60 Cheap Dinner Ideas for Weeknight Meals

Easy weeknight meals on a budget are possible. We've rounded up our favorite cheap dinner ideas that will easily feed a family of four without breaking the bank.

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Inside-Out Stuffed Cabbage

When you don’t have enough time to prepare classic stuffed cabbage, try this deconstructed version with butternut squash instead. Save prep time by using already cubed squash, and it can be table-ready in 30 minutes!

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Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Throw chicken, soy sauce, brown sugar and other flavorings into a slow cooker for an easy, cheap dinner. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli to round out the meal.
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Easy Tamale Pie with Peppers

Head to the Southwest for this cheap dinner idea: Pre-made tamales, canned chili, cheese and peppers in one easy casserole. It’s a surefire winner for hungry families.
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Cheeseburger Cups

A bite-size dish kids love and busy parents flock to for its budget-friendly ease. Fill little biscuit cups with ground beef and cheese, and bake until melty and browned on top. Ketchup optional!
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Gnocchi Chicken Skillet

For a homey dinner in a hurry, you can’t go wrong with this stovetop chicken and gnocchi recipe. Personalize it with your favorite sauce, like marinara, and your choice of cheese and seasonings.
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Chicken And Broccoli With Dill Sauce Exps Sdam18 200154 C12 01 4b 8

Chicken and Broccoli with Dill Sauce

The dill cream sauce comes together within minutes and tastes great with the meat and veggies in this dish. About that broccoli, here’s a tip: Don’t throw out the stalks! Peel away the tough outer portion and slice up the rest to use in this recipe or save for soups and stir-fries.
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Stephanie’s Slow-Cooker Stew

Simply add the meat, vegetables and broth to the slow cooker before you leave for work, and you’ll come home to a soulful comfort meal for dinner. Swap in reduced-sodium beef broth and V8 to keep the sodium levels low.
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One-Pot Enchilada Pasta

With a few pantry staples, you can have this delicious enchilada-inspired pasta on the table in less than 30 minutes. This cheap dinner idea is perfect for any busy weeknight and budget-minded cook.
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Roadside Diner Cheeseburger Quiche

When you need to stretch those cheeseburger dollars, put all the ingredients in a quiche! This savory main dish is super easy to make, is easy on the wallet and makes at least eight servings.
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Pizza on a Stick

Pizza skewers with marinara for dipping sauce is such a clever idea. The kids can help put everything together, from skewering (with supervision) the sausage and veggies to wrapping the whole thing in store-bought dough before baking.
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Vegetarian Skillet Enchiladas

The best cheap dinner ideas are usually the easiest. For this simple and full-flavored recipe, cook vegetables, black beans and tortilla strips in enchilada sauce, cover in cheese and bake until melty.
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Spaghetti with Bacon

This simple five-ingredient casserole comes together quickly. The sauce couldn’t be easier: just simmer canned tomatoes and tomato sauce with bacon and onion. Add the sauce on top of the spaghetti and bake.
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Wisconsin Butter Burgers

Start with super lean ground beef and add butter. It’s as close to the famous burger you can get without having to travel. Serve all the toppings on the side so everyone can dress their burger the way they like.
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Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich

Make a simple cream sauce, toss in cubed turkey and peas, and serve over thick toasted bread slices. This is a great recipe to use during the holidays when you have more turkey than you know what to do with.
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Deconstructed Pear Pork Chops Exps138805 Sd2232457c08 18 5bc Rms 2

Deconstructed Pear Pork Chops

For these baked pork chops, the stuffing is on the outside, along with chunks of red bell pepper and fresh pears for a bit of sweetness. Use boxed cornbread stuffing for this quick and satisfying dinner idea.
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Enchilada Casser-Ole!

Turn that pound of ground beef into a tasty enchilada casserole. Layer flour tortillas with a savory meat and black bean mixture, sour cream and cheese in a 13×9-in. baking dish, and serve hot and bubbly from the oven.
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Ham & Zucchini Italiano

This low-carb dinner idea is basically lasagna made with strips of zucchini and deli ham instead of pasta. Layered with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, the Italian-inspired dish makes a great entree.
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Corn Quesadillas

Corn mixed with cheese and a bit of sour cream makes a wonderfully savory-sweet vegetarian filling for quesadillas. And so easy! Fresh guacamole and a splash of salsa are no-brainer accompaniments. Just be sure to pick up avocados when they’re on sale.
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Sheet-Pan Chicken Parmesan

Saucy, cheese-topped chicken and crisp-tender broccoli all on one pan makes cooking dinner (and clean up!) a snap. Serve with thick slices of garlic bread or a bed of seasoned cauliflower rice.
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Fruit-Glazed Pork Chops

