Meals on a Budget: 12 Cheap Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

When cooking meals on a budget, it is easy to stick to foods that are not nutritious. Meals that are high in carbohydrates or fats tend to be cheap, easy to make and delicious. As a result, coming up with nutritious and inexpensive dishes may seem like more work. With a bit of creativity and a good knowledge of store prices, however, you may learn to feed you and your family for less, without sacrificing nutrition.

We have researched several cheap dinner recipes, lunch recipes and breakfast recipes to ease the strain of coming up with ideas on your own. These meals feature nutritious and flavorful ingredients, quick preparation and cooking times and kid-friendly options. There are also several vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options if you or your family members follow a special diet.

Tasty Dinner Recipes

These cheap easy and healthy meals are sure to ease the stress on your bank account and get your mouth watering. They may even become staples in your cookbook.

Butternut Linguine

If you are looking for cheap vegan recipes, try sprucing up your pasta dishes with vegetables, beans and other ingredients. A butternut linguine is a healthy spin on a classic dish, as you are adding butternut squash and other vegetables to a plain pasta. While the only two vegetables that the recipe calls for are butternut squash and onions, you may also add other vegetables that are on sale at your local grocery store, such as leafy greens or root vegetables. While the squash may take a while to cook, the rest of the recipe is relatively easy to toss together.

Hearty Bean Stew

Another way of expanding on your choices of cheap vegan meals is to take a traditional, non-vegan recipe and substitute in your own ingredients. A hearty bean stew, for instance, is packed with flavors, easy on the wallet, and easy to modify. For instance, ground beef may be substituted with pork sausage, ground turkey, a vegan protein or left out altogether. You may also add whichever canned beans are cheaper at the grocery store, such as cannellini, northern white beans, black beans and more.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/great-northern-bean-stew/

Lentil Stew

If you are looking for cheap vegetarian meals, lentil stew costs very little and is an excellent source of nutrition and protein. This is a versatile dish and can be poured on top of rice or quinoa. Lentils may also be added to a variety of cheap vegetarian recipes to boost the protein or the fiber, and they are low-glycemic, making them an excellent food for diabetics. Vegetables you may want to add to a lentil stew include carrots, canned, diced tomatoes and onions. Spices such as curry powder or ginger also add extra bursts of flavor. For vegetarian-friendly garnishes, top it with parmesan cheese or Greek yogurt. Want to add vegan garnishes? Leave out the dairy and add a slice of lime, or a sprinkle of cilantro.

Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

Want to find cheap meals for large families? Look no further than one-pot dishes. Prepping this lemon chicken recipe is simple, as you simply need to wash and cut the potatoes, onion and lemon slices. In addition, this recipe only requires you to pre-cook the chicken. Then, you may add all the ingredients to a baking dish and let it cook in the oven.

If you are searching for cheap dinner ideas for 2, buy less of each ingredient and bake your meal in a smaller dish. Note that some of the ingredients in this recipe may be expensive, depending on your location and the time of year. As a result, it is best to wait for these food items to go on sale, or to purchase less-expensive cuts of chicken, such as chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Exciting Lunch Recipes

If you are looking for cheap food to buy when broke, you can get away with lunches that are even cheaper than dinner. Cooking your own lunch and bringing it to work will save you a tremendous amount of money. However, you must make sure that your lunch will keep in the fridge and is easy to heat up at work. These fun and interesting recipes may also be good options for kids.

Vegetable Pizza with Salad

Pizza is often considered one of the best dirt cheap meals because it is tasty, easy to serve and easy to reheat the next day. This vegetarian option will add more nutrition to your meal, and you may customize it to your needs and preferences. Try a pesto sauce as a base instead of red sauce, or substitute broccoli and mushrooms for spinach and artichoke. You may also use your own home-made dough, pre-packaged dough or a simple flatbread from a grocery store. Adding a side salad to your pizza will supply you with extra nutrition and complete the dish.

