11 Best Cheap Dinner Ideas

Each year things get more expensive than the last, but sometimes our incomes remain the same. In such cases, we need to be careful where we spend our money to ensure we can live comfortably. Of course, you have to make cuts in some areas to reach your financial goals.

The best way to save money is to look for cheap dinner ideas and cook at home. So, whether you are a broke college student or someone on a budget, you have come to the right place. Here is your complete guide to the best affordable dinner ideas.

Here are the best cheap dinner ideas for you that will be light on your pocket and fill your stomach in no time:

Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Yes, chicken alfredo pasta is expensive in restaurants, but did you know it is one of the most affordable dinners you can make? All you need is some pasta, chicken, and sauce. Boil the pasta, and then throw the rest of the ingredients in a pan to cook and mix them.

The dinner will not take much time, and it will cost you almost nothing. If you have pasta or chicken in your kitchen, be sure to experiment with chicken alfredo pasta. It will become one of your favorite comfort foods to make at home. Check out the chicken fettuccine alfredo recipe.

Chicken and Vegetables

Chicken is one of the best proteins that are available in everyone’s home. That is why it is one of our top meat choices for the best cheap dinner ideas. You can grill the chicken and sautee some vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, etc.

Chicken and Vegetables

You only need fifteen minutes to do this, and it will taste excellent if you add some spices and herbs you like. So, if you are feeling lazy one day and need a quick and cheap dinner, you can try this idea. Just take any vegetables you have in the kitchen and cook them with your chicken.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese are some of the ultimate comfort foods, and you can never go wrong with this. This is the perfect food idea, whether you are a broke college student or a mother with kids looking for easy cheap dinner ideas. You can make it from scratch, or you can get a packet from the store and follow the instructions.

Mac And Cheese

If you want more sustenance, you can always use protein such as chicken or bacon bits for your mac and cheese. Besides that, our top trick is to add some breadcrumbs on the top for crunch and texture. So, on the days you want some excellent comfort food, be sure to indulge in mac and cheese. View the Edmonds Macaroni Cheese recipe here.


Quesadillas don’t need to have fancy ingredients for you to enjoy them. If you have tortillas at home, you can always throw in whatever you have in the pantry. Even if you have no meat at home, you can create a vegetarian quesadilla using vegetables available in your home, such as corn, beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc.


So, you can always experiment with quesadillas. Everything tastes great inside a tortilla, so put whatever you can, and it will take you less than five minutes to cook. Making a quesadilla with whatever you have is one of the best cheap dinner idea hacks that will keep you full.

Turkey Sliders

We all have those days where we don’t want to have something too heavy. During those days, you can opt for making juicy turkey sliders that will keep you and your tummy happy. You can substitute turkey for any other meat that is available in your kitchen.

Turkey Sliders

Get some buns, add some meat, put some vegetables, melt that cheese, and top it off with your favorite sauce. Cooking sliders is easy, fun, and it will take you less than half an hour. If you are a mother looking for cheap dinner ideas, turkey sliders are perfect for kids. Check out the full recipe here.

Spaghetti and Bacon

Spaghetti is a classic dish that everyone loves, be it children or adults. If you love to eat spaghetti, you can create some delicious variations at home. Of course, the best part is that you will not require any expensive ingredients to create delicious spaghetti at home.

Spaghetti and Bacon

Just boil some pasta, create a tomato sauce, and add a meat of your choice, such as chicken, beef, turkey, or bacon. We recommend adding bacon as it can elevate the taste of the spaghetti in no time. You can even save some and heat it up the next day because it will be just as yummy.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Winters are here, and a bowl of instant pot chicken noodle soup can warm your heart and tummy. You can pack the soup with flavors you like to ensure that the taste remains fantastic. Of course, the best part is that you will cook the soup within minutes using an instant pot.

