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55 Simple & Cheap Dinner Ideas For The Budget-Friendly Cook

Quick Answer: What Are Some Cheap Dinner Ideas?

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Some cheap dinner ideas include- classic mac and cheese, chicken teriyaki, bean & cheese burritos, cornbread & chili, tuna casserole, lentil soup, spaghetti & meatballs, fettuccine alfredo, butternut squash soup, egg salad sandwiches, and egg fried rice. Also, try bagel pizzas, chili dogs, sloppy joes, french fries, quesadillas, and stuffed bell peppers for individual portions.

Beat your budget blues with these cheap dinner ideas that incorporate texture and taste without breaking the bank. From classic mac and cheese to spicy chicken parmesan, there’s something here for all families and a few individual meals! 

If you’re like me, your grocery bill increases every month. There’s so much that goes into being a home cook, but your pocket doesn’t have to suffer. You can save a few bucks here and there, so find your fave and get cooking!

Cheap Dinner Ideas: Quick Table 

Recipes Calories Preparation Time
Classic Mac and Cheese697 (per serving) 15 min 
Classic Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes 519 (per serving)1 hr 15 min 
Homemade Lasagna386 (per serving)1 hr 35 min
Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup307 (per serving)1 hr 20 min 
Bean & Cheese Burritos 403 (per serving)27 min 
Chicken Teriyaki 214 (per serving)25 min 
Spaghetti Bolognese 297 (per serving)30 min 
Homemade Tacos 142 (per serving)25 min 
Chili Dogs 385 (per serving)25 min 
Quesadillas 227 (per serving)35 min 
Turkey Sloppy Joes 422 (per serving)30 min 
Tuna Melts 350 (per serving)23 min 
Classic Tuna Casserole 538 (per serving)30 min 
Lentil Soup 314 (per serving)50 min 
Cornbread & Chili 450 (per serving)2 hrs 45 min
Tater Tot Casserole 290 (per serving)1 hr 10 min 
Bagel Pizzas268 (per serving)15 min 
Fettuccine Alfredo 687 (per serving)30 min 
Egg Salad Sandwiches 469 (per serving)25 min 
Spaghetti & Meatballs 411(per serving)40 min 
Loaded Baked Potatoes397 (per serving)45 min 
Chicken Parmesan 324 (per serving)45 min 
Chicken Noodle Soup 213 (per serving)1hr 5 min 
Chicken Tikka Masala 432 (per serving)30 min 
French Fries 379 (per serving)2 hrs 45 min 
Sesame Chicken Meatballs 340 (per serving)30 min 
Cheeseburgers  668 (per serving)30 min
Egg Fried Rice 358 (per serving)25 min 
Caprese Pasta Salad 359 (per serving)25 min 
Chicken Enchiladas 372 (per serving)45 min 
Butternut Squash Soup 200 (per serving)1 hr 30 min 
Stuffed Bell Peppers405 (per serving)1 hr 20 min 
Mushroom Salisbury Steak444 (per serving)55 min 
Chicken & Dumplings401 (per serving)1 hr
Quick Beef Stroganoff98 (per serving)30 min 
Greek Pasta Salad 481 (per serving)30 min 
Chicken Tortellini Soup 356 (per serving)42 min 
Simple Quiche 363 (per serving)2 hrs 50 min 
Chicken Pot Pie 343 (per serving)2 hrs 10 min 
Oven Baked Fish & Chips 422 (per serving)30 min 
Bean Soup 304 (per serving)45 min 
Coconut Shrimp Curry & Rice 230 (per serving)25 min 
Pasta Puttanesca 280 (per serving)25 min 
Classic Sausage Roll 278 (per serving)30 min 
Lemon Pepper Chicken 560 (per serving)30 min 
Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry 385 (per serving)30 min 
Chicken Pad Thai 375 (per serving)30 min 
Chicken Kebabs 171 (per serving)12 hrs 40 min 
Loaded Grilled Hot Dogs 423 (per serving)25 min 
Corned Beef Hash Browns 420 (per serving)30 min 
Potato Biryani 710 (per serving)50 min 
Spicy Baked Cauliflower115 (per serving)35 min
BLT Salad 276 (per serving)10 min 
Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes187 (per serving)1 hr 35 min 
Slow Cooker Collard Greens355 (per serving)4.5 hrs

