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Frugal Dinner Ideas: Make 2 Weeks of Dinners for under $50!

frugal dinner ideas

 

Frugal Dinner Ideas

In this article I am going to share ideas for frugal dinner ideas that will save your family tons of money! Find 2 weeks’ worth of easy and super cheap meals that you can make in 15 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for super quick, easy, frugal dinner ideas, then this is the article for you!

And what is more, you can make all of these frugal dinner ideas for $50 for a family of five! That is two weeks of frugal dinners for under 50 bucks!

These quick, easy, and frugal dinner recipes and ideas are perfect for when money is really tight and you need super cheap meals!

And if you have a game night party or other large gathering where you need frugal meals for a crowd, then these recipes will help you to prepare food for a big group of people without breaking the bank!

 

Caveat: These are just examples of frugal dinners you can eat when money is tight. These are not all super balanced meals, and I would not recommend eating only these things long term! However, as your budget allows, you can make some of these meals more nutritious by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, for example.

If you want help to eat healthy on a tight budget, check out my best ideas for eating healthy on a budget, including my list of nearly 50 of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy! 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these frugal dinner ideas later!

 

Make Frugal Meals Even Cheaper!

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries so that you can frugal meals is to use money-saving apps! My favorite FREE grocery money-saving app is Ibotta.

I’ve been a member of Ibotta for years, and they are a fun and easy way to save money whenever you shop! With the free Ibotta app, you earn cash back on purchases you make every day from your favorite grocery and other stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Sam’s Club, Amazon, and many, many more! With the easy-to-use Ibotta app you can get cash back when you shop not only for groceries but also for clothing, home improvement supplies, travel services, and more!

I can even use Ibotta at several of our smaller, local grocery stores, which I love!

Signing up takes just a minute, and then you can start to save money whenever and wherever you shop, at physical stores and online! Sign up for your free Ibotta account here!

 

A Huge Benefit of Frugal Meals

When you are broke or need to save money fast, these meals are a great way to stretch your food dollar till payday or to help you save money to reach an important financial goal (like paying a bill, paying off a debt, saving for something important, and so on).

Are You Looking for Mealtime Inspiration?

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Are you in a dinner rut? Do you want inspiration for quick and easy recipes you can make for your family on busy nights?

Then you need this cookbook! Find more than 125 recipes for delicious quick and cheap family meals you can prepare in 30 minutes or less for $5 or less!

Click here to get your digital copy of the recipe book today for just $5! (Buy now and get access to your recipe book for immediate digital download!)

What to Make for Dinner When You’re Poor?

When you are poor, or broke, then one of the easiest ways to save money is to prepare meatless meals. Meat is generally one of the most expensive items in the grocery store, so by eating a few meatless dinners a week, you can save a lot of money over time. Find ideas for 25 meatless dinner recipes here.

When you do include meat in your meals, choose less expensive meats like chicken and turkey for most of your recipes to help you stretch your food budget.

Produce can also be very expensive, so use produce that is frozen, canned, or fresh but in season when you make your dinner meals. And organic produce is often much more expensive than nonorganic, so be choosy about what organic produce that you buy. If you are worried about it, look up the foods that nutritionists feel are most important, and then eat nonorganic for the rest.

Cooking from scratch is often also cheaper than buying boxed foods, and it is definitely cheaper than buying already made frozen meals, for example.

Find items to create a super cheap groceries list here.

 

What Can I Make for Dinner That’s Cheap?

All of the recipes listed below are great ideas for what to make for dinner that is cheap. Like I mention above, to help you make ends meet when money is scarce, make meals that use inexpensive meats (or no meat at all) and that use less expensive produce.

Another way to keep your dinner costs low is to make meals that have a lot of pasta, rice, or beans. Those are food staples that really help you to stretch your food budget in lean times.

You can find a big list of 65 cheap dinner recipes here for even more ideas for frugal dinners.

 

How to Make a Frugal Meal?

One very important part of making frugal meals and frugal dinners in particular is to meal plan! Without a plan, you will likely always spend more money than you would if you sit down and create a meal plan for the week. When you are intentional (in any area of your life), you get better results! 🙂

Above I mention how you can save money on your meal preparation using less meat and less expensive meat, less expensive produce, and inexpensive staples like pasta, russet potatoes, rice, and beans.

Make those less expensive fillers the stars of your frugal dinners (meaning, make the pasta or the rice or the beans the main ingredient in the recipes you prepare), and you can make frugal meals for super cheap.

Cooking from scratch as much as possible will help you to keep costs low, and buy items that are on sale! Look at the weekly grocery ads as you make your meal plan, and build your meals around the items that you can buy for the best deal.

And then when you are at the grocery store, if you see items that your family loves and that are marked down to a great price, stock up on them! Get this handy grocery price comparison cheat sheet so that you can learn what good prices are for the items that you typically buy when you grocery shop.

 

What Do You Eat When You’re Broke?

To save money on food when you’re broke, stick with the basics. That includes:

  • Preparing meatless meals.
  • Preparing meals that use inexpensive lean meats like chicken, turkey, and pork.
  • Using inexpensive filler-type foods in your meals like beans, pasta, russet potatoes, and rice. (To make these items more healthy and to keep you satisfied for longer, you can buy the whole grain varieties of pasta and brown rice. They will cost a little more, but they are better for you.) To buy beans for really cheap, buy the dry beans, and soak them yourself to use in your recipes.
  • Buying the less expensive varieties of produce that are virtually always in season, like apples, bananas, lettuce, potatoes, and so forth.
  • Making meal from scratch rather than already prepared meals or meals in a box, unless those packaged items are on sale or are super cheap themselves, like boxed macaroni and cheese (the generic kind, especially).
  • Sticking with generic brands as much as possible when you do your grocery shopping.
  • Leaving junk food, soda, fruit juice, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and other items that provide little to no nutritional value on the shelf. You will be amazed at what a huge difference just doing that will make!

 

Why Prepare Frugal Dinners and Frugal Meals in General?

Sometimes you are in a financial situation, as I mention briefly above, where money is very tight. At these times, rather than go into debt and put myself and my family in an even more precarious situation financially, I personally would much rather cut my grocery budget in order to save money.

Even if you are not in a particularly bad financial situation, you may want to eat frugal meals for a time in order to save money to make a large purchase with cash or to get your grocery spending under control. You may also want to eat dirt cheap meals as part of a no spend challenge.

Find more tips to slash your grocery budget spending here.

Frugal Meal Planning Made Easy: Consider Using an Inexpensive Meal Planning Service

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create an inexpensive meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution such as a service like $5 Meal Plans could be a great option for you. $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month, and they do all of the planning for you!

They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool! With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And the service comes with a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose! If this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out $5 Meal Plans here.

If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out per month, one of these meal planning services could really help you get on the right track and really save your food budget! track and save your food budget.

Two Weeks of Frugal Dinner Ideas

One of the best ways to plan frugal dinners for your family is to keep things simple! You can make all of these super cheap and easy dinner meals in about 15 minutes or less, for five dollars or less!

Find 2 weeks of cheap meals that you can make for less than $50! Now, that is a great deal!

 

A Quick Note about These Frugal Dinner Ideas

As you do your meal planning, feel free to reorganize and substitute meals below as needed. You can find a list of more than 60 cheap and easy 30-minute (or less) dinner meals here.

Also, if meal planning is very new to you and you are just completely overwhelmed by it, start super simple with your dinner meal planning! Simply pick 7 meals that you like that are quick and easy, and repeat them each week of the month. Meal planning = done!

Recipes for meals that are made entirely from scratch are included below.

 

Check out these related articles:
31 Cheapest Foods to Eat When Money Is Tight
Two Weeks of Dirt Cheap Meals (40+ Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Recipes!)
31 Cheap Dinner Recipes for under $5!
42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
25 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
5 Cheap Instant Pot Meals Your Family Will Love (for under $5!)
65 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
19 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

 

Week 1

 

Sunday: More better mac and cheese

This is a family favorite of ours where you add chopped up broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, and other vegetables of your choice to a box of macaroni and cheese. Add the vegetables to the pasta as it is boiling; save broccoli and peppers and the softer vegetables for the last five minutes or so so that they will not become overcooked.

For other variations on simple store-bought mac and cheese, you can add tuna, chicken, salsa, a can or two of chili, ranch dressing, chicken, hamburger, and more!

If you prefer to make homemade mac and cheese, this recipe is quick, easy, and tasty!

Ingredients
12 ounces elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 

Directions

1. Boil noodles as directed.
2. In a separate pan, melt butter and sprinkle in flour, and stir well to combine.
3. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper.
4. Combine with noodles. For a creamier texture, add more milk.

 

Monday: Homemade refried beans and rice burritos

Of course I had to include a beans and rice recipe. 🙂 These burritos are tasty and filling and can be on your table in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
1 medium green pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1 cup salsa

Optional toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute green pepper and onion in oil until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the chili powder and cumin until combined. Add beans and rice; cook and stir until heated through, about 4-6 minutes.
  3. Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling off-center on each tortilla; top with 2 tablespoons salsa. Fold sides and ends over filling and roll up.
  4. Serve with cheese and sour cream if desired.

 

Tuesday: Baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream, salsa, barbecue sauce, or other favorite toppings

You can make baked potatoes quickly and easily in the microwave in about 15 minutes for a simple dirt cheap dinner (or lunch) meal.

We pierce the potatoes in several places with a fork and put a little bit of water on the plate to help them cook more quickly. We also sometimes cover them with plastic wrap to help keep the heat in so that they cook a little more quickly, but normally I omit this step.

If you want to save time baking your potatoes, get one of these awesome microwave potato pouches for just a few bucks! (Click the link below to learn more!) They are great!

 

Wednesday: Chili

You can make chili super cheap from a can by choosing an inexpensive brand of canned chili that you like and then adding an extra can or two of kidney or other favorite canned beans to make it go further and to make this dish even less expensive. Serve with corn bread, saltine crackers (this is my 7-year-old daughter’s favorite), or round butter crackers.

 

Thursday: Leftovers

An important part of preparing frugal dinners is to not let food go to waste! 🙂 Make sure you use your leftovers. And the best way to make sure that you use them is to plan for a night of leftovers.

That may mean that you end up with kind of a hodge podge of foods for different people. If Johnny loves spaghetti most and Julie loves mac and cheese and you do not have enough of either of those leftovers to feed everyone, then let people choose the leftovers that they eat based on their preference that night. (And if you know how finicky kids can be, then you know that that can change from day to day! ;))

 

Friday: Quesadillas

 Quesadillas are such a cheap and easy (and tasty!) frugal dinner idea. For this meal, you can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese, or you can add sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, mushrooms, or favorite cooked vegetables. Yum! 

 

Saturday: Hot dogs and fries or potato chips

Hot dogs are one of the cheapest frugal dinner ideas, and they are a favorite of kids everywhere. Add your favorite fries (make them homemade to make them even cheaper!) or your favorite store-brand potato chips, and you have a tasty (though I admit not totally healthy :)) meal.

Since I don’t like to have to keep hot dog buns on hand, we generally eat our brats and hot dogs with bread rather than buns. To me they taste just as good, and they are also cheaper that way! (We do the same thing with bread instead of hamburger buns, for the same reasons.)

We cook our fries over the stove instead of frying them in oil to make this (not healthy but tasty!) dish a little bit healthier.

Week 2

 

Sunday: Meatless spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of our favorite quick and easy go-to meals!

We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. We usually eat it with a pound of ground beef, but for the meatless version, just use a can of tomato sauce with maybe half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have made our own, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. You could also add mushrooms (fresh or canned) and peppers (such green peppers, since they are the least expensive), as well.

 

Monday: Ramen noodles with vegetables

This is another one of our go-to super easy dirt cheap meals. To make this simple meal, first cook your favorite fresh or frozen or canned vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, carrots, and onions all work really well) in a pot, and then for the last few minutes, add your favorite flavor of ramen noodles.

You can also add chopped chicken for protein to add more nutrition and make this a heartier meal.

 

Tuesday: Inexpensive frozen pizza

Totino’s is one of the cheapest brands, or check store brands; per ounce, our local store brand is sometimes cheaper, and also better tasting, than the Totino’s), or backpacker’s pizza (tortillas, pepperoni, and shredded cheese)

 

Wednesday: Meatless taco soup

Combine a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of chili beans or other beans, a can or two of corn, and a package of taco seasoning,  (Do not drain any of the cans before you add them to the pot.) Cook until warmed through.

If you want to include more protein but still save money on meat, use chicken instead of ground beef. You can buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts for usually $2 a pound or less (at least in our area), and boneless, skinless chicken thighs for even less than that.

 

Thursday: Leftovers

Again, to help ensure that you do not leave food to waste away in your fridge, make leftovers a regular part of your frugal meal planning!

Even if you do not have enough of any one leftover to feed your whole family, you can serve one leftover item to some family members and another to other family members, and this is a great way to use up those small portions of leftovers from earlier in the week!

