Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RMN = Retail Me Not
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

11 Survival Mode Meal Ideas

on 5.23.2022 at 10:35am

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

Some of us find ourselves in survival mode for months at a time—when you’re going through major transitions like moving, a new baby—and sometimes survival mode is just a day or two when you have sickness in your home, the car breaks down, or you are up all night for one reason or another. I like to have a stack of survival mode meal ideas on hand so that when the day or week or month isn’t going as planned, I don’t resort to eating out and totally blowing our grocery budget.

11 Survival Mode Meal Ideas

While some of these ideas do include making things from scratch, there are always substitutions! Also, if you know you’re going to be in a survival mode season soon, you can prep some of these ahead of time. Check out my freezer recipes if you have time to plan ahead.

Olive Garden dinner

We call this Olive Garden dinner because it feels fancy, but it’s actually so easy. The base is my copycat Olive Garden alfredo sauce. Cook up a box of pasta, any shape, and some frozen peas. You can eat it vegetarian or you can add meat like frozen meatballs or pre-grilled chicken. My kids are never upset when we’re eating this for dinner!

Grilled chicken

Grilling chicken is a bit of work, but I enjoy being outside in the late afternoon while the kids play, so it’s great for all of our moods if we’re in the middle of a tough season. This can also be grilled and frozen ahead of time. I usually pair it with tater tots and frozen broccoli.

Taco dinner

Cook up some ground beef and add taco seasoning. Then make some black beans and corn to go along with it. Every day can be Taco Tuesday!

Cheesy sausage pasta bake

This pasta bake is so easy, and it makes a ton. Leftovers are often key to survival mode, so this is something I make whenever I find us in a difficult season. Serve with a bagged salad for almost no clean up!

Smoked sausage bowls

These smoked sausage bowls let everyone pick what they include, and I know that when I’m in survival mode, I can’t handle kids complaining about dinner.

Hot dog dinner

Hot dogs don’t sound that exciting, so I usually make my homemade buns. But you can totally just buy buns from the store! I serve them with frozen french fries and cut-up fruit.

Frozen pizza

Whenever I see frozen pizzas on sale at the store, I buy several and keep them in our chest freezer. It’s not the healthiest option, but you can’t beat the convenience. This is perfect for a crazy day when we get home later than planned or when something unexpected happens. I serve it with a bagged salad, if I have one in the fridge, or fruit.

Egg roll in a bowl

This egg roll in a bowl recipe is so easy. It only takes like 5 minutes to whip up!

Breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner is always a winner in our house. I usually make my sausage egg bake and then make pancakes, frozen waffles, or canned biscuits. Serve with fruit and you have a well balanced meal!


If we are in a longer season of survival mode, then we try to have leftover night about once a week. Usually there are enough from a couple meals for everyone to eat.


If we don’t have leftovers or not enough for everyone and my brain is fried, we do a FFY (Fend For Yourself) night. The kitchen is open and everyone can pick what they want to eat (within reason). Among all of us, we might eat cereal, fried eggs, leftovers, sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, or smoothies. Kids LOVE this and while you might feel like you failed at dinner, you’re the only one who thinks so—I promise!

Do you have any survival mode meal ideas? Let us know in the comments!

If you're in a short or long season of exhaustion, stress, or transition, then stop worrying about food and try one of these 11 survival mode meal ideas!