1. Classic Mac And Cheese

Tasty, easy, and packed full of melted cheese, this classic meal is a simple way to keep everybody fed. Stove-top mac and cheese is my favorite 30-minute meal. 

Keep things simple by tossing your mac and cheese mix in an instant pot. Alternatively, you can use the oven. Serve when warm and bubbly. 

Calories Per Serving: 697 

Total Preparation Time: 15 min 

2. Classic Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes 

Comfort meals are the most affordable, and this meatloaf and mashed potato combination prove that. With a prep time of 20 minutes and a cook time of 30, you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. 

I like to use the instant pot, but the oven works fine for the meatloaf if you don’t have one. 

Calories Per Serving: 519

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 15 min

3. Homemade Lasagna

Gooey, warm, and incredibly cheesy, lasagna is a five-star meal that costs pennies to make. All you need is some red sauce, cheese, beef mince, and lasagna pasta. 

I use canned tomatoes for my sauce, as they’re affordable and packed with flavor. In addition, this recipe freezes beautifully, so you can make it in bulk and eat it throughout the month. 

Calories Per Serving: 386

Total Preparation Time: 1hr 35 min

4. Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup

If you’re looking for a bit of comfort, have this classic grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. It tastes like a hug in a bowl. I like a slice of cheddar cheese and mozzarella mix for my sandwich, but you can use a melty cheese. 

To get the most flavor, roast the tomatoes in the oven with some vegetable oil drizzled on top. 

Calories Per Serving: 307

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 20 min

5. Bean & Cheese Burritos 

Vegetarian meals are a great way to cut down costs while grocery shopping. This bean and cheese burrito gives you that distinct chipotle flavor without the meat. The creamy beans are filling and add varying textures. 

To make up for the lack of meat, add cheese. It instantly elevates your burrito. I like to toast my burritos until the cheese inside melts. 

Calories Per Serving: 403

Total Preparation Time: 27 min

6. Chicken Teriyaki 

Sticky, sweet, and full of umami flavor, it’s always surprising to discover how affordable chicken teriyaki is. This recipe incorporates a homemade teriyaki sauce that can be drizzled over fresh, crisp vegetables for a flavor-packed meal.

You can find all the sauce ingredients at your local grocery store. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and enjoy!  

Calories Per Serving: 214

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

7. Spaghetti Bolognese 

Rich, flavorful, and filling, this spaghetti bolognese is better than the store-bought stuff you get in a can, and it takes less than thirty minutes to make! Fresh onions, celery, carrots, and tomato puree blend to make this Italian classic. 

Much like the other pasta recipes on this list, the bolognese freezes well, so you can add it to your monthly meal prep list. 

Calories Per Serving: 297

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

8. Homemade Tacos 

Every day is taco Tuesday with these fresh, simple, and cheap beef tacos. You’ll need cheese, pico de gallo or salsa, ground beef, and soft shell tacos. All in all, your meal will take around 15 minutes to assemble. 

You can use premade taco seasoning, but if you want to watch your sodium and use the spices you have, this homemade version is your best bet.

Calories Per Serving: 142

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

9. Chili Dogs 

If you’re craving carnival food but don’t want to break the bank at a theme park, these loaded chili dogs are a perfect replacement for the real deal! The pillowy brioche bun houses chunky beef chili, melted cheese, and a hot dog or smoke. 

I like to grill or toast my buns for that added texture and warmth. Of course, you can add your favorite chilies on top, but a mild jalapeno works just fine.