Chicken Fried Rice

When searching for budget-friendly meals for families, you may want to consider making a lunch that uses your leftovers from dinner. Chicken fried rice is an excellent use of leftovers, as you may throw in any sort of vegetable or chicken into rice, even if the chicken was previously seasoned. Add egg, soy sauce and a garnish, and your dish of leftovers will seem brand new.

Customizable Chili

Chili is one of the most customizable cheap lunch recipes and is full of flavor. Most chilis begin with a can of diced tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, chopped onions, olive oil, garlic, chili powder and canned beans. From there, you may add a variety of ingredients, such as ground beef, ground turkey or tofu.

You may also consider substituting vegetables for meat to make a vegan or vegetarian chili. Popular add-ins include celery, carrots and even pumpkin. You may also try adding a topper such as sour cream, scallions, lime or slices of avocado.

Three Bean & Quinoa Salad

When looking for cheap and easy meals on a budget, you may consider making a cold meal. A bean and quinoa salad is jam-packed with nutrients and flavor. It is also vegan and gluten-free. To lower the cost of this dish, purchase quinoa in bulk or substitute a different grain, such as rice, cracked wheat or pasta. Note that grains such as cracked wheat are not gluten-free. Olive oil, lemon juice, red onion and parsley will enhance the flavor of this dish. You may also use a variety of beans and add other vegetables, such as red pepper, raw carrots and celery.

Cost-Effective and Flavorful Breakfast Recipes

Cheap breakfast recipes are easier to come by than cheap lunch and dinner recipes, mainly because breakfast is often made with inexpensive ingredients. With a bit of creativity, you can make a traditional recipe seems brand new for you and your family.

Oatmeal Your Way

If you are feeding a large family on a tight budget, oatmeal is one of the most cost-effective breakfasts you can make. It is easy to buy in bulk at a very inexpensive price. In addition, oatmeal is vegetarian-friendly and can easily be made vegan-friendly by swapping the dairy for plant-based milk or cream. Try a few of these recipes to add more excitement to your breakfast:

  • Classic with a twist: maple syrup, milk or cream and peanut butter
  • Banana bread: banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, pecans, brown sugar or honey
  • Sweet and simple: blackberry, raspberry, strawberry or apricot jam
  • Oatmeal raisin cookie: raisins, brown sugar, milk or cream
  • Dessert-style: chocolate chips, pecans or walnuts, milk or cream

Vegetable Egg Bake

When looking at cheap recipes for families, it is important to find recipes that are easy to make in bulk. An egg bake requires very little preparation, feeds a large group of people and is a healthy option. Simply butter a glass pan, mix together raw eggs and vegetables, toss in your ingredients and let it bake in the oven. Common vegetables to add to an egg bake include broccoli, onions, spinach and tomatoes. For less prep-time, you may consider microwaving frozen vegetables and then adding them in. For more flavor, add cheese on top. You may also consider using egg-whites instead of eggs to avoid cholesterol.

High-Protein Breakfast Parfait

Want to make a cheap vegan breakfast? Try a protein parfait with yogurt made out of coconut milk, soy milk or almond milk. A parfait is easy to make as it requires no cooking. Common toppings include granola, chopped nuts, coconut, jam and fresh fruit. To save on the cost of ingredients, try to buy the yogurt in bulk and purchase inexpensive fruits, such as bananas. If you are vegetarian or have no dietary restrictions, you may also try this recipe with Greek yogurt or plain yogurt.

Banana and Egg Pancakes

Looking for kid-friendly budget meals? Try these healthy and cost-effective pancakes. Some recipes state that you only need two ingredients: bananas and eggs, whisked together. For a fluffier, less-runny option, you may consider adding baking powder, flour and vanilla for flavor. The pancakes are naturally sweetened by the banana, which means there is no need to add processed sugar. Popular toppings include fresh fruit, chocolate chips, syrup or peanut butter.