25 Budget Dinners {Your Family Will Love!}

budget dinners

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In this article I am going to share some recipes and ideas for budget dinners that your family will love and that will save your family money. Looking for a good cheap dinner? Or looking for the cheapest meal to make? These recipes and ideas for budget dinners will help your wallet.

Most of these recipes you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. If you are looking for easy, cheap, tasty meals, then this article is just the thing you need.

These ideas and recipes will be for dinner recipes but you could definitely make them for lunch or even breakfast if you wanted. My mom loves having dinner for breakfast. These recipes are perfect for when money is tight and you need some recipes for meals that will help you make your budget work.

Perhaps you need some cheap, budget meals until you get paid. Maybe you want to save money on groceries so you can put the money somewhere else. Or maybe you have another reason for wanted cheap budget dinner ideas. If this describes you, this article is for you!

budget dinners

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Examples of Budget Dinners

These are example of budget dinner ideas you can make when you need to save a few dollars. Some of these dinners are not very balanced. As money and your budget allows, you can add fruits and vegetables, and even protein, to these meals to make them more balanced. But if money is especially tight, you can get by for a little while with some unbalanced meals to help you get to a better place financially.

A great way to add some nutrition to these meals would be to add a side of frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies are full of nutrition and are budget friendly. If you want to have a piece of fruit with dinner, buy fruit that is in season. You can purchase meat to add to meals that is budget friendly also. Chicken thighs are a great option for this, if it would go well with the meal.

Benefits of Budget Dinner Recipes and Ideas

When you are in a pinch, are broke, or need to save money fast, these recipes and ideas are a great way to help stretch your grocery budget a little farther so you can make it until payday or you can accomplish a big financial goal. If you have looming bills, large debts, or if you are saving for something important, or something else entirely, you can use these budget dinner ideas to achieve your goals.

Why Prepare Budget Dinners?

Do you have a big financial goal? Maybe you are very close to accomplishing a big goal and you just want a little extra bump to help you finally meet your goal. These budget dinner ideas will help you keep you grocery budget low.

Are you in a financial situation where money is very tight? Rather than relying on credit cards and going into debt, I would personally rather cut my grocery bill in order to meet my financial obligations. The budget dinner ideas found in this article will help you save money on your grocery bill.

Is It Worth It to Make Budget Dinners?

In my opinion, absolutely! If you are struggling to make ends meet or you have a specific financial goal you are trying to meet, cutting your grocery budget is a great way to help your money go a little farther. Depending on how much you are accustomed to spending on groceries, it could be relatively easy to save $100 or more on your grocery budget. If you already plan budget dinners, perhaps you will find more ideas in this article.

Does this mean that you have to eat budget dinner forever? No! But as you make positive changes in your finances and are able or desire to spend more on groceries, you can definitely make meals that are more balanced and nutritious and chock-full off all the fresh fruits and vegetables you’ve been missing.

Quick and Easy Budget Dinners!

If you are looking to plan some really easy, fast, and cheap dinners, check out the recipes and ideas below. Most of these recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less. They are perfect if you are looking to save money and time in the kitchen.

One of my best tips to save money on food is to make your own food at home and don’t go out to restaurants. Another one is to keep meals simple. If a recipe calls for many, many different ingredients, it is likely not budget friendly. If you have to go out and buy something special that will only be used in that recipe, it may not be a great recipe for saving money. You can really save money and time by keeping meals simple.

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Budget Dinner Ideas

Here are some of the best budget dinner ideas that your family will love!

1. Lentil soup

I love this lentil soup. It is delicious! And it checks all the nutrition boxes with vegetables, rice, and legumes. I love to have this soup with a chunk of bread. It makes wonderful leftovers and it even tastes better the second day!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Heat oil in large stock pot on stove over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots until onion begins to soften, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and celery. Cook for one more minute.
  4. Add all other ingredients, except vinegar, and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat until soup is at a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Taste test for salt content and add more if you would like.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar. Enjoy.

2. Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Pasta is one of the cheapest staples for a meal that you can buy. Baking the macaroni just gives a little twist to the regular ol’ macaroni and cheese. You don’t have to bake it if you don’t want to or if you are running low on time. But if you do choose to bake it, adding some breadcrumbs on top before you bake it takes it to the next level.


  • 1 1/2 cups bite-size dry pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous sprinkling of salt and the dry pasta. Continue to monitor pasta and do not overcook.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter.
  4. Add the flour to melted butter and stir over medium heat until the mixture is lightly browned; about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Whisk in milk and continue to whisk to remove any clumps of flour and also add the salt and pepper.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble; about 6 minutes.
  7. Whisk in cheese until smooth and melted. Turn off the heat.
  8. When the pasta is nearly done but still firm, drain water off and add pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir.
  9. Bake in a greased 8″ x 8″ glass dish for 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbly.