Calories Per Serving: 385

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

10. Quesadillas

You’ll have an affordable meal with some tortillas, ground beef, and cheese. It almost tastes like a pizza! It’s a great breakfast with protein and energy for a busy day. 

Pre-cook the meat before assembling the quesadilla, or you’ll have a soggy mess on your hands. For extra taste, you can dip the quesadilla slices in a cheese or marinara sauce. 

Calories Per Serving: 227

Total Preparation Time: 35 min

RELATED: Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own Bread (Baking Vs Buying Bread)?

11. Turkey Sloppy Joes 

We all love sloppy joes, but sometimes you want a healthier option that doesn’t cost too much. Enter the hearty turkey sloppy joe. The lean meat is full of savory goodness and way less fat. 

To keep the health train going, use a whole wheat bun and add some fresh jalapeno slices on top of your sloppy joe mix. 

Calories Per Serving: 422

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

12. Tuna Melts 

This recipe would feel nostalgic if you ate tuna melts as a child. The sweetness from the white bread pairs beautifully with the savory tuna and tangy cheese. I like to spice my tuna up with some cilantro and black pepper.

For a lunch option, pair your tuna melts with potato chips. Then, you can carry them to work, school, or a laid-back picnic. 

Calories Per Serving: 350

Total Preparation Time: 23 min

13. Classic Tuna Casserole 

Tuna is an affordable way to get your B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, and this casserole is chock full of hearty tuna, peas, and creamy noodles. To increase the Beverly texture, add sour cream and mayonnaise. 

To save money, use canned cream-of- mushroom or chicken soup. You can also use canned chicken and freeze your tuna casserole for a later date. 

Calories Per Serving: 538

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

14. Lentil Soup 

Easy, tasty, and oh so filling, lentil soup is an African, Middle Eastern in Mediterranean staple that’s fed generations while sticking to a tight budget for centuries. All you need is onions, celery, garlic, carrots, veggie broth, and lentils. 

I like to soak my lentils for an hour or more before boiling them as it softens them and removes any unwanted starch. 

Calories Per Serving: 314 

Total Preparation Time: 50 min

15. Cornbread & Chili

This southern treat is a great way to feed a large crowd with a small budget. You want to cook this low and slow so that the flavors marry each other, making the ultimate warm bowl of chili. 

For the cornbread, yellow corn flour will give you the color, but maize flour works just as well.  

Calories Per Serving: 450 

Total Preparation Time: 2 hrs 45 min

16. Tater Tot Casserole 

If you’ve got frozen tater tots but don’t want to fry them up, you’re in luck. This casserole puts a twist on the classic kids’ meal, transforming it into the perfect breakfast or brunch option. 

Toss in some bacon, cheese, green pepper, and eggs; you’ve got a winner.  

Calories Per Serving: 290 

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 10 min

17. Bagel Pizzas

For a no-fuss meal that serves one, try these bagel pizzas. They take out the hassle of making pizza dough and can be made for one or several people. What’s better, if you’re a college student, you can make these in the oven. 

Each bagel pizza costs less than 5 dollars per serving. For an easy dinner or lunch, you can use premade pizza sauce and pre-cooked toppings such as pepperoni. 

Calories Per Serving: 268 

Total Preparation Time: 15 min

18. Fettuccine Alfredo 

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars at a five-star Italian eatery to get the perfect creamy fettuccine alfredo. The sauce only needs five ingredients, and you can use some pasta water as a thickening agent. 

You can keep it vegetarian or add some grilled chicken, shrimp, or steak for a meat lover’s version. 

Calories Per Serving: 687

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

19. Egg Salad Sandwiches 

Sandwiches are a great way to stay full while saving on cash. With easy access to ingredients like eggs, mayonnaise, pickle juice, celery, and scallions, you’ll have a quick lunch or dinner option that delivers high energy at a low cost. 

