No need for take-out! I know , I know. It can be really hard to find the time to get a budget friendly meal to the table each day. But, believe me when I tell you, it can be done! I’ve put together some super quick, super cheap meal ideas you can use on the busiest of days.
Make sure you always have the ingredients for your favorite quick meal to use on those nights when dinner becomes an “emergency”!
Super Quick, Super Cheap Meal Ideas
Rice bowls are a weekly go-to at our house. Typically the bowls have either a Mexican or Asian theme, but they could be whatever you want. Plus they can be meatless, which makes them a great, budget friendly meal.
What’s really fantastic about these is everyone can make them exactly how they like them. I just put the rice, veggies, meat, beans, and/or cheese in bowls on the table and we each create our own meal. (I always prepare enough rice for dinner and lunches the next day.)
Mexican topping suggestions: seasoned meat (ground beef, shredded beef, chicken), pinto or black beans, refried beans, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, corn, guacamole, onions, shredded cheese, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream
Asian topping suggestions: seasoned meat (ground beef, shredded beef, chicken), onions, peppers, green beans, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil, teriyaki
Pasta is relatively cheap and can be used to create a super quick meal! Simply add steamed veggies, a little butter and some parmesan cheese for a simple, healthy meal. Or keep a jar of pasta sauce and/or pesto on hand to have dinner ready in 15 minutes or less. Mac and cheese is another quick, cheap pasta option, and is surprisingly easy to make from scratch.
There are soooo many ways you can have eggs for dinner. Eggs are a cheap source of protein and are tasty to boot! Here are some dinner suggestions with eggs as the feature ingredient:
Frittata: All you need is an oven safe skillet, eggs, a few veggies and cheese for a frittata. A frittata is started on the stove top, finished under the broiler and literally takes less than 10 minutes to make. Here is a great recipe to get you started. Add whatever ingredients you like!
Scrambled eggs: Who doesn’t love piping hot, scrambled eggs? Add some sausage, cheese and/or salsa or throw them in a tortilla for a breakfast burrito.
Here’s another idea I’ve used for scrambled eggs: Take a loaf of french bread, cut out a “V” out of the top, down the middle and “stuff” the bread with scrambled eggs and sausage, top with cheese and put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Yum!
Egg sandwich or muffin: Fry up an egg or two, toast bread or an English muffin, add a slice of cheese and wah-lah…dinner. (Canadian bacon, bacon or sausage patties can be added too.)
It’s okay to have sandwiches for dinner! Just add a veggie and/or fruit to boost the health factor!
We’re having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner tonight. It’s one of my self-proclaimed no-cooking nights (which I’ve had my fair share of lately!).
Grilled Cheese: Add some butter and grill these on the stove-top or just throw them in the toaster oven! Add ham or turkey and add a sliced tomato and onion after grilling if that’s your thing.
Baked Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches: We tried these for the first time a few weeks ago and have made them three times since. The kids love them. Here is my recipe, adapted from this one. I’ve also used plain slider buns and different types of cheese and they were still really good (and quick and easy!)
Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (serves 6)
12 Hawaiian Rolls (or other rolls, buns)
¼ cup melted butter
1 ½ teaspoons dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of garlic powder
½ pound deli ham
½ pound cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine melted butter, mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic powder in small bowl.
- Place rolls in oven-safe baking dish.
- Remove tops of the rolls.
- Place ham on rolls and top with slices of cheese.
- Place tops of rolls back on.
- Pour butter/mustard mixture over rolls.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese melt and tops of rolls begin to brown.
Tuna melt: Make your favorite tuna salad recipe, place the mixture on hamburger buns, top with cheddar cheese and bake under broiler for 3-4 minutes. Here is a good recipe to try.
Baked potato bar
Did you know you can make “baked” potatoes in the slow cooker? Poke the potatoes a few times with a fork, wrap in foil and place in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours (on high for 4-5 hours). This works for busy days though, I admit, I’m a sucker for an oven baked potato.
Just like the rice bowls, everyone can add the toppings they like.
Toppings: bacon, sour cream, shredded cheese, cheese sauce, chili, olives, salt, pepper, butter, green onions, sausage, broccoli, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, black beans, corn, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pesto
Tortillas are perfect to have on hand for busy nights! Here are some suggestions for super quick meals:
Tortilla “pizza”: Just like regular pizza, only the tortilla serves as the crust. Add your favorite toppings, put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 8-12 minutes (keep an eye on them, as it’s a very “thin” crust and can burn quickly!).
Burritos/Soft shelled tacos: This is another go-to quick meal at our house. Cook up some seasoned meat or leave the meat out and just use black or pinto beans and some cheese (I sometimes add corn too)! Don’t forget tomatoes, onions, sour cream and salsa for toppings!
Quesadilla: Again, you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, including chicken, beef, onions, and or peppers, but cheese is a requirement. I like to put the ingredients on half of a tortilla, fold the tortilla in half and fry it in a skillet for a tasty “fried” treat.
Breakfast burrito: Put scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa in the tortilla and wrap it up (sausage is good to add too). You can warm these in the microwave or oven if you’d like. Plus, these can be made ahead and frozen to warm up later!
Tortilla roll ups: Add a little seasoning to cream cheese (such as ranch dressing mix), spread over tortillas, add veggies and/or deli meat of choice and roll up. These can be made ahead and kept in the fridge all week for quick lunches or snack attacks!