Cheap Meals When Money is Tight

Between work, the kids' sports, school and homework, 3 dogs, and trying to keep the house semi-clean, I feel like I am always tired and running behind.

And the last thing tired busy moms feel like doing at the end of a long day is making dinner for everyone. 

And when money is tight it is challenging to come up with dinners that the kids will like and are filling as well.

I have collected some favorite dinner ideas that are budget-friendly, healthy, and delicious. 

These are all cheap and easy dinner recipes for tired busy moms who really do not feel like cooking dinner. Again. 😏.

Quick And Cheap Dinners To Make Your Family When Money Is Tight 

1. Chili Mac and Cheese


This is one of those cheap and easy family dinners that even picky eaters will eat.

You can use packaged mac and cheese or your favorite homemade macaroni and cheese. Boil the macaroni like normal, then add in the chili and simmer. Add the cheese sauce, blend well, and simmer for a few more minutes.

(We eat mostly vegetarian meals by choice so I get the meatless chili for this recipe.) 

If I have rice in the pantry, I will add that in as well.

Add some quick rolls that you pop in the oven, and an easy side dish like veggies, fruit, or salad.

And voila! An easy healthy cheap weeknight dinner everyone will love!

And if you want to add ground beef try this easy chili mac recipe with ground beef.

2. Pizza Waffles

Photo: Ready Set Eat

Pizza Waffles are a kid favorite meal at our house! It is kind of a twist on the whole English muffin pizza idea. 

I tried this recipe for the first time a couple of years ago, (think I came across this recipe in a magazine) and the boys loved it. 

Go figure that pizza sauce and cheese on waffles would make them happy. But it does, and I am not about to argue. Dinner cannot get any easier than this recipe!

To keep things on the healthy side, I will add either a veggie or a salad and cut-up fruit.

There are a couple of ways to make waffle pizzas. The lazy frozen waffle pizzas way (which I love, ha!) and the biscuit dough in waffle iron way. 

Make Pizza Waffles Using Frozen Waffles 

1. Toast the waffles in the toaster like normal (preheat oven to 450 degrees F)

2. Place the toasted waffles on a shallow cooking pan 

3. Cover the waffles with pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni ( optional)

4. Bake 8 for -10 minutes or until the waffles are crispy and the cheese is melted.

 Pizza Waffles (Using a Waffle Maker and Dough)

1. Preheat the waffle iron (spray oil on before heating) 

2. Use crescent roll dough to make 4 rectangles

3. PlaceMozzarellaa Cheese and pepperoni in each rectangle

4. Fold over and pinch to seal each rectangle

5. Place each rectangle dough on the preheated waffle iron, close, and cook for 5 minutes

6. Dip the pizzas in pizza sauce (or any sauce you prefer) and ENJOY!

3. Tofu and Black Beans Tacos 

Photo: From A Chef's Kitchen

My boys and my daughter like tofu. Honestly, they really do. And this is one of my favorite healthy budget-friendly meal to make my family.

(My kids also love these plant-based protein tofu popsicles ) (do they know these are tofu popsicles? Nope.)

I use extra firm tofu (which I usually buy at Trader Joe's). I drain and cut the tofu into small strips and add them to a soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, and pepper marinade. 

You can feel free to use any spices you like, add garlic, onion, cilantro, or anything you like. 😊

Then let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours. 

You can prepare the tofu and marinade in the morning or the night before, and let it marinate throughout the day. Then when you are ready to make the Tofu and Black Bean Tacos, all you have to do is take the marinated tofu out of the fridge and it will be ready to cook.

In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the seasoned tofu. I use a low flame and cook the tofu until it is pretty firm. Usually about 25 minutes or so. I like my tofu really firm, so I probably cook it a bit longer than most.

You can add in 1-2 cans of black beans when the tofu is almost done cooking. Let the tofu and beans simmer together for about 15 minutes.

Fill warmed tortillas with the tofu black bean filling and top with cheese and any taco toppings you like.

Add rice and veggies or a green salad for a healthy inexpensive plant-based protein dinner everyone will love!

4. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Photo: Domestic Superhero

This is one of my favorite easy comfort food weeknight dinners to make when the weather gets cool.  It's a cheap healthy kid-friendly dinner everyone in my family loves. 

If your kids don't like tomato soup, chicken noodle soup is yummy too. Or if they do not like soup in general, cut-up fruit, salads, or sweet potato fries are healthy sides to go with grilled cheese.

I keep the grilled cheese sandwiches simple and kid-friendly, but if you want some fancy grilled cheese inspiration, check out these decadent gourmet grilled cheese sandwich ideas😍

5. Sliced Cucumber and Tomato Salad With Pasta

This is one of the hubby's recipes and it is so so good. 

He slices up cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes. Then he adds generous amounts of olive oil, vinegar, and salt. 

I kid you not, this easy cucumber salad is delicious and makes a great appetizer paired with crackers.

Add an easy simple pasta and garlic bread for a delicious budget-friendly weeknight dinner.

6.  Ground Beef and Rice 

Photo: Cook The Story

This simple 2-ingredient ground beef with rice recipe makes a filling cheap quick meal you can feed your family when money is tight.

Cook crumbled ground beef in a skillet until browned. Add spices or veggies if you like. Then mix the hamburger crumbles with cooked rice. 

Add broccoli on the side for a healthy quick meal. And soy sauce on the hamburger and rice mix tastes delicious!

This simple ground beef and rice recipe is super cheap to make and one of the best dinners to feed your family on a tight budget.

7. Croissant Pepperoni and Cheese Roll-Ups

Photo: Taste of Home

If you have a package of refrigerated croissant dough, then you can make a delicious quick dinner in minutes that everyone will love.

Unroll the croissant dough, and fill each one with cheese and pepperoni slices. Roll up each croissant triangle and pinch close the edges. Place on a baking pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees.

@2023 All Rights Reserved.

@2023 All Rights Reserved.