Go for a thick bread like sourdough or rye and toast it if you want the sandwich to stay together, especially if you’re packing these for a road trip. 

Calories Per Serving: 469

Total Preparation Time: 25 min 

20. Spaghetti & Meatballs 

I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs. If you have the time, you can slow cook these in a crock pot. If you’re in a rush, pop them on a skillet until they’re brown, then let them cook in the oven for some time. 

Serve alongside a warm slice of garlic bread, and enjoy! 

Calories Per Serving: 411

Total Preparation Time: 40 min

RELATED: The Best Healthy Pot Dump Dinner Recipes (Ideas Your Family Will Love)

21. Loaded Baked Potatoes

The humble potato is perfect for cooks on a budget who still want a filling and nutritious meal. The great thing about a loaded baked potato is that it accommodates every diet. 

If you’re vegan, skip the sour cream and meat, and if you eat meat can incorporate your favorite protein into the mix. 

Calories Per Serving: 397

Total Preparation Time: 45 min 

22. Chicken Parmesan 

It’s hard to pick a favorite part of this recipe. We’ve got the chunky marinara sauce, the rustic flavors, and the melted parmesan. We also have fresh basil and crispy fried chicken. 

You can serve it with pasta or eat it plain. I like to turn it into a chicken parmesan sandwich!

Calories Per Serving: 324

Total Preparation Time: 45 min 

23. Chicken Noodle Soup 

You don’t have to have a cold to reap the benefits of this classic soup. Chunky carrots, celery, and tender chicken meat wrapped in noodles and black pepper will cure any sad situation. 

Take the skin off your chicken breast before you cook it, as it will add extra oil to the soup. Alternatively, you could use dark meat, which will enhance the flavors. 

Calories Per Serving: 213

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 5 min

24. Chicken Tikka Masala 

This meal is so prevalent in the UK that many consider it a national dish. Velvety smooth chicken, creamy sauce, and red tomatoes drizzled over white rice is the perfect way to spice up your weekly menu. 

If you really want this recipe to shine, marinate the chicken overnight before cooking it. 

Calories Per Serving: 432

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

25. French Fries 

French fries are the perfect meal. They’re filling, salty and decadent, and to top it off, they are absolutely cheap. Also, get some russet or shepody potatoes, which work well when deep fried. 

This recipe reveals the secret behind those addictive McDonald’s fries, and it’s soaking your potatoes in a sugar brine before double frying them. 

Calories Per Serving: 379

Total Preparation Time: 2 hrs 45 min

26. Sesame Chicken Meatballs 

If you’ve never tried chicken meatballs, now’s your chance. They’re just as tasty as the beef version, and with this teriyaki-like sauce, you get a warm burst of ginger and sesame. 

To prevent your chicken meatballs from drying, incorporate some breadcrumbs soaked in milk during the mixing process. 

Calories Per Serving: 340 

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

27. Cheeseburgers 

You can never go wrong with a homemade burger. It’s twice as tasty as the drive-thru version and costs less. You can customize it with your favorite cheese, meat, and bun. 

These burgers are smooth, caramel-like, and bursting with a moist flavor. The butter-cooked onions add a velvet-like texture, so ensure you use a good amount when frying. 

Calories Per Serving: 668

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

28. Egg Fried Rice 

Egg-fried rice isn’t just a college dorm meal. It’s a great way to use leftover veggies and rice; you won’t have to order takeout to get that classic egg-fried flavor. The sesame oil and soy sauce is a winning combination, and the garlic and ginger add a zing of warm spice. 

You can eat the rice as is or have it with a protein like lean fish or chicken. Be sure to use long grain or basmati rice, so the grains don’t stick together during the frying process. 

Calories Per Serving: 358

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

29. Caprese Pasta Salad 

Pasta salad is an underrated meal option, even though it’s one of the most filling salads. Hearty wheat pasta and creamy dressing make it a refreshing summer bite, but you can eat it all year round. 

