Feeding the whole family can cost a ton if you don’t know how to create family meals on a budget.
Awesome cheap and easy meals like the ones on this list can help make feeding your family more affordable. Especially if you’re trying to save money while you earn as much as you can.
As an extra plus, it makes it easier to make a decision on what to cook for dinner on any given day.
After long days at work, sometimes the very last thing we want to do is decide what you’ll make for dinner.
And that’s where time-saving shortcuts like a reliable crock-pot can come in and save your meal plans!
I constantly use mine to save money on groceries and create delicious meals that I don’t even have to think about.
Best of all they aren’t expensive and super affordable.
Let’s dive in and save your dinner plans for the week (and a ton of money!) with these cheap dinner ideas. Here are 49 awesome budget meals to feed the family and save money.
What is the cheapest meal to make?
This, or either ‘what can I cook on a tight budget?’ might be the two questions on your mind when you’re trying to cut your food bill and save money.
I’ve listed some quick meal ideas that can save you money that should amount to under $5. These are probably as cheap as cheap gets unless you literally just have money for a can of beans (because hey, it happens). It goes without saying, if you have a bigger family you’d have to multiply the portions.
Campbells cream of chicken, cabbage, and pasta shells
Dice the cabbage to the size of your liking and simmer it all together in 2.5-3 cups of water. You’ve got yourself some chicken soup with veggies! Add some baby carrots if you’re feeling extra healthy (or even peas).
Naan bread with re-fried beans and feta cheese
Get a slice of Nan bread, open and slather on a can of your favorite re-fried beans, then sprinkle some feta cheese on top. A quick hit and a total winner. Add an over easy egg on top for extra gooey goodness and protein.
Chickpea, lentil, and bean soup
Mix all legumes together and bring to a boil with one to two cans of chicken stock (either homemade or canned) to make a tasty legume soup. Add sliced onions and some chicken cube and cumin for extra flavor.
Tomato cabbage Ramen
Cook your traditional bag of ramen and add canned tomatoes, sliced cabbage, and a teaspoon of chicken cube for some hearty goodness.
Parmesan ham and olive oil pasta
Make some cheap style spaghetti carbonara by sauteeing ham, some onion slices, and adding some freshly cooked spaghetti. Top off with your favorite cheap parmesan cheese. Add spinach as an extra health bonus!
How to get farm fresh meat at a great price
As a money savings cherry on top, we all know the importance of eating healthy. And since everyone’d budget is different, this works great for anyone looking to add healthy meats to their dinner plans.
Butcher Box is a great way to get responsibly sourced, grass-fed beef meats that use no antibiotics delivered monthly to your door.
Once you sign up, you get a personalized box delivered to your door along with any special deals they might have on a particular item (for example they’ll send you FREE bacon with certain orders).
You get to choose the specific items in the box or you can let them surprise you with their own personalized pick each month!
Here are a couple more cheap dinner ideas to inspire your dinner plans and help you figure out what you should make for dinner tonight.
Smoked Sausage and Rice Skillet
Recipe Via All Things Mama
As soon as I laid eyed on this recipe my mouth started to water ( I had yet to eat dinner) and thought it was a great addition to the list of cheap easy meals. The sausage, broccoli, and rice all complement each other nicely and as you can see it doesn’t take too long to throw together.
Check out the recipe to learn how to put it together.
Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
Via Teal Notes
Nothing says cheap and easy dinner idea than anything you can make in a slow cooker. And when you can take a classic taco like the carnitas taco and make your own version of it in a slow cooker? Then it becomes priceless.
Try out my pork carnitas recipe and see how you like it for yourself. It might take some time to cook in the slow cooker, but its a cheap and easy dinner idea that is almost all hands off and can turn into a staple in your monthly dinner plans!
Recipe Via Hallmark Channel
Ever thought about making a burrito out of ramen? Talk about cheap and easy all rolled into one (see what I did there?) If you don’t want to include the shrimp then you can definitely leave them out or replace them with a cheaper meat option (or no meat at all works too!) Check out the recipe and try it out at home as a cheap dinner option!
Mexican Shrimp Pasta
Recipe Via Whats Gaby Cooking
I found this recipe while looking for a particular dish with a bit of seafood for all the seafood lovers out there. It’s a healthy recipe with pico de gallo (a delicious mexican mix of zesty veggies). It can make great a cheap meal for two.
If it looks like it would be right up your alley, make sure you check out the recipe.
Avocado Egg Toast
Recipe Via Closet Cooking
This is a bit of a ‘breakfast for dinner’ twist. Who says dinner has to be meat and potatoes all the time?
With some healthy avocado, some spices and some sunny side up eggs, you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthy and filling dish for your entire family.
Learn about all the ingredients that go into making avocado egg toast successfully through the link below.
Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Recipe Via Food With Feeling
Not only is this cheap dinner idea good for your wallet it’s a much healthier option than a bowl of pasta (though one of those once in a while doesn’t hurt either). These bean stuffed sweet potatoes look super good and filling. As a dinner option, they’re most definitely worth a try.
Crock Pot Creamy Lemon Chicken
This creamy lemon chicken looks to die for delicious. You bet your socks any crock pot recipe is going to be easy to make and more budget friendly can a regular full course meal. This recipe is worth trying, especially if you have some chicken sitting around that you don’t quite know what to do with.
Teriyaki Turkey Teriyaki Rice Bowl
Recipe Via Yellow Bliss Road
This Teriyaki bowl of ground turkey (some of the cheapest meat you can get out there) definitely has great potential to become a favorite cheap dinner idea for tonight. It could even be a cheap dinner idea for two if you want to fix something GOOD and quick.
P. F. Chang’s Garlic Noodles
Recipe Via Dinner Then Dessert
South West Chicken
Recipe Via All Recipes
South West Chicken sounds like some good old soul food for dinner. Cheap meal ideas come as easy as this South West Chicken recipe served over some aromatic Jasmine rice.
Classic Stuffed Shell Recipes
Recipe Via Spend With Pennies
Stuffed shells can be an easy alternate to making a full on lasagna. And if you create it as a side instead of the main dish then you don’t have to spend making as much. If you’re feeling for cheese and tomato sauce then this recipe is worth a try.
Seasoned Rice Pilaf
Recipe Via Good Cheap Eats
Rice pilaf is a great cheap meal option because it doesn’t take too much of anything at all to make. All you need is some chicken broth, butter, rice, and some seasoning for some expertly cooked rice that doesnt’ come out of a box. Cheap and easy!
Easy Cheese Bomb Bread
Recipe Via Avery Cooks
This cheese bomb bread might look fancy and expensive but its really easy to make and tastes amazing! There are lots of things you can combine the bread with, like tuna patties for example, or a chickpea salad. Totally your call. Check out the recipe over at Avery Cooks.
Spanish Spinach With Chickpeas
Recipe Via Simple Vegan Blog
Chickpeas are a cheap dinner option that can be incorporated with a lot of things, including meats if you aren’t a vegan. If you’re trying to watch what you eat more closely or are trying to transition into veganism to save money on meat, then this is a cheap and easy dinner idea you must try!
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli And Rice Casserole
Via Mom On Time Out
if you’re really looking to save money with your dinner recipes one great way to do that is with casseroles. You can create casseroles out of almost anything imaginable and if you know to mix it with a few key ingredients, they can come out pretty tasty. This particular recipe includes rice and chicken, which makes it extra hearty and filling.
Ham and Pineapple Sliders
Recipe Via The Recipe Rebel
Pineapple ham subs are a great spin to pineapple ham pizza and are a lot easier to make. You can throw these together after a long night and have a satisfied family. They’re also kid friendly and easy to serve.
Dump And Bake Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Recipe Via The Seasoned Mom
A good old chicken and broccoli casserole never hurt anyone, especially your budget. The best part is you can basically dump it all in and have it ready to go in no time. Save money and save time. A total win-win.
Stir-Fried Chinese Egg Noodles
Recipe Via My Recipes
If you’re feeling like having Chinese but don’t want to spend the money necessary to order takeout, try making your own dish of stir-fried noodles. It’s actually not too hard to make Chinese at home that actually tastes good and is right on budget.
Yes, cheap meal recipes can also get a little fancy with some creativity. It’s also a winner in the cheap easy meals for two category that a lot of us are after!
Check out the recipe for full directions.
Chicken Enchilada Soup
Recipe Via Skinny Taste
Add a twist to the traditional chicken enchilada by making it a soup! The ingredients you need are cheap and a lot of them can be found in the canned or dried section.
Best of all its a crock-pot recipe that takes no time at all to put together and can be ready by the time you get back home from work. A double win-win for a cheap meal idea.
Quick and Easy Chili
Recipe Via Cheat Sheet
You really can’t go wrong with good old Chili. Its definitely a filling recipe and it makes great leftovers for a couple of days after. You can even add some cornbread to it to complete the meal.
The best part is that it doesn’t take forever to put together, and you can even leave it simmering in a crock-pot throughout the day. Sometimes it can take a little digging to create cheap dinners. but its doable for sure!
Easy Tuna Patties
Recipe Via Family Fresh Meals
Tuna patties can be a great easy dinner idea that can bring some much needed change to your kitchen (and taste buds). They go great with a little spritz of lemon and you can have them with a side salad or some fresh rice. Easy, right?
Adult Cobb Grilled Cheese
Recipe Via Foodie Crush
Try creating adult grilled cheese as an easy meal option. Who said grilled cheese only has to be cheese and bread? Add some avocado, tomato, and bacon to it!
