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32 Outrageously Good Cheap Dinner Ideas You’ll Thank Us For!

32 Outrageously Good Cheap Dinner Ideas You’ll Thank Us For!

Looking for some pretty tasty, cheap dinner ideas? You’ve come to the right space! It’s the day before payday, and we’re raiding our fridge and pantry in search of inspiration for an inexpensive dinner recipe, so we had to start looking for the best out there. 

Saving money on dinner does not mean that you have to miss out on flavor and taste.

This list of recipes will have you skipping your “struggle meals” and fooling everyone with how much you spent on dinner.

From tasteful but simple Salmon Croquettes to the famous kid dinner Tater Tot Nachos, you won’t believe how easy and cheap #27 is…

…you’ll want to bookmark this epic list of cheap dinner ideas for future reference!

Chicken pot pie is always a favorite comfort meal.

With a couple of twists on the classic recipe, you have one of your new favorite cheap meal ideas.

Instead of bothering with a pie crust, use biscuits to save both time and money.

The filling for this casserole is a bit thicker than a traditional pot pie, but it still holds all the flavor we love!

This one will win over everyone, even the kids, when it comes to budget-friendly meals.

Even better- the kids can cook up their dinner with this recipe!

Nearly everyone enjoys eating pizza, but making it is a different story.

This takes so much trouble from preparing a pizza but adds some fun into the experience!

College students are all too familiar with this dinner’s main ingredient, which has probably been the star of many of their cheap recipes for dinner.

Ramen doesn’t need to be limited to just broke college students.

Anyone watching their budget and wanting some extra flavor in their dinner can try this out.

It spices things up from the traditional cup of Ramen and will feel like a gourmet meal!

With five simple ingredients, this cheap recipe will save you so much money and energy when it comes to preparing dinner.

You could always prepare the ingredients in this recipe from scratch, but there is nothing wrong with buying them pre-prepared.

This casserole is an entire meal in one dish.

Featuring chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, and corn, all topped with gravy, this will be such a satisfying meal for such a low cost.

Cheap meal ideas can also be tasty and filling.

These sour cream enchiladas are so good, your family will be asking for them every week.

Although regular enchiladas may be time-consuming and require a lot of ingredients, this recipe takes a lot of the trouble out of preparing them.

The four ingredients used in this recipe are very accessible and very affordable.

Preparing the enchiladas takes very little time, and once you pop it in the oven, you don’t have to worry about it anymore until it’s time to eat!

This cheap recipe is so hearty and comforting.

You won’t have to spend a ton of money to get this classic soup that will leave you so satisfied!

Using frozen hash browns will save a lot of time and energy with this recipe, but if you don’t have any available, you can peel and dice potatoes to fill this soup!

Not to mention, the crockpot does all of the cooking for you.

Just throw in these affordable ingredients, and let it run throughout the day!

The author of this recipe did the math on this inexpensive dinner idea.

It comes out to a total of $3.34 for this meal!

Just because it’s a cheap meal does NOT mean it is not full of flavor!

The kielbasa is full of flavor, while the potatoes develop fantastic texture where they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The bell peppers and onions also add so much deliciousness to this meal!

Chicken burrito bowls make for many budget-friendly meals.

You can meal prep ahead of time and eat them throughout the week, you probably have most of the ingredients at home already, and it’s a better alternative to buying a fast-food burrito bowl!

This recipe uses simple ingredients such as rice, black beans, chicken, corn, and tomatoes to create a balanced and affordable meal.

This recipe uses cauliflower rice, but you can switch that to any type of rice you prefer!

After trying this, you won’t buy your burrito bowls from a fast-food restaurant again!

When preparing cheap recipes for dinner, one goal is to make sure that it doesn’t taste cheap.

This pasta is full of creamy, smoky, and spicy flavors, so no one has to know how little energy and money you spent putting it together!

This entire recipe comes out to less than $10 for the author!

There are also tips on customizing it to what you prefer, whether you want it spicier or creamier!

Since you’re only using one pot for this recipe, it is an effortless recipe to follow!

Has the classic dish of sloppy joes crossed your mind when thinking about cheap dinner ideas?

This recipe is way better than what people served us in school!

And since it’s homemade, the kids can take part in helping prepare it too!

You can make adjustments to make the sloppy joes healthier, like substituting ground turkey or thickening the consistency!

If you haven’t had quinoa before, it might be a little intimidating to include it in your dinner when you’re looking at budget friendly meals.

Don’t worry!

It’s a simple grain that makes a great base for your meals when you want to give rice a break.

It’s very affordable and if you add the right seasonings, it’s far from plain.

Chicken salad is a great addition when you’re planning your cheap recipes for dinner.

You can roast your chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it up at home.

The mayonnaise and sour cream add creaminess to the chicken salad, and you can also add in some celery or onions to add a little extra kick.

You may also enjoy adding sliced grapes or nuts such as pecans to this chicken salad recipe.

Toast some bread, and you have yourself a chicken salad sandwich.

Or eat it straight, and you have yourself a low-cost meal!

Whether it’s the summertime and you were invited to a backyard BBQ, or the family is craving something Italian, this recipe will please everyone!