Use a short pasta such as bowtie, orecchiette, macaroni or penne. The shorter pasta is easier to eat and toss in the salad.  

Calories Per Serving: 359

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

30. Chicken Enchiladas 

Enchiladas aren’t as complicated as they seem. Simply roll your chicken, sauce, cheese, and beans in a tortilla and drizzle extra sauce and cheese on top before baking for 20 min. 

I personally love chicken enchiladas, but you can add your favorite protein or use beans for a vegetarian option. A simple marinara or pizza sauce works well, so don’t stress about making sauce from scratch if you don’t have time. 

Calories Per Serving: 372

Total Preparation Time: 45 min

RELATED: The 40 Best Summer Dinner Ideas

31. Butternut Squash Soup 

Warm, nutty, and satisfying, butternut squash soup deserves a spot on your weekly meals list. The nutmeg, cinnamon, and onions bring the slow-roasted squash to life.  

To cut the cooking time in half, chop your squash into smaller pieces and bake them until dark brown. Then, serve your soup with a mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich and enjoy. 

Calories Per Serving: 200 

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 30 min

32. Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers quickly transition from an individually portioned meal to an easy option for an impromptu dinner party. 

If you’re wondering whether you should cook the peppers before filling them, I’d advise against it. The cooking process causes them to tighten, making them harder to fill. 

Calories Per Serving: 405

Total Preparation Time: 1hr 20 min 

33. Salisbury Steak & Potatoes

If you’ve never heard of Salisbury steak, let me be the first to introduce you to this budget-friendly meal. It’s beef mince combined with egg, breadcrumbs, and milk to create a steak-shaped cut of meat. 

Add some mushrooms and dried oregano to your mix to spice up the cheap cut of meat. You can serve this with roasted, fried, or mashed potatoes.

Calories Per Serving: 444

Total Preparation Time: 55 min 

34. Chicken & Dumplings

Unlike chicken dumplings, chicken and dumplings use lean chicken and biscuit dumplings swimming in a thick, creamy broth. The result is a thick soup with gummy balls of dough that coat your mouth with spicy flavor. 

This recipe elevates the original by using noodle dough as the dumpling base. Once cooked, serve hot with warm dinner rolls.

Calories Per Serving: 401 

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr

35. Quick Beef Stroganoff

Add this mushroom-filled delight to your thirty-minute meal menu because it’s easy and quick. Go for a softer steak cut like flank or any stir fry-friendly steak. Try to avoid tougher cuts like the eye-of-round, as they will take longer to tenderize. 

You can serve your stroganoff with mashed potatoes, noodles, fluffy rice, or polenta. 

Calories Per Serving: 98 

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

36. Greek Pasta Salad 

All hail the pasta salad. I love the versatility of this dish because of the easy-to-find ingredients and quick assembly time. Dijon dressing, plump green olives, feta cheese, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and dressing come together to make this springtime salad. 

If you can’t find tahini for the dressing, or it’s too expensive, mayonnaise works as a replacement. 

Calories Per Serving: 481

Total Preparation Time: 35 min 

37. Chicken Tortellini Soup 

Am I the only one who thinks pasta tastes different depending on its shape? Because there’s something unique and sweet about tortellini, especially when you add chicken, cheese, carrots, and creamy broth. 

Cut costs by using vegetable oil in place of olive oil. Canola or sunflower oil works great for most of these recipes. 

Calories Per Serving: 356 

Total Preparation Time: 42 min 

38. Simple Quiche 

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, quiche is always a simple fix with lots of flavors and low-cost ingredients like eggs, pie crust, bacon, and basil. 

If you’re feeling inspired, you can make your own pie crust, but the store-bought, frozen version works just fine. Serve hot or cold; it’s delicious both ways. 

Calories Per Serving: 363

Total Preparation Time: 2 hrs 50 min

39. Chicken Pot Pie 

My idea of a decadent budget meal is a thick, hearty chicken and veg mix covered in buttery, crunchy pie crust.