Poached Eggs With Spiced Lentils
Recipe Via Serious Eats
I used to hate lentils until my mother showed me how to spice them so they didn’t taste like cardboard. This dish, with a sunny side egg on top, can be a tasty recipe to keep your family healthy that gets anyway from the norm.
Try something new and try some well-prepared lentils for dinner.
Recipe Via Pillsbury
These are great, easy, and tasty because you don’t even have to make the dough to put it together (it’s a pillsbury dough recipe). These tacos look too good to pass up and it flips the conventional tortilla tacos on its back and uses flour dough instead.
Try this twist on the original taco.
Kielbasas and Potato Skillet
Recipe Via Carissa Shaw
I remember making this type of recipe while on a college retreat. We were on a tight budget and were in need of easy cheap meal ideas that wouldn’t put us in the overspending on food zone. Needless to say the meal was a success and everyone ended up with happy and filled tummies.
This meal idea is particularly cheap and easy on your food budget. If you head over to the recipe, they estimate about 0.84 cents per servings. That’s a lot of savings if you ask me!
Recipe Via My Recipes
If your palate is asking for something Mexican, try these delicious tostadas. You can either make with or without meat and it’s an easy cheap meal idea you can make on any type of budget. I usually like to make mine with beans, a cheap easy and filling alternative to expensive meats (though meat is always an option too).
Then you can always top off with your favorite blend of veggies and spices, cilantro, for instance, goes great with the bean and cheese combination.
Slow Cooker Smothered Chicken
Recipe Via Pillsbury
Slow cooker recipes are absolutely convenient for families that want to enjoy a nice meal after a long day. Slow cooker smothered chicken sounds like the perfect recipe for a Friday night quick dinner.
Make sure you check out the easy recipe.
Faux Cubano Grilled Cheese
Recipe Via Serious Eats
For dinner, try a twist on the classic grilled cheese. Yes, they are mostly mentioned as dinner meals, but if you make these hearty ham and pickle grilled cheeses they become more filling (not to mention super tasty). If you’re thinking of cheap food ideas, a hearty grilled cheese always takes the cake (no pun intended).
When I make mine I like to add a slice of tomato to each half.
Chili Cheese Fritos Salad
Recipe Via Lets Dish Recipes
This fun and cheap salad can be a light dinner pick me up that you can mix and match with a lot of different sides. If you love the crunchiness of Fritos and the sweetness of corn then you’ll love this easy and cheap salad recipe!
Easy Potato Bacon Soup
Recipe Via Plated Cravings
Who says you can’t have soup for dinner? Especially this potato-based soup, that is particularly filling. I tried making some potato bacon soup for the first time this year, and I’ve been making it ever since. It is absolutely delicious, cheap to put together, and super satisfying.
Make sure you take a peek at the recipe for another great cheap and easy dinners idea.
Recipe Via Family Food On The Table
Of course, as part of the mission to feed your family on a budget, I had to include a vegetarian dish. This means savings on meat products (which can be the biggest wallet drainers on our grocery list).
Cheap dinner meals CAN be delicious and healthy, a win-win for a meal on a budget.
Three Bean Casserole
Recipe Via BHG
When putting together a meals list, you can’t leave out the casseroles. They are time savers more than anything, and they also make great leftovers for reheating or taking to work. This one is great when it comes to cheap dinner ideas for 2.
This three bean casserole is nothing short of awesome. The cheese on top brings it all together and its a super healthy meal to put together.
Get the recipe below.
Macaroni And Cheese With Cauliflower And Tuna
Recipe Via An Edible Mosaic
We’ve all heard of mac and beef but have we heard of mac and tuna? It’s definitely cheaper than beef and can be just as filling with a new twist on flavor. Make sure you check out the recipe over at An Edible Mosaic to get the full recipe.
Recipe Via This Is Not Diet Food
Beef Wellingtons are some of my favorite recipes to make! I fell in love with them from the first time I tried them and they’re definitely on the list of cheap dinner ideas for 4.
All you need are basic ingredients like puff pastry, which you can find at almost any convenient store. Wellingtons are a yummy cheap meal idea option for eating in.
5-Ingredient Broccoli Cheese Soup
Recipe Via Gimme Some Oven
This one is for all the cheese lovers out there that want to have their cheese and easy and cheap recipes at the same time. This is a classic broccoli cheese soup that makes for some hearty dinner nights with the whole family.
get the awesome recipe below.
Easy Fried Rice
Recipe Via The Wicked Noodle
Fried rice is three things: delicious, filling, and easier to make than you think (just go to any hibachi restaurant). It can make a great cheap meal for two and can pack a flavorful punch if you sautee it with the right ingredients (that are cheap and don’t cost a ton of money). Learn how to make this easy recipe below!
