17 Affordable Dinner Ideas

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham.  I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good!  This recipe makes a lot!

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham. I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good! This recipe makes a lot!

Our grocery budget is a monster.  Do y’all food allergy parents know what I mean?  I mean, it’s CRAZY!  And ya know what makes it even crazier?  We don’t even eat extravagantly.  Our safe foods are just THAT expensive.

I sat down and tried to brainstorm the most budget friendly tried and true recipes I could think of.  We are in Financial Peace University again as table leaders and really have budgeting on the brain.  I really want to cut our grocery bill each month.

My recipes might start looking a lot like these from now on since I’m trying to trim the giant grocery bill.

(These prices are what I pay at the grocery store and I don’t price out every item in this list.  Some are just my best guesstimates.)

If you want to get ahead of the menu planning game and like freezer cooking, the recipes that have stars are freezer friendly.

Meatless

  • Pineapple Fried Rice (1-2 pineapple cups {$1}, 2-3 carrots & 1-2 zucchinis {$2.50}, omit ham- can get 2 dinners from this & possibly 1 lunch)
  • Veggie Pizza** (1/2 bag Daiya {$2.50}, 1/3 green pepper {33 cents}, 1/3 green onion, olives)
  • Refried Beans, Rice & “Cheese” Burritos**
  • Rice & Beans (and maybe fruit to round out the meal)
  • Bean & “Cheese” Quesadillas (use homemade refried beans or black beans)
  • Veggie Spaghetti (1 zucchini {$1} & 1 carrot, sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

Chicken

Turkey

  • Picadillo (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & rice)
  • Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & approximately 1/2 bag of tater tots {$1.50})
  • Spaghetti (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50},  sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

The chicken tacos are probably the most expensive dinner on this list because of the type of chicken we like and because of the fresh toppings.  I can plan another dinner or two that also uses those fresh produce ingredients like nachos or soup and salad night.  That helps lower the cost of the grocery bill & helps fresh produce not to go to waste.  I can also stretch the budget by stocking up on the chicken when it goes on sale.

I also buy dried beans.  It’s easy to soak and cook the beans.  I think I get 6-8 cups from one bag of dried black beans (my memory is a little fuzzy on this number.)  The beans cost $1.18.  Much cheaper than canned!  I freeze my beans in one cup portions and pull them out as needed.  A quick defrost in the microwave and the beans are good to go!

Do you have some food allergy & budget friendly dinner ideas?  Please share in the comments below.

Thanks!

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

14 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners

Dairy, Egg & Beef Free Recipes

Dairy, Egg & Beef Free Recipes

Here’s our menu plan for the second half of January.

1. Nana’s BBQ Pork Ribs, Baked Potatoes & Roasted Carrots

2. Crockpot BBQ Chicken on Homemade Rolls & Steamed Broccoli

3. BBQ Chicken Nachos (Use leftover chicken from day 2)

4. Simple Ingredient 6 Minute Soup & Bread & Vegan Butter

5. Sticky Chicken, Ranch Mashed Potatoes & Sautéed Zucchini

6. Veggie Pizza

7. Veggie Spaghetti (See photo below for recipe)

8. Flex Meal

9. Slowcooker Vegetarian Black Bean & Rice Soup with Lime & Cilantro

10. Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

11. Easy Chicken Tacos (use 100 Days of Real Food homemade taco mix- click here for link)

12. Raspberry Glazed Pork Chops & Eat Your Veggies Casserole

13. Creamy Potato Soup without the Cream & Homemade Biscuits

14. Turkey Meatball Sliders on Homemade Rolls (see link for rolls on day 2), French Fries & Steamed
Spinach

Here’s how Nana makes ribs:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Salt and pepper ribs. Wrap ribs completely in foil. Put ribs on a cookie sheet and add a little water to the sheet to keep ribs moist. Cook at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Raise temp to 350 degrees and cook for another hour. Take ribs out. Open foil. Add bbq sauce to ribs and broil for 5-10 minutes, until bbq sauce is warmed.)

I’m also still on the hunt for an easy but yummy turkey meatball recipe for Day 14. Please share in the comments below!

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Coconut Oil Biscuits

Coconut Oil Biscuits

Crockpot BBQ Chicken on Homemade Rolls!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken on Homemade Rolls!

