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51 Easy Cheap Dinner Ideas

Looking for easy weeknight dinners for the whole family? These easy cheap dinner recipes are low-budget and will satisfy the entire family.

Whether cooking for a family or flying solo, budgeting your dinners is an integral part of weekly meal preparation. Cheap and easy dinners are great for making it through weeknights!

There’s a big misconception that cooking cheaply means skimping on taste. That’s simply not the case!

easy cheap dinner ideas

Table of Contents

How to Make a Cheap Dinner?

Cheap dinners are all about making the best of what you have. Staples like flour, rice, bread, and canned foods can form the base of a delicious meal if you treat them well!

The key is to plan. That way, you won’t fall victim to shiny supermarket displays, and your budget remains intact.

With that in mind, let’s dive into fifty-one different recipes that are as kind to your wallet as they are to your taste buds.

Quick Cheap Dinner Ideas

The only thing better than a cheap dinner is one that also doesn’t cost a lot of time to make. These simple meals are made with simple ingredients in an easy way.

1. Honey Chicken Wings

Honey Chicken Wings


The first recipe on our list capitalizes on baking time, requiring minimal preparation to come to life. These honey chicken wings are so quick and easy. All you need to buy are the wings!

Simply mix up the spices, rub them on the chicken, and bake for a sweet and smoky treat.

Here are side dishes to serve with chicken wings.

2. Mexican Bean Salad

Mexican Bean Salad


This simple recipe is full of protein and healthy vegetables, but it’s also simple to assemble. There’s barely any cooking required.

All you have to do is drop the ingredients into a bowl, mix up the dressing, and toss the lot. A tasty salad can serve as a primary or side dish, depending on your preference.

3. Zucchini Stir Fry with Garlic and Sesame Seeds

zucchini stir fry


Decided to ditch the meat? Then, this is a lovely Asian-inspired dish for you.

The main ingredients here are onions and zucchini, and they are not only cooked to perfection, but they’re well-seasoned, too.

Spiced up with garlic and soy sauce and coated with sesame seeds for a bit crunchier bites.

This one-skillet dish is vegan and rich in fiber.

4. Teriyaki Chicken Meal Prep

teriyaki chicken meal prep


Are you a fan of Teriyaki chicken? Well, this sweet and umami dish will be the real meal-prep hit of the week.

Paired with fluffy rice and steamed broccoli, this chicken meal makes a balanced lunch or dinner.

The sauce includes garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and honey. And it is savory and sweet. And it gives the chicken a nice coating.

5. Easy Orange Chicken

orange chicken


Chicken pieces are loaded with orange flavors, thanks to the finger-licking sauce that they are smothered in.

The sauce features orange juice and zest, soy sauce, chicken broth, ginger, and honey. And it is citrusy, sweet, spicy, and so delicious.

This recipe is also great for meal-prepping, and it can stay in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

6. Lemon Chicken Thighs

lemon chicken thighs


Lemony chicken thighs are paired with roasted sweet potatoes for a filling, nutritious, and family-favorite dinner.

This dish is also heavily flavored with garlic, as it uses ten cloves.

It is made in just over 50 minutes, and I am sure that your whole family will enjoy it.

7. Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs

sheet pan chicken thighs


Chicken thighs are an inexpensive meat that is fattier and richer in flavor. So here’s another recipe that you’ll definitely appreciate.

These golden-browned chicken thighs are roasted in the oven, along with different veggies.

Before roasting it, you need to let the chicken marinate in a honey and garlic mixture. Which will give the dish so much flavor.

8. Spicy Pineapple Chicken

spicy pineapple chicken


The chicken here is not only marinated in pineapple juice, but the dish also features pineapple chunks.

And yet, it is not too sweet. It is also rich in savory and spicy flavors. It combines chili sauce, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Plus, a diced jalapeno for a nice kick.

You can serve it with rice for a balanced meal.

9. One-Pan Chicken Legs with Chickpeas and Quinoa

chicken legs with quinoa


Chicken, quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, and greens. If this doesn’t sound like the most filling and nutritious meal ever, then I don’t know what does.

