it up and he dipped it in ketchup. The rest of us like ours basted in barbecue sauce with melted cheddar on top.

Sides: Oven-Baked Potato Wedges

Have on hand: seasonings for hamburgers, oil, salt, ketchup, mustard, pickles, cheese, and other desired hamburger toppings

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$.88   Hamburger buns (frozen when on sale)
$.33   4 potatoes (bought 10 lb for $1.99 on sale)
$3.21   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger and buns.
  2. When you get home, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Wash and cut potatoes (don’t peel). Toss with oil and spread on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, or other desired spices (I just use coarse kosher salt).
  4. Bake potato wedges for 20 minutes, flipping half-way through.
  5. Meanwhile, patty burgers and season (I season mine with garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce).
  6. Preheat grill or skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Grill burgers until desired doneness, flipping once.
  8. While burgers and potatoes are cooking, slice or chop any toppings necessary for hamburgers, set table, and put all condiments on the table.
  9. Remove burgers from grill and potatoes from oven. Serve!


Teriyaki Beef

My husband loves Asian food, but the rest of us do not always. This meal, however, hits the spot with everyone. And it couldn’t be easier! We like to eat it on rice, but you could also wrap it in tortillas or lettuce.

Sides: Rice, Stir-fried Snow Peas and Carrots

Have on hand: Oil, minced garlic, minced ginger

You only need 5 ingredients and about 10 minutes to pull together an easy Beef Teriyaki Skillet dinner that will rock your over-scheduled-world!
Photo courtesy: The Seasoned Mom
$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$.28   Onion (3 lb for $1.69 on sale)
$2.08   Teriyaki sauce
$.61   Instant white rice (fourth of a box)
$.83   Fresh snow peas (third of a bag)
$.49   Baby carrots (half a bag)
$6.29   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, chop the onion, and prepare the snow peas and carrots.
  3. Set out two skillet with sesame oil, and a pot for the rice.
  4. In one skillet, begin cooking the beef and onion mixture (see recipe link).
  5. Heat the other skillet to medium and throw in the vegetables. Cover and stir occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, begin cooking the rice according to package directions. Set the table when you have a minute.
  7. Drain the beef mixture, return to pan, and add the teriyaki sauce. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  8. Put all in serving dishes and serve!


Sloppy Joes

I never liked sloppy joes as a kid, but my kids sure love it! I have grown to enjoy it every now and again as well. There are lots of sloppy joe recipes out there, but you can’t beat a $1 can of Manwich! That definitely qualifies as a cheap meal! For a little something special, melt some American cheese over your joes before adding the bun.

Sides: Tater Tots, and Fresh Veggies

Have on hand: Ketchup or other condiments, ranch or other desired veggie dip

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Photo courtesy: Ready Set Eat
$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$1.00   Manwich sloppy joe mix
$.88   Hamburger buns (frozen when on sale)
$1.00   Frozen tater tots (half bag on sale)
$.25   Baby carrots (fourth of a bag)
$.69   Cucumber
$5.82   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger and buns.
  2. When you get home, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Peel and slice the cucumber while you wait.
  4. Place the frozen tater tots on a baking sheet. Place in the oven when it’s ready. Set the timer for 20 minutes, and plan to stir the tots half-way.
  5. Cook the hamburger in a skillet until brown.
  6. While you’re waiting, set the table, throw the cucumber and carrots on a serving plate, and put the buns and condiments on the table.
  7. Drain the beef and return to pan, and add the can of Manwich. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  8. Set out the Manwich and tater tots. Eat!


Beef Stroganoff

Most stroganoff recipes call for mushrooms (which my family doesn’t like) and several other items. I love this one because it’s so simple! And usually fewer ingredients means a cheaper meal! My kids don’t like their sauce mixed with their noodles, so I serve them separately.

