When it comes to weeknight dinner, we’re all looking for something affordable, quick and easy, and satisfying (we’ve got to look forward to them all day, after all). These recipes hit all three criteria, with ease. You don’t have to drop major dough to make something delicious that can be on your table in an hour or less—save money by choosing cheaper proteins (we’re talking chicken, ground proteins, or vegetarian options) and time by making these dishes all in one pan, in your fave kitchen appliance, or via some of our top kitchen shortcuts. Whatever your style, these 70 cheap and easy meals will please your entire family without breaking the bank.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on dinner costs is to go for cheaper cuts of meat, or utilizing more expensive ones in creative ways. Try adding ground beef, turkey, or chicken to help bulk out old standbys, on the cheap. Try roasting a whole chicken (or buying a rotisserie chicken), then utilizing it for everything from pizza to tacos all week long. Try adding more expensive seafood or steak to pasta or rice to help make smaller, more affordable portions go further, like in our Creole jambalaya, our smoked salmon pasta, or our creamy steak fettuccine. It’s all about the way you use the protein that matters, not avoiding them altogether.
If you’ve been on the fence about certain kitchen appliances, like slow-cookers, air fryers, and Instant Pots, consider this your sign to take the plunge and get one. They help dinners come together SO fast, and truly, even we’re impressed with how often we use ours. We’ve got a number of creative recipes for them here, like our Crockpot white chicken chili, our air fryer chimichangas, or our Instant Pot chicken noodle soup, but check out our more in-depth lists for the air fryer (over 100 recipes!), Instant Pot, and Crockpot too.
Even if you’re not ready for another appliance, we bet you have some things in your kitchen already that’ll help you get dinner on the table fast, like sheet pans, a Dutch oven, and casserole dishes. We’ve included a number of our favorite recipes here, like our chicken pot pie casserole, our one-pot vegetarian chili mac, or our sheet pan chicken fajitas, but once you’ve got the basics down, feel free to get creative.
One of the best ways to save some money is to go meatless (and not just on Mondays). And we don’t mean by replacing proteins with all those high-priced meat substitutes (though we’re all about those sometimes)—no, instead we’re talking about making vegetarian meals out of cheap beans, tofu, and plants. Try our vegan lasagna, our creamy mushroom pasta, our tofu katsu curry, or our vegan crunchwrap to see how versatile and filling these meals can be.
Want more cheap and easy meals? Check out our favorite 5-ingredient meals, our top 30-minute meals, and food editor June’s entire Budget Eats series. You won’t believe what she comes up with for under $25!
The bell pepper is an excellent vessel for stuffing meat, rice, and, of course, cheese. It's strong enough to hold its shape in the oven, and the flavor is subtle enough to go well with just about anything. This is our favorite recipe, but the customization options are endless.
Get the Classic Stuffed Peppers recipe.
With only 5 ingredients, these black bean tostadas are the easiest and fastest meal to throw together. You can always include additional toppings like corn salsa, avocado ranch, or endless crunchy veggies like radishes or pickled red onions, but these are also delicious if you keep things simple, like we did here.
Get the Black Bean Tostadas recipe.
Want something awesome for dinner but don't want to spend your entire evening cooking and cleaning? Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice in Spanish) is the the perfect recipe. It's an easy one-pot meal that doesn't taste like one, and it tastes even better as leftovers.
Get the Arroz Con Pollo recipe.
An easy alternative to takeout, our simplified pad Thai recipe is designed to satisfy noodle cravings fast. We skipped some traditional ingredients (such as dried shrimp, tamarind, pressed tofu, and bean sprouts), opting for ingredients that you can pick up at your local grocery store.
Get the Pad Thai recipe.
We're so obsessed with Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme that we have not one, but TWO copycat recipes. And while we love our vegan Crunchwrap, we still have a special place in our hearts for the original meat-loving version. They're not Taco Bell prices, but they're still pretty dang close.
Got some leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken? This pizza is the PERFECT way to use it! Buffalo sauce is one of our favorite ways to doctor our leftovers, and if you've still got some leftover rotisserie chicken, you've got to try this combo in our Buffalo baked ziti recipe.
Smoked salmon pasta sounds really fancy, but the truth is it's one of the easiest and fastest dinners we've ever made. It comes together in just under 30 minutes, making it the perfect dish to whip up for a weeknight seafood dinner, but still good enough to impress your guests for holidays and celebrations.
