Believe it or not, you can make healthy, filling dinners without breaking the bank. A quick Google search will yield many fun, innovative dinner ideas under $20 — and we’ve collected a few here to share with you as a starting point.
But before we jump into specific recipes, here are a few fundamental tips to keep things tasty on a tight budget.
- Try lower-cost ingredients like pasta, couscous, beans and potatoes.
- Use cash back offers to stretch your grocery dollars.
- Mix and match a few staples with local, in-season ingredients to keep dinner exciting.
- Make a list before you go grocery shopping and stick to it.
If you’re tempted to overspend, leave your credit card at home. Stick a $20 bill in your pocket and spend only that!
4 dinner ideas under $20
Use these four dinner ideas this week to start saving without skimping on fun or flavor.
Roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli
Pick up a whole chicken instead of boneless, skinless breasts. Roast it in the oven, throw it in a slow cooker or instant pot, or pick one of these 24 ways to cook a chicken. Pair it with diced, baked or fried sweet potatoes and a fresh or frozen green vegetable, like broccoli, for a complete meal.
Whole chicken is currently averaging $1.28 per pound, and you can likely bring that down with coupons and store deals. Sweet potatoes cost around $0.75 to $1.80 per pound on average and broccoli averages about $1.05 per pound.
You should have no trouble buying enough for two — or the whole family.
Mexican fried rice
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. This heart-healthy Mexican fried rice is a vegetarian dinner packed with flavor from fresh and frozen ingredients, including:
- Brown rice
- Black beans
Flavor it with Mexican chili powder and fresh lime wedges for a tasty dinner fiesta.
Fettuccine carbonara is so quick and affordable that you may have enough left over for a bottle of wine to enjoy with it. Everything in it is so simple — fettuccine, garlic, olive oil, a little bacon, eggs, Parmesan cheese and cream. Since the listed ingredients serve four, halve the recipe or save the leftovers for lunch the next day!
Creamy beef and noodles
Is there anything more comforting than a delicious, creamy beef stroganoff? This simple, easy and affordable dish is all about getting the right cut of meat. Sirloin, rib eye or tenderloin are tastiest, but stew meat and even tenderized top round can work if it’s what your store has on sale.
Egg noodles are beyond affordable. Pair it with some fresh mushrooms and a little parsley for a satisfying start to your evening.
When money is tight, you’re trying to stretch your budget or you’re just up for a challenge, try these dinner ideas for under $20. In a week or less, you’ll see how much you can enjoy on a one-bill budget.