Sides: Egg Noodles, Green Beans, and Salad

Have on hand: Salad dressings, garlic powder, sour cream

An easy to make 5 ingredient beef stroganoff recipe that keeps you from spending all day in the kitchen without sacrificing taste! | via The Spirited Violet
Photo courtesy: The Spirited Violet
$2.00   1 pound Hamburger
$.50   Cream of mushroom soup
$1.78   Egg noodles
$.39   Canned green beans (stockpile price)
$.32   Lettuce (fourth of a head)
$4.99   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, start the hamburger cooking in a skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, start a pan of water for the noodles.
  4. Then get out a smaller pan with the green beans in it (don’t start them cooking yet).
  5. As you wait for the water to boil and the beef to brown, chop the lettuce and put it into individual bowls on the table, set the table, and set out salad dressings.
  6. When the water boils, add the egg noodles and cook until done (6-8 min).
  7. When the hamburger is browned, drain and return to pan.
  8. Start the green beans cooking.
  9. Add soup and garlic powder to the beef and heat for another few minutes (see recipe link).
  10. Drain the egg noodles, and add them to the beef mixture. Stir in sour cream.
  11. Plate the green beans and put both hot items on the table. Eat!



Spaghetti may be my kids’ all-time favorite cheap meal. They really think they’re getting some special treatment when I cook this simple dish! (It may be because my husband doesn’t like pasta — yes, I’m serious — so I don’t cook it that often.) Feel free to buy frozen garlic bread for an easy side. We like to use bread we have on hand to make it cheaper.

Sides: Green Beans and Garlic Toast

Have on hand: Butter, garlic salt

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$1.00   Spaghetti sauce
$1.00   Spaghetti noodles
$.39   Canned green beans (stockpile price)
$.45   Sandwich bread (half loaf; sale and freeze price)
$4.84   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger and bread.
  2. When you get home, start cooking the hamburger in a skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, start a pot of water to boil, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and put the green beans in a pot (but don’t start it cooking yet). Set the table.
  4. Spread butter on several slices of bread, place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with garlic salt.
  5. When the water boils, add the spaghetti noodles. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Start the green beans cooking.
  6. When the beef is browned, drain it and return to the skillet. Add spaghetti sauce and turn to low.
  7. Add the bread to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes (to desired doneness).
  8. Drain the noodles. Remove the bread from the oven. Plate the sauce and beans. Eat!


Salisbury Steak

You gotta love anything with gravy! Many Salisbury steak recipes call for onions and other ingredients. This one doesn’t require much that you don’t already have on hand! Serve it over mashed potatoes for a great comfort food meal.

Sides: Mashed potatoes, Corn, and Salad

Have on hand: Milk, butter, bread crumbs, seasonings and sauces, salad dressings

Simple Salisbury Steak - perfect weeknight recipe idea to serve the family. Add in some mashed potatoes and your favorite veggies for the ultimate comfort food
Photo courtesy: Cincy Shopper
$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$1.04   2 packets brown gravy mix
$.50   4 potatoes (bought 10 lb for $1.99 on sale)
$.49   Frozen corn (half bag)
$.32   Lettuce (fourth of a head)
$4.35   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, peel and chop the potatoes. Place in a pot of water and set to boil.
  3. Mix the hamburger with other ingredients (see recipe link) and form into patties. Do not cook yet.
  4. Set out another small pot of water for the corn, chop the lettuce, and divide into individual bowls. Set the table, and set out the salad dressings.
  5. When the potatoes are boiling, heat the skillet to medium for the beef.
  6. Cook the patties until browned, flipping once. Reduce temperature to low.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together the gravy mix with water. Add ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and pour in the skillet with beef.
  8. Simmer for a few minutes, add the corn to the small pot and start cooking.
  9. When the potatoes are fork-tender, drain the water. Add your desired seasonings (I use butter, milk, salt, and pepper – though I really like it when I have cream or evaporated milk on hand) and use a hand mixer to mash the potatoes. Place in a bowl on the table.
  10. When the corn boils, plate it as well as the beef and gravy mixture. Eat!


Hamburger Helper

There are so many varieties of Hamburger Helper these days that anyone can find a favorite! When it only costs about $1 a box, you can’t get a much cheaper meal than that! If it bothers you to use pre-packaged food, you can make it from scratch pretty easily with a $1 (or less) box of pasta and spices you probably have on hand.

Sides: California Blend Veggies and Salad

Have on hand: Salad dressings, milk or other additions to the Hamburger Helper

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger
$1.00   Hamburger Helper
$.99   Frozen California blend veggies
$.32   Lettuce (fourth of a head)
$4.31   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, start the hamburger cooking in a skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, set the table, chop the lettuce and place in individual bowls on the table.
  4. When the meat is done, drain and return to pan. Follow the package directions to complete the Hamburger Helper dish. Most likely, it will need to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Place the frozen veggies in a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute. If they are not done to your liking, continue cooking in 30-second increments until done.
  6. Plate the veggies and the Hamburger Helper. Eat!



