15 Cheap Dinners for Family Nights: Eating Well on a Budget

cheap dinners for family

Feeding your family doesn’t have to break the bank. This article provides 15 delicious, budget-friendly recipes for cheap dinners for family enjoyment.

Cheap Dinners for Family on a Tight Budget

1. Spaghetti Carbonara


Image source: Pinterest

This Italian classic is a hit with both adults and kids, and the ingredients are easy on the wallet. Start by boiling spaghetti until al dente. Meanwhile, fry bacon or pancetta until it’s crispy. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and mix in grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of black pepper. When the spaghetti is done, drain it and combine with the bacon and egg mixture. The heat from the spaghetti will cook the eggs, resulting in a creamy, delicious sauce.

Approximate Cost: $1.50 per serving

2. Vegetarian Stir-Fry

Vegetarian Stir-Fry

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Not only is this dish healthy and colorful, but it’s also highly adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand. Start by sautéing minced garlic in a pan. Add mixed vegetables—think carrots, bell peppers, and broccoli—and protein like tofu or tempeh. As everything cooks, stir in soy sauce to taste. This is an excellent way to get a variety of nutrients while keeping costs low.

Approximate Cost: $2.00 per serving

3. Taco Night


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Taco nights are perfect for families because everyone can personalize their meal. Cook your choice of ground meat—like beef, turkey, or chicken—with your favorite spices or a pre-made taco seasoning mix. While the meat is cooking, warm up some corn tortillas. Set out bowls of salsa, shredded cheese, and chopped lettuce so each family member can assemble their own tacos. This is not just a meal; it’s an event.

Approximate Cost: $1.75 per serving

4. Chicken and Rice Casserole


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This comforting meal is a perfect weekday dinner, and it’s all made in one dish for easy cleanup. Start by layering uncooked rice at the bottom of a baking dish. Place chicken thighs on top, and add mixed vegetables of your choice. Combine with cream of mushroom soup and perhaps a sprinkle of your preferred herbs. Cover and bake until the chicken is fully cooked and the rice is tender. It’s a hearty meal that fills you up without emptying your wallet.

Approximate Cost: $2.25 per serving

5. Lentil Soup


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Rich in protein and fiber, lentil soup is both filling and nutritious. Begin by sautéing diced onions and sliced carrots in a large pot until they’re softened. Add dried lentils—any variety will do—and pour in chicken or vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. Season with salt, pepper, and any herbs you like. Serve hot, maybe with a slice of crusty bread for added heartiness.

Approximate Cost: $1.25 per serving

6. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches


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A tangy and savory meal that repurposes leftover chicken. Shred cooked chicken and mix it with your favorite BBQ sauce. Pile it onto a bun, and perhaps add a slice of cheese or coleslaw for extra flavor.

Approximate Cost: $1.60 per serving

7. Vegetable Frittata


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Perfect for using up any leftover vegetables, a frittata is like a quiche without the crust. Whisk together eggs, cheese, and any herbs you like. Sauté your chosen veggies, pour the egg mixture over them, and bake until set.

Approximate Cost: $1.50 per serving

8. Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Broccoli Stir-Fry

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A takeout classic made affordable at home. Thinly slice beef and marinate briefly in soy sauce and garlic. Sauté broccoli florets in a hot pan, remove, and then cook the beef. Combine and serve over rice.

Approximate Cost: $2.50 per serving

9. Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole

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A retro classic that still holds up in terms of flavor and affordability. Mix canned tuna, cooked pasta, and a can of condensed mushroom soup. Top with breadcrumbs and bake until golden and bubbly.

Approximate Cost: $1.40 per serving

10. Black Bean Tacos

Bean Tacos

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A vegetarian option that’s full of flavor. Mash canned black beans and season with spices like cumin and paprika. Spoon onto corn tortillas and top with diced tomatoes, lettuce, and a dollop of sour cream.

Approximate Cost: $1.30 per serving

11. Sausage and Pepper Pasta


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This dish brings the hearty flavors of sausage and the sweetness of bell peppers together in a simple pasta dish that’s both delicious and budget-friendly. Start by slicing sausages and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces. Sauté them in a pan until the sausage is cooked through and the peppers are tender.

Boil your favorite pasta until al dente, then combine it with the sausage and peppers. Mix in a jar of your favorite marinara sauce, and you’ve got a filling, flavorful meal that’s easy on the pocketbook.

Approximate Cost: $2.00 per serving

12. Stuffed Bell Peppers


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Stuffed bell peppers make for a visually appealing and nutritious dinner option. Begin by hollowing out bell peppers and setting them aside. Prepare a mixture of cooked rice, black beans, and corn. Season it well, and add in some shredded cheese for good measure. Stuff each bell pepper with this mixture and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is hot. For extra flair, top with a little more cheese five minutes before they’re done.

Approximate Cost: $2.10 per serving

13. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese


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There’s something comforting about the classic combo of tomato soup and grilled cheese. For the soup, use canned tomatoes, garlic, and a touch of basil. Sauté garlic until golden, add the tomatoes and basil, then blend into a smooth soup.

For the grilled cheese, keep it simple with slices of American cheese sandwiched between slices of white bread. Grill until golden brown. This duo offers a comforting, nostalgic meal that’s both quick and affordable.

Approximate Cost: $1.20 per serving

14. Chicken Fried Rice


Image source: Pinterest

This dish is perfect for using up leftover rice and chicken, and it comes together in a flash. Start by sautéing diced carrots and peas in a hot pan. Add in your leftover rice and chicken, breaking apart any clumps. As everything heats through, drizzle in some soy sauce for flavor. Make a well in the middle of the pan and scramble an egg in it. Mix everything together for a satisfying, one-pan meal that minimizes waste and maximizes flavor.

Approximate Cost: $1.70 per serving

15. Potato Leek Soup

Leek Soup

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Potato leek soup is a creamy, comforting dish that’s surprisingly affordable. Begin by chopping leeks and sautéing them until they’re soft and fragrant. Add in diced potatoes and enough vegetable broth to cover. Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and maybe a splash of cream for extra richness. Serve hot, perhaps with a slice of crusty bread for dipping.

Approximate Cost: $1.00 per serving


From Spaghetti Carbonara to Lentil Soup, these 15 cheap dinners for family nights offer a range of flavors without straining your wallet. Try them out and make your next family dinner a budget-friendly feast!

Amie has a love for numbers and holds a master’s degree in finance. When she’s not playing with numbers or words or pottering in the garden, you can find her in the kitchen roasting her own coffee beans.

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