On a Budget Meals: 15 Budget Meals for Families

on a budget meals

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If you are looking for simple ways to save money, these recipes for on a budget meals are just the thing for you!

And even if you have room in your budget but just want to be more intentional about your spending and have more money to spend on things other than food (such as fun vacations, paying off your car, or investing for retirement), then these budget meals for families are a great option.

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Easy Ways to Save Even More on Budget Meals

There are great ways to make on a budget meals even more budget friendly.

For example, three of my favorite apps for saving money on groceries are IbottaRakuten (formerly Ebates), and Fetch Rewards (use XGGVM to get 2,000 bonus points when you sign up!). They are an easy way to save money on groceries every time you shop.

For example, you can get $20 just for signing up with Ibotta (probably still my favorite grocery money saving app), and you also get a $20 bonus when you sign up for Rakuten. And you can even stack your savings by using Ibotta, Rakuten, and Fetch all to save money on the same shopping purchases!

You can also save more money when grocery shopping by taking advantage of the sales and discounted items, buying produce in season, buying less expensive cuts of meat, buying generic brands rather than more popular name brands, and more.

You can find tons of ideas for how to slash your food and grocery budget here.

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15 Quick and Easy Recipes for on a Budget Meals

These are 15 of our favorite quick and easy family recipes for meals on a budget. All of the budget recipes below make at least 4 regular servings (enough to feed our family of 2 adults and 3 kids).

1. Chicken Tacos

Chicken tacos are colorful, quick, and tasty! Here is a simple recipe we like.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in strips or chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or double the garlic powder below)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 8 flour tortillas

Favorite taco toppings

  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • chopped lettuce
  • diced avocados
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • taco sauce

Directions

  1. Put the chicken, minced garlic, chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and oil in a mixing bowl, and stir well to combine.
  2. Cook the chicken mixture on medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink inside.
  3. Warm up the flour tacos for about 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave (time needed will vary).
  4. Serve the tacos with the chicken and toppings of choice.

2. Ground Beef Enchiladas

Easy ground beef enchiladas is another one of our regular go-to budget friendly meals.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion (yellow or white), chopped
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own)
  • 1/4 cup water (or follow seasoning packet directions)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce or tomato sauce (15 or so oz. can)
  • 16 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • Optional toppings, like sliced olives, sour cream, and salsa

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion over medium heat. Drain any fat and then add the taco seasoning and water. Remove from heat.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada or tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish to coat the bottom.
  4. Place about 1/3 cup of the ground beef mixture in the center of each tortilla.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese to the tortilla, and roll up tightly. Place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the casserole dish.
  6. Repeat with the remaining 7 tortillas and remaining filling and cheese.
  7. Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas, making sure to coat each tortilla. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, until warmed through.
  9. Serve with your favorite toppings!

3. Taco Soup

This is another one of our favorite ground beef on a budget meals.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 to 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can chili beans (or other beans you like) 
  • 1 or 2 cans of corn

Directions

  1. In a large pot, brown the pound of hamburger with the chopped onion, drain it, and add the taco seasoning.
  2. Then add a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a can of chili beans (or other beans), and a can or two of corn. (Do not drain any of the cans before you add them to the pot; the liquid is what makes this soupy.)
  3. Heat through until warm, and enjoy with your favorite tortilla or scoop chips.

4. Easy Lasagna

This lasagna is another on a budget meal that is easy and cheesy and yummy!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 ounce jar or can of pasta sauce or tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (1 16 oz. container)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes (optional)
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown the meat with the garlic and onion in a large skillet or saucepan.
  3. Stir in the pasta sauce, and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce mixture onto bottom of 11×9 inch baking dish.
  5. Top with layers of 3 noodles, half the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture.
  6. Then repeat the layers.
  7. Top with remaining noodles and pasta sauce mixture
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake for about 5 minutes more, until cheese is melted.
  11. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

5. Easy Cranberry Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is a sweet and little bit tangy recipe I got from my mother-in-law several years ago.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. bottle Catalina dressing
  • 1 can (14 oz.) cranberry sauce
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté the chicken for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through (no pink inside).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Catalina salad dressing, cranberry sauce, and onion soup mix. Pour over the chicken.
  3. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve over hot cooked rice.

6. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Another tasty budget meal is chicken alfredo and broccoli.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 12 oz. spaghetti noodles (or other long noodles)
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 small can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions (usually about 8 to 10 minutes), adding the broccoli 3 or 4 minutes before the pasta is done.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, in a large skillet, add the cooking oil, and cook the chicken until no longer pink inside. Then remove from heat.
  3. Drain the pasta, and then add the chicken, margarine, mushroom soup, milk, parmesan cheese, and pepper.

