Save on Pinterest

75 Budget-Friendly Dinners That Are Big on Taste

Need dinner on a budget? These cheap meals made with pasta, ground beef, stir-fry veggies and more will keep your wallet full and your taste buds happy.

1 / 75

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

What could be more comforting (or easy!) than a slow cooker mac and cheese? Nothing! This classic casserole is a rich and cheesy meatless main dish, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t ask for second helpings of the cheesy dish. —Bernice Glascoe, Roxboro, North Carolina

Get Recipe

2 / 75

Hay and Straw

This recipe is not only quick and easy to prepare, it's pretty, too. This colorful pasta dish combines julienned ham, Parmesan cheese, peas and linguine.—Priscilla Weaver, Hagerstown, Maryland

Pick a budget-friendly dessert to finish off your cheap meal!

3 / 75
Penne With Tomatoes White Beans Exps140997 Sd143205a01 31 2bc Rms 9

Penne with Tomatoes & White Beans

I learned how to make this dish from friends in Genoa, Italy, where they're known for creating tasty combinations of veggies, pasta and beans. You can sub feta cheese to give this a Greek twist. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho

Get our best budget-friendly restaurant copycat recipes.

4 / 75
Southwestern Casserole Exps Thn16 15969 D06 22 2b 3

Southwestern Casserole

I've been making this mild family-pleasing southwest casserole recipe for years. It tastes wonderful, fits nicely into our budget and, best of all, makes a second one to freeze and enjoy later. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas

Find out our smartest ways to save money at the grocery store.

5 / 75
Cheesy Bow Tie Chicken Exps122743 Sd143205d01 31 6bc Rms 2

Cheesy Bow Tie Chicken

Here's a super-simple dish that tastes like it's straight from a nice Italian restaurant. Spinach-artichoke dip is usually available in supermarket delis. It comes frozen, too. Just make sure to thaw it according to the package directions before dinnertime. —Sally Sibthorpe, Shelby Township, Michigan

Learn Grandma’s best tips for sticking to your grocery budget.

6 / 75
Carolina Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia, but I appreciate the tangy, sweet and slightly spicy taste of Carolina vinegar chicken. I make my version in the slow cooker. After the tempting aroma fills the house, your family is sure to be at the dinner table on time! —Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia
7 / 75
Exps140616 Sd2401784c10 13 2bc Rms 8

Chicken & Bacon Tart

If you’re one of those folks who think bacon is a food group, you’ll love this weeknight-friendly twist with a sweet and spicy kick from jalapeno jelly. Crisp puff pastry and store-bought chicken strips make prep work goof-proof! —Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen
8 / 75

Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin

You'll be surprised at how quickly this dish comes together for an easy weeknight meal. And with very little effort, you'll have tender and juicy meat that begs to be added to a salad or sandwich the next day. —Marie Rizzio, Interlochen, Michigan

Yes, you CAN eat healthy on a budget! Here’s how.

9 / 75
Peas Pasta Carbonara Exps50204 Th2236622b08 03 5bc Rms 6

Peas & Pasta Carbonara

Using cream cheese to fortify the sauce speeds up cooking time and will have you eating my take on this old-time classic carbonara recipe in about 30 minutes. —Celeste Brantolino, Lenoir, North Carolina
10 / 75
Italian Pesto Pizzas Exps100584 Sd2401784b10 13 3bc Rms 6

Italian Pesto Pizzas

These individual pizzas, ready in 30 minutes or less, give you good reason not to call out for dinner. The pesto base makes the kitchen smell wonderful while it’s baking. —Kelly Evans, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Here’s where to find the BEST deals at your supermarket.

