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cheap meals

Cheap Meals

Find more than 100 ideas for easy and cheap meals that you can make in 30 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for quick, easy, tasty, and cheap meals, then this is the article for you!

These quick, easy, and cheap meal ideas 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 meals later!

 

 

Check out these related articles:

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7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
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100+ Cheap Meals

Below are over 100 ideas for easy and cheap meals you can make for your family in less than 30 minutes!

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

 

Cheap Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is one of my three favorite meals of the day! 🙂

Seriously, though, it is important to get a good and filling breakfast to start the day out in the best way possible. These easy and cheap breakfast ideas are perfect for making meals on a budget.

 

1. 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.)

 

2. Pancakes

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

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.

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

 

3. Biscuits and gravy

This is my favorite breakfast meal (and one of my favorite meals, in general!). 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! 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
Directions
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 it makes this dish 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.

 

Pour the gravy over the biscuits, and devour!

 

4. French toast

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

Ingredients

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

dash of salt (optional)

Cinnamon and sugar mixture

16 slices of your favorite bread

Directions

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.

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

 

5. 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.

 

Check out these related articles:

31 Cheapest Foods to Eat When Money Is Tight
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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!
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6. Fried eggs with toast

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

 

7. Egg omelets

Another one of our favorite easy and cheap 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.

 

 

8. Breakfast casserole

One of the reasons we love breakfast casseroles is that they are so versatile! Some of our favorite things to include our eggs, cheese, peppers, onions, and hash browns or shredded potatoes

And you can also make the casserole the night before for a super quick and simple breakfast the next morning that you can heat up in the oven or microwave!

Ingredients

12 oz. frozen hash browns (about 4 cups)

8 oz. cubed ham

1 green pepper (or whatever color you like), chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup shredded cheese

8 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the hash browns, ham, cheese, green peppers, and onion in a large bowl; toss to combine. Add the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together to combine.

2. Pour into an 8 x 8 casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Put the dish in the oven, and bake for about an hour. When the casserole is done, the center will be set (not liquidy).

 

9. Oatmeal

This is another super  easy and cheap meal! 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!

 

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!

 

11. Cold cereal with (or without!) milk

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


12. Muffins

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

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ripe bananas

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

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

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

13. 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.

 

14. Mashed banana and oats

You can make an even easier cheap meal by just mashing a banana with one-half to one cup of rolled oats. This fast and tasty meal is one of my frequent go-to breakfasts that I eat at work; these days I eat it once or twice a week.

15. 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.)

 

Check out these related articles:

31 Cheapest Foods to Eat When Money Is Tight5 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

 

16. Peanut butter and toast

This is a quick and easy (and filling!) meal that my son loves. (The girls like it too, but my son is the only one—so far—who requests it. :))

 

17. 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.

 

18. Toaster pastries

OK, I know toaster pastries (Pop-Tarts) have no nutritional value, but that doesn’t keep me from sometimes craving (and eating) them! I did go for a couple of years without eating these, but now I treat them like any other sweet treat: a rare (but so yummy, to me!) indulgence. My favorites are s’mores, chocolate fudge, and cherry flavors.

Of course we get the store-brand versions, not the name brands, to save money (unless the name-brand versions are on sale for an amazing deal!). If you eat the standard two pastries with a banana or apple later in the morning, you’re spending less than 50 cents on this cheap breakfast!

 

19. Overnight cold oatmeal

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

 

20. Hard-boiled eggs with cheese in a tortilla

This is another easy and cheap 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.

 

21. 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!

 

22. 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.

 

23. German oven pancakes

Another fun variation on traditional pancakes are German oven pancakes, which are very similar to what my mother’s family calls Yorkshire, except we treated that dish as a savory dish (it didn’t have any sugar) and put turkey or roast beef gravy on it. German oven pancakes are a little bit sweet, and they call for flour, sugar, milk, salt, and melted butter or margarine. But unlike a crepe or a pancake, just as the name indicates, you bake German oven pancakes in the oven for about 15 minutes. And then you top them with your favorites like syrup, powdered sugar, or fresh fruit.