The great thing about a chicken pot pie is that it feeds many, so make a big batch and freeze it for big dinner parties. 

Calories Per Serving: 343 

Total Preparation Time: 2 hrs 10 min

40. Oven Baked Fish & Chips 

Fish and chips are a classic British staple and global phenomenon, and this recipe makes it accessible for everyone, whether you know how to make the classic fish batter or not. 

This version takes the hassle out of the original by baking the fish instead of frying it. In fact, the entire meal can be made on one sheet pan with minimal ingredients. It’s fast food at home!

Calories Per Serving: 422

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

RELATED: The 35 Best Light Dinner Ideas

41. Bean Soup 

This bean soup recipe copies the El Bulli version, one of the best restaurants in the world, so you can only imagine the taste. In 45 minutes, you’ll have a delicious cannellini bean-infused dinner. 

You can use kidney or rose coco beans, but cannellini was used at the El Bulli restaurant, so they have that distinct Michelin star flavor. 

Calories Per Serving: 304

Total Preparation Time: 45 min 

42. Coconut Shrimp Curry & Rice 

I love frozen shrimp because it’s cheap, versatile, and cooks in minutes. When tossed in coconut cream curry and topped with fresh cilantro, you have a meal that tastes like an island getaway. 

For this curry, defrost your shrimp ahead of time, so it doesn’t get that stringy texture after cooking. 

Calories Per Serving: 230 

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

43. Pasta Puttanesca 

Have guests over in 25 minutes? Whip together some pasta puttanesca, and voila, you’ve got a simple dinner option. 

If you’re worried about the alleged “fishy” taste that follows pasta puttanesca, don’t be. The capers and anchovies add a sharp bite without that unpleasant aftertaste. 

Calories Per Serving: 280 

Total Preparation Time: 25 min 

44. Classic Sausage Roll 

This quick portable pastry is full of spicy, savory sausage wrapped in a flaky, light crust that freezes well and fits perfectly into any lunchbox. 

You can use premade sausages, remove the casing, or season your meat with a unique mix. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and bake until golden brown and crackly at the top. 

Calories Per Serving: 278

Total Preparation Time: 30 min

45. Lemon Pepper Chicken

From the garlicky lemon butter sauce to the crunchy, tender chicken, this budget meal is fit for a five-star dining experience.

I like to pan fry my chicken, but you can use the oven or grill with this recipe. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.  

Calories Per Serving: 560

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

46. Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry 

Beef and broccoli go together like peas and carrots. So there’s something satisfying about steamed broccoli stems soaked in the juice from hearty stir fry steak. 

This meal serves four to five people and costs around 16 dollars, so it’s perfect for a low-budget meal plan. 

Calories Per Serving: 385

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

47. Chicken Pad Thai 

Pad thai is a popular street food found in every corner of Thailand, but you can have a piece of this rice noodle dish in your home without spending much money. 

You can find rice noodles in most Asian shops, but if you can’t, fettuccine noodles work fine as a replacement. Add peanuts for that nutty crunch and flavor, and serve while hot. 

Calories Per Serving: 375 

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

48. Chicken Kebabs 

Budget meals don’t always have to be quick. Instead, you can take your time and perfect your flavors, like with these 12-hour marinated chicken kebabs

You can marinate the veggies with your chicken for maximum taste and seasoning, then grill them for five minutes on each side or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Calories Per Serving: 171

Total Preparation Time: 12 hrs 40 min 

49. Loaded Grilled Hot Dogs 

Just because hot dogs are cheap doesn’t mean they have to be plain and boiled. Instead, you can spice them up by grilling them and layering a chunky chili and mac and cheese mix. 

This is an indulgent meal, so offset it with a light salad to keep things moderately healthy. 

