75 Cheap Dinner Ideas That Are Big on Taste

Need good recipes on a budget? These dinner ideas, made with pasta, ground beef, stir-fry veggies and more, will keep your wallet full and your taste buds happy.

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Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

What could be more comforting (or easy!) than a slow cooker mac and cheese? Nothing! This cheap dinner idea is a rich and cheesy meatless main dish, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t ask for second helpings. —Bernice Glascoe, Roxboro, North Carolina

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Au Gratin Ham Potpie

We first had Aunt Dolly’s potpie at a family get-together. We loved it and were so happy she shared the recipe. Now, we make it almost every time we bake a ham. —Mary Zinsmeister, Slinger, Wisconsin

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Creamy Spinach Chicken Dinner

Cleanup is a breeze with this creamy spinach chicken. To make things even easier, tear the spinach with your hands instead of cutting it. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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Baked Swiss Chicken

Canned soup, white wine, Swiss cheese and crushed croutons dress up the chicken breasts in this elegant entree. Ideal for unexpected guests, it requires only a few ingredients. The creamy sauce is excellent with garlic mashed potatoes or rice. —Beverly Roberge, Bristol, Connecticut
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Grandma’s Tomato Soup

This recipe is my grandmother’s. Originally, she even made the tomato juice in it from scratch! Gram had this recipe cooking on the stove every time I visited her. She enjoyed making this tomato soup and other favorite dishes for family and friends, and she made everything with love. —Gerri Sysun, Narragansett, Rhode Island
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Hay and Straw

This recipe is not only quick and easy to prepare, it's pretty, too. This colorful pasta dish combines julienned ham, Parmesan cheese, peas and linguine.—Priscilla Weaver, Hagerstown, Maryland
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Cowboy Stew

I had this cheap dinner idea in the early 1970s when I was down to very little food in the house. Because it’s a combination of barbecue sauce, hamburger, hot dogs and beans, this one-skillet meal makes both children and adults happy. —Val Rananawski, Millville, New Jersey

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Hungry Man’s Baked Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are topped with bacon, veggies, pulled pork and goat cheese for a unique take on a baked potato dinner.

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Hamburger Stir-Fry

Here’s a quick, easy hamburger stir-fry that uses ground meat instead of the traditional beef strips. It has a nice sauce and is different enough to feel like a treat for the taste buds! —Kathi and John Horst, Westfield, New York

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Sausage Sweet Potato Sheet-Pan Dinner

This foolproof weeknight dinner is naturally gluten free, and is on your table in no time! It is easily adaptable and can be made using seasonal fruits or veggies. —Melissa Erdelac, Valparaiso, Indiana

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Cheese Chicken Soup

Kids won’t think twice about eating their vegetables after tasting this cheesy soup. It’s a delicious but cheap dinner! —LaVonne Lundgren, Sioux City, Iowa
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Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry

This mildly flavored ramen noodle stir-fry combines tender strips of chicken with vegetables and popular ramen noodles. I came up with this ramen noodle recipe when I wanted a quick-fix meal for myself. Sometimes I change the vegetables or substitute ground turkey for the chicken. —Dawn Boothe, Lynn Haven, Florida
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Chicken Biscuit Potpie

This hearty chicken potpie recipe with biscuits takes just 10 minutes to assemble before you can pop it in the oven. —Dorothy Smith, El Dorado, Arkansas

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Sheet-Pan Pork Supper

I created this pork tenderloin sheet-pan dinner to suit our family’s needs. It’s so quick and easy to clean up since you use one pan for everything! Use any variety of small potatoes—fingerlings or other colored potatoes are a fun and delicious option. —Debbie Johnson, Centertown, Missouri
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Sausage and Squash Penne

I love using frozen cooked winter squash because the hard work—peeling, chopping and cooking—is all done for me. —Jennifer Roberts, South Burlington, Vermont

If you like finding cheap recipes, you’ll love these dinners for under $10.