Ingredients

1 cup flour

6 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

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

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

3. Serve warm with your favorite topings.

 

24. Toast with jam

Toast with jam or jelly (extra points if it is home made!) is another very easy and cheap meal. You can always use sugar-free or reduced-sugar jam if desired.

 

25. Bagel with jam, peanut butter, or cream cheese

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

 

Cheap Lunch Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

3. Tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches

4. Egg salad sandwiches

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

6. Chicken salad sandwiches

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

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

9. Avocado egg salad sandwiches

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

11. Chicken salad supreme sandwiches

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

12. Chicken salad

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

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

13. Traditional green salad

14. Spinach and strawberry salad

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

 

15. Avocado tuna melt

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

16. Avocado and chicken salad

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

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

17. Chicken avocado salad sandwiches

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

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

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

18. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato wrap

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

19. Meatball sub sandwich

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

20. Pasta frittata

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

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

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

21. Easy pasta salad

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

 

 

Cheap Dinner Ideas

Remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this article: 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!

You can make all of these cheap and easy dinner meals in about 30 minutes or less!

 

1. Skillet Burritos

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

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

Additional Toppings
sour cream
avocado
chopped green onion

 

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

 

2. Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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

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

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

 

3. Black Bean Quesadillas

This cheap 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

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 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.

 

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.

Ingredients
1 refrigerated pizza crust (or make your own)
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded cheese
24 slices pepperoni
1 tablespoon butter or margarine (melted)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Roll out the pizza crust, and cut it into 6 equal-sized squares.
4. In the middle of each square, place a heaping tablespoon of the marinara sauce, shredded cheese, and 4 pepperoni slices.
5. Fold the dough over into a triangle, and use a fork to press along the edges of the triangle to seal it closed.
6. Place the calzones onto the prepared baking sheet.
7. Brush the top of each calzone with butter or margarine, and then sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese.
8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
9. Serve warm with extra pizza sauce for dipping.

 

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!

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

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

 

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).

Ingredients
lb chicken breast, cut into cubes
teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
tablespoon oil
cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grain white rice
2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth
cups baby spinach
1/4 cup milk

Directions
1. Toss the chicken breast with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breast, and cook until browned (about 3 to 5 minutes), stirring often. Add garlic to skillet, and cook for 30 seconds more.
2. Stir in rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove pan from heat, and place baby spinach on top of the rice. 4. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Remove lid, and stir well. Stir in milk, and serve.

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).

Ingredients
2 packages Maruchan ramen 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.

 

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!

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken thighs, sliced into chunks
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar

 

Directions
1. Sear the chicken thighs evenly in a pan, and then flip.
2. Add the soy sauce and brown sugar, stirring and bringing to a boil.
3. Stir until the sauce has reduced and evenly coats the chicken.
4. Serve with rice, if desired.

 

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.

Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) potato gnocchi
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons oil
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce (or 3 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce with a package of spaghetti seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions
1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken and onion in oil over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, salt. and oregano. Cook until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Drain the gnocchi, and gently stir it into the skillet. Top with cheese, if desired.

 

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.

Ingredients
1 16-oz. package spaghetti
1/4 cup oil
8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley

Directions
1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water, and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the spaghetti, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through but is still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the bacon, and cook until the bacon has begun to shrink, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue cooking and stirring until the garlic has softened and the bacon is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Toss the drained pasta with the bacon, oil, and parsley to serve.

 

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!

Ingredients

1 can enchilada sauce (or substitute spaghetti sauce)
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
12 corn tortillas

Spray a 9×13 pan (or one slightly smaller) with cooking spray. Place a tablespoon of sour cream and cheese in the center of each tortilla. Roll up each one and place in the pan. Pour enchilada sauce over it all, and spread remaining sour cream and cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or 250 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.

