Recently I’ve been trying to integrate more budget-friendly dinners and lunches into our meal plan, mostly so that we have more wiggle room for a few pricey imported cheeses or the occasional dinner out. Okay, and so that I don’t experience mild heart palpitations when I look at the food expenses totaled on our Mint app at the end of each month.
With that, I searched around and found 10 truly tasty, extremely budget-friendly recipes to help feed a family of four, and keep you and yours satisfied. Also solvent.
Granted, these are not picky eater dishes per se — you’ve still got buttered pasta to fill that niche. But for the rest of the family, incorporate some of these into your weekly meal planning and I think you’ll discover some new favorites, whether you’re meat eaters, leaning veggie, or go full-on vegan.
Above: Roasted Peppers and Onions with Bratwurst recipe via Budget Bytes
1. Quick Sausage, Kate and White Bean Skillet
This Quick Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Skillet comes from the Smitten Kitchen Everyday cookbook, courtesy of Simply Recipes, and it was an instant favorite in my house. Don’t bother buying red wine vinegar if you don’t already have it in the pantry; any type of vinegar will work fine. Or just add some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Voilá!
2. Vegan (or not) Sweet Potato Quesadillas
I realize cheese-less quesadillas may be a hard sell, but trust me, you won’t feel deprived after eating these Vegan Sweet Potato “Quesadillas” at Serious Eats. So tasty, and they leave us all feeling much lighter than their dairy-heavy counterparts. Just make sure you work in some other, brighter flavors; I’ve had success with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and scallions. Mmm.
Of course you can always add in cheese too, if you’d like.
3. Bratwurst with Roasted Peppers and Onions
If you’ve never visited Beth over at Budget Bytes, drop what you’re doing and head over now. She makes the simplest, tastiest recipes, plus she pre-calculates the cost of each item in a recipe so you don’t have to. With summer on its way, I’m craving her Roasted Peppers and Onions with Bratwurst recipe (also at top) which comes together on a baking sheet and rings in at — ready for it? — $1.82 per serving. Wow.
4. Herbacious Chickpea Salad
Chickpeas are packed with protein, fiber, and so much other goodness that they substitute for meat beautifully. Plus, they’re super cheap, especially if you buy them dry. In fact, I use my Instant Pot to cook them if I don’t have time to let them soak.
If you want to make this Outrageous Herbacious Chickpea Salad at Foodie Crush even heartier, add in a grain like farro, barley, or quinoa, which are also so affordable bought in bulk.
5. Hummus Pasta
No idea why I’d never thought to make pasta with hummus before, but now that I’ve found this Hummus Pasta recipe at Oh She Glows, I’m pretty sure it’s what’s been missing in my life. It looks like the ideal I-don’t-feel-like-cooking-dinner dinner to me (raise your hand if you need a few more of those) and feeding a family of four for under $10? Check!
6. Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Garlic Turmeric Rice
Buying dark meat is a smart way to save money, and because it’s more flavorful than white meat anyway, it requires less fuss to make a complete meal your family will devour. And this oh-so simple Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Garlic Turmeric Rice recipe from Peas and Crayons just looks delicious thanks to a flavorful Greek marinade (she offers the recipe for that too). In fact, she makes you swear not to buy “boneless skinless anything” for this recipe, so that should keep you on budget!
7. Quick and Easy Lentil Tacos
I was skeptical about a recipe for lentil tacos at first, but trying out these Lentil Veggie Tacos from Bless this Mess cured me of my doubts. Turns out if you perfectly season the filling of your tacos, it matters less what that filling consists of. In fact, you can add refried beans to make them even heartier, or any great fixins’ your fridge has to offer, including leftover ground beef, chicken, veggies…whatever you’ve got.
8.Vegetable Fried Rice with Black Beans
Fried rice has salvaged many a mealtime in my household. Even when I think my pantry’s totally bare, I usually have rice, eggs, and a couple of stray veggies, whether fresh or frozen. If you’ve got these ingredients, you’ve got the basis for this yummy Vegetable Fried Rice recipe from Omnivores Cookbook, complete with some clever “secret ingredients” to enhance the flavor included chopped fermented black beans; and substitution ideas like using tofu in place of the eggs.
9. Spaghetti Carbonara
Nothing about this Spaghetti Carbonara recipe at Damn Delicious feels cheap. In fact, it tastes downright luxurious which is amazing considering it won’t break the bank and gets on the table in a cool 20 minutes. My family are big fans, and I make Chungah’s indulgent five-ingredient recipe on nights that call for self-care — i.e. bacon — but still require me to feed my family.
10. Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry
I’ve been getting to know the Sweet Potato Soul blog lately, and so far I’m hooked. Jenné’s recipes pack so much flavor, plus she gets that a vegan lifestyle can be cost-prohibitive for some of us, so she’s created a $30 vegan week-long meal plan. Whoa. It includes some real gems, and a standout to me is this Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry recipe that I’m dying to try next. Keep ’em coming, Jenné!