Key West Grilled Chicken
Recipe Via Grocery Budget 101
This grilled chicken is delicious and a perfect summer staple. You can even pair it with the previous fried rice recipe for a complete meal.
The recipe calls for spicy jalapeno peppers so this is perfect for you if you can put up with the heat along with a nice hint of lime. Again, a cheap and easy budget meal that can go with so many other things on this list, or by itself.
Easy + Inexpensive 5-Ingredient Bean Soup
Recipe Via Coley Cooks
Beans are a great source of protein, complex carbs and fiber. They make for a great hearty soup and can be delicious if paired with flavor enhancing spices.
This particular recipe is easy to make and doesn’t cost much at all. A perfect cheap meal idea especially for colder evenings.
Quick + Cheap Jambalaya
Recipe Via McCormick
Jambalaya is a Southern soul food perfect for hungry stomachs that want something a little more substantial. This meal is easy to prepare and can get you out of a crunch if you’re in a hurry to fix something good and cheap to eat.
Poor Man’s Lasagna
Recipe Via Fabulessly Frugal
If you have some canned tomato sauce and some cheese to spare, try whipping together some poor man’s lasagna! It’s a dinner classic and it makes great leftovers to take to work the next day or to reinvent for another meal.
It’s cheap to make and doesn’t take long to prepare. All you have to do is remember to put the ingredients on your meal planner the next time you go shopping.
Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Recipe Via Living On A Dime
Make your grilled cheese “Italian” grilled cheese by adding a few tasty key ingredients along with some melty cheese.
Asian Shepperd’s Pie
Recipe Via Snap Guide
Ever heard of ‘Asian’ Shepperds Pie? Neither had I until recently. Apparently, you can make some bomb Shepperds pie with some cheap (seriously cheap) ramen noodles. Make sure you check out the recipe for this cheap and easy budget meal.
Cheesy Chicken Recipe
Recipe Via Kraft Recipes
If you pair two of the tastiest (and pretty affordable) ingredients around you get this simple yet genius idea: Cheesy Chicken on rice. It’s two things: Affordable and the perfect dinner idea for two (or more).
Recipe Via Good Cheap Eats
For your quest on finding cheap delicious meals try Quiche! Everybody loves Quiche! And if you have a bunch of leftovers that you aren’t sure what to do with (along with a few eggs) then this might just be your dinner idea for tonight.
This dish is not only great for breakfast but it can also be a perfect fit for a nice quick dinner idea. Quiche-licious!
30-Minute One-Pan Salsa Verde Chicken
Recipe Via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Salsa Verde Pork is absolutely delicious…but if pork is too out of your budget range, you can always replace it with chicken chunks. Remember, when you’re looking for cheap family meals, you can still use a delicious recipe and just replace with pricier ingredients with substitutes.
This recipe shows you just how to do it so you end up with some finger licking good cheap dinner that’ll cost you next to nothing.
Veggie Cheesy Bread
Recipe Via Real House Moms
If you’re wanting to have another healthy meal idea that doesn’t necessarily involve meat, try this cheesy veggie bread. It can be done in a matter of minutes and can be oh so filling! If you’re on the lookout for cheap quick meals then this one is definitely one to put on your to do list.
You can always choose your favorite type of bread (like pita or naan) and make it your own.
Sweet Potato Zoodle Bowl
Recipe Via Ambitious Kitchen
This Sweet Potato Zoodle Bowl is perfect for when you want to have an awesome explosion of flavors in your mouth! While it’s not your conventional noodle soup, you can still cook this meal while on a budget and enjoy something new (and not to mention absolutely tasty!).
Classic Stuffed Peppers
Recipe Via Feast and Farm
Stuffed bell peppers can be a great healthy meal idea if paired with low-fat meat and cheese ingredients. They’re a great new recipe to try if you’re tired of eating the same things.
Once you make them, you can freeze a portion and leave it for a later date. How’s that for an easy meal idea?
Baked Ziti (5-Ingredient and Freezable)
Recipe Via Cooking With Libby
This is a great cheap meal for large families due to the ingredients being so cheap. Ziti is not only delicious but pretty easy to make and you can personalize it with the ingredients and spices you and your family prefer.
Delicious Meals On A Budget Are Possible
There are endless easy meals to make that won’t break the bank. The problem is, sometimes you just forget or are at a loss for inspiration on how to come up with your inexpensive dinner ideas.
Hopefully, this list gave you some awesome ideas and gets you out of the same dinner rut (and keeps you from needlessly having to overspend). Budget meals don’t have to be a pain when you get a little internet recipe savvy and start saving money on food along the way.
If you know of any cheap food recipes worth mentioning, make sure you mention them below.
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