 

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!

Ingredients
can (19 oz.) mild enchilada sauce (or substitute tomato sauce)
cups cooked, shredded chicken
tablespoon chicken taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese 
8 tortillas (6-inch)
3/4 cup sour cream

Directions
1. In medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, the chicken, seasoning mix, and 3/4 cup of the cheese.

2. Spray 8-inch square microwavable baking dish with cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish. Fill 1 tortilla at a time with heaping 1/4 cup chicken mixture, and roll to seal. Place each rolled tortilla in the baking dish, seam side down.

3. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas. Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Microwave uncovered on high for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through.  Serve with sour cream.

 

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.

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

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

 

14. 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.

 

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!

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

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

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!

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

 

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

 

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.

Ingredients
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

Chicken
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

Directions
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.

 

18. Asian Orange Beef

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

Ingredients
2 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb flank steak (or other beef), trimmed and sliced thinly across the grain
1/4 tsp salt
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced

Directions
1. Whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk until cornstarch is fully dissolved, with no white lumps left.
2. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over high heat. Add beef and salt, and cook, stirring to break up the meat. Cook and stir until the beef is evenly browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer cooked beef to a bowl, and cover to keep warm.
3. In the now-empty pan, add the orange sauce mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 30 seconds. Return the cooked beef back to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Toss to coat the beef. Serve immediately over cooked rice. Sprinkle with green onions for garnish.

 

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.

Ingredients

Chicken
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Serve With

4 cups cooked rice
2 whole green onions, chopped

Directions
1. First, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, water, oil, brown sugar, vinegar, fresh ginger, minced garlic, cornstarch, and sesame seeds. (Grate the ginger with a small-holed cheese grater). Set the sauce aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 3. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, and then cut them into small 1 inch pieces. Toss the chicken in the egg and cornstarch mixture.
4. Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, and heat over medium heat. Wait until the skillet is very hot, and then swirl the skillet to make sure the oil coats the entire surface. Add the batter-coated chicken, and spread it out into a single layer over the surface of the skillet.
5. Allow the chicken pieces to cook until golden brown on the bottom. Then, carefully flip the chicken, breaking up the pieces into smaller chunks. Continue to cook the chicken until golden brown on the other side. Stir the chicken as little as possible to avoid breaking the egg coating from the surface of the chicken.
6. Once the chicken is cooked through and golden brown on all sides, pour the sauce over the top. Toss the chicken to coat it in the sauce. As the sauce begins to simmer, it will begin to thicken. Continue to gently stir the chicken in the sauce until it has thickened, and then turn off the stove.
7. Serve the chicken over rice, and sprinkle the sliced green onions over the top.

 

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!

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.

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). 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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.)

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.

 

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. 🙂 

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.

 

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.)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
2 cups broccoli
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil, and heat until melted.
2. Add the sliced smoked sausage, and cook for about 5 minutes or until sausage begins to brown.
3. Add the broccoli, and cover. Reduce heat to low, and cook about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the cooked rice, garlic powder, and onion salt to the skillet. Stir well.
5. Add the shredded cheese, and stir well until the cheese is melted.
6. Remove from heat, and serve.

 

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 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.

 

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.

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.

 

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!

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

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

 

29. 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.

 

30. 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.

31. Mozzarella Chicken

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.

Ingredients
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

Directions

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.

 

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). 

Ingredients
1 16 oz. package bow tie pasta
1 teaspoon cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup pesto sauce

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until tender, and then stir in chicken. Cook until chicken is golden and cooked through.
3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, and pesto. Toss to coat evenly.

 

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. 

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.

 

34. 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.

 

35. Chicken and Spinach Parmesan

This is another quick, easy, and cheap meal. 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.

