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The BEST Cheapest Food: 57 Cheapest Groceries List for When You Are on a Tight Budget

cheapest groceries list

Cheapest Groceries List to Buy the Cheapest Foods

This cheapest groceries list is perfect for when you are on a tight budget or when you are broke. With this list of 31 of the cheapest groceries you can buy, you will be able to stretch your grocery budget to help make ends meet and make sure you have food on the table for your family.

When you need to stretch your budget, shopping for the cheapest foods can really help you to survive financially until things get better!

I should include the caveat that these are some of the best foods to save you money on your groceries, but they are not all the healthiest of options. For a list of the best healthy cheap foods to eat, check out this article with the best cheap and healthy foods to save you money on your grocery budget!


**Note:
See the end of the article for ideas on super cheap meals you can make with these cheap foods so you can eat for as little as $1 per day!

Be sure to also download the Cheapest Groceries List Cheat Sheet at the end of this article so you will have this list of cheapest groceries at your fingertips!**

 

Tip: Pin the image above so that you can easily find this article about cheapest food to include on a cheapest groceries list to refer to it later!

 

 

Make Your Cheapest Groceries List Even Cheaper!

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries so that you can buy food cheap and prepare inexpensive 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 Buying the Cheapest Groceries and Cheapest Foods

When you are broke or need to save money fast, buying the cheapest groceries that you can to get by for a time can be 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, paying for a large and necessary purchase, saving for something important, and so on). Buying the cheapest foods can help you to stay afloat and keep you from slipping farther and farther into debt!

For another great way to save money on your food budget, see this article for more than 100 cheap recipes that you can make for $5 or less in 30 minutes or less. Your family will love these cheap, easy, quick, tasty kid-friendly meals!

 

Why Buy the Cheapest Groceries or Cheapest Food?

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 the cheapest groceries and cheapest food that you can 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 the cheapest groceries that you can as part of a money-saving challenge.

Find more  ideas to slash your grocery budget spending here.

Cheapest Groceries List So You Can Buy the Cheapest Foods

In this cheapest groceries list below I include many of my own favorite cheapest foods and least-expensive grocery items.

If you are a Dave Ramsey fan, you know that he talks about going on a beans and rice diet when you are trying to get out of debt and get control of your money. And that is because you really can save a ton of money on groceries if you choose to or have to.

Here are some of the cheapest groceries you can buy.

 

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the cheapest foods you can buy for your pantry, and it is also very good for your heart. You can make oatmeal the traditional way over the stove or in the microwave, or you can make overnight oatmeal or these super easy 2-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies. Another thing I like to do that is even easier than the two-ingredient cookies are to simply mash up a banana with one-half to one cup of oatmeal for a filling, tasty, nutritious, low-calorie breakfast.

 

2. Cream of wheat

This is another one of our family favorite staples for breakfast. It is not quite as cheap as oatmeal, but it is still very inexpensive if you buy it in the box. You can flavor it with a little white or brown sugar (or even an artificial, calorie-free sweetener of choice), or my personal favorite (not healthy at all, but so delicious! and also not super cheap) is to add some sweetened condensed milk. Yum!

 

3. Eggs

Another staple on the cheapest groceries list is eggs. At a price (where we live) of only about 10 cents per egg, you can have a hearty breakfast (or whatever meal) of eggs and toast for well under $1 per serving. And eggs are so versatile!

 

4. Bread

Bread can make a very inexpensive breakfast item when you make toast, but of course bread is a staple of an inexpensive lunch, as well, with the many kinds of sandwiches you can make.

Obviously, you can spend quite a bit of money on expensive artisan and craft breads, but your basic store-brand breads are one of the items where you can get the most bang for your buck. The 100% whole wheat loaves are more expensive than white bread or just partial-wheat, but it is still quite cheap at just around $1.50 to $2 a loaf (in our area) for the less-expensive brands.

When you are needing to buy the cheapest groceries you can, then skip buying buns, and just use bread for hamburgers and hot dogs and similar things. We regularly use bread in place of buns for these things just because I don’t like to have to keep buns on hand because sometimes they go bad before we can use them all up.

 

5. Cereal

If you love breakfast cereal (like I do!), then when you are broke or on a tight budget stick to the varieties that you can buy for about 10 cents an ounce or less. (In your area they may be more expensive than that, but they would be the ones comparable in price to raisin bran, which is about the least expensive—but also one of the tastiest, in my opinion! :)—cereal you can buy unless others are on sale.

 

6. Bananas

Probably because they are readily available all year round, bananas are one of the cheapest groceries you can buy, so they should be on your go-to list when you are trying to save money on groceries. And they are just delicious, in any case. 🙂

7. Apples

For what you get, apples may be the overall cheapest fruit in many grocery stores, if you choose the least expensive varieties such as red delicious and Gala. But even yellow delicious, Granny Smith, and some of the others are not too expensive, either.

8. Beans

Beans may be the overall cheapest food staple there is. Especially if you buy them in a large bag and soak and prepare them yourself, you pay just a few pennies per ounce. Dry beans do take time to prepare, but if you soak them overnight and then prepare them in a slow cooker, they really don’t take much effort at all.

And of course there are tons of different kinds of beans. Pinto, black beans, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, chili beans—we like them all at our house.

Even if you buy canned beans, you can still make a lot of inexpensive meals, such as taco soup or even meatless taco soup, to make the dish even cheaper. And use canned chili beans to stretch your can of chili and make it a cheaper meal.

9. Lentils

You can also buy lentils for very cheap, and they are another great protein option when money is tight. There are lots of recipes for lentil soups and other dishes with lentils, such as veggie lentil stir fry.

10. Rice

Rice is another dish amply suited for a cheapest groceries list. White rice isn’t the healthiest option and it also isn’t super filling, but it is cheap and fairly versatile. Brown rice is healthier and not much more expensive.

You can make a simple breakfast rice for a cheap option for that meal, and of course there are tons of cheap dishes that you can prepare with rice for dinner meals.

11. Pasta

Basic pasta is another cheap groceries list item. You can use it in simple and relatively inexpensive main dishes such as spaghetti (especially if you make meatless spaghetti), homemade mac and cheese, broccoli alfredo, pasta carbonara, and so on.

 

 

Related articles:
42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
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31 Budget-Friendly Cheap and Easy Dinner Recipes
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
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12. Potatoes

Regular russet potatoes are fairly healthy, and they are also super cheap. (Make sure to eat the skins to get the most nutritional value!) At our local grocery store we can often buy them for a dollar for a 10-pound bag.

You can cook several up in the microwave in about 15 to 20 minutes for a quick and very cheap meal. I like to make them a little healthier by topping them with salsa (or salsa mixed with a little bit of ranch) instead of sour cream, ranch, cheese, and other more expensive and more caloric options.

You can also slice up potatoes and season them and fry them up, or make homemade fries or hash browns. A simple creamy potato soup is another super cheap meal option. And of course mashed potatoes are cheap (and delicious :)).

13. Sweet potatoes

Personally, I really like making sweet potatoes as a healthier alternative to baked potatoes. Because they are so naturally sweet, I don’t even think you have to top them with anything. But if you choose to, you can add a little cinnamon and sugar for an even sweeter treat.

 

 

14. Carrots

Your list of less expensive groceries to buy and keep on hand should include carrots. The cheapest way to buy carrots generally is full sized, in bulk, but if you find baby carrots for a good price, then they are a great option, as well.

