Travel, Treats, Tips, & Traditions

60 Inexpensive Recipes that Don’t Suck!

Posted on: by Kate
13 Comments

Food prices are higher than they have ever been.  With so many every day things becoming more expensive, many of us are trying to find ways to save money.  This post about inexpensive meals is becoming very popular again. I always want to encourage readers to reach out to their local food banks, churches, and charity organizations if you are food insecure. There are many ways we can stretch our food budget and also help others during this difficult time.  Obviously voting for policies that will help keep corporations in check is what needs to happen in the long run, but for now; we can stretch what we have!

Inexpensive meals tend to be bland and boring.  When we are trying to save money we often sacrifice flavor and fun for a lower price point. I am thrilled to share 60 inexpensive recipes from bloggers all over the United States. All of these recipes are budget friendly, but more importantly; they don’t suck! Often times, a few simple ingredients is all you need for a fresh and cheap meal.  So many of our favorite recipes might be expensive because they use a lot of ingredients.  We find that eating with the seasons and really editing down the processed foods helps keep our budget low.  Every time we are trying to save money, we pull out this awesome list of budget friendly recipes to help us cut one of our biggest expenses; food.

Inexpensive Meals Collage

Cheap Recipes that Don’t Suck!

The recipes below range from simple to complex.  Some of these cheap recipes are vegan and other recipes include meat and dairy. There is something for everyone!  Hopefully there is something here to add into your meal rotation or maybe something new you can try to use up something in your freezer or pantry.  As always, we suggest utilizing any options available, there is no shame in picking up food items at a food pantry if necessary.

The beginning of the year is a time when most people are trying to find ways to cut back on expenses.  We use this time of year to go through our cupboards and freezer and creatively use ingredients up. We buy inexpensive ingredients and make no fuss, inexpensive meals.  Sadly, a lot of times our frugal months can produce some pretty depressing meals. Our family had had it with boring inexpensive meals that frankly sucked.  I reached out to some of the best recipe bloggers all over the US and asked for their favorite inexpensive recipes that didn’t suck.  I am so excited to see simple twists on old favorites and some brand new recipes that we have never tried before!

I love how versatile so many of these recipes are.  I always suggest looking at recipes as a guide, but not an absolute.  Many of these recipes can be modified slightly to fit any dietary needs or preferences. I plan on modifying several of these for our dairy free family. I also always encouraging swapping things out when you can find a less expensive option.  If the recipe calls for broccoli but you have peas or cauliflower already in your freezer; use that instead! If the recipes calls for red bell peppers but green bell peppers are on sale, consider changing it up. Saving money can be a drag, but it is also so rewarding.

Below there are delicious and cheap recipes that fit every diet! You can find inexpensive meal options that are great whether you are into Keto or a devout Vegan.  These inexpensive recipes are great for keeping you on budget!

Cheap and Simple Dinner Ideas

While we have some incredible recipes below from recipe bloggers, we personally have an ‘easy dinner’ night at least twice a week where we feed our family of five for less than $10 and typically have left overs for lunch the next day.

Egg Burritos – Eggs, Peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, salsa – wrap it all up in a tortilla – done!

Bean Burritos – Beans, cheese, salsa – done!

Baked Beans and Rice – Baked beans on top of brown rice – done!

Crock Pot Chili and cornbread muffins – we make this vegan or with ground turkey (or left over rotisserie chicken) – so easy!

Breakfast for Dinner- Pancakes, eggs, and fruit – done!

Salad with left over BBQ chicken.  – Harry BBQs chicken about once every other week. The second day we make a large salad with lettuce, tomatoes, a can of beans, a couple other veggies, and a small amount of left over chicken  – very inexpensive!

Italian Sausage Subs – we don’t really do hot dogs, but even ‘fancy’ chicken sausages on a roll with marinara sauce can be an inexpensive meal – and it is so fast! Sometimes we add thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, or bell peppers if we have them.  My oldest likes to add olives too.  Even with lots of toppings it is not an expensive meal.

“Fancy Sandwich” night – a couple types of lunch meat, two cheeses to choose from, lettuce, cucumbers, banana peppers, tomatoes, thin sliced onions, two different types of pickles, mayo, mustard, hummus, whatever else you can think of – our kids really enjoy this and it is just sandwiches but adding a few extra ingredients and their own choices make it kind of fun.

“Souplantation”  night – our kids used to love to go to a buffet called Souplantation (RIP because of the pandemic) – we now will make our own salad bar during a heat wave with lots of choices.  If it is not a very hot day we will also add two types of soups or chili. Even adding a few ‘fancy’ items can still be less than $10 for our whole family.

Pizza night! – Friday night is always pizza night at our house. We used to order out but at least every other time now we get a ‘take and bake’ pizza from Aldi  – it is $6 – $7 and we add a simple salad and cut up oranges from our tree.  Our whole family eats for less than $10 and there is usually a slice or two left over for the next day.

Grow your own Food!