 

Friday: Grilled cheese sandwiches (with tomato or mushroom soup, if desired)

The easiest way to make several grilled cheese sandwiches at a time is with a griddle. (We have an inexpensive one like this one.)

But even without a griddle, you can make four at a time with this flat frying pan, which is similar to the one we have.

To make grilled cheese sandwiches even cheaper, you can omit using butter or cooking spray on the pan. I generally make grilled cheese sandwiches without any kind of anti-stick agent because you do not actually need it and it saves calories 🙂 (but it does make the grilled cheese sandwiches a nicer golden brown to use non-stick agent). If you want to save money but do want some kind of additional anti-sticking agent, use margarine.

 

Saturday: Egg fried rice

Ingredients

4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red onion (about 1 small onion)
4 cups cooked rice|
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

  1. Crack eggs into a small bowl, and beat them together.
  2. Heat a large frying pan or a wok with 1/2 tablespoon of the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the beaten eggs and scramble them for about a minute. Transfer the eggs to a dish, and turn off the heat. Wipe off the pan or wok with a paper towel.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the cooked rice into the pan or wok, and cook for a few minutes, until the rice is heated through. If you have large clumps of rice, break them apart with the back of your spatula.
  5. Add the soy sauce, and stir. Add the scrambled eggs, and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.

 

Note: Again, these are just examples of dirt cheap dinner ideas (some recipes are included below). You can switch out any of the meals with other dinner options that you like better. See this article for more than 65 cheap family dinner recipes that you can make for $5 or less in 30 minutes or less!

 

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Conclusion

These quick, easy, and frugal dinner ideas are perfect for a super tight budget! They will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 15 minutes or less, these budget-friendly meals are great for busy families!

For more ways to save money on cheap meals, see this article for more than 100 cheap recipes that you can make for $5 or less in 30 minutes or less.

 

What are your favorite quick, easy, frugal dinner ideas? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to dishes that you just love and use in your meal planning? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

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47 Dirt Cheap Meals (2 Week Meal Plan): Eat for as Little as $1 a Day!

dirt cheap meals

 

Dirt Cheap Meals

In this article I am going to share ideas for dirt cheap meals that will save your family tons of money! Find easy and super cheap meals that you can make in 30 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for super quick, easy, cheap meals, then this is the article for you!

These quick, easy, and dirt cheap meals include breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes and ideas that are perfect for when money is really tight and you need super cheap meals to help to make ends meet!

 

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for dirt cheap meals later!

 

Quick note: You can find a 2-week sample meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner using these dirt cheap meals near the end of this article. 👇

 

These are just examples of dirt cheap meals you can eat when money is tight. I know that these are not all super balanced meals. As your budget allows, you can make these meals more nutritious by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, for example.

If you want help to eat healthy on a tight budget, check out my best ideas for eating healthy on a budget, including my list of nearly 50 of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy! 

Make Dirt Cheap Meals Even Cheaper!

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries so that you can prepare dirt cheap meals is to use money-saving apps! My favorite FREE grocery money-saving app is Ibotta.

I’ve been a member of Ibotta for years, and they are a fun and easy way to save money whenever you shop! With the free Ibotta app, you earn cash back on purchases you make every day from your favorite grocery and other stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Sam’s Club, Amazon, and many, many more! With the easy-to-use Ibotta app you can get cash back when you shop not only for groceries but also for clothing, home improvement supplies, travel services, and more!

I can even use Ibotta at several of our smaller, local grocery stores, which I love!

Signing up takes just a minute, and then you can start to save money whenever and wherever you shop, at physical stores and online! Sign up for your free Ibotta account here!

 

A Huge Benefit of Dirt Cheap Meals or Super Cheap Meals

When you are broke or need to save money fast, these super cheap meals are a great way to stretch your food dollar till payday or to help you save money to reach an important financial goal (like paying a bill, paying off a debt, saving for something important, and so on).

Why Prepare Dirt Cheap Meals?

Sometimes you are in a financial situation, as I mention briefly above, where money is very tight. At these times, rather than go into debt and put myself and my family in an even more precarious situation financially, I personally would much rather cut my grocery budget in order to save money.

Even if you are not in a particularly bad financial situation, you may want to eat dirt cheap meals for a time in order to save money to make a large purchase with cash or to get your grocery spending under control. You may also want to eat dirt cheap meals as part of a no spend challenge.

Find more tips to slash your grocery budget spending here.

 

Is It Worth It to Make Super Cheap Meals?

Yes, I think so! In certain circumstances, making super cheap meals can really help your family to survive hard times. If you can cut some other expenses too and spend a little more on a little bit higher-quality food, than that is great too. But because it it relatively easy to cut your grocery budget, it’s a great place to start when you need to trim your monthly budget.

That doesn’t mean that you have to make super cheap meals forever! As your financial situation improves, you can make more balanced and nutritious meals and not worry so much how much you are spending at the grocery store.

Meal Planning Made Even Easier: Consider Using an Inexpensive Meal Planning Service

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create an inexpensive meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution is a service like $5 Meal Plans could be a great option for you. $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month, and they do all of the planning for you!

They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool! With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And the service comes with a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose! If this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out $5 Meal Plans here.

If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out per month, one of these services could really help you get on the right track and save your food budget.

Quick and Easy Dirt Cheap Meals!

For planning easy, really inexpensive meals, below are ideas for dirt cheap breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals you can make for your family in less than 30 minutes!

One of the easiest things you can do to save money on food is to eat at home and to keep things simple! Keeping your meals simple will help you save both time and money! And you can really slash your grocery budget with these dirt cheap meal ideas!

 Dirt Cheap Meals for Breakfast

These easy and cheap breakfast ideas are perfect for making quick, dirt cheap meals. And you don’t have to reserve these meals for breakfast; you can eat them for lunch or dinner if you like, as well!

Note: You can get a summary of all of the breakfast meals listed below near the end of this article! Print it out to have an easy cheat sheet of super quick and cheap meals.

 

 

Waffles

Waffles are one of our favorite cheap breakfast meals. To make these extra fun for the kids, my husband always makes them a different color that the kids choose. Here is the simple waffle recipe we use:

Ingredients
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar (we generally leave out the sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the waffle iron. Crack the eggs and put them in a large bowl. (Beat them at this point, if you want, for fluffier waffles. I never worry about doing that. :)) Add the flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and mix until smooth.

Spray the heated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, and pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup mix onto your iron (depending on the size of your iron). Cook until desired doneness. (If you like them more well done, cook until they are golden brown.)

Serve warm with butter and syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or other favorite toppings.

 

To make this cheap breakfast even more economical, you can make them with half the amount of milk and add water in its place. (I have done that before when we were low on milk, and with the syrup or powdered sugar or jam on the waffles, I don’t think you will really notice a difference. I have heard of people who use just water when money is really tight. I have not tried that myself, but I would give it a try if things got really tight.)

 

Cold cereal with (or without!) milk

Most of the cereal we eat costs about 10 cents an ounce or less—that’s the rule of thumb I go by when I buy it. My husband’s favorite cereal (and one of the few that he really likes) is raisin bran, which is great since it is one of the cheapest. 🙂 The other cereals we buy when they are on sale.

 

 

Fried eggs with toast

This is a very quick, easy, and cheap breakfast that we love!

 

 

French toast

French toast is another one of our family favorites! My dad used to make these for us often growing up, and so they always make me remember fond memories with him. 🙂

This is the recipe we use for French toast:

Ingredients

4 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)
dash of salt (optional)
Cinnamon and sugar mixture
16 slices of your favorite bread

Directions
Preheat a large griddle or square frying pan, and coat it with non-stick cooking spray (or butter or margarine).

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and vanilla in a square baking dish or pan. Dip each slice of bread in the batter, coating one side and then flipping to coat the other side.

Place the bread slices on the griddle or frying pan, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cook on medium heat until golden brown on each side (about 2 to 3 minutes), or until desired doneness (I like mine pre-golden brown :)).

Serve warm with butter and syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or other favorite toppings.

 Or for a little bit heartier French toast recipe click here.

 

 

Bagel with jam, peanut butter, or cream cheese

Bagels are another simple and affordable cheap meal idea for breakfast, lunch , or even dinner! Add plain cream cheese or flavored cream cheese, spread on jam or peanut butter, or even make a tasty savory dish by adding an egg, ham, and cheese as my husband likes to.

 

 

Oatmeal

This is another super easy option for budget meal planning! The little prepackaged versions are pretty cheap on their own (but when I eat them, I generally put two together; do you do that, too? One just doesn’t seem like enough of a meal to me!).

But when you make it from scratch, it is even much cheaper than that! We love to add sugar, brown sugar, or cinnamon. If you are counting calories, one tablespoon of sucralose mixed in with one cup of cooked oats works great, too!

 

Here is a simple recipe for traditional oatmeal (serves 4).

 

Ingredients

2 cups oats
4 cups water (or milk)
dash of salt (optional)
sugar, brown sugar, honey, artificial sweetener, or similar, to taste

 

Directions

1. Bring the water (or milk) to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
2. Add in the oats, and stir well.
3. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
4. Add any sweeteners you would like, as desired.
5. Serve warm.

 

Crepes

Whether filled with things that are savory or sweet, they are just plain delicious. You can even substitute water for milk if you need to without much difference in taste. We use this basic crepe recipe:

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, and salt. Beat until smooth. (But if you have a few lumps, don’t worry about it; they still taste great.)

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the frying pan for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook the crepes for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned. Then loosen with a spatula, and flip to cook the other side.

Serve warm with powdered sugar, syrup, jam, cinnamon and sugar, or other favorite toppings.

 

Egg Omelets

Another one of our favorite easy and cheap breakfasts are omelets. One of the reasons that I love egg omelets is that they are so versatile! Our favorite way to make them is with eggs, milk, cheese, peppers (usually green, but sometimes red, orange, or yellow if we can buy them for a good price), onions, often sausage or bacon (or both!), and spinach. We have also included hash browns or shredded potatoes (that we shredded ourselves), which makes this meal go even farther and makes it even cheaper per serving!

You can make these omelets as simple or as elaborate as you want. At it’s very simplest, you could make omelets with just eggs, water, and a little cheese. Or you could make them with eggs, milk, and spinach or green peppers and onions, and omit the cheese.

Here is a simple recipe we like.

 

Ingredients

large eggs

salt  and pepper (to taste)

 

2 tablesoons margarine or butter

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons freshly chopped chive (optional)

 

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix eggs thoroughly, and then season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt margarine butter. Pour in eggs and allow to cook. As eggs start to set, use a rubber spatula to drag cooked edges into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan to let the uncooked egg fall to the edge of the pan.
  3. Once the bottom is set but while top is still a little wet, sprinkle cheese and chives on one half of the omelet. Allow to cook for another minute or two, to allow the cheese to melt.
  4. Carefully fold the other side of the omelet over the cheese, cut into four equal wedges, and slide the omelets onto plates.

 

Cream of wheat

Our kids, and particularly our older daughter, love cream of wheat. We generally add some brown or white sugar to sweeten it, and as a rare treat, we even put sweetened condensed milk (did you know they even have caramel flavored?) in it sometimes. Totally fattening but totally tasty!

 

Muffins

Though muffins from a mix are more expensive than many of the other foods listed here, we still feed our young family of five with one box of muffins (12 muffins). I know that won’t last forever! We have made many different types of muffins from scratch over the years, too, and those are even cheaper (but not always tastier :)). One easy muffin recipe that is tasty is this basic banana muffin recipe: 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another large bowl, mash the bananas. Then to that second bowl add the egg and oil, and mix well. Stir the mixture into the dry ingredients.

Fill 12 greased muffin cups half full. Put the muffins in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean). Serve warm with butter or margarine, if desired.

 

Yogurt and fruit

Buying yogurt in the tub is cheaper than in the small single-serve containers. We often buy yogurt from the local discount grocery/salvage store for awesome prices. We can get the big tubs of yogurt for $2 each or less and small containers often for even cheaper than that! (Many of them are close to the “best by” date or even past the best by date, but I have eaten unopened yogurt even a month or two past the recommended best by date, and the yogurt has always been fine, without any mold or anything.

 

Toast with jam or peanut butter

This is a super quick and cheap breakfast option.

 

Toaster pastries

Toaster pastries (PopTarts) don’t really have any nutritional value, but they are cheap and (in my opinion :)) pretty tasty. Of course you will save money if you buy a generic brand rather than PopTarts themselves, so that’s what we generally do. We treat them like any other treat, and try to keep them as a less-common indulgence rather than a regular meal option.

 

Grits

To be honest, I haven’t really had grits before, since I’m not from the South. 🙂 But a wonderful reader suggested this as another option for a dirt cheap meal for breakfast, so I wanted to be sure and include it for my Southern friends (or anyone who loves grits, whether you are from the South or not)!