 

15. Canned tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes can fluctuate in price pretty wildly throughout the year, so for meals where it makes sense to use them, canned tomatoes can sometimes be a less-expensive alternative.

16. Squash

In the fall when it is in season, you can sometimes buy squash at amazing prices! (If you have neighbors who grow them and give them to you, then that’s an even better deal!)

17. Zucchini

Similar to squash, you can sometimes get amazing deals on zucchini during the fall when it is in season.

 

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18. Onions

Onions are another vegetable that you can get for a pretty good price most of the time. And because of the awesome way that it enhances the flavor of many dishes, it is a great staple to keep on hand all the time.

 

19. Broccoli

You can also generally get broccoli for a pretty good price. Often the crowns are more expensive, but occasionally they are the better deal because you are not paying for the stalk. (However, we slice up the stalk and include it in some of our dishes. If you can do that, then that makes the whole broccoli heads even more affordable.)

 

20. Salsa

Salsa is particularly helpful if you are getting low on fresh produce before your next scheduled trip to the grocery store. It is a great item to keep on hand all of the time because it lasts longer (once opened) than most fresh vegetables, too.

 

21. Chicken

When money is tight or when you just want to be able to buy the most economical foods, chicken is definitely your friend. Much of the meat that we buy is chicken because it is generally less expensive than beef and pork and other kinds of meat. We can also get skinless, boneless chicken breasts for a $1 a pound, and so I tend to stock up when that happens until the next time they go on sale. Occasionally we can even get ground chicken for a great price, and it is excellent for dishes like tacos and enchiladas in place of ground beef.

Chicken thighs are generally less expensive than breasts, so if you want chicken and cannot get breasts at a great price, consider getting the thighs. Some people don’t like the thighs as much, but personally, for flavorful dishes, I actually like the thighs better sometimes because I feel they can be more moist and tender than the breasts. And if you don’t mind the extra work, buying the whole chicken can be a great way to purchase chicken on the cheap.

 

22. Ground turkey

Sometimes ground turkey is on sale for a better price than ground beef, and since it is also a healthier option than ground beef, when it is, we will sometimes buy several pounds of it and freeze it to use in various dishes where we would normally use ground beef.

 

23. Green salad

You will usually get a better price if you buy the ingredients for an inexpensive salad yourself rather than buying premade salads. However, sometimes the premade salads are on sale for a great price. We generally keep our salads pretty economical by making them ourselves using spinach or romaine lettuce, tomatoes, sliced or chopped carrots, cauliflower (if it can be bought for a good price), and broccoli.

 

24. Spinach

Spinach isn’t generally the cheapest vegetable you can buy, but it is a great way to (relatively) inexpensively increase the nutritional value of other inexpensive dishes such as egg omelets, meat sandwiches, salads, stir fry dishes, pasta dishes, quesadillas, and more.

 

25. Peppers

Green peppers are another good option if you are making a cheapest groceries list—when they are in season, that is. When they are not in season, look at lettuce, cabbage, and the other vegetables included in this list for cheaper options.

26. Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables can be an economical option, as well, particularly when other favorite vegetables are not in season. And despite what you may have heard, from what I have read, vegetables lose little if any nutritional value when frozen. Frozen vegetables are great in casseroles, soups and stews, omelets, and more. To know when frozen vegetables are a better deal, do a rough comparison of serving sizes.

27. Kale

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around, so it really is a great value. It is packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium, At our local grocery store you can find it for around $1 to $1.50 per bunch.

28. Garlic

Garlic is an awesome flavor enhancer that also has healthful vitamins and minerals. At 50 cents or less per bulb, it is not the cheapest vegetable around, but because it is so packed with flavor, a little goes a long way. 🙂

In addition to having various vitamins and minerals (vitamins B and C, manganese, iron, copper, and potassium, for example), garlic may also be able to help fight the common cold and other illnesses and also help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

29. Canned pumpkin

Pumpkin doesn’t have to be reserved just for the fall. 🙂 You can buy canned pumpkin year round to enjoy in soups, muffins, and curries. The antioxidants in pumpkin make it a healthy choice,  and at less than a dollar for the 15-ounce can, it’s another good choice for a cheap, healthy food.

Pumpkin is another good source of potassium and beta carotene (which turns into vitamin A). It also has calcium as well as vitamins C and E and some B vitamins, too.

 

30. Peanut butter

When looking for the cheapest groceries you can buy, peanut butter is a good value because it is high in protein. Especially if you just stick to regular peanut butter and not the sugar free kind (even though I admit not having the extra sugar is a healthier option), you can make a ton of sandwiches from one large jar of peanut butter!

In the 40 ounce jar (typically the largest standard size, at least at the stores where I shop, that is about 80 tablespoons of peanut butter, and if you eat the standard serving size suggested, that is 40 sandwiches that you can make from a jar that costs (in our area) about $4 or less.

So for about 10 cents for the peanut butter and another 10 cents for the two slices of bread (if you get the cheap bread) and another 15 cents or so per serving for the inexpensive jelly or jam, you are spending well under 50 cents for a PB&J sandwich. Eat an inexpensive apple with it, and you have a light lunch for well under a buck.

 

31. Tuna fish

Tuna has definitely gotten more expensive over the last 10 or 15 years, but it is still more economical than most meats. Tuna salad sandwiches are more expensive than PB&J sandwiches, for sure, but a simple tuna salad sandwich of tuna and mayo is generally a little less expensive than a simple homemade ham (luncheon meat) and cheese sandwich.

 

Related articles:

42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
11 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
31 Budget-Friendly Cheap and Easy Dinner Recipes
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 Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!

 

 

Even More Cheap Groceries

In addition to the list above of the cheapest groceries to buy, here are even more cheap foods you can buy when money is tight. 

These items are not quite as inexpensive as the items listed above, but they are still some of the cheapest groceries you can get.

32. Oranges

Oranges are another great fruit when you are wanting to eat the cheapest foods you can buy when broke. They are somewhat seasonal, so you will pay more for them in the winter generally than you do in the summer, but the prices year round are pretty good. And these awesome little fruits are packed with vitamin C as well as fiber and potassium. If you love orange juice, save money by making your own, fresh squeezed! (And you will avoid the extra sugar and other additives that way, as well!)

 

33. Cantaloupe

Though not as cheap as the fruits listed above, cantaloupe is still a good choice when you are looking for cheap foods to eat when broke. It is a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. Cantaloupe is awesome to cut up for a simple fruit salad, or chop it up and eat it plain or with your favorite low-fat or nonfat yogurt.

 

34. Kiwi

This sweet, delicious fruit is another budget-friendly option—particularly during the summer months when they are in season. At our local grocery store we can usually get three or four for a dollar during the summer. Kiwis have tons of vitamin C and fiber, and they are great alone or sliced up in a fruit salad.

 

35. Watermelon

You can find watermelon for a great price—when they are in season! When they are not, stick to fruits that are so that you don’t spend an arm and a leg on them. Check local fruit stands and farmers’ markers to find great deals during the summer. This powerful fruit is a great source of vitamin C and is delicious in fruit salads or all on its own.

 

36. Grapes

Grapes are another one of the cheapest fruits available. When they are in season during the summer months, they can be a steal of a deal on sale. They are great in fruit salads, straight off the vine, or frozen as a sweet, healthy treat! We also love them in chicken pasta salad and chicken salad sandwiches.

 

37. Frozen berries

When your favorite berries are not in season (and honestly, even sometimes when they are), you will get more bang for your buck by buying them frozen. Especially if you get mixed frozen fruit with strawberries, you will spend less per serving than you will on berries bought out of season.

