80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (2024)

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (1)

Though we're all for pulling out all the stops for the occasional wildly impressive dinner, most weeknights we're looking for something cheap, easy, and fast. These recipes hit all three criteria, with ease. You don’t have to drop major dough to make something delicious that can be on your table in an hour or less—save money by choosing cheaper proteins (we’re talking chicken, ground beef or turkey, or vegetarian options) and time by making these dishes all in one pan, in your fave kitchen appliance, or via some of our top kitchen shortcuts. Whatever your style, these cheap and easy meals will please your entire family without breaking the bank.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on dinner costs is to go for cheaper cuts of meat, or utilizing more expensive ones in creative ways. Try adding ground beef, turkey, or chicken to help bulk out old standbys. Try roasting a whole chicken (or buying a rotisserie chicken), then utilizing it for everything from pizza to tacos all week long. Try adding more expensive seafood or steak to pasta or rice to help make smaller, more affordable portions go further, like in our smoked salmon pasta or our creamy steak fettuccine. It’s all about the way you use the protein that matters, not avoiding them altogether.

If you’ve been on the fence about certain kitchen appliances, like slow cookers, air fryers, and Instant Pots, consider this your sign to take the plunge and get one. They help dinners come together SO fast. We’ve got a number of creative recipes for them, like our Crockpot white chicken chili, our air fryer chimichangas, or our Instant Pot jambalaya, but check out our more in-depth lists for your air fryer (over 100 recipes!), Instant Pot, and Crockpot too.

Even if you’re not ready for another appliance, we bet you have some things in your kitchen already that’ll help you get dinner on the table fast, like sheet pans, a Dutch oven, and casserole dishes. We’ve included a number of our favorite recipes here, like our chicken pot pie casserole, our one-pot vegetarian chili mac, or our sheet pan chicken fajitas, but once you’ve got the basics down, feel free to get creative.

One of the best ways to save some money is to go meatless (and not just on Mondays). And we don’t mean by replacing proteins with all those high-priced meat substitutes (though we’re all about those sometimes)—instead we’re talking about making vegetarian meals out of cheap beans, tofu, and plants. Try our vegan lasagna, our creamy mushroom pasta, our tofu katsu curry, or our vegan crunchwrap to see how versatile and filling these meals can be.

Want more cheap and easy meals? Check out our favorite 5-ingredient meals, our top 30-minute meals, and food editor June’s entire Budget Eats series. You won’t believe what she comes up with for under $25!

1

Taco Spaghetti

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (3)

One-pot taco spaghetti is a fast-as-can-be weeknight dinner that pairs all your favorite taco fixin’s with spaghetti rather than taco shells. Everything comes together in one pot—from browning the beef to simmering the sauce, even boiling the spaghetti!

Get the Taco Spaghetti recipe.

2

White Chicken Chili

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (4)

Adding white beans makes this heartier than your average chicken noodle soup, and the addition of green chiles, jalapeño, and sour cream add the perfect amount of heat and creaminess to switch up classic chili. Plus, everything comes together in less than an hour!

Get the White Chicken Chili recipe.

3

Chicken Tamale Pie

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Our simple, flavor-packed cornbread provides the perfect base for our shredded chicken, enchilada sauce, and plenty of melty cheese. If you're looking for the coziest weeknight dinner, this has gotta be next on your list.

Get the Chicken Tamale Pie recipe.

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4

Classic Stuffed Peppers

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Bell peppers are strong enough to hold their shape in the oven, and the flavor is subtle enough to go well with just about anything. This is our favorite recipe, but the customization options are endless—check out all our stuffed pepper recipes here too.

Get the Classic Stuffed Peppers recipe.

5

Pizza Casserole

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From the realms of cheesy pizza and bubbling baked pasta comes a new family favorite: pizza casserole. Loaded with sausage, veggies, and plenty of cheese, this easy weeknight dinner has all of the cheesy, tomato-filled goodness of our favorite take-out pizza, neatly packaged in a 13"-by-9" pan.

Get the Pizza Casserole recipe.

6

Green Chile Chicken Skillet Enchiladas

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (8)

Craving homemade enchiladas and being in a hurry aren't really compatible since the classic Mexican dish requires many steps and a fair amount of time. Enter these chicken enchiladas, a quick take on the dish that comes together in one skillet.

Get the Green Chile Chicken Skillet Enchiladas recipe.

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7

Goulash

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A classic nostalgic comfort dish, goulash is the hearty weeknight dinner we'll always crave. The best thing about it? Everything cooks together in one pot—even the pasta!

Get the Goulash recipe.