1 Package of Chicken Breasts, 5 Ideas for Lunch!

Our “big grocery” day is every Monday. Every Monday, SG and I go to Aldi’s and HyVee and any other place I decide we need to go for groceries.

For some reason, I cannot get us ready and out of the house before 10 am. I don’t know why. Seriously, I’m so slow at getting us out of the house unless we have a doctor’s appointment. Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me?

I digress.

Leaving at 10 o’clock (ish) puts us at a dangerous spot— we end up shopping at lunchtime when we are hungry! And y’all know we just can’t go to any drive thru. I pack snacks for SG, but by the time we come home we are both hungry.

A few weeks ago, I started buying one package of Just Bare chicken breasts on grocery day. The minute we drag the groceries in, I preheat the oven. In less than 25 minutes, we have yummy and fresh baked chicken breasts.

Here’s the best part- we use them for lunches several days in a row!

Here’s how I use our chicken breasts for lunch. Look for how I bake the chicken at the end of the post.

1. Chicken Salad Sandwiches. This uses a lot of the chicken so I don’t do this as much. I usually get 2-3 breasts per pack. I use about 2 breasts for this recipe.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

2. BBQ Chicken Nachos. This is my current absolute favorite! I eat this for lunch several times a week. I even bribed SG into taking a bite for the cost of just one skittle… and she LOVED it! (The bbq chicken nachos and the skittle.) She had bbq chicken nachos today and declared she wanted bbq chicken nachos for lunch every day.

Ingredients:

  • Safe Tortilla Chips
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
  • Cooked and cubed chicken

Directions:

  • Spread out chips on microwave safe plate. Top with Daiya shreds.
  • Microwave until “cheese” is melted. I microwave mine for 20-30 seconds.
  • Chop chicken and put in a bowl. Pour in some bbq sauce and coat the chicken.
  • Spread the bbq chicken over the nachos. Serve with additional bbq sauce for dipping, if desired.
Preparing the nachos with LOTS of Daiya mozzarella shreds!

Preparing the nachos with LOTS of Daiya mozzarella shreds!

BBQ Chicken Nachos

BBQ Chicken Nachos

Alternatively, plain chicken and “cheese” nachos with Daiya cheddar shreds are yummy, too, and are served for lunch in our house quite a bit.

"Plain" Chicken and Daiya Cheddar Shreds Nachos.  And a jeweled three year old's hand.

“Plain” Chicken and Daiya Cheddar Shreds Nachos. And a jeweled three year old’s hand.

3. Chicken Quesadillas. Here’s a link that describes in more detail how I make these. You can be so creative with quesadillas. SG loves plain chicken and Daiya cheese quesadillas. Anything can be added to quesadillas: onions, peppers, ham, carrots, salsa, rice, beans…whatever you want! SG has quesadillas for lunch at least twice a week.

4. I use the chicken as I would at dinner. I buy these microwaveable tater tots and they are great for quick lunches. I can quickly serve her baked chicken, tater tots and some fruit for lunch. Easy peasy!

5. Chicken, Rice, & Beans. Occasionally, while the chicken is cooking, I’ll make a quick pot of black beans, Spanish style. (I promise I’ll share my recipe soon.) While the beans simmer away, the chicken bakes, and I throw some rice in my rice cooker. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not. And I can eat leftovers for lunch for a few days. And that’s the best!

Here’s how I bake chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive Oil or Olive Oil Spray (I use the spray)
  • Sea Salt
  • Adobo Seasoning

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Use a 9×9 pyrex & spray the bottom with the olive oil spray.
  • Put the chicken in the pyrex. Spray the top of the chicken. Season with salt and adobo. Flip chicken over. Spray again. Repeat seasoning.
  • Bake for 11 minutes. Turn the chicken. Bake for another 10-13 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked completely.
Olive Oil Spray

Olive Oil Spray

Raw chicken seasoned and ready to bake!

Raw chicken seasoned and ready to bake!

Baked and lightly seasoned chicken.  The adobo gives it just the right flavor.

Baked and lightly seasoned chicken. The adobo gives it just the right flavor.

Do you have any yummy and easy ideas for lunches? Please share. We love new recipes!