Need a cheap dinner on the fly? Combine jarred barbecue sauce with fruit preserves—apricot or peach are a good place to start—and baste the baked or grilled pork chops.
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Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes

A light and fresh balsamic and tomato marinade gives this grilled chicken some zing, and it only needs to sit for an hour before hitting a hot grill. Reserve some marinade to serve with the chicken and grilled tomatoes.
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Au Gratin Sausage Skillet

Cut time and cost by using frozen vegetables and boxed au gratin potatoes, and add any kind of sausage you like (although smoked kielbasa is the choice in this recipe). You’ll have dinner on the table in no time.
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Pierogi Beef Skillet Exps Sdfm18 42541 D10 04 8b 5

Pierogi Beef Skillet

This is the ultimate one-pan meal full of beefy flavor and vegetables. Brown the meat, and use the drippings for a gravy-like sauce to cook frozen pierogi.
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PB&J French Toast

Breakfast for dinner is the perfect comfort food. The French toast and peanut butter and jelly sandwich mash-up will put a smile on everyone’s face, kids and adults alike.
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Garlic Lemon Shrimp

It takes mere minutes to make this simple pasta. A classic combo of lemon, garlic and shrimp gets tossed with cooked pasta, rice or couscous. Use olive oil instead of butter to shave a few calories per serving.
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Baked Teriyaki Pork & Veggies

Time savers for this straight-forward but delicious dinner include using bottled teriyaki sauce (reduced sodium is OK) and pre-cut vegetables. Bake it all together on a sheet pan for easy clean up.
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Garlic Bread Pizza Sandwiches

Using garlic bread for a pizza-like grilled cheese sandwich is pretty ingenious. Save some sauce for dipping!
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Orange-Spiced Chicken

You only need five ingredients, a little marinating time and a grill for this delicious chicken recipe. All the flavor comes from orange juice concentrate, plus soy sauce and five spice blend. Serve with steamed rice and something green like bok choy or broccoli.
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Pepperoni Roll-Ups

These fun hand-held pizza roll-ups are great on their own, especially with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. Or make an entire meal with a fresh snappy salad, these Tuscan-style roasted asparagus or air-fryer garlic rosemary Brussel sprouts.
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Pressure Cooker Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas

When it comes to fast and easy cheap dinner ideas, a pressure cooker is your best friend. After sizzling the sausage, add pasta, sauce and peas, and let it cook for a few minutes. Top with tangy goat cheese or salty feta before serving.
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Super Crispy Baked Chicken

This baked chicken gets its super crunchy coating from potato flakes and Parmesan cheese. Dipped in butter for extra lusciousness, each piece comes out of the oven tender and juicy.
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Spicy Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet

Use pantry staples like chicken broth, instant rice and seasonings for effortless dinner ideas. If you want this skillet combo a bit more mild, swap in ground turkey for sausage and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
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Cheesy Ham & Potato Packet

Grilled ham and cheese takes on a whole different meaning here. Fill foil packets with potatoes and onion, grill until the potatoes are soft, then toss in ham cubes and cheese. If you don’t have time for the grill, this works in a 400°F oven, too.
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Chicken & Bacon Tart

The secret ingredient that brings this tart together: Jalapeno pepper jelly. The not so secret ingredient? Bacon. It makes everything taste better. Use frozen chicken strips and puff pastry to round out a quick weeknight meal.
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Creole Shrimp & Sausage

This simple take on a Louisiana classic adds a bit of low-country cuisine to your menu lineup. If you don’t have Creole seasoning on hand, you can make your own with herbs and spices you probably already have in the pantry.
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Dad’s Favorite Barbecue Meat Loaves

A quick fix for flavorful meat loaf: Use stuffing mix instead of breadcrumbs. These mini loaves are perfect comfort food for any night of the week.
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Chili Hash

A few minutes in the microwave, a dash in the pan, and you’ll have a satisfying meal on the table in no time. Chili seasoning and peas boost this regular meat-and-potatoes dish.
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Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pork tenderloin and a quick homemade barbecue sauce make a quick and easy meal any night of the week. Using the slow cooker means you can set it and leave it for a few hours, then come back to shred the meat and serve on toasted buns.
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Chicken & Spanish Cauliflower “Rice”

A low-carb cheap dinner idea, this chicken and rice bowl has tons of flavor from seasonings and a little bit of tomato juice. The key is to not over process or overcook the cauliflower to keep it from getting soggy. For more inspo, try one of these other cauliflower rice recipes.
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Steak & New Potato Toss