Get the Smoked Salmon Pasta recipe.
This pasta went viral on TikTok, and for good reason! Roasting a block of feta with bursting tomatoes is amazing, and you can add things like shallots and smashed garlic to make it your own.
Get the Baked Feta Pasta recipe.
Fans of creamed spinach will absolutely love this hearty, creamy kale and gnocchi bake that puts the classic side dish front-and-center on your plate with gnocchi as the main attraction. It's quick to put together since the gnocchi cook right in the sauce, making them extra-creamy and delicious.
Get the Creamy Kale & Gnocchi Bake recipe.
Tilapia has a very mild fish taste and is a great way to get those non-fish eaters to love it. We cooked ours in plenty of butter, lemon, and garlic to make it bright and fresh and easy for everyone to enjoy. Baking it requires very little effort with zero risk of the fish sticking to your skillet or grill. A win win!
Get the Garlicky Lemon Baked Tilapia recipe.
Looking for a hearty weeknight dinner? Our smoky vegetarian chili mac is here to save the day! It all comes together in one pot, and it's SUPER versatile. Throw in your favorite bean and pasta shape, melt in your favorite cheese, and top with whatever you like (as long as it's crunchy!).
Get the One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac recipe.
If you're in a pinch you can sub bacon for the pancetta in this classic pasta dish, but we think it really does make a difference in the outcome. It doesn't take hours to simmer, but still comes out to be one of the best pasta sauces we've ever had. Be sure to top with lots of Pecorino and basil!
Get the Bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe.
In our attempt to copy the fan favorite from P.F. Chang's, we flavored ground chicken with hoisin sauce (a fermented bean paste that gives the chicken the quintessential Chinese-American flavor), soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, and sesame oil. Water chestnuts add a nice crunch here too.
Get the Copycat Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe.
Breakfast meets dinner in this marinara- and mozzarella-topped dish. Fittingly, the Italian word "affogato" means drowned, which explains the marinara topping. It lends this dish a vibe somewhere between a breakfast frittata and pizza, meaning it’s enjoyable for pretty much any meal of the day.
This dinner is the perfect fix for a busy weeknight. Only 5 ingredients and 1 skillet and you’re on your way! Allowing the shrimp some time to marinate adds an extra layer of flavor to really make those 5 ingredients stretch. But DON’T let that stop the imagination from flowing—just like you can swap the ingredients, you can add more as well.
Get the Shrimp & Snow Pea Stir Fry recipe.
Make no mistake: This slow cooker version isn't authentic, but it's quick, easy, flavorful, and filling. Mix and match your favorite toppings and feel free to sub in your favorite protein—pork, beef, or turkey would all be delicious. Just be sure to adjust your cook time accordingly. If you're looking for something more classic, check out our best-ever red pozole.
Get the Posole recipe.
The coconut milk and spice go so well together here, making a rich, but not heavy, sauce that really tastes and feels far more complicated than it is. The salmon simmers in the milk, keeping it very tender and flaky and extra flavorful. Spoon the sauce over the salmon a few times as it cooks to give it a nice coating.
Get the Coconut Curry Salmon recipe.
Rather than soy sauce, which a traditional Chinese-style fried rice would use, our Thai fried rice uses fish sauce to give this its signature funk. If you're a lover of spice, you'll appreciate the punch of Thai red chiles here: Use at your own discretion; they are potent in heat!
Get the Thai Fried Rice recipe.
If you are looking to spice up your routine chicken dinners, look no further. These chicken meatballs have a kick from a traditional kung pao sauce that gets most of its heat from dried red chiles, which you can always cut back on. These meatballs are filling on their own, but serving over rice will also help cut some of the heat!
Get the Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs recipe.
In this recipe, cauliflower gets mashed into a paste to create a light sauce for the pasta that adds a ton of flavor. It's simple, light, and perfect for when you want comfort without being weighed down by something overly rich. The toasted walnuts on top add a nice crunch and really complete the dish, but feel free to skip or swap for another nut.
It’s one of our favorite tricks at Delish: cooking all components of a dish—protein, carbs, vegetables—in a single skillet. Quick-cooking boneless skinless chicken breasts stay moist and tender thanks to pan-roasting and a tangy lemon-butter sauce. If you can't find small potatoes, feel free to cut up larger ones to about 1-inch pieces.