3. Rice and Beans

Rice and beans is a match made in heaven. It’s delicious, nutritious, and super budget friendly. This dish comes together beautifully in the crockpot.


  • 2 14-oz cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup rice 
  • 1 1/4 cups  vegetable broth or water 
  • 1 cup salsa 
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper 


  1. Add beans, rice, water, salsa, taco seasoning, salt and pepper to the slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-5 hours.
  3. After 3 hours, check dish, stir and if needed add up to 1/4 cup of water. Continue cooking if needed.
  4. Enjoy!

4. Eggs and Rice

This dish is so cheap and really yummy. It’s a Chinese dish that people in China actually eat–not like Americanized Chinese food. It’s one of my very favorites and it is incredibly budget friendly. Serve with rice prepared according to directions on package.


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pound beefsteak tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat most of vegetable oil in nonstick skillet over high heat.
  2. Add green onions and cook for about twenty seconds, until they become aromatic.
  3. Add in eggs and about one teaspoon salt. Cook while mixing with spatula about 45 seconds, eggs should be set but still runny. Put eggs on plate and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Set aside.
  5. Heat remaining amount of oil in skillet. When oil is hot, add garlic and cook until they become aromatic. Add tomatoes and some salt, according to taste, and cook about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in eggs and finish cooking. Serve with rice.

5. Spaghetti Noodles and Vegetables

This is another great recipe for random ingredients that you have around your kitchen. No need to use spaghetti noodles if you don’t have any–macaroni, rotini, fettuccini, and virtually any pasta would work. And as you can see in the ingredient list, many vegetables would work well in this dish.


  • 1 pound of spaghetti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups various vegetables (onions, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, corn, peas, etc.), diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. Cook pasta according to package, drain, and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add hard vegetables (carrots, broccoli, celery, etc.) and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add remaining vegetables and cook until slightly softened.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Stir pasta into sauce. Top with parmesan cheese.

6. Rivel Soup

This is one of the best budget dinners and one of the cheapest meals out there. It’s a little tricky to get the flour mixture to have the right texture in the soup but once you get the hang of it, it’s so yummy. This is a nice soup for cold evenings.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I tried wheat flour once and it did not work out)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups milk
  • Pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and egg. Mixture will be crumbly.
  2. In a large stock pot, heat milk over medium heat. Careful to not boil over. When milk bubbles form on sides of pan, gradually add flour mixture in little bits. Bring to gentle boil while stirring constantly.
  3. Cook and stir until flour bits are cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test for salt and pepper.

7. Tuna Casserole

Tuna is a really budget-friendly option for protein. This budget dinner dish offers protein, a vegetable, and pasta. It’s so creamy and cheap.


  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch


  1. Cook noodles according to package, drain, and return to kettle.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup of milk and mix in corn starch with fork. Put all milk in with noodles. Cook until sauce is thickened.
  3. Add drained tuna and peas. Cook until warmed through. Enjoy!

8. Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli

Yet another dish that offers protein, a vegetable, and pasta in one budget friendly dish. This dish is so yummy. I love how quickly this dish comes together.


  • 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cups cooked chicken breast, diced


  1. Cook pasta according to package, drain, and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, toast sesame seeds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring often. Toast until light brown and remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and broccoli and cook until soft.
  5. Add chicken to skillet and cook until heated through. Add pasta and sauce mixture. Mix well. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.

9. Black Pepper Chicken

This budget dinner recipe calls for simple ingredients and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes! It’s perfect for busy days when you don’t have time to spend an hour in the kitchen. This dish is great with rice so if you have some leftover rice that would be perfect. If you don’t have leftover rice, you can prepare rice while cooking the chicken dish.


  • 8 ounces chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground is best
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Dash of sugar
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce


  1. In small bowl, place raw chicken strips and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to marinate for ten minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet or wok. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add bell pepper and black pepper. Sauté for one minute.
  3. Add chicken and continue to cook until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir.

10. Chicken Fried Rice

This recipe is so simple and delicious. It’s quick and calls for basic ingredients so it is great for those nights when you forget about dinner until 5 o’clock. I’m not the only one who does that, right?


  • 3 cups leftover rice (or you can cook some up while preparing the rest of the dish)
  • 1 pound chicken breast, diced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen veggies (carrots and peas are great)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté about 5-6 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer chicken to plate.
  2. In skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil. Add veggies and green onions and saute for one minute. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Transfer veggies to plate.
  3. Add eggs to skillet and scramble.
  4. Return chicken and veggies to skillet and add rice, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

11. Creamy Chicken in the CrockPot

This chicken dish is a great is another of my favorite budget dinners for busy days. Just a little prep work and let it cook in the crock pot until dinner time. It’s great served over pasta or rice.


