30 Frugal Dinner Ideas

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These 30 frugal dinner ideas each cost less than $1 per serving. Add a few of these healthy dinner recipes to your next meal plan to help stick to your monthly food budget.

Blue pot with text: 30 frugal dinner recipes less than $1 per serving

Many people struggle to provide their families with good food on a tight budget. I often hear from people who are looking for frugal, healthy dinner recipes to help keep their food spending in check. As a busy work-at-home mom, I get it.

Fortunately, homemade food is usually less expensive than its store-bought counterpart. If you make the commitment to cook most of your food from scratch, you’ll be able to zero in on a grocery budget that works for your family.

I’ve gathered a collection of frugal dinner ideas that each cost less than $1 per serving. By plugging one or two of these healthy recipes into your plan of weeknight dinners, you’ll bring down your monthly food budget and add some variety to your dinner menu. A little meal prep goes a long way, and it helps to have lots of easy dinner ideas ready to go each week.

Visit my post for detailed guidance about how to meal plan. Planning ahead is the key to enjoying frugal, healthy meals.

30 Frugal Dinner Ideas

These healthy dinner recipes include something for everyone. From hearty soups and salads to casseroles and Instant Pot recipes, this list will add lots of variety to your frugal dinner menu.

Vegetarian Cassoulet
This Vegetarian Cassoulet is such a hearty meatless skillet dinner recipe! Beans, leeks, carrots, and celery make the base of this delicious meal.
$.88 per serving
Click here for the recipe
This vegan cassoulet is such a cozy meal!
Healthy Crockpot Chili
This healthy Crockpot chili is such an easy vegan dinner recipe for a busy night. It's full of beans and veggies, and it's finished with lemon juice, chili powder, and cumin for a delicious combination of flavors. ($.69 per serving) 
Click here for the recipe
Healthy vegan slow cooker chili
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
This Instant Pot butternut squash soup is a quick, easy recipe for fall. This is so much easier than roasting butternut squash in a sheet pan since the Instant Pot does all the work for you.
$.89 per one-cup serving
Click here for the recipe
This Instant Pot butternut squash soup is a quick, easy recipe for fall. It’ll make the perfect healthy addition to your holiday table.
Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
This vegetarian enchilada casserole is an easy, flavorful recipe for a busy night. It's a delicious combination of beans, bell peppers, onion, enchilada sauce, cheese, and tortillas baked in the oven. Great alternative to tacos!
$.99 per serving
Click here for the recipe
This vegetarian enchilada casserole is such an easy dinner recipe!
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
This Instant Pot mac and cheese is loaded with so much flavor! It tastes like classic macaroni and cheese, but it's much easier to make.
$.57 per one cup serving
Click here for the recipe
Kids and adults love this loaded Instant Pot mac and cheese!
Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
This Instant Pot Vegetable Soup is an easy, healthy recipe full of carrots, celery, onions, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, and tomatoes. It's perfect for a light lunch or dinner.
$.86 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Instant Pot vegetable soup in a bowl
Peanut Ramen Noodle Salad
This peanut ramen noodle salad is a healthy, delicious recipe full of veggies for lunch or dinner. It's simple to make this flavorful dish.
$.92 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Peanut ramen noodle salad in a bowl
Peach Mango Burrito Bowls
These peach mango burrito bowls are a delicious light dinner featuring mango and peaches along with beans, rice, chicken thighs, and a lime juice dressing.
$.85 per serving
Click here for the recipe
These peach mango burrito bowls are so delicious for a light summer dinner. Sweet and savory flavors come together in this healthy recipe.
Instant Pot Pinto Beans and Rice
This Instant Pot pinto beans and rice recipe is such an easy one to make for a quick meal. Top with avocados, fresh herbs, sour cream, and an extra sprinkle of cumin and chili powder for a delicious meal.
$.80 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Crock Pot Taco Soup
This Crock Pot Taco Soup is a quick, easy recipe with just 7 ingredients, including ground beef, vegetables, broth and beans.
$.98 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Pizza Soup Recipe
This pizza soup is such a fun, easy dinner recipe. It's made with tomato sauce, mushrooms, onion, garlic, broth, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and a delicious combination of seasonings including basil and oregano.
$.96 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
This cranberry walnut chicken salad is a delicious light meal made with chicken breast, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries, and a light dressing.
$.81 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Cape Cod chicken salad on a bed of lettuce
Curry Chicken Salad Recipe
This curry chicken salad recipe is a healthy combination of savory and sweet flavors. It's made with chicken, veggies, walnuts, raisins, and a creamy curry dressing.
$.92 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Chicken Salad with Grapes and Almonds
Chicken salad with grapes and almonds is a classic potluck recipe that’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet. It's a protein-rich dish that everyone loves.
$.80 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Homemade Vegetarian Chili
This homemade vegetarian chili recipe is a healthy dinner full of vegetables, beans, and classic chili seasonings.
$.93 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Homemade Chicken Soup
This homemade chicken soup is perfect for a cold day. It's a simple combination of chicken, carrots, onions, celery, quinoa/rice blend, and broth. Classic comfort food!
$.78 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Easy Chili Mac Recipe
This easy chili mac recipe is a delicious alternative to Hamburger Helper! It’s a quick one-pot meal that kids and adults love.
$.97 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Easy chili mac in a bowl
Vegan Butternut Squash Chili
This vegan butternut squash chili is one of the best cozy dinner recipes for fall and winter. It features squash, beans, tomatoes, onions, and a flavorful chili sauce.
$.58 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Baked Pasta Casserole
This baked pasta casserole is a delicious, flavorful, frugal dinner recipe. It comes together with just five ingredients – pasta, egg, ricotta, marinara sauce, and cheese.
$.74 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce
These rice noodles with peanut sauce are perfect for a light vegan meal. This whole grain recipe features brown rice noodles, veggies, and a delicious peanut sauce.
$.96 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Macaroni and Cheese Muffins
These single-portion macaroni and cheese muffins are a great healthy dinner for evenings on the go. They're simple to make with an easy cheese sauce and a few green veggies.
$.23 per muffin
Click here for the recipe
Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
This cauliflower chickpea curry is such a delicious, healthy recipe for lunch or dinner. It features cauliflower, chickpeas, red pepper, and curry tomato sauce.
$.86 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Cauliflower curry in a bowl
Smoky Red Lentil Stew
This smoky red lentil stew is delicious vegan comfort food. It's a simple combination of carrots, celery, onions, lentils, and a flavorful broth.
$.62 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
This pumpkin macaroni and cheese is a healthy, kid-friendly meal that will add extra vegetables to your dinner table or lunch box.
$.68 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Pumpkin mac and cheese is a delicious, healthy fall dinner.
Broccoli Fried Rice
This broccoli fried rice comes together quickly for a delicious alternative to takeout. It's made with non-dairy butter, eggs, vegetables, leftover rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
$.91 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Broccoli fried rice in a bowl
Mediterranean Rice
This Mediterranean rice is a delicious lemon rice side dish that goes well with so many things. Make this recipe using jasmine rice in the Instant Pot or on the stove.
$.72 per serving
Click here for the recipe
This Mediterranean rice recipe is a delicious lemon rice side dish.
Air Fryer Twice Baked Potatoes
These air fryer twice baked potatoes are the best crowd-pleasing side dish! They’re so easy to make, and the flavor is delicious.
$.65 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Air fryer twice baked potatoes
Lentil Sweet Potato Casserole
This lentil sweet potato casserole is such a flavorful vegan dinner! It's full of tender sweet potatoes, red peppers, green beans, ginger, garlic, and lentils, which are a great plant-based protein.
$.75 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Black Bean Soup
This black bean soup is a delicious vegan recipe full of flavor. Red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and diced green chilis come together with beans, broth, and seasonings in this simple, tasty meal.
$.40 per serving
Click here for the recipe
Corn Chowder
This corn chowder is a delicious summertime meal featuring fresh corn, bacon, onions, carrots, and potatoes.
$.69 per serving
Click here for the recipe

