20 Cheap Dinner Ideas the Whole Family will Love

Good food doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Today, I want to share with you budget-friendly dinner ideas that are perfect for the whole family. Whether you’re aiming to stretch your grocery budget or just looking for new crowd-pleasers, these cheap dinner ideas will have everyone asking for seconds. 

Grocery prices are always going up, but in recent years inflation seems to have hit a new high.  I know that when I go to the grocery store I often get sticker shock these days.

After bringing our truck to the shop for some repairs, and receiving a 2000 dollar bill for the work done, I had a new motivation to save more in the kitchen.

There are so many little ways you can save on food.  Shopping the sales is a good start.  Right now we are about to enter the summer and so I’ve got the future harvest season on my mind.  Even if you don’t have a large garden, there may be ways you can get your hand on some summer produce to can for winter consumption.  

I only have a small garden at this time, but I go strawberry picking at a local farm, and wild blueberry picking in the woods where I live.  Last year I also bought carrots and corn when it was on sale and canned or froze batches to save money.  This year with the rise in prices I’ll be looking for even more ways to do that.

Today I’m going to share with you what I think are super cheap meals that the whole family can enjoy.  I would encourage you to add what you can.  If you have lettuce in the garden, make a salad.  If you’ve got frozen vegetables in the freezer, add them.  But I want to share with you some basic dinner ideas that are versatile to get you going.


Spaghetti and homemade bread

Spaghetti is that ultimate comfort food that I have eaten my whole life and never get sick of.  Pair it with homemade bread and your whole family will love you for it.


Cheese pizza

Pizza is a regular rotation meal around here.  I often make it without pepperoni because that way I can save quite a bit of money (why, oh why is meat so expensive?!)  But, if you want, feel free to add some meat to yours. 

I like to top ours with olives and mushrooms.  You can make your own homemade pizza with this recipe, or you can just top English muffins with sauce and cheese.  I always use tomato sauce and not pizza sauce because it’s cheaper.

Sloppy Joes

All you need is a bag of buns (or make your own for an even cheaper meal) some ground beef, and a few other ingredients for this meal.  Add whatever vegetables you have in your fridge as a side.

Eggs, toast, and fried diced potatoes

If you have your own chickens that lay eggs, this is a super cheap meal.  However, even with buying eggs this meal is on the cheaper side.   We recently bought an air fryer which makes whipping up the fried potatoes that much easier.  Spread some homemade jam on your toast.

Homemade hamburger helper

My kids HATE the boxed hamburger helper, but they LOVE homemade hamburger helper.  It’s cheap to make and this recipe is a keeper!

Lemon chinese chicken and rice

This one is a family favorite around here.  We make the chicken and rice and add whatever vegetables we have on hand.  Our favorite is to fry up some red and yellow peppers and onions.  Find the recipe here.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

It’s a classic, and yet, no one ever tires of grilled cheese sandwiches!  Sometimes we make them with mozzarella cheese and some tomato sauce to make them pizza grilled cheeses!

Taco or Fajita rice bowls

I love these.  They are so versatile and perfect for when you have people over as well.  All you do is make a big pot of rice, some kind of meat whether its ground beef or leftover pulled pork or chicken, fry up some peppers and onions, and then everyone makes their own bowl and tops them with things like cheese, salsa, sour cream, avocadoes, and more! 

I will often cook up some corn and black beans too for the bowls.  Add some tortilla chips on the side if your heart desires.

Chicken pancit

I came across this recipe years ago and it’s another favorite.  Basically it’s noodles, cabbage, onions, chicken (or pork), and soy sauce.  Sounds basic, but so amazing.  I use a bag of coleslaw mix instead of cutting up a cabbage. You can find the recipe here.

Chili and cornbread

Chili is a meal that S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S and for a mom of teenagers, that’s a necessity here.  We like to top ours with corn chips, cheese, and sour cream.


Fried egg sandwiches and roasted potatoes

Toast your bread, fry your egg, slather with some mayo and squeeze some ketchup on it and let me tell you, it’s AMAZING.  Roast some diced potatoes and add whatever vegetable you have in your cupboard for a complete meal.

Potato pancakes

I made so many potato pancakes when I was in college.  They were the ultimate frugal meal.  I’d top them with sour cream, but I know others who top potato pancakes with apple sauce.

Macaroni and cheese

I’ll be straight up honest – cheese isn’t the cheapest thing in the world anymore, but if you buy it on sale, it’s cheaper than meat!  Make some homemade rolls with some homemade macaroni and cheese, and cook up a side of peas.

White bean soup

Many soups are cheap meals no matter what’s in them, but a bean soup is even cheaper.  This is another meal that is best paired with some kind of bread.  Try these Rosemary Garlic skillet rolls.


Another frugal meal that many of us grew up on as kids.  Goulash is comfort food in my opinion.


Perogies, whether homemade or store bought, are cheap.  I like to fry up perogies with some onions and a little bit of bacon, and we eat them with a side of peas or corn.

Garlic butter noodles and homemade dinner rolls

Sounds so simple, but somehow it’s so good.  You can add whatever vegetables or meats you have on hand, or just keep the noodles plain.  Add some cheese on top if you like. 

Biscuits and gravy

I’m Canadian so biscuits and gravy isn’t really a thing here, but the few times I’ve had it I’ve loved it.  They are super affordable to make. 

biscuits and gravy

Chicken drumsticks, potatoes, and vegetables

Chicken drumsticks are often on sale, and they are the type of meal that you can enjoy with some potatoes and vegetables, in any way you choose to make them.  These crispy chicken drumsticks would be a great one to try!


Who says you can’t have pancakes for dinner?  They are filling, frugal, and delicious!  Top them with jam, syrup, or fruit!

Try some of these delicious meals this week!  Your whole family will be looking forward to dinner time with these ideas.

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