Growing your own food can stretch a budget.  Home gardens have helped many people save money and eat healthy. Even in an apartment there are ways to stretch your food budget by growing your own food. Here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Tomato plants are very easy to grow and can be used in salads, sandwiches, soups, salsas, and more.
  • Potatoes in a bucket – this is insanely easy and can be started with the eye of a potato that you purchase at the  store!
  • Green onions – can be regrown in a glass of water on your counter!
  • Radishes – grow very easily and quickly
  • Zucchini – if you have space, zucchini can yield a huge harvest and can be so versatile.

Buy Nothing and Home Gardener Groups on Social Media

Stretch your budget by joining your local ‘buy nothing’ group.  This will be different from city to city, but in our area nearly every day there is someone giving away various fruits from their trees.  We have given away lemons and oranges from our trees on ‘buy nothing’.  I have seen people giving away food because they are moving.  I’ve seen home bakers who bake as a hobby give away fancy cakes and cookies.  I’ve seen those starting a new diet give away everything in their pantry.  I’ve seen folks give away something that was accidentally brought as part of an Instant Cart order. Joining a group like this (or starting one!) online is a great way to save money and also share if you have excess. Home gardeners may also have bumper crops that they will share in a ‘buy nothing’ or a ‘home garden’ group.  Get social and hopefully it will help you stretch your food budget.

START HERE!

Crock Pot Beans

Make Your Own Broth

Now apply many of these starts to the meals below!

Quick & Easy BBQ Kabobs

Quick & Easy BBQ Kabobs by FrugElegance

Hoisin Pork Stir-Fry
Hoisin Pork Stir-Fry by One Clever Chef

Easy Taco Soup Recipe
Easy Taco Soup Recipe by FrugElegance

Easy Pork Ramen
Easy Pork Ramen by Mary Ellen’s Cooking

The Best Tuna Patties
The Best Tuna Patties by The Rising Spoon

Instant Pot Supersonic Chili
Instant Pot Supersonic Chili by Garden in the Kitchen

Chickpea Sweet Potato Peanut Curry
Chickpea Sweet Potato Peanut Curry by Rhian’s Recipes

Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe
Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe by The Homemaker’s Journal

Vegan White Bean Mac and Cheese
Vegan White Bean Mac and Cheese (GF) by Rhian’s Recipes

Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs by Beach Hut Cook

Easy Hamburger Green Bean Stir Fry
Easy Hamburger Green Bean Stir Fry by Low Carb Yum

Easy Peasy Snow Pea Salad
Easy Peasy Snow Pea Salad by Deliciously Plated

One Pot Pepperoni Pizza Pasta
One Pot Pepperoni Pizza Pasta by Cincy Shopper

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe by Cincy Shopper

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole by Cincy Shopper

Simple Salisbury Steak
Simple Salisbury Steak by Cincy Shopper

Fried cabbage and potatoes with bacon
Fried Cabbage and Potatoes with Bacon by Savory Tooth

Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper Skillet
Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper Skillet by A Mindfull Mom

Homemade Hamburger Helper Beef Noodle
Homemade Hamburger Helper Beef Noodle by Cincy Shopper

Two Cheese Tuna Mexi- Melts
Two Cheese Tuna Mexi- Melts by Food Meanderings

Pork Schnitzel
Pork Schnitzel by Girl Heart Food

Creamy potato soup with bacon and cheddar
Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon and Cheddar by Savory Tooth

Paleo Sloppy Joes
Paleo Sloppy Joes by One Clever Chef

Crispy Baked Cornflake Chicken Tenders
Crispy Baked Cornflake Chicken Tenders by Natalie’s Health

Asian Pan Fried Salmon Patties with Creamy Ginger Lime sauce
Asian Pan Fried Salmon Patties with Creamy Ginger Lime sauce by Food Meanderings

Smoked Sausage Penne Pasta
Smoked Sausage Penne Pasta by Jaime Loves Stuff

Southwestern Black Bean Penne Alfredo
Southwestern Black Bean Penne Alfredo by Jaime Loves Stuff

Chile Con Queso Pasta Bake
Chile Con Queso Pasta Bake by Delicious and Dime

Homestyle Goulash
Homestyle Goulash by The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Potato Corn Chowder
Potato Corn Chowder by The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Crock Pot Mississippi Pot Roast
Crock Pot Mississippi Pot Roast by More or Less Cooking

Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe Copycat In A Slow Cooker
Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe Copycat In A Slow Cooker by Wholesome Yum

Easy Baked Parmesan Crusted Tilapia Recipe With Mayo
Easy Baked Parmesan Crusted Tilapia Recipe With Mayo by Wholesome Yum

Baked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders Recipe
Baked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders Recipe by Wholesome Yum

Easy Mexican Chicken Fajitas Recipe
Easy Mexican Chicken Fajitas Recipe by Melanie Cooks

Meal Prep Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles
Meal Prep Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles by Skinny Fitalicious

Best Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
Best Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe by Veggies Society

