I like to have a handful of cheap family dinner ideas on my monthly dinner menu. One of my jobs as a mom is to help keep costs down in our family budget. Our family of 6 eats a lot, especially with 3 growing boys. It can be challenging to save money. And every family situation is different. Right now our family of 6 lives off my husband’s job and my side hustle. Some families have two working parents and some families only have one working parent. Sometimes we need to pay more for convenience and other times we need to find ways to save. I hope to share my menu ideas that will help stretch your budget.
In addition to cheaper family dinner ideas I have some other tips to share that will keep your food budget down.
- Serve less meat. Years ago I found the chicken I buy at Sam’s Club could be cut in half to give a better protein portion. We didn’t need such large portions and we ended up saving so much money. Some meals I serve meatless or maybe I just serve less. It’s healthier and we save money.
- Plan, plan, plan. When I plan out my monthly dinner menu I know what I need to buy. I save time and I don’t buy things I don’t need. I love to have dinners that call for similar ingredients but are still different (Thai Chopped Salad and Stir Fry). Or I can planned my leftover to save time (and money) like BBQ Chicken with veggies and then BBQ Chicken salad the next night.
- Freeze what you can. Buying items when they are cheaper and freezing them is a great way to save money. (Like fresh corn) And some things, like the large Sam’s Club sized Pesto sauce, I freeze in ice cube trays and then transfer to a freezer bag. This helps me not to waste food I can’t eat in time. Also I love freezing fresh Parmesan. It doesn’t stick together and I can pull out what I need easily.
- Buy your spices from Sam’s Club. I save so much money when I buy my spices from a warehouse. I love having a variety of spices in my pantry. It’s a great way to switch up dinners by using different spices. You can change up roasted potatoes by adding different spices.
- Grow your own garden. Even if it’s just small containers. When we grow our own food or herbes we can help save our family money, but still feed our family. Start small if you are learning, but it’s really handy to have food growing in your home.
- Make Homemade bread. One of our family’s favorite ways to save money to make our own bread or dinner rolls. This life skill comes in handy all the time. With a couple of inexpensive ingredients I can make something simply delicious. And since bread fills you up it’s easier to extend your meal. And everyone is happier because there is fresh bread at dinner. This is especially important when serving soup as one of my children refuses to eat soup. This way he has something to eat for dinner.
20 Cheap Dinner Ideas for Your family
Grilled cheese- Even just a plain grilled cheese works for dinner. I would prefer a Grilled Caprese Sandwich. This meal requires bread, tomato, cheese, and pesto. It’s yummy and easy to throw together. You can serve it by itself or pair it with fruit or a salad. And my pickier kids only want cheese, but the rest of us have our Grilled Caprese.
Taco Soup– This is the easiest soup ever. And it basically only has 5 ingredients. Add a pound of ground beef and some canned goods and you are all set. You can top it with lots of toppings or not.
Baked Potatoes– Potatoes are super cheap. And filling. I love making Baked Potatoes for dinner. They take a good hour but I just throw them in the oven. No watching them or add ingredients. I can go back to my kids, projects, or a good book. We usually serve them with butter, green onions, bacon bits (I buy the large bag of real bacon bits from Sam’s), and sour cream. Sometime I steam broccoli or make a salad for a side. Tips for making the best baked potato are given here.
Breakfast Burritos- I love breakfast burritos! And I love cooking extra baked potatoes the night before to save time when I fry them up for breakfast burritos. I either add bacon bits to my eggs or I will actually cook bacon. I usually have some in my freezer. Click over to see how I make bacon in the oven. Easy and delicious. Once you try it you won’t want to cook it any other way.
Omelettes- My kids love when breakfast is on the dinner menu. This dinner has lots of protein and vegetables. Eggs are so healthy and are usually a great price. I love to fill my omelette with spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, bacon bits, olives, green onions, and top it with avocado. Each kid can choose what topping they want so usually they are happy.
Zoodles With Tomato Basil Olive Sauce– This basic, but seriously delicious, sauce is healthy and not very expensive. Even cheaper if you have planted basil and zucchini in your garden. You could also use this sauce with regular pasta. I love having pasta on hand as it makes a perfect last minute dinner option.
