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20 Budget Meals That Taste Like a Million Bucks

Treat yourself without breaking the bank.

Sticking to a budget doesn’t have to mean bland, boring meals. These five-star recipes lean on flavor-boosting pantry staples, like peanut butter and enchilada sauce , to keep costs low. Kids will love the tacos, burgers, and chicken fingers, and parents will appreciate the remixed classics made with affordable protein, like ground turkey and black beans.   

Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

Get dinner on the table in a snap with this colorful, crunchy salad that’s ready in under 15 minutes. Broccoli, edamame, and ramen noodles cook in one pot, to streamline cooking and minimize cleanup. Top it off with a salty-sweet peanut butter dressing that turns this plant-powered plate into a substantial side or a satisfying meal. 

Get the recipe: Cold Ramen Noodle Soup 

Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder

Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder  

Take a trip to Massachusetts with this comforting bowl of creamy chowder. Frozen corn and potatoes are the base of this hearty, nourishing  soup. Smoky bacon and sweet corn add smoky-sweet flavor to a luscious bowl rounded out with budget-friendly russet potatoes.  

Get the recipe: Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder 

Thai Chicken Soup with Gnocchi Dumplings

Thai Chicken Soup with Gnocchi Dumplings

Turn up the flavor on  classic, comforting chicken soup in this version with an international twist. Shelf-stable gnocchi serves as the dumplings in this Thai-inspired recipe with coconut milk and red curry paste. For an even faster version, use rotisserie chicken instead of chicken breasts.  

Get the recipe: Thai Chicken Soup with Gnocchi Dumplings 

Family Fun Dinners 3

Crunchy Turkey Tacos with Avocado Salsa 

Skip the drive-through; these tasty tacos are ready in under 20 minutes! This better-for-you take on tacos uses smoked paprika and minced garlic to add a kick of flavor to  affordable ground turkey topped with creamy avocado salsa.  

Get the recipe: Crunchy Turkey Tacos with Avocado Salsa 

Chilaquiles Skillet Casserole 

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? Budget-friendly  eggs and black beans are topped with gooey cheddar cheese and crunchy tortillas chips in this  crave-worthy weeknight winner. The  Mexican-inspired casserole bakes in a single cast iron skillet for easy prep and cleanup. 

Get the recipe: Chilaquiles Skillet Casserole 

 Pepperoni and Spinach Stromboli 

Put a new spin on pizza night with this hearty, stuffed stromboli.  Marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, frozen spinach, and pepperoni spiraled inside refrigerated pizza dough is a weeknight winner the whole family will love.  

Get the recipe: Pepperoni and Spinach Stromboli 

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas 

Busy weeknights call for low-maintenance meals, like this sheet pan version of a Tex-Mex favorite. Chicken breasts, green peppers, and red onion cook together in less than 30 minutes in this version of sizzling fajitas that’s a breeze from prep through cleanup.  

Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas 

 Whole-Grain Penne with Tuna 

Pantry staples like whole wheat noodles, diced tomatoes, and canned tuna make this pasta salad affordable and quick to prepare. Bell peppers and spinach add color and crunch to a protein and fiber-rich dish that comes together in 20 minutes.  

Get the recipe: Whole-Grain Penne with Tuna 

One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

 One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon 

Five ingredients and one pot are all you need to cook up this drool-worthy vegetarian  meal. Ricotta and parmesan cheese coat radiatore noodles with a creamy sauce that gets a punch of nutrients from fresh spinach.   

Get the recipe: One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon 

 Grilled Beef Patties with Orzo Salad  

Budget-friendly ground beef gets a Mediterranean twist in this speedy main.  A dollop of cool tzatziki tops slider-sized grilled beef patties served with a refreshing salad of orzo, tomatoes, and mint.  

Get the recipe: Grilled Beef Patties with Orzo Salad 

 Thai Turkey Burgers

Take your burgers on a trip to Thailand with this one-of-a-kind recipe.  Lean turkey burgers get a dose of flavor and crunch from crunchy cucumber salad tossed with umami-rich peanut sauce. 

Get the recipe: Thai Turkey Burgers 

 Ground Beef Stroganoff

While traditional beef stroganoff uses sirloin or chuck roast, we’ve swapped in affordable ground beef for a budget-friendly version that the family will love. White mushrooms, beef broth, and sour cream create a rich sauce for this freezer-friendly meal you can make ahead and reheat in minutes.  

Get the recipe: Ground Beef Stroganoff 

French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie

Lean on pantry staples for this straightforward Shepherd’s pie with a French-Canadian accent. Creamed corn and premade mashed potatoes help keep prep time to 10 minutes for this comforting casserole made with seasoned ground beef. Ground beef cooked with paprika and thyme is the base of this affordable and comforting casserole. 

Get the recipe: French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie 

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 

We took the fuss out of the classic  Swiss recipe, chicken cordon bleu, by turning it into an easy-to-assemble casserole. Nutty Swiss cheese, salty ham, and affordable chicken thighs make the protein-rich base topped with flaky crescent rolls.  

Get the recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole 

Sheet Pan Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Carrots 

Take a bite of nostalgia with this budget-friendly riff on meatloaf. Ground turkey stays tender and flavorful with the help of pantry staples like soup mix, breadcrumbs, and ketchup. Sliced carrots cook alongside the meatloaf for a one-pan supper. 

Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Carrots 

 Plantain-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Tropical Dipping Sauce 

Travel to the tropics with these salty-sweet chicken fingers. Sure to satisfy kids (and parents), sliced chicken thighs get coated in crushed plantain chips and baked for an upgraded take on a family favorite classic.  

Get the recipe: Plantain-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Tropical Dipping Sauce 

Skillet Tamale Pie 

We found a way to make time-consuming but oh-so-tasty tamales into an easy weeknight meal.   Quick-cooking ground beef combined with kidney beans and frozen corn gets topped with cornbread mix and cheddar cheese for a one-pan wonderful dinner.  

Get the recipe: Skillet Tamale Pie 

 Grilled Sausages with Cabbage Slaw 

Sweet and citrusy cabbage slaw pairs with savory pork sausages for this speedy supper. Equally delicious cooked on the grill or in a sauté pan, this low carb dish is ready to satisfy in just 20 minutes. 

Get the recipe: Grilled Sausages with Cabbage Slaw 

Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Stuffed Shells 

 Two comfort foods collide in this hearty vegetarian main. Traditional enchilada filling, black beans, corn, and cheddar cheese, get stuffed into jumbo pasta shells and doused in creamy enchilada sauce for a speedier and simpler take on the classic. 

Get the recipe: Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Stuffed Shells 

 Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Believe it or not, you can use your slow cooker to make lasagna.  Layers of creamy ricotta and cheesy mozzarella combine with ruffly noodles and two kinds of summer squash for extra nutrients.   

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna 


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