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Home » Food & Drink, Save Money, Summer of Saving

Cheap Meals: What are your Favorite Cheap Dinner Recipes?

Last updated by on 5 Comments

You’ve had a healthy, filling, and cheap breakfast and lunch and made it through until dinner, with no unhealthy, costly snacks needed. It is time to truly reward yourself.

Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. Every dinner my wife and I construct is fit for royalty – a feast of delicious, organic, filling, healthy ingredients. The kind of meal that leaves you full until the waking hours of the morning – yet not that gross Thanksgiving kind of full. The kind of meal that makes you truly appreciate the fusion of culture and food variety available to us in the 21st century. Great food is indeed something to celebrate.

Great food also does not have to be expensive, as you’ll see outlined here (and later, taste, hopefully).

Here are two of my favorite cheap dinner recipes, and then I’d love to see yours.

G.E.’s Tuna Curry:

This dish is a personal favorite because the combination of everything produces some wonderful flavors. If you are vegan or want a cheaper version, simply make without the tuna, and you could add in 1 cup walnuts ($0.36) for added protein/good fats.

This dish is a great lunch or dinner, but it’s a little on the richer side, so I prefer it as a dinner.

This recipe will result in 2 large portion or 3 medium portion servings.

cheap dinnerIngredients:

  • 1 can of tuna ($1.33)
  • 3/4 cup Costco dry organic quinoa ($0.63)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 bottle (per your tastes) of Trader Joe Thai Red Curry Sauce ($2.09 for 3/4 bottle)
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe frozen bell peppers ($0.56)
  • 1 cup of broccoli, chopped ($0.75)
  • 2 organic carrots, chopped ($0.26)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped ($0.25)
  • 1/2 cup of peas or snow peas ($0.40)
  • 1 Tbsp Kirkland (Costco) extra virgin olive oil ($0.09)

Total cost: $6.35

Total cost per serving: $2.11 – $3.17 per serving

Preparation Instructions (total cook/prep time: 15 min.): 

  1. Cook Quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in separate saucepan saute peppers, carrots, celery and broccoli in olive oil until soft.
  3. Add peas, tuna and red curry sauce. Heat until sauce bubbles.
  4. Serve over quinoa.
  5. Eat!

G.E.’s Creamy Red Lentil Soup (Lebanese Style)

Soups, are a cheap dinner seekers best friend.

On a per-serving basis, it’s hard to find other dishes that compete with a good, hearty soup. And if you cook them right, it’s hard to compete on taste as well.

One of my favorite soups, that I’ve been making for over 10 years is lentil soup. I first had red lentil soup at a Lebanese restaurant in college, with my future wife (that restaurant went on to cater our cheap wedding).

From there, we tried to cook it on our own, with mixed success, until eventually perfecting the recipe.

The recipe below makes 4 good-sized servings. A salad or cheese on the side and a glass of red wine are perfect complements to it.

cheap dinner recipesIngredients:

  • 2 cups of red lentils ($2.30)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped ($0.75)
  • 1-2 organic carrots, finely chopped ($0.25)
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped ($0.25)
  • 3 Tbsp Kirkland (Costco) extra virgin olive oil ($0.27)
  • 1-1.5 teaspoons cumin ($0.05)
  • 1-1.5 teaspoons ground coriander ($0.05)
  • ½ tsp ground chili pepper ($0.05)
  • Bunch of celery leaves, chopped (price included with celery stalks)
  • 9 cups of water with 2 veggie bouillon cubes ($0.60)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice ($0.12)
  • Pepper to taste ($0.03)

Total cost: $4.72

Total cost per serving: $1.18

Preparation Instructions (total prep/cook time: 45 minutes):

  1. In a large saucepan saute the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil. Stir in the cumin, coriander and chili pepper until onion is browned.
  2. Add the lentils, celery leaves, water, and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a total cook time of 40 minutes.
  3. Stir every 10 minutes to prevent burning/clumping on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add lemon juice, pepper and additional water if needed to thin the soup.
  5. Eat!

Your Favorite Cheap Dinner Recipes?

The goal of the entire Summer of Saving series is to have everyone contribute to create a resource for others.

So please share your favorite cheap dinner recipes, ingredient lists, cost of ingredients, and how to make the meal so that we can all benefit and share in your awesomeness!

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


5 Comments »
  • Vicki says:

    I love your site and your recipes. I was excited when first reading your site to learn that you were a vegetarian. Then I came to this article. I have to point out that fish is not part of a vegetarian diet! (It is, however, part of a pescatarian diet.) As a 24-year vegetarian, it’s a thorn in my side when people describe themselves as vegetarian when in fact they still eat animals (fish count, too!). True vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, but NO animals of any sort. Vegans don’t do the eggs and dairy OR the animals. But if you’re eating fish, unfortunately, you’re neither of these.

  • kt says:

    Are these dry lentils? Split red lentils? I usually see them in bulk, dry. Not sure about other varieties. Thanks- these both look delicious. I’m going to try the curried quinoa this week.

  • Margo says:

    We do TUNA FISH with green pepper,tomatoes and onions chopped up and mixed together on the stove served with rice…and we also make CORNED BEEF with tomatoes and onions chopped up and ketchup all mixed and heated on the stovetop served with rice…and we prepare also HAMBURGER MEAT the same way substituting the corned beef over rice as well.

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