Waffles- Whether you use a mix or your own recipe, waffles are a cheap dinner. Next time you are tempted to eat out because everyone is already hungry remember to plug in your waffle iron and mix up some waffle mix. (We’ve had this iron for over 15 years) You can add fresh or canned fruit or scrambled eggs and bacon. My kids love when I bust out a can of peaches. And they are already cheering because they love breakfast for dinner. This also makes a great date night dinner for your kids.
Pizza Dough- Pizza is the number one requested meal in our home. To make the dough you just need flour, oil, salt, yeast, and sugar. I like to use the $1 pasta cans from the store for my sauce. I can always add more seasonings or fresh herbs. Our family also buys pepperoni in bulk at Sam’s (we divided it into freezer bags). And we usually have mozzarella cheese in our house. Other toppings are great- but not required. You can see my tips for letting your family make their own pizza in this post.
Cafe Rio Chicken- This easy chicken recipe is a lifesaver! I love making a big batch in my crock pot and freezing portions. Tacos, burritos, and taquitios are all easy to make when you have meat ready to go. Tortillas, rice, and beans are all fairly inexpensive. Sometimes guacamole can be pricey, depending on your area and the time of year. But homemade salsa is pretty inexpensive. This shredded chicken recipe helps make your meat go a long way.
Quesdillas- Another great option that you can throw some chicken inside. Or you can just use cheese. Personally I love mozzarella with cilantro in mine. Chicken and guacamole are a bonus, but I can make due without. This cheap dinner idea can also be made within minutes. It helps me avoid the temptation to grab some fast food. Serving fresh fruit or veggie sticks makes this meal healthier as well.
Tostadas- My kids LOVE tostadas! I can fry up some tortillas and heat up some refried beans pretty easy. Even better is when you make your own refried beans. Dried beans are cheap and great to have on hand. With only a couple more ingredients you can make your own refried beans and then freeze the extra. This meatless meal has lots of protein and you can serve whatever other vegetables your kids will add on.
Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie– Great way to use leftover meat. I just love this recipe. Although I love using Caroline King’s pie crust recipe. Her pie crust recipe is so easy! It doesn’t take much money to make a pie crust. And Two Peas and a Pod share their pot pie recipe that doesn’t involve cream of chicken. It’s from scratch and delicious. You do need 1/2 cup of whipping cream, but mostly everything else is from your pantry or freezer.
Lentil Soup- I love that lentils don’t have to soak overnight. This easy soup doesn’t have any meat, uses items from your food storage, and has vegetables. My kids love it. And it helps keeps our budget down while still being healthy and nutritious. Dry beans are my jam!
Chicken Noodle Soup- Another great option for leftover chicken. Or a small serving of chicken. When I fill my freezer bags with chicken I like to have some bags with less chicken for nights like this recipe. Add noodles, carrots, celery, onion, and spices. I love buying chicken bullion cubes at Sam’s. It makes my life easier.
French Onion Soup– We always double this recipe. My kids LOVE it! And it’s basically onion and seasonings! This meatless dish is full of flavor. Pick up a small bagette to make your own croutons. And I pull out fresh Parmesan cheese from my freezer to top our croutons with cheese. My husband and kids love to coat their soup with mozzarella and then broil it. I prefer mine without cheese.
Garlic Veggie Pasta– Another great meatless option. And you might even have these veggies in your garden. I also like to add mushrooms when I make this pasta recipe. Some of my kids dislike vegetables so much, even if they have cheese, so I leave the pasta and sauce separate. Everyone wins and I always have leftover sauce for lunch the next day. I eat it on broil sourdough toast.
French Toast- Again breakfast for the win! You just need eggs and bread.
Chicken Tortilla Soup- This soup recipe is so easy and flavorful. I love making homemade tortilla crispies. Just a few staples to make soup that doesn’t make you fill heavy.
Crispy Potato Tacos– We just made these the other night! A new family favorite! My family already loves tacos and these crispy potato tacos were a big hit. I love vegetarian meals my kids that make my kids cheer!
BLT’s with Avocado – Simple ingredients and easy to make. Sandwiches are a great option for dinner. And my family can never say no when there is bacon involved.
There you have it! 20 cheap dinner ideas for your family! If you have a cheap dinner idea PLEASE share them in the comments below! I love trying new recipes and saving my family money. And be sure to subscribe to have monthly dinner ideas delivered to your inbox.
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