 

Pancakes

Pancakes are another favorite cheap breakfast option for budget meal planning. As with the waffles mentioned above, you could substitute milk with water if needed. I have heard of families doing that in difficult circumstances. (You could also do that with crepes, which I have done. And you could try it with French toast, which I have not done but which would likely work just fine.) Again, we generally make these different colors each time we make them. We like this quick and easy recipe:

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten (if desired, or just crack them right into the big bowl)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, eggs, and oil. Mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Lightly brown on both sides until desired doneness.

Serve warm with butter and syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or other favorite toppings.

 

On Valentine’s Day we color them pink with red food coloring and use heart-shaped cookie cutters after they are cooked to make different-sized hearts. The kids love it. And on St. Patrick’s Day we color them green (along with the milk sometimes :)).

 

Overnight cold oatmeal

This cheap meal is a fun variation of the traditional cooked oatmeal. All you need is milk, rolled oats, your favorite sweetener (sugar, honey, zero-calorie sweetener, jam, or the like could all work well), desired spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, and your favorite berries or thinly sliced apples or similar fruit. Put them in a mason jar with closed lid or another container with a closed lid for at least four hours or overnight, and you have a tasty breakfast ready in the morning!

 

German pancakes

A fun (and budget friendly, of course!) variation on traditional pancakes are German oven pancakes, which you bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. And then you top them with your favorite toppings like syrup, powdered sugar, or fresh fruit.

Ingredients

1 cup flour
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, and sugar. Mix well. Add the flour, and mix until incorporated.

2. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the dish, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.

3. Serve warm with your favorite toppings.

 

  

Find even more ideas for cheap breakfasts here.

 

Check out these related articles:

Dirt Cheap Lunch Ideas

It is amazing to me how many people spend $5 or more every day for lunch at work! I just can’t do it.

Lunch is a meal that you can keep oh-so-cheap and easy if you choose to! I primarily eat either a peanut butter and jam or ham and cheese sandwich with fruit and carrot sticks, leftovers, or a homemade salad for lunch every day at work, so it keeps things very simple and inexpensive.

In the list below I am including only very simple lunch options that you can make in a matter of minutes—of course you can use any of the ideas for dinner (or for breakfast!) later in this article as a meal for lunch, as well!

 

 

Ideas for Dirt Cheap Quick Lunches

This list of ideas for dirt cheap meals for lunch is made up of simple foods you can make in a matter of minutes. Add an apple, banana, or orange (or other fruit of your choice) and baby carrots or cut vegetables to make it a more balanced meal.

 

Peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and banana, or peanut butter and honey sandwiches

These are about as simple an option as you can get. But I love them! Whether you eat peanut butter with jam or jelly, peanut butter with banana, or peanut butter and honey sandwiches, you get a super cheap and easy meal ready in just a couple of minutes.

 

Tuna fish sandwiches

Though not as inexpensive as it used to be, tuna is still an inexpensive way to go for lunch. Mix with regular or reduced fat mayo or salad dressing and diced pickles or relish, if you like.

 

Ingredients

2 cans (6 oz.) tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery or chopped pickles (or relish)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (if desired)
8 slices of your favorite bread

Directions 

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Spread the mixture in equal amounts on 4 slices of bread, and top with the remaining 4 slices of bread.

 

Tuna fish and egg sandwiches

If you love tuna sandwiches and you love egg salad sandwiches, put them together for a new twist on an old favorite. Here is a simple recipe you can use.

Ingredients

 

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, eggs, celery or pickles, and mayonnaise.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spread the mixture equally onto 4 slices of bread. Top with remaining slices of bread.
4. Serve.

 

 

Egg salad sandwiches

In our family we love this simple and tasty cheap lunch option. All you need is bread and eggs and your favorite brand of mayonnaise or salad dressing and favorite seasonings, and you are ready to go!

 

Ingredients

8 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 teaspoon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
paprika, if desired
8 slices of bread

 

Directions

1. Put the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and boil for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let water cool, and then peel and chop.

2. Place the chopped eggs in a bowl, and stir in the mayonnaise and mustard. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir and serve on your favorite bread (or with crackers).

 

 

Lunch meat and cheese sandwiches

Choose your favorite lunch meat such as honey ham, chicken, turkey, or beef, and then add a slice of cheese, tomato and lettuce (or spinach), and a little mayo and mustard if desired.

 

 

Grilled cheese (with lunch meat, if desired) sandwiches and tomato soup

This classic and cheap lunch idea is great any time of year, but is particularly delicious on cold days! To make this kid-friendly dish even more filling, add your favorite lunch meat, or add spinach or another favorite vegetable to boost the nutritional value!

Here is a simple recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches.

 

Ingredients

8 slices bread
about 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 slices cheddar (or other favorite) cheese
sliced luncheon meat (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat large square skillet (or griddle) over medium heat.
2. Butter one side of 4 slices of bread.
3. Place bread butter side down onto skillet bottom and add 1 slice of cheese and lunchmeat (if desired) to each.
4. Butter 4 more slices of bread on one side, and place butter side up to top the sandwiches.
5. Grill sandwiches until lightly browned and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.
6. Serve with tomato soup, if desired. 

 

Quesadillas (traditional or lunch meat and cheese)

Quesadillas are so easy! You can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese, or add sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, or favorite cooked vegetables. Yum!

 

Here is a really simple recipe to use as a base.

Ingredients

8 large tortilla shells
about 6 tablespoons margarine or butter
about 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
additional ingredients such as spinach, lunch meat, chicken, and so on, if desired

Directions

1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat.
2. Spread margarine or butter on one side of a tortilla shell.
3. Cover tortilla shell with shredded cheese and other toppings as desired.
4. Spread the second tortilla with margarine or butter, and place on top of first tortilla and cheese.
5. Lightly brown on one side, and then flip and lightly brown on the other side.
6. Repeat with remaining tortillas and toppings.
7. Serve warm.

 

Avocado egg salad sandwiches

Egg salad sandwiches are awesome, and adding avocado makes them even awesomer (but also more expensive :-\\).

Though avocados have definitely gotten more expensive over the last few years, avocado egg salad sandwiches are still pretty economical.

Here is a simple recipe I like.

Ingredients

Directions

Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook scallions until softened, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and cook, stirring, until almost set, about 1 to 2 minutes. 

Place the egg on a piece of toast or the bottom half of an English muffin, and season with additional salt pepper, if desired. Layer with avocado, and then cover with the other piece of toast or other half of muffin.

 

Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese sandwiches (BLTs)

What’s not to love about classic BLTs? Add mayo or salad dressing for a little extra zing, and swap the lettuce for spinach to make them a little more nutritious.

 

Chicken salad

I tease (but it really is kinda true :-}) that the salad is just the way to get the ranch dressing to my mouth and that the salads that I really like to eat are the ones where I basically turn them into a sandwich. So my favorite chicken salad, for example, has croutons and cheese in addition to my favorite veggies like spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and so on.

But whatever you like to put in your chicken salad, you can’t go wrong!

This is a salad recipe with grilled chicken that I like.

 

Ingredients

2 grilled chicken breasts
4 cups chopped lettuce
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup oil
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, and onion.
2. In a small  bowl or cup, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss gently to coat.
4. Slice or chop the grilled chicken breasts.
5. Place the salad on serving plates. Arrange half of the sliced grilled chicken breast on top of the salad for each serving.
6. Serve.

 

Chicken salad sandwiches

Chicken salad sandwiches are one of my all-time favorite lunches. You can keep it really simple with just the chicken and a little may or salad dressing and your favorite seasonings.

Or dress this sandwich up (see the information about chicken salad supreme sandwiches below) with your favorite nuts (such as cashews or my preferred cheaper option, peanuts), seeds, sliced grapes, cubed cheese, finely chopped apples, chopped celery, and more! There are so many options for this versatile meal!

Here is a simple recipe we like.

 

Ingredients

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon season salt
pepper, to taste
other add-ins noted above, as desired

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and stir well.
2. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve with your favorite bread as a sandwich or on a tortilla as a wrap.

 

 

Chicken salad supreme sandwiches

This is a chicken salad sandwich (see recipe above) with even more good stuff added, like sesame seeds or peanuts (we generally use the kind we have to shell ourselves, since they are cheaper), chopped grapes, raisins, chopped apples, and dried cranberries.

 

Traditional green salad

Like I said just above, in my opinion, the best green salad is the one that is filled with tons of other great foods like meat and cheese and croutons. 🙂 But you can also keep them simpler (as I often do, despite my preferences :)) with using simple greens like leafy lettuce and spinach or kale and adding your favorite vegetables and fruits like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, and the like.

 

Spinach and strawberry green salad

Even though I do not turn this salad into a sandwich :), it is still one of my favorites. All you need are spinach, strawberries, and almonds if you have them on hand (or substitute less expensive seeds or nuts). Here is a simple strawberry spinach salad with tasty homemade dressing:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
10 oz. fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl, mix the sesame and poppy seeds, sugar, oil, and vinegar.

2. In another large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

Easy pasta salad

Use leftover pasta and add cooked vegetables like broccoli, carrots, onions, or spinach. Toss with a little oil, vinegar, and your favorite spices, and you’re set. Yum!

Or cook the pasta, and you can still have this lunch ready in less than 30 minutes!

Here is a recipe for pasta salad that we really like.

 

Ingredients

1 (12 oz) box your favorite pasta noodles (rotini works well)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 can olives, chopped
cup chopped baby carrots
1 cup sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups bottled Italian salad dressing (I prefer Kraft with this recipe)

Dressing

1/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Directions

 

1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Pour pasta into a bowl, and add tomatoes, broccoli, olives, carrots, and pepperoni.
3. Make the dressing, and pour the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat.
4. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for or up to 1 day. Add a little more dressing if needed when serving.

 

 

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Dirt Cheap Meal Ideas for Dinner

As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to plan dirt cheap meals for your family is to keep things simple! You can make all of these super cheap and easy dinner meals in about 30 minutes or less!

 

Note: Again, these are just examples of dirt cheap dinner ideas (some recipes are included below). You can switch out any of the meals with other dinner options that you like better. See this article for more than 65 cheap family dinner recipes that you can make for $5 or less in 30 minutes or less!

 

Baked Potatoes

You can make baked potatoes quickly and easily in the microwave in about 15 minutes for a simple dirt cheap dinner (or lunch) meal.

We pierce the potatoes in several places with a fork and put a little bit of water on the plate to help them cook more quickly. We also sometimes cover them with plastic wrap to help keep the heat in so that they cook a little more quickly, but normally I omit this step.

If you want to save time baking your potatoes, get one of these awesome microwave potato pouches for just a few bucks! They are great!

 

Quick and Easy Chili

This is one of my favorite quick and easy dirt cheap meals! (My older daughter, a somewhat picky eater, is a huge fan of chili!)

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 to 2 regular size cans of chili with beans
1 can of chili beans or kidney beans (optional)
2 or 3 cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Directions

1. Brown the hamburger with the onion.
2. Drain the grease.
3. Add all ingredients to the saucepan, and heat.

 

 

Ramen Noodles with Vegetables

This is another one of our go-to super easy dirt cheap meals. To make this simple meal, first cook your favorite fresh or frozen or canned vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, carrots, and onions all work really well) in a pot, and then for the last few minutes, add your favorite flavor of ramen noodles.

You can also add chopped chicken for protein to add more nutrition and make this a heartier meal.

 

Classic Bean and Cheese Burritos

These easy bean and cheese burritos are another great option when you are looking for the cheapest meals to eat. They have just four ingredients (plus add any other toppings you love, such as salsa). All you need are refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, and taco seasoning mix. Such an easy and cheap dinner idea!

Ingredients
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 package (1 oz)  taco seasoning mix
8 8-inch flour tortillas
Additional toppings as desired, such as salsa, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper or foil (or spray with nonstick cooking spray); set aside.
2. In medium bowl, mix the beans, cheese, and taco seasoning mix.
3. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the bean mixture onto each tortilla, just below the center. Fold the bottom edge of each tortilla up and over the filling. Fold sides in, overlapping to enclose filling. Roll up from the bottom of the tortilla.
4. Place the burritos seam-side down on the cookie sheet.
5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with additional toppings listed above, as desired.
6. Remove from heat, and serve.

 

More Better Mac and Cheese

This is my family’s favorite way to eat good old macaroni and cheese from a box.

To traditional macaroni and cheese we add broccoli and carrots and sometimes cut up polish dogs or hot dogs, chicken, hamburger, or another meat. We also sometimes add onions and green or other colored peppers.

We sometimes add ranch to shake things up a little, and I like to add salsa to mine after it is cooked but before eating it to get even more vegetables. Yum!

 And if you prefer to make it from scratch, here is a simple homemade mac and cheese recipe I like.

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
12 ounces elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 

Directions

Boil noodles as directed. In a separate pan, melt butter and sprinkle in flour to make a roux. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper. Combine with noodles. For a creamier texture, add more milk.

 

 

Meatless Spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of our favorite quick and easy go-to meals! We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. We usually eat it with a pound of ground beef, but for the meatless version, just use a can of tomato sauce with maybe half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have made our own, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. You could also add mushrooms (fresh or canned) and peppers (such green peppers, since they are the least expensive), as well.