Budget-friendly meals should also be tasty, and if you can throw in vegetables that the kids won’t mind eating, even better!

This pasta salad includes tomatoes, black olives, and cucumbers for veggies as well as pepperoni so that you won’t be eating just pasta and cheese.

It’s a colorful and flavorful dish that makes a great addition to those summer meals outside without breaking the bank.

Spaghetti is one of the classic cheap dinner ideas.

Kids love it, it’s simple to prepare, and it will not hurt your pockets.

Throw in some onions or bell peppers to add a little extra flavor.

This recipe even includes tips on how to extend your savings even further.

When your wallet is already stretched, this recipe is perfect for holding you over without leaving you hungry or craving more food.

This hamburger gravy recipe is perfect for the whole family when it comes to budget-friendly meals.

It’s hearty, delicious, quick, easy, and inexpensive.

What more could be asked of a recipe?!

You can add mushrooms for a little extra flavor, but it still tastes great without it.

This hamburger gravy goes excellent with rice or mashed potatoes, which are two more budget-friendly options to add to this meal.

One of the best parts of preparing many cheap meal ideas is when you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen.

This one-pot recipe contains just that!

It’s a great way to mix up your everyday meals AND encourage your kids to eat their broccoli.

There’s nothing complicated with this recipe, but it will surprise you how great this recipe tastes!

Here is a cheap recipe that will spice up your dinners.

Although this recipe is vegan, it is perfect for anyone who wants to save money but doesn’t miss out on flavor.

Using spinach, chickpeas, and curry powder, you’ll have a new recipe in your arsenal that you will be downright obsessed with!

Not to mention, this entire recipe comes out to less than $5!

Sometimes when we think of budget-friendly meals, we take the easy route like picking up a fast food meal.

This taco salad will fulfill all of your fast food taco cravings without having to spend money in a drive-thru line.

With the special dressing made for this salad, you’ll have so much flavor and won’t think this is “just another boring salad.”

And even though this is a salad, it’s going to be the star of the meal and will satisfy your hunger.

Not to mention, this is much healthier than getting a fast-food taco.

Bean and cheese burritos are a classic, especially for cheap dinner ideas.

This recipe is simple, but there’s no reason to mess with something already so great.

Even better, you can make a bulk batch of these and freeze them for the next time you want a simple dinner but don’t want to spend too much money.

These burritos also make for great lunches or snacks when you’re trying to make it over until dinnertime. 

Not many people will consider eating rice as a meal in itself.

But with all of the deliciousness added in here, this will be high on your list of favorite cheap meal ideas.

None of the ingredients is anything crazy, and you should find them all at your local budget grocery store.

If this recipe doesn’t sound substantial enough, add in chicken or shrimp to extra protein.

Or you can eat it alongside your next fajita dinner as a side dish.

Considering all of the veggies and flavor in this rice recipe, they will look forward to eating it straight for dinner!

Here’s another cheap recipe win for those times we want fast food but don’t want to shell out the money for it.

If you’re craving a Big Mac but want to know what goes into your meal, this is for you.

This salad replicates the taste of a Big Mac, including its legendary Big Mac Sauce, without the extra carbs from the bun.

Keep in mind that this recipe includes tomatoes that are not traditionally added to the fan-favorite burger, but they add some extra freshness to the salad.

If you want to keep the recipe closer to the burger we’ve all grown to love, you can opt-out of adding in the tomatoes.

There are also links to recipes to make your own thousand island dressing which is key to the classic taste of the burger, but you can always use a simple store-bought bottle.

One of the reasons this makes for a great addition to this collection of budget-friendly meals is the switch-up from chips to tater tots.

The tater tots won’t get soggy as tortilla chips can.

All ingredients are super simple, so if you already have these in your kitchen, it makes it that much easier!

This is great for feeding an entire party without splurging at the grocery store.

Keep this recipe in mind next time you plan a party and keep everyone full and happy while staying on a budget!

Is there a time that pasta doesn’t sound amazing?

When you’re preparing budget-friendly meals, pasta is a staple!

There are many ways to prepare it without spending a ton of money.

This recipe is vegan, but you can always switch out the vegan ingredients for those made with animal products.

The lemon sauce in this recipe is so creamy and tangy!

You’ll be surprised you can put together such a wonderful dish with these simple, inexpensive ingredients!

Goulash is such a comforting meal that may remind us of our childhood.

This is simple and made in one pot so you don’t have to spend too much time preparing or cleaning up after the meal.

Adding on the fact that this is a cheap recipe makes it all the better and gives you every reason to try it out for dinner this week!

This will help you stretch your budget even further while filling up the whole family!

Potatoes are another kitchen staple that is versatile, tasty, and affordable!

These are key for many cheap meal ideas but what makes them so great is that they can be made into an entire meal by themselves!

Double-baked stuffed potatoes are simple but so delicious.

You can eat them by themselves or as a side dish to another budget-friendly meal!

They take minimal effort to prepare and will not put a strain on your wallet.

Tuna does not get the credit it deserves for being such a great addition to cheap dinner ideas!

With this recipe, you have the freedom to choose whatever type of pasta you like.