And frozen berries lose little if any nutritional value, so they are a great option when you are looking to buy cheap, healthy foods when broke.

 

38. Cabbage

Cabbage is quite inexpensive; in our area, you can buy it for less than 80 cents a pound, so it is another great choice when you are looking for the cheapest healthy foods. It is a good source of vitamins B, C, and K. Chop it up for an inexpensive addition to your favorite green salad!

 

 

39. Garden vegetables

Another way to have a cheap grocery bill is to grow your own produce from seeds (the cheapest way) or even from plants.

You don’t have to have a super green thumb to be able to grow some pretty great produce. We have gotten more into gardening in the last few years, and it is amazing the amount of produce you can get from some plants. Especially if you get the ones that keep producing throughout the season, this can be a great return on your money.

 

40. Milk

Milk is definitely one of the cheapest dairy products, and overall foods, that you can buy when you are broke.

Milk is of course great to drink on its own, but you can also use it to make many inexpensive meals like waffles or pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, cereal and milk, mashed potatoes with white gravy, and much more!

 

41. Yogurt

Yogurt is another relatively inexpensive dairy product that is a great cheap food to buy when you are broke. To get the most bang for your buck, buy yogurt in the larger containers, and then just measure out the amount that you want to eat at a particular time. (This is what we do in my family.)

Of course, as with most food buying, purchasing the generic or store brand varieties will pretty much always save you money over the name-brand options.

 

42. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is also a relatively inexpensive dairy product that is a great cheap food to buy when you are broke. Same as with yogurt, to get the most bang for your buck, buy cottage cheese in the larger containers, and then just measure out the amount that you want to eat at a particular time.

 

43. Cheese

Of course, you can spend a ton of money on cheese if you want to buy the fancy stuff! But cheese can be a relatively cheap food if you stick with the more familiar types of cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack.

To stretch your food buying dollar, you can always use a little less cheese than is called for in a particular recipe. So, for example, if a recipe calls for two cups of cheese, spread the cheese out thinner, and just use one.

Another great way to save money on cheese is to not buy string cheese, presliced cheese, and other types of convenience cheeses. For your kids, instead of buying the packages of cheese with individual things of string cheese, cut long strips of cheese for them yourself. We did this a lot when our kids were toddlers as a finger food, and it worked great.

 

44. Canned refried beans

Though definitely not as cheap as making refried beans from scratch, canned refried beans are still a cheap, fairly healthy food. Go for low sodium, unsaturated fat options.

Refried beans are a good vegetarian source of  protein and a good source of various vitamins and antioxidants.

 

45. Edamame (soybeans)

 Edamame is a great source of fiber and protein, and they are a great snack as well as a power-packed side dish. Frozen edamame is great steamed with a little salt.

 

46. Corn

Corn is another grain that you can buy very cheaply. It is a great side dish all on its own, and it is a great addition to soup, stews, and some casseroles.

 

47. Quinoa

Though not as cheap as other less-expensive grains, quinoa is great for you and is fairly inexpensive considering its nutritional value. It is high in both fiber and protein and contain various essential amino acids. Quinoa is a great side dish or add-on for main dishes to give them an extra protein punch.

 

48. Flour

Flour is one of the very cheapest grocery items you can buy. Even if you buy whole wheat flour, you can still buy it very cheaply. 

If you want to save even more money, you can buy a hand wheat grinder, and you can make your own flour for pennies.

 

49. Sugar

You can also buy sugar pretty inexpensively. It is more expensive than flour, but it is still one of the cheapest groceries to buy. And when you buy your own ingredients like flour and sugar, you can cook and bake very cheaply.

 

50. Popcorn

Popcorn that you pop yourself is super cheap and also good for you! To make your own microwave popcorn, simply put it in a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over twice to seal it, and microwave for about two minutes (or until you hear a couple of seconds between kernels popping). Then carefully take out the hot bag, and simply add your favorite toppings like a little Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, brown sugar, or even taco seasoning!

No paper bag? No problem! Just put the popcorn kernels in a large microwave-safe bowl (such as a glass bowl) and put a glass plate over the top. Voila!

 

51. Pork

Pork is another good option when you are looking for cheap healthy foods because it is a relatively inexpensive source of fairly low-fat protein. At our local grocer you can buy a pound of pork regularly for between $2.50 and $4 a pound, depending on the cut.

52. Ground beef 

 Though not as good for you as chicken or ground turkey, lean ground beef is not a bad option. And it is less expensive than many of the other types of meat of similar nutritional value. Of course, the leaner it is, the more expensive it generally is, so we usually wait to buy ground beef until it is on sale and then stock up and fill our freezer so that we can wait until the next time that it goes on sale.

  

53. Peanuts

Peanuts can be a pretty cost effective and fairly healthy food, particularly when you buy then unsalted in the shell. Peanuts are a good source of healthy fats that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

54. Seasonings

Seasonings can be a great way to enhance the flavor of cheap foods. Though some spices can be pretty expensive (or even really expensive), you can get lots of great-tasting seasonings for pretty cheap, like onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper of course, parsley, oregano, chili powder, and so on.

55. Hot dogs

I know that the cheap hot dogs aren’t necessarily super healthy, but this is an article about the cheapest groceries, not the most healthy ones. 🙂 And hot dogs are an inexpensive option when money is short. You can put a hot dog on a slice of bread with a little ketchup for less than 20 cents (with the prices in my area, anyway).

56. Macaroni and cheese

This is another cheap option. Even though mac and cheese has also gotten more expensive in recent years (which is true for many foods), you can still make a box of mac and cheese (the inexpensive, store-brand kind) for less than 50 cents where I live.

In our house we like to make what we call “more better mac and cheese,” where we add vegetables like broccoli, carrots, onions, and green peppers, as well as sometimes polish sausage or even hot dogs or hamburger. I also like to top mine with salsa to add even more vegetable goodness.

 

57. Ramen noodles

This one has little nutritional value, I know, but it’s about as cheap a meal choice as you can get. We add vegetables and chicken to make this not so healthy choice healthier (and tastier!).

 

Read on a little further below to get a list of ideas of cheap meals that you can make with these cheap foods!

  

Summary of the Cheapest Food to Buy When Money Is Tight

In case it is helpful, I also want to include a streamlined list of these 57 cheapest foods to include on a cheapest groceries list. And if you want this list as a handy printable, be sure to grab the cheat sheet offered below!

And keep reading, because in the next section I am going to talk about some of the cheap and easy meals that you can make with this list of cheapest groceries!

Here is a condensed list of the 31 cheapest foods discussed in this article:

1. Oatmeal
2. Cream of wheat
3. Eggs
4. Bread
5. Cereal
6. Bananas
7. Apples
8. Beans
9. Lentils
10. Rice
11. Pasta
12. Potatoes
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Carrots
15. Canned tomatoes
16. Squash
17. Zucchini
18. Onions
19. Broccoli
20. Salsa
21. Chicken
22. Ground turkey
23. Green salad
24. Spinach
25. Peppers
26. Frozen vegetables
27. Kale
28. Garlic
29. Canned pumpkin
30. Peanut butter
31. Tuna fish
32. Oranges
33. Cantaloupe
34. Kiwi
35. Watermelon
36. Grapes
37. Frozen berries
38. Cabbage
39. Garden vegetables
40. Milk
41. Yogurt
42. Cottage cheese
43. Cheese
44. Canned refried beans
45. Edamame (soybeans)
46. Corn
47. Quinoa
48. Flour
49. Sugar
50. Popcorn
51. Pork
52. Ground beef
53. Peanuts
54. Seasonings
55. Hot dogs
56. Macaroni and cheese
57. Ramen noodles

 

Examples of meals that you can make with these cheapest foods are discussed just below!