11 / 75
Conga Lime Pork Exps Scbz18 118402 C07 27  3b 7

Conga Lime Pork

Dinner guests won’t be too shy to get in line when this yummy chipotle pork moves to the buffet table. —Janice Elder, Charlotte, North Carolina
12 / 75
Exps130733 Sd143207a05 30 5b 5

Beef & Pepper Skillet

I love Mexican-inspired food. I also enjoy experimenting with recipes like this one and making them healthier—and downright good! —Jenny Dubinsky, Inwood, West Virginia
13 / 75

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

When I make this tasty chicken lasagna at home, I use a whole bottle of Buffalo wing sauce because my family likes it nice and spicy. Increase the pasta sauce and use less wing sauce if you prefer. —Heidi Pepin, Sykesville, Maryland
14 / 75
Refried Bean Taco Pizza Exps Gbbz19 36656 E11 27 9b 8

Refried Bean-Taco Pizza

I like to make pizza, and this one is my favorite. I use a ready-to-use pizza crust when time is tight. If you like taco salad, you'll love this. —Mary Detweiler, Middlefield, Ohio
15 / 75
Sassy Chicken Peppers Exps Sdfm19 35450 C10 19 6b 4

Sassy Chicken & Peppers

This quick and healthy chicken and peppers recipe tastes like a naked taco and is bursting with fresh flavors. And it can all be prepared in the same pan for easy cleanup—it's a win-win! —Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina
16 / 75

Soupy Chicken Noodle Supper

At least once a week my six-year-old son, also known as Doctor John, hands me a “prescription” for chicken noodle soup. Needless to say, I'm always happy to fill it. —Heidi Hall, North St. Paul, Minnesota
17 / 75
Feta Stuffed Peppers Exps59223 Th2377560a02 28 2bc Rms 4

Feta Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite meals when I was younger was a recipe my mother made called Quick Chili Rice Casserole. I put a Greek spin on it and stuffed it in a pepper. It works great paired with a garden salad and fresh bread. —Sacha Morgan, Woodstock, Georgia
18 / 75
Chicken Mushroom Alfredo Exps167070 Esc3139121b04 03 5bc Rms 2

Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo

Everyone in my family loves when I make this dinner...even my kids! What's great about this recipe is that you can add vegetables you have on hand to make it heartier, such as corn, peas, or diced red bell pepper. —Monica Werner, Temecula, California
19 / 75

Great Northern Bean Stew

This thick and hearty stew with great northern beans is sure to chase the winter chills away. —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas
20 / 75
Pork Ramen Stir Fry Exps152485 Sd132778b04 12 4bc Rms 4

Pork & Ramen Stir-Fry

I normally serve a traditional stir-fry, but I wanted to change it up with this ramen noodle recipe. Ramen noodles are a quick sub for the rice, and we really like the crisp-tender bite from fresh broccoli and a package of coleslaw mix. —Barbara Pletzke, Herndon, Virginia
21 / 75
Chicken Sausages With Polenta Exps138141 Sd142780d08 07 3b Rms 4

Chicken Sausages with Polenta

I get a kick out of serving this chicken sausage dish—everyone's always on time for dinner when they know it's on the menu. —Angela Spengler, Tampa, Florida
22 / 75
Chicken Taco Pie Exps166833 Sd132779d06 13 4b Rms 4

Chicken Taco Pie

This is truly a family fave and is perfect for a busy night of rushing to soccer, swimming lessons or scouts. I put it together in the morning and pop it in the oven when we get home. —Karen Latimer, Winnipeg, Manitoba
23 / 75
Easy Chili Verde Exps160849 Edsc143234d03 27 4bc Rms 8

Easy Chili Verde

I love chili verde. I order it whenever I can at restaurants, and figured out how to make an easy, tasty version at home. People have the option to eat the chili verde with a fork or in tortillas with a variety of toppings such as cheese, cilantro, minced onions or lime wedges. There are never leftovers at my house. —Julie Rowland, Salt Lake City, Utah
24 / 75
Spinach Stuffed Chicken With Linguine Exps151668 Sd2401786c02 09 5b Rms 2

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken with Linguine

Worthy of an anniversary or an unexpected promotion, this elegant stuffed and rolled chicken looks gorgeous and tastes delicious. —Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen
25 / 75
Spanish Beef Hash Exps135694 Th1999637c04 01 4bc Rms 4