Nutritionally, this is a very well-balanced meal that will give you the perfect dose of protein, carbs, and fats.

Made in 50 minutes, this is an easy dish that fills you up without breaking the bank.

10. Baked Herb Chicken Breasts with Couscous

baked herb chicken breast with couscous


Couscous, chicken, and roasted veggies. What more do you need?

This dish is loaded with antioxidants, protein, fiber, and lots of other nutrients. Plus, it is very delicious too.

The chicken is seasoned with garlic, oregano, and basil. The roasted peppers, zucchini, onions, and garlic, are combined with the couscous.

This is a very budget-friendly dish that will feed the whole family.

11. Easy Celery and Carrot Soup

celery and carrot soup


If you need a nourishing soup on your table quickly, this veggie and wholesome bowl is something you have to try.

Chunky carrots and celery in a comforting vegetable broth. This vegan soup is the perfect lunch option on a cold day.

Loaded with garlic and onions, this soup is fragrant and is definitely not lacking flavor.

12. Chicken Zucchini Pasta

chicken zucchini pasta


If you love Asian flavors but are looking to cut back on all the sodium and MSG, here is a healthy alternative.

Not only is this pasta nutritious, but it is also low in carbs and calories. Instead of noodles, we use spiralized zucchini. It is still super filling.

The chicken and zucchini are smothered in a garlic and honey sauce.

13. Bulgur Wheat Salad with Avocado

bulgur wheat salad with avocado


A healthy bulgur salad that is bursting with green colors!

Loaded with broccoli, avocado, lettuce, and green onions. Plus, some dill for extra freshness.

The salad is rich in lemony flavors, which pair perfectly with the green veggies.

It is a very powerful source of fiber and protein. It is a great meal-prep option that is perfect for your lunch break.

Cheap Dinner Ideas for 2

Cooking for two can actually be cheaper than just cooking for one. Most recipes are formulated for two servings, so you’re not risking any food waste when you cook for two people.

Recipes like casseroles, tacos, pasta, and rice bowls are great for a two-person dinner. They’re just as easy to make as a single portion!

14. Roasted Veggie Tacos with Black Beans

Roasted Veggie Tacos with Black Beans


Next up, we have an earthy taco recipe that’s super simple to make. The roast vegetables are the aspect requiring the most preparation.

Otherwise, all you need to do is add some garnishes to the table and serve with your choice of tortilla. Quick, simple, and delicious; it’s the trifecta of taste.

15. Instant Pot Chicken Tacos

Instant Pot Chicken Tacos


If you’re looking for a taco recipe with a little more protein to offer, this Instant Pot take is a fantastic choice. The core of this recipe is the shredded chicken, which is super easy to make.

Stick with a pico de gallo for a traditional take, or follow the recipe’s choices for a light and summery combination.

16. Leftovers Shepherds Pie

Leftovers Shepherds Pie


A good shepherd’s pie is best made with leftovers from the previous night’s roast.

Give your roast new life in this easy recipe for two. Speckled with delicious vegetables and topped with a smooth, creamy layer of potato and cheese, each bite is a study in indulgence.

Check out more ground lamb recipes here.

17. Skillet Chicken with Snap Peas

Skillet Chicken with Snap Peas


If you’re cooking for two, a great way to construct your meal is to center it around your protein.

This skillet chicken with snap peas fits the bill to a tee! Sink your teeth into a crunchy, golden piece of succulent chicken. The sweet, crunchy snap peas are a great contrast in texture and taste.

18. Brussels Sprouts Sausage Pasta

Brussels Sprouts Sausage Pasta


Brussels sprouts are a genuinely underrated vegetable. This pasta recipe puts them to good use, pairing them with crumbled sausage to create a fresh-yet-hearty meal that’s perfect for two.

If you’re hunting for a cheap date night meal, you’ve hit the jackpot with this one. Pasta, brussels sprouts, and sausages are inexpensive. But when you put them together, they taste incredible.

19. Cherry Tomato and Chicken Sausage Pasta

Cherry Tomato and Chicken Sausage Pasta


Next is a delicious pasta dish that’s bursting with summer vibes.

