Coming up with tasty meals for the family each night can be a chore, and so can spending hundreds of dollars each week on the ingredients. We’ve rounded up some cheap dinner ideas that will please both kids and adults, to give you a little inspiration in the kitchen.
If it seems like your grocery shopping bill gets higher and higher each week, you’re probably not wrong. Food prices are skyrocketing and our inspiration for what to make each night starts to dwindle, so how do we keep everyone happy? We’ve found 20 cheap dinner ideas to inspire you in the kitchen, and best of all? They’re easy to make, easy to please, and barely cost a thing.
#20: Easy Chilli
Chilli is one of those great meals that gets even better when you reheat it and eat the leftovers. To make chilli is incredibly easy thanks to the ingredients within being thrown together in a crockpot. Best of all, it’s really affordable to make and will stretch a long way for those with big families. Just add beef mince, rice, canned tomatoes, peppers, and whatever level of spice you want and that’s it.
#19: Scrambled Eggs
This is the perfect lazy meal for those days when you can’t be bothered, or when you open up the fridge and all you see is a carton of eggs. Scrambled eggs can be mixed with just about anything to get different flavors so consider milk, cheese, chives, tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon. Whatever you have on hand, you can scramble it.
#18: Pineapple And Ham Sub
There are no rules that say every night has to be a gourmet meal, and that’s the perfect time to make pineapple and ham subs for the family. Simply get your bread, top with deli ham, pineapple, sliced tomato, and cheese then put it under the grill for a few minutes. If you want to be extra fancy you can top with sliced avocado once it’s been cooked. Kids love these and they can even help you make them if they’re looking for something to do.
#17: Slow Cooker Smothered Chicken
The slow cooker is the perfect place to make cheap meals and it usually creates quite a bit. The slow cooker smothered chicken is served with pasta or rice, and all you need is chicken thigh, broth, bacon, cream cheese spread, and peas. Get the ingredients for around $10 and you’ll be surprised how much the whole family enjoys it.
#16: Crispy Cheddar Chicken
When you don’t feel like being particularly healthy, this is some delicious soul food that will comfort you and make you feel good on the inside. To make crispy cheddar chicken you just dip the chicken cutlets in milk, then grated cheddar, and then breadcrumbs. Fry them up and serve them with vegetables or mashed potatoes, and you have yourself a tasty dinner for cheap.
#15: Spaghetti Bolognaise
This is a favourite in many households and one that doesn’t have to cost the earth to make. Most people have a go-to recipe they use for spaghetti Bolognese but if you don’t there are some default and affordable ingredients you can try. Beef mince, canned tomatoes, broth, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and a little bit of red wine, mix them all together in a pot and you’ve got a feast.
#14: Fish in Lemon And Butter Sauce
Take the opportunity and grab some fish when you see it reduced at the market, and you’ll be able to make this gourmet style meal that’s healthy and delicious. Take the fish fillets, add some sliced lemon, and a few tablespoons of butter, and cook them in the oven. Depending on how healthy you want to be you can serve with vegetables, or perhaps some air fried chips.
#13: Chorizo Pasta And Peppers
Chorizo is pretty cheap to buy and it packs a whole lot of flavour so you don’t even need to use much. This pasta sauce has a tomato base with peppers and gets most of its taste from the grilled chorizo that’s thrown in. serve with penne pasta and sprinkle with some cheese if you fancy, and watch the family dig right in.
#12: Grilled Cheese
Sure, you might not think of grilled cheese as a dinner meal, but they certainly can be. Most people have the ingredients for grilled cheese waiting in the fridge, and if not they’re cheap enough to buy. To make them a little more filling think of adding other toppings like ham, avocado, pickles, or tomato. Let everyone choose their own and you’ll be sure to make everyone happy.
#11: Potato Bacon Soup
You may not think that soup can be a meal on its own, but this one is guaranteed to keep you full. With a few simple ingredients like potato, bacon, garlic, and broth, you can whip up this tasty soup that will please everyone. Throw in some breadcrumbs or fresh rolls and it will be even more filling than you imagined.
#10: Beef Wellington
This is a delicious and hearty meal that’s cheaper than you think to create. A beef wellington features a piece of steak covered in puff pastry and stuffed with other things like onions and peppers. Get creative with the fillings you want and add or remove anything that your family doesn’t like.
#9: Fried Rice
There’s nothing like a steaming hot bowl of fried rice, and it’s even tastier when you realize how little it costs to make. Fried rice can be made with just about anything you can find in the fridge or freezer including corn kernels, frozen peas, spring onion, carrot, eggs, and bacon. It’s incredibly filling and more than enough to serve on its own.
This southern delicacy can be easily and cheaply recreated at home the next time you’re looking for some meal inspiration. Jambalaya is made with simple ingredients like rice, chicken breast, smoked sausage, and a whole bunch of herbs and spices. It will go quite far even in larger families and won’t take long to make, so it’s a win-win.
To spice things up a bit in the kitchen, you could try making this delicious middle eastern fare. Shakshuka is poached eggs with a difference – they’ve been poached in a base of tomato sauce, peppers, onions, and chilli. The flavour is intense and you’ll be guaranteed to get a lot of compliments from the family for this one.
#6: Tuna Mornay
This is a family favourite in many homes and one that costs not much at all to make. The basic ingredients are canned tuna, pasta, cheese, and breadcrumbs, so it won’t stretch your budget too far. You throw everything together and put it in the oven which means more time to relax after a long day.
#5: Penne Rosa
Pasta lovers will rejoice that there’s another of their favourite dishes on the menu tonight, with this affordable version of penne rosa sure to be a favourite. Using a tomato cream sauce, some spinach and peppers, and parmesan cheese, you can have a meat-free version that’s delicious, or throw in some chicken breast to make it even more filling.
#4: Chicken Lettuce Wraps
If you want something a little lighter on the wallet and the waistline, why not make some chicken wraps and use lettuce instead of bread? You can season the chicken mince any way you like, serve it up with ranch or ketchup, and never feel guilty about eating more than a few of them. This recipe also works with turkey mince, whichever you have on hand or is cheaper at the time.
#3: Red Beans and Rice
There will be some families that already have their own delicious recipe for red beans and rice, but for those who don’t, there’s no need to fear. This is a simple dish and one that’s incredibly cheap to create. Red beans and rice can be made with stewed tomatoes, chicken breast, chorizo, rice, and beans, so there’s really nothing to it.
#2: Enchilada Soup
Another great meal that can be made in the slow cooker is this affordable enchilada soup. Simply add all of your ingredients at the start of the day and then let it work its magic. Tomatoes, corn, peppers, broth, black beans, chilli, and anything else you want can go right in. Serve it on tacos, with tortillas, or just on its own as a soup.
#1: Sausage And Mash
This is a worldwide hit with families everywhere and you can make it on the cheap whenever you like, but it’s even better when you can wrangle up some gourmet sausages for a reduced price. Simply fry up some sausages, make a big pot of mashed potato, and steam some vegetables for a fuss-free but tasty feast.