Spanish Beef Hash

This tasty blend smells so good as it cooks that it lures people into the kitchen from all over the house. —Thomas Reynolds, Tampa, Florida
26 / 75

Muffin-Cup Cheddar Beef Pies

My kids love these beef rolls so much. I always make extra since they heat up so quickly. I give the kids their choice of dipping sauces—spaghetti sauce or ranch dressing are the top picks. —Kimberly Farmer, Wichita, Kansas
27 / 75
Family Favorite Fried Chicken Exps160790 Sd2847494b02 13 9bc Rms 4

Family-Favorite Fried Chicken

I was never impressed with the fried chicken recipes I'd tried, but then I started to experiment and came up with one that my whole family loves. Once you taste it, you'll know why! —Samantha Pazdernik, Breckenridge, Minnesota
28 / 75
Beef And Bean Burritos Exps98434 Th2236620a06 02 3bc Rms 2

Beef and Bean Burritos

This recipe made it through the pickiest taste testers: my kids! They absolutely hate beans, but love, love, love these plump burritos. —Mindy Culver, Post Falls, Idaho
29 / 75
Super Quick Chicken Fried Rice Exps117849 Th143181b11 26 3b Rms 8

Super Quick Chicken Fried Rice

After my first child was born, I needed meals that were satisfying and fast. This fried rice is now part of our regular dinner rotation. — Alicia Gower, Auburn, New York
30 / 75
Champagne Cajun Tilapia Exps87320 Sd2856494b12 04 7bc Rms 3

Champagne Cajun Tilapia

We think the champagne dressing in this recipe is yummy on almost anything, but it’s excellent with this lovely fish. The tilapia is perfect in tacos, too! —Bernadette Bennett, Waco, Texas
31 / 75
Chicken Sausages With Peppers Exps87528 Thhc2238741c07 26 1bc Rms 6

Chicken Sausages with Peppers

Chicken sausage is lower in calories compared to its pork counterpart, but it doesn't skimp on the bold, savory flavors you love. Try it with sweet, crunchy bell peppers for a fast and healthy dinner. —Deborah Schaefer, Durand, Michigan
32 / 75
Chili Mac Cheese Exps150984 Th2379800a05 10 7bc Rms 4

Chili Mac & Cheese

This Mexican/southwestern casserole of comfort food is high on taste and low on the scale of difficulty—a delicious combination. —Mary Aguilar, Shelby, Ohio
33 / 75
Cassoulet For Today Exps Sdfm17 48033 D10 04 4b 2

Cassoulet for Today

French cassoulet is traditionally cooked for hours. This version of the rustic dish offers the same homey taste in less time. It’s easy on the wallet, too. —Virginia Anthony, Jacksonville, Florida
34 / 75
Chicken Caesar Florentine Exps120190 Th2236622b08 4bc Rms 1

Chicken Caesar Florentine

I adapted this dish from my favorite chicken Caesar salad recipe. It has many of the same ingredients as the salad: croutons, grated Parmesan, chicken, and creamy Caesar dressing. This makes the perfect comforting meal on a busy weeknight. —Joyce Conway, Westerville, Ohio
35 / 75
Tex Mex Pasta Exps138013 Sd2856494b12 03 1b Rms 2

Tex-Mex Pasta

After a recent surgery, I wasn’t able to stock up on groceries. One night, I looked in my pantry and created this. The results were fabulous! —Michele Orthner, Lethbridge, Alberta
36 / 75
Exps162000 Th143195b08 05 3b 4

Southwest-Style Shepherd's Pie

I was born in Montreal and lived in New England and the Southwest, so I’ve merged these influences into recipes like this shepherd’s pie with turkey, corn and green chiles. —Lynn Price, Millville, Massachusetts
37 / 75
Sausage Pasta With Vegetables Exps Sdam18 58342 D12 06 6b 3