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Southwestern Casserole

I’ve been making this mild family-pleasing southwest casserole for years. It tastes wonderful and fits nicely into our budget. Best of all, the recipe makes a second casserole to freeze and enjoy later. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
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Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia, but I appreciate the tangy, sweet and slightly spicy taste of Carolina vinegar chicken. I make my version in the slow cooker. After the tempting aroma fills the house, your family is sure to be at the dinner table on time! —Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia
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Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin

You'll be surprised at how quickly this dish comes together for an easy weeknight meal. And with very little effort, you'll have tender and juicy meat that begs to be added to a salad or sandwich the next day. —Marie Rizzio, Interlochen, Michigan
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Chicken Cheddar Stuffing Casserole

This tasty chicken stuffing casserole is chock-full of homey, comforting flavor! It’s a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken, plus it’s so quick to assemble using handy pantry items. —Cathy Smith, Wyoming, Michigan
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Mushroom Pasta Carbonara

I absolutely love this creamy and cheesy mushroom carbonara. I serve it with a side salad and rolls to make a complete meal. —Cindi Bauer, Marshfield, Wisconsin
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Chicken Parmesan Pizza

This tasty pizza is the perfect combo—quick and easy to make, and a winner with even picky eaters. It’s a handy option for a family dinner on a busy night or for the center of the table at a kids’ party. —Karen Wittmeier, Parkland, Florida
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Easy Hamburgers

Grill these easy hamburgers and add your favorite toppings. Not into grilling? Make the patties on the stovetop, in the oven or even in the air fryer. —James Schend, Dairy Freed
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Conga Lime Pork

Dinner guests won’t be too shy to get in line when this yummy chipotle pork moves to the buffet table. —Janice Elder, Charlotte, North Carolina
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Beef & Pepper Skillet

I love Mexican-inspired food. I also enjoy experimenting with recipes like this one and making them healthier—and downright good! —Jenny Dubinsky, Inwood, West Virginia
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Sassy Chicken & Peppers

This quick and healthy chicken and peppers recipe tastes like a naked taco and is bursting with fresh flavors. And it can all be prepared in the same pan for easy cleanup—it’s a win-win! —Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina
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Slow-Cooker Salisbury Steak

These flavorful “steaks” fit into everybody’s budget. A special friend shared the recipe, and I think of her each time I make it. —Susan Wright, Mineral Wells, West Virginia
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Soupy Chicken Noodle Supper

At least once a week my six-year-old son, also known as Doctor John, hands me a “prescription” for chicken noodle soup. Needless to say, I’m always happy to fill it. —Heidi Hall, North St. Paul, Minnesota
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Taco-Stuffed Pepper Cups

These taco-stuffed peppers are ready in record time. The bell peppers create a colorful container for this meal. —Pat Habiger, Spearville, Kansas
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Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Rolls

These Italian-inspired roll-ups are fast and fun to make. They may look elegant, but they are also very kid-friendly (and budget-friendly, too!). —Cindy Romberg, Mississauga, Ontario
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Chicken Caesar Florentine

I adapted this dish from my favorite chicken Caesar salad recipe. It has many of the same ingredients as the salad: croutons, grated Parmesan, chicken, and creamy Caesar dressing. This makes the perfect comforting meal on a busy weeknight. —Joyce Conway, Westerville, Ohio
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Sausage Pasta with Vegetables

I made this for our pastor one night. He loved it so much we nicknamed it “Jason’s Pasta.” It’s a sneaky way to get our kids to eat more veggies. —Suzie Foutty Mansfield, Ohio
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Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchilada recipe is one of the first dishes I created and cooked for my husband right after we got married. He was so impressed! We fix these creamy enchiladas for friends regularly. —Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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Tater Tot Casseroles

Ground beef, sausage and cheese make this tater tot casserole with green beans a crowd-pleaser. Cayenne pepper and hot Italian sausage give it a pleasant kick. —Ryan Jones, Chillicothe, Illinois
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Slow-Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

“Foolproof” is a perfect way to describe my barbecue pork recipe. With just four ingredients and a slow cooker, you can make these fabulous sandwiches with very little effort. —Sarah Johnson, Chicago, Illinois
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Honey-Mustard Breaded Chicken

I get bored with the same old breaded chicken, so I came up with this simple recipe. The coating adds fast flavor to tender chicken cooked on the stovetop. —Laura Theofilis, Leonardtown, Maryland
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Cassoulet for Today

French cassoulet is traditionally cooked for hours. This version of the rustic dish offers the same homey taste in less time. It’s easy on the wallet, too. —Virginia Anthony, Jacksonville, Florida
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Quick Fettuccine Alfredo

This simple fettuccine Alfredo recipe combines heavy whipping cream Parmesan and Romano cheese or a creamy, cheesy sauce that’ll come together in minutes. —Jo Gray, Park City, Montana
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Kentucky Grilled Chicken

This Kentucky grilled chicken is perfect for an outdoor summer meal, and my family thinks it's fantastic. It takes about an hour on the grill but is worth the wait. I use a new paintbrush to mop on the basting sauce. -Jill Evely, Wilmore, Kentucky
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Great Northern Bean Stew

This thick and hearty stew with great northern beans is sure to chase the winter chills away. —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas
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Chicken Sausages with Polenta