No matter where you stand on Chipotle, there's one thing we can all agree on: the chicken is darn good. We love a good copycat recipe and this one is spot on. The chipotle pepper and adobo sauce lends that authentic Chipotle taste we long for, and bonus? Guac isn't extra if you make it at home!
Get the Copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe.
There is nothing quite as comforting as a baked pasta dish. The sides get a little crispy and the topping of melty cheese is to die for. Here we changed up the classic penne alla vodka by adding in ground turkey. The result is a creamy pasta that satisfies every carb craving possible with a little extra boost of protein.
One bite and you'll forget that all you needed to pull off this fancy-tasting dish was garlic, lemon, and a fresh herb (parsley, basil, or chives all work, so use your favorite!).
Get the Garlicky Spaghetti recipe.
The sauce in this version uses ingredients we always have on hand in our kitchen—garlic, broth, soy sauce, lime juice, and Sriracha. While not traditional, this recipe hits the spot. For a more traditional version (with the addition of hoisin sauce), try our beef & broccoli stir-fry.
Get the Beef & Broccoli recipe.
Homemade chicken noodle soup is already easy to whip up, but tossing all of your ingredients in a slow cooker makes it even easier. Tip: If you make chicken soup and feel like it's lacking something, this can typically be not enough salt. Finish the soup with a pinch of flaky sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon for a brighter, punchier flavor.
This recipe starts on the stovetop for a perfect golden sear then finishes in the oven for the juiciest, most flavorful results. If you don't want to turn on your oven, you can do everything over the stovetop too!
Get the Lemon Pepper Chicken recipe.
We in the Delish Test Kitchen absolutely love a good stir fry, both for how creative you can be with them and how quick they can be to make. But sometimes, even stir frying is too much effort and you just want something you can set and forget, like this pepper steak recipe.
Get the Crock-Pot Pepper Steak recipe.
Our slow-cooker white chicken chili couldn't be easier, and we love the texture it takes on once the beans are partially mashed. It might feel weird to use a potato masher in your slow-cooker, but trust us, it's worth it! This hearty chili will keep you full all winter long.
Get the Crockpot White Chicken Chili recipe.
Shredded chicken tacos are the perfect way to spice up your taco Tuesday. This recipe is inspired by chicken tinga, a Mexican guisado (or stew) made of tender shredded chicken that's added to a tomato sauce spiked with chiles, onion, garlic, and spices. Top the tacos with cilantro, creamy avocado, and good squeeze of lime!
Get the Shredded Chicken Tacos recipe.
Using a slow-cooker is one of our favorite, easy ways to prepare chicken thighs. The gentle heat helps ensure that the thighs will be tender and juicy. AND the sauce, you'll be happy to know, doesn't need any precooking. It just gets poured right in and forgotten about until dinner time. 😉
Get the Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs recipe.
You can add all different types ingredients to a jambalaya like crawfish, chicken, okra or carrots but what absolutely most be present is perfectly cooked long grain rice and sausage, traditionally andouille. This is the base of our recipe but we also add some plump shrimp to round out the dish.
Get the Easy Creole Jambalaya recipe.
On the road to creativity here, we take two unexpected turns. First, we add sesame seeds to the breading for a nutty crust, crunchy enough to stand up to lots of sauce and cheese. Second, marinara gets upgraded with a scoop of harissa—a smoky Tunisian chili paste—for some heat and complex flavor. You might never make regular chicken Parm again.
This vegetarian chili is till every bit as warm, comforting, and filling as a classic beef chili. Three types of beans do the heavy lifting in the chili and "beef" it up. It's filled with warm spices, and a jalapeño adds a little extra heat. Serve it on a cold night with a slice of homemade cornbread, or on a hot one over a vegan hot dog.
Get the Vegetarian Chili recipe.
The fish—we use cod, but any flaky variety, like tilapia, works—marinates in a mixture of lime juice, chili powder, and cumin that will become your standard. But the real gem of this recipe is the cabbage slaw—don't skip it. It takes just a few minutes to toss together and its brightness is the perfect condiment to the spiced cod.
Get the Perfect Fish Tacos recipe.