Sausage Pasta with Vegetables

I made this for our pastor one night. He loved it so much we nicknamed it “Jason’s Pasta.” It’s a sneaky way to get our kids to eat more veggies. —Suzie Foutty Mansfield, Ohio
38 / 75
Parmesan Baked Chicken Exps48108 Sd19999446c10 15 3bc Rms 3

Parmesan Baked Chicken

This no-fuss recipe has been a longtime hit with my family. After a few minutes of prep, the oven does the rest of the work. —Janet Faldowski-McFarlan, Gahanna, Ohio
39 / 75
Taco Salad Tacos Exps115487 Thhc2377563b05 01 7b Rms 3

Taco Salad Tacos

I was making tacos one night and noticed I was out of spicy taco sauce. Using a combination of spices and fat-free Catalina salad dressing saved our family taco night. —Cheryl Plainte, Prudenville, Michigan
40 / 75
Exps11498 Fir2856595b011 29 8b Web 7

Honey-Mustard Breaded Chicken

I get bored with the same old breaded chicken, so I came up with this simple recipe. The coating adds fast flavor to tender chicken cooked on the stovetop. —Laura Theofilis, Leonardtown, Maryland
41 / 75
Healthy Hoppin John Exps61573 Thhc2377565b09 05 3bc Rms 6

Healthy Hoppin' John

We love Hoppin' John, so I developed this new (and faster) version. I like to mix my chopped green onions in with the hot cooked rice before serving. —Debra Keil, Owasso, Oklahoma
42 / 75
Mexi Mac Casserole Exps160053 Sd2856494b12 04 1bc Rms 9

Mexi-Mac Casserole

I typically have most of the ingredients for this dish in my pantry. Green chiles give it a little bite, but it’s easy to swap in a can of spicier tomatoes to turn up the heat. —Jan Conklin, Stevensville, Montana
43 / 75
Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Exps84601 Ufz133197b04 18 1bc Rms 7

Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchilada recipe is one of the first dishes I created and cooked for my husband right after we got married. He was so impressed! We fix these creamy enchiladas for friends regularly. —Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
44 / 75
Hearty Portobello Linguine Exps138390 Sd2847494d02 15 4b Rms 8

Hearty Portobello Linguine

If you love Mediterranean cuisine, you’ll love this entree! It turns any night into a special occasion. I like to serve it with fresh bread and a crisp white wine. —Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California
45 / 75
Light Mexican Casserole Exps144687 Thhc2238742a09 19 4bc Rms 6

Light Mexican Casserole

A must-try dinner: Here's a healthy layered casserole using whole wheat tortillas, lean beef and more veggies than traditional recipes. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
46 / 75
Tater Tot Casseroles Exps Ft20 80833 F 0227 1 2

Tater Tot Casseroles

Ground beef, sausage and cheese make this tater tot casserole with green beans a crowd-pleaser. Cayenne pepper and hot Italian sausage give it a pleasant kick. —Ryan Jones, Chillicothe, Illinois
47 / 75

Super-Stuffed Mexican Potatoes

These taters are packed! Your whole family will enjoy these hearty stuffed Mexican potatoes. —Steve Westphal, Wind Lake, Wisconsin
48 / 75
Beef Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Exps135971 Th133086b08 30 1bc Rms 2

Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This recipe is special to me because it’s an easy one-pot meal that tastes like you spent the whole day in the kitchen. My family loves it. —Lynn Bowen, Geraldine, Alabama
49 / 75
Exps194724 Th163622c04 20 1b 8

Dill Pickle Hamburger Pizza

My husband's favorite foods are pizza and cheeseburgers, so I combined the two in a pizza with mayo and dill pickle juice topping. People who try it always laugh in surprise because it's so good. —Angie Zimmerman, Eureka, Illinois
50 / 75
Spaghetti Pie Casserole Exps161692 Th2379807a10 31 9bc Rms 17

Spaghetti Pie Casserole

My family adores this spaghetti casserole. It's old-timey comfort food. This is how to make baked spaghetti with cream cheese. —Patricia Lavell, Islamorada, Florida
51 / 75
Mexican Beef Stuffed Peppers Exps157665 Esc3139121c03 29 6bc Rms 5

