39 Cheap Dinner Ideas To Help You Stick To Your Budget— Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes

easy white chicken chili as a cheap dinner idea for families on a budget
Get the white chicken chili recipe here

Feeding the whole family can cost a ton if you don’t get savvy creating 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.

. Related: 31 Dinner Ideas For Two: Here’s What You Can Make For Dinner Tonight!

Cooking conversions

Now, most everyone is pressed for time when it comes to making home-cooked meals on a budget for the whole family. That’s why it’s always a great idea to cook with a crockpot whenever you can.

It goes without saying that it’s quick, convenient, and it doesn’t take a lot of work to throw together before going about the rest of your day (that’s what’s so convenient about them!) It’s why I created this handy slow cooker times sheet you can print and stick on your fridge!

It also helps to know kitchen conversions and measurements to make life just a tad easier.

Head here to get free printable conversion charts for your kitchen

Smoked sausage and rice skillet


Recipe Via All Things Mama

As soon as I laid eyes 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 compliment 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.

Related: 21 Dinner Ideas For Two: What To Make For Dinner Tonight

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.

Related: Best Flan Recipe: How To Make Mexican lan With This Easy Flan Recipe!

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.

Crockpot creamy lemon chicken


Recipe Via Life In The Lofthouse

This creamy lemon chicken looks to die for delicious. You bet your socks any crockpot 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 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

Why go out and spend loads of money on PF Chang’s when you can make your own version at home? This recipe makes for the perfect cheap dinner idea that can save your weeknight cooking plans and that doesn’t have to eat a big hole into your grocery budget. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal to feed the whole family, this is it.

Southwest chicken and rice

Recipe Via The Chunky Chef

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.

Spicy fish tacos

Spicy Fish tacos that are healthy and ready in about 20 minutes, the best fish taco recipe with pineapple slaw

Recipe Via Teal Notes

Making fish tacos can be a great change of pace if you’re tired of eating the same three meals in rotation. Though they tend to be pricier if you go out and order them at a restaurant, you can make them at home with a few ingredients for a lot less. Get the recipe. 

Classic stuffed shells

Recipe Via Spend With Pennies

Stuffed shells can be an easy alternative 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 doesn’t’ 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 it’s 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.

Chinese stir fry noodles

Recipe Via Recipe Tin Eats

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 categories 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 it’s 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.

Easy chili recipe

Recipe Via Julia’s Eats And Treats

You really can’t go wrong with good old Chili. It’s 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 it’s doable for sure!

Lemon chicken soup

this lemon chicken soup with rice is perfect for when you want something warm and tasty

Recipe Via Teal Notes

Lemon chicken soup tends to do three things: satisfies you, warms you from the inside out, and saves you money. You can absolutely make this soup your own on the cheap with whatever leftover ingredients you find in your fridge. 

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 rice and lentils

Recipe Via Girl Vs Dough

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.

Taco melts

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. Get the recipe here.

Kielbasa pepper onion and potato hash

Recipe Via The Two Bite Club

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. There’s this recipe too, which is only $0.84 per serving Get the recipe here. 

Imitation pasta carbonara

Easy pasta carbonara recipe that makes a great cheap and easy dinner idea

Recipe Via Teal Notes

In college, I learned to make a few cheap meals to save money. And this one is one of my favorites I’d prepare with my close friends. Fancy, but not really, yet still good. Get the recipe.

Mexicali tostadas

Recipe Via My Recipes

If your palate is asking for something Mexican, try these delicious tostadas. You can either make it 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. Get the recipe here.

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. Get the recipe here.

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. Get the recipe here.

Chili cheese Frito 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, which 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 dinner idea. Get the recipe here.

Vegetarian spaghetti

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. Get the recipe here.

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 it’s a super healthy meal to put together. Get the recipe below. Get the recipe here.

Mac 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.

Cheesy orzo and sausages

Cheesy Orzo: One Pan Orzo With Sausage And Peppers, healthy orzo recipes

Recipe Via Teal Notes

Admittedly, orzo isn’t the cheapest ingredient out there. But that’s the beauty of recipes, you can make them your own. instead of orzo, you can use ziti or farfalle and it can work the same. Also, I need to just say, those sausages look delicious. 

Budget friendly beef wellingtons

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 convenience store. Wellingtons are a yummy cheap meal idea option for eating in. Get the recipe here. 

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. Get the recipe here.

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! Get the recipe here.

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. Get the recipe here. 

Green chili chicken

green chicken chili, an easy cheesy chicken and chili recipe that is absolutely delicious

Recipe Via Teal Notes

Green chili chicken is absolutely the best. Awesome flavors, affordable ingredients, and great potential to become a family favorite (or a nice dinner for two!)

Easy and inexpensive 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. Get the recipe here.

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.

Asian shepherds pie

Recipe Via Snap Guide

Ever heard of ‘Asian’ Shepperd’s Pie? Neither had I until recently. Apparently, you can make some bomb Shepperd’s pie with some cheap (seriously cheap) ramen noodles. Make sure you check out the recipe for this cheap and easy budget meal. Get the recipe here.

Cheesy chicken fritters

Recipe Via Natasha’s Kitchen

If you pair two of the tastiest (and pretty affordable) ingredients around you get this simple yet genius idea: cheese and chicken. 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! Get the recipe here. 

30-minute one-pan salsa verde recipe

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 it 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. Get the recipe here.

One-pan chicken and veggies

one pan chicken and veggies, baked chicken and vegetables in the oven

Recipe Via Teal Notes

By now you probably know one pan anything will save you money. And this recipe is no different. The secret in getting it right is in the seasoning. No need for fancy or costly ingredients. 

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!). Get the recipe here.

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? Get the recipe here.

Baked ziti

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. Get the recipe here.

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.

Cheap Dinner Ideas To Stay Under Your Meal Budget

Are you at a loss for cheap dinner ideas you can easily make at home when money's tight? Here's an awesome list you can look through!
Prep Time 1 hr


  • Rice, Pasta, Or Legumes
  • Beef, Pork, Chicken, Or any other type of meat
  • Cheese, tomato sauce and/or garnishes


  • Find your favorite recipe, click on it to get the full instructions, start cooking delicious cheap meal ideas for the whole family.

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One Comment

  1. ‘Teriyaki Turkey Teriyaki Rice Bowls’…. not redundant, no?

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