8

Chicken Fajitas

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (10)

Focusing on only 3 key ingredients, our chicken fajita recipe requires minimal prep and cook time, meaning dinner on the table FAST. Follow our classic recipe for our best-ever version or use it as a jumping-off point to experiment with your favorite proteins, veggies, and toppings.

Get the Chicken Fajitas recipe.

9

Sheet Pan Sausage & Vegetables

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This sheet pan dinner works with whatever veggies you already have and requires basically zero effort. Most of the time spent is waiting while the sheet pan is in the oven, and there are minimal dishes to clean when it's all said and done. What more could you need?

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10

Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken

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Craving BBQ pulled chicken? Good news—this slow-cooker recipe makes it easier than ever to create delicious, tender, and extra-flavorful pulled chicken right at home with minimal effort.

Get the Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken recipe.

11

Mexican Chicken Casserole

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (13)

Filled with a creamy sauce, two kinds of cheese, and plenty of chicken, there’s something in this dish for everyone. While this is certainly not a super-authentic Mexican dish, it does combine lots of flavors and ingredients that will remind you of tacos, enchiladas, and your favorite Mexican/Tex-Mex meals.

Get the Mexican Chicken Casserole recipe.

12

French Bread Pizza

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We've all been there: You're craving homemade pizza, but you want it fast—no time to deal with rolling out finicky pizza dough. The solution? Grab a loaf of French bread, and get ready for the pizza hack of a lifetime.

Get the French Bread Pizza recipe.

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13

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

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This is probably THE simplest recipe... ever? The chicken falls apart and becomes immensely tender, flavored with the familiar flavors of chunky salsa and taco seasoning, and brightened up with bursts of lime juice. Serve this over rice, in lettuce cups, as tacos...

Get the Crockpot Salsa Chicken recipe.

14

Chicken Tostadas

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Tostadas might just be the perfect meal—these crunchy corn tortillas are easy to buy (or make!) AND they can act as a vehicle for whatever toppings you like. Here, that means creamy refried beans and a chile-spiked shredded chicken topping, but feel free to get creative.

Get the Chicken Tostadas recipe.

15

One-Pan Salsa Verde Shrimp & Rice

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Use your favorite jarred or homemade salsa verde to make this extremely easy and flavorful dish. Everything cooks in the same pot for a mess-free and, most importantly, quick weeknight dinner. It's about to be one of your new favorites.

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16

Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (18)

Juicy pork tenderloin seriously deserves its own spotlight. We keep the seasoning simple here: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder. If you want another flavor profile, the world is your oyster: oregano and Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, or even just salt and black pepper will do.

Get the Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin recipe.

17

Mexican Beef 'N Rice Skillet

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (19)

Is there anything better than a one-skillet meal? We don’t think so, particularly if it’s as family-friendly and quick as this one, featuring spiced ground beef, flavorful rice, hearty beans, and lots of cheese. It all comes together in just 40 minutes with minimal prep too!

Get the Mexican Beef 'N Rice Skillet recipe.

18

Tricolore Skillet Lasagna

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (20)

We love a classic lasagna, but it can be a lot of work. This easy skillet version instead tosses the cooked noodles in an oniony marinara sauce, dollops them with pesto, and tops them with ample slices of fresh mozzarella and a shower of grated Parmesan.

Get the Tricolore Skillet Lasagna recipe.

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19

Cabbage Schnitzel

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (21)

A breaded fried cutlet is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and these cabbage schnitzels are no exception. Coated in crispy golden brown bread crumbs and drizzled with a luscious mushroom gravy, this vegetarian spin on a meaty classic will delight meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

Get the Cabbage Schnitzel recipe.

20

Instant Pot Chicken & Rice

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (22)

If there's one thing we find magical about Instant Pots, it's how quickly and perfectly they cook chicken and rice. The rice is the perfect texture and the chicken is wildly tender. This is 100% the meal we cook in the Instant Pot the most often.

Get the .

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (23)

Camille Lowder

Digital Food Producer

Camille Lowder is the digital food producer at Delish, otherwise known as our resident queen of recipe galleries. Previously, she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute for culinary school and worked at/managed a number of New York restaurants. She loves anything vegan, foods masquerading as other foods (hello, cauliflower), and a well-used Oxford comma.

80 Cheap & Easy Dinner Recipes So You'll Never Cook A Boring Meal Again (2024)

FAQs

What to cook when you're bored easy? ›

Soups, stews, bolognese sauces, white sauces, beans and lentils are all good big batch foods that can be transformed into a variety of dishes. This classic and healthy bolognese sauce can be used for lasagne, with spaghetti, as a cottage pie, in a chilli or a filling for jacket potatoes.