 

 

Easy Garlic Chicken and Rice

Garlic chicken is another of my favorite cheap meals. For this simple dish, all you need is the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a little butter, garlic powder, season salt, and onion powder.

Serve with rice and your favorite vegetables, and you are set! Ready in just 20 minutes!

 

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions
Melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder, seasoning salt, and onion powder. Saute about 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.

 

Traditional or Black Bean Quesadillas

If you prefer traditional quesadillas (or even quesadillas with lunch meat added), then grab the recipe above.

Or for a fun variation of traditional quesadillas, try this recipe for black bean quesadillas.

 

Ingredients
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheese
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/3 cup sour cream (optional)

Directions
1. Mash one can of beans. Mix in remaining can of beans and salsa.
2. Spread mixture evenly on 4 tortillas; top with cheese. Cover with remaining 4 tortillas.
3. Heat skillet, and cook quesadillas 2 minutes. Flip, and cook for another minute or two.
4. Cut into wedges, and serve with salsa & sour cream on the side.

Meatless Taco Soup

Combine a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of chili beans or other beans, a can or two of corn, and a package of taco seasoning,  (Do not drain any of the cans before you add them to the pot.) Cook until warmed through.

If you want to include protein but still save money on meat, use chicken instead of ground beef. You can buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts for usually $2 a pound or less (at least in our area), and boneless, skinless chicken thighs for even less than that.

 

Egg Fried Rice

Ingredients

4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red onion (about 1 small onion)
4 cups cooked rice|
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

  1. Crack eggs into a small bowl, and beat them together.
  2. Heat a large frying pan or a wok with 1/2 tablespoon of the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the beaten eggs and scramble them for about a minute. Transfer the eggs to a dish, and turn off the heat. Wipe off the pan or wok with a paper towel.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the cooked rice into the pan or wok, and cook for a few minutes, until the rice is heated through. If you have large clumps of rice, break them apart with the back of your spatula.
  5. Add the soy sauce, and stir. Add the scrambled eggs, and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.

 

Hot Dogs and Fries

Good old hot dogs and fries is one of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make.

 

Pizza

If you buy the less-expensive brands of store-bought pizza, pizza can actually be a dirt cheap meal! Totino’s is pretty cheap, but your local store brand may be really economical, as well. One of our local store brands costs only a little more than Totino’s, and the pizzas taste great.

You can also make homemade pizza for pretty cheap, depending on the toppings that you put on it, of course. If you make the crust yourself and stick with cheese and pepperoni and typical vegetables like green peppers and olives, you can make homemade pizza for even less than the inexpensive store varieties.

Here is a simple homemade pepperoni pizza recipe that we love.

 

Ingredients

Crust

3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast, or 1 packet (1/4 ounce) yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon oil

Sauce

1 to 2 cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon season salt

Toppings

1 package (3 1/2 oz) sliced pepperoni
5 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil, and beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, oil, and seasonings.
3. Divide the dough in half, and then press into two 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pans coated with cooking spray.
4. Spread sauce over crusts, and then top with pepperoni and cheeses.
5. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or a little longer, as needed.

 

Broccoli Alfredo

This is a simple and tasty dish, ready in 30 minutes. It’s great as a one-pot dinner, or we often eat it with toasted garlic bread. Eat with green salad to get in more veggies.

Ingredients

12 oz. linguine or spaghetti noodles
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare the linguine or spaghetti noodles according to the package directions in a large saucepan. Add the broccoli during the last 4 minutes of the cooking time. Drain the linguine mixture well in a colander.
  2. Heat the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and cook until well browned and cooked through, stirring often.
  3. Stir the soup, milk, cheese, pepper, and linguine mixture in the skillet and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling, stirring occasionally.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

 

15-Minute Chicken and Rice Dinner

I love this dish because it is so fast to make! It is one of my quick go-to recipes.

Ingredients

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of chicken (or substitute cream of mushroom) soup
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked instant white rice
2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets

Directions

  1. Season the chicken as desired.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  2. Stir the soup, water, paprika, and pepper in the skillet, and heat to a boil.  Stir in the rice and broccoli.  Reduce the heat to low.  Return the chicken to the skillet.  Sprinkle the chicken with additional paprika.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste.

 

Creamy Pasta and Veggies

This is a quick and easy dirt cheap meal my husband and I invented to use up some veggies we had on hand. And it tastes great, I think. 🙂

Ingredients

2 to 4 cups pasta
1 small can cream of mushroom soup (or sub cream of chicken soup)
1 cup cut or baby carrots
1 cup broccoli
1 small onion, chopped (if desired)
salt and pepper or seasoned salt, to taste

Directions

1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the chopped or baby carrots for about the last 7 minutes and the broccoli and onion for about the last 5 minutes.

2. Drain the pasta in a colander, and then return it to the pot. Add the cream of mushroom soup and salt and pepper to taste, and then stir well to combine.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

This is another easy, budget friendly meal that’s great for cold days.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup carrots)
2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup celery)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken broth (or more, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
12 oz. pasta or egg noodles
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken 
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
salt, to taste

Directions

1. Add the oil to a large pot, and heat over medium-high heat.

2. Add the carrots, celery, and onion, and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir occasionally.

3. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute or two.

4. Add the chicken broth, oregano, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil gently for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender.

5. Add the noodles, and boil mixture for about 10 minutes, or until noodles are soft and cooked through. Add more water, if needed.

6. Add the chicken and parsley, and boil for a few minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Add salt to taste, and serve with crackers, rolls, or bread and butter.

 

 Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

This is another tasty chicken soup perfect for cold days. And this one is a creamy comfort food, as well!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 pound cooked chicken, cubed

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the carrot, celery, and onion until tender.

2. Add the garlic, and cook for about 1 minute.

3. Stir in the rice, seasonings, and broth, and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until rice is tender.

5. Mix the flour and milk until smooth, and stir into the soup.

6. Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Stir in chicken, and cook until chicken is heated through.

 

Leftovers

Don’t dismiss your leftovers! Eating leftovers is a great way to save both time and money in the kitchen!

You may even want to keep a paper or whiteboard or similar thing on yoru fridge where you keep a list of the leftovers in your fridge and the day that you prepared the meal so that you can use your leftovers before they go bad and not forget about them.

 

Get the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder!

Meal Planning BinderAre you tired of spending so much time on grocery shopping and meal planning and prep? Are you sick of spending so much money on groceries and eating out? Do you hate the dreaded nightly question, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”

If you answered YES! to any of these questions, then the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder is for you! Get more than 60 actionable pages to help you save time, money, and effort, month after month! Grab your copy today!

 

 

 

 

 

2 Week Dirt Cheap Breakfast Example Meal Plan

Note: This is of course just an example of easy dirt cheap breakfast ideas. Change it up any way that you like!

Also feel free to have just two or three breakfast options that you choose between (such as cold cereal with milk, fried eggs with toast, and fruit with yogurt) and then just repeat them to keep things easier for yourselves on busy mornings and to potentially save more money!

Check out this article for even more ideas for inexpensive breakfast meals.

Week 1

Sunday: Waffles
Monday: Cold cereal with milk (try to get cereal that is close to 10 cents per ounce to make this a more economical choice)
Tuesday: Fried eggs with toast
Wednesday: Bagels with cream cheese, jam, or peanut butter
Thursday: French toast (or toaster pastries)
Friday: Oatmeal or overnight cold oatmeal
Saturday: Crepes or German pancakes

Week 2

Sunday: Egg omelets
Monday: Cream of wheat
Tuesday: Muffins (homemade, or from a box)
Wednesday: Yogurt with fruit (generally the cheapest option is to buy generic-brand yogurt in the larger tub and eat it wish sliced bananas)
Thursday: Toast with jam or peanut butter
Friday: Cold cereal with milk
Saturday: Pancakes

2 Week Dirt Cheap Lunch Example Meal Plan

Note: In the list below I am including only very simple lunch options for dirt cheap meals that you can make in a matter of minutes—they are perfect for busy mornings when you are trying to get ready for work and get kids off to school. (Many of these options are great for school lunches, too!)

Of course you can also use any of the ideas for dinner (or for breakfast!) as a meal for lunch, as well!

 

Week 1 and Week 2 (repeat the dirt cheap meal ideas for lunch listed below during the two weeks to meet the needs of your family)

Sandwiches (ideas include peanut butter and jam sandwiches, meat and cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna fish sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, tuna fish and egg sandwiches, and chicken salad sandwiches) or wraps
Green salads (ideas above)
Pasta salads (ideas above)
Meat and cheese (or just cheese) quesadillas
Leftovers

Get the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder!

Meal Planning BinderAre you tired of spending so much time on grocery shopping and meal planning and prep? Are you sick of spending so much money on groceries and eating out? Do you hate the dreaded nightly question, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”

If you answered YES! to any of these questions, then the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder is for you! Get more than 60 actionable pages to help you save time, money, and effort, month after month! Grab your copy today!

2 Week Dirt Cheap Dinner Example Meal Plan

Note: As I mentioned with the list of breakfast ideas, as you do your meal planning, feel free to reorganize and substitute meals below as needed. You can find a list of more than 60 cheap and easy 30-minute (or less) dinner meals here.

Also, if meal planning is very new to you and you are just completely overwhelmed by it, start super simple with your dinner meal planning! Simply pick 7 meals that you like that are quick and easy, and repeat them each week of the month. Meal planning = Done!

 

Week 1

Sunday: Macaroni and cheese (or More Better Mac and Cheese, where you add chopped up broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, and other vegetables of your choice)
Monday: Homemade refried bean and cheese burritos
Tuesday: Baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream, salsa, barbecue sauce, or other favorite toppings
Wednesday: Chili (homemade or from a can; add an extra can or two of kidney or other favorite beans to canned chili to make it go further and to make this dish even less expensive) and corn bread (or crackers)
Thursday: Easy Garlic Chicken and Rice or leftovers (be sure to use your leftovers if you have them! :))
Friday: Quesadillas or black bean quesadillas
Saturday: Hot dogs with fries or potato chips, or creamy pasta and veggies

 

Week 2

Sunday: Cheap frozen pizzas (Totino’s is one of the cheapest brands, or check store brands; per ounce, our local store brand is sometimes cheaper, and also better tasting, than the Totino’s), or backpacker’s pizza (tortillas, pepperoni, and shredded cheese)
Monday: Ramen noodles (with vegetables)
Tuesday: Meatless spaghetti
Wednesday: Egg fried rice or chicken noodle soup (or creamy chicken and rice soup)
Thursday: 15 Minute Chicken and Rice Dinner or leftovers (don’t forget to eat your leftovers!)
Friday: Broccoli alfredo or grilled cheese sandwiches (with tomato or mushroom soup from a can, if desired)
Saturday: Meatless taco soup

Final Thoughts on Dirt Cheap Meals

These quick, easy, and dirt cheap meals are perfect for a super tight budget! They will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 15 minutes or less, these budget-friendly super cheap meals are great for busy families!

For more ways to save money on cheap meals, see this article for more than 100 cheap recipes that you can make for $5 or less in 30 minutes or less.

 

 

What are your favorite quick, easy, dirt cheap meals? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to dishes that you just love and use in your meal planning? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

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25 Cheap Lunch Ideas

cheap lunch ideas

Cheap Lunch Ideas

Find cheap lunch ideas that you can make in 30 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for quick and easy cheap lunch ideas, then this is the article for you!

These quick, easy, and cheap lunch ideas are perfect for busy workdays or busy weekends!

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to these cheap lunch ideas later!

 

 

25 Cheap Lunch Ideas

Below are 25 easy and cheap lunch ideas that you can make at work or at home in less than 30 minutes!

One of the easiest things you can do to save money on food is to take your lunch to work, eat at home when you are not at work, and to keep things simple! Today’s families are busy, and keeping things easy will help you save both time and money! Your family will enjoy these cheap lunch ideas!

Get the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder!

Meal Planning BinderAre you tired of spending so much time on grocery shopping and meal planning and prep? Are you sick of spending so much money on groceries and eating out? Do you hate the dreaded nightly question, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”

If you answered YES! to any of these questions, then the Make It Easy Complete Meal Planning Binder is for you! Get more than 60 actionable pages to help you save time, money, and effort, month after month! Grab your copy today!

 

 

 

 

Why It Is So Worth It to Stick with Cheap Lunch Ideas

It is amazing to me how many people spend $5 or more every day for lunch at work! I just can’t do it.

Lunch is a meal that you can keep oh-so-cheap and easy if you choose to! I primarily eat either a peanut butter sandwich with fruit and carrot sticks, a simple ham and cheese sandwich, an easy green salad, or leftovers for lunch every day at work, so it keeps things very simple and inexpensive.