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

It is also one of the best meals if you are feeling a little cold or under the weather. So, on the days you want a hearty meal, this is one of the best cheap dinner ideas. If you have a family, everyone will enjoy it.

Crispy Baked Chicken

Do you want some crispy chicken but don’t want to spend your money on fast food chains? Well, the best part is you can easily create a super crispy baked chicken using our secret recipe. All you have to do is combine mashed potato flakes with parmesan cheese for the best crunchy chicken coating.

Crispy Baked Chicken

After coating the chicken, pop it in the oven for baking. Once it is golden-brown, be sure to take it out and enjoy one of the moistest and tender chicken pieces you will love. It is one of the best affordable dinner ideas that will taste better than what you get at restaurants. View the full recipe here.

Fried Rice

If you are a rice lover, this cheap dinner idea is ideal for you because it is highly versatile. All you need is some rice, vegetables, and meat (optional). Fry the rice and all the vegetables together with spices you like to create fried rice filled with flavor.

Fried Rice

You can never go wrong with this, and it takes half an hour or less to cook. If you want to have a healthy meal, you can add brown rice instead of white. The best thing about fried rice is that you can save it to have the next day, and it will taste just as delicious.

Peppered Pork Pita Sandwiches

If you haven’t tried the combination of red peppers and pork, you must give these sandwiches a try. They are one of the best easy cheap dinner ideas that you and your family will love. Cook some pork, caramelize some red peppers and onions, take some lettuce, and add it all to a pita.

Pork Pita Sandwiches

You can add any sauce you like, but we recommend that you add some garlic mayo because it tastes the best with this combination. Of course, the possibilities are endless, and you can add anything you have available in your kitchen. You can thank us later for this delicious gem.

Ham and Potato Casserole

Do you have some ham, potato, and other leftovers at home? If you do, then you can easily create this casserole as it is one of the best cheap dinner ideas. It is an excellent way to utilize leftovers and create something the entire family will enjoy.

Ham And Potato Casserole

Casseroles also make an excellent lunch dish, which is why you can always have it the next day if there is some left. You can also get creative and make any casserole of your choice. After all, everyone loves a casserole, and there are many possibilities for you to try.

Is It Possible To Make Easy Cheap Dinners?

Many people think that cooking delicious food costs money and can break your bank. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can easily create some tantalizing dinners without spending too much money.

Here are some key tips to ensure you can make a cheap dinner in no time:

  1. Use What’s In The Kitchen

Instead of going to the grocery store and getting items to cook dinner, check what is already there in the kitchen. You will be surprised at how many delicious dinners you can make with just three or four ingredients. That is what our cheap dinner ideas list entails too.

We have kept it simple with ingredients that people already have in the kitchen. It will help you sustain your progress, so you don’t have to spend money on takeout and go out of your budget.

  1. Experiment Easy Cheap Dinner Ideas

Yes, we understand boredom is a real thing when it comes to having food daily. That is why you must not be afraid to experiment with easy cheap dinner ideas. You can find what is in your pantry and mix different ingredients that go well together to create something unique.

The best dishes are the ones you least expect. So, always have the courage to put your chef’s hat on and experiment with some ideas. Our affordable dinner ideas list has some great tried and tested food experiments you will love.

  1. Stay Consistent

Finally, if you want to maintain financial well-being by eating at home, you must stay consistent. Keep using simple ingredients and keep experimenting to enjoy unique flavors each day. Change helps us sustain such meals as you will not feel bored while you cook daily.

It might seem difficult and challenging to cook daily, but you must stay consistent. That is why we have curated some of the easiest dinner ideas for you. It will allow you to cook in no time without feeling burdened.

Final Words

These are the 11 best cheap dinner ideas for broke college students or families on a budget. You can modify each recipe depending on what you have available in the kitchen and your taste. Once you do, you will enjoy some of the best dinners at a low cost in no time.

Who would’ve thought making affordable dinners could be so easy and delicious? We didn’t. So start making these dinners today and thank us later.