Whether you’re spending the majority of your income on rent, saving for a big purchase or just trying to stretch your budget a little further, I recommend using these recipes that make the most out of a few inexpensive ingredients. In addition to my favorite cheap eats, check out more easy meals with these weeknight dinners.
Note: The cost for these recipes is inclusive of the whole recipe list including bottles of condiments. The majority can be made much cheaper if your kitchen is already stocked with a few basics.
Approximate cost = $19 or $9.50/ serving
Cacio e pepe is a simple dish made with spaghetti and a sauce created from butter, black pepper, pasta water and Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. Also, eat on it’s own or pair with a simple kale salad, garlic bread or add roast chicken thighs.
Approximate cost = $37.56 (without toppings) or $3.76/ serving
Beef chili is a cozy fall or winter recipe. I like to eat it in bowls with all the toppings then serve leftovers over baked russet or sweet potatoes. Moreover, you can even serve it ladled over a hot dog topped with cheese.
Approximate cost = $20.53 or $5.13/ serving
Pork larb is one of my favorite quick dinner recipes. I serve this pork larb recipe over white rice with sliced cucumber to turn this dish into an easy entrée. Also, omit the fried shallots for a shortcut.
Approximate cost = $20.82 or $5.20/ serving
Smash burgers are a crowd-pleaser recipe! The patties are smashed with the back of a metal spatula to form a crisp exterior and then topped with American cheese, served with tomato, lettuce and pickles. The cost decreases if you already have condiments
Approximate cost = $18.66 or $4.67/ serving
Chicken drumsticks and legs are both inexpensive cuts that are simmered in a simple garlic, soy and vinegar based sauce until the meat is tender.
Approximate cost = $27.60 or $4.60/ serving
This twist on the Italian spaghetti, agilo e olio, which translates to “garlic and oil pasta”, is made with the addition of rapini or broccoli rabe, chili oil, anchovy and breadcrumbs. The addition of tinned fish adds a savory, umami element.
Approximate cost = $24.63 or $6.15/ serving
This spaghetti squash lasagna boat recipe has the comforting flavors of your favorite lasagna while keeping it on the healthier side. Swap the homemade marinara with store-bought or your other favorite sauce.
Approximate cost = $16.15 or $4.03/ serving
This is a common budget friendly meal in my house. Green beans are pan fried with ground pork in a soy-based sauce. Serve over white rice for an easy and complete dinner. I like to add a little chili crunch or sambal for additional spice.
Approximate cost = $25.37 or $4.22/ serving
This soup is made from just a few ingredients thrown together but tastes like you spent all day making it.
Approximate cost = $18.57 or $4.64/ serving
This recipe shows how simple seasonings can take chicken thighs to a whole new level. These street tacos are served with a mixture of onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime on corn tortillas.
Approximate cost = $23.06 or $3.84/ serving
This family favorite is one of my go-to recipes to make for potlucks or to serve for a crowd.
Approximate cost = $28.03 or $7.01/ serving
Three cup chicken is an easy recipe made by stir-frying boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a syrupy sauce made with soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil with garlic, ginger, green onion, chilies and basil leaves.
Approximate cost = $20.38 or $3.39/ serving
Store-bought pesto combined with spinach, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes makes for a great pasta salad that comes together in 15 minutes. Serve on its own or with roasted chicken thighs.
Approximate cost = $23.99 or $5.99/ serving
Canned tuna is a great inexpensive way to add seafood to your diet as it is packed with vitamin D, iron and more. I recommend buying kimchi at an Asian market, it will be much cheaper than you can find at places like Whole Foods.
Approximate cost = $16.96 or $4.24/ serving
A whole chicken is much cheaper than buying multiple cuts with the average cost at $1.28/ pound since you aren’t paying for someone to take the time to butcher it. I like to eat roast chicken with roasted vegetables and potatoes or a side salad and then use leftovers in soups like this chicken and dumpling soup or in various dips.
Approximate cost = $25.57 (with toppings) or $6.39/ serving
This protein packed soup is easy to make and can be served with or without toppings. Without toppings this soup comes out to about $16.20 total. This is a great clean out the fridge meal to make before taking a trip since it’s made with shelf stable ingredients.
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