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 10 ounce can cream of chicken or celery soup
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  1. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add chicken seasoned with Italian seasoning. Brown for about 3 minutes on both sides.
  2. Transfer chicken to plate and return skillet to stove. Add butter and onion and cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Mix cream cheese, cream of chicken or celery soup, garlic, and ranch dressing mix in a bowl.
  4. Add chicken, bell pepper, and sauce to crock pot.
  5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred.
  6. Whisk sauce in crock pot until smooth. Add chicken back in and stir. Serve over pasta or rice.

12. Hawaiian Haystacks

I haven’t made this budget friendly dish in a while but it is one of my favorites. I love the flavor combinations. The different textures just makes this dish even more fun and yummy. Topping options include, tomatoes, cheese, green onions, chow mein noodles, and pineapple.


  • 1 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Rice prepared according to directions on package.


  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for additional minute
  2. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook for one minute.
  3. Slowly add milk and chicken broth and whisk, taking care to reduce flour chunks. Stir constantly while bringing to a simmer.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir and simmer while sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice with toppings of your choice.

13. Homemade Pizza

This “pizza” is so fun and easy. If you want to make some homemade crust, this will take a little longer to make. There are many alternatives to traditional crust. Soft tortilla shells, bagel half, pita bread, or English muffin are all great, quick, cheap options for crust. You can also make homemade sauce if you don’t have store-bought sauce or want to make this dish even cheaper.


  • Crust of choice
  • Bottled pizza sauce
  • Cheese
  • Toppings of choice–pepperoni, sausage, sliced ham, bacon, vegetables, olives, and so on


  1. Take your crust and spread some pizza sauce on the top. You decide how much to use.
  2. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese on the sauce–this helps keep the toppings on the pizza.
  3. Next step is to add any toppings you like. There are so many options here. Top with additional cheese.
  4. Bake in oven at 425 degrees F. Depending on what kind of crust you chose and your toppings, you will need to adjust baking time. About 6-15 minutes.

14. Vegetable Beef Stew with Rice

My mom made this when I was growing up and it is one of my favorites. My mom used canned stew but this homemade stew is so yummy and still so easy. This is a great way to use up some leftover vegetables in the fridge. If you can’t spring for the beef stew meat, not to worry. You can substitute ground beef or leave the meat out completely.


  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetables, chopped (carrots, celery, green beans, corn, peas)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 pound potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Season meat with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown meat in pot, turning meat halfway to brown both sides. About 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer meat to plate.
  4. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pot and add hard vegetables–onion, carrots, and celery. Saute 3 minutes. Add garlic. Saute additional 1 minute.
  5. Add beef broth, canned tomatoes, beef, and seasonings. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add potatoes and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.
  7. Add green beans and simmer 15 more minutes.
  8. Add corn and peas and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  9. Serve over rice and enjoy.

15. Baked Ziti

This baked ziti is so yummy and this budget dinner only calls for five ingredients. The cheese that tops this casserole makes the dish so gooey and delicious.


  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 2 24 oz bottles of spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups shredded cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package, drain, and set aside.
  3. Mix pasta, beef sauce, parmesan, and half of shredded cheese in large bowl. Transfer to 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until cheese topping is melted.

16. Tortilla Soup

The flavors in this soup will delight your taste buds. It’s beautiful to look at and even better to eat. It’s fabulous topped with avocado and tortilla strips. If your family enjoys spicy food, add a jalapeno or swap out the regular diced tomatoes for diced tomatoes with green chilis.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lime
  • Avocado and tortilla strips to top soup


  1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat in large pot.
  2. Add all other ingredients, except lime and toppings, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken is tender and can be shredded.
  4. Shred chicken and return to soup and simmer for three more minutes for chicken to absorb more flavor.
  5. Scoop into bowls and squeeze lime juice on top. Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

17. Ramen and Veggies

This is one of the easiest, quickest meals out there. And it is incredibly budget friendly. It may not be the most healthy option out there, but it’s tasty and it won’t break the bank. Adding veggies and leaving out some of the seasoning helps to make regular old ramen a little healthier.


  • 3 packages ramen
  • 1 cup vegetables


  1. Boil water in pot on stove.
  2. Add ramen and seasoning to boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-high.
  3. Stir and cook for a one minute. Add vegetables.
  4. Continue cooking ramen until it starts turning slightly yellow. The noodles should all be separated and soft. Do not overcook or noodles will turn to mush.
  5. Enjoy!

18. Stir Fry and Rice

This is another quick budget dinner to use up some leftover vegetables in your fridge. It is perfect over a serving of rice. I love how quick and easy this meal is to whip up on a busy night. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if you like.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7 cups vegetables (bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots, broccoli, baby corn, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add vegetables that take longer to cook, like carrots, baby corn, etc.
  3. Sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add all other vegetables and sauté until vegetables are almost tender.
  5. While vegetables are cooking, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, chicken broth, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  6. Pour sauce over vegetables and cook until sauce thickens. Serve over rice and top with green onions and sesame seeds.

