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Extreme Budget Meal: Cheesy Beef Skillet

Looking for an extreme budget meal? Try this Cheesy Beef Skillet- only 4 ingredients and 58 cents per serving, a perfect weeknight dinner!

A plate of a pasta skillet dinner with the title "Cheesy Beef Skillet- A delicious extreme budget meal"

If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I teach people how to eat healthier and lose weight.

However- I do know that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re on a strict budget.

That was me and John years ago when John and I first got married. We set our grocery budget at $50.00 per week.

I was a new cook and was looking for different recipes, and found something similar to this on the Kraft website– it was called Cheesy Beef Skillet. I made it one night, and we absolutely LOVED it.

A box of macaroni and cheese, a can of diced tomatoes, and a packet of taco seasoning on a stove next to a pan filled with raw ground turkey

First of all, it only has 4 basic ingredients and is ready in 20-25 minutes.

  • Ground beef/turkey (I use ground turkey because it’s cheaper)
  • A box of macaroni and cheese
  • Taco seasoning
  • Diced tomatoes

Now, say what you will about boxed mac and cheese. But it is not “bad” and you gotta do what you can while you’re on a budget.

I was once accused of poisoning my family for feeding them Kraft mac and cheese so let me be the first to tell you: You are NOT poisoning your family!

A screenshot of a Wal Mart order, containing ground turkey, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and macaroni and cheese

How cheap is this recipe?

I priced out everything at my local Wal Mart:

  • Ground turkey: $1.98
  • Diced tomatoes: $.72
  • Taco seasoning: $.44
  • Boxed mac and cheese: $.34

Total: $3.48, or 58 cents per serving if you make it serve 6. That’s not bad!

A plate containing a pasta skillet dish and green beans

What can you serve with this meal to make it healthier?

Any kind of vegetable will add extra nutrition! Here are some of my cheap favorites:

  • Steamed broccoli or green beans (Bags are usually $1.00 at the store)
  • Roasted vegetables (Broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini are my favorites)
  • Salad (Even just lettuce, tomato, and bell peppers/red onion make a good salad)

How can you make this recipe even cheaper?

You can STILL save money by doing a couple things differently in this Cheesy Beef Skillet:

  • Make your own taco seasoning with what you have (Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt/pepper are great)
  • Buy meat at a big discount (Check your local grocery stores in the mornings for markdowns and freeze meat)
  • Use half the meat and add a can of black beans or some shredded zucchini for extra nutrition/bulk

How do you make Cheesy Beef Skillet?

Want to see this in video form? Check it out on my Youtube channel!

A pan containing cooked ground turkey

Start by cooking your ground meat in a large skillet. This only takes 5-7 minutes. Drain and return to the burner.

A pan containing the ingredients for Cheesy Beef Skillet

Add the taco seasoning, water, diced tomatoes, mac & cheese noodles, and the cheese packet, and stir to combine.

A pan containing a completed Cheesy Beef Skillet

Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

This recipe serves 6, but you can easily make it serve 4 to get bigger servings.

Where can I find more cheap recipes?

Check out my other posts that have super cheap meal ideas:

Extreme Budget Meal: Cheesy Beef Skillet

Extreme Budget Meal: Cheesy Beef Skillet

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Looking for an extreme budget meal? Try this Cheesy Beef Skillet- only 4 ingredients and 58 cents per serving, a perfect weeknight dinner!


  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 box macaroni and cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 packet taco seasoning


  1. In a large pan, brown the ground meat until fully cooked. Drain and return to the burner.
  2. Add water, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, and both the noodles and cheese packet from the macaroni and cheese. Stir and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Serve with your favorite vegetable side.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 593mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 23g

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