Healthy Dinner Ideas: Cost Analysis

Your cost may vary based on the ingredient prices in your area. Check out my price chart to see typical prices in my area of Massachusetts. I use these amounts to calculate the cost per serving in each of these frugal dinner ideas.

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30 healthy dinner recipes, each less than $1 per serving. It pays to make your dinner from scratch! Great resource for frugal meal planning.

Check out this post for more frugal recipes to add to your meal plan.

15 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the great links. WIll be trying some of these recipes and sharing them with my readers (link to your website)l Thanks.

  2. Annemarie,
    What a great selection of dishes! You’ve got something for every eating style and season here.
    Thanks!

  3. I am about as frugal as they come in the kitchen. I HATE food waste, so am always looking to be creative with bits of this and that which are leftover. This is a great round-up!

  4. Feed two for 50¢ in the summer. Pasta salad: spaghetti pasta, 1/8 green pepper diced, 1/8 onion chopped, 1/4 tomato diced, sliced olives (about 10), 1/8 cucumber sliced, and about 2 TB Italian dressing.
    2 slices of bread toasted with garlic powder and butter.

  5. Thanks so much for this list! I aim to make pretty much all my recipes for $.85 or less per serving, and it’s so nice to have the math done for me! 🙂

  6. I’m excited to find this link! To think I can make my own ricotta cheese! I’m psyched. My fiance and I realized we’re cutting it very close on our wedding budget, so I found your site in an effort to cut my grocery budget (which already knew we would need to do once we live together). I’m making a couple of these recipes tonight and freezing a lot of what I make so I can still have easy freezer meals during all the chaos!

  7. This is a fantastic resource for affordable meals. I am pinning and recommending this!

  8. I hear that a lot, too. People don’t realize that you’re paying so much extra for all that packaging. Great list!

    1. Thanks, Amy. So true about the cost of packaging, not to mention factory production, shipping, etc. DIY is the way to go. 🙂

  9. Hi Annemarie! I think this is a great list of healthy but still affordable meals! Definitely sharing this one! I noticed you are involved with The Recipe ReDux. I just got accepted this month and can’t wait to start 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing, Christine! And welcome to the Recipe Redux. It’s a great group with lots of fun opportunities. I’ll look for your post next month. 🙂

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