To me it is worth it to save the tons of money that we are able to every year by not buying work lunches at the nearby food court or even the cafeteria where I work. If I bought lunch every workday it would easily cost over $100 per month (if I bought inexpensive lunches). By bringing lunch every day and investing that saved money in my Roth 401(k) instead, that money can grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

In fact, if you invested just that $100 a month in your retirement fund from age 25 to age 65 and earned an annual average rate of return of 11 percent, which is very doable long term, you would have $774,992! If you were able to earn an annual average rate of 12 percent, also doable over the long term with good growth stock mutual funds, you would have $1,030,970! Isn’t that $1,000,000 worth bringing inexpensive lunches from home?! It sure is to me! I love the power of compound interest! Learn how to start investing here.

In the list below I am including only very simple lunch options that you can make in a matter of minutes—they are perfect for busy mornings when you are trying to get ready for work and get kids off to school. (Many of these options are great for school lunches, too!) Of course you can also use any of the ideas for dinner (or for breakfast!) listed later in this article as a meal for lunch, as well!

 

25 Easy and Cheap Lunch Ideas for Work or Home!

 

1. Peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and banana, or peanut butter and honey sandwiches

These are about as simple an option as you can get. 🙂 But I love them!

 

 

2. Tuna fish sandwiches (with pickle, if desired)

Though not as cheap as it used to be, tuna is still an inexpensive way to go for lunch.

 

 

3. Tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches

If you love tuna sandwiches and you love egg salad sandwiches, put them together for a new twist on an old favorite.

Ingredients

 

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, eggs, celery or pickles, and mayonnaise.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spread the mixture equally onto 4 slices of bread. Top with remaining slices of bread.
4. Serve.

 

 

 

4. Egg salad sandwiches

In our family we love this simple and tasty cheap lunch option. All you need is bread and eggs and your favorite brand of mayonnaise or salad dressing and favorite seasonings, and you are ready to go!

 

 

5. Lunch meat and cheese sandwiches (with tomato and lettuce or spinach, if desired)

Choose your favorite lunch meat such as honey ham, chicken, turkey, or beef, and then add a slice of cheese, tomato and lettuce (or spinach), and a little mayo and mustard if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Chicken salad sandwiches

Chicken salad sandwiches are one of my all-time favorite lunches. You can keep it really simple with just the chicken and a little may or salad dressing and your favorite seasonings.

Or dress this sandwich up (see the information about chicken salad supreme sandwiches below) with your favorite nuts (such as cashews or my preferred cheaper option, peanuts), seeds, sliced grapes, cubed cheese, finely chopped apples, chopped celery, and more! There are so many options for this versatile meal!

 

7. Grilled cheese (with lunch meat and spinach, if desired) sandwiches and tomato soup

This classic and cheap lunch idea is great any time of year, but is particularly delicious on cold days! To make this kid-friendly dish even more filling add your favorite lunch meat, or add spinach or another favorite vegetable to boost the nutritional value!

 

8. Quesadillas (traditional or lunch meat and cheese; add spinach to make them more nutritious)

Quesadillas are so easy! You can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese, or add sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, or favorite cooked vegetables. Yum!

 

9. Avocado egg salad sandwiches

Egg salad sandwiches are awesome, and adding avocado makes them even awesomer (but also more expensive :-\).

 

10. Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese sandwiches (BLTs)

What’s not to love about classic BLTs? Add mayo or salad dressing for a little extra zing, and swap the lettuce for spinach to make them a little more nutritious.

 

11. Chicken salad supreme sandwiches

This is a chicken salad sandwich with even more good stuff added, like sesame seeds or peanuts (we generally use the kind we have to shell ourselves, since they are cheaper), chopped grapes, raisins, chopped apples, and dried cranberries.

 

12. Chicken salad

I tease (but it really is kinda true :-}) that the salad is just the way to get the ranch dressing to my mouth and that the salads that I really like to eat are the ones where I basically turn them into a sandwich. So my favorite chicken salad, for example, has croutons and cheese in addition to my favorite veggies like spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and so on.

But whatever you like to put in your chicken salad, you can’t go wrong!

 

13. Traditional green salad

Like I said just above, in my opinion, the best green salad is the one that is filled with tons of other great foods like meat and cheese and croutons. 🙂 But you can also keep them simpler (as I often do, despite my preferences :)) with using simple greens like leafy lettuce and spinach or kale and adding your favorite vegetables and fruits like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, and the like.

 

14. Spinach and strawberry salad

Even though I do not turn this salad into a sandwich :), it is still one of my favorites. All you need are spinach, strawberries, and almonds if you have them on hand (or substitute less expensive seeds or nuts). Here is a simple strawberry spinach salad with tasty homemade dressing:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
10 oz. fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl, mix the sesame and poppy seeds, sugar, oil, and vinegar.

2. In another large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

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15. Avocado tuna melt

If you love avocado and tuna and cheese, you will love avocado tuna melt sandwiches! You can find a simple avocado tuna melt recipe here:

Ingredients

2 5-oz. cans of tuna
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 avocado, sliced
4 slices cheddar cheese
8 slices bread
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Directions
1. Mix the tuna and the mayonnaise. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place four slices of bread in large frying pan. Spread each slice with 1/4 of the tuna mixture. Add 2 to 4 slices of avocado on each.

2. Place a slice of cheddar cheese on top of avocado for each. Top sandwich with other slice of bread, butter side up.
3. Cook on medium high heat until bottom of bread is a golden brown, and then carefully flip over to toast the other side until it is also a golden brown and cheese is melted.

4. For even more goodness, add tomato and spinach or your favorite lettuce.

16. Avocado and chicken salad

This is another simple and tasty avocado dish, and a great option for a cheap meal. All you need for this easy salad are chicken, avocados, lime juice, green onion, and mayo.

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 medium avocados, diced
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
salt, to taste
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons mayo
Directions
1. In a large bowl, mix the diced avocado with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and season with the salt to taste. Add the chicken and the sliced green onion.
2. In a small bowl, mix the mayo and the lime juice to make the dressing.
3. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture, and mix well to coat with the dressing. Sprinkle the other tablespoon of lime juice over the top (or omit, if you want less lime juice).
4. Serve as is as a salad, or serve inside pita bread or as a sandwich or lettuce wrap.

17. Chicken avocado salad sandwiches

Similar to the cheap meal mentioned just above, here is another tasty chicken avocado salad sandwich recipe:

Ingredients
2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
2 ripe avocados, chopped
2 apples, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
8 slices of bread

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, avocado, apple, celery, and red onion. Gently mash the avocado with a fork and stir it around so that everything is mixed well.
2. Add the parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon of oil.
3. Spread on sandwich bread, toasted bread, or pita bread.

18. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato wrap

This tasty dish is a simple alternative to regular BLT sandwiches. Simply omit the bread and keep the bacon and tomato, season to taste with salt and pepper, and wrap in large lettuce leaves.

19. Meatball sub sandwich

After a delicious spaghetti dinner, don’t just put that tasty concoction away! Take a few minutes to put some of the meatballs and sauce in a microwave-safe container, grab a couple of pieces of your favorite bread and put them in an airtight bag, and tomorrow you can have a tasty and super quick and easy lunch at work. Just reheat the meatballs, arrange them on the bread, and enjoy!

20. Pasta frittata

The meatballs aren’t the only thing you can repurpose from last night’s spaghetti fest! Making a cheap meal out of pasta frittata is another great way to use up leftovers from spaghetti. All you need are several large eggs, a little oil, some cut up vegetables such as onion and tomatoes and peppers, a couple of cups of chopped spinach, and a little shredded cheese.

Ingredients
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped peppers
2 cups chopped spinach
4 oz. leftover or cooked pasta (such as penne, elbow, or spaghetti)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
2. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil. Once it is hot, add the onions, and saute them until they are translucent. Add the other vegetables, and cook them until they are slightly softened. Add the spinach and cooked pasta, and cook for 2 more minutes.
3. Pour the eggs into the pan, and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook the mixture, frequently lifting up the egg so that the uncooked egg flows underneath, until the egg is almost fully set.
4. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and continue cooking until the eggs are fully set. Uncover the pan and turn off the stove. Sprinkle the cheese over the frittata, and then cover the pan again for another minute or two until the cheese is melted.
5. Loosen the frittata from the pan and slide it onto a large plate. Slice into wedges, and serve.

21. Easy pasta salad

This is another cheap meal that is quick and easy to make. Use leftover pasta and add in some of your leftover vegetables like broccoli, carrots, onions, or spinach. Toss with a little oil, vinegar, and your favorite spices, and you’re set. You can also add chicken, ham, or another meat of your choice to add protein.

 

22. Parmesan pasta salad

Ingredients
1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
1 (16 ounce) bottle Italian salad dressing
2 cucumbers, chopped
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for 8 to 12 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the Italian dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning, and gently mix into the salad.
  4. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

23. Quick and easy chicken fried rice

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked rice
1 package (12 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
2 large eggs
2 cups shredded chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions

1. Cook rice according to package directions.

2. Prepare frozen vegetables according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add eggs; cook and stir until eggs are thickened and no liquid egg remains. Remove from pan.

3. In same skillet, heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add cooked rice; cook and stir until rice begins to brown.

4. Stir in chicken, salt, and pepper. Add eggs and vegetables. Cook until heated through.

24. Chili cheese dogs

If you like chili dogs, then this is a simple and cheap lunch idea your family will enjoy. To your favorite hot dogs in a bun add your favorite canned chili and some shredded cheese. Serve with scoop chips and extra chili, if desired.

 

25. Sweet pasta salad

This is a fun twist on traditional macaroni salad. And even better, this simple pasta salad takes only 20 minutes to make, plus the time that you allow it to chill. (Personally, I like to eat my pasta and potato salads while they are still warm. :))

Ingredients

1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
4 medium carrots (or substitute baby carrots), shredded or finely chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cups mayonnaise
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper 

Directions

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

2. In a large bowl, combine macaroni and vegetables. Whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth and sugar is dissolved; stir into macaroni mixture. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

These 25 quick, easy, and cheap lunch ideas will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family and are a great option to avoid spending a bunch of money going out to eat on your lunch break at work or with your family! You can make all of these cheap lunch ideas in 30 minutes or less, and many of them can be ready in 5 minutes or less! Keep it simple, sweetie! 🙂

 

What are your favorite quick and cheap lunch ideas? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to make-at-home work lunches that you just love?

Give these cheap lunch ideas a try and let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.

65+ Cheap Dinners: Awesome Dinner Recipes on a Budget

cheap dinners

Cheap Dinners

Find more than 65 ideas below for easy and cheap dinners that you can make in 30 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for quick, easy, tasty, and cheap dinners, then this is the article for you!

These quick, easy, and cheap dinners are perfect to get tasty food on the table fast to feed your hungry family!

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for cheap dinners later!

 

 

Make Your Cheap Dinners Even Cheaper!

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries so that you can prepare really cheap dinners is to use money-saving apps! My favorite FREE grocery money-saving app is Ibotta.

I’ve been a member of Ibotta for years, and they are a fun and easy way to save money whenever you shop! With the free Ibotta app, you earn cash back on purchases you make every day from your favorite grocery and other stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Sam’s Club, Amazon, and many, many more! With the easy-to-use Ibotta app you can get cash back when you shop not only for groceries but also for clothing, home improvement supplies, travel services, and more!

I can even use Ibotta at several of our smaller, local grocery stores, which I love! 

Signing up takes just a minute, and then you can start to save money whenever and wherever you shop, at physical stores and online! Sign up for your free Ibotta account here!

 

Are You Looking for Dinner Inspiration?

cheap recipes cheap meals

Are you in a dinner rut? Do you want inspiration for quick and easy recipes you can make for your family on busy nights?

Then you need this cookbook! Find more than 125 recipes for delicious quick and cheap family meals you can prepare in 30 minutes or less for $5 or less!

Click here to get your digital copy of the recipe book today for just $5! (Buy now and get access to your recipe book for immediate digital download!)

 

65+ Cheap Dinners

Below are over 65 ideas for easy and cheap dinners you can make for your family in less than 30 minutes!

One of the easiest things you can do to save money on food is to eat at home and to keep things simple! Today’s families are busy, and keeping things easy will help you save both time and money! Your family will love these cheap dinner ideas!

Cheap Dinner Ideas

Here are 65+ cheap dinners you can make in a hurry on busy evenings! 

1. Skillet Burritos

If you love burritos you will love this tasty dish! For this easy and cheap dinner, you will need a chopped onion, ground beef, diced tomatoes (fresh or from a can), kidney beans, tortillas, and cheese. Garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, avocado, green onions, olives, or other favorite toppings. You can get this easy skillet burritos recipe here.

 

2. Quick and Easy Taco Salad

You can’t go wrong with a tasty taco salad. In this quick and easy version, you need just hamburger (or substitute ground turkey or ground chicken), taco seasoning, cilantro (or omit it, like I do), lettuce, cheese, salsa, green onions, tortilla chips (crumbled), and a lime for garnish. Simple! Find this quick and easy taco salad recipe here.

 

3. Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas

This cheap dinner idea is a fun twist on traditional quesadillas. To the traditional tortillas and cheese add onion, bell pepper, taco seasoning, avocados, and cilantro (or omit the cilantro, if you prefer). This quick dish is ready in 20 minutes or less. You can find this avocado and black bean quesadillas recipe here.

