100+ Frugal Dinner Ideas {Affordable Everyday Recipes}

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Looking for frugal dinner ideas that your people will actually eat? Me too. We all know the struggle of balancing a tight budget with the need to eat well. I made a list of affordable dinners that taste great and are perfect for people who want to save money.

These ideas will make dinner time enjoyable and affordable for busy moms, students on a budget, and those trying to save money.

Sometimes I’ll link to the recipes, sometimes not. The idea is just to give you lots of ideas to inspire you ❤️.

grid of watercolors showing homey dinner and food prep scenes

They are sorted by the main protein, so if all you can afford this week is chicken drumsticks (been there), I’ve got you. A practical way to start frugal living.

Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts are a popular protein choice because they are versatile and have lean meat. They’re perfect for a range of quick and healthy meals. Here are some budget-friendly dinner ideas using chicken breasts.

  • Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • Chicken Stir-Fry
  • Baked Chicken Parmesan
  • Chicken Breast Fajitas
  • Chicken Breast Alfredo Pasta
  • Lemon Chicken Piccata
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Chicken and Mushroom Skillet
  • Chicken Breast Tacos

Budget Dinners Using Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is not only incredibly affordable but also a pantry staple you can stock up on during sales. Tuna is a great source of protein. You can prepare it in many tasty and affordable ways. Here are some of the most frugal ways to turn canned tuna into dinner.

meal planning binder open on counter.
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Tuna Pasta Bake
  • Tuna Patties
  • Tuna and White Bean Salad
  • Tuna Casserole
  • Tuna Stuffed Peppers
  • Tuna and Rice Salad
  • Tuna and Pea Rice Bake

Ground Turkey dinner ideas

Ground turkey is a versatile and lean protein that’s kinder to your wallet than many other meats. You can use it to make healthier versions of your favorite dishes and give traditional recipes a twist. Check out these budget-friendly dinner ideas using ground turkey.

kitchen scene showing dinner prep.
  • Turkey Burgers
  • Turkey Meatloaf
  • Turkey Tacos
  • Turkey and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Turkey Chili
  • Turkey Bolognese Sauce
  • Turkey Stuffed Peppers
  • Turkey and Spinach Lasagna
  • Sloppy Joes with Ground Turkey

Affordable dinner recipes with bone-in chicken thighs

Bone-in chicken thighs are a flavorful and cost-effective option for a hearty meal. Their rich taste and tender texture make them ideal for a range of recipes. Here are some frugal and delicious ways to enjoy bone-in chicken thighs for dinner.

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  • Baked Chicken Thighs with Vegetables
  • Chicken Thigh Curry
  • Chicken and Rice Casserole
  • BBQ Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken Thigh Stew
  • Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
  • Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken Cacciatore

Leftover Cooked Chicken

Get creative and save money by using leftover rotisserie chicken in these meal ideas. This protein is already cooked and can save you time, especially for quick, affordable dinners. Explore these recipes to reinvent your leftover chicken.

  • Chicken Salad
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Chicken Quesadillas
  • Chicken Fried Rice
  • Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
  • Chicken Caesar Wrap
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip

Dried Beans

People love using dried beans in economical cooking because they’re healthy and can be used in many ways. They can be the star of any hearty and wholesome meal. Check out these cost-saving dinner ideas featuring dried beans.

jars of beans and veggies in on shelf.
  • Lentil Soup
  • Lentil Curry
  • Black Bean and Rice Burritos
  • Black Bean Burgers
  • Black Bean and Corn Salad
  • Lentil Tacos
  • Black Bean Soup
  • Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
  • Lentil Stew
  • Lentil Sloppy Joes
  • Lentil and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Split Pea and Ham Stew

Bulk Pork Sausage

Bulk pork sausage is a choice that adds rich flavor to any meal. It’s great for adding a savory twist to a variety of dishes. Explore these cost-effective dinner ideas using bulk pork sausage.

  • Sausage and Peppers
  • Sausage Pasta
  • Sausage and Potato Bake
  • Sausage and Cabbage Skillet
  • Sausage and Bean Soup
  • Sausage Jambalaya
  • Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos
  • Sausage and Spinach Quiche
  • Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Canned Chickpeas

Canned chickpeas are a frugal pantry essential, offering both protein and fiber. They can be used in so many ways to create nutrition, cheap meals. Discover these simple and delicious dinner ideas featuring canned chickpeas.

  • Chickpea Curry
  • Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
  • Roasted Chickpeas and Vegetables
  • Chickpea Stew
  • Chickpea Tacos
  • Chickpea and Spinach Curry
  • Chickpea Pasta
  • Falafel
  • Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Frozen Tilapia (or Other White Fish) Fillets

Frozen tilapia fillets are an affordable seafood choice. They have a mild flavor and can be used in many recipes. They’re perfect for quick and healthy dinners. Here are some affordable ways to prepare frozen fish fillets.