My son is super-picky. So we are stoked when we find a meal that he not only eats but requests! Chili is his favorite! And it’s a good thing because it’s so easy to make! I’ve shared our family recipe for chili below. Chili is another meal that can be suited to each person’s tastes. I like to add sour cream, cheese, and crumbled saltines to mine. My husband douses his with Tabasco and onion (he loves spicy food!). (Use mild diced tomatoes and chilies or regular diced tomatoes if you want less heat.)

Sides: Crackers and shredded cheese

Have on hand: Beef bouillon, other chili toppings

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$.28   Onion (3 lb for $1.69 on sale)
$.72   Canned chili beans
$.72   Canned kidney beans
$.68   Canned diced tomatoes and chilies
$.33   Canned tomato sauce
$.98   Chili seasoning packet
$.85   Shredded cheddar cheese (half bag – frozen on sale)
$.45   Saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
$6.16   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, start the hamburger cooking in a skillet and chop the onion. Add the onion to the skillet, along with half the seasoning packet.
  3. Meanwhile, open all the cans into a stock pot. Pour in the remaining chili seasoning.
  4. When the hamburger is browned, drain and put in the stockpot.
  5. Add 2 cups of water and a beef bouillon cube. Heat to boiling then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, set the table and set out the cheese, crackers, and other desired chili toppings.
  7. Plate and serve!



Another family favorite of ours! Everyone loves tacos – I think it’s because you can make them according to your individual preferences. My husband loads his with meat. I load mine with veggies. My oldest daughter crushes up her shell and makes a salad. Everyone has their own way of putting them together.

Sides: Just the toppings

Have on hand: Basic spices, other toppings like lettuce, salsa, chopped onions, sour cream, green olives, jalapenos, or taco sauce

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$1.00   Taco shells
$.85   Canned refried beans
$1.54   Canned black olives
$.85   Shredded cheddar cheese (half bag – frozen on sale)
$6.24   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, start the hamburger cooking in a skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, slice and chop any items you plan to use for toppings and set the table.
  4. When the beef is browned, drain and return to pan. Add desired seasonings. (I just wing it, adding cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.) Cook for another few minutes.
  5. Heat the refried beans in a pot, stirring constantly.
  6. Microwave the taco shells for 10-15 seconds.
  7. Plate everything and serve!


Hamburger Pizza

Frozen pizzas are great but expensive! My kids love frozen pizzas, but they really love it when I make homemade pizzas! I used to make two pizzas for my family, but anymore I have to make three so we can have leftovers and enjoy it longer! The topping options are endless! But if you want to keep it cheap, stick to just one meat and add other things you already have on hand, like onions, spinach, or jalapenos.

Sides: Salad

Have on hand: Salad dressings, Parmesan cheese or other pizza toppings (we like onion, black olives, and jalapenos, but our kids just like cheese)

$2.00   1 pound Hamburger 
$1.04   2 packets pizza crust mix
$.33   Tomato sauce
$1.69   Shredded mozzarella cheese (frozen on sale)
$.32   Lettuce (fourth of a head)
$5.38   TOTAL

Plan of action:

  1. In the morning, thaw the hamburger.
  2. When you get home, brown the hamburger in a skillet. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Meanwhile, mix tomato sauce with oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Chop any toppings.
  4. Mix the pizza crust mixes with water, knead, and spread out on two pizza pans.
  5. Spread the sauce over crusts. Add any other desired pizza toppings and cheese.
  6. When the hamburger is browned, drain, and sprinkle over pizzas.
  7. Bake the pizzas for about 15 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, chop the lettuce into individual bowls and place on the table.
  9. Set the table and set out salad dressings and any other items you’ll serve with your pizza.
  10. When the pizzas are done, serve!


More Cheap Meals

Looking for more ways to save money on groceries? Read my post on the 7 Best Ways to Save Money on Food! And stay tuned for my upcoming post about my 10 favorite cheap (and quick) chicken meals! (Or better yet, SUBSCRIBE to my blog so you can get my new posts delivered straight to your inbox!)


Do you have other cheap hamburger meals that are on your favorites list? Please share in the comments below!


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