7. Ground Beef Stroganoff and Noodles

Stroganoff is another one of my favorite tasty, cream, comfort foods and another great meal on a budget.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 small can (10.5 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 oz. favorite noodles, cooked

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown hamburger, onion, and garlic.
  2. Drain the hamburger, and remove it from the pan onto a large plate or bowl.
  3. Then put the pan back on the stove over medium heat, and melt the butter or margarine.
  4. Add the milk, and then add the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the ground beef back to the mixture, and reheat.
  7. Serve over the cooked noodles.

8. Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Sour cream chicken enchiladas is another tasty and hearty dish your family will love.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 small can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 8 large flour tortillas

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cream of chicken soup, onion, and sour cream. Mix well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Pour enough of the sour cream mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish to coat the bottom.
  4. Place 2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll them up, and place them seam side down in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sour cream mixture over the wrapped tortillas, and top with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until food is heated through.
  6. Enjoy!

9. Sour Cream Chicken

This recipe is another yummy, gooey, chickeny comfort dish. This one I got from a coworker years ago, and it has been one of our favorites ever since.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 small can cream of chicken (or substitute mushroom) soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 to 2 cups broccoli (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir all of the ingredients.
  2. Pour into a freezer safe casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil, or pour into a freezer bag.
  3. On cooking day, thaw, and then top with crushed cornflakes.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or at 275 degrees for 2 hours.

10. Yummy Potatoes

This dish is similar to funeral potatoes (but even better, and with a much nicer name!).

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 cooked, cubed potatoes
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cubed ham or turkey ham (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup crushed cornflakes (or Ritz crackers, potato chips, or panko crumbs)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, salt, pepper, ham, and cheese. Stir until combined. Then spread into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  3. Top with crushed cornflakes (or chips, crackers, crumbs, etc.). 
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling hot.

11. Creamy Garlic Chicken with Rice

This is another flavorful chicken dish that is a great option for a meal on a budget.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Toss the chicken breast with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the chicken breast, and cook until browned (about 5 to 7 minutes), stirring often.
  4. Add the minced garlic to the skillet, and cook for 30 seconds more.
  5. Stir in rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Turn off the stove, remove the pan from the heat, and place baby spinach on top of the rice.
  8. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove lid, and stir well.
  10. Stir in milk, and serve.

12. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked instant rice
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed and cooked
  • 1 small can (10.75 ounce size) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 small can (10.75 ounce size) cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9×13 inch casserole baking dish.
  3. Bring the water and rice to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, chicken, chicken and mushroom soup, butter or margarine, milk, broccoli, onion, and cheese in a bowl.
  5. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes (until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling in the middle).

13. Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love this recipe because it is not only delicious but ready in just about 20 minutes or less!

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  •  1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  1/4 cup ketchup
  •  2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  •  1 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  •  3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  •  2 tablespoons cold water
  •  1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  •  3 tablespoons cornstarch
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil, plus more if necessary

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the sauce except water and cornstarch.
  2. Whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. In a small bowl, add the water and cornstarch, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the water and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan, reduce heat to low, and allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn off the burner, and remove from heat.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, put the chicken, cornstarch, and salt and pepper in a zip-top bag, seal, and shake to coat chicken evenly.
  6. In a large skillet, add 3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil and the chicken, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until chicken has cooked through (no longer pink inside).
  7. Reduce the chicken to low, add the sauce, stir the sauce to coat the chicken evenly, and allow it to simmer for a minute or two.
  8. Serve sauce over cooked rice.

14. Tater Tot Casserole

We had tater tot casserole pretty regularly when I was growing up, and it is still one of my favorite budget meals for families. 

  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 can corn
  • 16 oz. package tater tots

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until completely browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir cream of mushroom soup and corn into the cooked ground beef.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Layer tater tots evenly over the ground beef mixture, and top with cheddar cheese.
  6. Bake until tater tots are golden brown and hot, about 40 to 45 minutes.

15. Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

If you love chicken pot pie, you’ll love this tasty alternative.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, cubed
  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables or corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Biscuit Crust
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, cubed
  • 2/3 to 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; cook and stir until tender.
  3. Stir in flour, and then slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken, vegetables, and salt, and heat through.
  5. Pour into a greased 11×7 inch casserole dish.
  6. For the topping, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter or margarine until mixture resembles crumbs. Add milk; stir just until moistened.
  7. Turn crust onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently 8 to 10 times.
  8. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and roughly the size of the casserole dish.
  9. Carefully pick up and place over chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Final Thoughts about on a Budget Meals

Even when you are on a budget, you can still make delicious budget meals that your family will love!

What other on a budget meals do you love? What are your favorite budget friendly recipes that you turn to again and again? Leave a comment below and let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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