Eat Up & Save With 14 Cheap Meals

Don’t go broke trying to feed your family! If expensive meals are eating up your budget, it’s time to put some new cheap dinner recipes on the menu. Serve up hearty, filling, cheap and easy meals that’ll satisfy your family on a budget.

The Secret to Healthy Meals on a Budget

The secret to saving money during dinnertime is to create dishes that focus on inexpensive grains, veggies, and protein. Keep cans of beans in your pantry and buy meats in bulk when they go on sale and store them in your fridge. Use vegetables that are in season to save the most money on every shopping trip.

Still, if your house is anything like mine, having the low-cost groceries doesn’t give you cheap dinner ideas. Once I have a hunk of ground beef and $2 rice in my pantry, what sorts of meals can be made with those ingredients? And how do I cook up an abundant dish without feeling like we’re always crimping and cutting corners?

Thankfully, the answers to both questions are that there are hundreds of delicious, low-cost dishes on The Good Stuff and online (you can find some of my favorites at KitchMe, too). Even better, keep scrolling for a round-up of absolutely incredible, cheap meals that generally cost less than $10 to make.

Ready? Me too! Here are 12 incredible and meals on a budget that will keep your family well-fed. With all the cash we’re about to save on groceries, I say we deserve a plate of budget-friendly dessert, too!

Get a head start on saving money: 18 tips for how to save money on groceries

1. Pat’s World Famous Chili

I was a junior in high school, working after class for a zany old retired lady named Pat. She owned her own craft bazaar, and needed help keeping up with demand. So, I’d visit her place on weekdays, working from a shack in her backyard, crafting rustic Santa Clauses and eucalyptus wreaths while she cooked dinner in the kitchen.

It was in the middle of one such day that she taught me my first recipe ever. “Pat’s World Famous Chili” was a chili that, I could confirm, was indeed world famous. Or, at least, small-town famous.

The secret, she told me, was simple. Two basic ingredients: a can of Pork and Beans and a packet of taco seasoning. Sometimes she’d add ground beef. Sometimes she’d top it with cheese. But the basic recipe was those two simple ingredients — Pork and Beans and taco seasoning.
I took Pat’s World Famous Chili with me to college. Fed hundreds of starving freshmen with it. Everyone raved. It was so cheap we could eat it often. So easy, we always had time to make it. In the winter, it was a comforting meal at the end of cold days. In the summer, it was tasty with hot dogs tossed in and toted to plenty of potlucks and picnics.

For a grand total of $3 or less, you can serve a crew of four. Feel free to toss in ground beef, sausage, hot dogs, or leftover rotisserie chicken and serve it with your favorite chili or taco toppings.

Or keep it simple and enjoy a bowl of the basic Pat’s World Famous Chili. If you love it as much as I do, it’ll become a common dish on your dinner table.

Pat’s World Famous Chili Recipe

Cheap Dinner Ideas | thegoodstuff


• 1 (30-ounce) can Pork and Beans with Tomato Sauce (don’t drain)
• 1 packet taco seasoning
• 2/3 cup water

Save on a can of Pork and Beans with a Van Camp’s coupon!


1. In a large pot, mix together beans, taco seasoning, and water. Heat until warm.

2. Serve and enjoy, or include add-ins (below), as desired.

Optional add-ins

• Brown 1 pound of ground beef or sausage and mix together with beans, seasoning, and water.

• Add sliced hot dogs or chicken sausage to the pot.

• Top with cheese, sour cream, green onions or chives, and salsa.

• Try it with taco toppings! A side of rice, shredded purple cabbage, radishes, and onions tastes great with this recipe.

2. Tuna Mushroom Casserole

Cheap Meal Ideas | thegoodstuff

Source: KitchMe

Go for this comforting tuna mushroom casserole and keep your family on budget. A can of tuna is the perfect source of cheap, lean protein, and this casserole will hit the spot.

Warm up a chilly day: 9 freezer casserole recipes

3. Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Cheap Dinner Ideas | thegoodstuff

Source: Stuck on Sweet

Budget-friendly cheeseburger quesadillas have all the taste of a delicious cheeseburger in handy quesadilla form, and the dipping sauce is to die for! Look for ground beef on sale to get even more bang for your buck.

8 smart ways to save on meat at the grocery store

4. Quick & Easy Lo Mein

Cheap Healthy Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Damn Delicious

Cook up a batch of this easy lo mein for the whole family. Keep it vegetarian or add in some meat, but either way you’ll have a tasty, healthy, cheap meal in minutes.

5. Burrito Bowls

Cheap Meals for 2 | thegoodstuff

Source: I Heart Naptime

You’ll love everything about this burrito bowl. It’s made in one pot, cooks up quickly, and is easy on the budget. Leave out the ground beef and use veggie broth to make it vegetarian.

6. Kielbasa Hash

Healthy Meals on a Budget | thegoodstuff

Source: The Two Bite Club

This simple, inexpensive kielbasa hash is perfect for a busy weeknight. Get a healthy dose of veggies in every filling bite!

7. Black Bean Enchiladas

Healthy Cheap Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Yummy Mummy Kitchen

Bake up a tray of warm and delicious roasted butternut squash and black bean enchiladas for the dinner. Put these on the menu for meatless Monday and enjoy a budget-friendly meal that’s got major health benefits.

8. Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

Cheap Easy Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Kevin & Amanda

Who doesn’t love pepperoni pizza? This pasta version is easty-to-make and totally tasty. Don’t shell out for pizza delivery when you can make this hearty, six-ingredient pepperoni pizza pasta.

9. Tortellini Soup

Cheap and Easy Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Diethood

Make this super creamy and comforting tortellini soup on a chilly night. Cheesy tortellini and fresh spinach pair well together for an inexpensive, tasty meal. The best part? It tastes just like that restaurant soup most people shell out $10 per bowl for. Good on you for making a delicious deal, right in your own kitchen!

10. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Budget Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Kiwi & Bean

All hail the slow cooker! Leave the house and come home to succulent, flavorful pulled pork. Look for pork when it’s on sale for the best deal, then cook it up simple-style in the crockpot. Serve it as is, pile it on warm buns, or tuck it in tortillas for a meal that goes the distance. Bonus: You’ll have plenty of leftovers for extra meals!

Love your slow cooker: 15 easy slow cooker chicken recipes

11. Veggie Ziti Bake

Cheap Dinner Recipes | thegoodstuff

Source: Budget Bytes

Sub any vegetables you crave into this roasted vegetable ziti bake. This meal easily feeds a whole family, and everyone will love the cheesy, lasagna-like flavor.

12. Creamy Chicken Curry

Cheap Meal Ideas | thegoodstuff

Source: Food 52

A heaping plate of this creamy chicken curry over white rice won’t break your bank. It’s a filling meal that’s perfect when you want to put international flavors on the menu.

13. Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Cheap Easy Meals | thegoodstuff

Source: Budget Bytes

Turn inexpensive stew meat into an amazing meal with your slow cooker. This rosemary-garlic beef stew has incredible depth of flavor, and you’ll be lucky if there are leftovers for lunch.

14. Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cheap Dinner Recipes | thegoodstuff

Source: Cooking Classy

Go heavy or light on the spice in this creamy Cajun chicken pasta — you decide. Your family will love everything about this pasta dish, from the creamy sauce to the smoky grilled chicken to the oodles of noodles!

What’s your favorite budget dinner? Do you have a secret family favorite that tastes incredible and helps you stick to the family budget? We’d love to have it share it with us below. Leave me a comment and chime in!

Cheap Dinner Ideas | thegoodstuff


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