7 Budget Friendly Dinner Ideas

7 Budget Friendly Dinner Ideas

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in the lives of families worldwide. Between stay-at-home-orders mandated in many states and countries, restaurant dining rooms being closed, schools and activities canceled, job layoffs, and more, many more families are cooking at home and eating together than before, and in some cases, on a tighter budget than before.

Coming from a one-income household myself since becoming a mom, I have some experience in planning affordable meals that are both filling and are kid-friendly.

Today I’d like to share 7 budget friendly (&kid friendly!) dinner ideas.


1. Chili

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Chili is a favorite around our house! It’s not only affordable but filling and delicious. I have posted my chili recipe on here in the past if you want to check it out! For the meat you can use either beef or turkey, or if you want you can even make it meatless and add more beans.

One of the best things about chili is that it tends to make a lot so you can make a big pot of chili and have it for two meals or dinner one night and lunch the next day.

I can’t speak for all kids but chili has been one of Julia’s favorite meals since she’s been old enough to have table food. It goes great over pasta, but you don’t have to make pasta with it if you prefer not to. It is also paired perfectly with homemade (or store-bought) cornbread! This is a super simple recipe for cornbread.

2. Kale Soup

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Kale Soup is a traditional dish in Portuguese families like the one I grew up in, but you don’t have to be Portuguese to enjoy it! Kale Soup (my recipe linked here) is a delicious, filling soup that has meat, potatoes, beans, and kale. Like all soups, if you make a decent amount (and honestly, who has ever made a small pot of soup?) you can have leftovers for a day or two which makes it a great choice for times like the present where we are all trying to stretch our food and dollar out a bit more to make ends meet. Kale soup pairs excellently with Portuguese pops, although they may not be available depending on where you live.

3. Chicken Noodle Soup

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Chicken noodle soup is a classic – for a good reason. It is heartwarming, familiar, simple and affordable to throw together and one pot can be enjoyed over two meals depending on the size of your pot and family! My family prefers to have chicken noodle soup with egg noodles, however, you can use any noodles you like or even rice instead. We usually throw carrots, celery, and onion along with the chicken to our soup but sometimes I will dice up a couple of yellow potatoes as well.

I recently experimented with making egg noodles from scratch since I couldn’t find any at the grocery store and they turned out pretty good! I followed a very simple recipe consisting of ingredients I already had at home. It’s worth a shot if you want to try something new!

4. Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is another favorite at my house. I have yet to post my recipe to this blog but I plan to soon! The key to (in my opinion) to an excellent chicken broccoli alfredo dish is homemade alfredo sauce which is very easy to make. Here is a link to an alfredo sauce similar to the one that I make.

5. Fish Fillets

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Every now and then I like to pick up a box of frozen breaded fish fillets at the grocery store. It’s inexpensive (~$5) and one box can be split into two meals for my family. It goes great with simple sides like rice and a vegetable, or you could add some french fries and make your own “fish and chips”. Julia isn’t a fan of fish fillets, however, if you have chicken nuggets you can bake the fish for you and nuggets for the kiddo on the same pan and it’s really no extra work. This is a great meal for a day when you’re wanting a good meal but minimal cooking effort. Also, if you remember to during your grocery trip, pick up some tartar sauce to serve on the side!

6. Homemade Pizza

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Homemade pizza can be just as good as ordering out and it’s a fun meal to have your kid/s help you make. Homemade pizza can be done a few different ways. We usually pick up premade pizza dough at the grocery store (~$1) but there are tons of simple pizza dough recipes online as well. Another variation is making tortilla pizzas or even english muffin pizzas, replacing traditional crust.

No matter how you do it, pizza is a fun, cheap meal that the whole family can enjoy. We like putting pepperoni on our pizzas but when we don’t have it on hand, plain cheese is still a crowd pleaser!

7. Homemade Meatballs

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While there is nothing wrong with buying frozen meatballs and I often do for days when I need something quick and easy (they’re great throw-in the crockpot with some pasta sauce), I’ve found that in most cases it’s actually more affordable to make them yourself, although it does take a little bit of work.

There are many different varieties of meatball out there but the kind we make are similar to these. When it comes to what you serve meatballs with there are many different options. They are traditionally served in sauce over pasta, but you can also serve them with rice or in sub rolls.

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That concludes my list of 7 budget & kid-friendly dinners! I hope this list gives you some ideas for meal planning this week. As always I hope this post finds you doing well and until next time

Sending love & light,

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