19. Shepherd’s Pie

This is comfort in a dish, I tell you. Warm mashed potatoes with yummy ground beef and vegetables. And topped with cheese, of course. Enjoy this American version of Shepherd’s pie.


  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetables like diced carrots, corn, and peas
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt butter in large pan on medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook about 6 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and beef broth. Cook beef until no pink remains. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread beef mixture in 9×13 casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  5. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until bubbly and browning slightly.
  6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

20. Stroganoff

Stroganoff is traditionally made with steak. but steak is often quite expensive. I grew up eating stroganoff made with ground beef. It’s delicious and easy! A side of steamed broccoli would go perfectly with this dish.


  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare noodles according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.
  2. While noodles are cooking, sauté ground beef over medium heat in large skillet. Cook for 7-10 minutes until browned. Drain grease.
  3. Add cream of mushroom soup and garlic powder to cooked beef. Heat soup and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Add egg noodles and sour cream to meat mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

21. Spanish Rice

This is a classic Spanish rice recipe but I added some chicken so it can serve as the main dish instead of a side dish. That makes it a great budget dinner. Rice is so budget friendly so this meal is perfect if you need to save a few bucks.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and diced


  1. In large skillet that has matching lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add rice to skillet and stir until rice begins to brown. Add chicken broth, salsa, and chicken. Reduce heat, cover to cook rice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Liquid should all be absorbed when done.
  3. Enjoy!

22. Fettucine Alfredo

Fettucine alfredo is so yummy and creamy and is another great option for budget dinners. I’ve added a little chicken to this excellent recipe for some extra protein. Pair this with a Caesar salad and maybe some garlic bread and you have a restaurant-quality meal at home!


  • 1 pound fettuccine noodles
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package, drain, and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, bring cream and butter to a simmer in sauce pan over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
  4. Whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.
  5. Add chicken and stir. Heat through.
  6. Stir in pasta and serve.

23. Homemade Hamburger Helper

Have you ever purchased a box of Hamburger Helper? It’s just dry pasta and seasoning usually. You can recreate it at home for a fraction of the price and it’s delicious.


  • 1 pound macaroni noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 15 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Over medium high heat, cook ground beef and onion in a skillet. Onions should be tender and meat should not be pink. Drain fat.
  2. Add tomato sauce, garlic salt, salt, pepper, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce and stir well.
  3. Add pasta and 4 cups of water and stir.
  4. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes to cook pasta. When time is up, remove lid and continue to simmer until sauce is thickened to how you would like it.
  5. Enjoy!

24. Beef and Bean Enchiladas

I loved having enchiladas when I was growing up. I’ve tweaked the recipe from what my mom made to make it more budget friendly but it is just as delicious. I love to top it with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. You can also top with sour cream if that is your thing.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 16 ounces canned refried beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain fat.
  3. Add onion powder, refried beans, taco seasoning, and one can of tomato sauce. Stir thoroughly. Add one cup of cheese and stir.
  4. Spread one can of tomato sauce in bottom of 9×13 pan.
  5. Spoon mixture in a line down the center of tortilla shells and roll up. Place in 9×13 pan. Repeat until pan is filled with enchiladas next to each other.
  6. Pour final can of tomato sauce on top of enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cheese should be melted and enchiladas heated all the way through.

25. Ham Fried Rice

Fried rice is so incredibly cheap, which makes this another great budget dinner. And it’s got carbs, vegetables, and protein. It’s so easy to make and very difficult to mess up. It’s best made with cold rice so it’s a perfect way to use leftover rice.


  • 4 cups white rice, cold
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ham, cooked and diced
  • 2 cups vegetables (corn, carrots, and/or peas)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add eggs to skillet, scramble, and cook. Set aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil to skillet again. Increase heat to medium high and add rice, stirring to coat in oil. Cook and stir for two minutes.
  3. Add soy sauce and sesame oil and stir. Cook until rice is heated through, about five minutes.
  4. Add meat and vegetables and stir. Cook until everything is hot.
  5. Add eggs back into skillet. Taste dish to check for salt content. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

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Final Thoughts on Budget Dinners

All of these recipes for budget dinners are a great option if you are looking for dinner recipes that won’t break the bank! They are delicious and quick. They are easy to make. The recipes are made with simple ingredients for regular folks and kids will love them too.

If you are looking for budget dinner recipes to help you stretch your grocery dollars until payday, this is the list for you. If you are looking to save money for a special something and need a way to slash your grocery budget, look no further, these recipes will help you save those dollars.

I hope you found some good inspiration and recipes in this list of 25 budget dinners. I know they will be great for your budget and your family will love them. Most of them are very versatile and can help you use up leftovers or food you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. And that will be sure to help you save money. And who doesn’t love saving money?!

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