Mexican Beef-Stuffed Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers and thought my husband would immediately love them as well. He didn't at first, but then I created this slow-cooked recipe. Because he loves fajitas and tacos, I created these peppers with all his favorite flavors tucked inside. —Nicole Sullivan, Arvada, Colorado
52 / 75
Roasted Chicken Red Potatoes Exps154782 Th143191d11 13 2bc Rms 2

Roasted Chicken & Red Potatoes

Here's how long to bake chicken leg quarters. Pop this homey dinner in the oven for about an hour, then enjoy! It has so much flavor—the meat juices help cook the veggies just perfectly. —Sherri Melotik, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
53 / 75
Exps192468 Ssc2919296a03 21 2bc Rms 4

Pizza in a Bowl

On busy days, it's a comfort to know that my family can sit down to dinner minutes after we walk in the door. Double it to wow at a potluck. This recipe works in a slow cooker, too. —Virginia Krites, Cridersville, Ohio
54 / 75
Angel Hair Primavera Exps158803 Sd132778b04 10 6bc Rms 2

Angel Hair Primavera

I love to make this when summer is in full swing and the vegetables are at their very best. You can substitute almost any vegetable when in season and at my house, this dish is almost never the same. —Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California
55 / 75
Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole Exps Opbz18 164054 B06 07 3b 5

Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

This is a rich and surprisingly tasty rendition of all the Tex-Mex dishes molded into one packed, beautiful casserole. Best of all, it’s ready in only half an hour! —Janet McCormick, Proctorville, Ohio
56 / 75
Exps138385 Sd2401787a04 12 2bc Rms 2

Garden Vegetable Primavera

Although I enjoy this dish throughout the year, it's even more special when I use my garden to supply the vegetables. A splash of white wine and a sprinkle of fresh basil really add flavor. I have also roasted the vegetables and mixed in chicken breasts with scrumptious results. —Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland
57 / 75
Hearty Vegetable Beef Ragout Exps137693 Th143190a09 26 1b Rms 2

Hearty Vegetable Beef Ragu

This recipe is healthy yet satisfying, quick yet delicious. It's on the table in less than 30 minutes, and it's something that my children will gobble up! If you are not fond of kale, stir in baby spinach or chopped broccoli instead. —Kim Van Dunk, Caldwell, New Jersey
58 / 75
Exps151394 Sd2401786c02 13 1bc Rms 7

Beer Can Chicken

You'll be proud to serve this stand-up chicken at any family gathering. Treated with a savory rub and then roasted over a beer can for added moisture, it’s so tasty you’ll want to call dibs on the leftovers! —Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
59 / 75

Busy-Day Chicken Fajitas

When I don't have much time to cook supper, slow-cooker chicken fajitas are a flavorful way to keep my family full and satisfied. If you aren't cooking for young tastes, try spicing things up with medium or hot picante sauce. —Michele Furry, Plains, Montana
60 / 75
Bacon Topped Mini Meat Loaves Exps163310 Sd2401789c08 09 2bc Rms 2

Bacon-Topped Mini Meat Loaves

Here's all the savory deliciousness of Mom's meat loaf in a single-serving size! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
61 / 75
Chicken Rice Skillet Exps137801 Thhc2377565c08 23 4bc Rms 3

Chicken and Rice Skillet

My Cuban mother-in-law makes the best Arroz Con Pollo, but it is very time consuming. This is my quick, weeknight version of the dish she makes. —Jacqueline Correa, Landing, New Jersey
62 / 75
Shepherd S Pies Exps 13x9bz19 39339 C10 09 2b 8

Shepherd's Pies

When you need a real meat-and-potatoes fix, try this hearty layered casserole that blends from-scratch mashed potatoes with cream cheese and a meat filling. Your favorite barbecue sauce gives the dish an extra tang. —Cindy Kliskey, Pepperell, Massachusetts
63 / 75
Smothered Burritos Exps117455 Th143193b04 22 2bc Rms 3