The tomatoes are the star of the show. Gently simmered in a pan with olive oil and garlic, the tomatoes take on a delightfully earthy flavor that highlights their sweetness.

Every bite of this pasta is dotted with little gems of tomato that burst in your mouth.

20. Crockpot Bruschetta Chicken

Crockpot Bruschetta Chicken


Standard bruschetta is a light Italian meal that you’ll typically find in a breakfast or appetizer course. This recipe adds delicious chicken, transforming it into a mouth-watering dinner for two.

If date night is coming up, this is another meal that will serve you well. Fresh produce is the key to a great result, so hit up your local farmers’ market!

21. Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas


When it comes to cooking on a budget, picking recipes that use pre-cooked ingredients will save you both time and money. This chicken enchiladas recipe definitely fits the bill in that regard.

These enchiladas are utterly delicious when paired with shredded rotisserie chicken with a canned poblano and queso soup. Brighten it with fresh tomato and green onion, grill, and serve.

22. Beef Taco Salad

Beef Taco Salad


The only thing better than a straight-up taco is a healthy take on this Mexican classic. Enter the taco salad! This has the great taste of a beef taco with many more vegetables.

The vegetables add to the nutrient value of this meal; it also stretches it into two portions with ease.

23. Halloumi Pasta with Brown Butter and Burst Tomatoes

Halloumi Pasta with Brown Butter and Burst Tomatoes


Halloumi is a cheap, delicious, easy-to-cook option for vegetarians in pursuit of tasty protein. You can’t beat this recipe paired with pasta and an insanely good brown butter drizzle.

Roasted cherry tomatoes dot the entire dish, offering little bursts of delightful juiciness in each bite. The result is a dish that makes you want to keep going back for more.

Cheap Dinner Ideas for Family

Cooking for a family is a whole world apart from cooking for just two people. We all know the struggle of finding a meal that everyone wants to eat.

Now, try to do it on a budget, and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands! Luckily, I’ve got fifteen recipes here that are cost-effective crowd-pleasers that will keep your wallet and the family happy.

24. Mexican Red Bean Quinoa Casserole

Mexican Red Bean Quinoa Casserole


In the battle that is cooking for your family, a delicious casserole is the best weapon in your arsenal. This red bean quinoa casserole is a protein-rich dish of my creation, and it’s super tasty.

All of the ingredients are cheap and easy to source. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking to reduce your meat intake while increasing your fiber.

25. Cheesy Bolognese Pasta Bake

Cheesy Bolognese Pasta Bake


A classic pasta bake is the family cook’s best friend. Pasta is super cost-effective, but it’s also delicious. There’s a good reason that an entire cuisine is based on it!

This cheesy Bolognese pasta bake has delicious mince and cheese pockets sprinkled with roasted cherry tomatoes. It’s insanely tasty, and any leftovers will be great for lunch the next day.

26. Cinnamon Chicken

Cinnamon Chicken


The aroma of this cinnamon chicken will have loved ones flocking to the dining room.

Cinnamon is an incredibly aromatic spice that transforms chicken into a tender, juicy triumph. The recipe uses chicken thighs, cheaper than the breasts and twice as flavorful.

Serve on a bed of couscous with a side of light vegetables.

27. Air Fryer Ham Casserole

Air Fryer Ham Casserole


If you didn’t already know you could make a casserole in your Air Fryer, make this your next dinnertime experiment! This is a great way to use leftovers from the holidays.

Think of this like an Air Fryer-friendly macaroni and cheese, but with alfredo sauce instead of bechamel. Light, creamy, and rich, this dish will quickly satisfy everyone at the table.

28. Taco Pasta Casserole

Taco Pasta Casserole


Speaking of pasta casseroles, this five-ingredient take on a pasta bake has everything you love from a good taco.

On top of that, you can double the recipe without additional costs and use it for lunch the next day. That’s two easy meals for the price of one!

29. Oven Baked Creamy Green Chile Chicken

Oven Baked Creamy Green Chile Chicken


In the game of cost-effective meal-making, chicken and rice are your best friends. These inexpensive ingredients come to life after some TLC from your spice drawer.

