7 Cheap, Easy Dinner Ideas

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The majority of us are on a budget, and sometimes it can be difficult to live within those means, especially when you have a family.


One of the things I used to struggle with was sticking to our grocery budget…..because food is just insanely expensive! But, I’ve finally learned how to stretch our budget while also being able to make delicious, filling meals for my family. So, I’m sharing 7 cheap, easy meals that you can make for under $100!

First things first, there are a few key spices you’ll need on hand for most of these recipes:
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Chili Powder


Along with the spices mentioned above, you’ll need:
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Olive Oil
  • Crockpot
  • Instant Pot


Both the Crockpot & Instant Pot are essential kitchen appliances, in my opinion. It’s just so easy and convenient to be able to dump everything in and go on with your day until dinner is ready. If you don’t want to buy both appliances, the Instant Pot does have a slow cooking setting, but I do enjoy having both items in my kitchen!


Okay, now onto the recipes! Each of  these recipes yields enough food for a family of 4 (in my family, only 3 of us eat, so we usually have enough leftovers for lunch the next day).


Crockpot Mexican Chicken

  • 1 Lb or 2-3 Chicken Breasts
  • Taco Seasoning Packet
  • Can of Rotel
  • Spray Crockpot with cooking spray
  • Place chicken breasts inside
  • Pour taco seasoning and Rotel on top of chicken
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or until chicken is cooked through
  • When done, shred and serve over rice or in tortillas

Hobo Dinner

  • 1 Lb Beef
  • 2-3 Medium Potatoes, diced
  • Mini Corn-on-the-Cob
  • 1 Onion, diced (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 400ºF
  • Lay out foil sheets (one for each person you are feeding)
  • In a bowl, season beef with your choice of seasonings (I use sea salt, pepper, and Lawry’s)
  • Mix seasonings with beef, then create 3-4 meatballs for each foil sheet
  • Put 1 tsp Olive Oil on each foil sheet and place meatballs
  • Take 1 ear of mini corn and put it in the middle of the foil sheet (with meatballs placed around it)
  • Dice 2-3 medium potatoes and put about 2 handfuls on each sheet
  • Sprinkle everything on the sheet with salt and pepper and fold the foil into packets
  • Place the packets on a baking sheet and cook for 1 hr or until meatballs are cooked through

Crockpot Pulled BBQ Chicken

  • 1 Lb or 2-3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce
  • Spray Crockpot with cooking spray
  • Place chicken breasts inside
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pour bottle of BBQ sauce on top
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or until chicken is cooked through
  • When done, shred and serve on buns or Hawaiian Rolls


Baked Mac & Cheese
  • 1 Box of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese ( I use sharp cheddar)
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 1 tbsp Butter, melted.
  • Preheat over to 375ºF
  • Prepare Kraft dinner as directed on box
  • Drain, then stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese, sour cream, and cayenne pepper
  • Spray casserole dish with cooking spray and dump mac & cheese inside
  • Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • Melt butter and crush Ritz crackers, mix them together in a bowl, then sprinkle on top of mac & cheese
  • Bake for 20 minutes

Texas Toast Pizzas

  • 1 Box (6-8 ct.) Frozen Texas Toast
  • 1 Jar Pizza Sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Pepperonis (or any other topping you’d like)
  • Cook toast as directed on box
  • Take toast out of the oven and top with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings
  • Place toast back in the oven on BROIL for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted


*I really like these as a weekend meal or even as a lunch option. My 3 year old really enjoys helping make them and I like that you can make as few or as many as you’d like without the risk of wasting ingredients. In fact, these ingredients usually make 2 meals for my family!

Lemon Pepper Pork Chops

  • 3-4 Pork Chops (thick cut)
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • Season both sides of pork chops with suggested seasonings (or any others that you may want)
  • Put a little olive oil in a deep skillet (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
  • Place pork chops in the skillet and cook on medium/high heat for 5 minutes on each side, until browned
  • Once both sides are browned, remove skillet and put in enough water to come up to the sides of the pork chops (I always remove the skillet in order to let the oil stop bubbling before I pour water over it. Then, I place it under the faucet so I can just eyeball the amount of water, since it depends on how thick the pork chops are)
  • Return skillet to the stove, cover, reduce heat to low/medium and simmer for 10 minutes (when the pork chops are done, I cut them in half to check if they’re done but also to let the juices sink in a bit)


*I typically serve these with stuffing and green beans, but you can substitute any sides your family likes!

Seasoned Chicken

  • 1 Lb or 2-3 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • Preheat oven to 450ºF
  • Spray baking dish with cooking spray, then place chicken breasts inside
  • Cover chicken with olive oil
  • In a small bowl, mix seasonings together
  • Sprinkle on top of chicken
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through

* I like to serve this chicken with roasted potatoes, vegetables, or rice. It’s also really great in a salad, so you can make more for lunches the next day!

Instant Pot Chili

  • 1 Lb Beef
  • Kidney Beans (15 oz can)
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz can)
  • Tomato Sauce (8 oz can)
  • 1 Packet Chili Seasoning
  • Set Instant Pot to Sauté mode and cook beef until pink is gone
  • Dump in kidney beans, tomatoes, sauce, and seasoning and mix well (DO NOT drain cans!)
  • Set Instant Pot to Manual and set the timer to 10 minutes
  • Let steam release naturally then serve


*This recipe always makes enough for dinner plus lunch the next day! It’s also super easy and quick, for nights when you don’t have a lot of time to cook a meal.


And there you have it! These are 7 meals that I make multiple times a month. They’re cheap, easy, and delicious…..everything that’s important when cooking for a family!

And to make things even easier, I’ve included a shopping list with everything you’ll need, so you can just download, print, and go grab all the ingredients for the meals! Enjoy!


FREE Printable Grocery List



7 Cheap, Easy Dinner Ideas for the busy mom on a budget!