I get a kick out of serving this chicken sausage dish—everyone’s always on time for dinner when they know it’s on the menu. —Angela Spengler, Tampa, Florida
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Cheeseburger Stuffed Pasta Shells

You could call this a comfort food mashup made in heaven. Jumbo stuffed pasta shells are loaded up with cheeseburger goodness in a dish that will soon become a family favorite. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Easy Chili Verde

I love chili verde. I order it whenever I can at restaurants, and figured out how to make an easy, tasty version at home. People have the option to eat the chili verde with a fork or in tortillas with a variety of toppings such as cheese, cilantro, minced onions or lime wedges. There are never leftovers at my house. —Julie Rowland, Salt Lake City, Utah
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“Everything” Mashed Potato Casserole

The everything-mashed potato casserole seemed to evolve over a year and it’s a great dish to take to a covered dish event. If I need to keep it warm for a longer time, I sometimes place the mixture into a Crockpot and then add the sour cream, bacon, cheese and chives. —Pamela Shank, Parkersburg, West Virginia

These are the best cheap crock-pot meals that are a must-try.

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Potluck Fried Chicken

This Sunday dinner staple is first fried and then baked to a crispy golden brown. Well seasoned with oregano and sage, this classic is sure to satisfy diners at church potlucks or late-summer picnics. I love fixing it for family and friends. —Donna Kuhaupt, Slinger, Wisconsin
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Bean Burritos

I always have the ingredients for this cheesy bean burrito recipe on hand. Cooking the rice and shredding the cheese the night before save precious minutes at dinnertime. —Beth Osborne Skinner, Bristol, Tennessee
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Easy Chicken Fried Rice

After my first child was born, I needed meals that were satisfying and fast. This easy chicken fried rice is now part of our regular dinner rotation. —Alicia Gower, Auburn, New York
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Tilapia Florentine

Looking for a way to get a little more heart-healthy fish into your family’s diet? You’ll win them over with this quick and easy entree. —Melanie Bachman, Ulysses, Pennsylvania
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Ground Beef Hash Brown Casserole

Because this ground beef hash brown casserole is practically a meal in itself, I simply pair it with a salad and dessert. —Rochelle Boucher, Brooklyn, Wisconsin
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One-Pot Mac and Cheese

Who likes cleaning up after making mac and cheese? Not this girl. This one-pot mac and cheese is a family favorite, and my 3-year-old is thrilled to see it coming to the dinner table. We love to add sliced smoked sausage to this creamy mac recipe! —Ashley Lecker, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Air-Fryer Black Bean Chimichangas

These chimichangas get a little love from the air fryer, so they’re much healthier than their deep-fried counterparts. Black beans provide protein, and the recipe is a smart way to use up leftover rice. —Kimberly Hammond, Kingwood, Texas
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Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This recipe is special to me because it’s an easy one-pot meal that tastes like you spent the whole day in the kitchen. My family loves it. —Lynn Bowen, Geraldine, Alabama
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Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken

This is a fabulous slow-cooker ranch chicken recipe that we have passed around to all our friends, especially those who have young children. It’s wonderful for a cold winter night or a hot summer day when you don’t want to turn on the oven. Serve it as a weeknight family dinner or for a large group. —Sonya Stark, West Jordan, Utah
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Taco Puffs

I got this Taco Puffs recipe from a friend years ago. I still make these cheesy sandwiches regularly for dinner alongside a steaming bowl of soup or a fresh green salad. Any leftovers taste even better the next day for lunch. A helpful hint: Plain refrigerated biscuits seal together better than buttermilk types. —Jan Schmid, Hibbing, Minnesota
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Dill Pickle Hamburger Pizza

My husband’s favorite foods are pizza and cheeseburgers, so I combined the two in a pizza with mayo and dill pickle juice topping. People who try it always laugh in surprise because it’s so good. —Angie Zimmerman, Eureka, Illinois
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Spaghetti Pie Casserole

My family adores this spaghetti casserole. It’s old-timey comfort food. This is how to make baked spaghetti with cream cheese. —Patricia Lavell, Islamorada, Florida
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Mexican Beef-Stuffed Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers and thought my husband would immediately love them as well. He didn’t at first, but then I created this slow-cooked recipe. Because he loves fajitas and tacos, I created these peppers with all his favorite flavors tucked inside. —Nicole Sullivan, Arvada, Colorado
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Spinach Pizza Quesadillas

This simple five-ingredient dinner is special to me because my daughter and I created it together. You can make variations with other veggies you might have at home. It’s a smart way to get kids to eat healthier. —Tanna Mancini, Gulfport, Florida
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Angel Hair Primavera