 

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Examples of Meals You Can Make with the Cheapest Foods from a Cheapest Groceries List

Below you will find examples of simple meals or meal plans you can make with the cheapest groceries items listed above. These ideas are perfect for when you really have to (or want to!) make your money stretch because you are broke, waiting for your next paycheck, or saving money diligently for an important financial goal.

With these cheap and easy ideas below, you can eat for as little as a dollar a day!

Cheapest Groceries Breakfast Ideas

Toast with peanut butter or toast with jam or butter (or the cheaper margarine)
Toast with peanut butter and bananas
Oatmeal
Oats with mashed banana (I know it may sound a little odd, but I love this one!)
Oatmeal and banana cookies
Cereal (with or without milk; cereal you can get for 10 cents an ounce or less will give you the most bang for your buck)
Cream of wheat
Scrambled eggs with salsa
Egg omelet with spinach
Fried eggs with toast
Waffles or pancakes (make them from scratch; sprinkle with a little powdered sugar or regular sugar in place of syrup to save money and calories)

Cheapest Groceries Lunch Ideas

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with an apple
Tuna fish (with pickle) sandwiches with chopped carrots or baby carrots
Ramen noodles with chopped vegetables
Egg salad sandwiches
Bologna sandwiches
Lunch meat and cheese sandwich with an apple
Green salad with dressing (add a hard-boiled egg or a little chicken or beans for protein)
Baked potato with ranch or salsa
Baked sweet potato with a little margarine or cinnamon and sugar
Macaroni and cheese (with vegetables)
Any of the ideas from the list for breakfast or dinner

 

Cheapest Groceries Dinner Ideas

Egg fried rice
Beans and rice
Bean and cheese burritos (homemade)
Meatless taco soup
Squash soup with homemade rolls
Lentils and rice
Hot dogs and fries (make the fries yourself to save even more money)
Chicken and rice with steamed carrots or vegetables
Pasta (and broccoli) alfredo
Chicken alfredo with broccoli
Meatless spaghetti
Green salad with chicken
Chili macaroni and cheese
Tuna macaroni and cheese
Homemade chicken noodle soup
Homemade vegetarian chili with cornbread
Ramen noodles with chicken and vegetables
Hot dogs with fries
Fried potatoes and hot dogs (chop the hot dogs and add them to the fried potatoes for the last couple of minutes that you cook them; I used to eat this when I was living in Bolivia, where they called it salchipapas)
Chicken or vegetarian stir fry with rice
Any of the ideas from the list for breakfast or lunch

 

For even more ideas of cheap meals you can make, check out this article with more than 100 cheap recipes you can make for $5 or less!

Final Thoughts about Cheapest Foods and a Cheapest Groceries List

When wanting to buy the cheapest food and compiling a cheapest groceries list at times when your budget is tight, there really are a lot of options for making meals using the items listed above. With this list of 31 of the cheapest groceries, you can easily make meals until your next paycheck—or for the whole month, if you need to!

I really am a big advocate of keeping your grocery costs down anyway, even when money isn’t tight, so that you can use the money for things (such as getting out of debt, retirement, kids’ college, becoming totally financially free) that have longer-lasting value than a meal that is consumed in 30 minutes or less and that you can then barely even remember the taste of. 🙂

You can find more than 70 ideas for saving money on groceries (without having to use coupons!) here.

 

What cheapest food items would you include on your list of cheapest groceries? What else do you do to save money on groceries? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your thoughts!

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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?

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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!)

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.

 

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!)

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!

 

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.

31 Budget-Friendly Easy and Cheap Dinner Recipes

cheap dinner recipes

Cheap Dinner Recipes

Below are 31 quick, easy, tasty, and inexpensive dinner meals you can make for the whole family in less than 30 minutes! You will love these cheap dinner recipes!

Meal planning and making inexpensive meals really are two ways that you can help to reduce your monthly expenses and balance your family budget. In addition to cutting entertainment costs if needed, spending less money on groceries and eating out are the best ways to cut your spending so you can save more money!

By making inexpensive meals like those included in the cheap dinner recipes highlighted below in this article, we are able to feed our family of five for less than $300 a month. We can then use that extra money to put toward reaching our important financial goals!

My hope is that by saving money as you make inexpensive meals, you will be able to work more quickly toward reaching your own family’s financial goals, as well!

 

Tip: Pin the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to this article on cheap dinner recipes later!

 

Make Your Cheap Dinner Recipes 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!

Are You Looking for Dinner 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!)

31 Easy and Cheap Dinner Recipes You Can Make for under $5

 One of the best ways to save money on your dinner meals is to keep things simple! This isn’t the 1950s, and you don’t have to make a three-course meal every day for dinner! Today’s families are busy, and keeping things easy will help save your money and your sanity! Your family will love meals made from these cheap dinner recipes!

 

1. Easy pasta carbonara

If you have never tried pasta carbonara, then you need to give this recipe a try! A simple pasta carbonara features spaghetti noodles, bacon, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and seasonings like garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. This dish is a cheap, easy, and tasty dinner idea! (Everything tastes better with bacon; am I right? :)) You can find a simple and inexpensive pasta carbonara recipe here.

 

2. Chicken stir fry over rice 

So easy! So tasty! 🙂 We normally just wing it 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.)

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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 cooked chicken and favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers.

 

Check out these related articles:

 

 

 

6. 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! :))

 

7. 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 :)).

 

 

8. 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.

 

9. Chili and cornbread

When time is tight, we eat one of our favorite chili brands from the can. To make it stretch even farther, I add an extra can or two of chili or kidney beans to the pot, as well.

Or when I have 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.

 

10. Homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade (or inexpensive) rolls or bread

We generally make a simple chicken noodle soup over the stove, and you can find a quick and easy tasty homemade chicken noodle soup recipe here.

But this is also a great slow cooker dish, as well. You can find a cheap and easy slow cooker chicken noodle soup recipe here.

 

 

 11. Noodles or mashed potatoes with 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. The way we make ours is very similar to this simple Ground Beef Stroganoff recipe (we also include cream of mushroom soup in ours, and we omit the fresh mushrooms if we don’t have any on hand).

 

12. Chicken fajitas

Chicken fajitas are another one of my favorite cheap dinner recipes! We generally make fajitas with green and red peppers (or whatever peppers are the least expensive at the time we are grocery shopping), onions, broccoli, carrots, avocados (if they are a good price), salsa, or other vegetables we have on hand. You can find an easy chicken fajita recipe here.

 

13. 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.

 

14. 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!

 

15. 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.

16. Mom’s Beef Stew

My own mom’s beef stew, that is. 🙂 We make it 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.

To prepare, brown the hamburger with an onion, and drain. While you are browning the hamburger, boil the chopped potatoes, carrots, and barley. After the vegetables in the pot are tender, add the mushroom soup, browned hamburger, and frozen mixed vegetables, if using. Heat until warmed through, and enjoy! 

 

17. Sloppy Joes

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

 

Related articles:

42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
25 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals 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 Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

18. 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).

 

19. 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.

 

20. 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.