 

4. Quick and Easy Calzones

Have you tried calzones before? They are sort of like a personal pizza, folded up. To make, you need pizza crust dough (from the store, or make your own simple crust like we do), marinara sauce (or alfredo is great too!), shredded mozzarella (or other) cheese, pepperoni, and a litle butter, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. My calzones never turn out as pretty as the ones pictured with this recipe, but that’s all right. 🙂 They still taste great. Find the quick and easy calzones recipe here.

 

5. Quick Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is another of my personal favorite cheap dinner ideas. This particular recipe has a bit of a fun twist with the addition of ketchup and cream cheese to make it extra creamy. Other ingredients include the egg noodles (or substitute whatever noodles you have on hand), sliced mushrooms (optional), butter and minced garlic, a little flour, milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Another awesome comfort food! This quick beef stroganoff recipe is here.

 

6. One-Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken and Rice

You just can’t go wrong with an easy chicken and rice dish! (Well, I guess you could, but the odds are in your favor that you won’t! :)) This meal really is simple, with chicken, spinach, garlic, rice, and some seasonings. We don’t generally have heavy cream on hand, so we substitute whole milk (or even 2%, if that’s all we have at the time). You can find this creamy garlic chicken and rice recipe here.

 

7. Vegetable Ramen Pad Thai

For a fun twist on a cheap-dinner staple, try this Thai-inspired dish. All you need are ramen noodles, vegetables, soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. If you want a milder version, reduce or leave out the sriracha and red pepper flakes (like I do). You can find a simple vegetable ramen pad Thai recipe here.

 

8. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with Rice

This recipe is easy! It requires just 3 ingredients. All you need are the chicken thighs, brown sugar, and soy sauce. You can also add in vegetables toward the end of the cook times, if desired. Serve over rice, and enjoy! You can find this three-ingredient teriyaki chicken thighs recipe here.

 

9.  Chicken Gnocchi Skillet

This is another tasty and easy chicken dish. If you have never had gnocchi before, you need to give this classic Italian dish a try! Quick and tasty, you can have this dish on the table in just 20 minutes! In addition to a package of gnocchi, this recipe calls for ground chicken (though I bet chopped chicken would work, as well), onion, spaghetti sauce (or make your own to save money, like we do, with tomato sauce and spaghetti seasoning), salt, oregano, and (optional) grated Parmesan cheese. You can find this tasty chicken gnocchi skillet recipe here.

 

10. Spaghetti with Bacon

Bacon makes everything better; am I right?  This pasta dish is super simple. All you need is pasta (spaghetti, or use a different pasta of your choice), garlic, parsley, and a little olive oil, and you will be ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. You can find this simple spaghetti with bacon recipe here.

11. Sour Cream Enchiladas

This is another easy and cheap recipe idea, with just 4 ingredients! All you need is a can of enchilada sauce (or use tomato sauce and taco seasoning as a substitute, like I usually do), an eight-ounce container of sour cream, shredded cheese, and corn tortillas. Simply put a spoonful of sour cream and handful of cheese in the center of each tortilla, roll them up, put them in a baking pan, pour sauce over the top, and distribute remaining sour cream and cheese over the top. Then bake and enjoy! You can find this simple sour cream enchiladas recipe here.

 

12. Easy Microwave Chicken Enchiladas

This is another one of my favorite enchilada recipes. And this one you can make in the microwave! Woo hoo! All you need are shredded chicken (already cooked—this is a great way to use leftover chicken!), enchilada sauce (or again, you can use tomato sauce), taco seasoning, cheese, corn tortillas, sour cream, and cilantro for garnish (or omit the cilantro [like I do]). Total prep and cooking time is just 20 minutes! You can find this easy microwave chicken enchiladas recipe here.

 

13. Skillet Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

Another of my own favorite tasty and cheap recipe ideas is cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. For this simple from-scratch recipe you need macaroni (or other pasta noodles, though larger noodles may take a few more minutes to cook), oil, ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, milk, cheese, sugar (or you can omit it), and salt and pepper to taste. Put it all together, and you have a tasty twist on good ol’ mac and cheese that is ready in just 30 minutes or less. You can find the skillet cheeseburger mac and cheese recipe here.

 

14. Best Chili Mac

This cheap dinner is such an easy comfort food to make! All you need are macaroni noodles, half a pound of ground beef, tomato soup, mozzarella cheese (or substitute whatever cheese you have on hand), and seasonings! And then you can have this easy chili mac and cheese dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less! You can find this best chili macaroni and cheese recipe here.

 

15. One-Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

With melty cheese (two kinds!), hamburger, and bacon all in one yummy dish, this is a yummy combination! The ketchup and Worcestershire sauce give it a tasty kick, too! You can find this cheap dinner idea for bacon cheeseburger pasta recipe here.

 

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16. Sweet and sour meatballs

If you love sweet and sour dishes, you will love this easy from scratch recipe for sweet and sour meatballs! This recipe calls for hamburger, an egg, onion, bread crumbs, cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and salt and pepper. And it is ready so fast; have dinner on the table in just 20 minutes! you can find this easy sweet and sour meatballs recipe here.

 

17. Easy Orange Chicken

Orange chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, and this recipe is great because it is quick and easy to make. You can have this delicious dinner on the table in 25 minutes or less! The main ingredients for this cheap dinner idea include chicken thighs, a large orange, soy sauce, brown sugar, an egg, and green onions. When prepared, eat piping hot over white or brown rice. You can find this easy orange chicken recipe here.

 

18. 30-Minute Asian Orange Beef

Or if you are more in the mood for beef, give this easy Asian orange beef recipe a try.

 

19. Easy Sesame Chicken

Easy sesame chicken is another one of my favorite cheap dinner ideas. For this Asian-inspired recipe the main ingredients are a large egg, boneless skinless chicken thighs, soy sauce, brown sugar, and green onions. Serve over rice. This cheap and easy sesame chicken recipe can be found here.

 

20. Classic Bean and Cheese Burritos

OK, moving right along from Asian inspired to Mexican inspired cuisine. 🙂 These easy bean and cheese burritos have just four ingredients (plus add any other toppings you love, such as salsa). All you need are refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, and taco seasoning mix. Such an easy and cheap dinner idea! You can find this simple bean and cheese burrito recipe here.

21. Spinach and Artichoke Melts

Love spinach and artichoke dip, like me? Then you will love these simple melts! Main ingredients for this simple recipe include spinach (you can substitute frozen spinach, if it is cheaper), artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and sourdough bread (or substitute your favorite bread on hand). I don’t particularly like feta cheese, so we omit that, and we generally substitute a less expensive spread for the butter. If you want, you can also add thinly sliced or chopped and cooked chicken breast to the melts. You can find a simple spinach and artichoke melts recipe here.

 

22. One-Pot Chicken Pot Pie Fettuccine

OK, confession—there is no “pie” in this chicken pot pie fettuccine recipe. But I think your taste buds will forgive you. This recipe instead calls for a pound of fettuccine pasta, as well as chicken breasts, an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, garlic, a little flour, milk, chicken broth, and a little parsley for garnish. You can find this winning chicken pot pie fettuccine recipe here.

 

23. Italian Pesto Pizza

If you love pesto, you will love this simple pesto pizza recipe. In addition to the pesto, add mozzarella cheese, parsley, basil, and Parmesan cheese. (The recipe also calls for prosciutto, but you can omit that ingredient if you like to make the recipe even more budget friendly, or substitute regular chopped ham, Canadian bacon, or pepperoni.) This Italian pesto pizza recipe is here.

 

24. Tater Tot Casserole

Tater tot casserole was one of our regular staples when I was growing up. But I think that this recipe is even better than the one we ate growing up (shhh; don’t tell Mom!) because it has yummy, melty cheese, and Mom’s didn’t. 🙂 This tasty tater tot casserole recipe doesn’t call for vegetables, but we do include either half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables or a can of corn when we make it.

 

25. One-Skillet Smoked Sausage and Rice

This quick and easy cheap dinner idea calls for smoked sausage, broccoli, cooked rice,  and cheese, which add up to an awesome combination that can be on your table in 15 minutes! (Even if you need to cook the rice, you can still have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less.) You can find this budget-friendly one-skillet smoked sausage and rice recipe here.

 

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26. Chicken Pot Pie Rice Bake

This is another fun twist on chicken pot pie (in other words, another pot pie dish without the pie). For this cheap dinner all you need is rice, chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, frozen mixed vegetables, and a little milk. Another dinner success in 30 minutes or less. Find this easy chicken pot pie rice bake recipe here.

 

27. Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

This is another great cheap dinner idea when you want to sneak in some extra veggies for those picky palates. In this fun version of mac and cheese, to traditional elbow macaroni you add cauliflower, butternut squash, sliced carrots, milk, cheese, and cream cheese. You will find this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe here.

 

28. Stuffed Green Peppers

For another fun vegetable-themed dish, try these stuffed green peppers. To make, you need four large green peppers, tomato sauce, ground beef, chopped onion, a cup of cooked brown or white rice, and some seasonings. Easy! Get the stuffed green peppers recipe here.

 

29. One-Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

This cheap dinner is another tasty one-pot chicken dish. This recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, a little butter and some seasonings, rice, chicken broth, lemon, and Italian seasoning. It takes just 5 minutes to prepare and about 25 minutes to cook. And then, lemony goodness! Yay! You can get this one-pot lemon herb chicken and rice recipe here.

 

30. Easy Garlic Chicken

Garlic chicken is another of my favorite cheap dinners. For this simple dish, all you need is the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a little butter, garlic powder, season salt, and onion powder. Serve with rice and your favorite vegetables, and you are set! Find this simple easy garlic chicken recipe here.

 

 

31.  30-Minute Mozzarella Chicken in Homemade Tomato Sauce

For another cheesy treat, try this easy mozzarella chicken. This recipe calls for chicken breasts, garlic, onion, a can of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (or you can omit, like I do), dried basil, a tablespoon of pesto (recipe included), salt and pepper to taste, and the mozzarella cheese. Find this mozzarella chicken recipe here.

 

32. Pesto Pasta with Chicken

This is another easy chicken and pesto recipe, ready in 30 minutes. In addition to the chicken breasts and pesto sauce, this recipe calls for olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes to taste, and sun-dried tomatoes (or you could substitute canned tomatoes). Get this easy pesto pasta with chicken recipe here.

 

33. Spinach Alfredo Pasta

I love this light and easy meatless spinach alfredo pasta! To a package of spaghetti or fettuccine noodles add spinach, a little milk, Parmesan cheese, butter (or substitute a spread), and a little salt and pepper. This simple spinach alfredo pasta will be ready in 30 minutes!

 

34. Classic Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

For another 30-minute meatless pasta dish, give this garlic fettuccine alfredo a try. This recipe calls for Fettuccine (or substitute a pasta of your choice), butter, minced garlic, diced shallot, half and half (or we just substitute whole milk or whatever milk we have on hand), cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper and parsley to taste. Get the garlic fettuccine alfredo recipe here.

 

35. 20-Minute Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan

This is another quick, easy, and cheap dinner. This chicken and spinach dish can be eaten or rice or noodles, and is ready in just 20 minutes. Ingredients include the chicken, panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, a little oil, spaghetti sauce, spinach, and grated mozzarella cheese. Find this skillet chicken and spinach Parmesan recipe here.

 

Check out these related articles:

5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
5 Cheap Instant Pot Meals Your Family Will Love (for under $5!)
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
13 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

36. Spaghetti with Green Salad and Garlic Bread

Spaghetti is one of our favorite quick and easy go-to meals! We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. We use a pound of ground beef, a can of tomato sauce with maybe half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have made our own, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. Sometimes we include mushrooms (fresh or canned) and peppers (most often green peppers, since they are the least expensive), as well.

 

37. More Better Mac and Cheese

This is my family’s favorite way to eat good old macaroni and cheese. To traditional macaroni and cheese we add broccoli and carrots and sometimes cut up polish dogs or hot dogs, chicken, hamburger, or another meat. We also sometimes add onions and green or other colored peppers. We sometimes add ranch to shake things up a little, and I like to add salsa to mine before eating it to get even more vegetables. Yum!

 

38. Chicken Patty Parmesan with rolls or French bread and green salad

This is a simple meal where you take 8 ounces of cooked spaghetti noodles or another pasta of your choice, mix them with a small can and a half of tomato sauce, put them in an 8 by 8 inch casserole dish, layer four microwave-cooked (previously frozen) chicken patties over that, drizzle over with the remaining half a can of tomato sauce, cover that with half a cup (or more if you want) of shredded cheese, and top that with a fourth cup (or more if you want) Parmesan cheese. Serve with toasted garlic bread and your favorite green salad.

 

39. Easy Pasta Carbonara

This is another cheap, easy, and tasty dish! You can find a simple and inexpensive pasta carbonara recipe here.