Calories Per Serving: 423

Total Preparation Time: 25 min

50. Corned Beef Hash Browns 

Hash browns are a great breakfast option, but they can get a little plain. Add corned beef, caramelized onions, and black pepper, and you’ve got a hefty side to go with your eggs. 

You can get corned beef at your local deli or grocery store, but spam works just as well in a hash.  

Calories Per Serving: 420 

Total Preparation Time: 30 min 

51. Potato Biryani 

From the pungent aroma of warm spices to the soft, buttery potatoes, this biryani is just as delicious as its meat-filled counterparts. Use long grain rice like basmati, jeeraga samba, or keema rice for your biryani to get that fluffy rice feeling. 

You can use any potato, but russet potatoes work well with ghee and hold their shape throughout the cooking process. 

Calories Per Serving: 710 

Total Preparation Time: 50 min 

52. Spicy Baked Cauliflower

Whether you’re enjoying it as a side or main dish, baked cauliflower is a healthy meal that costs 2 dollars for a large cluster. You have the best of both worlds with some sweetness from the maple syrup and spiciness from the sriracha. 

As a gluten-free, vegan dish, it’s an excellent option for anyone with dietary restrictions. 

Calories Per Serving: 115

Total Preparation Time: 35 min 

53. BLT Salad 

Whoever turned the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich into a salad is an absolute genius. The crunchy croutons, fresh tomatoes, and crunchy bacon layered in fresh iceberg lettuce make for an unbeatable salad. 

You can cook your bacon in the oven if you want extra crispy chunks or on the stove for a softer texture.  

Calories Per Serving: 276

Total Preparation Time: 10 min 

54. Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes

Vegan meals don’t have to be expensive. With these loaded baked sweet potatoes, you can maintain your health while staying on budget. The sweetness from the caramelized potato and tang from the cheese makes for a dance of flavor and zest. 

If you’re not a fan of vegan cheese, go for coconut yogurt or a margarine-based bechamel sauce.  

Calories Per Serving: 187

Total Preparation Time: 1 hr 35 min 

55. Slow Cooker Collard Greens

Collard greens have been an affordable and filling meal packed with nutrients and tempting texture for centuries. To soften the traditionally coarse greens, cook them low and slow in a crock pot with bacon cuts and ham hocks to add a smoky, meaty element. 

Calories Per Serving: 355

Total Preparation Time: 4.5 hours 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Cook On A Low Budget? 

When it comes to low-budget cooking, planning is everything. First, try your best to budget your meals for the week and, if you can, for the month. Then, based on your income, go for recipes that use low-cost ingredients like vegetable oil instead of olive oil. 

Go for non-perishable essentials such as rice, flour, oatmeal, canned goods, and spaghetti, so you always have a starch, which is filling. I like to bulk shop at the beginning of each week and write down breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options. 

How Do You Make Cheap Meals For One Person? 

When cooking for yourself, portion control is your best bet for making an affordable meal. Try individually portioned meal packets like cheese slices and half-liter milk. Instead of buying a dozen eggs, try a pack of 6. 

When cooking, it’s best to measure your meals. For instance, cook half a cup instead of a cup of rice, which is perfect for two meals. Pre-portion your meats, veggies, and fruits into single portions and keep them in the freezer. 

What Are The Cheapest Food Items?

Some of the cheapest food items include dried spices, wheat flour, potatoes, pasta, beans, lentils, spaghetti, eggs, cabbage, collard greens, tuna, and canned goods.

Pro-tip, go for locally grown fruits and vegetables that are in season, as there will be an excess supply, and you’ll be able to get high-quality and nutritious ingredients for a fair price. 

Food prices may vary according to the country and city you live in, but these goods are generally affordable and versatile, so they fit into most diets and meal planning family options. 

55 Simple & Cheap Dinner Ideas For The Budget-Friendly Cook

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Simple And Cheap Dinner Ideas For The Budget- Friendly Cook

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Jess Smith