I love to make this when summer is in full swing and the vegetables are at their very best. You can substitute almost any vegetable when in season and at my house, this dish is almost never the same. —Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California
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Baked Feta Pasta

There’s a reason this recipe went viral on TikTok! Baked Feta Pasta is about to become a new household favorite. It’s simple to throw together and incredibly creamy and delicious. —Sarah Tramonte, Taste of Home Associate Culinary Producer
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Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

This is a rich and tasty combination of all the Tex-Mex dishes blended into one packed, beautiful casserole. Best of all, it’s ready in only half an hour! —Janet McCormick, Proctorville, Ohio
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Garden Vegetable Primavera

Although I enjoy this dish throughout the year, it’s even more special when I use my garden to supply the vegetables. A splash of white wine and a sprinkle of fresh basil really add flavor. I have also roasted the vegetables and mixed in chicken breasts with scrumptious results. —Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland
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Hearty Vegetable Beef Ragu

This recipe is healthy yet satisfying, quick yet delicious. It’s on the table in less than 30 minutes, and it’s something that my children will gobble up! If you are not fond of kale, stir in baby spinach or chopped broccoli instead. —Kim Van Dunk, Caldwell, New Jersey
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Traditional Boiled Dinner

Corned beef is a real treat in our family and we love the savory flavor the vegetables pick up from simmering in the pickling spices in this delicious boiled dinner. —Joy Strasser, Mukwonago, Wisconsin
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Beer Can Chicken

You’ll be proud to serve this stand-up chicken at any family gathering. Treated with a savory rub and then roasted over a beer can for added moisture, it’s so tasty you’ll want to call dibs on the leftovers! —Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
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Shepherd’s Pies

When you need a real meat-and-potatoes fix, try this hearty layered casserole that blends from-scratch mashed potatoes with cream cheese and a meat filling. Your favorite barbecue sauce gives the dish an extra tang. —Cindy Kliskey, Pepperell, Massachusetts
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Black Bean Chicken with Rice

This spicy family favorite calls for just a few basic ingredients, so it’s quick and easy to stir up in your skillet on a weeknight. —Molly Newman, Portland, Oregon
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Smothered Burritos

My brother-in-law teased that I only knew five ground beef recipes. I proved him wrong with my inventive spicy burritos. —Kim Kenyon, Greenwood, Missouri
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Apple Balsamic Chicken

I just love the sweet and tart flavor that balsamic vinegar gives to this dish. It’s easy to prepare and after cooking in the slow cooker, the chicken thighs are tender and flavorful. —Juli Snaer, Enid, Oklahoma
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Pressure-Cooker Spicy Beef Vegetable Stew

This zesty ground beef and vegetable soup is flavorful and comes together so quickly. It makes a complete meal when served with warm cornbread, sourdough or French bread, if you can squeak in a few more calories. —Lynnette Davis, Tullahoma, Tennessee
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Instant Pot Whole Chicken

We love rotisserie chicken, and now with a pressure cooker, I can have it ready to eat in an hour or so. I combined several recipes to come up with this favorite. If you are new to the kitchen tool, this is a perfect recipe to begin with since it is so easy. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
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Sausage Potato Skillet

Growing up, I would eat this sausage and potato skillet recipe almost every day. I could never get enough of my favorite meal! —Amelia Bordas, Springfield, Virginia
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Polenta Chili Casserole

Our Test Kitchen created this delicious vegetarian bean and polenta bake that combines spicy chili, mixed veggies and homemade polenta. It’s a warm and comfy casserole that is sure to please everyone, vegetarian or not.
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Walking Tacos

These Walking Tacos are perfect for an on-the-go dinner, a campfire meal or an easy game-night supper. The ingredients go right into the chip bags! —Beverly Matthews, Richland, Washington
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Garlic Spaghetti

I make this family-favorite garlic spaghetti at least a couple of times a month. It’s wonderful with a salad and fresh Italian bread. —Jackie Messina, Chardon, Ohio
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Enchilada Casserole

Every time I serve this dish, I get satisfied reviews—even from my father, who usually doesn’t like Mexican food. Plus, it smells delicious while baking. —Nancy VanderVeer, Knoxville, Iowa

Next Up: Take a look at these cheap breakfast ideas.

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."
Hannah Pugh
Hannah Pugh is a former assistant editor for Taste of Home. She focused on writing affiliate content product reviews, newsletters and recipe collections. In her free time, she can be found sipping coffee at cafes, reading or rock climbing with her husband.