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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!

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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. We use a simple waffles recipe like this one.

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. You can find a quick and easy pancake recipe here.

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
Combine dry ingredients, gently knead in butter, and add milk. Gently knead on floured surface—don’t overknead. Bake 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Makes about 6.

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

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


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. 🙂 You can find a simple French toast recipe here. 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 a basic crepe recipe like this one.


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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.


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!


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 basic banana muffin recipe here.


13. Banana and oat cookies

You can make these easy and tasty 2-Ingredient Banana and Oat Cookies, which are yummy and nutritious, in about 15 minutes!


14. Mashed banana and oats

You can make an even easier cheap meal by just mashing a banana with two-thirds 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 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.


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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 recipetakes 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).


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 them in a mason jar with closed lid or another container with a closed lid for at least four hours or overnight, and you have a tasty breakfast ready in the morning!


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. You can find a simple recipe for fluffy Swedish pancakes here.


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. Get the recipe for German oven pancakes here


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 so 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

3. Tuna fish and egg 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). You can find a simple recipe for strawberry spinach salad and a tasty homemade dressing here.


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. 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, cilantro (or omit it, like I do), and mayo. You can get the avocado and chicken salad recipe here.

17. Chicken avocado salad sandwiches

For a simple twist on the cheap meal mentioned just above, try making this chicken avocado salad sandwich recipe.

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. You can find this simple pasta frittata recipe here.

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. You can get this easy skillet burritos recipe here.


2. Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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


3. Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas

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


4. Quick and Easy Calzones

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


5. Quick Beef Stroganoff

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


6. One-Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken and Rice

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


7. Vegetable Ramen Pad Thai

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


8. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with Rice

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


9.  Chicken Gnocchi Skillet

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


10. Spaghetti with Bacon

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


11. Sour Cream Enchiladas

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


12. Easy Microwave Chicken Enchiladas

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


13. Skillet Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

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


14. Best Chili Mac

This cheap 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! You can find this best chili macaroni and cheese recipe here.


15. One-Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

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


16. Sweet and sour meatballs

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


17. Easy Orange Chicken

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


18. 30-Minute Asian Orange Beef

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


19. Easy Sesame Chicken

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


20. Classic Bean and Cheese Burritos

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


21. Spinach and Artichoke Melts

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


22. One-Pot Chicken Pot Pie Fettuccine

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


23. Italian Pesto Pizza

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


24. Tater Tot Casserole

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


25. One-Skillet Smoked Sausage and Rice

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




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. Find this easy chicken pot pie rice bake recipe here.


27. Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

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


28. Stuffed Green Peppers

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


29. One-Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

This cheap 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! You can get this one-pot lemon herb chicken and rice recipe here.


30. Easy Garlic Chicken

Garlic chicken is another of my favorite cheap 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! Find this simple easy garlic chicken recipe here.


31.  30-Minute Mozzarella Chicken in Homemade Tomato Sauce

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


32. Pesto Pasta with Chicken

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


33. Spinach Alfredo Pasta

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


34. Classic Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

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


35. 20-Minute Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan

This is another quick, easy, and cheap 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. Find this skillet chicken and spinach Parmesan recipe here.


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


37. More Better Mac and Cheese

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


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

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


39. Easy pasta carbonara

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


40. Chicken stir fry over rice

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


41. 15-Minute Chicken and Rice Dinner

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


42. Chicken and broccoli alfredo

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


43. Ramen noodles with chicken and vegetables

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


44. Beef and cheese goulash

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


45. Tacos

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


46. Taco soup with tortilla chips

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

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


47. Chili and cornbread

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


48. Homemade slow cooker or stove-top chicken noodle soup with homemade (or inexpensive) rolls or bread

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


49. Noodles or mashed potatoes with stroganoff

We generally eat this dish with corn (sometimes on the cob but more often than not from a can) and often with rolls or simple bread and butter (margarine). Of course you can find tons of hamburger gravy and stroganoff recipes online. The way we make ours is very similar to this simple Ground Beef Stroganoff recipe (we also include cream of mushroom soup in ours, and we omit the fresh mushrooms if we don’t have any on hand).


50. Chicken fajitas

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


51. Mom’s Beef Stew

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


52. Sloppy Joes

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


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53. Meatball Sub Soup

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


54. Stovetop Chicken Pot Pie

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


55. Parmesan Chicken with Rice

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


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

Grilled cheese is another favorite cheap 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. You can find a great recipe for Barbecue Chicken Tostadas here.



59. Chicken alfredo pizza

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


60. Hot dogs, brats, and fries

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

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


61. Lemon pepper chicken with rice

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


62. Creamy chicken and mushroom soup

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


63. Egg fried rice

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


64. Cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole

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


 65. Quick Bean and Rice Burritos

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


66. Easy Beef Enchiladas

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

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

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

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


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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