Smothered Burritos

My brother-in-law teased that I only knew five ground beef recipes. I proved him wrong with my inventive spicy burritos. —Kim Kenyon, Greenwood, Missouri
64 / 75

Apple Balsamic Chicken

I just love the sweet and tart flavor that balsamic vinegar gives to this dish. It's easy to prepare and after cooking in the slow cooker, the chicken thighs are tender and flavorful. —Juli Snaer, Enid, Oklahoma
65 / 75
Beef Teriyaki Noodles Exps73367 Sd143204c12 10 4bc Rms 2

Beef Teriyaki Noodles

At our house, we love to combine fresh ingredients with a pantry product. This version starts with beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms, since we always have them on hand, but make the dish your own—bring out your inner chef! —Richard Robinson, Park Forest, Illinois
66 / 75
Bubbly Golden Mexican Beef Cobbler Exps156511 Th2379800a05 10 1bc Rms 8

Bubbly & Golden Mexican Beef Cobbler

Add whatever you like to this Mexican beef cobbler to make it yours—black beans, sour cream, even guacamole! —Mary Brooks, Clay, Michigan
67 / 75
Crispy Garlic Broiled Chicken Thighs Exps104435 Th2379806a09 11 4bc Rms 2

Crispy Garlic-Broiled Chicken Thighs

These garlicky chicken thighs are also great on the grill. —Kelley French, Colchester, Vermont
68 / 75
Chili Hash Exps140674 Sd2401784c10 13 1bc Rms 2

Chili Hash

A little micro time, a dash in the pan and you'll have a satisfying meal for those "where-did-the-time-go?" kind of nights. Now you can put up your feet and relax! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
69 / 75
Glazed Roast Chicken Exps Chbz19 170805 E10 24 5b 3

Glazed Roast Chicken

I like to make this for weeknight dinners. You can make this roast chicken with apricot glaze or quince jelly. —Victoria Miller, San Ramon, California
70 / 75
Golombki Exps144128 Sd2401785b12 05 3bc Rms 3

Golombki

Tender cabbage rolls are stuffed with a delicious mixture of ground beef and onion. Instant rice and canned tomato soup speed along the prep work, and the long oven time gives you a chance to whip up a side dish and pour the wine. —Valerie Lipinski, Buffalo, New York
71 / 75
Chicken Thighs With Sausage Exps50339 Thhc1997841c08 16 5bc Rms 2

Chicken Thighs with Sausage

Whether you’re serving your family or special guests, this comforting entree hits the spot on cold winter nights. —Joanna Iovino, Kings Park, New York
72 / 75
Walking Tacos Exps101359 Th143192c02 11 3bc Rms 4

Walking Tacos

These Walking Tacos are great for an on-the-go dinner, campfire meal or easy game night supper. The ingredients transform a bag of chips into a taco in a bag! —Beverly Matthews, Pasco, Washington
73 / 75
Microwaved Chicken Kiev Exps139790 Sd2232457b08 29 3b Rms 2

Microwaved Chicken Kiev

I fix these microwave-easy chicken breasts all the time and love the taste. —Dorothy LaCombe, Hamburg, New York
74 / 75
Cheesy Mexican Chicken Alfredo Exps144231 Cas2375015b09 08 4bc Rms 3

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Alfredo

I was hosting a baby shower and wanted to serve something everyone would enjoy. I created this recipe on a whim, so I was totally surprised that it turned out to be such a hit. —Tia Woodley, Stockbridge, Georgia
75 / 75

Chicken Salad Pizzas

Sometimes it just takes a little creative spin to get the kids to gobble up an otherwise grown-up dish. Add the word “pizza” to this pretty, piled-high salad, and you won’t have to worry about leftovers. —Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen

Next, take a look at these cheap breakfast ideas.

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."

Newsletter Unit

CMU Unit

cover
Subscribe & SAVE Save Up To 80%!