 

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

Grilled cheese is another favorite cheap dinner recipe; 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). 🙂

 

22. 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).

 

23. Barbecue Chicken Tostadas

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

 

24. Biscuits and gravy

This is one of my favorite meals. My husband makes the gravy while I make the biscuits, and we can have it on the table in about half an hour. Though it takes a little longer than the other foods here, it’s worth it! Some might consider this primarily a breakfast food, but we probably make it as often for dinner as we do for breakfast. 🙂

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
3 oz. butter
1 cup buttermilk
Combine dry ingredients, gently knead in butter, and add milk. Gently knead on floured surface—don’t overknead. Bake 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Makes about 6.

Gravy
½ pound ground sausage and bacon (total, or just ½ pound sausage)
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional, but so delicious!)
2 T. butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper

Directions: Cook sausage and bacon; remove and put grease in pot. Add butter and melt. Add flour a little at a time. Cook 2-3 minutes, and then add milk a little at a time. Stir. Add sausage and bacon and cut-up eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

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?”

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25. 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.

 

26. Lemon pepper chicken with rice

Another family favorite cheap dinner recipe 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.

 

27. 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.

 

28. 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.

 

29. Cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole

This is another one of our family favorites. 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.)

 

 

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.

30. 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.

 

31. Easy Beef Enchiladas

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 31 quick, easy, and cheap dinner recipes will help you to get food on the table fast for your hungry family! Feed your family quick, delicious, inexpensive meals every day of the month for under $5 a meal! 

 

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.

45 Cheapest Meals to Get by on a Tight Budget

cheapest meals
Cheapest Meals

If you are looking for the cheapest meals you can eat to get you by till payday or to just help you make ends meet when money is tight, then this is the article for you!

In this article I am going to share some of my favorite quick, easy, and tasty meals for when you are trying to spend less to save money.

These cheapest meals will help you stretch your money!

 


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

 

Make Your Cheapest 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!

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 ideas for delicious quick and cheap family meals you can prepare in 30 minutes or less for $5 or less!

Get your copy of te recipe book for just $5 for just $1 during the limited-time FLASH SALE! (Buy now and get access to your recipe book for immediate digital download!)

Click here to get your digital copy of the recipe book today!

45 Cheapest Meals

Below are some of my best ideas for some of the easiest and cheapest meals you can make for your family. These simple meals are ready in less than 30 minutes!

These meals are great if you need to stretch your grocery budget until you get your next paycheck. Or if you need cheap recipes for families or cheap meals for large families, then these meals are a great option! (Just double the recipes if needed. :))

These cheap family meals will help you to get food on the table fast for your family, and they are simple, down-to-earth meals that your kids will actually like!

Though I list these meals in order of what you would traditionally eat for breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner, you can of course eat pancakes for dinner and broccoli alfredo for breakfast, if you prefer! 🙂

 

1. Pancakes

Pancakes are a favorite cheap breakfast for our family. If desired, 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.) We generally make our pancakes different colors each time we make them. 🙂

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten (if desired)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, eggs, and oil. Mix until smooth.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve warm with butter and syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or other favorite toppings.

 

2. Fried Eggs with Toast

This is another very quick, easy, and cheap breakfast that we love! (We sometimes eat it for lunch or dinner, too!) You can top with salsa to get in more vegetables.

 

Ingredients

8 eggs

2 tablespoons margarine, butter, or oil

 

Directions

1. Heat margarine, butter, or oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. 

2. Carefully crack the eggs into a large frying pan (you may need to do two batches of fried eggs, unless you have a really big frying pan or a griddle). 

2. Break the yolks, if desired. Or if not, cook until egg whites are set but yolks are still soft, and then serve (for sunny-side-up eggs). For easy-over eggs, flip the eggs over and cook 30 to 60 seconds (or longer, depending on how set you want the yolks).

3. Remove from pan, and serve over toast (with butter, if desired). Season with salt, pepper, or seasoned salt to taste.

 

3. Oatmeal

This is another great option when looking for cheapest meals! 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!

For a fun twist on traditional oatmeal, try this super cheap and even easier meal: Just mash a banana with one-half to one cup of rolled oats. This fast and naturally sweet and tasty meal is one of my frequent go-to breakfasts that I eat at work; these days I generally eat it once or twice a week.

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.

 

 

Check out these related articles:

100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for When Money Is Tight
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
75 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons!
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

 

4. Breakfast Rice

One of my best friends introduced me to this cheap breakfast back in high school. All you need is cooked rice (leftover rice from dinner works great, too, and it is a great way to use it up!), some milk, and sugar and cinnamon to taste! Warm it up, and you have a tasty comfort food perfect for cool mornings!

Here is a simple recipe you’ll love.

 

Ingredients

4 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup milk

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)

 

Directions

1. Warm rice on the stove or in the microwave (in a large microwave-safe bowl) with the milk.

2. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon.

3. Serve warm.

 

5. 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 the equivalent volume in 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.)

 

6. 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 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

1. 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.

2. Spray the heated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, and pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup 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.)

3. 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.)

 

7. 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 simple recipe we use for French toast:

Ingredients

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

dash of salt (optional)

Cinnamon and sugar mixture

16 slices of your favorite bread

Directions

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

2. 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.

3. 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 :)).

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

 

8. Egg Omelets

Another one of our favorite easy and cheapest meals 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 (adapt the filling to your liking :)):

Ingredients

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or canola oil (or butter or margarine)

1/2 bell pepper (green, red, yellow, orange, or a combination), chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned)

2 cups baby spinach

6 eggs

1/4 cup water or milk

1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions

1. In large nonstick skillet, heat the oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the onion is tender. Stir in the spinach, cooking and stirring until the spinach wilts.

2. Crack the eggs into the pan, and add the 1/4 cup water or milk. Gently stir until all ingredients are well combined. Allow the eggs to cook until the eggs start to solidify. Top with cheese. Fold the egg mixture in half, and let it continue to cook until the egg mixture solidifies and the cheese is melted.

3. Serve with salsa, if desired.

 

9. Banana and Oat “Cookies”

You can make these easy and tasty Two Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies, which are yummy and nutritious, in about 15 minutes!

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup optional add-ins: chocolate chips, raisins, butterscotch chips (or whatever flavor baking chips are your favorite), or dried cranberries,

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend oats till they are about the consistency of flour. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas and the oats, and stir until smooth. Add your favorite add-ins, if desired.

2. Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Makes about 18 medium-sized cookies. Flatten cookies a bit with a spatula or spoon, if desired.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from oven, and let cool on wire rack.

 

10. 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!

You can follow the recipe on the box, or here is a simple recipe (for 4 servings).

 

Ingredients

4 cups water (or milk, or 1/2 water, 1/2 milk)

2/3 cup Cream of Wheat

sugar (to taste)

milk (to taste)

 

Directions

1. Bring the water to boil in a small covered pot.

2. Slowly add the Cream of Wheat, stirring well with a whisk to avoid lumps.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes, until Cream of Wheat has thickened.

4. Remove from the stove, pour into bowls for serving, and then sweeten with sugar, brown sugar, milk, honey, sweetened condensed milk, no or low calorie sweetener, or another sweetener of your choice.

5. Stir well, and serve.

 

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11. Quick and easy quiche

Quiche is another one of my favorite cheap breakfast meals. (Have I mentioned that I just love food in general? :)) This easy quiche recipe takes only 15 minutes to prepare. To save money, I generally make the crust myself using a simple pie crust recipe like this one (except I use shortening instead of butter, since it is less expensive).

