A common misconception when one hears the term “cheap meals” is that the ingredient quality is not the best, therefore the meal will not taste the best. We’re here to prove that assumption wrong. Cheap weeknight dinners don’t have to skimp out on flavor, and in trying times they can be a lifesaving way to get delicious meals on the table — without breaking the bank. Using inexpensive ingredients, like canned goods and frozen food, we’ve crafted the ultimate list of restaurant-worthy weeknight dinners that will save you money while giving you plenty of flavor.
This cheesy, saucy, creamy dish features all the classic pizza flavors: Bright Italian seasoning, hearty tomato sauce, and THREE different types of shredded cheese. Our take, though, blends these flavors with fiber-rich (and budget-friendly!) canned beans in a delightful one-skillet weeknight dinner.
Get the recipe: Pizza Beans
Banh Mi Bowls
Banh mi, a classic Vietnamese sandwich, is the inspiration for this budget-friendly dinner. Plant-based crumbles add protein, while fresh vegetables bring some crunch. Make this bowl for dinner and save the leftovers for next day’s lunch.
Get the recipe: Bahn Mi Bowls
Stracciatella Soup with Spinach
This classic Italian soup is like Chinese egg drop soup, with beaten eggs streamed into hot broth. Spinach and grated Parmesan add extra nutrients and flavor to this easy and comforting recipe.
Get the recipe: Stracciatella Soup with Spinach
Cuban-Style Picadillo with Rice
A packet of ground beef and a few pantry staples are all you need for this classic Cuban dish. Tangy olives, sweet raisins, and savory rice blend together in the perfect flavor combination, while ground beef adds plenty of protein.
Get the recipe: Cuban-Style Picadillo with Rice
One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
Have dinner ready in a flash with one pot and 5 ingredients. The tangy, lemony cream sauce makes this dish feel like you’ve ordered takeout from a fancy restaurant (without the price markup).
Get the recipe: One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
Slow Cooker Potato-Cauliflower Soup
This soup is the perfect example of taking inexpensive ingredients to a whole new level. Potatoes and cauliflower provide a hearty base for this soup, while cannellini beans add plenty of protein and a smoother texture.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Potato-Cauliflower Soup
Skillet Tamale Pie
Frozen foods and pantry items effortlessly create this easy, one-pan dinner. You’ll love this dish for its tamale-inspired comforting flavors and textures, and your pocket will love how budget-friendly it is.
Get the recipe: Skillet Tamale Pie
Air-Fried Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Stretch a packet of chicken breasts by slicing them in half and making these crispy cutlets. Serve them with a side salad for dinner and have them in a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch.
Get the recipe: Air-Fried Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Clean-Out-The-Pantry Vegetarian Chili
If you have a bunch of pantry ingredients and you’re not sure what to do with them, why not make a chili? This vegetarian chili recipe uses up canned goods, like canned beans, and is thickened with couscous.
Get the recipe: Clean-Out-The-Pantry Vegetarian Chili
Garlicky Cannellini Beans with Wilted Kale and Eggs
Breakfast for dinner gets a makeover with this affordable dish. With its creamy mix of beans, greens, and eggs, you’ll enjoy a hearty meal that is both nutritious AND delicious.
Get the recipe: Garlicky Cannellini Beans with Wilted Kale and Eggs
Broccoli and Cheese- Stuffed Baked Potatoes
A comforting soup transforms into the perfect topping for fluffy baked potatoes for an easy, affordable vegetarian dinner.
Get the recipe: Broccoli and Cheese- Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Pork and Spinach Stir-Fry
Before you order your favorite takeout, try making this affordable stir-fry dish at home. Stretch your dinner dollars by slicing up pork tenderloin into bite-size pieces and tossing them with spinach in a flavorful stir-fry sauce.
Get the recipe: Pork and Spinach Stir-Fry
Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes
Canned chili is an affordable alternative (and shortcut!) to making your own chili at home. Add it on top of sweet potatoes for a satisfying meal.
Get the recipe: Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes
Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs Over Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Affordable cuts, like chicken thighs, go a long way with this dish. Paired with crispy Brussels sprouts, this is a one sheet-pan dish you’ll want to make over and over.
Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs Over Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Chicken and Cabbage Stir-Fry
Nutrient-packed cabbage is elevated with garlic, soy sauce and rice vinegar in this weeknight dinner. Chicken thighs add plenty of protein and turn this dish into a hearty meal.
Get the recipe: Chicken and Cabbage Stir-Fry
Instant Pot® Chicken and Artichoke Rigatoni
Pantry ingredients like canned artichokes and rigatoni turn into an affordable and easy weeknight Instant Pot pasta dinner.
Get the recipe: Instant Pot® Chicken and Artichoke Rigatoni
Roasted Pork Chop and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner
Cooked on just one rimmed baking sheet, this recipe is super simple to throw together. Just pop it in the oven and dinner’s ready in no time.
Get the recipe: Roasted Pork Chop and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner
Oven-Roasted Tomato-Garlic Soup
This budget-friendly dish is low on ingredients but high on flavor. Roasting tomatoes enhances their natural sweetness, and a pop of garlic adds depth of flavor.
Get the recipe: Oven-Roasted Tomato-Garlic Soup
Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder
This filling soup makes the most of frozen corn and russet potatoes for a cheap but crowd-pleasing dinner.
Get the recipe: Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder
Sweet Potato Frittata with Peppers and Onions
Frozen sweet potato fries are the surprise ingredient in this 30-minute frittata that works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Frittata with Peppers and Onions
Pasta with Chickpeas
This vegetarian recipe is loaded with fiber and protein, thanks to a can of chickpeas. Canned tomatoes and a box of pasta bring this dish together into one hearty, satisfying dinner.
Get the recipe: Pasta with Chickpeas
Garlicky Beans and Greens Over Toast
Elevate greens and beans with a garlicky, spicy sauce. Soak up that sauce with slices of crusty Italian bread.
Get the recipe: Garlicky Beans and Greens Over Toast
Italian Pastina with Egg and Cheese
This easy, creamy, and affordable pasta dish is a bowl full of comfort and sure to become a new family favorite.
Get the recipe: Italian Pastina with Egg and Cheese
Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Stuffed Shells
Pantry favorites like canned corn and canned black beans add fiber to this pasta bake. Enchilada sauce adds a hint of spice, while sour cream cools things down.
Get the recipe: Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Stuffed Shells
Thai Red Curry Meatballs with Rice, Tomatoes, and Broccoli
Frozen turkey meatballs transform into a Thai entrée thanks to red curry paste, coconut milk, and veggies in an easy 25-minute dinner.
Get the recipe: Thai Red Curry Meatballs with Rice, Tomatoes, and Broccoli