You can eat this warm or cold and add in or take out whatever ingredients you want.

Just don’t take out the mayonnaise since that is the key to this recipe being so tasty, primarily since it works with the tuna so well.

This is described as having “lots of return for little input” which makes it that much more appealing of a recipe to try!

An inexpensive dinner idea that also helps you clean out the vegetables in your fridge is a win-win!

This recipe tastes so much like Olive Garden’s soup, to the point that you will not need to order it there when you can make it at home!

Even if you don’t have the vegetables included in this recipe, you can make it your own and add in whatever vegetables you have on hand or that are currently in season.

If you need to get your kids to be better about eating their vegetables, this soup is a great way to get them on board!

Ramen is notorious for being such a low-cost grocery store item.

But eating it plain day in and day out can get old very quickly.

This recipe adds enough to a classic package of ramen so that it adds some excitement to your cheap meal ideas without causing you to break your budget.

There are countless options for toppings to add to a bowl of ramen to keep it exciting.

This recipe is a great starting place when exploring adding new ingredients to a bowl of ramen.

If you’re looking for cheap dinner ideas that don’t taste cheap, this salmon croquette recipe is perfect!

This is essentially a southern version of salmon cakes but budget-friendly.

Using canned salmon saves money compared to buying fresh salmon.

Not to mention, it makes it so much easier to prepare.

The cornmeal used in the breading also adds a nice texture to this salmon patty.

This makes a great addition to your dinner when you want something that tastes lavish and comforting but want to watch your spending.

Nasi goreng is an Indonesian dish that is fried rice, typically with an egg served on top.

This is a great choice for an inexpensive dinner idea between its simple ingredients and its exotic flavors.

What sets this apart from other fried rice is the sauce, kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce.

If it sounds exotic, don’t worry!

This is found at a lot of grocery stores, and if you are not able to see it, it is incredibly simple to make!

One essential part of making this nasi goreng so good is to make sure you are using fresh rice.

Using freshly cooked rice allows you to caramelize the sauce and give it the distinct dark brown color that nasi goreng is known for!

Tandoori chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes.

You will not need to go to your favorite Indian restaurant after following this cheap recipe with its simple ingredients.

The trick to the flavorful chicken is in the marinade.

You’ll have flavorful chicken ready for dinner using plain yogurt and spices!

The bottom line

Whether you’re watching your spending or just want to explore new twists on classic budget-friendly meals, there’s no reason to spend a ton at the grocery store.

Many of these recipes include everyday kitchen items, so there will be times you don’t even need to go to the store to grab something!

These are sure to keep you full and satisfied, keep the kids happy, and save your wallet!

Try These 28 Irresistibly Good Cold Soups For Your Next Dinner!

32 YUMMY Ways To Cook Cheap Dinner

32 YUMMY Ways To Cook Cheap Dinner

Make your wallet happy with these 32 cheap dinner ideas, which will keep both of your tummy and wallet happy!


  • Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini Casserole With Meat Sauce
  • Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
  • Quick & Easy Mini Garlic Toast Pizzas
  • Ramen Noodle Stir Fry
  • Mashed Potato Casserole
  • Sour Cream Enchiladas
  • Crockpot Potato Soup With Frozen Hash Browns
  • Kielbasa & Potato Skillet
  • Chicken Burrito Bowls
  • One-Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
  • Homemade Sloppy Joes
  • Easy Bean Dip Recipe
  • Chicken Salad
  • Easy Italian Pasta Salad
  • Cheap & Easy Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
  • Easy Hamburger Gravy Recipe
  • One-Pot Chicken, Broccoli & Rice
  • Curried Chickpeas With Spinach
  • Doritos Taco Salad
  • Bean & Cheese Burritos
  • One-Pot Mexican Rice
  • Big Mac Salad
  • Tater Tot Nachos
  • Lemon Pasta
  • One-Pot American Goulash
  • Double Baked Stuffed Potatoes
  • Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta
  • Minestrone Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)
  • Mom’s Ramen Recipe
  • Southern Salmon Croquettes
  • Nasi Goreng
  • Tandoori Chicken


  1. Pick one or more options from our cheap dinner ideas list!
  2. Combine them to make your new favorite dish.
  3. Enjoy your homecooked meal!
  4. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Sunday 18th of June 2023

Why do Americans put cheese in everything?

Andi Reis

Wednesday 21st of June 2023

Hi, Conrad. Not just a little cheese either. We like to nose-dive into piles of it. Backstroke through nacho cheese and pile slices of every kind and type into sandwiches hot and cold. Whether it's the sexiness of the cheese pull, or the draw of its rich, salty, comforting flavor, or something else, it does seem to be a pervasive part of our diets. I do wish more folks appreciated the art of crafted, artisan cheese from true boutique offerings, to experience the depth of flavor that a well-crafted cheese can offer. But here we are, eating cheese from cans and foil pouches and plastic bags. My favorite OTC cheese, by the way, is Tillamook. Even the shreds melt extremely well, it tastes creamy and fresh, and in general is pleasant for a retail cheese. I'm so glad you asked on this beautiful Wednesday. Conrad, may you have the time of your life.

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