Ingredients

1 pie crust (or make your own)

6 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup chopped cooked ham

1 cup shredded cheese

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Unroll the pie crust and press it into a 9″ pie plate.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.

4. Sprinkle the ham and cheese into the pie crust, and pour the egg mixture over the top.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center is set. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then slice and serve.

 

12. Overnight Cold Oatmeal

This cheapest meal is a fun variation of the traditional cooked oatmeal. All you need is milk, rolled oats, your favorite sweetener, desired spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, and your favorite berries or thinly sliced apples or similar fruit.

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup milk (or milk substitute)

1/3 to 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

yogurt or other sweetener of choice

1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)

Your favorite fruits, nuts, granola, coconut, spices, seeds, protein powder, and so on

 

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a mason jar with closed lid or another container with a closed lid for at least four hours or overnight (stir well before closing), and you will have a tasty breakfast ready in the morning!

Add additional milk or other liquid in the morning, if you would like, to reach desired consistency.

 

13. Hard-Boiled Eggs with Cheese in a Tortilla

This is another of our family favorite easiest and cheapest meal.

Simply boil the eggs (or even poach or cook them in a mug or glass bowl in the microwave), put them on a heated tortilla shell, mash them with a fork, add a slice of cheese, and warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds until the cheese  is melted.

For a tasty (but caloric!) addition, add a smear of mayo before wrapping the tortilla.

 

14. 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

1. 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.)

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

 

15. Swedish Pancakes

Somewhat similar to crepes, Swedish pancakes are another fun, cheap meal.  They take just 15 minutes or less to prepare, and all you need are eggs, milk, sugar, flour, salt, butter or margarine or another favorite spread, and your favorite toppings.

 

Ingredients

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, flour, salt, and melted butter until smooth.

2. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Lightly grease the pan with cooking spray.

3. Pour a small amount of batter into the pan, to make a thin layer. Tilt the pan to oat it evenly with batter.

4. Cook the pancake until it is lightly browned on the bottom, and then flip over and cook the other side until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 6 to 8 pancakes.

5. Serve with powdered sugar, jam, fruit, peanut butter, whipped cream, or other favorite toppings.

16. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Good old PB&J is another one of our favorite cheapest meals. Or if you prefer, you can make peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Or peanut butter sandwiches alone are great, too!

17. 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.

These sandwiches are so simple that you don’t really need a recipe (just mix tuna and mayo or salad dressing and chopped up pickles if desired in desired proportions), but if you want to spruce them up, you can follow this simple recipe.

 

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.

 

18. 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.

You can follow the recipe above for tuna sandwiches and simply add two hard-boiled eggs (or more, if desired) and a little more mayo if needed.

 

19. Egg Salad Sandwiches

In our family we love this simple and tasty lunch for another cheapest meals 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!

This is another recipe that is so simple that I don’t usually follow a recipe, but you definitely can if you prefer to. The following is a simple recipe that I like.

 

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).

 

20. 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.

 

 

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21. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (with lunch meat and spinach, if desired) 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

 

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 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. 

 

 

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

Quesadillas are another one of the cheapest meals you can make, and they are so easy! You can use just your favorite tortilla shells and type of cheese, and you can even add chopped or shredded chicken, sliced lunch meat, spinach, hot dogs (kind of weird, but my younger brothers love it), beans, or favorite cooked vegetables. Yum! 

Here is a simple recipe we like.

 

 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.

 

23. 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.

 

24. Simple 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 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.

25. 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 mayo 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.

 

 

26. Black Bean Quesadillas

This cheapest meal idea is a fun twist on traditional quesadillas. This quick dish is ready in 20 minutes or less.

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.

 

27. Spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of our favorite cheapest 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 spaghetti noodles.

Do you want to stretch your food budget even farther? Make meatless spaghetti! If you have just the spaghetti noodles and a basic meatless sauce like the one I share above, and especially if you omit the vegetables, then spaghetti really can be one of the cheapest meals you can make!

 

28. 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!

 

29. 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
tablespoon vegetable oil
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 uncookeed instant white rice
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.

 

30. 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
cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
tablespoons butter or margarine
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.

31. 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.

 

32. Ramen Noodles with 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 our favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers.

Cook the vegetables, drain off some of the water if needed, and then add the noodles and cook a few minutes until the noodles are soft. Add the seasoning packet (or omit), and stir to combine.

 

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33. 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 simple recipe.

Ingredients

4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red or white onion (about 1 small onion)
1 1/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 green onions, sliced
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

  1. Crack 3 eggs into a small bowl, and beat them together. Beat the last egg in a separate bowl.
  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 3 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 kitchen 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. Add the mixed vegetables and green onions, and cook for another minute. Save some of the green onions (the dark green part) for garnish, if desired.
  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. Pour the single beaten egg over the rice and stir to coat the rice with the egg. Cook for another minute.
  5. Add the soy sauce, and stir. Add the 3 scrambled eggs, and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.

 

34. Quick Bean and Rice Burritos

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

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups cooked 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 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 cooked rice; cook and stir until heated through, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve with cheese and sour cream if desired.

35. Best Chili Mac

This cheap meal 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.

 

36. 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 9x13-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.

37. 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.

Ingredients
1 lb chicken breasts, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, diced 1/4 inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 lb dry fettuccine pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil over medium-high heat until veggies are tender and chicken is no longer pink. Stir in flour until smooth, and then slowly stir in milk, chicken broth, and parsley. Add dry fettuccine, and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring to incorporate pasta underneath the liquid.
2. Reduce heat to medium and keep pasta at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken and the pasta is tender and creamy, about 25 minutes.
3. Remove pasta from heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

38. 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 meal 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.

Ingredients
2 cups instant white rice
2 cups water
2 cup cooked, chopped chicken
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables or corn
1/4 cup milk 

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a glass 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add instant rice, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 to 7 minutes, until water has been absorbed.
3. In a large bowl stir together chicken, soup, sour cream, cheese, frozen vegetables, 1/4 cup milk, and cooked rice.
4. Pour rice mixture into pan.
5. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

39. 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.

Ingredients
1 lb cooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup water
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
1. Add water, cauliflower, squash, and carrots in a pot over medium heat. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.
2. Add everything into a blender, including cooking water, and blend until smooth.
3. Return blended veggies to the pot over medium heat, and add the milk, and cheese. Stir until smooth.
4. Add macaroni, reduce heat, mix thoroughly, and cook until warmed through.

 

 

40. Easy Cranberry Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is a (super easy) sweet and little bit tangy sweet and sour chicken recipe my family loves.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. bottle Catalina dressing
  • 1 can (14 oz.) cranberry sauce
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté the chicken for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through (no pink inside).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Catalina salad dressing, cranberry sauce, and onion soup mix. Pour over the chicken.
  3. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve over hot cooked rice.

 

41. Easy Garlic Chicken

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.

 

42. One-Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

This cheap meal 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! 

Ingredients

For the Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

For the Rice
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions
1. Melt butter (or margarine) over medium heat in a large skillet or pan (one that has a lid). Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Brown chicken in the butter for 1-2 minutes on each side. (Chicken shouldn’t be cooked through at this point.) Transfer chicken to a plate.
2. Add rice, chicken broth, lemon juice, and remaining Italian seasoning to the pan. Place chicken on top, and then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, until liquid is dissolved.
3. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and lemon wedges for squeezing.

43. 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. 

