25+ Easy Cheap Dinner Ideas

When you’re looking to make some of the cheapest dinner ideas for your next dinner night, you’ve come to the right place.

Families are busier than ever, and everyone would like to save money on their food budget. When you have a good rotation of affordable dinners, it means that you can occasionally splurge and have that luxurious steak or lobster dinner. Timeless recipes such as casseroles and soups are ideal.

Getting the best value for your dollar means finding cheap ingredients that still taste just as good as a five-star restaurant.

Mac and cheese, american style macaroni pasta with cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs topping

We all crave delicious dinners after a long day, but sometimes our wallets aren’t as accommodating to our culinary desires. Fear not, for there are plenty of cheap dinner ideas that can still satisfy the taste buds and leave you feeling full without breaking the bank. Exploring these budget-friendly options can also help expand your recipe repertoire, introducing you to new ingredients and flavors while saving money in the process.

The art of preparing inexpensive meals lies in utilizing common and versatile ingredients that can easily be transformed into a variety of dishes. By stocking the pantry with staples like pasta, rice, and legumes, it becomes effortless to create hearty and filling dinners that won’t leave a dent in your finances.

You also want your cheap meals not to take up a ton of time either. These easy, cheap dinner ideas will have a full course on the dinner table in no time.

You’ll even find some cheap healthy meals on this list, so you don’t have to ruin your diet by eating on a budget.

The best easy, cheap dinner ideas are going to use low-cost ingredients like chicken or pasta. Stuff that is filling while also being very versatile.

Seasonings will also be your best friend when it comes to making cheap easy meals in your home.

Can You Cook Anything for Under $10?

You don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to make these cheap dinners because most of them will cost you below $10.

Most of the ingredients are probably things you’ve had lying around the pantry for months anyway.

Instead of needing to head to the grocery store every time you want to make a great meal, these recipes will make easy cheap dinner ideas without needing to leave home.

So sit back and take some notes on the best cheap dinner meals for you and your family.

Cheap Dinner Ideas For Couples

Source: saltandlavendar.com

1. Teriyaki Chicken for Two

Here is another dish that is made perfectly for two people, so you can get your money’s worth.

A chicken with this much flavor can only be made with teriyaki.

The umami flavor really makes this dish irresistible to most people and served on a bed of fried rice is the way to go.

You can make a huge batch of this dish and have it the entire rest of the week too.

Source: recipemagik.com

2. Chicken Alfredo

Chicken Alfredo might be expensive at a restaurant, but when you make it at home. It will be a lot cheaper and just as good.

To get this cheap meal idea on the table will only cost you a fraction of what you would spend if you bought it out on the town.

You can get all the ingredients for a low amount of money, so you’ll have a little extra to splurge on dessert.

If you make it with milk instead of cream, then the dish is even healthier and a little lighter too.

Very few people can deny the delicious flavors of a chicken Alfredo, especially if you throw a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.

Source: yourhomebasedmom.com

3. Lasagna For Two

If you’re looking to cut down on prices, then it makes sense you don’t want to have to waste food either.

This lasagna recipe for two is perfect because it makes two servings instead of one big pan.

You’ll have to make it in the oven but the lasagna only takes about 45 minutes before you can eat dinner without needing to wait too long.

The ingredients are pretty basic so you should have them just sitting in your pantry already.

A healthy base for this meal will be lean ground beef and healthier noodles.

If you don’t want to make it all at once, then cover the pan with saran wrap and put it in your freezer for another day.

Source: americanstestkitchen.com

4. Pad Thai for Two with Shrimp

This is another restaurant-quality dish that you can have on the table for half the price you would order out.

Pad Thai is a very tasty dish that will have everyone asking for more.

You can make a few servings of this meal and it should be enough to feed the whole family or a couple of hungry diners too.

It isn’t hard to whip up a Pad Thai dish yourself either, so you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all night long.

Don’t throw in the shrimp too early in this dish or they will end up coming out tough and chewy instead of tender.

Fast Cheap Dinner Recipes for Your Family

Source: plainchicken.com

5. School Pizza

Remember those square slices of pizza you had as a kid in school?

Now you can make your own delicious version with an ingredient you love and still come under budget.

All you need is bread dough, tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and pepperoni, or other toppings to make something that satisfies your cravings.