Healthy Vegan Potato Soup Recipe
Healthy Vegan Potato Soup Recipe by Veggies Society

Beef Chili Recipe
Beef Chili Recipe by Zestyolive

Savory Dutch Oven Balsamic Chicken And Vegetables
Savory Dutch Oven Balsamic Chicken And Vegetables by Zestyolive

One-Pot Pasta With Ground Turkey Or Beef
One-Pot Pasta With Ground Turkey Or Beef by Melanie Cooks

Oven Baked Tacos Recipe With Ground Beef Or Turkey
Oven Baked Tacos Recipe With Ground Beef Or Turkey by Melanie Cooks

Old Fashioned Goulash Recipe
Old Fashioned Goulash Recipe by Dancing Through the Rain


Cheeseburger Soup by Dancing Through the Rain

Skillet Chicken Recipe
Skillet Chicken Recipe by Dancing Through the Rain

Cheesy Rice Skillet
Cheesy Rice Skillet by Vegetarian Mamma

One Pot Taco Spaghetti
One Pot Taco Spaghetti by Vegetarian Mamma

Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Recipe
Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Crockpot Layered Bean Burritos Recipe
Crockpot Layered Bean Burritos Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Stuffed-Taco-Crescent-Rolls
Stuffed Taco Crescent Rolls by Dancing Through the Rain

Broccoli Parmesan Macaroni Recipe
Broccoli Parmesan Macaroni Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Fluffy Carrot Broccoli Fritters
Fluffy Carrot Broccoli Fritters by Happy Foods Tube

Sloppy Joe Mashed Potato Pie
Sloppy Joe Mashed Potato Pie by Fearless Dining

Chicken Taco Soup Instant Pot & Slow Cooker
Chicken Taco Soup by Paleo Bailey

Bacon and Veggie Breakfast Skillet
Bacon and Veggie Breakfast Skillet by Paleo Bailey

Easy Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Easy Parmesan Crusted Chicken by Retro Housewife Goes Green

30-Minute, Plant-based, Sun-dried Tomato Minestrone
30-Minute, Plant-based, Sun-dried Tomato Minestrone by A Nourished Life

Pressure Cooker Ground Beef Goulash Recipe
Pressure Cooker Ground Beef Goulash Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Skillet Broccoli Parmesan Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta Recipe
Skillet Broccoli Parmesan Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe by Thrifty Jinxy

Recipe Round ups are some of my favorite items to share. Don’t miss our Vegan recipe round up, Dairy Free Lunch Rounds ups, and Keto Side Dishes round up.

I am so thankful to each and every blogger that was willing to be featured on our inexpensive round up. I do hope you will take the time to check out their recipes they shared with us here, but also others on their food blogs.  Each blogger granted Highlights Along the Way to share a photo and a link back to their site.  Thank you for sharing with us.

Don’t fret, friends.  We won’t need to make frugal recipes forever.  But while we do, let’s be thankful that we have this big long list of inexpensive recipes that don’t suck!

Until Next Time ~ Kate
Comments: 13 Responses
  1. These look great! Thanks for including my recipes. I will be referring back to this post, as I really need to look at my food budget! Have pinned and will share 🙂 Terri

  2. Cindy Gordon says:

    So many great recipes! Thanks for including mine!

  3. Michelle says:

    They all look and sound so delicious. It’s been awhile since we’ve had goulash – I might make that! Thanks for curating so many good recipes!

    • kate says:

      Thank you for checking it out! I am thankful people are into it! We were getting bored, but I think this is going to breathe some life into our frugal recipe rotation =)

  4. Love these budget friendly meals. Thanks for including my hamburger helper 🙂

  5. Cheryl E says:

    These look really good! It’s nice to have so many yummy, cheap recipes in one place.

  6. Rust says:

    WOW! What a keeper post! I run out of ideas, that’s my biggest dinner obstacle – but this post will keep me going for quite a while. Love to try the Hoisin Pork Stir-Fry and the Swedish Meatballs, for starters.

  7. ellen beck says:

    All these recipes look good. What one person considers ‘cheap’ anoher may not though. I tend to use leftovers a whole lot. Example- beef roast turns into hot beef sandwiches, any left? There is soup!
    I dont make fancy meals, they might look good, but honestly if things are ou of season, hey just dont taste good, and they are pricey. You can eat good cheap!

    • kate says:

      I totally agree that ‘cheap’ is subjective. So smart to use left overs – we do lots of ‘use up all the leftover veggies’ soups too! We rarely make fancy meals – our kids know that we do a lot of bean burritos, soups, and salads with some beans added for protein – and seasonal is always best!

  8. Starla says:

    I love this. I think it gives a bit more creativity to meals or maybe even new ideas that you have never tried!The parmesan crusted chicken, hoisin stir fry and the tuna patties all look so good- basically everything pictured does!

  9. Terry says:

    My family always eats left overs. I try to use up everything in my refrigerator to put into other recipes and soups to avoid wasting any food. There are so many recipes here that I am going to have to try; I have pinned for the future.

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