Ingredients
12 oz. spaghetti or fettuccine
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
pepper to taste

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a measuring cup; set it aside. Drain and rinse the pasta.
2. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat a splash of the pasta water over medium heat. Cook spinach leaves until just wilted and bright green; then remove to a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, and set aside.
3. In the saucepan, add the milk, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and the Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring until a smooth sauce forms.
4. Add the pasta to the pan, and stir to coat. Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine until the butter melts. If necessary, and a splash of pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

44. 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. 

Ingredients
16 oz. fettuccine or penne pasta
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

Directions
1. Make pasta according to the box directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, and add onions. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
3. Add milk and cream cheese, and heat just until bubbly (do not boil).
4. Remove from heat, and add in Parmesan cheese and mix until the cheese is melted.
5. Add pasta to the skillet, and toss until combined. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.

45. Easy Pasta Carbonara

This is another cheap, easy, and tasty dish! Bacon makes (almost) everything better!

Ingredients
3 to 4 oz. bacon (1/4 of the package), or more if desired
2 cloves garlic
12 oz. spaghetti
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
pepper to taste
salt to tast
fresh parsley (optional), for garnish

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot with water for the pasta, and season with salt. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, cut the bacon into small pieces. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until brown and desired crispness. Remove the cooked bacon from the skillet, and then turn the heat down to low. Mince two cloves of garlic, add them to the warm skillet, and sauté for about one minute or until fragrant and softened. Then turn off the heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and a generous dose of pepper.
  4. The water should be boiling at this point, so add the pasta, stir well, and continue to boil the pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve one cup of the starchy pasta cooking water, and then drain the pasta in a colander.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet that was used to cook the bacon. Stir the warm water in the skillet, and dissolve the browned bits from the surface of the skillet.
  6. Add the steaming hot drained pasta to the skillet, and toss in the bacon liquid in the skillet.
  7. Pour the egg and Parmesan mixture over the hot pasta and immediately begin to stir or toss the pasta. Continue to stir the hot pasta in the egg mixture until a creamy sauce forms.
  8. Add the remaining Parmesan, a little more pepper, and the reserved bacon bits, and toss again. If the pasta becomes too thick or dry, add a splash more of the reserved pasta water.
  9. Finally, taste the pasta and adjust the salt, Parmesan, or pepper if needed. Top with a pinch or two of roughly chopped parsley leaves, if desired.

 

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Final Thoughts on Cheapest Meals

These easy ideas for cheapest meals will let you get super inexpensive food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these simple cheapest meals are great for busy families!

 

What do you like to eat for your cheapest meals? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to meals that you love?

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

 

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25 Meatless Dinner Ideas: Quick and Easy Recipes Your Family Will Love!

meatless dinner ideas

Meatless Dinner Ideas

In this article I share some of the best and easiest (and quickest!) to make meatless dinner ideas. Making these cheap meatless dinner ideas is a great way to save money in order to help make ends meet or to be able to save money to pay a bill or pay down a debt more quickly!

Your family, and even the kids, will love the meals you create with these meatless dinner recipes!

These quick, easy, and tasty meatless dinner ideas will help you stretch your money and lower your grocery budget!


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

 

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25 Meatless Dinner Ideas

Below are 25 ideas for some of the easiest and cheapest meatless dinner recipes you can make for your family. These simple meatless meals are ready in 30 minutes or less!

 

1. Bean and Cheese Tostadas

One easy meatless meal is bean and cheese tostadas. Bean and cheese tostadas are a great way to get protein even without the meat. These easy bean and cheese tostadas bake up fast and have a satisfying crunch.

Ingredients
6 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas
1 cup refried beans
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded Cheddar
1 cup shredded lettuce
2 tablespoons sour cream

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Spread out tortillas on baking sheet, and bake until golden, about 8 minutes.
3. Spread beans among tostadas, top with salsa, and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until warmed through, about 8 minutes.
4. Place each tostada on a plate and top with lettuce and a small amount of sour cream. Serve with extra salsa, if desired.

 

 

2. Broccoli Cheese Potatoes

This recipe uses a creamy homemade cheese sauce and is a perfect comfort food on winter days (or anytime!).

Ingredients

4 large russet potatoes
cooking oil
10 oz. broccoli florets
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork. Fill a shallow glass plate with water, and place the potatoes on the plate. Bake them in the microwave for about 15 or 20 minutes, until they give slighly when squeezed.

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2. While the potatoes are in the oven, chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Boil the broccoli in a small saucpan with 1/2 cup of water.

3. Cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the broccoli steam till tender and bright green (about 10 minutes). Using a slottted spoon, remove the brccoli from the pot, and set aside.

4. Whisk the flour with the broccoli water to form a thick paste.

5. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking till the milk is smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, till the mixture thickens and just barely begins to bubble.

6. Whisk in the grated cheese and stir till melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a large pinch of pepper). Reduce heat to low, stirring frequently for a minute or two. Remove from heat.

7. Squeeze the potatoes from the ends to split them wide open. Spoon one-quarter of the broccoli florets into each potato.

8. Pour cheese sauce over the stuffed potatoes. and serve.

 

3. Bean and Rice Burritos

This is a great way to use leftover rice. With the precooked rice, this easy recipe is ready in under 30 minutes. (Or you can use minute rice in a pinch.)

Ingredients

1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
1 cup salsa
1 cup cooked rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
12 flour tortillas (6 to 7 inches)

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine the refried beans, salsa, rice, and 1 cup of the cheese.
2. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture off-center on each tortilla.
3. Fold the sides and ends of the tortillas over the filling, and roll them up.
4. Arrange the burritos in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

 

Check out these related articles:

100+ Cheap and Easy Meals for When Money Is Tight
11 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
75 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons!
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

 

4. Meatless Lasagna

Meatless lasagna is another great option for a tasty meatless meal. Even without the meat, this lasagna is a winner! The three cheeses make this dish easy, cheesy, and delicious.

 

Ingredients

2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 cans or jars (28 ounces each) tomato sauce or pasta sauce
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Mix cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, the parsley, and the oregano.

3. Spread 2 cups of the pasta sauce in an ungreased 13x9x inch pan. Top with 4 cooked noodles. Spread cottage cheese mixture over noodles.

4. Spread with 2 cups pasta sauce, and top with 4 noodles.

5. Repeat with 2 cups pasta sauce and 4 noodles.

6. Sprinkle with 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

7. Spread with remaining pasta sauce.

8. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

9. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes as needed (to thicken) before serving.

 


5. Creamy Herb Pasta

This is another tasty pasta dish perfect for a meatless dinner night! This is simple, quick dish is rich and creamy and ready in 30 minutes or less.

Ingredients

8 oz sliced mushrooms
12 oz fettuccine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions, and then drain in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, add the margarine and minced garlic to a large skillet. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until fragrant and tender. Do not let the margarine or garlic turn brown.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have turned dark brown. Turn the heat down slightly to medium-low, add the flour, and continue to sauté until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the skillet and turns golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).
  • Whisk the vegetable broth into the skillet with the flour and mushrooms. Whisk until all the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Add the basil, oregano, and some pepper. Turn the heat up to medium, and bring the sauce to a simmer to thicken.
  • Stir the milk into the sauce and allow it to return to a  simmer. Add about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt or pepper as needed.
  • Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the skillet. Stir to coat, and cook the pasta over medium low heat until heated through. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cooks.