This is a great dish to serve when you have people over because the leftovers keep really well so everyone can take some home with them.

Source: therecipecritic.com

6. Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Here is one that will have so much flavor you’ll end up adding it to your weekly rotation.

The best part? It’s super easy to make thanks to the crock pot.

All you have to do is toss everything in it and come back to a dinner that everyone will enjoy.

This is also another one you can make ahead by freezing the extra servings right away for later or keep them in the fridge for the week.

This is a classic cheap dinner that will taste so good people will think it cost a ton of money.

Source: gardenandgun.com

7. Chicken Mull

Mull isn’t as popular as other stews, but it’s a dish worth making because it’s easy, cheap, and full of flavor.

All you need is some chicken broth or stock, potatoes, corn, and ground chicken to make something that tastes amazing.

Mull is served in most Irish pubs but you can whip up your own version at home with these simple ingredients.

The Irish made up this recipe when they needed a good-tasting meal that would fill up their families but wouldn’t cost them a ton of money.

Source: africanbites.com

8. Southern Mac and Cheese

When you have gobs of cheese melting into a perfectly tender batch of noodles, you have a dish worth serving.

Mac and cheese is something you can definitely get away with serving for dinner, especially when it’s this good.

The best part about mac and cheese is that everyone loves it so there is no risk of your family being displeased.

This can also be a great dish to prepare ahead of time by cooking the noodles and making the cheese sauce earlier in the day.

If you want to add a little more substance to your mac and cheese, you should add some breadcrumbs on top to give it some texture.

You could also throw in some bacon bits or brisket to create a side that is worth serving for dinner.

Source: gimmesomeoven.com

9. Classic Chili Con Carne

Chili con carne can be served as a side or as the main entree, depending on what you put in it.

The best part is that it only needs a few ingredients, so it’s super cheap to make.

Just add some chili powder, ground beef, and red kidney beans to make a hearty meal that is perfect for cool weather.

You can add other ingredients like onions or tomatoes to kick it up a notch, but you can also keep it simple by serving it over a bed of rice.

Either way, your family will have plenty for seconds considering how inexpensive this dish is.

Source: natashaskitchen.com

10. Grilled Cheese

There aren’t many dishes you can make as cheap as a grilled cheese sandwich.

You can make the easiest lunch you’ve ever had for around two bucks.

You can make this dish with literally any kind of cheese or bread you have on hand.

Grilled cheeses were practically meant for tomato soup, so if you want a full meal you can prep some soup on the side and dip your sandwich for even more flavor.

Kids and adults will love it so it’s a nice meal you can make for cheap. You can also throw in some bacon or roasted tomatoes to take it over the top.

Source: bunsinmyoven.com

11. Chicken Sliders

Sliders are perfect for making dinner on a budget because they’re cheap to make and easy to prepare.

This is a great dish that can be filled with a variety of ingredients to suit everyone’s tastes.

Sliders are perfect for kids since they’re bite-sized, but adults will appreciate them too, because you can add bacon, pork, or brisket for extra flavor.

If you want something simple, you can just fill it with cheese and vegetables.

Sliders are always a crowd-pleaser because everyone loves to eat mini versions of their favorite dishes.

Source: mccormick.com

12. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Seeing a frying pan sizzling from fajita meat in a restaurant is a sight to behold.

It makes your mouth water just looking at it but you’ll quickly change your mind when you look at the price tag.

Luckily for you, you can make your own fajitas for cheap at home by making this tray of chicken with peppers.

All you need to do is cook the meat and veggies with some spices in the oven for about 20 minutes.

This will make your kitchen smell like fajitas without having to pay an arm and a leg for dinner.

Source: fivehearthome.com

13. Sloppy Joes

This classic is exactly what you’re looking for. Inexpensive to make and packed full of flavor.

Kids love a sloppy joe because it tastes like hamburgers, but you can really jazz up the sauce with some tomato paste to make it an adult dish.

Sloppy joes are also super easy to prepare by just cooking down the onion and meat, then mixing in the other ingredients. You can spoon this into hoagie rolls for even more flavor.

This is a classic cheap dinner that your family is sure to love.

Healthy Cheap Dinner Ideas

Source: allrecipes.com

14. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This is similar to a vegetable soup but it has even more unique flavors.

