Body + Mind is reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through some of the links on our site.
Making new recipes can be fun but expensive. You’re not alone if you need to stick with a limited weekly grocery budget. Most people look for coupons and shop during sales, but you can have more fun in the kitchen without breaking the bank. Check out these cheap, healthy dinner ideas to make daily meals more enjoyable.
Rice is one of the most affordable carbohydrates available at grocery stores. Buy a big bag to make the most of your purchase. You’ll have weeks of rice-based meals at your disposal. Mix a cup of cooked rice with a 50-cent can of veggies, plus a scrambled egg or two. They contain over 12 grams of protein per egg, so a single bowl will keep you full while adding extra nutrients to your diet.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, get a container of chicken breasts. If you slice them in half and freeze them in individual bags, they’ll stay fresh in your freezer for a few months. Defrost a bag in your fridge overnight to make a sheet pan dinner. If you bake your chicken breast on a sheet of tin foil alongside fresh broccoli florets and carrot slices, you’ll have an entire dinner finished in less than a half hour.
Stop by the tuna can aisle during your next grocery store trip. They’re often on sale and fit the tightest budgets. Mix a can with half a box of cooked pasta. If you add your favorite spices or sauces, you’ll easily make a delicious pasta dinner.
Tuna is full of unsaturated fats, which decrease the risk of some diseases related to too much saturated fats in daily diets. Enjoy the nutritious seafood as a cold or warm dinner.
Chicken breasts and thighs pair perfectly with sweet potatoes. Bake a few budget-friendly potatoes in your oven until they’re soft enough to slice in half. Top with shredded chicken, hot sauce and butter for a tasty meal. You’ll get plenty of fiber in each bite since sweet potatoes are naturally fibrous and packed with nutrients.
This is also a great dinner idea if you want to make some leftovers. The potatoes and chicken will store well in your fridge for a few days. Make a few simultaneously to meal prep without any extra effort.
Regular tortillas are primarily sources of carbohydrates. They have little nutritional value, but you could make them healthier by opting for whole wheat tortillas instead. Whole wheat products contain more of the nutrients that become lost in the bleaching process.
Use whole wheat tortillas to make quesadillas with your favorite cheese. It’s a cheap, healthy dinner idea that works if you have at least a few dollars to spend. When you have a bit more, try getting sprouted grain tortillas. They’re healthier options than whole wheat because they contain vitamins C and B along with digestive enzymes that are easy on blood sugar levels.
Chili is a classic cheap meal. You just need pinto beans, chili spices and beef broth. Add a pound of ground turkey to increase the protein in your dinner. Ground turkey is lower in fat than ground beef, so you’ll have a healthier dinner if you’re trying to cut down on your fat intake. Ground turkey averages $3.27 per pound, which could significantly cut down your grocery bill if you’re currently buying the average $5.35 pound of ground beef for multiple weekly meals.
People often make stuffed bell peppers for special occasions, but they’re actually a cheap meal you can make any time. Get one to two bell peppers per person and stuff them with cooked rice, marinara sauce and your preferred ground protein. If you don’t have room in the budget for ground beef, substitute pinto or black beans.
They only have to cook for 15 minutes in your oven if you cook your rice and brown your beef ahead of time. Stuffed peppers also freeze well. Make a casserole dish full of them and you’ll have dinner ready for a week.
The pasta and veggie aisle can lead to an incredible dinner. Combine a box of pasta and two cans of beans with just a few dollars. Afterward, you bring them home and stop by a butcher’s shop for a whole ham. The upfront cost will be slightly higher than a few pounds of ground beef, but you’ll get numerous pounds of ham you can cube.
Cubed ham, peas and pasta have everything you need in a meal. You’ll get healthy fats, vitamins, carbs and sodium. Save the leftover cubed ham pieces for salads and casseroles. They’ll also freeze for future use or taste incredible in soup.
Bacon is an excellent breakfast treat and a healthy source of protein when consumed in moderation. 100 grams or ⅔ cups includes potassium and magnesium alongside protein, sodium and iron.
Fry a pound of bacon in an air fryer until they’re cooked slightly under the crispiness you prefer. Wash and shred a pound of Brussels sprouts before frying them for a few extra minutes with the bacon broken into pieces. You’ll have a savory salad ready to go in minutes and able to serve at least two to three people.
Beans aren’t just good for dips, casseroles and burritos. They also make the foundation of many soups. Get a few cans of pinto beans and vegetable broth when you’re hungry in the evening. Warm them in a pot along with spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano. It’s a protein-packed soup that’s perfect for long nights and those last few days before your next paycheck lands in your bank account.
There are plenty of cheap, healthy dinner ideas you can try when you want to change up your diet. Explore the possibilities of pinto beans, different meats and veggies. You won’t have to overspend to eat something different or get more nutrients in your daily meals.