The rice and the chicken bake together alongside a delicious combination of Mexican spices, stock, and chilies. The result?

An incredibly flavorful dish that’s guaranteed to be the next family favorite.

30. Cauliflower Gnocchi Cheeseburger Skillet

Cauliflower Gnocchi Cheeseburger Skillet


Using pre-made ingredients is a great way to save time and money. Cauliflower gnocchi can be bought pre-made, and it’s a great way to step away from carb-heavy potato gnocchi.

Pair that with a mix of lean mince, cheese, stock, and spices for a punchy meal that will draw your family into the kitchen long before you’re done cooking.

31. Sheet Pan Chicken Drumsticks and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Chicken Drumsticks and Potatoes


Sheet pan recipes are just the best. Everything cooks together, there’s minimal hands-on time, and it elevates cost-effective ingredients to new heights.

A combination of chicken drumsticks, potatoes, and brussels sprouts is a healthy choice for your next family dinner. Roasted to a golden crisp, your family will love every bite of this whole and healthy meal.

32. Pesto Chicken Tray Bake

 Pesto Chicken Tray Bake


In my opinion, pre-made pesto is the hidden gem of the grocery store. Spooned atop a chicken breast, pesto is a great way to add a whole lot of flavor with minimal effort.

This is another sheet-pan recipe, which means I’m already in love with it. The chicken roasts on a bed of stunningly vibrant vegetables.

33. Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry

Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry


If there’s one vegetable that doesn’t see enough use, in my opinion, it’s the humble cabbage.

This chicken cabbage stir-fry swaps out egg noodles for shredded cabbage, and I think it’s a genius move. Not only is it healthier, but it’s also a lot cheaper.

Tasty cabbage adds freshness, crunch, and a whole lot of flavor.

34. Tuna Broccoli Pasta Bake

Tuna Broccoli Pasta Bake


A good old-fashioned pasta bake is an excellent choice for cooking on a budget. This ideal weeknight meal offers nutrients and a filling portion with minimal impact on your wallet.

While this recipe calls for broccoli and tuna, the idea is that you use whatever pantry staples you have hanging around to craft it.

35. Oven-Roasted Sausage and Potatoes

Oven-Roasted Sausage and Potatoes


An oven-roasted meal is perfect for any weeknight meal. The result is a golden, smoky dish full of delicious flavors.

Sausages are a fantastic choice if you’re looking for cost-effective protein. Combine them with a treasure trove of classic roasted vegetables, and you’ve got a family favorite waiting to happen.

Love this recipe? You might like these polish sausage recipes!

36. Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese


Traditional macaroni and cheese is totally delicious and cheap to make, but it can also be very rich and heavy. By substituting milk and cream for Greek yogurt, this recipe fixes that.

Ready in less than twenty minutes, this well-known favorite is ideal for a weeknight comfort meal for the family.

37. Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada Casserole


Enchiladas are warm, hearty, and bursting with rich flavors. They’re also super easy to make and require only a few cheap ingredients. So, they’re an excellent choice for a family weeknight dinner.

This casserole version of a classic Mexican meal is even faster to assemble than traditional enchiladas. Rather than wrapping individual enchiladas, layer your tortillas like a tasty lasagna.

38. Sheet Pan Ground Turkey Quesadilla

Sheet Pan Ground Turkey Quesadilla


Ground turkey is lean on the waistline and the wallet, so it’s an excellent protein choice for your next family dinner.

The secret to this meal is roasting the quesadillas on a sheet pan instead of in a skillet. Simply whack them in the oven, get on with other things, and serve them up as soon as the timer goes off.

Healthy Dinner Ideas

In my experience, cheap meals and healthy meals tend to go hand-in-hand. Vegetables are very cost-effective, so making them the bulk of your meal means your wallet won’t take as much of a hit.

39. Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps


The chicken is super simple to make, and the lettuce cups keep it light, healthy, and fresh.

This is a low-carb option with heaps of protein. It’s fantastic for meal prepping! Cook the chicken beforehand and whip out some fresh lettuce cups when it’s time to eat.

40. Honey Garlic Chicken

Honey Garlic Chicken


These chicken thighs are delicious and filling, and the glaze is earthy and sweet.