 

 

6. Black Bean Quesadillas

This meatless dinner idea is a fun twist on traditional quesadillas. This quick dish is ready in 20 minutes or less.

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.

 

7. Meatless Spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of our favorite meals! We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. To make it a meatless meal, we simply omit the pound of ground beef that would normally be included. 

For the meatless sauce, mix a small can of tomato sauce with about half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have also 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 chopped peppers (most often green peppers, since they are the least expensive) and onions, as well.

If you are including the vegetables, heat up about a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan. Add the chopped green pepper if you are going to use it; you could also add the 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 spaghetti noodles.

8. 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. We also sometimes add onions and green or other colored peppers. We sometimes add ranch right before serving to shake things up a little, and I like to add salsa to mine after it is cooked to get even more vegetables. Yum!

 

9. 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).

Ingredients
2 packages ramen noodles, Oriental flavor
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 tsp sriracha
2 tablespoons hot water

Directions
1. Add vegetable oil, frozen vegetables, and seasoning packets. Cook for 3 minutes.
2. In a pot, cook Maruchan ramen Oriental flavor noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes.
3. Drain noodles, and add to pan.
4. Mix soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and hot water. Add to pan, and mix together.
5. Divide into bowls, and serve.

 

10. Broccoli Alfredo

This cheap meatless meal is another 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
cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
tablespoons butter or margarine
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. 
  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.

11. Classic Bean and Cheese Burritos

These easy bean and cheese burritos are another great option when you are looking for meatless dinner ideas and meatless dinner recipes. 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.

 

12. Ramen Noodles with 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 our favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers.

Cook the vegetables, drain off some of the water if needed, and then add the noodles and cook a few minutes until the noodles are soft. Add the seasoning packet (or omit), and stir to combine.

 

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13. 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). 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.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon oil
5 oz raw baby spinach
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained, quartered, and chopped
5 oz cream cheese, softened
1 oz mozzarella, shredded
8 oz sourdough bread, cut into 8 slices
4 tsp unsalted butter (or margarine)

Directions
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, stirring frequently, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a mixing bowl; add artichokes, cream cheese, and mozzarella. Mix well.
2. Preheat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat.
3. Spread ½ teaspoon butter onto one side of each of the slices of bread. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly between each of 4 slices of bread, buttered side down. Top the spinach mixture with a second slice of sourdough bread, buttered side up.
4. Cook sandwiches 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing in half. Serve warm.

 

14. 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 simple recipe.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red or white onion (about 1 small onion)
1 1/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 green onions, sliced
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

  1. Crack 3 eggs into a small bowl, and beat them together. Beat the last egg in a separate bowl.
  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 3 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 kitchen 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. Add the mixed vegetables and green onions, and cook for another minute. Save some of the green onions (the dark green part) for garnish, if desired.
  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. Pour the single beaten egg over the rice and stir to coat the rice with the egg. Cook for another minute.
  5. Add the soy sauce, and stir. Add the 3 scrambled eggs, and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.

 

15. Quick Bean and Rice Burritos

This is another great 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
3 cups cooked rice
1 medium green or red pepper (or half and half), diced
1 can or 2 cups of frozen corn
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 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, corn, and cooked rice; cook and stir until heated through, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve with cheese and sour cream if desired.

16. 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.)

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Roll out pizza dough as directed on package. 3. Spread the pesto evenly on the crust. Sprinkle mozzarella over the pesto. Sprinkle pizza with the fresh parsley, fresh basil, and Parmesan.
4. Bake in preheated oven until crust is browned and pizza is hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

17. 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.

Ingredients
1 lb cooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup water
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
1. Add water, cauliflower, squash, and carrots in a pot over medium heat. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.
2. Add everything into a blender, including cooking water, and blend until smooth.
3. Return blended veggies to the pot over medium heat, and add the milk, and cheese. Stir until smooth.
4. Add macaroni, reduce heat, mix thoroughly, and cook until warmed through.

 

18. 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
1/3 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, saute the onion with a little oil.
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.

 

19. 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. 

Ingredients
12 oz. spaghetti or fettuccine
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
pepper to taste

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a measuring cup; set it aside. Drain and rinse the pasta.
2. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat a splash of the pasta water over medium heat. Cook spinach leaves until just wilted and bright green; then remove to a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, and set aside.
3. In the saucepan, add the milk, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and the Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring until a smooth sauce forms.
4. Add the pasta to the pan, and stir to coat. Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine until the butter melts. If necessary, and a splash of pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

20. 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. 

Ingredients
16 oz. fettuccine or penne pasta
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

Directions
1. Make pasta according to the box directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, and add onions. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
3. Add milk and cream cheese, and heat just until bubbly (do not boil).
4. Remove from heat, and add in Parmesan cheese and mix until the cheese is melted.
5. Add pasta to the skillet, and toss until combined. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.

21. Grilled Cheese (and Spinach) Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese is another of my favorite meatless dinner ideas; and it’s so simple you don’t even really 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). 🙂

 

22. Traditional Quesadillas

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).

 

23. Spinach and Cheese Jumbo Stuffed Shells

This is another tasty meatless dinner idea that makes for a great cheap dinner option. In addition to the spinach and jumbo pasta shells, you have three cheeses (cottage cheese—or you could use half ricotta and half cottage cheese, if you have ricotta cheese on hand—mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese), and your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Stuff the shells with the delicious filling, bake for about 20 minutes, and you have a oozy, cheesy treat!

Ingredients

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
12 oz. package jumbo shells
3 cups cottage cheese
1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
25 ounce jar or can marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the jumbo shells, and cook according to package directions. Note: Be careful not to overcook the shells, or they will fall apart as you fill them. Drain the shells, and let them cool.
2. Meanwhile, defrost the spinach in the microwave. Wring out the excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4. In a medium bowl stir together the cottage cheese, half of the grated mozzarella, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Stir in the spinach.
5. Spoon the filling into the shells, and place in a large baking dish.
6. Pour the marinara sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil, and bake for about 15 minutes.
7. Uncover, and bake for a few minutes more until cheese is melted and shells are hot.

 

24. Black Beans and Rice

This is another classic American beans and rice dish. Like the other meatless dinner recipes in this list, it takes only about 30 minutes to prepare and a great option for after school or busy weeknights.

 

Ingredients

1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cumin
3 1/2 cups canned black beans (about 2 cans)

 

Directions

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes.
3. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable broth.
5. B
ring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Cook for 20 minutes.
6. Add the spices and black beans.
7. Stir, and serve.

25. One-Pot Broccoli and Pasta Dish

This one-pot broccoli and pasta dish is another great meatless dinner idea. This one-pot meal makes both preparation and cleanup super easy. Make this dish with your favorite regular or whole wheat pasta for a creamy comfort food.

Ingredients

1 16 oz. box pasta
3 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
3 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Add the pasta, broccoli, oil, salt, pepper, garlic, tomato sauce, milk, and broth to a large pot. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.

2. Stir, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
*Note: Watch the pot in the beginning of the cooking process so that the milk does not boil over.
3. Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the mushrooms and the parmesan. Let the pasta rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Remaining liquid will absorb into the pasta, and the mushrooms will soften. 

Final Thoughts on Cheap Meatless Dinners and Cheap Meatless Meals

These 25 cheap meatless dinner ideas (meatless dinner recipes) will let you get super inexpensive food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these simple meatless meals are great for busy families!

 

What do you like to eat for your meatless dinner meals? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to meatless dinner recipes that you love?

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

 

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