Creating delicious and frugal dinners for your family doesn’t have to be a challenge if you have all the tools to make it happen. This creative Mega List of 100 Frugal Dinner Recipes won’t leave you wondering “what’s for dinner?”
Photo Credit: © nickola_che / Dollar Photo Club
Like most folks, I have a few tried and true frugal recipes that I work into the meal plan fairly regularly. But when I get into a meal planning rut, I rely on my favorites almost a little too often and we get bored real fast.
The most difficult part of meal planning is taking the time to figure out what to make week after week in order to keep dinner time interesting, but within budget.
So I thought I’d save us both a little work and create a huge list of frugal recipe ideas that’ll help give us some inspiration and save a little time when creating our meal plans.
🍽️ Why These Recipes Work
Frugal – Of course, they are. That’s why you’re here. These recipes use inexpensive ingredients, but taste like a million bucks!
Easy – Frugal meals tend to rely on simple ingredients that are staples in your pantry. Odds are, you won’t be dealing with hard-to-find items that require a lot of effort to locate.
Similar Ingredients – This allows you to shop smart and not just buy one thing for a recipe and then you are stuck with a leftover jar that you never use again.
Meal Prep Friendly – A lot of these recipes are meal prep friendly. Look out for those that have veggies that you can pre chop, meat that you can pre-cook or pull out of the freezer like the Air Fryer Shredded Chicken I made just for freezer cooking.
🍲 Dinner For All Occasions
I’ve combed through the ingredients list of every recipe below and included them because I consider them to be frugal and have one or more of the following qualities:
– Interesting meal
– Low number of ingredients
– If high number of ingredients, most are herbs or spices
I’ve sectioned them off into categories to make browsing a bit easier. And I didn’t forget about my vegetarian friends – there’s a meatless section included as well!
Each recipe will have it’s own guidelines as to how to save and store leftovers, but I wanted to give you some general tips.
- Most leftovers will last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Each recipe is a little different, and some ingredients may spoil faster than others. Use your best judgment.
- Doubling batches and freezing the leftovers is a great way to save time and money later. You will always have meals to go and handy whenever you need them. Print the Free Freezer Labels so you can mark the containers or bags.
- Keep plenty of food storage containers on hand. You only want a glass or plastic containers with snug fitting lids. All food needs to be kept airtight until it’s time to serve. We show you our favorite 10 Best Meal Prep Containers to keep your food good as long as possible.
❗ Expert Tips
Freeze Herbs – Don’t throw away herbs that wilt.. maximize them before they go bad! Freeze them yourself! All you have to do is buy fresh herbs or pick them from your garden. Wash, dry and freeze the parsley, cilantro, etc. Then when you are ready to use, chop some up, and mix in your meal.
Buy Frozen Produce – Instead of buying fresh fruit, consider reaching for the frozen alternative. You will find that most fruit is frozen at its peak. So, if you buy a large bag of berries, you can use it for smoothies, mixing in muffins, etc. It will taste just as good, and can save money if your fruit is not on sale. The same thing goes for vegetables.
Meat Free – Consider going meat free a single day each week, or even every other week for one night. Cutting out meat helps to save money as well. Meats are some of the most expensive things you buy at the market. Consider a meatless soup, chili, or even a pasta dish.
Broth – This is one way you can maximize your leftover bones from chicken, etc. Make your own bone broth! Then, you can use it or freeze the broth until you are ready to enjoy. Here is my 5 minute bone broth recipe!
Tomato Paste, Ginger, Etc. – Don’t throw away the leftovers you don’t fully use. You might only use a teaspoon of tomato paste out of the can. Instead of throwing rest of the can away, freeze it. Place dollops in ice cube trays, and then freeze for up to 6 months! This works for shredded or grated ginger, garlic, etc.
Fruit – If you bought too much fruit, consider drying it in the dehydrator or the oven to keep the food longer like we did for the Lemon Zest and the Dried Strawberries. If you don’t love dried strawberries, make Frozen Smoothie Packs that normally cost you 59 Cents, but since you already have the food and it is at risk of going bad, make the smoothies and it won’t cost you anything more…it’s better than tossing the fruit out.
Maximize Savings At The Grocery Store
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach
- Buy dry goods instead of canned like prepping your beans instead of buying canned varieties.
- Consider homemade instead of buying boxed foods like the 15 Cent Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packs or Homemade Microwave Popcorn for 12 Cents. I even like to make my own Homemade Creamer.
- Maximize coupons, cash back, and apps like Checkout 51.
- Buy foods when they are on sale. I like to plan my meals around the circular sale ads and know how to buy meat at its lowest prices.
- Make sure you take the time to do a Grocery Comparison Chart to see which grocery store will save you the most money. There are always surprises.
🥔 Frugal Cooking FAQs
There you have it! 100 Frugal Recipes! If you were to try every one of them, you would have over three months worth of recipes to try while sticking to a frugal budget.
There are tons of recipes you can make on a very limited budget. Dry beans, rice recipes, and even pasta are great ways to fill you up and stretch money. Take the time to make homemade, and don’t buy canned beans, or rice kits if you really want to stretch the dollar.
Spaghetti, stovetop burgers, chili, and baked pork chops are all easy dinners to prep. You will find tons of recipes in my list to help you feel confident in your cooking skills.
To stretch leftovers you might find that adding beans, mushrooms, or even rice to stretch your leftovers. Look at what you have, and give it a try by mixing some ingredients together.
1. Skip processed foods – they cost tons of money.
2. Buy dry beans, bulk rice, oats, etc. These are things you use often.
3. Look for meat on sale.
4. Use beans, mushrooms, or even rice as filler to mix in with meat to stretch the dish.
5. Buy items that are on sale, and pair with coupons if you can.
Both of these can and will help you save money. I also love making slow cooker freezer meals for easy dump-and-go dinners. Meal prep helps to cut down on me being unsure what to make for breakfast, lunches, and more.
Combine some ingredients, shop for sales, and prep freezer meals and you will be well on your way to saving a lot of money on your grocery bill.
📌 Planner Tools For Success
If you are an uber planner here are a couple of great tools to help!
Our Organizational Binder has a Menu Planner and a Grocery List to print out and help you plan away!
Our Six Kitchen Printables is the MEGA set for you if you are a hardcore planner. You will love the pantry and refrigerator inventory to use before you plan your week’s grocery list.
If you love cheap vegetarian meals or have a dinner recipe that you love, please feel free to share it in the comments below! Even though 100 recipes is quite the list, it’s always great to have personal recommendations.