What to make when you have no idea what to cook? ›

33 Easy Dinner Ideas For When You're Not Sure What To Make
  1. Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breast. tasty.co. ...
  2. Honey Soy-Glazed Salmon. tasty.co. ...
  3. The Best Ever Slow Cooker Pot Roast. tasty.co. ...
  4. Chicken & Biscuit Bake. ...
  5. One-Pot Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta. ...
  6. Oven-Baked French Bread Pizzas. ...
  7. Upgraded Ramen. ...
  8. Easiest One-Pot Beef with Broccoli.
7 days ago

What is the cheapest meal to live on? ›

Cheapest Foods to Live On:
  • Oatmeal.
  • Eggs.
  • Bread.
  • Rice.
  • Bananas.
  • Beans.
  • Apples.
  • Pasta.

What to make for dinner when you're broke? ›

  • Creamy pasta carbonara. A lovely, creamy version of a well-known favourite.
  • Best Spaghetti and Meatballs. ...
  • Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry. ...
  • Devilled sausages. ...
  • Potato and leek soup. ...
  • Lemon chicken. ...
  • Salt and pepper chicken. ...
  • Chicken and bacon carbonara.

What food do you usually eat when you are tired and don't want to cook? ›

If I am too tired to cook, and can't afford to eat out (which has been most of my life,) I always have peanut butter and bread, yogurt, frozen dinners, canned soups and beef stew, fruits on hand, eggs. A well stocked pantry is the key. I am just as happy with a can of bean soup and some crackers.

What is the most easiest food to cook? ›

17 Of The Easiest Recipes Of All Time (Seriously)
  1. 15-Minute Lo Mein. Pinch of Yum / Via pinchofyum.com. ...
  2. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. ...
  3. Honey Balsamic Chicken. ...
  4. Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps. ...
  5. White Bean Soup With Vegetables. ...
  6. Smoked Gouda and Mushroom Quesadillas. ...
  7. Mexican Beef and Rice Skillet. ...
  8. One-Pot Pasta With Spinach and Peas.
Jan 2, 2019

What can I make at home when I'm bored? ›

Beat Boredom with These Creative Craft Ideas
  • Melted Crayon Art.
  • Slime Stress Ball.
  • Glass Bottle Tissue Paper Centerpieces.
  • DIY Bulletin Board.
  • Cardboard Dollhouse.
  • Pencil Bag.
  • Decoupage Jars.
  • Paper Rings.

What are some foods that don't need to be cooked? ›

Food Group Examples
  • Canned tuna or salmon, tuna/salmon/chicken pouches (e.g., Starkist Creations)
  • Rotisserie chicken.
  • String cheese or Babybel cheese.
  • Frozen turkey burgers, frozen veggie burgers (e.g., Beyond meat)
  • Greek yogurt.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Frozen cooked shrimp, or seasoned fish fillets.
  • Peanut butter.
Oct 21, 2021

What to make when you have no time to cook? ›

50 Dinner Ideas When There's No Time to Cook
  1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
  2. Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni.
  3. Chicken Piccata Pasta.
  4. Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas.
  5. Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo (or Stovetop)
  6. Pasta Puttanesca.
  7. One-Pot Penne Pasta with Ground Turkey and Spinach.

What to eat when you have no food and can't cook? ›

Ways to Eat Healthy Without Having to Cook
  • Precooked Whole Grains. 1/13. ...
  • Frozen Veggies. 2/13. ...
  • Precooked Chicken Strips. 3/13. ...
  • That's a Wrap. 4/13. ...
  • Deli Chicken. 5/13. ...
  • Lower-Sodium Soups. 6/13. ...
  • Canned Salmon. 7/13. ...
  • Ready-to-Eat Boiled Eggs. 8/13.
Aug 28, 2023

How to feed 4 people with $10? ›

Ten Healthy Family Meals Under $10
  1. Healthy Fried Rice.
  2. Pasta Salad.
  3. Fettuccini Alfredo… or Bowtie, or Shells, or Rotini.
  4. Rosemary White Bean Soup or Turkey White Bean Chili.
  5. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos.
  6. Black-eyed Peas and Pork…with Kale.
  7. Enchilada Casserole.
  8. Down-home Macaroni and Cheese.

How to make a low-cost meal? ›

Vegetables and fruit are less expensive when they're in season. Frozen and canned choices are also a good buy and can be just as nutritious. Plan to use leftovers. If you're cooking roast chicken with rice and vegetables for Sunday night's supper, then make chicken sandwiches for Monday's lunch.

What is the cheapest way to cook a meal? ›

Using slow cookers, microwaves and air fryers when you can, are all great options for low-maintenance, low-cost, low-carbon cooking. Microwaves: When it comes to cooking quickly and cheaply, microwaves are going to be your best friend.

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