  • Baked Tilapia with Lemon and Herbs
  • Tilapia Fish Tacos
  • Pan-Fried Tilapia
  • Tilapia and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
  • Tilapia in Tomato Sauce
  • Cajun Tilapia
  • Tilapia Ceviche
  • Lemon Garlic Tilapia

Frozen Meatballs

Frozen meatballs are a convenient option for a variety of tasty meals. You can use them in numerous recipes, saving both time and money. Here are some delicious dinner ideas utilizing frozen meatballs.

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Meatball Sub Sandwiches
  • Meatball Stew
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs
  • Meatball Pizza
  • Meatball Curry
  • Meatball and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • BBQ Meatball Sliders
  • Swedish Meatballs

Bulk Ground Beef

Bulk ground beef is a frugal choice that’s perfect for a multitude of classic comfort dishes. It’s great for bulk cooking and freezing for later use.

  • Beef Tacos
  • Beef Chili
  • Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Beef Bolognese Sauce
  • Beef and Potato Casserole
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Beef Stuffed Peppers
  • Beef and Broccoli
  • Beef and Bean Burritos

Canned Salmon

Canned salmon, an affordable alternative to fresh fish, is great for quick, nutritious meals. It’s rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Discover these budget-friendly and simple dinner ideas featuring canned salmon.

  • Salmon Patties
  • Salmon Pasta
  • Salmon Salad Sandwich
  • Salmon and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Salmon Burgers
  • Salmon and Potato Bake
  • Salmon and Rice Bowls
  • Salmon Quiche
  • Creamy Salmon Soup

Tofu Blocks

Tofu blocks are a fantastic and affordable plant-based protein, perfect for a variety of flavorful dishes. They absorb flavors well and can be cooked in many different ways. Here are some cost-effective tofu-based dinner ideas.

pretty scene of home vegetable garden.
  • Tofu Stir-Fry
  • Tofu Scramble
  • Tofu and Vegetable Curry
  • Grilled Tofu Steaks
  • Tofu Tacos
  • Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce
  • Tofu and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce
  • Tofu Kebabs
  • Tofu Parmesan

Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are a cheap and tasty option for family dinners. Their natural juiciness makes them a hit in many recipes. Check out these frugal and flavorful dinner ideas featuring chicken drumsticks.

  • BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
  • Baked Garlic Parmesan Drumsticks
  • Chicken Drumstick Curry
  • Lemon and Herb Roasted Drumsticks
  • Honey Mustard Chicken Drumsticks
  • Chicken Drumstick Stew
  • Chicken Drumsticks with Potatoes
  • Spicy Drumsticks
  • Drumsticks with Rice

Ground Chicken

Ground chicken is a cheaper and leaner option than beef, perfect for many recipes. It’s great for those looking to eat healthier without breaking the bank. Explore these affordable dinner ideas using ground chicken.

  • Ground Chicken Burgers
  • Ground Chicken Chili
  • Ground Chicken Tacos
  • Ground Chicken Meatloaf
  • Ground Chicken Stuffed Peppers
  • Ground Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry
  • Ground Chicken Bolognese
  • Ground Chicken Sloppy Joes
  • Ground Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are a popular and affordable option for a delicious and enjoyable meal. They can be cooked in countless ways, from baked to grilled. Here are some economical and delicious ideas:

  • Buffalo Chicken Wings
  • BBQ Chicken Wings
  • Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
  • Teriyaki Chicken Wings
  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings
  • Fried Chicken Wings
  • Sticky Asian Chicken Wings
  • Spicy Dry-Rub Chicken Wings
  • Baked Parmesan Chicken Wings

More help feeding your family on a budget:

Frugal cooking is a lifestyle. Really! There’s so much to it.

grocery cart in store.
  • Budget Grocery Shopping Tips: Practical advice on shopping for nonperishable items online, buying fresh fruits and vegetables in season, and purchasing meat and cereals in bulk, among other tips
  • Freezing Food: A Guide for How to Freeze Everything by Taste of Home. This guide covers a range of tips for freezing food, including proper temperature settings, wrapping and sealing food, and location within the freezer. It’s a valuable resource for those wanting to extend the life of their groceries.
  • Meal Prep For Homemakers. Meal prep saves you time and money, and it’s NOT just freezer meals! Let me show you how it can work for you 😊.

Sometimes you need a list of ideas, so I hope this list helped you. Wishing you the best.

100+ Frugal Dinner Ideas {Affordable Everyday Recipes}
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