8 Cheap Dinner Ideas Guaranteed to Help the Family Budget

Jill Holtz

January 4, 2016

macaroni cheese

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Post-Christmas the grocery budget is always a bit stretched so here are some recipes to help you plan and make the most of your weekly budget. Try our 8 Cheap Dinner Ideas Guaranteed To Help the Family Budget.

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After all the Christmas spending, and also the long pay month, January can be a bit of a tight money month. So I’m always on the look out for inexpensive family dinner ideas.

8 Cheap Dinner Ideas Guaranteed To Help the Family Budget

#1. Soup and Sandwiches

tomatosoupIt may not sound much but a good homemade pot of soup with grilled cheese sandwiches is not only delicious, full of nutrients but also kind to the grocery budget.

Here are some favourite Mykidstime soup recipes you might like to try:

I make a batch of grilled cheese toast (add a few splashes of Worcester sauce to the grated or sliced cheese before you grill for some extra flavour) to help fill everyone up with their soup.

#2. 1 Chicken 3 Ways

roast chickenStart by roasting a chicken e.g. for Sunday dinner. After you have your roast chicken dinner, strip off all the extra meat and set aside for another meal and then use the carcass to make stock.

Just cover the chicken bones with water, add an onion, a carrot and a bay leaf, some seasoning, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Set aside for the 3rd meal.

We like chicken fajitas or else stir-fried chicken and rice for the 2nd meal.

Then you could make a soup like this chicken noodle soup or use the stock for a risotto with e.g. mushrooms and peas for the 3rd meal, all from one chicken.

You might also find this useful: Download Our Free Meal Planning Sheet

#3. Big Pot of Chilli

Ballymaloe Chilli Con CarneAdd plenty of veggies (either chopped finely or puréed) to a favourite chilli to add extra nutrients as well as padding it out to twice the usual amount. My kids profess to hate mushrooms but never realise that they are enjoying them because I chop them so finely before adding into the chilli.

Then we have one half with rice and then a day or two later bake some potatoes and serve the 2nd part with some sour cream and grated cheese. And if you make extra there will be enough for lunches too.

You might also enjoy: White Chicken Chili

#3. Inspired Beans

posh beansAn inexpensive but healthy meal is called “posh beans on toast” in our house, made with chilli sauce and cherry tomatoes.

Or try these delicious Real Baked Beans with Ciabatta. If you double the beans you will have enough to keep the 2nd batch for lunches.

Or how about trying these Bean & Cheese Burritos using mixed or black beans instead of minced beef with your tortilla wraps.

You might also enjoy: Chilli Bean Burritos with Corn Salsa

#4. Lamb Shanks

lamb-tagine-2-001Cheaper cuts of meat like lamb shanks just need longer, slower cooking but are very flavoursome and budget-friendly. (Ask your butcher for advice on the cheaper cuts.) One of my favourite cheap meats is lamb shanks.

This Lamb Shank Tagine recipe uses spices such as cumin, coriander and chilli powder, and served with couscous makes for a cheap Sunday dinner.

We use the leftover lamb for another mid week casserole, adding potatoes, stock and some other veggies or turn the leftovers into a Mid Week Lamb Curry.

You might also enjoy: Leftover Lamb Pasta

#5. Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni cheese

The ultimate cheap but comforting recipe!

This recipe for macaroni and cheese uses leeks and bacon bits for extra flavour and a breadcrumb cheese topping for texture.

Again making double the recipe gives leftovers for lunches too.

#6. Homemade Pizza

Home Made PizzaHomemade pizza is very inexpensive to rustle up and my kids love to help make the sauce, knead and roll out the dough, and put their choice of toppings on.

Start by making your pizza dough then cook up a home made tomato sauce made with

  • garlic clove crushed or chopped finely
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes (you can use plum tomatoes but you will need to chop the tomatoes up a bit)
  • some passata or tomato puree
  • a few basil leaves
  • teaspoon of sugar.

Just fry your garlic gently for a couple of minutes, add the rest of your ingredients then simmer for 25 minutes and cool before using for your pizzas. Toppings can be as simple as just grated cheese or ham or olives.

A slice of pizza in the lunchbox makes a nice change from sandwiches too.

You might also enjoy: Neapolitan Pizza

#7. Tomato Pasta

Ballymaloe Pasta SauceOne of my standby cheap family recipes is Tomato Pasta. Not only is it inexpensive but it is very quick to cook up which is great if you are in a hurry.

I just make a quick tomato and basil sauce for my pasta, all cooked and ready to eat in under 20 minutes – just cook the sauce then start your pasta about 10 minutes in. (Of course if you have longer and want to simmer your tomato sauce for longer then it will improve with more cooking time).

I like to add some bacon bits or leftover sausage into the sauce to vary it but often the simplest things are the most delicious so little wonder my kids regularly ask for the tomato and basil sauce served with pasta and some grated parmesan.

You might also enjoy: How to Cook a Complete One Pot Pasta Dish in 9 Minutes

#8. Cheap and Cheerful Chickpeas

Chickpea Stew - Wholesome Ireland - Food & Parenting BlogChickpeas (or Garbanzo beans) are high in protein and fiber, and also contain several key vitamins and minerals known to benefit humans. Added bonus they are not expensive to buy and can make the basis for a satisfying and nutritious family dinner.

This Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Chorizo Stew is a great midweek dinner as you can prep it in advance and reheat the next day.

Or try Pasta with Chickpeas (Pasta e Ceci), a delicious Italian recipe that is also quick to rustle up. Or add in some spinach and curry spices for a delicious Chickpea and Spinach Curry.

You might also like: Crispy Chickpeas

Over to you now! Do you have a standby budget recipe you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below.

8 Cheap Dinner Ideas Guaranteed To Help the Family Budget

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