This salad is fantastic for leftover steak. Use frozen potatoes and broccoli in a pinch, and serve the whole dish either warm or cold, your preference.
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Peppered Pork Pitas

A full meal in less than 30 minutes is what weeknight cooking is all about. Strips of pork cooked with roasted red peppers make a quick and easy filling for warm pita bread. Wrap them up with garlic mayo and torn leaf lettuce.
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Citrus-Mustard Roasted Chicken

Roast a whole chicken and you’ll have a meal to satisfy the entire family. Marinate the bird overnight, and prepare an easy skillet side dish while it’s in the oven.
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Apple-Balsamic Pork Chops

Balsamic vinegar is a versatile ingredient that can make any sauce sing. Add in some apple jelly and apple cider or juice, and you have a frugal pork chop dinner on the fly.
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Crispy Onion Chicken

Baked chicken gets a crunchy coating from fried onions, which lends added flavor and keeps the meat super tender and juicy. It goes great with any side dish, from lemony green beans to any kind of potato salad.
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Margarita Chicken

Turn frozen (booze-free) margarita mix into a zippy marinade for chicken. Throw it on the grill, or if weather doesn’t permit, bake it in the oven. Serve grilled corn on the cob or a tasty corn salad alongside it.
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Crispy Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups

You have to love a cheap dinner idea that looks like you fussed for hours. Stuff boneless, skinless chicken breasts with blue cheese, then roll in a crunchy hot sauce-laced cornflake coating before baking in the oven.
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Golombki

With a few shortcuts, like using instant rice and condensed tomato soup, traditional stuffed cabbage becomes a simple weeknight dinner dish. While it bakes, whip up a side dish and pour the wine.
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Rigatoni with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

For a fast vegetarian dinner, roast sweet potatoes and onions and toss with rigatoni and a buttery cream sauce. Whether orange, yellow or purple, sweet potatoes are low in calories, high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals—the perfect food!
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Gnocchi Alfredo

To up your Alfredo game, serve the creamy cheese sauce on top of soft potato gnocchi instead of fettuccini. Use pre-made gnocchi for a super fast and easy cheap dinner.
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Potato-Sausage Foil Packs

A full meal in one foil pack is the way to go for easy weeknight dinners. Grill them over an open flame if weather permits, or bake in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and sausage cooked through.
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Black Bean Burritos

Simple, fast and inexpensive, black bean burritos easily feed a family on the go. Serve toppings like cilantro, sour cream and salsa on the side so everyone can add according to their tastes.
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Jalapeno Popper Quesadillas

Turn jalapeno popper ingredients into a deliciously fast dinner. Spread cream cheese on flour tortillas, add diced jalapeno and chopped bacon, and cook for a few minutes in a pan.
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Sausage & Cannellini Bean Soup

Who says you can’t have a soul-warming soup in 30 minutes? Canned white beans, reduced-sodium broth, turkey sausage and fresh greens are all it takes for a delicious and nutritious dinner.
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Bean & Bacon Griddle Burritos

Toasting the tortillas on a griddle is the key to this delicious dinner. Keep them on the flame for a few beats longer to get a crispier edge. You can sub in reduced sodium refried beans to lessen your salt intake, and serve with homemade pico de gallo (although jarred salsa is just fine).
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Sausage & Spinach Calzones

Turn store-bought pizza dough into delicious sausage, spinach and cheese-filled pockets. Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.
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Meat and Potato Patties

By adding potatoes and onion to ground beef, you can really stretch the servings while on a budget. Top with a quick and easy sauce made with tomato soup.
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Sausage Sweet Potato Sheet-Pan Dinner

This is a healthy, foolproof weeknight dinner that uses one pan and gets to the table in no time. Think of sausage and sweet potato as a starting point, but feel free to adapt with other seasonal vegetables.
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Chorizo Burrito Bowls

A fast and filling meal, chicken sausage makes an awesome one-dish dinner by itself or served with brown rice in a burrito. Serve with salsas of varying spiciness for every taste at the table.
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One-Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta

Freezing pesto made with summer’s basil bounty comes in handy throughout the year. Here, simply add it to chicken and pasta for this herbaceous one-pot meal.
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Hearty Skillet Supper

Vegetables, rice and a pound of ground beef make a gratifying skillet dinner. It’s just the thing to warm up cooler nights. It heats up easily when everyone’s schedule is different.

Lesley Balla
As an associate editor at Taste of Home, Lesley helps track food and cooking trends, and writes and updates digital content. When not at her desk, you'll find her whipping up something with finds from the farmers market, discovering new restaurants, or hiking and roadtripping with her husband and pup Pucci.