 

40. Chicken Stir Fry over Rice

So easy! So tasty! 🙂 We normally just wing it for this cheap diner and throw in peppers along with whatever other vegetables we have on hand that sound good, but you can find an easy chicken stir fry recipe here. Serve over cooked white or brown rice, and omit or substitute roasted peanuts to save money. (You can save even more on peanuts if you buy the kind you have to shell, as we often do.)

 

41. 15-Minute Chicken and Rice Dinner

I love this dish because it is so fast to make! It is one of my quick go-to recipes from Campbell’s (except that I use the store-brand cream of mushroom soup to save money, of course! :D). You can find this simple 15-Minute Chicken and Rice Dinner recipe here.

 

42. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

We make this simple and tasty dish following the Campbell’s chicken and broccoli alfredo recipe here. It’s great as a one-pot dinner, or we often eat it with toasted garlic bread. Eat with green salad to get in more veggies.

 

43. Ramen Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

I know that ramen noodles are not really healthy, but they are super cheap and they are super easy. We make eating them healthier by adding chicken and favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers.

 

44. Beef and Cheese Goulash

This is another cheap, easy, and tasty dish, and it feeds a lot of people! We like an easy recipe such as the cheesy beef goulash recipe here (I omit the bay leaves if I don’t have any on hand). You can half the recipe if you are feeding your family of just four or five. (Or make the full recipe so you can have leftovers. I love leftovers! :))

 

45. Tacos

Traditional tacos are even cheaper if you make them using your own homemade tortilla shells. You can find a simple, tasty recipe for tortillas here (you can skip the rest time if you want dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes :)). Substitute chicken for beef to save money, as well.

 

46. Taco Soup with Tortilla Chips

This is one of our favorite easy and cheap dinner recipes, especially during the colder months. To  make this meal, simply brown a pound of hamburger, drain it, and add taco seasoning. Then add a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of chili beans (or other beans), and a can or two of corn,  (Do not drain any of the cans before you add them to the pot.)

Or you could use a simple taco soup recipe similar to this one if you like a little more of the tomato flavor to come out.

 

47. Chili and Cornbread

When time is tight, we eat chili from the can, or with a little more time, we love a simple chili recipe like this one. I have made cornbread from scratch, and it is great, but more often than not we make it from the box because it is easier.

 

48. Homemade Slow Cooker or Stove-Top Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade (or inexpensive) Rolls or Bread

We generally make a simple chicken noodle soup over the stove, but this is a great slow cooker dish, as well. You can find a cheap and easy slow cooker chicken noodle soup recipe here

 

49. Easy Creamy Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

This is another of my favorite cheap dinners. We generally eat this dish with corn (sometimes on the cob but more often than not from a can) and often with rolls or simple bread and butter (usually, margarine). This recipe calls for sour cream, cubed chicken breast, cream of chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. We substitute corn flakes for the Ritz crackers, and we add three-fourths to one cup of cheese to make this tasty dish even creamier. 🙂 You can find this Easy Creamy Sour Cream Chicken Casserole recipe here.

 

50. Chicken Fajitas

Chicken fajitas are another one of my favorite cheap dinners! You can find an easy chicken fajita recipe here.

 

51. Mom’s Beef Stew

My own mom’s beef stew, that is. 🙂 We make  this cheap dinner using a pound of hamburger, sliced potatoes and carrots, corn, onions, quick barley (optional), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup to make it thicker and creamier. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also use frozen mixed vegetables to make the prep for this meal even easier.

 

52. Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are another of our favorite cheap dinners. I like this simple Sloppy Joe recipe, but of course there are many, many variations.

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Check out these related articles:

5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
13 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

53. Meatball Sub Soup

You can find a simple recipe for Meatball Sub Soup here. You can slice French bread and dip it into the soup if you want to use a simpler substitute for baguettes (like we do).

 

54. Stovetop Chicken Pot Pie

I love homemade chicken pot pie (the baked kind)! And it is not hard to make, but it does take a little more effort than I want to give for dinner on most busy weeknights.  So this quicker version of this classic meal is awesome! You can find a simple Stovetop Chicken Pot Pie recipe here.

 

55. Parmesan Chicken with Rice

This is another great chicken and Parmesan (and chicken and rice) recipe. You can find a simple Parmesan chicken with rice recipe here.

56. Grilled Cheese (with lunch meat, if desired) Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese is another favorite cheap dinner; actually, it’s so simple you don’t even need a recipe. You simply need your favorite bread, cheese, butter or margarine (optional, to coat the bread and give it a more toasted color), and spinach (also optional, but it is yummy and makes this kid-friendly dish more nutritious). 🙂 Serve with tomato soup or cream of mushroom soup.

 

57. Quesadillas (traditional or lunch meat and cheese)

All you need for this easy dinner are flour tortilla shells, cheese (that you shred), ham or other favorite luncheon meat (optional), and spinach (also optional, but, like the grilled cheese sandwiches just above, it is yummy and makes this kid-friendly dish more nutritious).

 

58. Barbecue Chicken Tostadas

If you love barbecue chicken, then you will love this cheap dinner that you can make in 20 minutes or less. You can find a great recipe for Barbecue Chicken Tostadas here.

 

 

59. Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Chick alfredo pizza is another of my favorite cheap dinners. You can find a very easy chicken alfredo pizza recipe here. However, to help keep this meal to $5 or less, we generally make our own simple (but delicious) pizza dough and our own alfredo sauce. You can also omit the tomato if you have family members who don’t like them.

 

60. Hot Dogs, Brats, and Fries

The kids eat hot dogs, we eat brats, and we all love fries. At the local discount store where we do a lot of our grocery shopping we can often get brats for $1.50 or less a package, about half off the normal price. Even full price, my husband eats two brats and I eat one, so this meal is still well under $5 for our family of five.

Since I don’t like to have to keep hot dog buns on hand, we generally eat our brats and hot dogs with bread rather than buns. To me they taste just as good, and they are also cheaper that way! (We do the same thing with bread instead of hamburger buns, for the same reasons.) We cook our fries over the stove instead of frying them in oil to make this (not healthy but tasty!) dish a little bit healthier.

 

61. Lemon Pepper Chicken with Rice

Another of my family favorite cheap dinners is lemon pepper chicken. This is another easy dinner option that you can make in about 20 minutes. You can find a tasty lemon pepper chicken recipe here.

 

62. Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

This yummy soup is perfect for cool nights, and it can be on your dinner table in just 20 minutes ! You can find the recipe for Creamy Chicken and Mushroom soup here.

 

63. Egg Fried Rice

You can make this simple, cheap dinner in just 15 minutes, so it is perfect for those busy evenings after work and school. There are many variations, but I like this easy egg fried rice recipe.

 

64. Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole

This is another one of our family favorite cheap dinners. It is so creamy and good! Find this 30-minute cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole here. (If you need to cook the chicken, you can boil or saute it on the stove in about 15 or 20 minutes.)

 

65. Quick Bean and Rice Burritos

Of course I had to include a beans and rice recipe. 🙂 These burritos are tasty and filling and can be on your table in less than 30 minutes. You can find a simple Quick Bean and Rice recipe here.

 

66. Easy Beef Enchiladas

This is the way that my mother made enchiladas when I was growing up, and we love these simple beef enchiladas that you can make in about 30 minutes. Cook one pound of hamburger with half a large onion or one small onion in a large skillet. While the hamburger is browning, pour one-third of a can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

When the hamburger is browned, stir in a can of refried beans and a small can of tomato sauce. Add in taco seasoning (from a packet, or make your own!).

Then spoon the enchilada mixture evenly into eight large flour tortilla shells, and roll them up and lay them horizontally in the casserole dish. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the rolled tortillas, and cover with one cup of shredded cheese. Top with sliced olives if desired.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, or other favorite toppings.

Conclusion

These more than 65 quick, easy, and cheap dinners will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these cheap dinners are great for busy families!

 

What are your favorite quick and cheap dinners? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to dinner recipes that you just love?

Give these recipes a try and let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

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25 Cheap and Easy Ground Beef Recipes (Quick and Delish!)

cheap and easy ground beef recipes

Cheap and Easy Ground Beef Recipes

You and your family will love these ideas below for cheap and easy ground beef recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less! If you are looking for quick, easy, tasty, and cheap dinners, then this article is for you!

These quick, easy, and cheap ground beef recipes are perfect to get tasty food on the table fast to feed your hungry family!

 

Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for cheap and easy ground beef recipes later!

 

 

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Are you in a dinner rut? Do you want inspiration for quick and easy recipes you can make for your family on busy nights?

Then you need this cookbook! Find more than 125 recipes for delicious quick and cheap family meals you can prepare in 30 minutes or less for $5 or less!

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25 Cheap and Easy Ground Beef Dinners (Easy Ground Beef Recipes)

Below are  25 ideas for easy and cheap ground beef dinners you can make for your family in less than 30 minutes!

One of the easiest things you can do to save money on food is to eat at home and to keep things simple! Today’s families are busy, and keeping things easy will help you save both time and money! Your family will love these easy hamburger recipes!

Easy Ground Beef Dinners

Though the price of ground beef has gone up over the last few years, it is still one of the best values you can get on meat.

Here are 25 cheap ground beef recipes you can make in a hurry on busy evenings! 

 

1. Skillet Burritos

If you love burritos you will love this tasty dish! For this easy and cheap ground beef recipe, you will need a chopped onion, ground beef, diced tomatoes (fresh or from a can), kidney beans, tortillas, and cheese. Garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, avocado, green onions, olives, or other favorite toppings.

Ingredients
tablespoon oil
yellow onion , chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder , or to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste
2 cups diced tomatoes (you can also use a 14-ounce can diced tomatoes)
1 can (15-ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
4 flour tortillas, each cut into 6 triangle shaped wedges
1 cup shredded cheese

Additional Toppings
sour cream
avocado
chopped green onion

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onions and the salt, and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned. Drain.
3. Return to heat and season meat with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add tomatoes and kidney beans.
4. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 7 minutes.
5. Stir in tortilla wedges. Sprinkle with cheese, and remove from heat. Cover skillet and let stand for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
6. Add sour cream, avocado, and green onions, as desired.

 

2. Quick and Easy Taco Salad

You can’t go wrong with a tasty taco salad. In this quick and easy version, you need just hamburger (or substitute ground turkey or ground chicken), taco seasoning, lettuce, cheese, salsa, green onions, and tortilla chips (crumbled). Simple!

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 head of lettuce
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup salsa
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup crumbled baked corn tortilla chips (about 12 chips)

Directions
1. Cook the ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add taco seasoning, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
2. Divide lettuce, salsa, cheese, green onions, chips, and ground beef evenly among 4 dinner plates, and serve.

 

3. Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Love quesadillas but looking for a way to liven them up? Then you need to try this quick and easy ground beef recipe!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt and pepper
ketchup (to taste)
mustard (to taste)
8 tortillas
1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
additional toppings, if desired (chopped onions, chopped pickles, chopped bacon, and so on)

Directions

1. Add cooked ground beef to a bowl, and then add ketchup and mustard to taste (for example, 2 parts ketchup to 1 part mustard). The mixture should be more “saucy” than dry.

2. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat, and then spray with nonstick spray.

3. Place a tortilla onto the skillet, and then sprinkle on a thin layer of cheddar cheese followed by the ground beef mixture. Add desired toppings then sprinkle on another thin layer of cheese and place a tortilla on top.

4. Once the tortilla on the bottom has browned, flip, and then continue cooking until the second tortilla has browned. Remove quesadilla to a cutting board, and then let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

4. Hamburger Quesadillas

This recipe is a little like the cheeseburger quesadilla recipe above, but it is even simpler. All you need for this cheap ground beef recipe is hamburger, cheese, the tortillas, and your favorite seasoning!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt and pepper, season salt, or other seasonings you choose
8 tortillas
1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat, and then spray with nonstick spray.

2. Place a tortilla onto the skillet, and then sprinkle on a thin layer of cheddar cheese followed by the ground beef. Then sprinkle on another thin layer of cheese, and place a tortilla on top.

4. Once the tortilla on the bottom has browned, flip the quesadilla, and then continue cooking until the second tortilla has browned. Remove quesadilla to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. 

 

 5. Easy Taco Bake

This easy taco bake recipe is another quick and simple comfort food that we love making in our family.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
1 large bag tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Cheddar
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions
1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain the fat.
3. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, sour cream, and water to the skillet and stir until combined. Let the mixture thicken for 5 minutes.
4. In a casserole dish, place a layer of tortilla chips, ground beef mixture, and cheeses. Repeat layers until ground beef mixture is used up.
5. Bake until cheese is melted and tortilla chips are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

6. Quick Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is another of my personal favorite cheap dinner ideas. This particular recipe has a bit of a fun twist with the addition of ketchup and cream cheese to make it extra creamy. Other ingredients include the egg noodles (or substitute whatever noodles you have on hand), sliced mushrooms (optional), butter and minced garlic, a little flour, milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Another awesome comfort food!