You’ll have to gather some spices but you can easily use seasonings that are already in your cabinets.

It only takes a few ingredients to make this delicious dish that tastes better than any jarred version of tortilla soup.

You’ll be able to save money because all the veggies are cheap and easy to find anywhere, even at some smaller grocery stores.

Source: minimalistbaker.com

15. Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing

Instead of going savory with your cheap dinner meals, try something that is light and refreshing.

A mango salad with peanut dressing is perfect because it’s full of flavor but also has a light feel to it.

The best part is that you only need four ingredients to make this, so it’s super easy and fast to prepare.

This is a much better option than just ordering takeout or making something that your family won’t appreciate as much.

They’re sure to enjoy all the effort put into this dish even though it’s easy to make.


16. Vegetarian Chili

You don’t have to pack your chili with meat to make it full of flavor.

This vegetarian chili is perfect for any family that is on a budget because you only need beans, veggies, and spices to make it delicious.

All of the ingredients are cheap but the flavors are top-notch.

It’s also easy to make, so everyone can pitch in and help out even if they aren’t used to cooking.

It’s a great dish to bust out when you’re looking to save money but still want a filling dish for the family.

Source: gardeninthekitchen.com

17. Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

When you’re feeling under the weather a classic bowl of chicken noodle soup is the way to go.

Packed with flavor, your soup will be done in only a few minutes because the Instant Pot gets it cooking really fast.

This is a great meal for when you’re sick since it’s easy to prepare and you can even add other ingredients if you want to make it heartier.

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is because everyone loves a good bowl of noodle soup.

Source: natashaskitchen.com

18. Chicken and Broccoli

Forget ordering food from your favorite Chinese restaurant and spending a bunch of money.

Stick to your budget with this home-friendly recipe that will please any palette and is quick to make.

Just add some chicken, broccoli, and garlic to create a dish with tons of flavor.

You only need a few ingredients to whip something up that will be easy on the wallet and delicious too.

Other Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor in order to have a meal that is overflowing with sophisticated flavors.

You’ll be able to use any of these 22 budget-friendly recipes to make a family-satisfying meal right at home.

Source: therecipecritic.com

19. Easy Fried Rice

Fried rice is a popular dish because it’s so versatile and most people love rice.

It’s also pretty cheap to make because you don’t need expensive meats or veggies in order to make this delicious dish.

All the ingredients are simple but they come together to create something amazing that everyone will be satisfied with.

Source: stockpilingmoms.com

20. Slow Cooker Ham

Having a slow-cooked ham is perfection because the flavors are able to soak into the ham over a longer period of time.

This is also a great dish to serve at parties because everyone will love the flavor and be impressed that you made it at home.

It will save you money because hams are usually pretty cheap, especially if you get them on sale at your local grocery store.

Source: saltpepperskillet.com

21. Smoked Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is generally pretty cheap because it’s a tougher piece of meat that takes time to cook.

That’s perfect if you’re smoking because you can let it cook for a long period of time and the meat will be tender and delicious.

This is an easy recipe to make because you don’t have to do much in order to get it cooking.

Just throw all the ingredients in your Instant Pot and go about your day while they slow cook.

Source: afamilyfeast.com

22. Ham and Potato Casserole

This cheap recipe has all the ingredients people love mashed together in one delicious dish.

The ham and potato casserole is a great way to use leftovers, so you can’t go wrong with this one.

It’s a delicious dinner recipe that won’t cost a lot of money and your family will be able to enjoy it all week long, since it also makes an excellent lunch dish.

Get creative and experiment with the ingredients, because everyone loves a good casserole.

Mac and cheese, american style macaroni pasta with cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs topping

Our 30+ BEST Easy Cheap Dinner Ideas (+Grilled Cheese Sandwich)

These recipes are sure to please. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 8 votes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 3
Calories 210 kcal


  • 8 slices thick-sliced bread
  • 4 slices fresh Gouda cheese
  • 4 slices deli Havarti cheese
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons butter


  • Spread softened butter on one side of the bread slices.
  • Put the bread butter-side down in a hot skillet.
  • Add the cheeses and the other bread slices.
  • Cook on both sides until golden brown.


Select your favorite recipe.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.


Calories: 210kcal
Keyword cheap dinner ideas, grilled cheese sandwich
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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