We can all fall victim to the passage of time. It’s easy to forget to prepare lunch the next day, but you’re already sorted if you make this for dinner.

Stretch the portions even further with some extra vegetables.

41. Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup

Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup


Cheap cuts of beef aren’t the best when roasted or fried. But give them some time in an Instant Pot, and they transform into buttery, luxurious cuts of restaurant-quality meat.

This Instant Pot recipe capitalizes on that transformation, deepening the flavor of the meat with stock and some classic vegetables.

Check out more leftover brisket recipes here!

42. Panera Black Bean Soup

Panera Black Bean Soup


If you’ve ever tasted Panera’s black bean soup, you know how good it is. This copycat recipe is an excellent approximation of Panera’s.

Step back from the temptation of a to-go meal and make your very own Panera in your kitchen. This is much healthier, incredibly tasty, and a whole lot cheaper than ordering it outside.

43. Lentil and Potato Stew

Lentil and Potato Stew


Lentils and potatoes are both notoriously cost-effective. Putting them together in a soup is a great way to create a filling, tasty, and protein-rich meal without spending a lot of money.

Spices will be your secret weapon here. Use them liberally to produce a warm and comforting winter meal with a deep complexity of flavor.

44. Vegan Lentil Soup

Vegan Lentil Soup


Here’s another take on lentil soup, Dal is a household staple in India because it’s utterly delicious, cheap, and easy to make.

Serve the soup with some store-bought roti, on a bed of rice, or just on its own. You can whip up a huge batch ahead of time to use as meal-prepped lunches as well.

45. Chickpea Tacos

Chickpea Tacos


I love preparing tacos for my family because they’re super simple, but everyone is always impressed. They can assemble their perfect taco from a collection of healthy garnishes.

These chickpea tacos are packed with protein and nutrients, but you don’t have to worry about buying or preparing any meat.

46. Lemon Chickpea Rice Casserole

Lemon Chickpea Rice Casserole


The minute I discovered that you could bake rice, my entire worldview changed. No more waiting for it to boil on the stove or in a rice cooker!

Plus, you can bake it with delicious vegetables to impart extra flavor. This casserole is so quick and easy to make that it almost feels like cheating even to write a recipe.

47. Chicken Potato Soup

Chicken Potato Soup


Most chicken soup recipes use heavy cream or dairy to add an element of richness. However, this recipe relies on a slow-cooked combination of flavors to deliver that same richness.

With layers and layers of delicious flavor in every bite, this chicken potato soup is hearty and filling. It’s perfect for a mid-week winter dinner!

48. Dutch Oven Chicken Breast and Vegetables

Dutch Oven Chicken Breast and Vegetables


The Dutch Oven is every home cook’s best friend. It’s a super simple way to cook protein and vegetables while imbuing them with flavor. It takes budget ingredients to the next level.

In particular, this dutch oven-roasted chicken breast with vegetables takes a classic and makes it even simpler. Don’t worry about roasting a whole chicken; just use the breasts or thighs!

49. Cheeseburger Salad

Cheeseburger Salad


If you’ve never had a cheeseburger salad, this recipe will change your life.

This cheeseburger salad uses all the ingredients we know and love from a classic cheeseburger but turns it on its head. With light and fresh vegetables and a tasty sauce, you won’t miss the buns at all.

50. Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken

Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken


Lemon and garlic chicken is an old family favorite. This Instant Pot version is even better than a pan-fried take because it’s so easy!

The chicken should be soft and juicy, and the vegetables contrast that with their fresh crispiness. You really couldn’t ask for anything else as a cheap and healthy dinner (or even a meal prep meal).

51. Creamy Green Chicken Chili

Creamy Green Chicken Chili


The final entry on our cost-effective list is a personal favorite dish of mine. Bursting with warm, spicy, creamy flavors, this green chicken chili has a spot in the home cook hall of fame.

It’s great for family dinners, entertaining, or if you’re preparing your lunches for the week.

So, what are you waiting for? Make one of the best easy dinner ideas.


Wednesday 28th of June 2023

Looks very tasty. Thank you for sharing.