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 chopped medium onion
sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked egg or elbow noodles or cooked rice

Directions
1. Saute chopped onion and mushrooms on medium heat until onions are translucent. Add hamburger to frying pan, and cook hamburger until browned. Drain.
2. Add the cream of mushroom soup, milk, and sour cream. Stir. Heat to a boil, stirring regularly. Add salt and pepper.
3. Serve stroganoff over cooked noodles, rice, or bake or mashed potatoes.

7. Skillet Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

Another of my own favorite tasty and cheap recipe ideas is cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. For this simple from-scratch recipe you need macaroni (or other pasta noodles, though larger noodles may take a few more minutes to cook), oil, ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, milk, cheese, sugar (or you can omit it), and salt and pepper to taste. Put it all together, and you have a tasty twist on good ol’ mac and cheese that is ready in just 30 minutes or less.

Ingredients
1 pound macaroni
1 teaspoon oil (or as needed depending on the leanness of your beef)
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
15 ounces tomato sauce
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese , depending on your preferred cheesiness
minced parsley for topping , optional

Directions
1. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, and then drain and set aside.
2. Heat large skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil, and then add beef. Break up beef and cook until nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes. Then add onions and garlic and cook until onions and garlic are softened, about 2 minutes. Drain any excess fat as needed.
3. Add tomato sauce, milk, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring beef to a low simmer for about 3 minutes for all the flavors to combine. Taste the beef sauce, and add any additional seasonings if needed.
4. Add the pasta to the pot, and then add the cheese a little at a time until everything combines and cheese melts. Top with additional cheese and minced parsley, if desired. Serve warm.

 

8. Best Chili Mac

This cheap hamburger recipe is such an easy comfort food to make! All you need are macaroni noodles, half a pound of ground beef, tomato soup, mozzarella cheese (or substitute whatever cheese you have on hand), and seasonings! And then you can have this easy chili mac and cheese dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less!

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked macaroni
1/2 pound hamburger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Directions
1. Cook macaroni, about 7 to 9 minutes.
2. Brown meat in large saucepan, and drain fat.
3. Add garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and cook on medium about 5 minutes.
4. Add cooked macaroni and tomato soup. Heat thoroughly. Just before serving, add the grated cheese. 5. Cover and heat until cheese melts.

 

9. One-Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

With melty cheese (two kinds!), hamburger, and bacon all in one yummy dish, this is a yummy combination! The ketchup and Worcestershire sauce give it a tasty kick, too!

Ingredients

8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta
1 pound ground beef
6 bacon strips, cooked and cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions
1. Cook the bacon. Drain it on paper towels, and cut it or tear it into small pieces and set aside.
2. Cook your macaroni according to directions on the package, and then drain.
3. While the macaroni is cooking, brown the beef in a large skillet until fully cooked. If after cooking the beef has a lot of grease left, you can pour some of it off.
4. Pour the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup into a small bowl, and mix well to combine. 5. Place cornstarch in a separate small bowl, and add a tablespoon or two of the broth mixture. Stir until combined, and then add that mixture to the rest of the broth mixture. (Doing it this way will keep the cornstarch from clumping together.)
6. Add the cooked pasta and the beef broth mixture to the skillet, and stir well to combine the beef, pasta, bacon, and sauce.
7. Cook on medium heat until the sauce bubbles and thickens. If you feel it is too thick, you can thin it out with a little more beef broth.

10. Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you love sweet and sour dishes, you will love this easy from scratch recipe for sweet and sour meatballs! This recipe calls for hamburger, an egg, onion, bread crumbs, cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and salt and pepper. And it is ready so fast; have dinner on the table in just 20 minutes!

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
1 cup dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

 

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine hamburger, egg, onion, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Roll into meatballs about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the meatballs until browned on all sides.
3. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the water, vinegar, ketchup, cornstarch, sugar, and soy sauce. Pour over the meatballs, and allow sauce to thicken. Continue to heat until the sauce just starts to bubble.
4. Serve with rice and your favorite steamed vegetables.

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11.  Classic Beef and Bean Burritos

These easy beef and bean burritos have just a handful of ingredients (plus add any other toppings you love, such as salsa). All you need are ground beef, refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, and taco seasoning mix. Such an easy and cheap ground beef dinner idea!

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef, browned
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 package (1 oz)  taco seasoning mix
8 8-inch flour tortillas
Additional toppings as desired, such as salsa, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper or foil (or spray with nonstick cooking spray); set aside.
2. In medium bowl, mix the cooked ground beef, beans, cheese, and taco seasoning mix.
3. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the beef and bean mixture onto each tortilla, just below the center. Fold the bottom edge of each tortilla up and over the filling. Fold sides in, overlapping to enclose filling. Roll up from the bottom of the tortilla.
4. Place the burritos seam-side down on the cookie sheet.
5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with additional toppings listed above, as desired.

12. Beef and Cheese Goulash

This is another cheap, easy, and tasty dish, and it feeds a lot of people! We like an easy recipe like the one below (I omit the bay leaves if I don’t have any on hand). You can half the recipe if you are feeding your family of just four or five. (Or make the full recipe so you can have leftovers. I love leftovers! :))

Ingredient
2 onions, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar pasta sauce, approx. 26 oz. (or substitute 3 small cans [8 oz. each] of tomato sauce)
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can 6 oz tomato paste (or substitute tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
3 cups water
1 green bell pepper (optional)
salt and  black pepper to taste
2 cups macaroni noodles, uncooked
1 cup cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.

2. Add pasta or tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, seasonings, bay leaves, and green pepper. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

3. Add in the macaroni, and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove and discard bay leaves. Top with cheese, and replace the lid. Let sit about 5 minutes or until melted.

13. Beef Tacos

Traditional beef tacos are even cheaper if you make them using your own homemade tortilla shells. You can find a simple, tasty recipe for tortillas here (you can skip the rest time if you want dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes :)). 

Our favorite taco fillers are ground beef tomatoes, lettuce (or spinach), refried beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa,

 

 

14. Taco soup with tortilla chips

This is one of our favorite easy and cheap ground beef dinner recipes, especially during the colder months.

 

Ingredients

`1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 to 2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can chili beans (or other beans you like) 
1 to 2 cans of corn

 

Directions

To  make this meal, simply brown the pound of hamburger, drain it, and add taco seasoning. Then add a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of chili beans (or other beans), and a can or two of corn. (Do not drain any of the cans before you add them to the pot.) Easy!

 

 

15. Homemade Beef Chili

Homemade chili is another cheap and easy ground beef recipe that your family will love. It is great during the winter on cold days, or make it in the Instant Pot for a delicious meal any time of the year. We love to eat chili with cornbread or tortilla chips.

 

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef (or substitute turkey)
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of chili with beans

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cook ground beef over medium high heat until meat is no longer pink.
  2. Add chopped white or yellow onion and the cloves of minced garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. If there is not enough grease from the meat and the mixture is too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pan while the veggies are cooking.
  3. Add the can of diced tomatoes and the cans of chili with beans, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with cheese, if desired.

 

16. Tater Tot Casserole

Tater tot casserole was one of our regular staples when I was growing up. But I think that this recipe is even better than the one we ate growing up (shhh; don’t tell Mom!) because it has yummy, melty cheese, and Mom’s didn’t. 🙂 

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 pinch salt
pepper, to taste
1 small can condense cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheese
1 can corn or 1/2 package frozen mixed vegetables (or both)
1 16 oz. package frozen tater tots

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until completely browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir cream of mushroom soup and corn or vegetables into the cooked ground beef; pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Layer tater tots evenly over the ground beef mixture, and top with cheddar cheese.
3. Bake until tater tots are golden brown and hot, about 30 to 45 minutes.

17. Stuffed Green Peppers

For another fun vegetable-themed dish, try these stuffed green peppers. To make, you need four large green peppers, tomato sauce, ground beef, chopped onion, a cup of cooked brown or white rice, and some seasonings. Easy!

Ingredients
4 large green bell peppers (or about 5 small ones
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 pound ground beef 
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup cooked rice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions
1. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds. Place the peppers in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook 3 minutes, just until the peppers are slightly soft. Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside on paper towels to drain.
2. In a large skillet, heat the ground beef and onion, and cook until no pink remains. Drain.
3. Add the salt, pepper, rice, garlic powder and half of the tomato sauce to the skillet.
4. Stir well, and spoon into the peppers.
5. Top with the other half of the tomato sauce.
6. Bake in an ungreased dish at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

18. Spaghetti with Green Salad and Garlic Bread

Spaghetti is one of our favorite quick and easy go-to meals! We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. For the sauce we use a pound of ground beef, a can of tomato sauce with maybe half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have made our own, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. Sometimes we include mushrooms (fresh or canned) and peppers (most often green peppers, since they are the least expensive), as well.

First brown the hamburger. Add the green pepper if you are going to use it; you could also add chopped onion at this point, too. Then add the tomato sauce and the water. Add the spaghetti seasoning, and stir. Then add the can of cream of mushroom soup, and stir it in. Add the mushrooms at this point, if you are going to include them. Serve over warm noodles.

 

19. More Better Mac and Cheese

This is my family’s favorite way to eat good old macaroni and cheese from a box. To traditional macaroni and cheese we add broccoli and carrots and often either browed hamburger, cut up polish dogs or hot dogs, chicken, or another meat. We also sometimes add onions and green or other colored peppers. We sometimes add ranch to shake things up a little, and I like to add salsa to mine after it is cooked but before eating it to get even more vegetables. Yum!

 

20. Ramen noodles with ground beef and vegetables

I know that ramen noodles are not really healthy, but they are super cheap and they are super easy. We make eating them healthier by adding some of our favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers.

To make ramen noodles with ground beef and vegetables, brown the ground beef first. At the same time, cook the vegetables, drain off some of the water if needed, and then add the ground beef and the noodles and cook just a few minutes more until the noodles are soft. Add the seasoning packet (or omit), and stir to combine.

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21. Noodles, Rice, or Mashed Potatoes with Beef Stroganoff

We generally eat this dish with corn (sometimes on the cob but more often than not from a can) and often with rolls or simple bread and butter (margarine). Of course you can find tons of hamburger gravy and stroganoff recipes online. You can omit the fresh mushrooms if you don’t have any on hand, or substitute canned mushrooms.

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (or substitute canned)
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup sour cream
1 small can cream of mushroom soup
1 to 2 cups milk (depending on desired thickness)

Directions

1. Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic  in a pan until no pink remains. Drain fat.
2. Add sliced mushrooms, and cook 2-3 minutes.
3. Add milk and cream of mushroom soup. Add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
4. Stir in sour cream.
5. Serve over noodles, rice, or mashed (or baked) potatoes.

22. Mom’s Beef Stew

My own mom’s beef stew, that is. 🙂 We make  this cheap ground beef dinner in a big pot using a pound of hamburger, chopped potatoes and carrots, corn, chopped onions, quick barley (optional), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup to make it thicker and creamier. Add enough water to cover all ingredients in the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also use frozen mixed vegetables to make the prep for this meal even easier.

Cook the soup until ground beef is browned through and vegetables are tender.

 

23. Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are another of our favorite cheap and easy ground beef meals.

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 hamburger buns, split

Directions

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve on buns.

24. Meatball Sub Soup

Meatball sub soup is another quick and easy dish. You can slice French bread and dip it into the soup if you want to use a simpler substitute for baguettes (like we do).

 For the Meatballs

 1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

salt
pepper

For the Soup

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

3 cup beef broth

1 cup milk

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt

pepper
baguette or French or Italian bread

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley,  and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roll into meatballs, and transfer to one prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake until browned and cooked through, 15 minutes
  4. Heat broiler.
  5. For the soup, in a large pot over medium high heat, heat oil. Add onion, and cook until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, and stir until combined. Then add tomatoes, beef broth, and milk, and stir until combined.
  6. Add meatballs and bring to a simmer, and then add half the mozzarella and all the Parmesan cheese. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper.
  7. Ladle soup into four oven-safe ramekins or similar bowls, and top with a baguette slice. Top with remaining mozzarella, and broil until browned and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.

 

25. Easy Beef Enchiladas

This is the way that my mother made enchiladas when I was growing up, and we love these simple beef enchiladas that you can make in about 30 minutes.

 

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion
1 small can tomato sauce
8 large tortilla shells
1 cup shredded cheese
1 can sliced olives (optional)

Directions

1. Cook one pound of hamburger with half a large onion or one small onion in a large skillet. While the hamburger is browning, pour one-third of a can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish.

2. When the hamburger is browned, stir in a can of refried beans and a small can of tomato sauce. Add in taco seasoning (from a packet, or make your own!).

3. Then spoon the enchilada mixture evenly into eight large flour tortilla shells, and roll them up and lay them horizontally in the casserole dish. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the rolled tortillas, and cover with one cup of shredded cheese. Top with sliced olives if desired.

4. Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, or other favorite toppings.

Conclusion

These 25 quick, cheap, and easy ground beef recipes will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these easy ground beef dinners are great for busy families!

 

What are your favorite quick and cheap ground beef dinner recipes? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to ground beef dinner recipes that you just love?

Give these recipes a try and let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

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