Ingredients
6-8 small chicken breast filets (1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
salt and pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons cooking oil
1½ cups spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce
2 cup chopped baby spinach
1 cup grated mozzarella

Directions
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Combine panko and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
3. Coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture.
4. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Add the chicken (cook in batches to avoid crowding), and cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. (Wipe skillet before repeating with remaining chicken pieces.)
6. Remove chicken from skillet, and pour half of the pasta sauce onto the bottom of the skillet. Gently lay the chicken on top.
7. Top each piece of chicken with a couple tablespoons of sauce, ¼ cup chopped spinach, and two tablespoons of mozzarella. 
8. Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, until cheese just begins to turn golden brown.

Check out these related articles:

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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. For the sauce we use a pound of ground beef, a can of tomato sauce with maybe half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have made our own, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. Sometimes we include mushrooms (fresh or canned) and peppers (most often green peppers, since they are the least expensive), as well.

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

 

37. 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!

 

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

This is a simple meal where you take 8 to 12 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! 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.

 

40. Chicken Stir Fry over Rice

So easy! 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.)

Ingredients

Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb chicken thighs 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

Directions

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.

 

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.

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.

 

42. 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.

Ingredients

8 oz. linguine (about 1/2 of a 1-pound package) or spaghetti noodles
cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
tablespoons butter or margarine
pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
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.

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.

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.

 

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 like the one below (I omit the bay leaves if I don’t have any on hand). You can half the recipe if you are feeding your family of just four or five. (Or make the full recipe so you can have leftovers. I love leftovers! :))

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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.

Our favorite taco fillers are ground beef or chopped chicken, tomatoes, lettuce (or spinach), refried beans, cheese, salsa,

 

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.) Easy!

 

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 the one below. 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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

 

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. Here is a cheap and easy chicken noodle soup recipe.

Ingredients

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

Directions

  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.

49. Noodles, Rice, 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. You can omit the fresh mushrooms if you don’t have any on hand, or substitute canned mushrooms.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

50. Chicken Fajitas

Chicken fajitas are another one of my favorite cheap and meals!

Ingredients

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

Directions

  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.

51. Mom’s Beef Stew

My own mom’s beef stew, that is. 🙂 We make  this cheap meal using a pound of hamburger, sliced potatoes and carrots, corn, chopped 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 meals.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

 

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53. Meatball Sub Soup

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

 For the Meatballs

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

salt
pepper

For the Soup

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

3 cup beef broth

1 cup milk

3 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt

pepper
baguette or French or Italian bread

 

Directions

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

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! 

Ingredients
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

Directions
  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.

 

55. Parmesan Chicken with Rice

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

Ingredients
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

 Directions

  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.

 

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

Grilled cheese is another favorite cheap meal; 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). 🙂

 

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 meal that you can make in 20 minutes or less. 

Ingredients
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)

Instructions

  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.

 

 

59. 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.

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

Directions

  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.

 

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 meals is lemon pepper chicken. This is another easy dinner option that you can make in about 20 minutes.

Ingredients
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

Directions

  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.

 

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!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup rice
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Directions
  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.

 

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 simple recipe.

Ingredients

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

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.

 

64. 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.)

Ingredients
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

Directions

  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.

 

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.

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

Optional toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream

Directions

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

 

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.

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.

 

67. Hamburgers and Fries

 Though ground beef can be quite expensive, at our local grocery store it goes on sale for $2 a pound pretty regularly. And when it does, I buy 5 or 10 pounds, and put it in individual zip-top bags to freeze. Whether made on the grill, in a frying pan, or on a skillet, homemade burgers with your favorite seasonings are delicious.
We use a nonstick skillet (no oil) when we make our fries, and we cook them over the stove. We also generally just use bread instead of buns, mostly because I don’t like to have to keep them on hand and don’t like them to go bad if we don’t use them all. Bread works just as well and is less expensive, too.

Conclusion

These more than 100 quick, easy, and cheap meals will let you get food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these cheap meals are great for busy families!

 

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

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

 

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