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cheap and easy dinners

Cheap and Easy Dinners

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 and Easy Dinners 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!)

30 Cheap and Easy 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. Mozzarella chicken

For a 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.

6 cups cooked pasta
4 small chicken breasts
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup chopped onions
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto or basil pesto
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup water
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the cooking oil. Add the chicken to the skillet, and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Remove to a plate.

2. Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Add the onion to the oil remaining in the pan. If there isn’t any, add in about ½ teaspoon oil, and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes until it softens. Add the garlic, and let cook for about a minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, dried basil, and pesto. Stir to combine. When the sauce reaches a simmer, add 1/4 cup water, lower the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place the chicken breasts in the sauce, and use a spoon to cover the chicken with sauce. Top each breast with a mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese gets nice and bubbly and just melts. Top with chopped parsley. Serve with pasta, crusty bread, and a salad.


2. Chicken stir fry over rice

This meal is so easy and so tasty! We normally just wing it for this cheap meal and throw in peppers along with whatever other vegetables we have on hand that sound good, but I will include an easy recipe below. 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.)


Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb chicken thighs (or chicken breast) cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 zucchini sliced or cubed
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup broccoli cut into florets
1 small carrot julienned or cubed
8 oz. mushrooms sliced
1/2 red pepper cubed (or substitute a pepper of your choice)
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp fresh ginger minced
1/2 onion cubed
1/2 cup cashews (or peanuts), optional

Stir Fry Sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch


1. Trim any excess fat off of chicken thighs, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cut the vegetables into even-sized pieces (about the same size as the chicken pieces).

2. Combine all of the ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a bowl.

3. In a large pan (or wok), on medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, add chicken in a single layer. Cook chicken until browned, mixing as needed. Once cooked, remove chicken from pan and set aside.

4. Add the remaining oil and the butter to skillet with the broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and carrots. Cook until vegetables are crisp tender, mixing frequently.

5. Add the chicken back to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

6. Add the cashews (or peanuts), and then pour the sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let stir fry simmer until the sauce thickens and is well incorporated with the remaining ingredients. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds before serving, if desired.


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.


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


  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.


4. Chicken and 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.


8 oz. linguine (about 1/2 of a 1-pound package) or spaghetti noodles
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper


  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.


5. 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).

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

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.


Or, if you prefer, you can make this simpler version of a cheap and easy ramen noodle dinner.


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.

To make, cook (boil) the chicken first. At the same time, cook the vegetables, drain off some of the water if needed, and then add the chicken and 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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6. Beef and cheese goulash

This is another cheap, easy, and tasty dish, and it feeds a lot of people! 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! :))

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


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

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

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

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


7. 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.

Orange Sauce
1 large orange
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
1 large egg 
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
pinch of salt and pepper 
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 green onion, chopped
4 cups cooked rice

1. Remove the zest from the orange using a zester or small-holed cheese grater, and then squeeze the juice from the orange. You should get about 1 teaspoon zest and 1/2 cup juice.

2. Combine the juice and orange zest with the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch in a small sauce pot. Before placing it over heat, whisk until the cornstarch is fully dissolved.

3. Heat the mixture over medium-low for about 3 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Remove the sauce from heat, and set it aside.

4. Use a sharp knife to remove any excess fat from the chicken thighs, and then cut them into small pieces.

5. Combine the egg, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, and mix well. Add the chicken pieces, and stir to coat them in the egg mixture.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add cooking oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken, and cook until they are golden brown on the bottom.

7. Flip the chicken pieces, again cooking until golden brown (about 6 or 7 minutes total).

8. Turn the unit off, and pour the orange sauce over the chicken. Stir to coat.

9. Serve the chicken over cooked rice. Garnish with the green onions and any leftover orange zest.



8. Taco soup with tortilla chips

This is one of our favorite cheap and easy dinners, especially during the colder months.

To  make this meal, simply brown a pound of hamburger in a large pot, drain the hamburger, 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.)

Serve with tortilla chips or Frito’s. Yum!


9. Chili and cornbread

This is another really simple and tasty cheap and easy dinner. Serve with homemade cornbread, or make it from the box to save time.

You can also stretch this chili recipe by adding another can or two of chili or kidney beans (we often do :)).


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


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


10. Homemade chicken noodle soup

This is a cheap and easy chicken noodle soup recipe.


1 to 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1  large onion, chopped
3  carrots, peeled and sliced
2  stalks celery, sliced
cloves garlic, minced
bay leaf (optional)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
10 cups chicken broth
8 oz. egg noodles



  1. In a large pot, combine chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf.
  2. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour in broth.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Remove chicken, and shred with two forks. Discard bay leaf. Return chicken to pot and add egg noodles.
  4. Cook on medium high, covered, until al dente, about 10 minutes.



 11. Noodles or mashed potatoes with beef stroganoff

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



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



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


12. Chicken fajitas

Chicken fajitas are another one of my favorite cheap and easy dinners!


2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/2 sweet red pepper, julienned
1/2 green pepper, julienned
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, taco sauce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream


  1. In a large skillet, saute peppers and onions in oil until crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm.
  2. In the same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Return pepper mixture to pan; heat through.
  3. Spoon filling down the center of tortillas; fold in half. Serve with desired toppings. 

13. 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? :)) 

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


  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.


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, tuna, 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 often like to add salsa to mine before eating it to get even more vegetables. Yum!

Here is a simple homemade mac and cheese recipe (or you can make more better mac and cheese with boxed mac and cheese, too!):

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


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


15. 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. 🙂 

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

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.


16. Chicken pot pie rice bake

This is a fun twist on chicken pot pie (in other words, a 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.

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 

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.


17. Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are another of our favorite cheap and easy dinners.


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


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


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18. Meatball sub soup

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

For the Meatballs

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


For the Soup

2 tablespoons cooking oil

large onion, diced

large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

3 cup beef broth

1 cup milk

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon dried oregano


baguette or French or Italian bread




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


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!

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
chopped small onion
1 cup sliced carrots
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup frozen or canned corn (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Biscuits, for serving (recipe below)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk chicken stock, whole milk, flour, and poultry seasoning.
  2. Cook onion and carrots in butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Slowly whisk in milk mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in shredded chicken, corn, and parsley, and cook until warm, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve topped with biscuits.


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 large biscuits.


20. Parmesan chicken with rice

This is a great chicken and Parmesan (and chicken and rice) recipe.

2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large egg
2 tablespoons  milk
3/4 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs (or substitute other bread crumbs)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup frozen corn (about 4 ounces), thawed (or canned)
pepper, optional


  1. In a saucepan, bring broth and lemon juice to a boil. Stir in rice and onion; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is tender, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, whisk together egg and milk. In another bowl, toss bread crumbs with 1/3 cup cheese and oregano. Dip chicken in egg mixture and then in crumb mixture to coat both sides.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook chicken until golden brown and chicken is no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. When rice is cooked, stir in corn; cook, covered, until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Stir in remaining cheese. Cut chicken into slices, and serve with rice. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired.


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21. Barbecue chicken tostadas

If you love barbecue chicken, then you will love this cheap meal that you can make in 20 minutes or less. 

8 tostada shells or 8 corn tortillas or small flour tortillas, brushed lightly with olive oil and baked for 3-5 minutes per side, until crispy
3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, divided
2 cups shredded cheese
3 green onions, very thinly sliced (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lay out the tostada shells (or baked tortillas) on two rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Combine the chicken and 1 cup of the barbecue sauce in a small bowl, and stir to coat.
  3. Divide the chicken between the tostada shells and top with the cheese (about ¼ cup on each).
  4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining ½ cup barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with green onions, if desired.


22. Chicken quesadillas 

Cheap and easy chicken quesadillas are another winner! This recipe serves 6, so if you want to make less (or more), scale accordingly.


12 flour tortillas
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 1/2 cups grated cheese
2 pounds skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips (or substitute two more green peppers or a cup of sliced mushrooms, to save money)
cooking spray, oil, butter, or margarine, for frying


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and taco seasoning. Add the chicken to the skillet and saute over medium-high heat until done, about 4 minute per side. Remove from the skillet and dice into cubes. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over high heat. Throw in the onions and peppers and cook until the peppers are slightly seared, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Heat cooking spray, a little oil, or about 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a separate skillet or griddle over medium heat and lay a flour tortilla in the skillet. Then layer on grated cheese, chicken, and peppers. Then top with a second tortilla.
  4. When the tortilla is lightly browned on the first side, carefully flip the quesadilla to the other side. Continue cooking until the second side is lightly browned, and then remove from the skillet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings.
  5. Cut each quesadilla into wedges, and serve.


23. Chicken alfredo pizza

Chick alfredo pizza is another of my favorite cheap meals. 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.

1 pizza dough (12 to 14 inches), or make your own
3 tablespoons alfredo sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup cooked chicken


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Roll out dough to about 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  3. Top pizza with alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chicken.
  4. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until crust starts to turn golden brown and cheese is melted.


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 some of 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.

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


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.


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25. Lemon pepper chicken with rice

Another tasty cheap and easy dinner is lemon pepper chicken. This is another easy dinner option that you can make in about 20 minutes.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning (or more to taste)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley


  1. Mix together the flour, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Pour the flour mixture onto a plate or into a shallow bowl.
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  3. Coat the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, turning to coat both sides evenly.
  4. Place the chicken in the pan, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until done.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan, and place on a plate. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Melt the butter in the pan, and whisk in the lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


26. 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!


3 tablespoons butter
cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
yellow onion, chopped
large carrots, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup rice
boneless skinless chicken breasts
  1. In a large pot, melt butter. Add mushrooms, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add chicken, and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Add flour, and whisk until golden, about 1 minute. Pour over chicken broth and milk, and season with salt and pepper. Add rice, bring to a boil, and simmer until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through.


27. 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.


4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red 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


  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.


28. Cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole

This is another one of our family favorite cheap meals. It is so creamy and good! This quick and easy one-pot recipe is ready in just 30 minutes.  (If you need to cook the chicken, you can boil or saute it on the stove in about 15 or 20 minutes.)

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 chicken breasts cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice, uncooked
10 oz. cream of chicken soup (1 can)
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and cubed chicken. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the chicken starts to brown a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garlic and cook for another 30 seconds until garlic gets aromatic.
  2. Add the rice, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. Start with 2 cups of chicken broth and if more is needed add more until rice is fully cooked. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat until the rice is fully cooked, stirring occasionally, should take about 15 minutes or so. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  3. Add the broccoli florets and half the cheese then continue cooking for 2 more minutes, until broccoli softens a bit. Sprinkle over the top with remaining cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for a couple more minutes, just until it melts and starts to brown a bit.
  4. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.


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29. 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.

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

Optional toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream


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


30. 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.


1 pound ground beef
1 small to medium onion
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
8 large tortilla shells
1 cup (or more, if you want) shredded cheese

1. Cook one pound of hamburger with half a large onion or one small onion in a large skillet. While the hamburger is browning, pour one-third of a can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole dish.

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

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

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



These 30 quick cheap and easy dinners 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!


What are your favorite cheap and easy dinners? I would love to hear your ideas! And if you try one of the recipes above, let me know how it goes! Leave a comment below!

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